Nerdnight Report: A Game of Thrones

This weekend was one of the most successful Nerdnights I’ve hosted in quite some time. Two of my main players are out long term for work and family commitments so I’ve been relying on another friend to bring enough warm bodies to the event.

This weekend we had five players total and one of them brought the A¬†Game of Thrones boardgame from Fantasy Flight Games. This was a treat for me since the last time I played the game I hadn’t read any of the books. Since then I’ve read the entire series twice. I shudder how blithely I played the Lannisters in my last game. It’s almost like being completely ignorant of history and declaring WWII Germans as “the good guys” based on their spiffy uniforms. Well, except that the Lannisters are fictional.

In this game I played as House¬†Tyrell of Highgarden. None of the players were terribly familiar with the game. I had played it once before several years ago and the game’s owner having only read the rules (I believe). We were the only two who were familiar with the background which isn’t as strange as it first sounds. Sometimes when you read a really good book you have trouble believing that everyone else hasn’t read it either.

This lack of experience led to a rules brief which was disorganized and overly long. Or maybe that’s how it felt because I wasn’t the one giving the briefing. It’s a hard thing to do, especially if you aren’t solid on the rules yourself, and while I think I do a decent job on my own briefings for all I know it went exactly like my own.

Fortunately the game, although complex in many ways, is simple to grasp mechanically: Perform the actions on three cards, choose an action for all your forces, reveal the action and then execute them. Repeat until either there is a victor or the turn limit is reached.

This meant that although the blank expressions on the player’s faces didn’t bode well at first once we got stuck in things started moving and everyone enjoyed themselves. A Game of Thrones is a great game for a group since the turns are short and players stay engaged throughout. There’s enough downtime to socialize with your neighbours but you aren’t likely to sit completely idle for more than five minutes. I spent the downtime ruthlessly grilling our “Guest of Honour” like Jim Gaffigan’s character in Flight of the Conchords.

Yes, that seems about right. I’d probably need a tan to look like Mr. Gaffigan.

The game ended with a clear victory for House Greyjoy who betrayed House Stark, their “allies” in the game, to secure their last castle and the game. This is a game I hope to see back on the table soon.

Tyler Provick

Tyler Provick is a writer and a gamer that likes to combine his two interests and share them with the community.

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