SPOILER ALERT: Jon Snow is really dead, but in the card game, he’s alive! Branding anything with “A Game of Thrones (aGoT)” turns anything to gold.
Years ago, when Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) made an AGOT Living Card Game (LCG) it became a hit.Fans gobbled up every expansion thrown at them, at first…but over the years, FFG noticed though a trending decline in sales. Card pools became festered with powerhouses, scaring away newbies, and turning off older players. The LCG system at that time, also had a fatal flaw – a need to live forever, which lead to releases becoming zombie/whitewalker-like and leading to its demise.
Fortunately, that’s all in the past. Current LCG models come in “cycles,” letting players leap into the hobby with things still fresh and vibrant. A Game of Thrones 2nd edition is FFG’s newest breakthrough.
If one is already a fan of aGoT, then it’s very easy to fall in love the characters in the game. FFG implemented their stories and quirks with utmost attention, making each house feel thematically accurate. Currently, the first Core Set is quickly running out of stock.
The question that comes to mind is how many should one buy. If interested in competitive play, two to three core sets will get one up and running – enabling access to really awesome combos, despite easy-to-grok mechanics. The main highlights are the three types of challenges and plot cards.
Players challenge each other through one of three ways – Military, Intrigue or Power. A character often only has one or two of those types to attack or defend with. Winning in each generates different effects. Military wins cause the defending player to kill one or more of their characters. Success in Intrigue causes the defender to discard cards randomly. Overcoming Power challenges steal Power tokens from the opponent. Be the first to reach 15 power tokens, and you’ve won the game.
The effect of by how much one kills, discards or steals is determined by the Plot cards chosen simultaneously by each player at the start of the round. Plot cards also indicate how much gold the player can spend to marshal troops or fund events. It even defines turn order by which players will take their actions. Plot cards emulate the ebb and flow of war, from resources, to unforeseen situations, to control and dominance.
If one wishes to try it out first, then one copy is perfect. Inside the rules at the last bit, is a “pre-constructed” deck list of four fairly balanced and thematically designed decks. In addition to that, check out the Melee rules format. This is where 3 to 6 players can pit against each other using a “Title” drafting mechanic. The title defines who to support and who are rivals to attack. One can still attack any player as long as they are not supporting that player, attacking the rivals is incentivized by bonus power tokens, and of course in proper Game of Thrones fashion, the one being supported can still attack the very player supporting them. Absolutely brilliant system that from my experience can keep a 4 player game engaging, balanced and play in around 90 minutes. A single copy of aGoT 2nd edition is actually a fully-fledged board game . Until next time, make your games count!
Written by: Ron Villaver
Edited by: Reg Tolentino