Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne

RRP: £49.99

NOW £36.99
RRP £49.99

In Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne, which uses the game systems from Cosmic Encounter, you and your friends each command one of the Great Houses of Westeros, pitting iconic characters against each other in epic battles and schemes.Negotiate, bluff, forge alliances, threaten your rivals — use every tool at your disposal to spread your influence, establish supremacy, and claim the …
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Complex game that gets deeper the more familiar you become with it, excellent replay-ability.
  • Rewards players for bold, clever, or charismatic moves.
  • Systems based on manipulation and subterfuge make the game feel just like the TV show and books.
  • High quality, well-designed game components.

Might Not Like

  • Big learning curve for first time players that requires everyone being invested.
  • Complicated rules and a long set-up time.
  • No board to help guide set-up and game play.
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Description

In Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne, which uses the game systems from Cosmic Encounter, you and your friends each command one of the Great Houses of Westeros, pitting iconic characters against each other in epic battles and schemes.

Negotiate, bluff, forge alliances, threaten your rivals — use every tool at your disposal to spread your influence, establish supremacy, and claim the ultimate prize: the Iron Throne! In more detail, each turn centres around the resolution of an encounter between two players.

These encounters can result in hostilities, startling conquests, and the spread of influence, or they can result in the formation of temporary alliances. And though only two players in any encounter will be the "active" players, your friends might offer you their support — or turn around and offer it to someone else.

The encounters of The Iron Throne resolve quickly, but they are full of opportunities for cunning strategy, devious intrigues, and brokered alliances. Each features a challenger and a defender, and after these players assign characters to resolve the encounter on the behalf of their Houses, other players may offer their support to either side.

In this way, an encounter that starts as a contest between the Lannisters and the Starks may escalate and draw in the support of the Tyrells or other Houses. However, there's more to the encounters of The Iron Throne than this initial jostling for power, even with all the alliances and betrayals it can entail.

There are still schemes within schemes, and the bluffs, negotiations, and hidden information that color these encounters as the active players discuss the House cards they intend to play. Of course, there's a very good chance that one or both of them may be lying, but they can offer and even agree to a truce. Or they can bid cards from their hands, hoping to win hostilities with the higher total power.

In the event of a truce, the active players discuss what they may give each other in order to maintain the peace. In the event of hostilities, however, one side will win, and the other will suffer. You might seize influence or take hostages, or you may even have your characters put to the sword.

Win enough of these encounters, though — and find the right ones to lose — and you might find yourself in position to seize the Iron Throne. The goal of the game is to spread five of your influence to your opponents' House cards and take the crown for yourself.

  • Ages 18+
  • 3-5 Players
  • 30-60 Minute Playing Time

 

In the Game of Thrones you win, or you die. Luckily for us the board game is a little less perilous. Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne puts players at the head of the different Houses of Westeros and pits them together in a battle of wits and steel.

Houses rival for power, spread influence, manipulate friends, and clash swords in the hopes of winning the throne, but whether each House will survive this struggle is in the hands of the players.

So if your thirst for warfare isn’t quite sated, and you want to try your hand at the Game of Thrones, take a sword, don your crown, and read on for a review of The Iron Throne board game, and its expansion pack: The Wars to Come.

A Clash of Kings

Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne is a strategy game for 3-5 players (or up to seven with The Wars to Come expansion) made by Fantasy Flight and based on the TV series by HBO. You begin by choosing a noble House to play as: the Lannisters, Starks, Targaryens, Baratheons, or the Tyrells, each of whose characters and leaders have different abilities and play styles - which makes it an important decision.

Each House has five members who can potentially be your leader, which is a boon for players who, for example, might want to lead House Lannister with Tyrion, instead of Cersei, but for more tactical players the rotation of different leaders between games allows for more variety when it comes down to the leaders special abilities, all of which influence what you’ll want to focus on as you play.

As you may already be able to tell there’s a lot going on in Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne, and certainly its biggest drawback is the time it takes to do the initial set-up.

It’s a long rule book and a big learning curve which you’ll need first time players to be invested in to overcome, however once you’ve begun to understand how the Game of Thrones is played you’ll be rewarded with a challenging game of manipulation and subterfuge which encourages clever strategies, and is definitely worth the investment.

At its core, The Iron Throne centres around the movement of influence tokens between players, representing the amount of influence you have over a House, and the first player to circulate all five of their influence counters to other players wins the game. Alternatively, you can win by simply killing each opposing House that stands in your way, but that’s never as simple as it sounds.

As you may already be able to tell there’s a lot going on in Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne, and certainly its biggest drawback is the time it takes to do the initial set-up.

It’s a long rule book and a big learning curve which you’ll need first time players to be invested in to overcome, however once you’ve begun to understand how the Game of Thrones is played you’ll be rewarded with a challenging game of manipulation and subterfuge which encourages clever strategies, and is definitely worth the investment.

