Time and player count
We were 5 players, 3 vassals (GJ, Tyrell and Baratheon). We played for 6 hours, only being able to complete round 7. So if we had been able to finish round 10 (barring none being able to reach 7 VPs), I expect we would have landed at around 8 hours. Yikes. All have played AGOT previously, though this was our first MoD game, so I expect our next game to be significantly more time-effective.
A long game is getting even longer, at least until all players are used to all the new mechanics and rules. So make sure to set off enough time!
Great quality of the components. I was afraid that the new order tokens (for the old houses) would easily be spotted among the old tokens, but this was not the case. They look very similar, so you won't be able to spot the difference unless you have damaged/heavily worn-out tokens. The units feels slightly different, as the sound they had when hitting the table was not the same. Though this doesn't really matter, they look great! The only negative thing about the components is the side-board.. Or the main board having the tracks in the middle of Westeros and Essos. It looks pretty bad. The best option is to buy the deluxe playmat. Sadly it did not come in time to play our first game.
Another option is to cut the tracks cut, so you can place them on the other side. (warning, I take no responsibility if you trash your board while doing this external image)
I'd recommend fixating the Vale overlay, as it will slide all over the place during the game if you don't.
This expansion adds so much to the game! So many new strategies can be utilized, even for the old houses. Then you have the new houses, alternative win condition and dragons for Targaryen, vassal system (3-7p), Iron Bank, new continent and more. You'll be set for a long time!
TLDR: If you enjoy AGOT today, MoD is a instant-buy. It greatly enhances the game mechanics, replay-ability and balance.
I would not recommend it if you don't enjoy AGOT today. It doesn't make it a completely new game, it is still AGOT.
A more detailed feature rundown:
- New sea order tokens for all houses (march -1 and support), which makes playing without stars less punishable. We really enjoyed having a few more token options, so this was a very nice balance change to the base game. I actually played most of the game without stars (saving my tokens for the other purposes), which wasn't really a option you wanted to go for in the base game.
- Arryn added onto the Vale, and revamped land/sea area. This always felt like a unfair area, as it was so easy for Stark to take, and very hard for others to contest. So Arryn starting there was a welcome change, making it a bit more challenging for Stark. Even though in our game Arryn and Stark had a peace treaty, I think a lot of fun engagements can happen with a clash between Stark and Arryn. Arryn starts with 3 knights, and has some extremely good (defensive) house cards. I still feel like their cards are okay on the offensive, and when I managed to get a foothold into new land areas, it was pretty hard to take them away from me. I ended up taking KL and getting all the way down to the Reach, even though we sadly were unable to finish the game.
Playing them was refreshing, and it really enjoyed it!
- Vassal houses replaces the neutral tokens from base game, and all houses are always in play (except 3p).
Pretty much the best change for the game, if you play with any player count outside of 6p. The vassals offered a MUCH harder resistance then the joke of the neutral tokens from the base game. No longer do this provide a walk-over for the players next to the vassals. Suddenly you have many new elements to think of:
Do you want to always control your neighbor/closest vassal? To defend and fortify your lines? Or do you want to not have it, so you can attack those areas, and rather try to make some noise across the map vs your enemies?
Even the house cards cannot be calculated before you engage with a vassal, as they always draw 3 from their 7 house cards to make their hand. (no discard pile).
The vassals start with a lot of units, but are limited by only being able to play 2 tokens (and only having 1 march), making them fairly poor on the offense (unless you combine them with other houses in a joint effort). Their large starting-numbers make it hard to take them out early on, although this effect fades with time as other houses can muster much faster. Still they held some use throughout the whole game, and the GJ vassal helped Stark seal the win in the final round external image
PS: In games with many vassals, you should want to spread them out a bit, not having all vassals in one corner of the map.
Other balance changes
- Influence track adjustments. Iron Throne is MUCH more important, blade is slightly more important.
