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Subject: A Game of Thrones reviewed in 10 criteria rss

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David Lara
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NOTE: For a better understanding of this review, I recommend to visit the GeekList that I've created where I explain the aspects that I cover in my game reviews:
My 10 criteria for reviewing a game
Some other general points have been added to this review such Overall opinion.
Feel free to add your suggestions and/or comments!
I won't focus on explaining the rules since there are usually many good threads covering that.

1. STRATEGY
A Game of Thrones (from now on GoT) is a strategy game where players have a good number and type of actions to develop their plans. You can also play improved actions, which add more options and, therefore, more strategy. This variety of actions and the way they are planned secretly are my favorite ingredients in the game.
You can also develop your strategy in short, medium and long terms, focusing on some territories first and targeting others later on. This can also be extended to your aggressions and alliances, which are key in the game, as well as when to break them
Bids are other interesting elements (influence tracks, defending Westeros), as well as the possibility to choose the noble card in every confrontation.
Something that I don’t like in the game is the sea ruling situation: one player can get control of the sea and the rest of players can’t do anything to change it because they can’t build new ships. I think this has been fixed in the rules of the last expansions.

2. DEPTH
As you will read later in the Overall opinion, I think this is the weakest point of the game: you have many nice ingredients for developing your strategy but not deep enough.
Yes, your attacks, alliances and movements will have impact in the game, sure, but I can’t see high complexity on this, so at the end, the essence of the game is reduced to expand, attack and pray for the right event happens at the right moment.

3. PLAYER INTERACTION
In a kind of game like GoT, player interaction is implict. Negotiation and attacks are the juice of this game.
There isn’t any trading as there are no (typical) resources to deal for, although I wonder if trading with power chits in negotiations could be an interesting houserule…

4. REPLAYABILITY
I don’t think GoT is very replayable because of the reason that I mentioned before: despite the many options we have, the general approach looks too linear to me. If I compare GoT with Risk on this, I still prefer Risk: yes, its approach is even simpler (just kill!) but then I don’t have complex that slow down the game.
In favor of replayability, every house is different from another so it could be interesting to try every one out to feel the differences, although this has the risk to reach to the conclusion that some are unbalanced, as it’s my feeling.
There are also some expansions and this certainly helps to keep the game alive.

5. THEME INTEGRATION
Being a game based on a books series, this aspect can’t hardly ever fail. I haven’t read the books but have heard that the game is pretty well adapted.
Leaving the books adaption aside, the game fits very well with the theme: armies split in the board, you give them orders, conquer regions in the map, bids for power, events… they get me into the atmosphere.

6. LUCK FACTOR
A wargame without dice sounds like pretty low in luck factor (this means high on this rating). The reason of why the rating is not higher is because of the event cards. It can be frustrating when you are high in supplies but the adjustment of supplies event doesn’t come up. Same thing goes when you need to recruit. I think these events condition the strategy too much making the game a bit random, so sometimes some players are benefitted over other.
What I do like as a low-luck mechanism are bids: they are very psychological and let you play with the idea of you want it? you pay for it

7. ORIGINALITY
I don’t know many wargames with no dice, secret actions revealed simultaneously, and bids.
I find GoT pretty original and with a nice set of mechanisms that fit well.
And I bet this is the only game based on the books series (sorry for the bad joke!)

8. COMPONENTS QUALITY
Quite acceptable. The board is big enough as well as the cards, with good design. The winners of the influence tracks (Iron Throne, Steel Sword and Messenger Raven) get very nice cardboard tokens in their shapes. The game also comes with initial setup cards which I think they are not determinant but always useful.
I would have preferred miniatures for the armies rather than wooden abstract pieces but even so, they are pretty OK: knights, infants and ships are clearly identified.

9. RULES
I found the rulebook quite clear and easy to read, and I don’t think it’s a game that leaves many leaks for doubts, which is not uncommon in many wargames.
The game course is pretty straightforward and that helps.
What you need to watch out is for not exceeding the maximum army size allowed.

