Our group has played a lot of both the base game as well as MoD and a few consistent issues have arisen. Namely:
1. Targaryen wins >50% of the time (in an 8 player game this is ridiculous)
2. The Fiefdoms Track is far more important than the other 2 tracks, specifically for being the one who holds the sword
3. House cards often contribute far more to the outcome of any fight than the units
A "3rd Edition" or Variant that I have created attempts to solve some of these issues while keeping the general play of Game of Thrones unchanged. Any thoughts or further suggestions for balancing would be fantastic.
House Cards --
Each house is given a new deck of house cards more closely aligned to the 1st Edition stats and effects. The intent was to carve a more unique, thematically fitting niche for each House without introducing any new mechanics, and while generally reducing the printed strength of each deck:
0 - Lisa Arryn – This card’s Printed Combat Strength is equal to the combined Garrison and Defense Order in this area
0 - Petyr Baelish – If you lose this combat: You may pay two Power Tokens: Your opponent must Discard half of their available Power Tokens and Established Control (rounded up)
1 - Harry Hardying – Sword + Fortification
1 - Ser Vardis Egen – This card gains +1 Printed Combat Strength and a Sword if the opponent’s Printed Combat Strength is 1 or 0
2 - Lyn Corbray – Sword
2 - Nestor Royce – Fortification
3 - Bronze Yohn Royce – If you win this combat: You may replace one placed Order Token with the equivalent Special Order Token, ignoring the King’s Court Influence Track
0 - Salladhor Saan – If you are being supported this fight; All non-Baratheon Ships are worth 0 Strength
0 - Melisandre of Asshai – If you win this combat: Pay two Power Tokens to discard one House Card from your opponent’s hand
1 - Ser Axell Florent – Sword
1 - Ser Davos Seaworth – If you lose this battle your Units follow regular retreating rules, however they are not routed. You may spend two Power Tokens: This card gains one Fortification
2 - Brienne of Tarth – Sword
2 - Renly Baratheon – If you win this combat: Upgrade one Participating Footman to a knight
3 - Stannis Baratheon – Sword + Fortification
0 - Victarion Greyjoy – When attacking, all participating Ships add +2 instead of +1
0 - Balon Greyjoy – The Printed Combat Strength of your opponent’s House Card is 0
1 - Dagmar Cleftjaw – Sword
1 - Aeron Damphair – Fortification; you may pay two Power Tokens to Discard a different House Card: This Card’s effect (including Fortification) is replaced with that Card’s effect
2 - Theon Greyjoy – Sword
2 - Asha Greyjoy – If you win this combat: Immediately remove a Support or Consolidate Power in any area adjacent to the battle
3 - Euron Crow’s Eye – Gain one Sword for each “Greyjoy” card in your Discard Pile
0 - Kevan Lannister – Participating Footmen add +2 instead of +1 to your combat Strength
0 - Cersei Lannister – If you win this combat: Remove any one of the opponent’s Order Tokens from the board
1 - Tyrion Lannister – Fortification. Immediately return your opponents House Card to their hand and they must pick a different House Card
1 - The Hound – Sword + Fortification
2 - Gregor Clegane – Sword + Sword
2 - Ser Jaime Lannister – If you win this combat: Immediately gain two Power Token
3 - Tywin Lannister – You may pay two Power Tokens: Increase your position on one of the Influence Tracks
0 - Arianne Martell – If you lose this battle, your opponent suffers one Casualty (your choice). If it was the last Unit, you must route normally, however your opponent is not considered to have taken the area
0 - Doran Martell – Immediately reduce your opponent to the bottom of one of the three Influence Tracks and reassign the corresponding Dominance Token
1 - Quentyn Martell – You may immediately muster 1 Boat in the embattled area, following Supply, and add its Strength to your combat Strength
1 - Obara Sand – Sword
2 - Darkstar – Sword
2 - Areo Hotah – Sword + Fortification
3 - The Red Viper – Sword +Sword
0 - Bran Stark – You may retrieve one House Card from your Discard Pile at the end of the combat
0 - Catelyn Stark – If you win this combat: You may immediately place a regular Support or Defence Order Token in the embattled area and remove any previous Order Token
1 - The Blackfish – You take no Casualties from this combat including House Card abilities, Combat Icons and Tides of Battle Cards
1 - Ser Rodrick Cassel – Fortification
2 - Greatjon Umber – Sword
2 - Robb Stark – You may choose where your opponent’s Units route, choosing the location where the least number of units break Supply
3 - Eddard Stark – Sword + Sword
0 - Illyrio Mopatis – If you win this combat: You may remove any Order Token in the embattled area and place a Consolidate Power Token in this area
0 - Daenerys Targaryen – This card’s Printed Combat Strength is equal to the number of living Dragons
1 - Viserys Targaryen – If this card is in your Discard Pile after combat, remove it from the game. You may send this card to the Discard Pile: Choose a different House Card to be used in this combat
1 - Missandei – Fortification
2 - Grey Worm – Sword + Fortification
2 - Jorah Mormont – Gain a Fortification when Defending
