Why aren't you playing... A Song of Ice and Fire?
George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series is an inescapable media juggernaut. From the original, incomplete book series, to the HBO adaptation that's kept the world entranced for ten years, to the myriad of physical and digital games, to the comics, there's something for everyone. However, if you're the sort of person who sees this, and continues to crave more (or if you just enjoy a good tabletop experience), then A Song of Ice and Fire: Tabletop Miniatures Game might just be the thing you need. Here's why you should join the battle for the Iron Throne!
Initially familiar, but ultimately unique
If A Song of Ice and Fire isn't your first tabletop game, you'll find many commonalities between it and other popular titles in the genre - especially if you played Warhammer pre-Age of Sigmar. Units move in inches, but can charge by rolling a D6 and adding the number. Attacks are determined by rolling dice and seeing if you get numbers higher than your hit roll, followed by the defending units making defence rolls. Your army is comprised of a sizeable collection of models. Pretty standard miniatures stuff.
However, A Song of Ice and Fire doesn't call it a day at combat units going at each other. For starters, while you'll have a good deal of models on either side of the battlefield, they're all clustered in rectangular boxes. Once you start playing, you'll see that the game doesn't actually feel like fighting with a massive legion - instead, it's more comparable to a skirmish game like Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team. Each of the models is less like an individual fighter, and more just a representation of the unit's overall health. While losing them will lower the number of dice you roll per attack, you won't have to individually manage them.
The game also uses actions instead of individual phases. You and your opponents take turns activating a unit at a time. Once a unit's been activated in a turn, it can't be used again (unless you get a free action). The back and forth nature sets it apart
Beyond that, while your combat units are the most critical game pieces, they're not the only tools at your disposal. Non-Combat Units are models that represent a key character in the faction of your choice, and exist in a space outside of the main map. When you choose to activate a Non-Combat Unit, you claim a space on their unique board. Each space on the tactics board gives you a unique benefit - for example, the wealth zone can heal a unit by up to three models, while also removing any conditions it may have.
If that wasn't enough, you'll also be equipped with tactics cards. These can be played whenever their conditions are met (for example, a card may say "when a unit you control is destroyed"), and can give you a surprise advantage that your opponents won't see coming.
While these three elements may sound like you're playing three separate games at once, A Song of Ice and Fire weaves its mechanics together immaculately. The end result is game that feels familiar on first blush, but becomes its own beautiful beast once you pry away those surface layers.
Rich in flavour
For the sake of journalistic integrity, I believe it's important that I preface this with an uncomfortable truth: I have almost zero history with any A Song of Ice and Fire-related media. I've seen the HBO adaptation's pilot episode (I'm sure it gets better from then on, I just didn't come back to it), I haven't tried any of the games, and I haven't touched the source material. I've picked up a lot of smaller details through cultural osmosis - with a franchise this massive, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't - but that's as far as my knowledge goes.
Luckily, my guide through A Song of Ice and Fire is an avid fan of the lore, and helped me connect the dots between the flavour and the function. Armed with his knowledge, I can confidently say that those of you who enjoy the books and movies in the Game of Thrones canon (especially those who prefer tome to telly) will find something you'll love here.
The world's houses have been effectively adapted into miniatures, with abilities that represent their story counterparts fairly. For example, the Free Folk are a motley crew of untrained, underpowered warriors. In the miniatures game, on a per Combat Unit basis, their stats are weaker across the board than most. However, their strengths lie in numbers. Because their Combat Units are cheaper than most, you'll almost always have more models than your opponents in any game (excluding the occasional mirror match, of course).
Compare this to House Lannister, the wealthy elite of Westeros. Thanks to their vast riches, their standard units have been equipped with better gear than most. When they do take a beating, however, their lack of loyalty is reflected in their low morale. After all, they're only in it for the money, but no amount of gold can bring you back from the dead. The Guard Captain, a leader unit that can be added to a regular group of soldiers, can negate their weak devotion to the cause by killing a single unit upon a failed Panic test, bringing the rest back in line.
For many tabletop games, the cost of the models is just an entry fee. Once you factor in tools, consumables (like glue), and your own copy of the rules, you'll see that you needed a lot more than your initial investment got you. You'll also have to construct the models you buy, taking more of your time that you could be spending playing the game.
This isn't the case with A Song of Ice and Fire! Once you purchase your models (which cost about the same as other popular miniatures games), you've got just about everything you need to play. You can find the entire rulebook on CMON's website, freely available in PDF form. It's also included with the game's official app, which allows you to build and manage army lists. A nicely printed version is also included in any of the game's five different starter sets, if that's more your speed. Models also come pre-assembled, meaning you won't have to spend time building them yourself. However, unless you're a big believer in the single-tone aesthetic, you'll still need to paint them.
Assuming you're already invested in the tabletop gaming scene, and have a tape measure and dice at your disposal, getting started with A Song of Ice and Fire won't cost you an arm and a leg!
Keen to give A Song of Ice and Fire a try? If you're looking for a great introduction, you can find all of the game's starter sets here. Alternatively, you can browse our entire A Song of Ice and Fire range!