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7 Game of Thrones board games to play while you wait for more House of the Dragon

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

The Game of Thrones prequel Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon was HBO’s biggest premiere, as fans of the hit fantasy drama eagerly dove back into the world of George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels. The show also brings back many of the qualities that made the original series great with plenty of scheming nobles, gorgeous costumes, sex and, of course, dragons.

If you’re eagerly waiting for the next episode to drop or want to spend a whole day immersed in the setting, you’re in luck because board game designers have been just as eager to adapt Martin’s work as HBO. Game of Thrones board games seek to replicate the series’ intrigue, epic battles and jockeying for power across a wide range of genres and levels of complexity.

Best Game of Thrones board games

You’ll be able to take leadership of one of the great houses and call upon the assistance of iconic characters to lead your forces in battle as you try to conquer Westeros, or you can bluff to convince the monarchy you’re on their side while pursuing your own secret goals. There are many factions in Game of Thrones and most of these games are best with plenty of players, whose actions you need to carefully watch.

Try not to take it personally when your friends inevitably betray you. Luckily the stakes are a lot lower if you lose one of these games than if you fail at playing the game of thrones.

Johnny, Wheels and Lolies play A Game of Thrones: The Board Game - Second Edition.

1. Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker

Try to find the traitors to the Iron Throne hoping to plunge Westeros into crisis

Components for A Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker.
Oathbreaker uses imagery from the original television show for its artwork.

A Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker goes all in on intrigue for a social deduction game wherein every player is secretly either loyal to the crown or a traitor hoping to bring Westeros to its knees. Each round, players must throw in cards to complete a mission to protect the kingdom. Playing a suit to match the ones on the card will help it succeed while sabotage cards will cause it to fail and bring more chaos to the realm.

The trick is that the cards are dealt randomly so even loyal players may be forced to play sabotage cards, though of course traitors will also claim to just be having bad luck. Meanwhile, every player has a secret objective to accumulate resources earned from completing specific missions, so even treacherous nobles will have to cooperate occasionally.

While most players take on the roles of the leaders of the great houses, one actually rules from the Iron Throne. Instead of participating in missions, they play special cards on other players that are meant to test their hunches about who’s on their side. Their biggest responsibility is to guess each player’s loyalty at the end of the game, scoring points based on if they’re correct that can make up for a lot of failed missions.

Oathbreaker is the only game on this list that actually uses art from the HBO show, making it a great pick for fans. It also supports the highest player count and is accessible to newer players, so it’s a perfect way to kick off a watch party.

Buy Game of Thrones: Oathbreaker on Amazon US and Amazon UK.


2. A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game

Pit your forces against the armies of key factions from the Game of Thrones universe

An image of the miniatures from the Greyjoy set for A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game
The Greyjoy units in the Song of Ice and Fire tabletop miniatures cleverly reflect the House's squid imagery.

A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game is for Game of Thrones fans who are most interested in the series’ epic battles. While you only need two starter sets to simulate war between houses, you can invest in extra units to customize your armies and bring in multiple players with their own armies for free-for-all grand melees.

Like with any tactical miniatures game, you’ll spend a lot of time considering the best way to manoeuvre your armies around terrain that ranges from walls that can provide cover unless they’re destroyed, to piles of corpses which might make your army route if you force a march through them. The deployment depends on which of the game’s many modes you're using, which can replicate the siege of a castle or focus on intrigue by having the players pursue secret objectives.

Wars in Game of Thrones aren’t just won on the battlefield, and even the Tabletop Miniatures Game recognizes that by providing a separate tactics board manipulated by non-combat units like Cersei Lannister or Catelyn Stark. Rather than moving or attacking, a player can activate one of these units to claim spaces on the tactics board that have powerful effects like healing your forces and provide kickers to the tactics cards that can be triggered based on what’s happening in the battle.

These cards can change the course of a skirmish or make its results even more dramatic. While there are dice rolled to resolve fights, they add just the right amount of luck since so much is determined by strategy such as saddling your opponents with tokens you can use to force them to reroll or issuing orders that can allow you to reroll. You need a big table to set this up, but once you do you’ll find a highly dynamic war game.

Buy A Song of Ice & Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Wheels highlights some of the best tabletop miniatures games that aren't Warhammer.