4 - Khal Drogo – Reduce this card’s Printed Combat Strength by 1 for each card in your Discard Pile (to a minimum of 0)
0 - Margaery Tyrell – You may cancel the Printed Effects of your opponent’s House Card
0 - Queen of Thorns – Immediately remove one of your opponent’s Order Tokens in the embattled area or any adjacent area
1 - Ser Jon Fossoway – Sword
1 - Willas Tyrell – Fortification + Fortification
2 - Randyll Tarly – Sword
2 - Ser Loras Tyrell – Immediately remove one of your opponent’s Attacking or Defending Footmen
3 - Mace Tyrell – If your opponent is below you on the Fiefdoms Track this card gains +1 Printed Combat Strength
Westeros IV Cards --
The main issues felt with Targaryen is that it is far too easy for the House to sit around doing nothing while currying favor with Westeros by donating copious Power Tokens, before swooping in on turn 7-10, picking up a few free Loyalty tokens, and winning as there is no way for the Houses of Westeros to remove Targaryen's victory conditions. Changing up each card in the Westeros IV Deck to offer far fewer Loyalty Tokens and require Targaryen to actively fight to keep them in opportune locations means the House has to be more active in their approach to collecting these Loyalty Tokens (and hopefully would actually land units in Westeros that aren't just Dragons). Generally, the cards are made to require a choice between 2 locations, followed by an effect that adds an additional Loyalty Token for a cost, or alters the position of the existing Loyalty Tokens. Realistically these changes should probably be implemented alongside Tex's Balance Changes and even then Targaryen may be too frustrating for both Westeros and the Targaryen player:
Domestic Disputes: Loyalty “Storms End”. T may choose up to 4 players. Each of those players may pay 2 power tokens to cancel their respective Loyalty. Place Loyalty on each player’s home land.
Empty Promises: Loyalty “The Stony Shore”. T may pay 2 power tokens to Loyalty “The Mountains of the Moon” or “Moat Cailin”
Fire Made Flesh: T may either: Destroy one dragon to increase the dragon strength by 1 (remove the highest turn token) or muster 1 dragon in “The Rhoyne”
Playing With Fire: Loyalty “Riverrun” or “The Arbor”. T may discard 2 power tokens to choose one player and one land area on Westeros: That player places one of their units in reserve and Loyalty in that area
Scattering Dissent: Loyalty “Karhold” and “Oldtown”. In reverse turn order the houses of Westeros may move one Loyalty by one area. T may pay 2 power tokens to cancel any move.
Southron Ambitions: Loyalty “Searoad Marshes” or “Dornish Marshes”. T may pay 2 power tokens to Loyalty “Blackwater” and/or 2 power tokens to Loyalty “The Boneway”.
Strongholds of Resistance: Loyalty “Seagard”. T may pay 2 power tokens to Loyalty “Harrenhal” and/or 2 power tokens to Loyalty “White Harbor”.
The Long Plan: Loyalty “Castle Black” or “Yronwood”. T may pay 2 power tokens to let one Westeros House place 1 Loyalty token in 2 different Westeros land areas.
Watering the Seed: T may pay power tokens equal to their position on the victory track to place 1 power token in 2 Westeros land areas adjacent to a river that they do not control.
Word Spreads Quickly: Loyalty “Cracklaw Point” or “Three Towers”. Each Westeros house chooses one power token to move up to 2 land areas.
The Sword --
The holder of the sword is too often able to steamroll his neighbor through the advantage of holding the sword until after calculating final combat strength, and then activating the +1 strength if they misplayed their House Card, or were simply always weaker. The added challenge is that Greyjoy/Lannister opening is heavily influenced by the sword starting with Greyjoy, as well as Lannister lacking effective tools in the early game to prevent a slaughter barring diplomacy. This change should require the holder of the sword to more carefully plan out their individual attacks as well as give Lannister (and Greyjoy in the case they lose the sword) Tyrion (and Balon) as counters to the sword:
Valerian Steel Blade — once per turn, during combat but before revealing house cards, the holder of the Valerian Steel Blade may turn over the sword to increase the printed strength of their house card by 1.
Extra Ruling: Wildlings --
The Wildling track is largely fine? It feels like an afterthought most of the time, as it is common for the Wildlings to only attack once or twice a game and, when they do, holding onto your tokens in case of a Clash of Kings feels like the right call most of the time. The opportunity cost of losing to the Wildlings is far less than receiving low positions on the Influence Tracks and thus the Wildlings are largely forgotten about. Making the Wildlings attack slightly more often should mean the Houses of Westeros are given more chances to splurge on a Night's Watch Victory particularly if the holder of the Messenger Raven is loose lipped:
All "Winter is Coming" cards now read -- Reshuffle this Westeros Deck and draw a new card; Increase the Wildlings track by 1.
Thanks for reading this far! Any suggestions or thoughts are greatly appreciated. We love this game, and feel like these small pushes retain the same flavor as the original, while reducing some of the most obvious pain points.