Sunday, 21 June 2009

A Game of Thrones LCG, and games with too much work

I recently played A Game of Thrones LCG again, with Han. This time we did deck-building. Well, it's a rather limited deck-building, since we only had two basic decks for each House. He had lent me his Lannister and Targaryen decks, and I had lent him the Stark and Baratheon decks. The basic decks come with less than 60 cards. When doing deck-building, you need to have 60 cards, and there can be at most 3 copies of the same card. So we didn't really have much maneuver space using only 2 basic decks. Anyway, this was just our initial foray into deck-building.

On 13 Jun 2009, we played Stark (Han) against Lannister (me), just like in the novels. This was our 3rd game, but our first time trying deck-building. The deck-building aspect didn't really come out very much, at least it didn't feel so to me. Well, maybe having two copies of Jaime Lannister (a powerful character) in the deck did help to increase my chances of drawing him (which I did). The Lannisters are very rich, and managed to get more characters in play quickly. They also won many intrigue challenges, which meant I kept discarding cards from Han's hand. The Starks are strong militarily, and tend to win military challenges, which meant Han was more successful in killing my characters. Thankfully I had some cheap characters and could afford to have some getting killed. Knowing that the Starks have a Valar Morgulis plot card (which kills all characters of all players), I was wary not to have too many strong characters in play when Han had few. He would play that card and just reset everything. So I guess I'm starting to see how players adjust strategies based on knowledge of the House decks.

As the game progressed, the Starks could not keep up to the Lannisters' wealth, and could not bring in enough characters to compete with the Starks. The Lannisters won the duel.

Having played 3 games, and having started dabbling in deck-building, I still feel like a newbie (which is probably not surprising). The game has so many special powers it is difficult to remember all. When you have many cards in play, and almost every card has some special power, it is daunting. It felt like so much work trying to keep track of all of them. The basic rules are not complicated, it's the special powers that make the game rather tiring to play, at least for a newbie like me.

I suspect the base game is much less fun than when you have more cards to do some proper deck-building. My guess is the base game just gives you a flavour, but you really need to buy more cards for the game to shine. I may be wrong, since I have not yet played with more than 2 players. The game will likely be much better too with 3 or 4 players, because the titles will come into play. I am hoping to play a 3P game with Han and Chong Sean when I return to Kota Kinabalu. I look forward to seeing how the titles affect gameplay.

Playing A Game of Thrones LCG reminds me of games which have too much work, so much so that it is starting to lessen the enjoyment of the players. For AGOT LCG, this is the case for me at least for now. I compare it with Blue Moon, and at least for now I prefer Blue Moon, because there are less special powers, and less rules, and yet every deck still feels unique and has a lot of flavour. It is impressive that this is achieved with such (relatively) simple rules. That's Knizia for you. And no wonder. He admitted that he spent a lot of effort in creating Blue Moon.

Another game with too much work is Indonesia, but maybe that's just because we played 2P. I'm not sure whether it is possible to reduce this "work". Perhaps it is not possible. Perhaps it is just the price you have to pay to play the game. Think of all the setup you need to do for Through the Ages. So today to save some setup effort (for the 2nd game), Michelle and I played two back-to-back games of Through the Ages. In the evening she fell asleep at about 9pm.


Aik Yong said...

From what i gather, the 'work' in your post refers to keeping track of the various cards in the sets. This I have to agree and disagree. The cards must have variety in order to sustain interest. The reason why new sets keep coming out for CCGs is that the players will memorise the cards after awhile. New sets are required to add more variety.

The disagreement part comes in that there are certain cards, combos which work well and have a higher winning percentage. These cards are so obviously powerful that any deck will have them. So let's say every deck will have Ser Jaime Lannister. So in that sense, you only need to remember what Jaime does in a Lannister deck instead of remembering each and every character whom some of which will never hit play.

Hiew Chok Sien said...

True. For the seasoned CCG player, remembering and knowing the many special powers will probably be easier, but for me as a newbie to CCG's, AGOT LCG is a bit daunting.

In AGOT LCG, there is a lot of variety in the special powers. There are so many traits and icons and special texts - Ambush, Deadly, Renown, Noble, Lord, Lady, Creature, Weapon, Deathbound, etc etc. I get a feeling that there are too many exceptions, and exceptions to exceptions, because of how the many traits / icons / special texts can combine / conflict.