After nine long years, Game of Thrones has finally come to its end, and it’s a bittersweet experience for many. While the reception of the final season has been divisive, there’s no doubt that Game of Thrones is a cultural phenomenon that we won’t see the like of again for many years to come.
While the show has come to an end, your journeys in Westeros don’t have to be over. Aside from the A Song of Ice and Fire books that will likely be released in the next couple years (but not really, probably), there are plenty of tabletop romps you can experience that will keep the intrigue, betrayals, love, and loathing alive. Whether you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray set that’s already been announced, or ranting online about your strong opinions on Season 8, there’s a Game of Thrones board game for everyone out there.
Are you trying to decide on the perfect Game of Thrones board game to bring to game night? Keep reading. While it was tempting to just list them all and rank them from worst to best, the bottom line is that each Game of Thrones game is wildly different from the others, and ranking them is a bit like comparing apples and oranges.
Instead, we’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses of each game so you can determine yourself which one is best for you.
If You Want Something Familiar
Game of Thrones: Monopoly
There’s not a lot to say about Monopoly that you haven’t already heard. You probably already know if you love it or hate it, and you probably already know if a GoT retheme is appealing to you or not, so we won’t spend a lot of time on this one.
When it comes down to it, Game of Thrones Monopoly is just like the other 9,783,275 Monopoly rethemes out there. You get nifty little tokens, like a dragon egg and an Iron Throne, and the property spaces are cool places in Westeros. It’s pretty much exactly what you expect it to be, and if that’s the kind of thing you’re into, go ahead and add it to your collection! Meanwhile, if you’re a staunch Monopoly hater, this version will do little to change your mind.
Game of Thrones: Risk
Unlike the Monopoly retheme mentioned above, don’t write this off as a generic clone of Risk. While it does share the same name, there are actually a lot of cool tweaks that turn this game into its own unique experience. Here are some of the things that elevate Game of Thrones Risk above the base game:
- Two Maps, Three Games: Game of Thrones comes with two maps — one of Westeros, and one of Essos. The Westeros map supports 3-5 players, and the Essos map is suited for a uniquely tailored 2 player experience. But guess what? You can combine the two together for a massive 7 player game. Valar Morghulis.
- Seven Noble Houses (Armies): Game of Thrones Risk supports up to seven players. The majority of these are from the infamous War of the Five Kings – Houses Baratheon, Stark, Lannister, Tyrell, and Martell. But House Targaryen is also included, along with the Ghiscari Slavers from Essos. In Risk it’s always fun to associate some kind of identity with your armies, and the GoT version delivers on that front.
- New Rules and Abilities: Game of Thrones Risk gives each player their own player card where they can track progress and objectives, something that traditional Risk lacks. Speaking of objectives, GoT Risk is also littered with some new rules, such as character cards that grant special abilities, ports, castles, and more.
Game of Thrones: Risk is pretty great if you want to emulate the carnage of medieval warfare that’s a highlight of the show. And everyone who’s played Risk knows it’s ripe for betrayals, backstabbing, and unexpected surprises, so this one will provide excellent value for your money if you’re looking to have a Thrones-themed game night.
Game of Thrones: Catan
While Game of Thrones Catan doesn’t deviate a ton from the traditional Catan you know and love, there are a few significant differences which transform it into its own unique and satisfying experience.
Catan is a great game for groups who want a game that’s strategically satisfying without the element of cutthroat “take that” gameplay that’s characteristic of war games. It’s also ideal for game groups who don’t want a game that’s painfully long.
GoT: Catan delivers on those fronts. In fact, we called it one of our favorite Catan experiences in our ranked list of Catan games.
The Main Differences
- The Wall and Wildling Attacks: GoT: Catan is unique among Thrones games in that it focuses on the Night’s Watch. In this game, the Wall is a major point of the game (represented by imposing plastic pieces) which acts as a barrier against Wildlings that are constantly queueing up to invade Westeros. They’ll break through if players aren’t cooperating to put guards on the wall, which cost resources. The players who help the most with the Wall’s defense are awarded extra victory points. On the other hand, if too many wildlings break through, the game is lost — for everyone.
- Character Abilities: This is one of our favorite aspects of Game of Thrones Catan. Each player, at all times, holds one character card that can grant them a special ability, such as 1:1 bank trading, moving the robber, and more. The ability can be used up to two times, and then it must be swapped with a new one. This means that every player has a “special power” for the entire game — except the powers are constantly shifting around because of their limited uses. This is a fantastic addition to the core mechanics of Catan, and it adds some much-needed depth and tactical variability to the core experience.