10. FUN FACTOR
I understand the main fun of wargames is slaughtering enemy armies. GoT gives a good chance for this. It’s not a massive killing game (as Risk) but war is essential and it is funny to see alliances breaking and that kind of political actions taken in a game like this.

You will like it if...
- You like wargames and don’t like the dice luck.
- You enjoy forging alliances and attacking enemies, as in Risk.

You won't like it if...
- You are more fan of eurogames.
- You don’t like asymmetric games.

OVERALL OPINION
When I played GoT for the first time I was very excited: Risk had been our “religion” in my group of gamers, so I when I discovered this kind of wargame without dice and with secret actions, I was gladly surprised.
However, this level of enthusiasm has been going down after every game. Not only because I’m skeptical with asymmetric games but mainly because I think the course of this game is quite predictable and doesn’t leave too much open: first turns you expand to your nearby regions to gain strength and supplies; then you make some alliances and attacks; if one house is clearly in a better position than others, it becomes the enemy to beat.
That said, it’s not a bad a game. It gathers nice mechanics but doesn’t hook me up.
Maybe I haven’t played enough games and I’ve become too much eurogamer, but I don’t feel like playing GoT very oftenly.

If you've liked this review, you can see my other reviews in My compendium of Reviews using 10 criteria.
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Joel Schuster
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If you think this game is lacking depth than you're certainly playing a different AGOT than I do Maybe its because I havent played the game without any expansion for ages. Thanks for a critical review anyways
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Gerald Gan
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Umbratus wrote:
If you think this game is lacking depth than you're certainly playing a different AGOT than I do Maybe its because I havent played the game without any expansion for ages. Thanks for a critical review anyways

I agree. AGOT has depth and it doesn't become one of a ton of people's favorite game for nothing. But, any criticism is welcome as I feel both praise and criticism can only help a game in the long run.
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David Lara
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As I posted in my compendium of reviews, I'd like experienced players to open my eyes about GoT, so be welcome to extend your arguments

And thanks for your comments, of course
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Matt Mehlhoff
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While I appreciate you writing this review you say this has little depth when the normal game for your group is risk? I would think this has much more depth than risk.
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Roland W. est. 1984
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if this game has only 2 stars in depth than risk would have -4 ^^ so whats the point?
 
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David Lara
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LannisterGold wrote:
While I appreciate you writing this review you say this has little depth when the normal game for your group is risk? I would think this has much more depth than risk.
I meant in the past:
cartesius wrote:
(...) Risk had been our “religion” in my group of gamers(...)
I haven't played Risk since long time ago.

evil_puck wrote:
if this game has only 2 stars in depth than risk would have -4 ^^ so whats the point?
I won't argue Risk has less depth. The point, as I said, is that I prefer playing Risk than GoT by having a quicker and funnier game.


Anyway, one of the reasons I do reviews is to share ideas with the BGG community. It wouldn't be the first time that I change a rating or perception after reading a good argument. And I don't have any problem by doing that.

As I posted several times, I'll be more than happy to listen to those who believe the depth in this game is bigger than I think.
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Joel Schuster
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I see no reason in trying to convince you by arguments that the game is deeper than you think and even change your rating. Its your opinion of the game after all, not mine.

If you want to know more about the game, play it again and read articles here on the geek already posted, such as other reviews, strategy articles and session reports.

I really have no desire to convince you of anything by a heated argument. Its your review, you think the game is flat, thats ok. I'd not even touch risk on the other hand
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VICTOR MANUEL SERRANO SANCHEZ
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Hey Cartesius, i´ve just readed the clash of king´s rules, and the problem of the seas have been repaired, it´s a good and interesting solution. The rest of the rules, aren´t so interesting, but that one gives a new level.

