House of Hawthorne

A Game of Thrones: The Card Game

Posted on: January 28, 2012

My brother, Jeffery, and I received a joint gift this Christmas from our lovely Aunt Nancy. I don’t know what I was expecting when I tore the wrapping paper off the box. (Note: unwrapping all joint presents is one of the perks of being the older sibling. Sorry, Jeffery.) I sure wasn’t expecting:

I squealed, to be honest. This is all the things a great gift should be: something that the recipient thinks is awesome but would not necessarily buy, a surprise, and based on a previous conversation. I have read all the books that have been released from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, and Jeffery and I have both watched the television show.

The only problem is that at some point in our lives as brother and sister, Jeff and I became different species of nerds. He reads and all, but is ultimately a gamer. I play games haphazardly, but read constantly. I was wary of playing this game with my brother. It would be so annoying when, I mean if, he won. More so than the usual older sibling competitiveness, this is a guy who had only watched the television show. The honor of reading versus visual media was all of a sudden at stake, and I was sure I wouldn’t do reading its justice.

Side note: One time my co-worker Tom tried to teach me Magic: The Gathering. He tried his best but I couldn’t abide the whole “Oh, good try on playing that card! Unfortunately, here is one that completely nullifies that, and in fact, I automatically win.” There was a serious learning curve as I grabbed all the cards out of his hands and ripped them into pieces. To clarify, I didn’t actually rip the cards into pieces.

Last week, we had a great snow, and the stage was set. Winter had come and the whole nine yards, time to bust a move. I figured that I could surmount my complete lack of strategical know-how with my superior knowledge of the Game of Thrones world. When Jeffery played the Melisandre card, for example, it went a little something like, “She wasn’t on television, was she, Jeffery? You barely know who Stannis is and you are playing as the Baratheons! You are in trouble now!”

Except he wasn’t. He had played a card on my main character (Jaime Lannister for those of you scoring at home) called “Stinking Drunk,” which renders a character basically useless. I should have let him die as soon as possible, it turns out. Also, somehow Jeffery’s main character, Robert Baratheon, was effectively immortal and also had a feature of gaining power at basically every turn, which led to a handy defeat for me.

I feel like I am a pretty good loser, but I definitely started shutting down at this point. It was actually pretty fun to play, though, so when Jeffery insisted on another go, rather fervently, I felt bound to do so. I was also curious about the game play from another family group. The cool thing about the game is that it really makes sense with the world of A Song of Ice and Fire. This time, I picked the Targaryens, thinking that the dragons performed well in the books.

I drew Rhaegar, one of the dragons, and set it on the playing field, ready to make the arrogant House Stark in the form of one little brother burn, and then submit to my monstrous dragon rule. But in A Game of Thrones, as in life, there is a plot, and literally, in the game, there are plot cards. Jeffery turned his over. Valar Morghulis, which means, basically, “All men must die,” which meant, for my purposes, that my dragon must die before the game even began!

Frustrated, I tried to put on a happy face, because I was pretty sure still that games are supposed to be fun, and that in this game, unlike the Game of Thrones, if you are not the winner you don’t die. It was only after making another character a dragon and my brother playing another card that meant basic automatic death that I threw my cards down. I feel that most of the time, my patience knows no bounds, and am very slow to anger, but this game made me throw a temper tantrum. Although, when I apologized for said tantrum to my brother, he said, “What are you talking about?” So perhaps it wasn’t such the dramatic fit I thought.

The game was really fun, though, even with the crushing defeat aspect. I definitely hope we play it again soon, and maybe before that time I will have gained the killer instinct I so completely lack. And then, maybe, I won’t be such an ineffectual Targaryen.


4 Responses to "A Game of Thrones: The Card Game"

I hope to soon be at your level of nerdiness. I highly admire it 🙂 seriously. I want to play games like that and know whats going on. Much props to you Viriginia for not turning down a (game) fight 🙂

You would be really good at this game, Cynthia! It really wasn’t that hard to learn, or else I would have thrown my fit much earlier.

I have spent (wasted mostly) a multitude of hours on Magic:The Gathering in my time. I refused for so long and then, at 18 and ripe for the world of a young sex life, I abruptly chose the ways of Magic instead of parties and ill advised “sheet dancing”. I understand how easy it is to lose your shit when someone effectively makes you “watch them win” while you just sit there hating their face so hard that you end up gassy and unhappy the next day. I haven’t played in a while and that is probably for the best. It would only end up being a gateway card game that lead to more advanced or tertiary genres of role play gaming. The first step to recovery is admittance. My name is Ian and I’m a geek. Phew…that was hard.

The Ineffectual Targaryens would be a rad punk rock Game of Thrones fan band.

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