Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Game of Thrones (FFG) - "5 Player" & Dominion (RGG)

Game: A Game of Thrones (FFG)
Scenario: 5-player
Participants: Joe "YJ" C, Bob H, Jim "HravyD" D, Jeff "Jeffe" I, Myself
Time: Saturday, May 28th ~ 10.30AM - 4.00PM

A Game of Thrones has been out since 2003 and well liked by my group of gamers. We have played it perhaps a dozen times since its release. Not so much lately though. With the excellent HBO series on and all of us watching it we decided to pull this one out and have a go.

AGoT is an interesting game. It is half Euro and half wargame. The game of course is set in Martin's captivating world of Westeros. The game can have up to six players, each assuming the role of one of the main houses vying for the Iron Throne. Combat is handled a la Diplomacy, that is two beats one. If you loose a battle, you retreat your forces if able, you don't loose units unless one of the players has played a card which inflicts casualties. Each house has a set of seven cards depicting various characters from the novels. Each one of the cards will have a number that you add to the battle, some of the cards will have special abilities (like voiding your opponents cards value for the battle). Each card can only be used once then it is discarded until that players uses all of his cards, then he will get them all back, to use again. Thus a battle will have units attacking and defending, supporting units in adjacent spaces that will also add their values to the fight and finally each house will play a card, the side with the highest total wins the battle. Simple, elegant.

YJ takes to Boys through the Rules

The game also has three sets of ten cards that determine various phases in the game. Some of these cards will do things like allow the houses to recruit new units, adjust supply (how many units you can have), garner support, or face an invasion from the Wildlings. This is a fantastic way of mixing up a standard sequence of play and adding in a whole lot of variability and tension. It also greatly enhances the replayability of the game as now two games will be the same with regard to the sequence of play.

Bob, Jeffe, YJ and HeavyD on Turn 2

The meat of the game lies in the orders system. Each house has a set of counters that are placed in every space containing their units, each turn. These counter (order) define what the units in the zone will do during the upcoming turn. Each player places theses orders face down prior to the start of the turn, then all players flip over the orders and execute them in order of their standing on the Iron Throne (which is one of the items that players use their support tokens to bid on).

Here is a run down on what the orders do:

  • Attack (allows the units to move and or attack an adjacent space)
  • Defend (units stay in place and get a bonus on defense)
  • Support (units are able to support a battle in an adjacent space)
  • Influence (units create support tokens, which are added to the players supply)
  • Raid (strip one adjacent Support or Influence token)
 In addition to the two basic order tokens, there is one 'special' order token which allows a player to perform the same action with a slight bonus (a +1 for the attack, or an extra +1 on defense). The number of these special tokens each player can use each turn is driven by their standing on the "Crow" chart. This standing is also bid on each time the "Game of Thrones' event is drawn (one of the three decks). Thus you might not be able to bid on these status' for several turns, or even the entire game (rare).

Turn 9, note the lack of units

Victory is determined after ten turns by the player who controls the most castle spaces or via sudden death if one player gets a certain number of castles prior to the end of the game. Diplomacy plays a big role in the game as well as players will usually need to form alliances to get enough support to help them win battles or hold spaces they've taken. Having 5 players is perhaps the best way to play, but any number between 3 and 6 works well. The fewer the players, the less diplomacy there is.

Our game was strangely muted. There wasn't a lot of diplomacy or back stabbing. I think most of us were grappling with re-learning the game early on and this limited the usual highly fluid nature of the game. Part of it was the each house has a little room to expand before they bump into their neighbors. Once all of the neutral spaces get taken is when you start to see some sparks fly. Also we only drew a couple of Muster events, thus for most of the game we had small armies, thus not a lot to work with. YJ ended up winning at the end of the game having taken one or two more cities then the rest of us. Bob got a little crazy mid-game by attacking both me and Jeffe, taking a couple of spaces. Jeffe and I quickly counter attacked and Bob lost most of his forces, allowing us to get back the lost spaces and take a couple more. Before we could capitalize on this though YJ had expanded and taken enough neutral spaces along with one or two from HeavyD to get the win.

Still it proved a fun game, only taken a couple hours. We will have to play this one again soon while the game is still fresh in our minds. I expect we'll have a much more interesting game the 2nd time around.

As the day was young, we decided to break out Dominion. This might have caused the AGoT game to feel like going through the motions as everyone of us were VERY eager to play Dominion (which is happening a lot around here lately.

YJ and Jeffe broke off and played three hands while Bob, HeavyD and I played a couple of hands.

Here are the results from YJ and Jeffe's Games:

Deck: "Best Wishes"
  • Jeffe, 38
  • YJ, 14
Deck: "Victory Dance"
  • Jeffe, 69
  • YJ, 82
Deck: "Secret Scheme's"

  • Jeffe, 33
  • YJ, 25

Jeffe and YJ square off using the Intrigue Expansion
Here are the decks and results from my games with Bob and HeavyD:

Deck: "The Good Life"
  • HeavyD, 50
  • Steve, 40
  • Bob 35
Deck: "Chemistry Lesson"
  • HeavyD, 20
  • Steve, 35
Bob and HeavyD

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