3. A Game of Thrones: B’Twixt

Bid on allies to add to your small council

A Game of Thrones: B'twixt cards
Maintaining a balance between getting good cards and not giving your opponent a strong collection is important.

A fast-paced auction game for three to six players, B’Twixt has players strategically decide how much to spend or to conserve their resources, as they try to recruit notable characters from the franchise to their side. Players have 10 cards to spend over the course of a series of rounds depending on how many opponents they have, with more people meaning fewer rounds.

The game’s cards all have values between one and 11, indicating how much is being bid. All but the highest number have special abilities and those can be even more important than their bidding values. For example, the card Betrayal is only worth one point by itself, but it lets you steal a card another player has previously bid. Another card is Counting Coppers, which appropriately shows the Master of Coin Lord Petyr Baelish, which is worth six and lets you draw a new card at the end of the bidding no matter the outcome.

Allies have their own strength and highly varied abilities. When bidding on the dragon Drogo, players have to choose their cards randomly. Eddard Stark is powerful but can be killed with a Betrayal card once bidding is complete unless you have your own Betrayal card to protect him.

The winner of the bidding gets to choose to place their new ally to their right or left, forming a council with their adjacent players. They also assign face-down power tokens worth between one and three points at the end of the game. The goal is to keep the councils balanced since you’ll only score the one with fewer points.

Sharing points with your neighbors creates natural allies and enemies across the table, but you might still betray your friends to make sure you have the better setup for the end of the game. You can make the game more complex by adding character-specific cards and special cards that only come into play in the game’s final round.

Buy A Game of Thrones: B’Twixt on Fantasy Flight Games and Zatu UK.


4. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game - Second Edition

Deploy armies to conquer castles across Westeros

An image of the board and components for A Game of Thrones: The Board Game - Second Edition
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game - Second Edition provides players with a very meaty strategy gameplay experience.

A Game of Thrones: The Board Game - Second Edition is highly reminiscent of Diplomacy, a board game of conquest wherein players secretly plan their actions and inevitably betray one another. Up to six players take on the roles of great houses maneuvering armies around the map, seizing castles that will help them build their claim to the Iron Throne and give them new places to muster armies.

Some territories provide supplies that impact the size of the forces players can deploy and they might lose units if they don’t hold onto enough resources or have to retreat into a space that’s already too crowded. Others make it easier to acquire power tokens that can be used to maintain control of unoccupied spaces and bid on titles. These titles have huge game effects such as the ability to break ties or to give your troops more effective orders.

At the end of every round, all the players must resolve a series of events happening in Westeros. Some cause wildlings to attack, which somehow isn’t just a problem for the Starks. If the players don’t unite to spend enough resources on the Night’s Watch and fight back the invaders, they all face some sort of penalty like losing units or tokens. If they win, the player who invested the most gets a reward as they claim the glory.

When units fight, each player gets to deploy a member of their house to change the course of battle through both their personal might and special abilities. The deck of seven house-specific cards adds extra strategy as you have fewer options the more you’ve fought so you have to think carefully about when to use your best heroes. This is a long and complicated game so plan to spend the whole day if you want to complete it, especially if your friends like to take a lot of time negotiating alliances.

Buy A Game of Thrones: The Board Game on Amazon US and Amazon UK.


5. A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King

Strategically maneuver to gather support in King’s Landing

Components for A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King.
The artwork for Hand of the King is extremely distinctive and reflects each character's personality.

At the opposite end of the time commitment spectrum is Hand of the King, which can be played in about 15 minutes. Players maneuver the spymaster Varys as he whispers in the ears of the denizens of King’s Landing and recruits them to your cause.

This is represented by orthogonally moving Varys’ card around a six by six grid of cards depicting characters from the series, grabbing every card from a chosen noble house he crosses over. Players compete to have the most great houses on their side, represented by collecting banners indicating they have the most cards from that house. When there’s a tie, the banner goes to the player who last recruited a member from the house. That means you need to be aware not just of the best move you can currently take but what position you’re leaving Varys in for the next player.

Pulling the last member of the house off the board lets you pick a companion, powerful cards that can be used to steal or destroy character cards or act as extra members of a specific house, which can impact control of a banner. Each house has a different number of members, clearly indicated on their cards, so nabbing smaller houses can be especially effective since it can give you quick access to a banner and a potentially tide-turning companion.