At its core, The Iron Throne centres around the movement of influence tokens between players, representing the amount of influence you have over a House, and the first player to circulate all five of their influence counters to other players wins the game. Alternatively, you can win by simply killing each opposing House that stands in your way, but that’s never as simple as it sounds.

A Storm of Swords: Truces, Betrayals, and Hostility

Killing off Houses, or even spreading influence, is far from easy. Each turn is broken down into encounters between two Houses: mercilessly selected at random by the event deck so even players that might want to remain peaceful with one another will find themselves put to the test. This means that players are always on edge over who will attack them next, and who they will have to fight, which means the wiliest players will keep track of deals, alliances, and betrayals throughout the game.

Encounters lead to either a truce, hostility, or betrayal outcome, depending on which cards the two opposing Houses play, and the attacking and defending houses stand to gain varying rewards depending on the outcome. This is how Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne becomes a game of manipulation, bluffing, and bartering, as in the stages before you reveal your action card the two players can freely discuss what they plan to do: negotiate truces, charm the player into letting down their guard, or bluff their way into winning a hostile encounter.

Even truce negotiations are a dangerous ground to tread as you can negotiate for one player to spread influence to the other, but since this is a major boon the players often have to compromise and allow the other to take a hostage or remove power from a character. This plays out brilliantly in late-game scenarios when the stakes are raised and you have a history of alliances and wars with your fellow Houses; as a Targaryen I negotiated allowing my enemy to place an influence token on my House in exchange for the release of my leader, Daenerys, as hostage: a valuable captive who could have meant my power being seriously crippled if left her in the hands of my enemies.

But truces easily give way to betrayals: both players have to play a truce card in order for there to be peace, but if one player bluffs and plays a hostility card they will automatically win the encounter: taking on penalties for playing a dirty game, but ultimately gaining great rewards for the coup. That said, it pays to make friends with your fellow Houses, particularly when it comes down to the most common outcome of the encounters: hostility.

A Feast for Crows: Battling and Special Abilities

If both players decide to go to war they’ll play hostility cards, and choose a character to fight the battle. Hostility cards each have point values and naturally the higher score wins the encounter, so it comes down to the reveal to see who has won the battle.

However the chosen character’s power is also added towards the total score, so a particularly powerful character has a chance to tip a fight in their favour, even against an opponent who played a strong card. Even better, players don’t have to go into battle alone: support can be rallied from the other Houses who might offer forward characters to fight on either side and add their power to the final opposing scores.

Supporters can change the tide of the battle, but might expect their good deeds to be repaid, so it’s important to note that Houses can in fact refuse the offers of help, although it might signal that something is awry to their opponent. Even better, character cards and leader special abilities often come into play during battle to help bolster your power or dispel enemies, and they add massively not only to help keep the mechanics of the game intriguing but also by bringing flavour to the play styles of each family.

In a touch that adds masses of depth to the game, leaders’ special abilities were clearly designed around the characteristics of the Houses themselves. House Targaryen’s leaders tend towards influencing stakes in power across the game, whereas Baratheons punish their opponents and set up enemies on the wrong foot. These common traits mean you can identify which Houses are more risky to make certain deals with or likely to pursue different approaches, and that you can pick your house based on the kind of style you want to play. Leader’s and characters’ individual powers therefore bring a lot of depth and replay-ability as you grow more familiar with your opponents as you play, and more bound up in the Game of Thrones.

Of course, if you’re looking for even more opportunities for subterfuge and manipulation then look no further than The Wars to Come.

But truces easily give way to betrayals: both players have to play a truce card in order for there to be peace, but if one player bluffs and plays a hostility card they will automatically win the encounter: taking on penalties for playing a dirty game, but ultimately gaining great rewards for the coup. That said, it pays to make friends with your fellow Houses, particularly when it comes down to the most common outcome of the encounters: hostility.

A Feast for Crows: Battling and Special Abilities

If both players decide to go to war they’ll play hostility cards, and choose a character to fight the battle. Hostility cards each have point values and naturally the higher score wins the encounter, so it comes down to the reveal to see who has won the battle.

However the chosen character’s power is also added towards the total score, so a particularly powerful character has a chance to tip a fight in their favour, even against an opponent who played a strong card. Even better, players don’t have to go into battle alone: support can be rallied from the other Houses who might offer forward characters to fight on either side and add their power to the final opposing scores.

Supporters can change the tide of the battle, but might expect their good deeds to be repaid, so it’s important to note that Houses can in fact refuse the offers of help, although it might signal that something is awry to their opponent. Even better, character cards and leader special abilities often come into play during battle to help bolster your power or dispel enemies, and they add massively not only to help keep the mechanics of the game intriguing but also by bringing flavour to the play styles of each family.