Expansions and Price
One drawback of GoT: Catan is that you may need to take a trip to the Iron Bank to finance it, because it sits at $80 MSRP. While you can often find it on Amazon for $60, that’s still a lot to ask for a game that’s basically a reskinned Catan. You’re definitely paying a premium here, but if you’re a diehard Catan fan, it’ll provide lasting value in the long run.
GoT: Catan currently has one expansion, which adds room for two more players, a bigger board, and more character cards (including Jon Snow, who is conspicuously missing from the base game). True to despicable Catan fashion, this is priced at a ludicrous $50.
If You’re Invested For the Long Haul
Game of Thrones: The Living Card Game
When we say “card game” here, we’re not talking about a one-and-done experience. The Game of Thrones Card Game is, in fact, a Living Card Game, which is very similar to a trading card game, with a few key differences (such as extra cards being sold in defined decks instead of random booster packs). But for the uninitiated, that means it’s more like Magic: The Gathering and less like Uno or Hearts.
For show fans, it’s important to note that this game is based off the books. Your favorite characters are all here, but represented by their own unique artwork which may or may not have notable differences from the way they’re depicted in the show.
GoT: The Card Game is designed to be invested in for the long haul. This is a game where you’ll want to build the best deck possible to be able to conquer your friends. It’s a difficult game to just pick up and play on a whim, because it requires some knowledge of the cards that already exist, and assumes that players will be building their own decks.
If you’ve never tried a Living Card Game, you might just find that you really love it. But you likely won’t get much use out of it unless you have a partner (or five, as the game supports six players) who’s willing to invest in it with you. If you can find a regular group, GoT: The Card Game can be an absolute blast… and a veritable rabbit hole that you can dive deep, deep into.
Expansions for Days
Because it’s a Living Card Game, GoT: The Card game has an endless list of expansions. There are more than 70+(!) add-ons, so at the very least, you’ll know that this game will be able to last you for a while. Most of these are individual decks, which add new cards and abilities for you to harness and include in your builds.
If You Want Something Quick and Easy
A Game of Thrones: The Hand of the King
The games we’ve listed thus far have mostly been fairly complicated, time-intensive affairs. Want something that can be taught in two minutes and finished in ten? The Hand of the King might be perfect for you.
This is an exceedingly simple game that’s nonetheless tactically satisfying. In a nutshell, you have a grid of character cards which all belong to different houses, and players take turns moving Varys around the grid, “scooping up” any characters of a chosen house that are on the row or column he moves through. The player who has the most influence at the end wins.
It might sound a little confusing. All you need to know is that it’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s quick. It’s a great choice for casual party nights, or as a filler game for the table while you’re setting up something more advanced.
The Hand of the King is also unique in its whimsical art style. Based on the books instead of the show, this little game eschews a super serious art style for a look that’s much more cartoony and silly.
One thing that’s important to remember about The Hand of the King is that this game doesn’t “feel” that much like Game of Thrones. It’s a simple, abstract game that could have any theme in the world slapped onto it, and the designers seemed keen to pick Game of Thrones. But for games that are this quick and simple in general, nobody should be going in expecting an immersive, thematic experience. Hand of the King is fun, fast, and easy, and that’s all you need to know.
If You’re Addicted to the Show
Game of Thrones: The Trivia Game
Has your game group been nerding out over Game of Thrones since it’s come out? Have you been having watch parties since day one, speculating about every little detail, speculating about the consistency and origins of Valyrian Steel? Do you know what the name is of every lord in the north, and their loyalty to House Stark? Do you have the names of the costume designers and stunt doubles memorized?
Game of Thrones: The Trivia Game might be just for you.
The interesting thing about Game of Thrones: The Trivia Game is that it was designed and published by Fantasy Flight Games, who specializes in highly strategic, complex tabletop games. The resulting product is something kind of in between.
In GoT: The Trivia Game, you’ve got the usual trivia questions, but there’s also a board game underneath that’s surprisingly strategic. Players have to “conquer” the board (a map of Westeros map) by answering questions in different categories all throughout the map. As they answer questions correctly, they gain various resources, which can be used to give them an advantage. It’s a fun twist on trivia games, which are usually more mundane in nature.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from just busting out the cards and reading them in a group. Whatever you decide to do, this game is a great choice for any group who is highly invested the expansive lore of Game of Thrones.
