Set in George RR Martin’s sprawling Song of Ice and Fire universe, Game of Thrones Westeros Intrigue takes most of its cues from the hit HBO series. As such, the game is full of rich artwork featuring the cast of the show, images of the iconic Iron Throne and other recognisable iconography, such as House Sigils and the series logo.
To play the game, each player draws a number of cards from a deck of 36 character cards (the number of cards dealt depends on how many people are playing). Each card features a different character from the show, from one of four of the Great Houses of Westeros, and, on their turn, players place a single card from their hard into the play area.
As more and more cards are played into the centre of the table, players form a pyramid of characters. Members of each Great House are stacked on top of each other into shorter, higher rows in the pyramid until a row only has a single character card in it. This marks that House as the true ruler of Westeros, and the player who played that card the winner of the round.
What's in the box?
Westeros Intrigue, designed by Reiner Knizia and published by Fantasy Flight Games, is a compact little game. Along with the 36 character cards, the only other components are seven Iron Throne cards and penalty point tokens.
This is all you need to play the game, meaning it takes up a relatively small amount of space which, combined with it’s quick gameplay, makes it an easy entry game for players – especially for fans of the show who might be warming up to something thematically similar but notably more complex, such as Game of Thrones: The Board Game.
You Win or you Die!
Westeros Intrigue is played over rounds equal to the number of players in the game and players score and lose points between each round depending on how they have performed. This scoring system ties neatly into the theme of the game and the show from which it is inspired, ensuring it remains unclear who is the overall winner until the final round.
During each round, whenever a player is unable to play a card from their hand, they are eliminated and their remaining cards remain in their hand, unplayed. At the end of each round, eliminated players receive penalty tokens equal to the number of cards they couldn’t play and the player who played the last card into the pyramid also gets to take an Iron Throne card, which awards them a random number of positive points to negate penalty points.
At the end of the final round, all points – both penalty and Iron Throne points – are calculated and a winner is announced.
Final Thoughts on Game of Thrones: Westeros Intrigue
Westeros Intrigue is an easy game to pick up and play. Its main appeal is probably for fans to engage with the world of Game of Thrones, but it’s gameplay doesn’t really rely on any knowledge of either the HBO show or George RR Martin’s novels. This means fans of the series and newcomers alike can play without any real issue.
While this is a plus in many ways, it’s also perhaps the game’s biggest issue. Westeros Intrigue relies on the themes of Game of Thrones’ political landscape so loosely that it doesn’t really resonate with fans enough to deliver; while it’s neatly packaged, HBO-stylised components and setting risk alienating non-fans in a similar way.
As a gateway game to exploring Westeros’ rich board game offering, this game is a neat introduction; but ultimately, Westeros Intrigue oversells itself as being something more enticing than it is able deliver on.