In this article I sang the praises of A Game of Thrones: The Card Game, though I also mentioned that it was a game at the end of its life; a new edition was coming, one that would prove incompatible with the previous version.
Well, that time has come!
A Game of Thrones: the Card Game Second Edition is here, and the title is still kind of awkward (Would you like to play a game of A Game of Thrones- say it out loud, it sounds silly). That said, I have to say that the game play has only been improved by the new and different mechanics!
As a pretty good tutorial for the game can be found here, I don’t feel the need to tell you how to play the game (even better- come ask me to teach you 🙂 ), so instead I’ll give my impression of what’s new and what’s different and what’s great (or not).
First up, the cards themselves:
I find myself very pleased with the new templates, layouts, and choices. The introduction of two new factions in the game necessitated some reconsideration of the colors of the various houses, and the guys at FFG also took the time to completely redesign the card faces, I think for the better. Here are some side-by-side examples; first edition on the left, 2nd edition on the right.
So, here we are not only demonstrating the difference in the faces of two Plot cards, but also how the potency of cards in the game has shifted. And I gotta be honest- I think I actually prefer the 1st ed style of plot a little better. I like the fact that the art window is bigger. That said, I do like the updated look of the gold, initiative, and claim values, and how they’ve neatened up the When Revealed trigger in bold to make it more consistent with other cards in the game. Also note that we’ve gone from you and an opponent searching your whole decks, to just you searching your top 10 cards.
I love the update to Event cards! When I taught new players card recognition it was always that you recognized plots by process of elimination- it wasn’t a Plot, Character, Attachment, or Location. Yeah, they had this raven border, but that didn’t help as much as one might expect. Now we’ve actually got a little banner that says “Event” under the cost. But, apart from having a new and distinctive appearance, there are other glaring revisions to Events: they have faction alignments, and a gold cost space (that space is always there, even if it is 0, an occurrence that is MUCH more rare now)! Of those two, alignment is the biggest shift. Any card that refers to “in-house” can now include Events, and that opens up a whole new world of deck-building and strategy!
So, the gold cost is about the only thing on a Character card that stayed in the same place. Name and faction crest has moved, challenge icons have moved… and they all look different stylistically. That’s really a take-it-or-leave it issue, as far as I’m concerned, but also note the shift in cost that we see here. From 3 to 6 is a big jump, and you’ll see similar jumps in big-name characters- and while set-up gold has increased from 5 to 8, the disposable gold over the course of an average round really hasn’t increased much. It takes planning and timing to get 6+ cost characters out these days.
So, what did I notice first and foremost about Attachments? The title moved from the top of the card to the bottom. Why? So that you can slide the Attachment under the card it’s being stuck onto so that it covers the art, but not the text or title. It’s brilliant! Attachments can get so awkward to track, and this makes it a bit simpler.
I, uh… I don’t really have much new to say here. It’s and old Location, and a new Location. Things have moved around… but that’s the biggest shift. Done. Moving on.
Actual Mechanics Changes:
Okay, so we’ve seen the changes in the cards, but what about in the basic rules of the game? Well, you can learn those changes in the above tutorial, or by downloading the rules documents here. But this is a review, so what do I think of these changes?
I like ’em. I like the removal of the draw cap, and the introduction of the Reserve limit. I think that does a great job at making drawing a whole bunch of cards both rewarding and dangerous.
I like that some cards now have a little banner below their faction icon- this means that card is Loyal. Only non-Loyal cards can ever conceivably make their way into another faction’s deck, and only through the use of an Agenda.
I like that Attachments (by and large) now bounce back to your hand if their attached card leaves play.
I like that the game is now much more clear on what can interrupt what and when.
This was a great game before (again, see the above linked article), and it seems like an even better game now. And now is a GREAT time to get into it, as the core starter is the ONLY product so far for the game- though, if you’re going to get into it, I would strongly suggest getting two starts if you can. The fact that they only give you one of each of your core characters is a little disappointing.
But I am super happy that this new game is out, I love it to bits, and I will play it at virtually any opportunity! I am very much looking forward to adding some Chapter Packs to my collection, improving my decks, and making more.
This game has returned to its very important place in my hobby life; welcome back.