In my last article about A Game of Thrones the board game I reviewed the differences between the second and the first edition and different things that make the second edition much better. The main characteristic of the second edition is that it is better balanced then the first edition. Although, each expansion made the first edition better and fixed different bugs and introduced new elements, it still had few problems and few ways to win easily if your opponent is reckless. In the second edition you can also win easily if your opponents are making stupid mistakes, but for some reason I have a feeling that here you have just enough time to try and save yourself after you have made a mistake.
One of the biggest changes and probably the part I like the most about this game are combat cards. I love the fact that in this game there is no random factor when it comes to combat. You can always know whether you will win or lose, as it is very easy to calculate. You are allowed at any time to see what cards you opponent has in his hand and what he is able to play. This way it is very easy to calculate the outcome of the battle. Difference between the first and the second edition cards is that in the first edition there were cards that made no sense. You had a card with strength 4 and two or three towers. Strength 4 is the strongest card you have and towers protect your units if your opponent played a card with swords. Each tower negates one sword icon. So if you play your strongest card you probably are going to win. In that case there is absolutely no need for tower icons, as you will not lose any units. And if you are aware of the fact that you will lose anyway, it would be better to spend a cards with low strength and useless effects, so that you have stronger cards later. Almost all of the cards have been changed and those that did not need to be changed remained the same in the second edition. This is one of the most important improvements in the second edition.
Ports are very useful in this game and were introduced in the expansion for the first edition. Without ports players had trouble controlling or even fighting in the sea. Without ports, once your opponent takes a sea area around your castle or stronghold you are unable to master any ships in that area. Ports allow you to maser these ships as they belong to the cities you are mastering from. Ports cannot be attacked and you always have a connection to a sea area, so you can never be cut away. In the first edition this was a very big problem for House Lannister, as they were close to House Greyjoy and almost always would lose the sea area connected to their capital city. Another good thing about ports is that if you have a ship in your port you can assign a consolidate power support token in order to gain a power token later in the turn. Some Westeros cards also grant you a power token for every port where you have a ship, so I always like to keep at least one ship in a port so that I can gain at least one power token every turn.
Now let us move over the House strategies that players can try. I’ll move from the North to the South, so our first House is Stark. In this game Starks have the most passive position in the entire board game. Your only neighbors are Baratheon and Greyjoy. With the Baratheon player you will probably form some sort of alliance or at least you won’t attack each other until the last few turns. On the other hand, Greyjoys will be your biggest problem. Almost from the beginning, starting from the second turn you will be fighting them and mustering units so that you can keep what you have conquered. Try to be better than the Greyjoy and your victory is easily achieved.
House Greyjoy is probably one of the strongest houses in my opinion, although they are all well balanced. You will have a lot of potential targets early in the game and a lot of choices to make. Your greatest advantage as the House Greyjoy is the water. You should control as much as possible sea areas as it will make you very flexible. Starks are not your biggest problem, but if played well, they are not a problem at all.
House Lannister is very interesting and you can do really well if you form an alliance either with Tyrell or Greyjoy, so that at least one of them is not going to attack you until the end. That way you can focus on attacking Baratheon and gaining control over areas that provide a lot of supply. Your easiest target is Tyrell player, as he will be under pressure both from Martell and Baratheon at some point. One of your biggest advantages is your house card that threats all of your footman units in combat as knights.
House Baratheon is very interesting. In your first turn you are able to take the Kings Landing. However, their biggest problem is the lack of supply. I always have a problem with a supply. The only solution to this problem is if you manage to convince Stark to let you take few of the supply areas over the bridge. However, Stark player is likely to ask you not to fight for the time and to let him take the Eyre.
House Tyrell has a lot of resources in the area and should take them and protect them as soon as possible. Another very important thing is to always control a sea area around your House area. Martell, Lannister and Greyjoy can easily attack you there if you are not controlling the sea area connected to your capital city.
House Martell has a very interesting position and they have a number of choices to make. Gulf that is connected directly to their capital can be used as a bridge and take control of some of the most important castles and strongholds both important to Baratheon and Tyrell. Tyrell is likely to be your worst enemy, but with the right strategy I believe that it should not be an unsolvable problem.