And for all AGOT fanboys, please this is an opinion and you are free for read it but it you are disapointed whit it, give argument or shut up. Don´t throw a stone and hide the hand
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J K
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About risk factor, Clash of Kinghs has a variant where you can set-up event cards so next 3 cards are always visible. This way almost removes event card luck factor (you can always plan 3 turns forward). And this variant can be used even with only a base game as it doesn't require any additional components.
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David Lara
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weidox wrote:
About risk factor, Clash of Kinghs has a variant where you can set-up event cards so next 3 cards are always visible. This way almost removes event card luck factor (you can always plan 3 turns forward). And this variant can be used even with only a base game as it doesn't require any additional components.

I didn't know that. It sounds quite interesting. Many thanks for letting know!
 
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Joel Schuster
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And the 2nd expansion, A Storm of Swords, features event cards that has decision events instead of reshuffles, which further limits randomness.

So you have the holder of the Iron Throne token to decide whether its Mustering, Supply or Nothing Happens for instance. Holder of the Raven may decide for Clash of Kings, Game of Thrones or Nothing Happens, while the holder of the Valyrian Steel Blade decides special events of deck III.

You may even combine that with 'Westeros Variant' as its called what is decribed above, seeing events in advance. I am using that for PBEM games since years and its great.
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Jimmy Superfly Snuka
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I can see your point on the boats running the show. If you read the books, water is a very large key to victory in battles. It's not about the support they provide in the game, it's the speed in which they can move and transport compared to men on foot and horses. The expansions and a few rules tweaks can correct some of the issues you had in your games.
* ports - ports allow for you to always have an chance to deploy ships.
* flipping black and green on the raven track. That way black can't take red out on turn 1.
* If the westeros cards are too much luck for you, you can house rule that the next 3 cards are flipped up so that everybody can plan for the next turn. We have done this and it allows you to not F*&K yourself by preparing for a big attack only to find out that attack +1 orders can't be played. OR you planned to use a D +2 order only to find out you can't use them.

Give these things a try then let us know what you think. I hope it turns out better for you.

To be 100% honest, the action and depth is much more visible in the Storm of Swords expansion. it is 4 player and there are no boats. jump over to that game room and check out some of the rules and gameplay.

a good honest review is nice to see though. well done.
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David Lara
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Thank so you much, Don. I really appreciate your comment. But not becaue you liked the review but because it's constructive, informative and, the most important thing, I now feel like to play again the game with these new rules to give it a try.

There isn't anything more sad than saying bye-bye to a game. This opens the door!

Many thanks!!
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Tim Park
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I'd like to know if the OP was a fan of the fiction before playing the game. I wonder about how much I would appreciate some of the LotR games if it weren't also an opportunity to immerse myself in a favorite fictional universe.

Does this game really evoke the mythos?
 
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David Lara
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soulyogurt wrote:
I'd like to know if the OP was a fan of the fiction before playing the game. I wonder about how much I would appreciate some of the LotR games if it weren't also an opportunity to immerse myself in a favorite fictional universe.

Does this game really evoke the mythos?

Hi Tim,

No, I'm not a fan, but not because I dislike AGoT, but because I never read the books. I heard very good comments about them though. In fact, a TV-serie has been shot, right?
 
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tom brown
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i dont think this was a bad review, and combined with the additional comments it lets you know what are the flaws and that the expansions do solve them.

also, i do like risk but havent played in years. Its not a great game once 1 players gets the lead, so are you saying that GoT suffers from that same problem?
 
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Joel Schuster
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Not at all. Its one great thing in the game that by diplomacy and coordinated effort you can have a good chance of stopping a leader. Its not too unfair though so that one having taken a lead cannot ever finish it off. Its a thin line and AGOT does well there. It is doing better than with the actual balance between the different houses. But then these little imbalances can be worked over by the just mentioned diplomacy and coordinated effort. The support rule by 3rd parties is a great feature for instance. And even when you are not physically adjacent to a leader you can influence the game by bids on the the influence tracks or wildlings.
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