Recently, I got to try my hand at the Game of Thrones Board Game, and I must say, that it was quite the experience.
There were five players, and we played two full games, and it took from one in the afternoon until eleven in the evening to get through the two games, so this isn’t a fast game by any means, despite limiting the number of rounds to a maximum of ten or ending upon the capture of seven castles.
Even setting up the game took a fair bit of time. There are so many pieces, multiple decks of cards, and tokens. They need to be organized, given out in certain amounts, shuffled, and managed correctly. Then, if you have less than the maximum six players, you have to add some small cards to certain areas of the map to act as NPC spaces.
When Annie and I first arrived, we were asked to sit down and watch a thirty minute tutorial video on the rules and how to play. I laughed thinking it was a joke, but unfortunately not.
The learning curve is steep, and there are far too many layers of complexity. Of course, each layer adds something to the strategy of the game, but it also makes it intimidating to play, and lacks the ability to easily learn. I see this game being more like Chess when compared to something like Risk which would be akin to Checkers. You would master the strategies over time, and become a grand master at the Game of Thrones.
Here are the layers of complexity that can happen in a single turn:
- Three Random Event Cards
- Movement of Units on a Map
- Combat including Unit Strength, Tokens on Board, and Cards in Hand
- Bidding on special abilities and turn order
- Random Event including bidding
- Control of number of units on board based on location of units
This is one of the most complex games I’ve ever played, but it also had its strong points. The game is fun, and feels relatively fair. We had a great deal of fun during many parts of the experience, and despite having more experience, other players didn’t instantly crush Annie and I.
Because I’ve watched the television show, I could see parallels between how they set-up the different houses that almost force you into a play style akin to the characters attributes, which was both enjoyable and frustrating.
I also need to note that the people that I played with made the game. During the first round, Annie and I had never played before, and our strategies were rather weak. We both made strong alliances, but in the end, this only lead to Annie’s nephew, who she was allied with, winning.
In the second round, there were many close calls, and each time anyone got to six out of seven castles acquired, the rest of us would do anything to stop that person from achieving victory, thus causing the game to run longer. Alliances were also more tenuous, and I made it my personal mission to crush the winner of the first game, thus causing him to lose for the first time. While I didn’t win, the game came to a late end, and we were all both glad it was over, and happy to have spent such an interesting and amusing evening playing Game of Thrones.
You might be wondering if I would play it again, and my answer is that I would definitely be willing to do so. I think I’ll limit myself to one round per day though, as ten hours of Game of Thrones was a little too much in a single sitting.