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A Game of Thrones LCG: Chapter Packs

Posted by Denny Koch on August 4, 2010

A Game of Thrones is a Living Card Game by Fantasy Flight Games. This means, it’s a highly customizable dueling card game where players build their individual card decks and battle their opponent’s decks.

Players buy a Core Set or starter pack which provides them with the first cards needed to build their custom decks and then add more cards by buying monthly expansions.

The Best of Two Worlds

The only difference between a “Living Card Game” and a “Collectible Card Game” (Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh) is the distribution model.

While the classic Collectible Card Games add more contents in the form of randomized “booster packs” with unknown contents, the contents of expansions for Living Card Games are public knowledge, you don’t buy the pig in the sack. Many players are addicted to CCG, just because of the thrill of not knowing what’s inside the next booster pack they buy and the adrenaline rush they feel when hunting for an especially rare card. The downside of this is that CCGs are an incredibly expensive hobby because you have to spend hundreds of Dollars if you need a specific rare card while you get 85 copies of the same cheap card by buying randomized boosters. This is the main reason why players drop out of CCGs, they can’t keep track with new rare cards, and if you are a competetive player, you are almost forced to be up-to-date.

Chapter Packs and Deluxe Expansions

LCGs have a different distribution model. They add new content each month (in A Game of Thrones, these expansions are called Chapter Packs), but each chapter pack contains the same cards. There are no more rare cards and all players have access to all cards anytime. It isn’t your purse and hunting skill which decides the quality of your deck, but your deckbuilding skills alone.

Each Chapter Pack adds additional cards for all six factions and neutral cards, characters, events, support cards, plot cards. In addition, they often introduce new effects, new keywords, new mechanics which allow building of theme decks or decks representing lesser houses or groups, for example the Night’s Watch, House Tully, or the Dothraki.

Chapter packs belong to thematic story cycles and are published monthly. The first packs consisted of 40 fixed cards and cost about 6-7 $. Since it is allowed to have 3 copies of each card in a deck, players often bought several copies of a Chapter Pack (which was still cheaper than buying entire booster stands, but not the idea behind the Living Card Game).

In 2010, Fantasy Flight games listened to the player’s wishes and changed the format of the expansions for all three Living card games (Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer Invasion, A Game of Thrones). They now contain 60 cards with 3 copies of each card. This leads to a slightly higher retain price, but with around 10$, they are still affordable once a month.

Besides the monthly chapter packs, once in a while FFG publishes Deluxe Expansions. These are shipped in a larger box (similar to the Core Set) and contain additional factions and larger add-ons for themed decks.

Ownership of the Core Pack is always required.

List of Chapter Packs (CP) and Expansions

  • Core Set

De Luxe Expansions

    Chapter Pack "The Wildling Horde"

  • Kings of the Sea, adding House Greyjoy as a new major faction
  • Princes of the Sun, adding House Martell as a new major faction
  • Lords of Winter, concentrating on House Stark, adding new characters and deckbuilding strategies
  • Kings of the Storm, concentrating on House Baratheon, Storm’s End and the three brothers Robert, Stannis, and Renly, includes two new theme decks (Power Rush and Knights of the Realm) (not yet published)

Chapter Pack Subcollection: A Clash of Arms

  • CP1: The War of the Five Kings
  • CP2: Ancient Enemies
  • CP3: Sacred Bonds
  • CP4: Epic Battles
  • CP5: Battle of Ruby Ford
  • CP6: Calling the Banners

Chapter Pack Subcollection: A Time of Ravens

  • CP7: A Song of Summer
  • CP8: The Winds of Winter
  • CP9: A Change of Seasons
  • CP10: The Raven’s Song
  • CP11: Refugees of War
  • CP12: Scattered Armies

Chapter Pack Subcollection: King’s Landing

  • CP13: City of Secrets
  • CP14: A Time of Trials
  • CP15: The Tower of the Hand
  • CP16: Tales from the Red Keep
  • CP17: Secrets and Spies
  • CP18: The Battle of Blackwater Bay

Chapter Pack Subcollection: Defenders of the North

  • CP19: Wolves of the North, focus on Night’s Watch and the Wall
  • CP20: Beyond the Wall, adds Free Folk and creatures from the woods beyond the Wall
  • CP21: A Sword in the Darkness, new version of Jon Snow, adds Stallward Shield and Orell the Eagle
  • CP22: The Wildling Horde, adds forces of Wildlings
  • CP23: A King in the North, adds Margery Tyrell (Baratheon), Osha (Stark)
  • CP24: Return of the Others, adds Others, Mance Rayder, Melisandre, Old Bear Mormont, Balerion the Black

Chapter Pack Subcollection: Brotherhood without Banners

With this subcollection, FFG changed the format to 60 cards per Chapter pack. The cycle introduces the “Neutral house card”  and allows deckbuilding without a house affiliation.

  • CP25: Illyrio’s Gift, features characters Barric Dondarrion, Edric Dayne, Rakharo
  • CP26: Rituals of R’hllor, Melisandre of Asshai and Stannis, a new sect of zealots
  • CP27: Mountains of the Moon, mountain clansmen
  • CP28: A Song of Silence
  • CP29: Of Snakes and Sand
  • CP30: Dreatfort Betrayal

Chapter Pack Subcollection: Secrets of Oldtown

  • CP31: Gates of the Citadel
  • CP32: Forging the Chain
  • CP33: Called by the Conclave

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Introduction to A Game of Thrones – The Card Game

Posted by Denny Koch on August 4, 2010

A Game of Thrones – The Card Game is a Living Card Game (LCG) by Fantasy Flight Games. It is the successor of A Game of Thrones – the Collectible Card Game (CCG) which started in 2002 and was discontinued in 2007 when the distribution format was changed into a Living Card Game format.

