Game of thrones the card game 2nd edition – learn to play with

By: Dennis B. B. Taylor


Welcome to Game of Thrones: The Card Game! Join me and the noble houses of Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Greyjoy, and Martell as we embark on an epic quest to claim the Iron Throne.

Game of Thrones: The Card Game is a thrilling adventure filled with intrigue, politics, betrayals, and epic battles, inspired by the captivating novels of George R.R. Martin.

As you start your journey, you will embody one of these powerful factions, each with their own unique strengths and ambitions. Your ultimate goal is to gain control over the Iron Throne and reign supreme in the kingdom of Westeros. To achieve this, you will need to utilize two decks of cards: a deck of draw cards, which will provide you with the necessary resources and forces, and a deck of plots, which will allow you to plan and strategize for the long term.

As the game progresses, prepare yourself for intense military clashes, intricate political schemes, and power struggles that will shape the destiny of the realm. Only the most cunning and courageous player will emerge victorious and claim the Iron Throne.

In 2015, the second edition of this game was released. While it closely resembles the first edition from 2002, there have been a few simplifications. Some rules have been modified or removed, and the cards have been given a fresh design. This means that the second edition is a standalone game and cannot be combined with the first edition.

Now, let’s talk about the setup. Before playing, each player needs to choose a faction. There are six main houses to choose from, as well as a neutral faction. Once a faction is chosen, players need to build a deck based on that house. A complete deck includes a House card, which shows the symbol of the chosen house, an optional Agenda card that can modify certain rules globally, a deck of at least 60 cards, and a deck of exactly 7 plot cards.

Okay, here’s how the game works. We each have two decks, a house card, and a draw deck. To start, we draw 7 cards from our draw deck. From those 7 cards, we can choose a combination of Character, Attachment, or Location cards that adds up to 8 or less. These cards will be our starting strength, and we place them face down in front of us. Once both players have done this, we reveal our set-up cards and then draw more cards until we have 7 again.

  • Just a heads up, each player can only place one card with the “Limited” keyword during set-up
  • Before placing our set-up cards, we have the option to take a Mulligan if we don’t have a good starting hand. For example, if we don’t have any characters or locations, it’s pretty risky. If we choose to Mulligan, we shuffle our 7 cards back into the deck and draw 7 new cards
  • Four starter decks are included in the Core Set of the game. However, these decks do not follow some of the deckbuilding rules. They have fewer than 60 cards and they do not adhere to the Loyal rule.


Types of cards

Let me tell you about the different types of cards you’ll come across in the game. First, we have house cards. These cards show which house each player controls. However, there’s also a Neutral House card, which doesn’t belong to any specific house.

Next up, we have agenda cards. These cards are pretty special because they can completely change the way your deck works. Typically, players are allowed to have just one agenda card, and it’s placed next to their House card.

And finally, we have plot cards. These cards are all about strategy. They allow you to have a temporary influence on the game’s progression during your turn. You must have exactly 7 plot cards. Each plot card has some important information:

  • In the top left corner, you’ll find three icons. These icons represent your income, initiative, and claim. Income is the resources you have available, initiative determines the order of play, and claim is the damage you can inflict during challenges.

In the bottom right corner, you’ll find a small icon that represents the player’s reserve, or the number of cards they can keep in their hand at the end of their turn when the plot is played.

There’s also a text that describes the plot’s effect. This effect can be permanent, triggered immediately (marked as “when revealed”), or triggered under specific conditions (mentioned in the text of the effect itself).

The player’s draw deck is made up of Character, Location, Attachment, and Event cards.

Character, Location, and Attachment cards are permanent, and each has a recruitment cost in the top left corner. During the Marshalling phase, the player must pay the recruitment cost in gold to bring these cards into play. On the other hand, Event cards are immediate-effect cards that can be played directly, even during other players’ turns. However, they can only be played if certain conditions mentioned on the card are met.

Let me tell you about the different elements you may come across while playing this game. First, there are Character cards. These cards represent the people that inhabit the world of the game. They have various attributes and abilities that can be used during challenges and hegemony. You can identify a Character card by its Strength value, which is indicated by a shield icon.

