New Weapons of War
A Look at the Upcoming A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition
From the invasion of the First Men to the reign of the Andal kings; from the fiery conquest of the Targaryens to the rebellion of Robert Baratheon, the continent of Westeros has known constant military upheaval. Yet intrigue, betrayal, and assassinations have felled many a contender, and so has a timely lack of support from their bannermen. A House that dares set its sights on the Iron Throne must set in motion wheels within wheels to achieve its ends.
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition is already in the hands of a few lucky Essen attendees, and their response so far has been fantastic! This definitive version of the beloved board game boasts a more attractive and streamlined presentation than ever before, helping players focus on the war at hand. But if weren't at the Essen Game Fair, don’t fret; it will be on store shelves soon! In the meantime, be sure to download the complete rules (pdf, 12.7 MB) from our support page, register to attend the upcoming Days of Ice and Fire for an inside look at its development, and become an FFG fan on Facebook for your chance to win a copy.
But even with the rules at your disposal and the growing online buzz surrounding this momentous release, you may have questions about the exact differences between the first and second editions. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the components and mechanics that are completely new to A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (as opposed to those elements adopted from previous expansions), and we’ll see how they bring exciting never-before-seen options to your war for the Iron Throne.
The all-important placement of Order tokens is the driving force behind your House’s acts of warfare, diplomacy, and betryal. So it’s no great insight to say that successful players must seek to maximize the impact of their orders whenever possible.
To this end, players have access to a small number of Special Order Tokens, which are indicated by a star. Based on a player’s standing on the King’s Court Influence track, he can place a certain number of these especially powerful Order tokens each round, and they offer attractive bonuses beyond their standard counterparts. The Special Defense Order, for example, offers +2 Combat Strength (compared to the standard Defense Order’s +1).
So what’s new? A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition introduces some subtle, yet significant, changes to two of the Special Order Tokens. First, the Special Consolidate Power order now offers a choice: you can either collect Power tokens as normal, or (as an entirely new option) you can muster units in the area in which it’s been placed! This new versatility allows leaders to gather power for their long term plans, or gain a quick military boost to help mount a sudden attack.
Similarly, the Special Raid order has been altered to provide additional versatility. The previous edition allowed this order to target multiple areas at once. Instead, in Second Edition, the Special Raid order can target enemy Defense orders! When used as part of a coordinated surprise attack, this potent order helps ensure that no area, no matter how well defended, is truly safe.
The game of thrones isn’t always played on the battlefield. Dominance tokens are symbols of a House’s political standing, diplomatic savvy, or underhanded capabilities, and the possession of these tokens conveys specific advantages. The keeper of the Iron Throne token, for example, determines the winner of ties, a power that can provide invaluable leverage when dealmaking.
Second Edition introduces new abilities for the Valyrian Steel Blade token and the Messenger Raven token... abilities that are available in addition to those from the first edition, meaning that these two tokens have grown more adaptable without losing any of their former potency. In Second Edition, the holder of the Valyrian Steel Blade token may grant himself a +1 Combat Strength bonus as before, but when playing with the optional Tides of Battle variant, he may also use it to redraw a new Tides of Battle card.
The Messenger Raven token likewise awards a never-before-seen capability in addition to its standard power. Rather than using it to replace an Order token, its holder can opt to peak at the top card of the Wildling deck, afterwards placing that card back on top of the deck or hiding it away on the bottom. Use this secret knowledge when determining how many of your precious resources to send to The Wall, or bluff to compel your enemies to overcommit theirs!
Clarity, Convenience, and Balance
Beyond these larger additions, a number of smaller enhancements have been implemented that make A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition more straightforward and elegant than ever before. A Victory track has been added to the game board, allowing players to see who’s winning (and against whom to therefore team up) with a quick glance. Early players at Gen Con and other conventions have remarked on the added convenience of the Player Screens, which hide Order tokens from prying eyes while providing useful references.
But another enhancement is in the way A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition brilliantly scales to accommodate different numbers of players. Neutral Force tokens, which represent unaligned minor Houses unwilling to submit to outside hostility, are placed in predetermined southern areas based on the number of players in the game. These neutral armies serve to delay the “race” for uncontrolled areas, and more realistically represent the uphill battle that all would-be kings must face.
All together, the various enhancements and optional variants included in A Game of Thrones: The Board Game Second Edition add up to create a definitive play experience for fans of A Song of Ice and Fire. Eager for more? Keep checking back in the weeks leading up to A Game of Throne’s release, and make your plans to attend Days of Ice and Fire, three days of Westeros in Roseville, Minnesota, where you’ll be able to play full games against its developers!
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