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A Game of Thrones: The Card Game – Core Set - Board Game Box Shot

A Game of Thrones: The Card Game – Core Set

A Game of Thrones: The Card Game title
image © Fantasy Flight Games

"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

A Game of Thrones LCG is a game of epic battles and intrigue for 2-4 players. Players vie for the Iron Throne as one of the six Great Houses of Westeros using their favorite characters from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels in military, intrigue and power challenges.

The Core Set is the best way to start playing it contains a game board, high-quality pieces and four playable out of the box decks.

By buying Chapter Packs, fixed 40 card supplements that feature 20 distinct cards, players will be able to customize their core decks, or create strategies and decks of their own.

User Reviews (14)

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United Kingdom
Advanced Reviewer
77 of 84 gamers found this helpful
“You'll be needing expansions”

For this particular game I feel I need to establish credentials (or lack of them) and make clear some assumptions. Firstly, I have not read the books this game is based on, but I have seen the first season of the TV show (we don’t actually have the right channel on our TV subscription and are waiting for season two to be released on DVD). So I know some of the characters and events, but only some. Secondly, my wife bought me this game for us to play together; we have played several times, but always two-player. Thirdly, I am reviewing the core set only, as that is what we have — and is what this page is about. Oh, and in order to prevent this review getting enormously long, I’ll have to ask you to look elsewhere if you want to find out about the rules.

Anyway, my first impressions were good. The cards look great and, for those folks who will be playing multi-player, there is a good looking board and pieces to take to indicate titles your house currently hold. This aspect looks like an interesting layer of play as claiming the right title at the right time looks like it could really shift the balance of play quite nicely. Still, this doesn’t affect the two player game.

Unfortunately the rulebook is somewhat lacking in clarity, and some cards are less than helpful for the newcomer. For instance, there are mentions of “attachment” cards both in the rules and on some of the other cards, but it is not instantly apparent to me which cards are attachments; as far as I can make out, the only thing that distinguishes an attachment is that somewhere in the card’s text it mentions that it can be attached to something. Another pet peeve is the inconsistent iconography; for instance, members of the various houses are identified with an icon in the corner of the card, but these do not match up with the house icons stuck in amongst the cards’ effect text.

All in all, playing the game seems harder than it needs to be, simply because the (graphic, etc.) designers weren’t held to a high enough standard before publication. This stings doubly because this is a re-issue of an old CCG, which would have given an excellent opportunity to clean everything up. I can only assume that the decision was made to maintain compatibility with the old cards.

My final big criticism is that this boxed set looks like a stand-alone, playable game, where you can buy expansions later as and when you wish. While it is indeed playable from the decks provided in the box, it is a far from satisfactory experience. The decks contain just too much variety, which means that they rarely work very well, with combos being few and far between. I’d really like to have seen four decks, actually designed to demonstrate an effective way of playing each house and inspiring you to expand and experiment some more. As it happens, in only one of our games we felt that one of the decks was starting to really gel in an interesting way. Unfortunately, at the same time the other deck just never got going, so we had a quick (well under an hour) and very on-sided game.

Despite all of that, I’m pretty sure this is a good game. The houses do seem to have very different strengths. The system of three different types of attack (warfare, intrigue and power), with different results for each, allows for very different strategies. With more time, the presentation issues are likely to fade into the background as we get used to it all, and I feel that if I pick up a couple of the big box house expansions we’ll start being able to put together decks that are actually fun to play. But that’s a lot more cash to find out if we really like the game or not. I’m starting to lean towards going for it, though.

tl;dr: Looks like a good game but the core set just isn’t enough to be satisfying.

Edit: Since writing this we have (based on advice on the tips tab here and elsewhere on the net) bought a second core set, which allows the basic decks to be improved significantly. This has made the game a lot more fun for us as we now have four decks which, while not stunning, at least feel like they are coherent and worth playing with.

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I'm Completely Obsessed
Viscount / Viscountess
Champion Beta 1.0 Tester
83 of 91 gamers found this helpful
“Great game, especially with 3 or 4.”

I’ve been a long time CCG player, but haven’t played any in recent years. As a huge fan of the Martin books, though, this drew me in. Especially as an LCG. I picked up two core sets and the expansions listed in my Tip on the other page. Customized each of the six Houses to be balanced and fair. Then got a bunch of friends together and learned a few things.

First off, I wouldn’t play this with more than 4. Four, I think, is the ideal number for me. It makes the game a bit longer, but it’s not bad with down time, and it makes it really feel like a melee between multiple Houses for the throne. Five or six makes the game really drag on.