Next, there are Confrontation icons. These icons represent the three types of confrontations that can occur in the game: military, power, and intrigue. Look for these icons on Character cards. They play a role in determining the outcome of challenges.

You may also see virtue icons on cards. These icons are located at the bottom right corner of the card and represent different virtues such as Warrior (crossed swords), Noble (ring), Scholar (open book), and Mystic (chalice). These icons are used by some card effects and can have an impact on the game.

Attachments are another type of card you may encounter. These cards represent objects, conditions, or other situations that affect a Character or Location card. When you come across an Attachment card, you place it under the card it is attached to.

Finally, there are Permanent cards. These cards have a House icon, sometimes with a small parchment underneath. A card with a parchment under its house symbol is called Loyal. This means that you can only use it in a deck that matches its house symbol. Permanent cards add an extra layer of strategy to the game.

Now that you know about these different elements, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the game and make strategic decisions. Have fun exploring the world of this game!

Let’s talk about some important information on the permanent cards:

  • The gold icon represents an income bonus at the beginning of the Marshalling phase.
  • The initiative icon, represented by a diamond, provides a bonus when determining initiative in the Plot phase.

How the game round progresses

A game round consists of 7 phases that happen in a specific order:

  1. Plot phase
  2. Draw phase
  3. Marshalling phase
  4. Challenges phase
  5. Dominance phase
  6. Standing phase
  7. Taxation phase

1. Plot phase

First, I need to look at my pile of plots and choose one to activate this turn. It’s important to do this secretly. Once all players have made their choice, we reveal our plots simultaneously:

  • The plot I reveal is placed on top of my used plots pile.
  • The player with the best initiative (the sum of my plot’s initiative and my other cards in play) gets to choose the first player for the round. If there is a tie, the player with less Power wins the initiative.
  • If there are any “when revealed” effects on the plots, they are applied. We start with the designated first player and continue clockwise.

Game of thrones the card game 2nd edition - learn to play with

2. Drawing Cards

So, here’s what happens next: I get to draw two cards from my deck, and you do the same from yours. It’s like opening a present, you never know what you’re going to get!

3. The Marshalling Phase

Now it’s time to marshal our forces! We start with the player who was chosen as the first player during the plot phase, and then we go clockwise. Here’s what we do:

  • We collect our income by receiving gold coins from the bank. The amount we get is based on the cards we have in play, including our plots.
  • We have the option to play permanent cards from our hands. But remember, playing a card costs gold, so choose wisely!

Just so you know, cards that bring in gold will only add to our income on the next turn.

4. The Challenges Phase

Get ready for some action! During this phase, we get to challenge each other. It’s all about confrontations, and there are three areas we can focus on: military, power, and intrigue.

Here’s how a challenge works:

    When we play the game, there’s a process we follow called a challenge. In this challenge, one player takes on the role of the attacker, and another player becomes the defender. The attacker gets to choose the type of challenge they want to initiate, whether it’s military, power, or intrigue. They also select the player they want to target as the defender.

    The attacker then chooses one or more characters to send into the challenge. These characters must have the icon that matches the type of challenge chosen. Once the characters are selected, the attacker kneels them, signaling that they are participating in the challenge.

    If the attacker has any characters with the keyword “Stealth,” they can use them to their advantage. They can choose defender characters without the “Stealth” keyword and prevent them from being declared as defenders in the challenge. This gives the attacker an advantage in their overall strategy.

    Now it’s the defender’s turn. They have the option to declare defending characters for the challenge. Like the attacker, these characters must have the icon that matches the type of challenge declared. The defender kneels these characters, showing that they are participating in the challenge.

    Finally, it’s time to resolve the challenge. The strengths of the attacking and defending characters are compared. If the attacker’s combined strength is greater than or equal to the defender’s, the attacker wins the challenge.

    Challenges are a crucial element of the game, allowing players to strategically deploy their characters and test their skills against their opponents. Understanding the rules and tactics of challenges is key to becoming a skilled player. So, the next time you play, remember these steps and make the most of your challenges!