If You Want the Ultimate Game of Thrones Experience
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)
This is it, folks. If the other games on this list provide a nice little appetizer of Game of Thrones goodness, this one is the main course. If you want a truly thematic Thrones experience that evokes the feelings of the books and show on a tabletop, you need look no further.
If you want a basic rundown of the game, imagine a game of Risk, set upon a sprawling map of Westeros. Only, instead of people taking their turns moving their armies, everyone gives commands to their units at the same time, via tokens which are placed face-down. Once everyone has played their tokens, they are all revealed, and the entire map ebbs and flows accordingly — often resulting in grim surprise attacks, unexpected betrayals, and new alliances.
You can order your armies to move, bolster their forces, attack, or support someone in a battle to come, but nobody truly knows what you will choose to do until the chips are revealed, making this game a delicious exercise in dirty tactics, shaky alliances, and cold vengeance, much like the Game of Thrones itself.
Why GoT: The Board Game Is the Most Immersive Thrones Experience
- It’s Long and Complex: Much like the TV show and the books it’s based on (A Song of Ice and Fire), the Game of Thrones Board Game isn’t exactly child’s play. This is a long game that is best enjoyed with six players (each controlling a major house), over the course of several hours. While the game advertises a 2-4 hour playing time, most groups report longer sessions, often going into the six-hour range. It’s likely you can trim down the playing time once everyone is familiar with the game’s mechanics, but the bottom line is that you shouldn’t expect a short experience here — this game is nothing short of epic, and that takes time.
- It’s Ripe With Surprises and Betrayal: Imagine this – Tyrell and Lannister forces are on the brink of having a major battle for Casterly Rock. Your Stark forces are stationed nearby. The Tyrell player petitions you to aid them in their attack in exchange for staying away from the north. You agree, and put your orders on the board. The tokens are revealed, and — surprise! — your tokens show support, but you pledge to the Lannister player instead. Much like Walder Frey turning coat at the Red Wedding, the Game of Thrones board game is full of surprises like this, and it wouldn’t be GoT without a healthy dose of treachery.
- It’s Strongly Thematic: While games like Game of Thrones: Risk do a good job at creating a war for Westeros, the GoT Board Game is full of other thematic goodies. Iconic characters such as Jaime Lannister and Robb Stark can aid you in battles, granting bonuses that are true to their nature. Wildling attacks happen in the north, and each great house has to make decisions on how many people to send to the wall. Someone always controls the Iron Throne, and messenger ravens can allow players to gain precious intel that their opponents don’t have. The game is full of all kinds of fun nods to the Ice and Fire universe and superfans will love seeing how they’re implemented.
Other Things You Need to Know About GoT: The Board Game
- There is a Daenerys Expansion: The GoT Board Game primarily focuses on the War of the Five Kings which takes place after Robert’s death. During that time, your favorite Dragon Queen is out in Essos doing who-knows-what, so she’s not featured in the main game. But there is an expansion which includes a new map of Essos, and House Targaryen as a playable faction. This team is led by none other than everyone’s favorite fire and blood-mongering dragon queen, Daenerys Targaryen. This expansion adds the threat of dragons to the game, which become stronger with each round, and increases the player count to seven, along with several other cool additions. The Vale also arrives as a playable faction.
- It’s Based on the Books: While mostly everything in this game will be familiar to fans of the HBO show, it is, in fact, based on the book-verse much like some of the other games on this list. You’ll see characters that never existed in the show, such as Victarion Greyjoy, and you’ll be shocked at how dopey Tywin’s sideburns look in his art when you’re accustomed to the brilliant portrayal by Charles Dance. You’re not getting a 1:1 experience to the HBO show, but that’s okay. The game is familiar enough for show-watchers to know what’s going on, and A Song of Ice and Fire book fans will no doubt be pleased.
Choosing the Best Game For Your Group
Which of these Game of Thrones board games is the best? At the end of the day, it’s impossible to say because it just comes down to what your game group prefers. While our personal favorite is A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, that is a game that might not be to everyone’s taste due to its length and complexity. Fortunately, there is a Game of Thrones tabletop experience for just about any group, and we hope this list will help you determine which one is best for you.
Do you feel like we’re missing anything from this list? Do you have a personal favorite? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!