A Game of Thrones: The Board Game – A Dance with Dragons Expansion – Ten Things to Know

  1. A Dance with Dragons contains forty-two new character cards and a new starting scenario for A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, based off of progression made from the first book. The character card art is still inspired by the book as well. I have no idea why this title is based off the fifth book in the series when it has nothing to do with storylines occurring during that book nor does it introduce dragons (which may be a spoiler but is something I wanted to address right away so it is clear for everyone).
  2. Are there any spoilers? Yes. If you’ve only read the first book or watched the first season of the TV show, there will be spoilers. While this expansion is named after a much more distant book, it deals with the events occurring in the aftermath of the first novel. What are the spoilers (highlight text to see)? Off the top of my head, there is the introduction or further development of characters like Mance Rayder, Ramsay Bolton and Reek. There is also the placement of some units, such as Euron’s fleet and the Tyrell’s fleet that will spoil events for players if they start to question how they got there.
  3. The new starting scenario is intended to have the players jump right into the decision making that comes with sharing borders. In the base game, it may take one to two turns before true conflict would begin and that is not the case in A Dance with Dragons. Besides the new starting arrangement, there is also an increase in the amount of forces each House starts the game with. This helps players provide more pressure on one another via threats. The addition of these two adjustments to setup create a slightly shortened play time as well (which is great).
  4. The tradeoff is that this may be less friendly to new players as now players are thrust right into the action. There may be less things available to a player to do but the actions that are available are much more pressing. Some people may learn better this way (as they have fewer choices and only take the choices that do matter) whereas others may be stressed out performing actions that they feel they need to take without seeing how other actions are resolved.
  5. I think you could introduce this to brand new players of the game. With the expectation up front that a seasoned player may perform better and to use this opportunity as a learning experience, players will be able to process information and learn what not to do at a far faster pace than just playing the base game.
  6. Like the base game, I would not play A Dance with Dragons with less than six players. The game is just too imbalanced for a lower player count and would need special scenarios in place to ensure balance, which is putting a lot on the players. Again, six or nothing.
  7. The beauty of this scenario is that with six players, I would almost always recommend using this expansion as it will shorten the game experience. This won’t turn a three hour experience into a thirty minute one but it will shorten the game enough to be noticeable. We didn’t time when we played but I would have to say we shaved a solid thirty minutes off the game. To play devils advocate though, that saved time could have been because we were all now super skilled at navigating the original GoT game that this expansion didn’t really change much in the grand scheme of things.
  8. The new house cards are thematic as they bring the game up to the pace of the books. They offer new choices compared to the base game and will provide seasoned players with new avenues to try. I can’t say if I prefer the expansion cards to the base game cards or vice versa but they do provide a unique feel for those that were used to the base game cards.
  9. That being said, I do find the cards more devastating in the expansion and introducing the new cards did shorten the pace of play as players got used to the new hand. This may sound like a weird area to nitpick (of course new components will add additional time until players are used to them) but in our case, it felt like play started to revolve around the cards and not the board as we waited to see the results of what was (or was not) played.
  10. This will be a similar answer to the other GoT expansion I reviewed but if you like the base game and play it regularly, I’d recommend it. The game plays at a quicker pace with the updated starting locations and the new house cards are cool for the GoT fans. After integrating this into our game, we never went back to playing the base game when we had six-players. It’s not necessarily a must-include expansion but having the option to cut off a typical hour or so of game play was great for us.

Author: Two off the Top

Just a guy that wants to talk about board games more than his significant other tolerates.

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