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A Game of Thrones: The Board Game – Digital Edition review


Need to know

What is it? A game of cutthroat politics and strategic maneuvers.
Expect to pay $20/£16
Release date Out now
Developer Dire Wolf
Publisher Asmodee Digital
Reviewed on AMD FX-8350, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti, 32GB RAM
Multiplayer Up to six
Link Official site

More than just a game for fans, A Game of Thrones: The Board Game is a definitive medieval strategy game. At least on the tabletop, where it’s 17 years old and on its second edition. The reasons it’s popular translate well to the digital edition if you bring your own friends, but the multiplayer infrastructure just isn’t set up for pickup play via matchmaking. It’s also hampered by a mediocre user interface and slow game speed in singleplayer.

With its basics cribbed from enduring classic Diplomacy, A Game of Thrones is a matter of negotiations between players—negotiations entirely unenforceable within the game rules. All orders are given secretly, and battles can be highly unpredictable without numerical advantage, which is difficult to muster. In its basics it’s a strategy game, but in play it’s knife-edge social bargaining and deception. Everyone lies, everyone breaks bargains, and everyone stabs the others in the back. Only one person can win by being first to get seven castles, but you can’t win without bargaining. 

(Image credit: Asmodee Digital)

Each round players secretly give orders to every region on the map with their troops in it: They move to another region, defend, support other troops, consolidate power to gain resources, or raid to disrupt enemy orders. I might order my knights to march into enemy territory, my ships to support the attack, and my infantry to raid and disrupt the enemy’s defenses before I go in. The effectiveness and variety of orders is often determined by one of three power tracks, which no one house can be the master of: Iron Throne, Fiefdom, and King’s Court. The holder of the Iron Throne breaks ties outside of combat, the holder of Fiefdom breaks ties in combat, and the master of the King’s Court gets to change an order after they see what others are doing.

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