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Game Review – Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne

Game Review – Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne

I’m always a bit unsure of opting for board games themed around beloved TV shows or films, as there’s always a risk that they’ll fall short, but we decided to give this one a go. Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne, is a game for 3 to 5 players, who take on the role of one of the great houses of Westeros, and fight for control over the other houses.

In Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne, which uses the game systems from Cosmic Encounter, you and your friends each command one of the Great Houses of Westeros, pitting iconic characters against each other in epic battles and schemes. Negotiate, bluff, forge alliances, threaten your rivals — use every tool at your disposal to spread your influence, establish supremacy, and claim the ultimate prize: the Iron Throne!

The five houses on offer are the Starks, the Lannisters, the Targaryens, the Baratheons and the Tyrells. It’s a bit difficult to place when in the world of Game of Thrones this game takes place. Firstly, early deaths such as Eddard Stark, Viserys Targaryen and Renly Baratheon are still alive, but mixed with characters who weren’t introduced until later seasons, such as the Tyrells. It makes interactions feel a little out of place in context of the show. Also, Renly is part of House Tyrell, with the Baratheons being themed around Stannis.

The initial setup is a bit fiddly, and turns are quite complex until you get used to all the game mechanics. Outcomes are different depending on the interaction, so it can take a while to really get into it.

Each turn begins with the random allocation of an opponent, followed by an encounter. The nature of the encounter can vary, depending on the interaction between players. This is a game of negotiation and cunning, players must discuss their intentions, they can be hostile, or peaceful, always with each player aiming to spread the most influence. Other players can get involved by forming alliances with either party, but you must choose wisely, as these actions will have consequences later in the game.

The aim of the game is to be the first player to spread all your influence to other houses. This can be done by conquering them, negotiation, or bribery. Only the sneakiest of players will win the Iron Throne!

Each house also comes with it’s own unique benefits. Depending on your house leader, you will have additional abilities throughout the game. For example, if your leader is Cersei Lannister and you have influence over another house, you can force them to support you, or if your leader is Daenerys Targaryen, you can apply +2 power to your value for each influence you have already spread. In addition, the character cards in your deck may also provide abilities, such as Loras Tyrell, who applies +5 power for each supporting player on the opposing side, or Arya Stark, who removes all but 1 power from the character controlled by the active player on the opposing side.

Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne is highly tactical, but you’re also restricted by the cards in your hand as to which outcomes are possible for each encounter.

Strangely, I didn’t enjoy Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne as much as I would have thought. I think it taught me something I hadn’t realised about deception games. Not only do I love them, but I very much prefer to be on the ‘good’ side. I’m a terrible Werewolf, and I always enjoy games much more when I’m on the Villager team. In Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne, every player is out for themselves, and the only sense of teamwork (alliances) are fraught with betrayal. Although this is a game of deception and betrayal, it’s more akin to Small World than Resistance, and in Small World, there is much more strategy, and less player interaction.

If you’re a fan of betrayal games, and also Game of Thrones, the you’ll likely enjoy this game, but for me, I’m sticking to Werewolf! As for the price, it’s £10 less than Dead of Winter: The Long Night, £10 more expensive than T.I.M.E Stories, and similar in price to Eldritch Horror. Yet in comparison, I don’t think you get as much for your money. I would have expected this game to have been priced more around the £30 – £35 mark.

The RRP for Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne is £46.99, and it can be found at independent game stores, which can be found using this store locator.

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