The game is probably best with two players, though four players can play on a team and three can play fully competitively. Table talk isn’t allowed with more than two players unless you spend a three-eyed crow token allowing you to step away for a strategic sidebar. That feels like adding a bit too much complexity to a game that’s best as a way to chill out between sessions of some of the heavier titles on this list.

Buy A Game of Thrones: Hand of the King on Fantasy Flight Games and Amazon UK.


6. A Game of Thrones: The Card Game - Second Edition

Use your carefully crafted decks to defeat your opponents

Card fan for A Game of Thrones: The Card Game - Second Edition
Each House in A Game of Thrones: The Card Games has its own unique playstyle and advantages.

An evolution of the A Game of Thrones collectible card game, A Game of Thrones: The Card Game is a living card game where you’ll get everything you need to play in one box but can add to your decks by buying some of the many expansions.

The game allows for two to four players, but is at its best with four when maxed out, creating a chaotic experience as players have to carefully consider every attack knowing that other players might mess with your challenge. You also have to avoid overextending yourself and leaving yourself vulnerable to reprisals from both the opponent you just engaged with and opportunists looking to take advantage of your forces being exhausted.

Besides their primary deck, every player has a set of seven plot cards, one of which is revealed each round. These determine the resources you have for the round but also can have powerful impacts on the game state like killing characters in a rain of wildfire. Unless you’ve played the game plenty of times, it’s hard to anticipate what plots your opponents will play so it’s best to never overexpose your forces because dynamics can change quickly.

The game of thrones is played on many fronts, and players can choose to engage in military, intrigue and power challenges. You really need a good balance of all of them because even the mightiest heroes like Eddard Stark can be defeated if they don’t have someone with decent intrigue watching their backs. The decks nail the feel of the factions they’re representing, with games often forming unique Game of Thrones stories as alliances are formed and broken.

Buy A Game of Thrones: The Card Game on Amazon US and Amazon UK.


7. A Game of Thrones: Catan - Brotherhood of the Watch

Play a version of Catan that features Wildlings, the Night's Watch and more key characters

An image of the components for A Game of Thrones: Catan
A Game of Thrones: Catan - Brotherhood of the Watch is different enough from the original that it is worth playing separately.

A Game of Thrones: Catan - Brotherhood of the Watch can be played as effectively a reskin of Catan, but if you have any familiarity with the classic game about developing settlements you’ll want to jump right into the full Brotherhood of the Watch rules. The core game is the same as Catan, with players taking on the role of members of the Night’s Watch competing for leadership of the organisation by proving that they can make the best use of the resources found in the territory known as the Gift. That involves building roads, settlements and keeps while trying to avoid being robbed by Tormund.

The real novelty comes from adding in what’s going on beyond the Wall which separates the Gift from the wildling clans. Rolling dice determines not only what resources are produced but also the movement of the wildlings who will amass in camps to attack the Wall and try to press into the Gift unless they’re repelled by a sufficient number of guards. You build guards the way you would settlements and roads, creating a trade off between defending everyone and improving your own board state.

There are three different types of wildlings that each produce their own threat, with climbers able to jump over the wall while giants smash guards. When they make their way into the Gift they’ll block hexes and keep them from producing resources. Three wall breaches ends the game and gives the victory to the player with the most guards on the wall. They might not have been the most efficient resource gatherers, but at least they were doing their primary job of protecting Westeros from invasion.

Brotherhood of the Watch also assigns each player a hero card representing notable members of the Night’s Watch with their own abilities such as the Lord Steward Bowen Marsh, who makes exchanging resources with the supply more efficient, and Master Builder Othell Yarwyck who lets you move roads. How you feel about Brotherhood of the Watch will probably depend on how much you like Catan, but it adds just enough flavor and extra complexity to the board game staple to spice things up.

Buy A Game of Thrones: Catan - Brotherhood of the Watch on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Lolies teaches you how to play Catan.

About the Author

Samantha Nelson avatar

Samantha Nelson

Contributor

Samantha Nelson has been writing about tabletop gaming since 2013 for publications including The A.V. Club, Waypoint, Polygon and Escapist Magazine. She is also a member of the Critical Hit actual play podcast and met her husband at a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP.

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