Welcome to the comprehensive new-player thread. 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.
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. No chasing rares! The game can by played 1v1 ("joust" - usually more competitive) or with 3-6 players ("melee" - more like a board game). For more information on gameplay, terminology, and tournament history check out the excellent wikipedia page.
WARNING: FFG announced on November 5 2014 that the next cycle, Wardens, will be the final cycle for the game as we know it. Then at Gencon in August 2015 the Game of Thrones LCG will start over with a new Core set. The 2nd edition will have minor rule changes while maintaining the essential elements of the 1st edition. Fore more details, please read the letter to the community from lead developed Nate French.
First Edition Official Resources
FFG's Support Page
FAQ 5.3 updated October 15 2014
Second Edition Official 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The links in this section were penned in 2012, so they're out-of-date but still contain valuable information.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.
What To Buy First
I do not recommend purchasing any cards at this time, but if you insist, check out the new player buying guide. 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 2000 cards, and 240 additional cards are added each year. This barrier to entry is a large part of the reason why the game will reboot next year (and rotate cards thereafter). However, the LCG model still makes Thrones a relatively cheap investment. For about $900 you can own 3 copies of every card in the game, which is cheaper than some 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. It's also common to split a collection with a friend or two.
Browse The Cards
Browse Submitted Decks
Checking out decks lists, especially ones that have won tournaments, to get a feel for the game and the strengths and weaknesses of each House.
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.
As of November 2013, FFG introduced special draft packs which allow players to hold draft tournaments. The LCG distribution model previously made drafting difficult - you had to create your own draft cube. But now, to draft each player just needs a reusable starter pack ($5) and a randomized draft pack ($15). Check out this thread for information on the new Westeros draft packs or try the here for the previous draft packs called Fire and Ice.
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). I recommend going to the "Options" tab and changing the "Zoom Behavior" to "display proxies when holding control".
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
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.
We don't know exactly when the next chapter pack will be released. It's roughly every month, but occasionally there are slight delays (especially between cycles). The F.A.Q. and restricted list are usually updated 3 to 4 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 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.