    1. When it comes to playing the game, there is something called the application of losses that you need to understand. This means that if the attacker wins a challenge, they get to cause a certain number of losses equal to the value of their plot card. The specific type of loss depends on the challenge type.
    2. For a military challenge, the defender gets to choose characters under their control, whether they are participants in the challenge or not. These characters are then placed in the dead pile.
    3. In a power challenge, the attacker gets to move Power tokens from the defender’s House card to their own. If there aren’t enough tokens, they can take from the reserve to complete the transfer.
    4. In an intrigue challenge, the attacker randomly draws cards from the defender’s hand and puts them in the discard pile.

    Let me tell you something interesting about challenges in the game. When it comes to challenges, there are a few things you should know. First off, no matter what type of challenge it is, if the defender’s strength is zero, the challenge is considered “unopposed.” In this case, the attacker gets an extra Power token and puts it on their House card.

    Now, let’s talk about what happens when someone wins a challenge. If you’re the winner, any participating characters you have with the keyword “Renown” get to take a Power token for themselves. That’s pretty cool, right?

    But that’s not all. If you win the challenge, you also get to mess with your opponent’s deck a little bit. For every participating character you have with the keyword “Pillage,” you get to make your opponent discard one card from their deck. It’s a bit of a power move, if you ask me.

    And lastly, if you win the challenge, you get a little reward in the form of extra cards. For each of your participating characters with the keyword “Insight,” you get to draw one card. It’s a nice way to keep yourself well-stocked in the game.

    So, there you have it. Challenges are an important part of the game, and they can have some interesting consequences. It’s always good to know the rules, especially when there are cool rewards involved. So, keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

    When I’m playing the game, there’s a rule that says if the attacker wins a challenge and one or more of their characters have the Intimidate keyword, they can choose any character that the defender controls. But here’s the catch – they can only choose characters whose Strength is lower or equal to the difference in Strength by which they won. If they choose that character, they can kneel them, which means they can’t be used for anything until they stand back up.

    As the active player, I can only declare one challenge of each type – that’s three challenges all together. And after I’m done with my challenges, the turn passes to the next player in a clockwise direction.

    There are a few more rules for challenges that I need to keep in mind. If the defender wins the challenge, they don’t get to apply their plot’s claim. Also, if a character has already been kneeled for a previous challenge, they can’t be kneeled again to participate in another challenge as an attacker or defender. And for those who have the Vigilant keyword (like the Baratheon house), if they win a challenge while attacking, they can stand back up.

    That’s all there is to it! Just follow these rules when you’re playing, and you’ll be good to go. Have fun!

    I’ve noticed that when characters from House Martell, specifically those associated with the keyword Vindictive, lose a defense challenge, they stand up.

    Game of thrones the card game 2nd edition - learn to play with

    5. Dominance Phase

    In this phase, I add up my leftover gold and the strength of my standing characters. If I have the highest score, I win the dominance and get to place one Power token from the reserve on my House card.

    6. Standing Phase

    Now it’s time to stand all my kneeled cards at once. This is when I get them ready for the next round.

    7. Taxation Phase

    If I still have some gold left, I put it back in the bank. Then I check if I have more cards in my hand than my plot card’s reserve value. If I do, I have to discard cards from my hand until I match my plot’s reserve value.


    Influence Tokens

    When you play certain cards in the game, you may come across influence tokens. These tokens have different uses depending on the card that creates them. For example, some cards may create poison tokens or treason tokens.

    Unique Cards and Duplicate Cards

    There are special cards called unique cards. These cards represent famous places, attachments, or people, and you can identify them by the flag icon next to their title. When a unique card is in play, no player can play a card with the same name. However, the player who controls the unique card can play a duplicate card with the same name. The duplicate card will become attached to the card that is already in play. The duplicate card can be discarded to protect the card in play from effects that would kill it, remove it from play, or return it to the owner’s hand.

    There are a few different types of cards that share the same name. However, only the values and text of the card that is already in play matter. Any other cards with the same name that are played later lose all their qualities and become duplicates of the card that is already in play.

    Cards that go into shadows

    Cards that have the option to go into shadows are identified by the Shadow symbol around their cost and the Shadow (X) keyword in their description. These cards can be played in two ways: you can either pay their cost and play them normally, or you can pay 2 Gold to place them into shadows. When a card is placed into shadows, it is laid face down in front of its owner. From a gameplay perspective, a card in shadows doesn’t have any other attributes besides being in shadows.

