by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Game that was turned into a game
When a novel with a name like A Game of Thrones gets turned into a board game, card game and finally a PC game, one should not really be that surprised. What was more surprising was HBO picking up the title as well and turning it into a TV series. None of these companies had any qualms calling their products A Game of Thrones, rather than using the official series name: A Song of Ice and Fire. I cannot really blame them. While the latter may sound more fantastic, the former definitely focuses on the core of the story: a group of power-hungry lords vying for the throne of Westeros.
Developer Cyanide announced its title a while ago and we are now nearing the day when the final product will be published. Rather than turn the story into an action-filled FPS as is the popular method these days, Cyanide decided to take a risk and make a real-time strategy game. Promisingly, in addition to the usual war-mongering, the game will allow you to assassinate your opponents, disturb their trade, bribe their units and ransom their officers.
Political prowess and strategic planning
As stated above, rather than resorting to the classic “click-to-create-much-troops-and-then-click-to-send-them-to-the-enemy-and-cross-your-fingers” approach, A Game of Thrones: Genesis will, according to the developers, also include a political side to the gameplay, allowing you to play the game – at least part of the time – without resorting to your military prowess.
Straight from the novels, the houses include Stark, Arryn, Tully, Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Tyrell and Martell. Each of these Houses has its own stronghold, special unit and House Bonus, which will affect the way it plays in the game. Some of them are naturally stronger in intrigue or diplomatics, while others get better military bonuses and units. Overall, the focus of the bonuses and special units seems to be on the military side, which indicates that you are not supposed to avoid war completely.
The key to the politics and winning the Iron Throne is the amount of Prestige that the House that you choose to play has gathered. You gain Prestige by building alliances and/or wealth, controlling temples or killing enemies. You lose Prestige by laying siege during peace time or having your bastard sons discovered. It is not yet known if you can choose to make or not make these bastards, or if it is considered a given that a man in power will sire illegitimate offspring as part of his daily chores.
War and Peace
At the start of the game, the lands of Westeros are usually at peace. When the leads of various Houses then start to kill, assassinate and imprison each other, they will eventually draw their factions into war. Those who have created alliances, freed captured units and possibly sang peace songs and picked flowers will likely have more allies and a somewhat easier time when the war finally starts. You will not know for sure before the war actually starts, however, since there are also secret alliances that will only be revealed when sides have to be taken.
The availability of some of the political actions is also dependent on the current state of political relations with other Houses. For example, you can only set up alliances with castles and other control points during peacetime, and the only way to capture them during war is by laying siege to them.