That's how it was for Casey Ross and Andrew Kotch, the creators of Aegon's Conquest, a game that takes place during the time of Aegon Targaryen's conquest of Westeros. Also known as "Aegon the Conquerer" and "Aegon the Dragon," this dragon-tamer was the individual who both established the Targaryen lineage and brought together all seven kingdoms, ruling them from the comfort of the Iron Throne.
"Aegon's Conquest is a megagame themed off of the book series that inspired the Game of Thrones show, and a megagame is basically a board game that has just a ton of players," the creators told SYFY WIRE over email.
If you think that you're a big GoT fan, Ross and Kotch might just have you beat.
"We both started reading the book series in the early 2000s and are of course totally excited by the show," they said. "Aegon's Conquest doesn't require any show or book knowledge of the players, but as the designers we have a very expansive knowledge on the series. I'm talking about some deep deep nerd sh**. The lore we use goes beyond the main series of books, taking into account the released Winds of Winter chapters, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms series, The World of Ice & Fire, and various short stories the author, George R.R. Martin , has written in the world, like The Rogue Prince and The Princess & The Queen. Honestly, that isn't even the end of it. [We've] read through the short stories George R.R. Martin wrote in the '70's and '80s, collectively called The Thousand Worlds."
The pair even have a $100 bet over The Winds of Winter, a bet that involves whether or not Jon Snow will come back to life. We know he does in the show, but in the books, his fate is still up in the air. Kotch believes Snow will either stay dead or come back. The wager involves the latter scenario: Kotch believes he'll come back as himself while Ross is of the mind that he'll return as "a half-man half-wolf blended consciousness."
But don't worry, you don't have to be an expert in the books and show to have a good time.
"It's important to note though that while we're into the insane minutiae, the game itself doesn't require knowledge of the show or books to play. From the players perspective, knowing the series well serves for Easter eggs and helps grasp some of the names better," said the creators.
The tabletop game is like Risk, Settlers of Catan, Stratego, and Dungeons & Dragons taken to the nth degree; Ross and Kotch told us that Diplomacy, Dungeon World, and Catan were specific influences on the creation of Aegon's Conquest.
Here's how it works: Players are sorted into the eight biggest houses in Westeros (Stark, Lannister, Bolton, Greyjoy, etc.). Each house comprises four members that take on a specific role: Lord, Knight, Heir, and Maester. These members then partake in mini-games that can better their houses.
- Lord: Trades, alliances, and court intrigue.
- Knight: Uses armies to conquer lands
- Heir: Bounces around all over the place taking a hand in all of these events
- Maester: Researches new technology, digs up embarrassing secrets on their rivals, and arranges intricate marriage deals
Communication, strategy, alliances, and even double-crosses are indelible parts of the game that can affect the larger board.
"The themes of the series really come through in a satisfying way," the creators said.
Then there's also the hidden gems from other pop culture franchises that mega-geeks can unearth:
"Anyone playing the Maester role will likely feel a lot of the Dune influences, as the marriage mechanic has a very Bene Geserit feel, and there are a few references to other universes like Conan the Barbarian."
Ross and Kotch were also kind enough to provide us with a never-before-published (not to mention untested) set of optional rules that involve the inclusion of the White Walkers. