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A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is a grand game about conquest in Westeros. Each player will control a different kingdom with a different roster of combat cards and starting setup. At the beginning of every turn, players plan their actions and place face-down tokens on the map. When all of them are done, the tokens are turned around and resolved in a certain order. Players can make their armies march, raze, support, etc. Standard combat actions. Players can negotiate and make non-binding deals. If there is a combat, players compare the military strength of the relevant armies and then, in secret, choose a combat card from their own deck. This card will add combat strength and/or provide different effects like murdering enemy units, canceling the rival combat card, etc. Until this point, the game is fairly standard and there is nothing really groundbreaking. What makes the game stand out among its ilk is the fight over three different rule breaking positions: the iron throne, fiefdoms and the king's court. The player with more influence in each of those tracks will get the associated token (big nice tokens) and a special power. The game continues for 10 turns or until a player gets 7 castles. A Game of Thrones is fairly thematic. Treasons abound and influence is crucial. I think that games are a bit too long and the scripted nature of the setup makes for scripted openings and not a very varied gameplay. Besides that, I always feel that competitive games with non-binding negotiation are kinda dumb. I mean, you make deals, and you promise you won't betray them, yada yada yada. But since there are no alliance victories, at some point a player will need to break a deal and backstab their loved friends. So, that's that. A great game. I just feel funny inside when my brother looks into my eyes and says that he'll never attack Winterfell.
Each player takes on the role of a House of Westeros, attempting to use their resources and armies to take over the lands and declare themselves king, all while holding back the dangerous Wildling invaders from beyond Castle Black's walls. There is a wealth of auctions, special abilities, clever card-play, negotiation, backstabbing, and strategic positioning that works well with the theme of the books/show. It's a bit long, and unbalanced in ways that I'm not sure I entirely appreciate, but it is a great "long game" that blows things like Risk away. Perhaps made irrelevant to me by Ortus Regni?
I'm always cautious of games built around branded-IP and this game is a quintessential example as to why. The limited numbers of forces each player can control makes the game feel over balanced, and the fighting is unbearably swingy. The bidding for track order is interesting, but not enough to lift the otherwise stale and lengthy gameplay out of the muck. I'd recommend Blood Rage over this every day of the week, as the mechanics are fairly similar, except Blood Rage manages to create an enjoyable experience out of them. Players with a love for negotiation might find something here, just never ask me to play.