For KC, most important change is Baratheon loses his star to Tyrell. Though in many games, if you have a vassal among the top three spaces on KC, players will be shifted forward, in-front of the vassals, which may give more stars to the players anyway. This will depend on player-count and what houses are vassals.
- You can now bribe players! You are able to give PTs freely in this expansion. We rarely used this though, and honestly I would've been fine without it. Still it can be nice to suger a tasty alliance deal with a previous foe. I'm sure some groups will welcome this with open arms!
Essos, with Iron Bank and Targaryen
Essos side-board provides lots of new areas to explore for Stark, Arryn, Baratheon and Martell, massively changing the starting/early game tactics for those houses, compared to the base game. Example: I've always loved playing Martell, but I've always felt hampered by the fact but I only ever have two choices, Martell or Baratheon.. Now I have another one! I can fight Targaryen in Essos! This also changes the dynamic for the houses in the other side of the board (Tyrell, Lannister and Greyjoy), as their neighbors will be much more likely to expand east, opening up exciting new moves for them to expand. So the essos board helps with expanding the options for all houses, which helps refresh a fairly stale meta-game in AGOT. For example playing Baratheon, which now suddenly have Targaryen, Arryn, Martell on their doorstep, while Lannister/Tyrell can fight them on the land-side.
We all agreed that adding Targaryen, with dragons and a different win-condition, was the coolest addition to the game.
- You have to think very differently when playing with Targaryen, as they have several special conditions. It also makes for a new dynamic of the game, as Westerosi houses will have to join forces to fight off Targaryen and their dragons before they get too strong. By round 8, 3 Targaryen dragons are worth 4 STR each! As well as being able to fly anywhere on the map. Pushing Targaryen back, if you allow him to reach ~5 VPs, is extremely hard, as you can only even reduce him by ONE VP (by taking Pentos, his home area). Other houses can always be pushed back if they get too high on the VP track. In our game, this lead to several houses making some brief truce deals to fight off and kill the remainder of the dragons he had (Martell did the heavy lifting from their Essos campaign in the south), crippling his offensive capabilities.
- Always at the bottom of all tracks, although with 3 stars. They cannot bid for themselves, but they CAN bid for other players and even vassals! Who wants to make a deal with the devil(dragon)? This made our CoK events a complete mess, though it was a lot of fun! It does add more randomness to it though, which some may not enjoy.
- You don't know your VP areas at the start, you'll figure these out as the game progresses. You draw a Westeros IV card each round (except R1), and often these can be altered by Targaryen (by paying PTs), or even other players. Often these areas can be very hard to secure, which is why your dragons are vital for your success.
- You still need strongholds/castles for mustering/units, and supply for larger armies though. Also, in case of a tie at round 10, strongholds, then supply, are still the tiebreakers (and ultimately Iron Throne order as the final TB). I talked to Jason, and the power tokens as a tiebreaker will be removed in the FAQ. This makes sense, as you can gift PTs freely now..
We thought Targaryen would be super powerful with their dragons and all their starting units, but it all depends on how the other houses chose to take this threat.
There was a lot of fan-fare for this ahead of the game, but sadly it was a little bit overlooked. We were two players that took loans, me with two, and he with one. A few interesting cards came up early (the PT cards), which I snagged cheaply with my high Iron Throne position. After that there was mostly just unit cards, which wasn't exactly needed when we had several musters after each other. So for our game, these cards were pretty "meh", but this was of course unlucky.
I still think they are a fun mechanic, and if the right cards had come, it would've been a very different matter! We were waiting for supply/pyromancer/faceless men cards especially, which never came. external image
My friend getting 10 PTs for the price of 0 is pretty disgusting though! (with Braavos -1 discount).
If I needed to say something negative, it would have to be the fact that wildlings are even more overlooked now than in the base game. I think that is a fun element to the game, but with everything else going on now, they don't really get much attention. Some of the cards are a bit weak now, compared to the Iron Bank ones that are similar.
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