Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Game of Game of Thrones

Last night I played board games until three in the morning. Today I spent seven hours playing one board game.

It was the Game of Thrones board game -- not the two player card game, but the massive six player strategy game. Roxana and I went to John and Garrett's house (John being the friend who recently got married) and played with the two of them, one of John's groomsmen, Josh AKA Draper, and John's new wife Cayla.

It was absolutely wonderful. The game was interesting and engaging, keeping all of our attention for seven straight hours (well, we did have one ten minute cake break). It really came down to the wire -- on the last turn, four of the six of us could easily have won it all. In the end, House Lannister, who I was playing, managed to seize control of Westeros, though House Baratheon controlled the Iron Throne, thereby setting us up pretty much how the series itself actually begins.

It is rare to find a game with no random elements. This one technically had one (three cards get flipped at the beginning of each round that have a somewhat significant effect on the rest of the turn), but it was minor compared to the overall game. In spite of this game being essentially a new kind of Risk or Axis and Allies, it had absolutely no die rolling of any kind. Plus, no card drawing -- all of your cards are in your hand at all times, unless you've chosen to play them. In addition to all that, everyone can see your cards and your influence tokens (basically money, although used for other things as well) at all times.

It really is a strategy game in the truest sense of the word. You have essentially all the information at all times -- all you have to do is plan your tactics and try to figure out what the other houses are going to do. It's a game I walked away from mentally exhausted -- always a good sign in my book.

The six houses you can play as are Lannister, Baratheon, Stark, Greyjoy, Tyrell, and Martell. The game worked thematically very well. It really felt like you were in the Song of Ice and Fire universe. All of the elements of the game added up to a very Westeros feeling match.

Seven hours for one game is a long time. However, it moves quickly and since everyone is taking turns almost simultaneously, there are never long periods of sitting around doing nothing. It is also a good game for non-readers -- though there is some text, all of it can be read for you by other players.

Overall, I loved it. So much that as soon as this blog post is up, I will be googling it to see how much it costs to buy. Thank you to John, Cayla, and Garrett for inviting us over to play. I can't wait to play again, so I can try out one of the other houses. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones (either the books, the TV show, or both) and love strategy game, then hurry up and learn how to play (which you can do by watching the twenty two minute instructional video provided by the game makers -- it seems excessive, but it's extremely helpful).

Plus, it's a great excuse to sit around all day trash talking each other with Game of Thrones quotes -- what's better than that?

1 comment:

Ana said...

YOU KNOW NOTHING, JON SNOW...after watching that video. At least, I found it entirely unhelpful. I had no earthly clue what I was supposed to do or how to do it until about two rounds in, when I had some vague grip on the grammatical structure of the game, and could start filling in details bit by bit.