    At any time, I can reveal a card from the shadows by using the “Shadow” keyword. But it’s not free – I have to pay a certain amount of Gold, in addition to what I already paid to put the card in the shadows.

    Let’s talk about a few other keywords you might come across:

    – Immune: Some cards are immune to certain effects, which means they can’t be affected or targeted by them.

    – Limited: You can only play one card with the Limited keyword per turn. No more than that.

    – No attachments: Some cards can’t have attachments, unless they’re duplicates that don’t count as actual attachments.

    – Ambush (X): This keyword allows you to play a card during the challenges phase as if it were a player action. However, you have to pay X amount of Gold to do so.

    • Bestow (X): When a card with this keyword comes into play, it starts with X Gold tokens on itself. These Gold tokens are not part of your Gold pool.
    • Terminal: An attachment card with this keyword does not return to your hand when the card it is attached to leaves play. Instead, it goes to your discard pile.


    If you have a total of 15 or more Power points on your playing cards and House card, you win the game right away.

    Note: If your draw pile is empty, you are automatically eliminated.


    Rules for 3 to 6 players

    These rules are for the jousting mode, which is a one-on-one game. In the Melee mode, with 3 to 6 players, you use the same rules with the following additions:

    Note: If you want to play with more than four players, you will need an extra core set of the game or additional expansions.

    Put the six Title cards on the table next to the Gold and Power reserves.

    After we pick and show the plots and decide who goes first, the first player shuffles the title cards and puts them facedown. Then, without looking, the player removes some cards based on the number of people playing:

    • Three players: Remove two cards
    • Four to five players: Remove one card
    • Six players: Don’t remove any cards

    Starting with the first player, we each look at the remaining cards and choose one title. We go clockwise.

    These titles say if they support or oppose other titles.

    Remember that you can’t challenge a player who has a title that you support.

    When you defeat a player who holds a title that makes them your rival, you gain extra Power. This Power is taken from the reserve and added to your House card. It’s an advantage that can only be claimed once per round and per opponent.

    Additional Effects of Titles

    On top of the support and rivalry, each title comes with its own special bonus.

    The title of Crown Regent boosts your strength by 2 during the Dominance phase. Additionally, once per turn, you can use this title to redirect an attacking player’s target after they have chosen a defending player. If there are no other available targets (say, because the attacker supports the other player), the defender originally chosen remains the target.

    When I hold the Hand of the King title, I get a strength boost of +1 in all Power challenges when I have at least one character involved. It also lets me start one more Power challenge in the Challenges phase, but not against the same player.

    Being the Master of Laws means I can draw an extra card during the Draw phase and my reserve increases by 1.

    If I hold the Master of Ships title, my characters gain +1 strength in all Military Challenges when I have at least one participating. Additionally, when I attack a Rival, my revealed plot card has its claim value increased by 1 during Military challenges.

    The Master of Whispers is a title that boosts the strength of all your characters in Intrigue challenges by +1. So, if you have at least one character participating in an Intrigue challenge, they will be stronger. And here’s an extra benefit: when you win an Intrigue challenge, you get to choose how many opponents you want to apply your claim to. Normally, you can only choose the defending player, but with the Master of Whispers title, you can choose multiple opponents. Each opponent you choose will lose cards equal to your claim.

    The Master of Coins is another title that comes with its own advantage. With this title, when you calculate your income during the Marshalling phase, you get an extra 2 Gold.

    Now, let’s talk about some extensions. There are many expansion cycles that introduce new cards and rules for the different Houses. These expansions add even more excitement and variety to the game.

    If you want to dig deeper into the rules, you can find the official core set rules here: [link to rules]. And for those of you who consider yourselves expert players, there are additional rules to challenge your skills.

    So, whether you’re a Whispers or Coins kind of person, there’s something for everyone in the world of Game of Thrones: The Card Game. Enjoy exploring all the possibilities and strategies that await you!

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    Before you start playing, it’s important to be aware of any errata and frequently asked questions. The errata document contains corrections and clarifications for any mistakes or inconsistencies that may have been found in the rulebook or expansion rules. The FAQ document, on the other hand, provides answers to common questions that players might have. It’s always a good idea to stay informed and up to date with these documents to ensure a smooth and enjoyable gaming experience.

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