I love the Fate step each turn. It’s a nice way to decide turn order and throw some special effects in to the game. The attacks being in three types and allowing one of each also makes for more strategy than simply having one attack you can make each turn.

The cards are very nice, and the themes of each deck are very strong. House Stark and their Direwolves, Targaryen with their dragons, Lannister and their political maneuvering (read: treachery), Baratheon and their manipulation and recovery.

Although the game can seem daunting to someone who has never played before, it really isn’t that difficult. Explaining the Titles and the way they interact is one of the most important things to cover, and how to put out characters to defend with in the early game can be huge.

If you can pull 2-3 friends together who are interested in the game and enjoy a bit of making and breaking deals, attacking and trying to out-maneuver one another, this can be a great time for about a two hour period.

Good components, nice artwork.
Doesn’t take much to make a full set of decks.
Easily expandable if you want.

Play time can get long with too many players.
Can seem difficult to explain at first.

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Gamer - Level 6
74 of 83 gamers found this helpful
“A Game of Deceit, Strategy and Violence”

In this strategic card game players take on the roll of one of the ‘Houses’ from the Game of Thrones series, the base game features the Starks, Lannisters, Targaryens and the Baratheons. The game is a race to collect 15 power tokens by winning challenges and meeting the conditions on certain cards.

For a full review including full size images go to

There are multiple types of cards involved in the game so I will quickly explain each of them and then get into the game play.

Characters: Characters are used to win challenges, there are ways that characters can gain their own ‘power tokens’, these count towards your 15 needed to win, however they are discarded if the character is destroyed. Character cards are the easiest to tell apart because they are the only cards with a strength value, this is located on the bottom left of the cards artwork.

Attachments: These cards are used to enhance cards you already have in play, the majority of attachment cards go on characters however some can be placed on locations. You can tell an attachment card apart because they have a ‘chainmail’ border around their cost and card name.

Locations: Locations are used to provide you with additional abilities, gold income and some lower the cost of playing other cards, basically they are used to make your ‘house’ more powerful. Locations are played in your area and are semi permanent, (they do not get removed unless another card says so) they are easy to tell apart from other cards because of the map border surrounding the cards name and cost.

Events: Event cards are played from your hand to alter or change a situation. After the ‘text’ on the card is resolved it is immediately discarded. You can easily tell them apart by the bird border that runs up the left hand side of the card.

House Card: These simply act as a representation of what house you are playing, you will place power tokens on your house card throughout the game. In addition to these functions your house card will also tell you the turn order.

Plot Card: Plot cards are kept in a separate deck from the rest of your cards. At the start of each round both players will select one of these from the deck and play one simultaneously. You can only have 1 revealed plot card at a time, they provide you with income, initiative and a “claim” value that determines the effects when you win a challenge.

Agendas: These are a modifier to your House Card, you can only have 1 and you must select it before the game starts, once selected it may never be removed during the game. Agendas provide both a benefit and a drawback for the entire game.

Game play Varies Slightly depending on the amount of players you play with, this review will focus on the 2 player game but near the end I will touch on what is different with more players. The game goes something like this:

Plot: Both players select and reveal a plot card from their plot deck, this is placed over top of their previous plot card and if you reveal the last card from your deck all plot cards except the revealed one can be reshuffled.

Draw: during the draw step players draw 2 cards, if their deck is empty you cannot draw cards but nothing else happens.

Marshalling: The marshalling step is completed by one player and then the next until all players have completed the marshalling phase. During this step players determine their gold income by adding their ‘plot card’ to other bonus incomes. Then they place ‘character and support’ cards from their hand by paying the gold cost. Note: If you play a card from a house that is not your own you must pay 2 additional gold.

Challenges: There are three different types of challenges and they each provide the winners with different benefits. Note that if the ‘defender’ wins a challenge no action is taken.

> Military Challenge: The loser must choose and kill the number of characters equal to the attacker’s ‘claim value’. Note: These characters do not have to be characters that were in the challenge.

> Intrigue Challenge: The loser of this challenge must discard at random cards equal to the attacker’s ‘claim value’.

> Power Challenge: The ‘attacker’ takes power tokens equal to his/her claim value from their opponent’s house card.

If a player wins a challenge and the defender’s strength totals 0 then claim an additional power token.

Once the first player has had a chance to initiate challenges it becomes the other player’s turn to do so. Note that once you have ‘attacked’ a challenge your character is considered to be ‘kneeling’ and is spent until your next marshalling phase. To signify this, turn the character sideways, Note: A character that is not ‘kneeling’ is considered to be ‘standing’.

