Welcome to the comprehensive new-player thread. In the Game of Thrones LCG players use customized decks to assume leadership of one of the great houses of Westeros vying for control of King's Landing and the Iron Throne. To achieve their goals, players launch military attacks against their opponents, undermine their opponents’ plans with intrigues of their own, and make brazen power plays to win the support of the realm.
The Game of Thrones card game launched as a CCG (collectible card game) in 2002. It was designed by Eric Lang at Fantasy Flight Games and based on the novels written by George R.R. Martin. In 2008 the game rebooted as an LCG (living card game). In August 2015, the game will reboot again, still with the LCG distribution model but with updated and improved rules. Previous cards will not be compatible. For Fantasy Flight's reasons behind the reboot, please read lead designer Nate French's letter to the community.
Under the LCG model, cards are released in monthly chapter packs (approx. $15 MSRP) with a fixed distribution of 3 copies each of 20 different cards. You know exactly what you're getting when you buy a pack. No chasing rares! To ease the burden of entry for new players, chapter packs will rotate out of the tournament-legal card pool after 3 to 4 years (so starting in 2019). The Core set and deluxe expansions will not rotate but rather remain "evergreen". The LCG model makes Thrones a relatively cheap investment compared to other card games. Furthermore, some players share a collection with a friend or two, thus splitting the cost.
The Game of Thrones LCG can by played head-to-head (called "joust" -- the usual format for competitive tournaments) or with 3-6 players (called "melee" - more like board game style). The 2nd edition, to be released at Gencon in August 2015, will feature some rules changes while maintaining the essential elements of the 1st edition. Eight factions will vie for control of the Iron Throne - Targaryen, Lannister, Baratheon, Stark, Martell, Greyjoy, Tyrell and Night's Watch. It appears that players will need three copies of the Core set as most cards come in single copies.
Second Edition Resources
Store championships are the bottom of the organized play pyramid, and the season runs from January to March. Prestigious Regional tournaments run from May to July. The U.S. National Championship is held at Gen Con in August, the European Championship is held at Castle Stahleck in late November, and the World Championship is held at FFG headquarters in Minnesota in early November. The winner of US Nationals, the European Championship, and each World Championship event (draft, joust and melee) earns the right to design their own card! Additionally, major unofficial tournaments are held throughout the year and local stores can host tournaments with game night kits including prizes like alternate art promos, deck boxes, and playmats.
In November 2013, FFG introduced draft packs which allow players to hold draft tournaments. The LCG distribution model previously made drafting difficult ; players had to create their own draft cubes. But now each player just needs a reusable starter pack ($5) and a randomized draft pack ($15). There were two draft pack sets in First Edition - first Fire and Ice followed by Westeros. FFG added draft tournaments to World Championship weekend starting in 2015, so we can safely assume draft will continue into 2nd edition.
Play Online via OCTGN
OCTGN is a free program that allows us to play Thrones online. A subscription is not necessary to play on OCTGN, but subscribing supports the developers and unlocks some additional features. Cards released in the last six months are censored - you can have either the text OR the picture, but not both. I recommend going to the "Options" tab and changing the "Zoom Behavior" to "display proxies when holding control". You can host a game or find a game to join in the lobby.
OCTGN Thread with downloads (ask questions here)
Fan Sites & Discussion
FFG's Tournament Rules (under "Support" and then "Tournament Resources")
Scouting is generally frowned upon. Ask your TO and discuss with your meta mates to determine exactly where they draw the line. Some groups allow players to spectate and/or share the details of opponent's decks with their friends between rounds. Personally, I think both of those actions make you an ass-hole, but scouting can be a grey area if "everyone does it".
First Edition Resources
Which House Is For You?
The links in this section were penned in 2012, so they're out-of-date but still contain valuable information. The articles lay out the strengths and weaknesses, generally speaking, of each House.
For example, Baratheon is associated with rush because they can win power challenges and earn renown easily. However, Baratheon also has some control elements from its shadows and Asshai-themed cards, and recently Bara cards have focused on recursion from the discard pile.
Greyjoy can save its characters from being killed, discard cards from an opponent’s deck, cancel opponent’s effects, and create unopposed challenges. Greyjoy (and Stark) excel at military challenges, but both are relatively poor at intrigue. Greyjoy also features Raider characters and Warship locations.
Stark, on the other hand, can search (“tutor”) for cards, defend challenges successfully, and benefit from winning military challenges. They're home to Direwolves and treasonous House Bolton characters.
Martell is known for their card advantage through “reveal” effects, for taking away challenge icons on opposing characters, and for dishing out punishment when you win a challenge against them.
Targaryen’s biggest theme is undeniably “burn”, which means reducing the strength of opposing characters and using effects that kill zero-strength characters. Targ also has Dragons and Dothraki. They’re probably the third best House for military might, and they have the best keyword in the game -- ambush -- to take advantage of influence-providing cards.
Lannister is all about draw, gold, kneel, and intrigue challenges. They boast top-notch card advantage and economy, they can control opponent’s characters primarily by kneeling them, and they can strip cards from the opponent’s hand. However, Lannister lacks renown and military and power icons, so they’re usually slow to win. You can’t have it all.
Rules Questions & Answers
Quills & Tankards Articles
Previous FAQs were released on 12, February 2015, 15 October 2014, 21 July 2014, 15 April 2014, 14 October 2013, 23 July 2013, 27 February 2013, 11 October 2012, 03 August 2012, 20 March 2012, 19 January 2012, 22 September 2011.