Game of Thrones Board Game

This does everything that an expansion should do
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3.7

Summary

This does everything that an expansion should do, to the point where it is nearly essential to playing the game from now on. It improves the strategic balance, it simultaneously lengthens and shortens the playtime, and it adds two entirely new houses, including the long-awaited Targaryens – and yes, they have their powerful dragons in tow! This is an expansion that thematically completes the base game, and I imagine the Targaryens will be the most anticipated part of this expansion, since dragons obviously kick ass to have in any game.

But I think the best part of this expansion, by far, is how it not only makes it more playable at smaller player counts with the vassal system, but it also allows for players to leave the game early if they choose and have their house integrated into the vassal system (all except for the Targaryens). This is why it both lengthens and shortens the game – it lengthens the game for those who want to keep going with it, and it shortens the game for those who are called to their life outside of Westeros.

In short, this expansion makes a fun but inflexible base game more fun and infinitely more flexible. And, it adds dragons! DRAGONS! It is a much-needed expansion that was a long time coming, but what we get is nothing short of perfection. And dragons!

Of course you’ve heard of the HBO series and the novels. But to me, A Game of Thrones has always been about the board game. The first edition debuted back in 2003, and with its characteristic mix of head-to-head warfare, short lived alliances, and diplomatic backstabbing, it became an instant classic. I think of it as midway between Diplomacy and Twilight Imperium in terms of rules, but just as devious and delightful as either.

That’s why I’m so delighted with The Mother of Dragons expansion, which brings in fresh blood and expands this classic strategy game into unforgettable epic. The biggest change is that the player count has been upped to eight, with the addition of House Arryn and the Targaryens. Now you and your friends must balance cutthroat, 7 Kingdoms fighting with strategic cooperation to restrain the growing power of the Mother of Dragons across the Narrow Sea.

But undoubtedly the best addition in this expansion is the new vassal system, which turns the troops of unplayed houses into thralls under the holder of the Iron Throne. This has two benefits. Now you can play a fulsome game with less than a full table of friends (almost impossible before.) But even more importantly, losing players can now drop out when all hope is lost, without completely throwing the game. Given that the play time can reach well into 8 hours or more, this is a beautiful and rare mercy in the A Game of Thrones universe.

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