This is a testimony to the board game Thrones created by Chad Randell (kickstarter linked below):
I remember Chad telling me about his idea for a game. We discussed the details here and there and, at first, I left it at that: a cool idea. Then, I saw him developing this idea every day and I started getting excited. I started to see his end goal and couldn’t wait to see where it went.
I remember our first play test. Chad came to my apartment and I had expected simple pieces (as the game was still in development) and that we would be going through a rough outline of the gameplay. I was very pleased to be proven wrong. He brought with him a completed board made of wood, beautiful wood tiles, and at the time wooden piece markers (as he was still developing final designs for the pieces). We set up and played our first game and I was immediately hooked.
I had set my side up with what I thought would be a perfect way to funnel troops to his side and overwhelm his pieces but was immediately thwarted by his own defensive setup. I got crushed that first game and came to realize that this game was something special—something unique.
We set up our next game and I reconfigured my strategy. I set up all my pieces, deliberate and confident in each placement. I knew this time my plan would play out differently. I planned each of my pieces movements based on my homeland and knew for certain that this time I would have a better advantage. I waited with anticipation as the middle screen was raised and I saw that this time I was set up for victory. A sinister mischief filled me which then poured out through a wide, menacing smile. The game started and I quickly made my movements, knowing how I could wipe out his forces. Things were going well, he was losing pieces left and right and my side was still well fortified. I saw him make a few mistakes early on and took an aggressive stance to take full advantage of his miscalculations. It was paying off and I felt a rush as I started what would be my glorious victory… or so I thought.
In my attempt to wreak havoc on his homeland, I failed to remember that killing off my king wasn’t the only way he could win: I saw that his king was heading straight for my Fortress. With my Cavalry disposed of, my trebuchet well out of range, and my king nowhere near my Fortress, there was no way I could make it to him in time. “You lost,” he said with a chuckle and that same smile I so arrogantly flaunted at the beginning of our game. I counted moves. I played every scenario. He was right, my king would still be one step away from his fortress at the moment he took mine over. I conceded my defeat with one word: “barely.” We shook hands and went to start another game, only to realize that we had gotten so caught up in playing that it was almost 2am.
I have played many board games. I have played all the classics, I am on the higher end of decent at Chess, I love Stratego, and I adore any game that involves critical thinking, strategic planning, I have games like Pandemic and Arkham Horror that require cooperative decision making and games like Ascension and Munchkin that require planning and long-term thinking. I have always said though that it is hard to find games for two people that form this intimate mind-lock anymore. Chess gets caught up in textbook strategy and Stratego just doesn’t have enough variance from game-to-game for my liking. Thrones is the embodiment of every quality I have been looking for in a two-player game.
I can honestly say that this is my favorite board game of all time and I constantly think about the times I have played. I tell all my friends and co-workers about it. I absolutely love Thrones and I can say that any person would be lucky to have this in their game collection. Thrones deserves to be a staple in the board game community and I sincerely hope that together, we can make that a possibility.