Welcome to the comprehensive new-player thread. The Game of Thrones card game started as a CCG (collectible card game) in 2002 designed by Fantasy Flight Games and based on the novels written by George R.R. Martin. In 2008 the game was rebooted as an LCG (living card game)(that's why some LCG cards have the old black border instead of white). Cards are now released in monthly chapter packs ($10-15) with a fixed distribution of 3 copies each of 20 different cards. The game can by played 1v1 ("joust" - usually more competitive) or with 3-6 players ("melee" - usually more casual, almost board-game style).
In the game 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.
FFG's Support Page
The FAQ & Tournament Rules (includes the restricted list)
Which House Is For You?
The links in this section were penned in 2012, so they're one year old 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 and Stark excel at military challenges, but both are relatively poor at intrigue. Greyjoy can save its characters from being killed, discard cards from an opponent’s deck, cancel opponent’s effects, and create unopposed challenges. 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.
What To Buy First
The answer depends on a lot of variables. If you’re buying for yourself, and you want to a build competitive Joust deck quickly, then look no further than the new player buying guide. If you’re providing cards for an entire group that plays Melee, then focus on maintaining balance between each House.
If you’re unsure where you fit in that spectrum, it’s a good idea to play online first and get a feel for the game’s mechanics before committing to one House, theme, or archetype. You can also browse winning decklists, many of which are posted online, to get a feel for what works.
The current card pool sits around 1300 cards, and 240 additional cards are added each year. There is no set rotation, but the LCG model means makes Thrones a relatively cheap investment. For $800-1,000 you can own 3 copies of every card in the game, which is much cheaper than comparable CCGs. Many players do not feel the need to purchase every chapter pack. Instead they borrow cards for tournaments and use proxies during casual play to fill gaps in their collection.
Update: FFG has announced that in November 2014 they will announce a change to tournament-level Thrones which makes the game more accessible to new players. For discussion on this topic see here.
Browse The Cards
Browse Submitted Decks
Start in the deck thread directory
Store championships are the bottom of the pyramid, and they run during February and March. Regional tournaments are more prestigious, and the season runs from May to July. The U.S. National Championship is held at Gen Con in August, and the World Championship is held at FFG headquarters in Minnesota in November. Additionally, many major, unofficial tournaments are held in Europe and other countries around the world.
Rules Questions & Answers
Quills & Tankards Articles
Rules Questions Forum
Play Online FOR FREE via OCTGN
Online organized play is growing rapidly. There are currently bi-annual tournaments, a league, and an invitation-only tournament, all run by dcdennis. There is no subscription 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. You can host a game or find a game to join in the lobby (click the orange button to refresh).
OCTGN Thread with Downloads (ask questions here)
OCTGN Installation Walkthrough
OCTGN Shortcuts (Hold down shift to place cards facedown during setup or into shadows)(right click for most everything else)
Helpful Sites for New Players
Playing With a Limited Card Pool
On Choosing Economy Locations
The Deck Threads
Other Fan Sites
2 Champs 1 Chump Podcast (Every Friday)
Beyond the Wall (Every Monday)
Watch Games With Commentary
Find Players In Your Area
For a list of some of the best cards in the game, take a look at the restricted list found in the FAQ. Here are some of the top non-restricted cards to give you a feel for what each House can do.
Stark: Maester Luwin (FtC), Brienne of Tarth (PotS), Northern Cavalry Flank (SA), Harrenhal (ODG), To Be a Wolf (SB)
Lannister: Cersei Lannister (LotR), Tommen Baratheon (SA), Enslaved (THoBaW), A House Divided (WLL), Cersei's Scheme (TPoL)
Baratheon: Stannis Baratheon (VM), Dale Seaworth (AToTT), The Laughing Storm (GotC), Melisandre's Scheme (RotK)
Martell: Quentyn Martell (VD), Arianne Martell (PotS), The Red Viper (PotS), Ghaston Grey (FtC), Lost Oasis (AToT), Choosing the Spear (AJE)
Targaryen: Jhogo (OSaS), Young Griff (VD), Magister Illyrio (VM), Khal Drogo (Core), Meereen Tourney Grounds (ODG), Flame-Kissed (Core), Incinerate (VM)
Greyjoy: Victarion Greyjoy (RotK), Alannys Greyjoy (ODG), Wintertime Marauders (ACoS), Longship Iron Victory (KotS), To Be a Kraken (SB), Rise of the Kraken (KotS)
Neutral: Carrion Bird (TWoW), Syrio Forel (TftRK), Varys (SaS), Milk of the Poppy (Core), Nightmares (LoW), Desperate Measures (TCC), Condemned by the Council (AToT), Seductive Promise (Core)
Agendas: The Power Behind the Throne (LotR), The Siege of Winterfell (LoW), Knights of the Hollow Hill (MotM), Black Sails (RotK), The Maester's Path (GotC), House of Dreams (ARotD)
Common Rules Misconceptions:
In Thrones, there are no interrupts or "stacks" of effects that are resolved "last in, first out". Once an effect is initiated in this game, it resolves before almost anything else can be triggered (the exceptions are effects that specifically use the words "save" or "cancel").
Also, don't forget that abilities preceded by "Any Phase:", "Challenges:", "Marshalling:", "Response, " etc. are optional, but you do have to remember to trigger them!
Challenge icons are only checked during the declare attackers and declare defender steps of a challenge. If, for example, a character already in a military challenge loses it's military icon during the challenge through a card effect, that character stays in the challenge and counts his strength normally.
As of November 2013, FFG introduced special draft packs which allow players to hold draft tournaments. The LCG distribution model previously made drafting impossible. To draft, each player will need a reusable starter pack ($5) and a randomized draft pack ($15). I'm working on adding rules and additional information here, but in the meantime check out this thread.
We don't know exactly when the next chapter pack will be released. It's roughly every month, but occasionally there are slight delays. The F.A.Q. and restricted list are usually updated about 3 times each year during the down-time between tournament seasons (for example, between Store Championship and Regionals, then again after Regionals and before Gen Con).
Previous FAQs were released on 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.
The Game of Thrones LCG does not currently use set rotation. Every card released since 2008 is legal for tournament play. However, FFG made this announcement in April 2014:
"We are aware that the size of the card pool, the number of products available, and the breadth of the game are growing increasingly problematic for our audience. For some, it is a barrier of entry that is discouraging to new players who are thinking of buying in or trying to get caught up with their collections. For others, it is a matter of increasing complexity and a sense of getting lost in the card pool. We bring this up now to let you, our player base, know that we are aware of these issues and are working toward a long-term solution that ensures the continuation of the A Game of Thrones: The Card Game experience for years to come. More information on this topic will be presented in November, at the 2014 FFG World Championship Weekend."