Game of Thrones the card game

How do you play A Game of Thrones - the card game?
03 June 2019

Interview with 

Daniel Mulchrone, Organiser of Game of Thrones - the Living Card Game events.


A woman sitting on the iron throne


Game of Thrones has returned for its eighth and final season. According to HBO the first episode was watched by seventeen point four million people across all platforms, and that was just on the Sunday night. But before the TV series of course there were the books, and alongside them A Game of Thrones living card game.

Voiceover - A Game of Thrones the card game is a living card game of politics battle intrigue and betrayal for two or more players based on George R.R. Martin's best selling A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy novel series. During the game each player controls one of eight great factions in the Seven Kingdoms. You must best your opponents in order to gain power in Westeros defeating them on the field of battle outwitting them in the intrigues of court or stealing their power in the political arena.

Chris Berrow has been speaking to Daniel Mulchrone who runs a group that plays the game in Northamptonshire. So how does it work?

Daniel - It's a Game of Thrones it's a living card game. It's akin to things like Magic The Gathering, Hearthstone that become quite popular in recent years. We play it locally. It's released by Fantasy Flight Games. Basically you buy a pack and you get all of the cards you need it's not randomized like you would do in other games.

Chris - So how many cards are in the pack?

Daniel - So each time a pack is released you get two cards for each factions you get thirty six cards I think in each pack. But it's when you buy the pack you know exactly what you're going to get and you get everything you want. It's not randomized in any way like that in the game. The purpose of the game is you. The focus is around three challenges. You get military so you get to kill your opponent. You get intrigue and try and take away their options and limit what they can do on their turn and power which is how you're going to win the game by accruing 15 power. And when you get 15 you win.

Chris - So it's as simple as that and you're trying to basically get that influence that power together. And what does it symbolize when you get to 15?.

Daniel - So when you get to 15 power that kind of symbolizes you kind of ascending to the Iron Throne getting enough influence to kind of win the game and be on the throne. We play locally on a Tuesday night from six o'clock at the Roadmender.

Chris - When you say it's a living card game as opposed to another type of game what does that mean in terms of it's the way that the game is played?

Daniel - So I use the word term living card game as opposed to like collectible card game where you're collecting cards or trading card game where the focus is trading to get a full set. A living card game basically means is is a distribution model whereby you buy a pack and in that pack you know what's in there you're going to get those set cards and it's going to progress and change over time. So the cards that you're playing with are going to change month by month if you buy different things or get different packs and different things released. But it's a slowly evolving game.

Chris - Let's say you get a set of 36 cards or whatever the package is and then another pack gets released two months down the line. Are those compatible?

Daniel - Everything is all compatible so when you get in if you're a beginner if you haven't played the game before you just go out buy a Game of Thrones living card game core set. All the instructions are in the book with some suggested decks that you can play and just give it a go. Then once you've done that if you then want to look into more you can then slowly look at buying different packs - there's expansions focused around specific houses depending on who you like thematically and also in terms of how they play in the game and which cards tend to be strong.

Chris - This is like the impossible question because everyone is trying to make the decks that win, but at the moment you know you tend to after a game has been out for a while there tends to be certain strategies or certain themes that tend to be quite good. What's kind of popular at the moment in the game.

Daniel - So one of the great things about it being a living card game as with any card game is the meta shifts and evolves.

Chris - When you say the meta...

Daniel - Sorry the metar is kind of the overview of what people are playing in tournaments and playing against each other, what's good at the time will change because when you decide I'm going to go really really aggressive and I'm going to try and destroy everything on your board people can turn around and go “well I know that there's this strategy that's going to try and shut you down that's going to work really well against your deck type” so that will then become really good... is a really good archetype to play but then obviously people then go “oh well actually you're controlling me so I'm going to go really fast and I'm going to rush and I want to try to get to 15 power as quickly as possible.” So it changes kind of with time at the minute. I slightly ironically Greyjoys are top dogs at their own game and just blowing everyone's stuff up and destroying the world and just watching the world burn.

Chris - It's kind of like... I always think of when you talk about meta - it's a bit like you know paper scissors rock, where if everybody's playing rock and you know everybody's playing rock, then you can start intentionally playing paper.

Daniel - Absolutely.

Chris - But then once everyone starts playing paper to counter that, then you can say well I'm going play scissors. And so it is good to hear that there is those kind of different archetypes that can take on other one.

Daniel - Yeah there absolutely are. And obviously because it's a living card game that model that I described about how cards are released... things change slowly over time anyway. So obviously there are decks that are going to be stronger and weaker at different times, cards and factions that can be stronger and weaker. But you can then choose to counter what you think is going to be popular or sit back play what you enjoy and wait for different cards to come out.

Chris - Game of Thrones has been going for you know eight, nine, ten years. But how recent is the card game in comparison to that.

Daniel - Well so the card game is really really old. We are on the second edition of the game. There was a first edition before that and before that it was a collectible card game a completely different model. They originally Fantasy Flight acquired the licence back when it was just the books - there was no television show. So this is over 15 nearly 20 years ago I'd probably say so it's been going a really long time. Obviously when the TV show came out that became much more popular.

Chris - I was going to say. I'm imagining that because this season is out now. This is kind of why I wanted to mention it on the show today because I think that you know people who are interested in Game of Thrones might fancy it.

Daniel - Yeah I think I think it does a really good job of capturing the kind of essence of Game of Thrones there. The fact that from one time to the next you never know who's gonna die who's going to live, who is suddenly going to win you the game. And that kind of unexpected element is really good. It also captures the character of some of those key like Cersei Lannister one of her abilities is she gets power when she discards your cards when she takes away your options she which starts winning more. So that captures those little elements of the TV show and the books really well.


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