The game is based on George R. R. Martin‘s “A Song of Ice and Fire” story circle, an epic story taking place on the fictitious continent of Westeros where several nobel houses struggle for the Iron Throne. The story is rich with intrigues, battles, espionage, treachery, and of course war. Many hundreds of characters, groups, organizations, sword brotherhoods, and secret societies shape the fate of the medieval world, combined with some low-fantasy aspects, for example dragons and other mysterious creatures.

Author George R. R. Martin is very protective of his universe and therefore the Card Game is true to the story. You can find your favorite houses, characters, and groups and all of them are represented in a very distinctive manner. As a side note, HBO currently produces a mini series based on the books which will be aired in 2011.

A Game of Thrones (“the only game that matters”) is the first book of a series of 7 books. Four are already published (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows), the release of the fifth (A Dance with Dragons) is scheduled for September 2010.

You can play the game without knowing the books and any of the characters, but you will miss a lot of fun and many important aspects of the game if you don’t know who’s who. You should at least read book No. 1, “A Game of Thrones” before starting, this will highly enhance the experience. You should keep in mind that you have to decide on ONE house, and only knowing the houses and their characteristics, their enemies and their affiliations from the books will reveal the true depth of the game to you. By the way, you should also read the books if you don’t intend to play the game… they are highly addictive 😉

What’s the difference between a Living Card Game and a Collectible Card Game?

(Please forgive me if I “steal” some information in this paragraph from my Introduction to Call of Cthulhu – The Card Game. ;))

A Magic Booster, containing 15 random cards

The main game concept is identical: players choose factions and then try to build a powerful deck to “beat” other players’ decks. This genre is known as “Dueling Card Games“. Depending on the game, you have to follow a basic rule set for constructing your deck (a minimum or maximum number of cards, a point or cost system, allowed number of copies in one deck etc.), but apart from this, you are free to build and explore the “ultimate deck“.

In contrast to a traditional Collectible Card Game or Trading Card Game (Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Marvel Vs, The Lord of the Rings TCG, Pokemon), the Living Card Game breaks away from the Collectible model.

In a Collectible Card Game, you have to buy booster packs if you want to improve your deck and if you want to find rare and powerful cards. You don’t know the specific contents of a booster pack, though, so it can happen that you have to spend $100 for a very rare card while finding 85 copies of a cheap card. Since most game systems regularly publish new booster packs, you have to spend a huge amount of money if you want to stay up-to-date and if you want to improve your deck and counter other players’ new cards.

This “blind buy” purchase model is the most problematic aspect of Collectible Card Games. The collecting and the thrill of buying new booster packs without knowing what’s inside can be somewhat addictive, so often players are forced to quit the hobby because they cannot keep up the pace and spend too much money in buying useless boosters with multiple copies of cheap cards they already possess. If you want to play competitive, you are forced to invest your money in booster packs or to pay tremendous prices for specific cards sold on eBay.

The Chapter Pack "Ancient Enemies", part of the "A Clash of Arms" sub-collection

A Living Card Game (LCG) offers a new card distribution model. Instead of selling randomized booster packs, cards are sold in fixed add-on packs. The content of such a pack is public knowledge and fixed. In A Game of Thrones – the Card Game, these add-ons are called “Chapter Packs“. They are published monthly and belong to certain “sub-collections” which focus on different aspects of the game. They bring  in more characters and other aspects of the books (locations, groups, weapons, creatures, events). You don’t have to buy all Chapter Packs, if you don’t want to, but you can choose which packs would really improve your favorite faction, your deck focus or your strategy – and which packs are not really helpful for your individual style.

Most players buy all Chapter Packs nevertheless, just to “have them all”, but this doesn’t hurt as much as buying booster packs in the CCG format.

Chapter Packs are very thematic and deal with a major storyline from the books (Nights Watch vs. Wildlings, the events from King’s Landing when Eddard Stark became the King’s Hand up to the Battle of Blackwater, the Brotherhood without Banners…). They also allow for building very thematic decks, for example decks centered around the Night’s Watch, Kingsguard, minor houses, certain traits or characters.

Chapter Packs cost about 7-11 $, depending on the shop where you buy them, and that’s it. You don’t have to hunt a rare card anymore, you simply order the Pack with your favorite cards on amazon or buy it in your local game store. Even if you are a hardcore competitive player who duels on tournaments, you don’t have to buy more than three copies of each Chapter Pack because you aren’t allowed to have more than 3 copies of each card in a single deck anyway. Publisher FFG even listened to their fans – the newer Chapter Packs contain three copies of each card, so there’s absolutely no need to buy more than one copy of each Chapter Pack any more.

Besides from the different distribution model, a LCG still offers the same dynamic customizable game play as a CCG. You can customize and build your perfect deck, but without the blind purchase model. In the end, the LCG model gives you the best of both worlds.

What’s A Game of Thrones – The Card Game?

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