Dominance: During this phase players count the total of all their ‘standing’ characters and add 1 for each gold coin leftover from your marshalling phase. The player with the highest total is awarded 1 additional power token. If there is a tie no power is awarded.

Standing: During this step both players ‘stand’ all their characters, locations and attachments.

Taxation: All players must return any unspent gold to the treasury to stop you from stockpiling.

Once you have gone through these steps, you repeat them and the player who was the ‘active’ or first player last turn now goes last and the player who went last goes first.

Multiplayer Games: In a game with 3 or 4 players there is an additional rule of ‘titles’, players take turns selecting them during the ‘plot’ phase. These titles provide you with a benefit, and force you to support or oppose another title. You cannot start challenges with a title that you support; also you may block or ‘defend’ for the player whose title you support. If you win a challenge against a title that you oppose you gain 1 additional power counter. Titles are returned during the ‘taxation’ step and are chosen again during the plot phase. In a 3 player game the titles are not returned until they have all been chosen, in a 4 player game they are returned right away at the end of the taxation phase.

Components: How great can the components to a card game be? Well when it includes 3d markers to signify your title and the titles are directly related to the games lore or theme the answer is pretty awesome. The artwork on the cards is great, the gold and power tokens are nice and the title markers are awesome.

Who will enjoy a Game of Thrones the card game?

Family Gamers: Unless your kids are older or you’re already experienced with board games and like fantasy themes I would stay away from this one. Violence, double crossing and conquest for power are not traditional family game qualities, there is also a lot of text and rules.

Casual Gamers: A Game of Thrones the card game is set in a universe widely enjoyed by so many people, from books to games and a HBO TV series there are lots of people who at least know what it is. A good theme can make or break a game for casual players even if the game itself is awesome. If you are a casual card gamer, or are in love with the theme then this game is for you.

Gamer Gamers: Especially once you add in the multiplayer components A Game of Thrones becomes a deep strategic card game of treachery, deceit and short term alliances formed for personal gain. Even if you don’t count deck building as part of the strategy this is still a very deep game which is good for gamers who are not ‘card gamers’ and just want to play right out of the box. This game will appeal to ‘serious’ strategy gamers, card gamers and anyone who is familiar with A Game of Thrones setting.

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My First Favorite!
68 of 78 gamers found this helpful
“Less Filling (but still tastes great)!”

Fans of the books might find A Game of Thrones: The Board Game to be a bit more filling, as it really captures the epic feel of the world and the ebb and flow of each House’s fortune and is designed to create the sort of backstabbing and intrigue that is the hallmark of Martin’s universe. But the living card game is a languid swim in the mythos, steeping you in the characters and events of the universe. It took a bit for me to get used to the rules, but the similarities with The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (the phases, token use, etc) helped.
I enjoyed playing with the core set, and didn’t feel obligated to expand the game with chapter packs (though I did.) I’m not a fan of CCGs, so I never tried this in it’s CCG days. I am delighted that I can go get a couple chapter packs and know what I am getting and adding to my collection.
I’m not sure I would play it if I weren’t a fan of the books… I’m a big coop fan and find LotR:TCG to be a better experience. But when I want a conflict heavy LCG experience, this will be my go-to game.
I’m rating it really high on replay value. The nature of these games, even in the limited scope of the core set (or multiple copies of the core) allow you to try lots of different combinations of cards and strategies. As far as components, it’s a card game with a small board and some lovely little figurines and tokens… the components are certainly doing their job. I might’ve preferred more iconic wood pieces, but that’s a personal preference. Ease to Learn – that’s the sticker. It took a while for me to puzzle through the manual and ultimately saought third party examples. But with a game with this many inter-card interactions, it’s bound to be difficult to get into for some folk. But it’s worth it!

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Gamer - Level 2
67 of 89 gamers found this helpful
“Fun game; Would be better if I liked the flavor”

Mechanically speaking the game is solid. It’s quite popular at my FLGS and I have to say I would have probably started playing it if I had love for the books/show that it’s based around.

However the problem I had with the game was I didn’t know who anyone was on the cards and I had no attachment to the family I was playing. This certainly seemed to help the enjoyment of other people at the table and I think it would have made it a more enjoyable experience for me if I had come into the game with knowledge of the flavor.

I have to say give it a try if you like CCG/LCGs and are a fan of Game of Thrones. The game is quite mechanically sound and actually quite a bit of fun with a wealth of strategy. However if you’re not a fan of the books/show you may want to pass or play it with a friend before buying in.

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69 of 98 gamers found this helpful
“Hard to perfect, easy to get confused!”