In a touch that adds masses of depth to the game, leaders’ special abilities were clearly designed around the characteristics of the Houses themselves. House Targaryen’s leaders tend towards influencing stakes in power across the game, whereas Baratheons punish their opponents and set up enemies on the wrong foot. These common traits mean you can identify which Houses are more risky to make certain deals with or likely to pursue different approaches, and that you can pick your house based on the kind of style you want to play. Leader’s and characters’ individual powers therefore bring a lot of depth and replay-ability as you grow more familiar with your opponents as you play, and more bound up in the Game of Thrones.

Of course, if you’re looking for even more opportunities for subterfuge and manipulation then look no further than The Wars to Come.

The Expansion: The Wars to Come

If you’re considering spending extra to add The Wars to Come expansion to the game then it’s worth knowing what it brings to the table. The expansion pack adds two extra Houses to the game: the Greyjoys and the Martells, bringing up the maximum amount of players possible to seven.

As well as helping to clarify the rewards and penalties merited by certain actions with the addition of reference cards for up to seven players, the pack’s main addition to the game is the introduction of Allies.

This additional roster of 25 characters is dealt out to players at the start of the game and each have individual abilities, like character cards or leaders. The addition of an ally deck is perfect for players who may have already learnt the different Houses typical moves, strengths, and weaknesses from the base game because you won’t know who has the support of which allies.

With 25 new ally cards introducing a range of much-loved (or hated) characters from the far reaches of Westeros the roster feels more complete, especially as the main game was forced to make some exclusions in its families of five. Characters whom Stark purists might have missed such as Jon Snow, Sansa, and Hodor are now in the game.

Allies help make the game even less predictable with deliciously underhanded abilities such as Petyr Baelish’s power to suddenly lend hostility points in support even after the battle cards have been revealed, or The Hound’s ability to simply look at a player’s hand and choose a hostage.

If complex rules and the necessity of knowing your enemy are aspects which peak your interest I thoroughly recommend adding allies to the game as characters who complete the set, but who also bring real unpredictability to a game that already keeps you on your toes.

This additional roster of 25 characters is dealt out to players at the start of the game and each have individual abilities, like character cards or leaders. The addition of an ally deck is perfect for players who may have already learnt the different Houses typical moves, strengths, and weaknesses from the base game because you won’t know who has the support of which allies.

With 25 new ally cards introducing a range of much-loved (or hated) characters from the far reaches of Westeros the roster feels more complete, especially as the main game was forced to make some exclusions in its families of five. Characters whom Stark purists might have missed such as Jon Snow, Sansa, and Hodor are now in the game.

Allies help make the game even less predictable with deliciously underhanded abilities such as Petyr Baelish’s power to suddenly lend hostility points in support even after the battle cards have been revealed, or The Hound’s ability to simply look at a player’s hand and choose a hostage.

If complex rules and the necessity of knowing your enemy are aspects which peak your interest I thoroughly recommend adding allies to the game as characters who complete the set, but who also bring real unpredictability to a game that already keeps you on your toes.

Component Quality

Finally, it’s important to cover the actual physical quality of The Iron Throne and its components as an investment. As has been mentioned, the long set up for the game owes a lot to its many components which need to be divvied up at the start of each game, and it certainly feels like players could benefit from having a game board to direct you on the placement of everything you’ll need to keep track of.

However the components you get are high quality: character cards and tokens all using images from the HBO series to their full advantage, beautifully designed House crests to easily distinguish different House sets, and 3D golden crown tokens to mark the power of each House and character.

Though without a board, players get a lot for their money in this game, with each player provided with five leader cards, five characters, an influence board and its tokens, golden crowns to represent power, and a personal House deck of 25 cards. There’s plenty to keep track of, but also plenty to admire in the individual sets, which ultimately allows you to decide how best you’d like to set up your game.

Final Thoughts

Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne is a game you have to invest in, but of all the Game of Thrones board games I think it comes the closest to what the show, and books, are really about. This game is one of strategy and careful politics, where betrayals and backstabbing is always just around the corner, and the only way to come out alive is to outwit, out-manoeuvre and outlive your opponents.

The Iron Throne is not a game for the shy-hearted, but rewards players for being bold, quick-witted, and charismatic. So if you think you have what it takes, it’s time for you to come and claim your House’s rightful throne.

  • Zatu Review Summary
  • Zatu Score

    Rating

    • Artwork
    • Complexity
    • Replayability
    • Player Interaction
    • Component Quality

    You might like

    • Complex game that gets deeper the more familiar you become with it, excellent replay-ability.
    • Rewards players for bold, clever, or charismatic moves.
    • Systems based on manipulation and subterfuge make the game feel just like the TV show and books.
    • High quality, well-designed game components.

    Might not like

    • Big learning curve for first time players that requires everyone being invested.
    • Complicated rules and a long set-up time.
    • No board to help guide set-up and game play.