A Game of Thrones: Board Game review
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A Game of Thrones: Board Game review

Our Review by Campbell Bird on April 14th, 2021
Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar :: FINALE VIBES
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The digital version of the Game of Thrones board game is deeply flawed in more ways than one.

Developer: Dire Wolf Digital

Price: $9.99
Version: 0.9.4
App Reviewed on: iPad Pro

Graphics/Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starhalfstarblankstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: halfstarblankstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

Just before the two-year anniversary of the TV series finale, A Game of Thrones: Board Game hit the App Store. It's a digitized version of the physical board game, which has players each control a house of Westeros as they vie for dominion across the land. Conceptually, it's a fine game, but this digital version is plagued with technical problems. And even if it weren't, the digital version of A Game of Thrones: Board Game doesn't do a great job at capturing the best aspects of Game of Thrones.

Clash of clans

A Game of Thrones: Board Game is a competition for the lands of Westeros in the wake of Robert Baratheon's death. Up to six players can compete, controlling individual houses, as they build up armies, exert their influence, and ultimately try to control as many castles as possible by the end of ten rounds of play.

Each turn involves issuing orders to your armies, but each player's orders are hidden before being revealed simultaneously. Destabilizing mechanics like these pervade other aspects of the game, like combat that can be influenced by individual character cards, random events revealed that can do things like initiate Wildling attacks, and voting rounds where players bid for special powers that give small advantages (for as long as they can hold onto them).

Robotic randomness

I can see exactly how each of A Game of Thrones: Board Game's mechanics aim to create dynamics that lead to uneasy alliances, backstabbing, and unexpected political maneuvers, but none of that really comes through in the digital edition of the game. Playing against AI makes these mechanics just feel like random events to deal with, and--unless you know the people you're playing against online--it's hard to get invested in the social aspects of the game.

On top of this, it's kind of sad that the characters of Westeros are all relegated to simple combat modifiers in this game. For me, the most exciting part of reading the Game of Thrones books or watching the show was getting glimpses into characters themselves. I'm not sure exactly how you do this in a board game format, but in digital form there could be opportunity via different modes or a campaign, but all that's really offered outside of regular matches is a Challenge mode that gives you alternate goals while playing as specific houses.

Westeros is broken

The digital version of A Game of Thrones: Board Game sounds like it might appeal to existing fans of the board game or people that have a crew of board gamers to play with, but even if that's your situation I wouldn't recommend picking this game up. There's no pass-and-play ability, so local play would require everyone to have their own devices and copies of the game. Your game night also wouldn't go well because A Game of Thrones: Board Game has a host of technical problems that make it hard to complete matches.

On two separate occasions while playing A Game of Thrones: Board Game, combat encounters got stuck in an animation loop, halting my ability to keep playing. I tried saving and re-loading, force-qutting the app, offloading and re-installing the app, and nothing worked. My only option was to abandon the game and start another. There are also minor visual bugs that make certain tooltips bleed off-screen or otherwise hard to read, but the game-breaking bug is the real kicker here.

The bottom line

I get what A Game of Thrones: Board Game is going for, but its concept doesn't translate to video game form very well, not to mention this attempt at it is deeply flawed. This is to say: even when the game does (hopefully) get patched, A Game of Thrones: Board Game still doesn't feel like a great addition for your digital board game library.

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