I’ve played the HBO condensed version of this game and also the Game of Thrones board game prior to trying to particular game.
We played the three player version and it wasn’t amazing, only due to the fact that there is a huge amount of knowledge and alertness you need to actually complete a legal and intentional match. There are so many details (such as tile card effects) which can be so easily forgotten about or overlooked that there was multiple instances of backtracking.
Figuring out the small details such as the icon pictures can be time consuming; needing to flip through the rule-book to hopefully land on the right page or to google the answers we seeked meant the game was staggering and had many small pauses throughout. I’d definitely recommend watching a video on the rules before even attempting to set up the cards.

I feel like there are many better card games out there, and compared to the board game, the complexity means it’s just too steep of a learning curve to enjoy it any time soon.

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Amateur Reviewer
Amateur Advisor
68 of 102 gamers found this helpful
“Will I play it again? Definitely yes.”

I played some LCG from Fantasy Flight now (Warhammer Invasion, Lord of The Rings, Game of Thrones) and I must say Game of Thrones is by far the best. Yes, it is not easy to learn, but if you like player interaction this game is the right thing for you. Do you kill some of the opponent’s character? Or do you try to steal some power from opponents? While doing that you still have to take care of yourself.
I don’t know Game of Thrones – The Board Game, but the card game is challenging and is a lot of fun.

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Knight Beta 1.0 Tester
67 of 101 gamers found this helpful
“LCG Gaming”

Fantasy Flight has taken this model and done extremely well with it in regards to the Call of Cthulhu LCG, and the Game of Thrones LCG. What they are doing is lowering the cost to themselves and to their players. By releasing a base set with small supplemental sets in a non-collectible environment, both the publisher and the players are aware of their long term costs. This allows Fantasy Flight to reliably predict sales, as the base number of players remains relatively stable, and the sales numbers are largely unaffected by a “bad” set, as players are only out $20-60 every 1-2 months as opposed to collecting rares and driving the cost well beyond that in the CCG model.

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I'm a Real Person
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68 of 110 gamers found this helpful
“Great idea but...”

I love the Game of Thrones universe, and for the most part I like this game, but it has one major drawback. It just takes way too long to play.

Production values are top notch. Deck building is fun. The mechanics reflect the theme well.

The game tends to run long, especially with more than 2 players. Perhaps house ruling victory conditions would help. Another complaint is that there are a lot of text on the cards, so if you haven’t memorized all the cards, it’s hard to tell everything your opponent is capable of.

Bottom line: I won’t suggest playing this game, but would play if someone else really wanted to. I would play 2 player on occaison, but rarely with more. If I wanted a GoT experience with more players, I would recommend the GoT boardgame.

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Rated 10 Games
68 of 111 gamers found this helpful
“Unplayable without the FAQ”

Sadly the wording on the cards and the rules leaves a lot to be desired, and you really can’t play this game without having the rather large FAQ at hand. I am used to dealing with complex rule sets, but the tedium of constantly looking things up and dealing with corner cases took away my initial enthusiasm for this game.

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Gamer - Level 3
Amateur Advisor
64 of 106 gamers found this helpful
“A difficult CG to master, but lots of fun in trying”

GoT has a ton of rules and quirks that make it more than just another Magic clone. You have three different types of attacks per turn, and with some cards you’ll be hard pressed to choose which style will work best for any given situation, but it makes for a lot of strategizing. With several ways to win, different decks can have radically different tactics against each other.

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69 of 116 gamers found this helpful
“Hard to learn”

I own it and have played it only a handful of times. I have watched the videos on it many times and I still have a lot of problems understanding the game. It can get very long and there is not much player interaction. I think it can be a good game but it’s just beyond me the concept of the game. It needs a lot of time and money to get more cards to really get into the game and I don’t have either. I played Magic: The gathering for yrs and it helped me to understand the mechanics of the game but it’s just at another level of difficulty.

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65 of 111 gamers found this helpful
“House Stark FTW”

I am huge fan of the Game of Thrones book series. I love this card game because I think it did a great job incorporating awesome characters and memorable events/places into the game. I’m an avid game player and caught on to this game quickly. My fiance and I also have all of the chapter packs, so we have gotten into custom deck building with our favorite houses. This is one of my favorite card games to play.

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3 of 9 gamers found this helpful

My favourite game/card game of all time!

So much fun when playing a 3 or 4 player game. Full of comebacks, backstabbing, strategic moves, broken promises, friendships broken 🙂

You can play 2 players mode or multiplayer, but the game really shines when playing with 3 or 4 players.

I’ve tried lots of different CCG’s and LCG’s and this his hands down the best!

Going to purchase the second edition soon. Btw can boardgamers update so we can also have the second edition here in the database?


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