FFG’s in-house board game designs are just looking really sharp these days: they aren’t what you’d call mind-blowingly original, but they preserve the feel of their source material and keep the focus on fun, fun, fun. Game of Thrones: the Board Game is basically Diplomacy modified until unrecognizable. It has the standard starting board setups for each faction, which generally set your strategic direction; it has the tight board that’s guaranteed to get you into trouble with someone rapidly; it has the emphasis on raw, naked bloodlust. Wait, Diplomacy doesn’t have that so much.
We played a five-player, five-turn game – that duration is half of what they say to do, but we were out of time. On the surface, it doesn’t look like there’s much luck to the game. The only real luck is in the Westeros cards, three per turn, that give global effects for the turn and tell you stuff like whether you get any new troops or not. However, those cards have such broad effects (especially the aforementioned mustering and supply) that luck has a lot of influence. On the board, though, you place orders on each of your territories, take turns executing them in the current turn order, periodically get to bid on the turn order as well as the tie-breaking order… anyway. Control points and supply points are mostly there from Dip, as is the “support” command, which adds strength to adjacent warriors. But on top of all that, there’s a card deck for each House, much like the card decks from LotR: The Confrontation (still one of the best two-player games on the market, mind you), that add points and effects to combat. Still no luck, strictly speaking, but man, is there a lot going on.
This is really just the beginning. I’ll cover the rest when I play another game, hopefully, a complete one, with Jane and thems in the next couple weeks. So far, I’m not sure if I would recommend GoT:tBG to a casual gamer or even a Risk fan. Fans of slightly-wargamey German stuff like Vinci are, of course, already jumping all over this game. I can say that it’s beautifully executed for what it is, but what it is is not to everyone’s taste.
NOTE: if you play this with five (as you should), be sure to hit the FAQ and make the specified adjustment.