Thankfully we’re still mid-summer and it means lots of warm nights gaming. We’re huge GoT fans so to warm up for the latest and final season of the show we’ve been playing Game of Thrones the Card Game (2nd Ed) from Fantasy Flight Games. This was our first Living Card Game so we were keen to see how the play style was compared to a TCG (trading card game).
There’s beauty in Winter but you might think it has come on your first play through
We loved the cards. A set for all the major houses and factions (such as the Night’s Watch). Beautiful looking banner cards plus our favorite (and love-to-loathe) characters. A Game of Thrones the card game is a deck builder. Players build a deck based around their house of choice and then alternate through turns bring new cards into play (called marshalling), attacking each other through challenges and collecting victory points in the form of power tokens. The game seemed a little too complex off the hop - include a 16 page learn to play guide and a full rules reference book. After a first play through it got easier and turns flowed more naturally.
Game play follows a series of actions each turn. Players collect gold, buy cards and then issue challenges. This is where house selection really comes into play as the types of challenges you can issue, and also defend, depend on your characters. As you might expect the Lannisters seem to have more intrigue challenges with the Starks and The Nights Watch heavily military challenge focused. The third type is a power challenge that seems to be common across all houses. Our experience is that the Martell’s are the most balanced house between all the challenge types. Of course all the house characters can be buffed or have challenge types added to them through attachments (item cards), but that part of the game play felt a lot more secondary than how you play items in a typical TCG.
Everyone is plotting something when you’re in the Great Game
A unique element we experienced for the first time were the plot cards. Plots cards are secondary decks assigned to each player. Plot cards influence the entire round. When played they represent gold the players earn to marshal (play) new cards, which player wins initiative and the claim bonus for winning a challenge. Each round starts with players selecting and the simultaneously revealing their chosen plot card. Selecting plot cards and building your play around them is key to the game play. Do you want a round where you get a lot of gold to bring as many cards into play as possible? You might build an unstoppable force or you might bring through a ton of cards. Do you want to ensure initiative and get an extra claim for winning our challenges? You might finish the round with a lot of power tokens only to have them stolen or they might be the extra you need to close out a win.
Playing with just one opponent was ok, but became predictable and the challenge types (attacking and defending) felt more limited. Playing with at least 3 added the dynamic to really open up the game.
play at least 2 games with new players, one to learn and one to actually play; best played with 3 or 4 players; plots cards add an awesome element of strategy to each round and keep games fresh; just like in the television series, houses can rise or fall quickly based on a few key decisions/moves and a combined force of multiple characters; we’re really excited for Game of Thrones season seven #GoTS7!
Let us know if you’ve played A Game of Thrones the card game or Living Card Games and which is your favorite!
your gaming sidekick