Over the last week, I’ve had the pleasure of spending a hurricane-laden beach-house vacation with my family and girlfriend at Crescent Beach, Florida. The weather wasn’t too bad, but we had plenty of time to sit around the living room, drink beers, and play some intense games of Game of Thrones Risk.
We played four games, to be exact, and each of us was always the same house: I was the Starks, my brother was the Baratheons, my step-father was the Lannisters, and my girlfriend was the Tyrells.
I won the first game. My step-dad won the next two. My girlfriend won the last.
Each game was deceitful, manipulative, impulsive, and came down to the wire.
Here are the main reasons why I highly recommend Game of Thrones Risk.
As I mentioned before, we played four games of GoT Risk — and each was distinctly different.
In order to win (in Dominion mode), a player must accumulate 10 victory points — earned by completing objectives — and control their own seat of power. This simple requirement for victory leads to some exciting back-stabbing and Littlefinger-esque manipulation.
The first game, I won as the Starks by staying in the North, banking objectives that didn’t require me to range out, and inviting opponents to try thinning me out. Ultimately, no one was willing to leave themselves open by going after my seat of power, and I won the game with the fewest armies on the board.
The lesson was learned.
Subsequent games each saw bold sneak attacks via Northern ports, on either coast. I was never able to accomplish crucial objectives while defending Winterfell from Baratheon and/or Lannister invaders — even when I had a secret alliance with my brother, which kept my Eastern coastline relatively secure.
My step-father favored high-powered Lannister raiding parties, bolstered by siege engines and knights. This strategy helped him accomplish objectives, but left Casterly Rock unfortified. However, even when I left the North and took Casterly Rock, I ultimately couldn’t hold it.
My girlfriend won the last game by playing the game the Tyrells play best. She successfully convinced everyone that she wasn’t a threat, then stole the game from my brother by cashing in on a 4-point objective. Sneaky... very sneaky.
In GoT Risk, every game is truly unique. You just never know what your opponents motives are, and you never know when someone is going to stab you in the back. We didn’t play one game that didn’t have us all sweating bullets (we all take it pretty seriously).
My family has always been fans of Risk, and we’ve all unanimously agreed that the Game of Thrones variant is much better than the original. It’s just the perfect fictional universe for domination and... taking risks...
Instead of just moving colored armies around the map of Earth, players of GoT Risk get to role-play on the Seven Kingdoms. Each family has four character cards that apply scenario-specific bonuses, so one can really use the Lannister shrewdness to cash in on their riches, or the Tyrell cunning to defend their lands against more aggressive armies. It’s satisfying to apply Robb Stark’s invasion bonus when preparing for a massive battle — and even more interesting when played against Stannis’ defensive bonus.
Maester cards — which can be purchased every turn — also throw a unique twist into the game. Some of these cards can be devastating, forcing every opponent to discard armies, stealing an opponents gold, kidnapping a character card for ransom, etc. Using these cards throws in that classic A Song of Ice and Firesurprise, throwing a serious wrench into one’s plans.
The game, as a whole, is incredible well-made, and just oozes Game of Thrones, in every way.
The game is not flawless. For example, the Valor Morghulis card is not well hidden — it easily stands out in the middle of the deck. Having the objectives hidden also makes it a bit too easy to win — we never went more than 4 complete turns around the board. Because of this, one must accomplish an objective every turn, or they simply cannot win. This doesn’t allow the player to play the strategy he/she wants to play, but rather forces them to attempt objectives that may ultimately cost them.
These are minor concerns, however.
After playing four games of Game of Thrones Risk, I cannot wait for the fifth.
Until next time... The North remembers.