'Game of Thrones' games are the best way to pass the time between episodes. The hit show and book series at this point has a good number of computer and video game spinoffs, some alright, some solid, and one exceptional. We'll take you through the best (and worst) in the world of "Game of Thrones" games, whether you're a casual watcher, an avid fan of the show, or (like me) someone who has loved these books and everything related to them for years.
5. "Game of Thrones: Genesis" (Cyanide, PC, 2011)
"Game of Thrones: Genesis" is the oddest bird among the "Game of Thrones" games, and it's also the oldest. Based exclusively on the books, it was the first video or computer game adaptation. The game is a very complex RTS with lots of interesting ideas, but a clumsy interface, bad UI, technical problems, and uninteresting combat hamper it severely. And non-hardcore fans will be disappointed: there are no familiar faces here. The game covers a span of a thousand years, all of it long before the main story. If fighting as Aegon the Conqueror or Nymeria tickles you, go for it. If you don't know who they are, or if you don't like difficult and confusing RTS games, give "Game of Thrones: Genesis" a pass.
4. "Game of Thrones" (Cyanide; PS3, Xbox 360, PC; 2012)
"Game of Thrones," the most simply named "Game of Thrones" game, is an RPG based on both the books and the HBO series, complete with some of the original voice cast. Players control two characters: a skinchanger from the Night's Watch, and a red priest of R'hllor. The game has great combat, an initially boring but increasingly solid story. It's not the best game in the world, but for hardcore BioWare-style RPG fans or those who simply love the series, it's worth a try.
3. "Game of Thrones: Ascent" (Disruptor Beam, Facebook, 2013)
I know it's heresy to praise a social game, but "Game of Thrones: Ascent" is one of the best "Game of Thrones" games out there. It's a Facebook game, developed by Disruptor Beam. The game launched in beta in February 2013, and it allows players to create their own character and use intrigue and power plays to become an important player allied to one of the Great Houses. Players can also build up armies, participate in trade, improve their ancestral lands, and - best of all - backstab their friends. Most excitingly, the game updates every week with new content based on the latest HBO episode.
"Game of Thrones: Ascent" is free-to-play but, typically, not free-to-play-well. The gameplay can be slow and tedious, with a lot of waiting. It's a grind. But it's a solid game if you have the patience. And it's still in beta, so some of these issues - those that aren't a basic part of the design - may be fixed.
2. "A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)" (Fantasy Flight Games, Board Game, 2011)
It's still a "Game of Thrones" game, even though it's neither a computer nor a video game. It's a board game. It's based on the books, and it's old (the first edition came out in 2003). Nevertheless, it's one of the best versions of "Game of Thrones" on the market. Three to six players control Great Houses (Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Tyrell, Greyjoy, and Martell) and vie to control Westeros in a truly intense wargame with, of course, no second place (you win or you die). For board game newbies: unlike Risk, it has very little randomness in it. Combat itself has none. It combines warring with using Influence to compete for the Iron Throne, the King's Court, and overall military prowess for a strategic and epic multiplayer experience.
1. "Crusader Kings II: A Game of Thrones" (Paradox / Fanmade, PC & Mac, 2012-2013)
The best "Game of Thrones" game doesn't even have "Game of Thrones" in the title, not really. And it's not even a game, it's a mod. A mod for the game Crusader Kings II, my personal Game of the Year 2012, a game of medieval dynasty management, politicking, marriage, and warfare. The fan-created "A Game of Thrones" mod takes all that, tweaks it dramatically, and moves it to Westeros. Instead of playing as the great kings and dukes of Europe, you play as the heads of the Great Houses. You control the head of the dynasty (e.g. Jon Arryn of House Arryn). If you die - and sooner or later you will, time being what it is - you continue as their heir (e.g. Sweetrobin of House Arryn, a child and a useless one at that).
In the meantime, you can make war and alliances, joust, have your maester educate your children, and so, so much more. And you don't have to play as a Great Lord, either. You can play as any landed noble. Roose Bolton? You got it. Walder Frey and his 100 kids? Have fun. And the mod has an increasing number of scenarios, allowing players to start at many different time periods - Robert's Rebellion, Aegon's Conquest, the War of the Five Kings, it's all here. The mod just came out with a new version, and it's free (Crusader Kings II is not, but it goes on sale a lot, and is awesome all on its own). Seriously, if you like "Game of Thrones," this is where you need to be.