So like me you may come from a Magic the Gathering background and have never heard the terms LCG or reducer before. To you burn means a red deck that casts fire and goblins at instant speed, to you a play set is 4 cards not 3, to you cards cost mana not gold, and those are creatures not characters! If you’re like me and wondering how to make sense of all this then hopefully this article can be your rosetta stone.
WTF is an LCG?
LCG means Living Card Game, it’s a term coined by Fantasy Flight Games, the maker of A Game of Thrones LCG, for the distribution model of their card games. A Game of Thrones, called AGOT, is not trying to bankrupt you in $3 increments, it’s sold through it’s Core set and expansions which contain fixed amounts of specific cards so you always know what you’re buying.
Magic is like the Thunderdome, you need to murder-death-kill your opponent’s life total from 20 to 0 in a bloody struggle to be the last wizard standing. AGOT, is more like a boxing match, you need to bob and weave, poke and prod, while you gather power. In AGOT the first player to gain 15 power wins the game, we’ll go over how exactly.
There are as many differences as there are similarities between these 2 game’s turn structure. A major difference between Magic and AGOT is that players take turns in each phase, rather than go through the entire turn one player at a time.
For example let’s say Keith and Joe are playing a game and are about to start the Marshalling Phase(Main Phase). Keith is first player so he will play his entire Marshalling phase, then Joe will do his entire Marshalling phase. Once both players have completed the phase the game moves to the next phase, in this example it would be Challenges.
Let’s do a high level step through an AGOT turn, I’m not going to go into detail about action windows just yet you can check out the timing section for that.
Choose plot cards
Reveal plot cards
For starters there is no Play or Draw in AGOT, it has players determine initiative at the beginning of every round in the Plot phase based on the initiative value of the Plot card they choose, the player who wins gets to chose who the first player is for that round. The first player then chooses which order the revealed plots are resolved in.
Magic only lets you draw one card per turn, that’s for peasants. In AGOT you get to draw 2, go ahead draw 2, doesn’t that feel good.
This is the Main Phase of AGOT, in it you gain gold(mana) and then use it to marshall(play) locations(lands), characters(creatures), attachments(equipment), and do anything else that is considered a marshalling action. There is no second Main Phase after combat so with the exception of things with ambush(flash) or actions that let them enter play this is only time to play most things in the game. A major difference with AGOT is the lack of summoning sickness, characters marshalled or played at any point can be used right away.
Announce challenge type and declare attackers
D.U.C.K – Determine Winner, Unopposed power gain, Claim, Keywords
Finally, let’s kill stuff! sorta. This is similar to the Magic Combat phase in the same way Force of Will is similar to Cancel. In AGOT there are 3 different challenge types, military where the goal is to try and kill stuff, intrigue where the goal is to randomly discard cards out of the opponent’s hand, and power where you take away your opponent’s power and increase yours. You can make one of each of these challenges in any order you’d like by declaring which one you want to make and kneeling(tapping) characters to make the attack. In magic you do not need to tap to block with a creature, in Westeros people have no work ethic, so you need to kneel(tap) standing(untapped) characters to declare them as attackers or defenders. A knelt(tapped) character cannot be used to attack or defend. To determine the winner both sides add up the total strength of their participating characters, the higher total is the winner. Then based on the Claim value of the winner’s Plot card, characters die, cards are discarded, and power moved.
This is where you stare down your opponent and assert your status as alpha male of the table. This is also where players total up their standing(untapped) strength, and add the amount of gold they still have. Whoever has the most gains a power(the objective of the game). There is no equivalent to this phase in Magic.
The backwards people of Westeros stand(untap) near the end of the round instead of near the beginning.
Return unspent gold
If you still have gold from the previous phases you lose it and go back to 0, sort of like emptying your mana pool. This is also where you compare how many cards you have in your hand to the reserve value on the Plot card you chose this round, if you have over that number you have to discard down to it. Now that you have a better understanding of the structure of the game let’s take a look at the cards.
How to Read the Cards
There are 7 types of cards in AGOT, the draw deck is comprised of Characters(creatures), Events(sorceries/instants), Attachments(equipment), and Locations(lands). Plots, Agendas, and Faction cards are in the game as well but you don’t put them the draw deck. The cards that comprise the draw deck state in the white scroll under the gold icon which type it is.
The first thing you’re going to notice is that I intentionally chose a terrible magic card and a bad ass AGOT card. Once you recover from my joke you may begin to realize these cards aren’t that different, let’s go through Tyrion from top to bottom. At the top of the card is the cost, AGOT has only one resource, in this case Tyrion costs 5 gold(mana). On the left hand side is the character’s Icons which are primarily used for Challenges(combat), Tyrion has an Intrigue Icon (the green eye), and a Power icon (the blue crown), he lacks a Military icon(a red sword) but that won’t stop him from kicking your ass into the loser’s bracket. Next on the card is the grey shield, this number is the character’s strength, and is used as both the card’s power and toughness. Do you see that tiny crosshair symbol next to the name, that means this is a Unique character. If a character dies they are put into the dead pile which is a separate pile from the normal discard pile, other copies of unique characters in the dead pile cannot be played, that means unique characters have permanent death in AGOT. That also means they somehow failed to name that pile the graveyard. The faction symbol not only shows which faction the card is a apart of but also whether or not a card is loyal, loyal cards have a small white scroll over the symbol (like Dracarys! below), loyal cards can only be in decks where that faction is the main house. The small italic words are the character’s traits(creature type), Tyrion only has the Lord trait, i guess god of tits and wine isn’t a trait in AGOT. If I have to explain what a text box is to you then i’m not sure you’re reading the right article.
Events are both sorceries and instants, they can simply be played when the card says it can. Dracarys! is an example of what AGOT calls a burn effect, it kills by reducing strength.
Attachments can be marshaled(played) during the marshaling phase onto characters.
Locations(lands) can be marshaled during the marshaling phase, unlike Magic in AGOT you can play as many locations(lands) as you want a turn. The catch is that some locations and characters have the limited keyword and you can only play one of those a round. Cards like Heart Tree Grove is where the AGOT term reducer comes into play, you can use them to reduce the cost of other cards, i still don’t use that term.
This is a Plot, it has no equivalent in Magic and seemed completely ridiculous to me when I first learned about them. You don’t shuffle them into your normal draw deck, you pick which one you want to use at the beginning of every round. From left to right we have gold, initiative, claim, and in the bottom right reserve.
This is another thing that confused the shit out of me when I first started. In Magic you can splash colors, put in one red card or 3 blue, it doesn’t matter if you want to build a whole deck of cards you can’t pay for, that’s your problem the game doesn’t care. AGOT is different, when you are building a deck you must choose a main faction(left), and you may also choose an agenda(right). For example here the deck would be main house Targaryen with the banner of the sun agenda, which allows you to add martell cards to the deck. These are physical cards you place on the table and reveal at the start of the game.
Ok brace yourself, there is no stack in AGOT, the first player in a round is given priority in pre defined action windows and things resolve in the order they are played, crazy I know. Magic players tend to have stockholm syndrome when it comes to the stack, it made no sense when it was taught to you but you’ve been using it for so long your mind has trouble operating without it. You’ve been institutionalized by Magic and it’s going to take you some time to stop trying to respond to things, don’t worry, you’ll get there.
I’ve been playing this game for months and I still use Magic terms for everything. You don’t need to use the proper terms all the time to play the game, but knowing what they mean will sure help. This article is by no means complete so if you still have questions don’t be afraid to reach out to someone!