King Robert Baratheon is dead. The line of succession is in dispute, and the Seven Kingdoms stand at the brink of war. Amid the chaos, the Lords and Ladies of the Great Houses of Westeros maneuver for supremacy…
Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne is a board game of intrigue and betrayal that pits you against two to four of your friends in a cutthroat bid for command of Westeros. Lie, cheat, steal, bribe, and battle your way to supremacy.
Based upon the thrilling HBO series and using game systems from the legendary board game Cosmic Encounter®, The Iron Throne places you in command of one of five Great Houses and challenges you to land five of your influence on your rivals' Houses. Iconic characters from the show will help you. Diplomacy is always an option. Betrayals are inevitable.
Designer's Diary - by Bill Eberle & Peter Olotka
Cosmic Encounter® meets HBO™ Game of Thrones™
Each time you play you'll feel like you're in a new Game of Thrones episode.
Who would have thought - Cosmic Encounter meets HBO’s Game of Thrones!
Corey Konieczka, VP of Research & Design Fantasy Flight Games, for one, and Justin Kemppainen, Board Game Manager at Fantasy Flight Games for another!
Fantasy Flight’s wanted to use the Cosmic Encounter game system to create a great social interaction game which focused on the dynamic families and characters in the popular HBO Game of Thrones series.
On our side (Future Pastimes - Peter, Bill and Greg), we were surprised and excited to get that phone call and jumped headfirst into a fast-paced collaborative working relationship with Justin and his team to meld the two properties. The goal was to have the game completed in six to eight months.
Using the foundation of the Cosmic Encounter interaction would ensure a working, well tested basic game interaction:
|Cosmic Encounter||Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne|
|Attack vs Attack||Hostility vs Hostility|
|Attack vs Negotiate||Hostility vs Truce|
|Negotiate vs Negotiate||Truce vs Truce|
The concepts pioneered in Cosmic Encounter that every game would be different because each player would have a different alien power and each game would focus on a set of different aliens fit the Game of Thrones storyline of warring families and powerful characters perfectly.
Instead of oozing amoebas, multiplying viruses, never stopping machines, regenerating mutants and all knowing minds, we would have the Lannisters with their leverage wielding Cersei, opportunistic Jaime, cruel Joffrey, cunning Tyrion, and wealthy Tywin match wits and strength against the Starks with their vengeful Arya, future seeing Bran, maternal Catelyn, honorable Eddard, and strategic Robb. And both families would be matching their wits and strength against the cast of characters gathered under the Baratheon, Tyrell and Targaryen banners. With an almost inexhaustible supply of interesting families and characters ready to join the fray, if there were a clamor for expansion sets.
A database of all the aliens and new tables for GoT families and characters provided rapid searching and mix and match magic …”we need a power that never gives up for Stannis Baratheon” or, browsing through the aliens, “the Mind might be a good match for . . .”
We buckled down at once to binge watch and re-watch the HBO series to get to know each of the characters in the major families - the Baratheons, Lannisters, Martells, Starks, Targaryens, and Tyrells - as well as the Greyjoys, Boltons, Tullys, Free Folk, and the interesting allies and “freelancers - Davos Seaworth, Petyr Baelish, Varys, Bronn, Brienne of Tarth, Podrick, Hordor, Gregor and Sandor Glegane, Greyworm, and Jaquen H’ghar to name a few and to ponder the mystery of the White Walkers . . . and then see which ones would make the cut and be in the game.
Initially FFG and FP began working on parallel tracks. In fairly short order, Justin melded the two approaches and we had a common base. Nonetheless we would still diverge over the course of three or four weeks and he would again merge the best of both worlds. For our part, as soon as we had GoT files and a new version of the rules in our drop box, Greg and Bill would meld together the latest into our hybrid Cosmic Encounter mod on Tabletop Simulator and we would playtest.
Once the core principle was set that each house would have five characters and each character would have a leader sheet and a character token, we built the game around the analogy of an alien power being equivalent to a leader sheet, a planet being loosely equivalent to a character token, and alien flares being like character house cards. It was interesting that although we might have been able to do direct alien translations for the characters, it turned out that an equally good practice was to let character abilities flow from the GoT character and then see if there were alien and alien flare examples that could provide guidance for the final ability and character card advantage. In quite a few cases there were abilities that fit GoT and would not have worked in Cosmic. The game components and play match up loosely like this:
|Cosmic Encounter||Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne|
|Planet system with 5 planets||Family’s House with 1 leader and 4 character tokens|
|Alien power||Leader ability|
|Alien flare||Character advantage|
|An alien has 20 ships||A family’s house has 20 power markers|
|Ships are used as offense/defense points||Power markers are used as challenger/defender points|
|Aliens gain foreign colonies marked by ships||Families spread 5 influence tokens to other houses|
|All player's use the same deck of cards||Each house has its own deck of cards|
|Planets can’t be taken as hostages (except for The Claw) and planets don’t “die” (except for a new alien appearing in Eons)||Characters can be taken as hostages (via their character cards) and character tokens die when they have no power markers on them|
|Each main player asks for allies and once asked, the asked players decide||Players offer to support either the challenger or the defender but not both and their offers may be rejected|
|If the offense and offensive allies win they put ships on the target planet and gain a foreign colony; if they lose their ships go to the warp||If the challenger and supporters win, they all gain one influence; if they lose, they lose half (rounded up) of the power markers on the characters in the encounter|
|There are no hostages (except when there’s a Fungus in the game)||A winning challenger or defender takes a hostage from the other main player|
|Hostages may be released for a reward of one card or tormented, sometimes causing a character’s death|
|For attack vs negotiate, attacker wins but pays compensation of one random card from their hand for each ship lost to the attack||For hostility vs truce, hostility wins but the truce player takes one hostage from each player on the hostility side|
|The first player to gain 5 colonies wins; and more than one player can win at the same time||The first player to spread 5 influence tokens to other houses wins; and more than one player can win at the same time|
Playing GoT is quite different than playing Cosmic Encounter. The end result is a game that is Cosmicesque, but decidedly not Cosmic Encounter. For players it feels like being in the Game of Thrones world with backstabbing, front-stabbing, intrigue, hostage taking, and shifting alliances brought to life by you as your favorite HBO Game of Thrones characters! Game of Thrones fans quickly slip into character with the Lannisters and Starks at each other’s throats before the cards even hit the table.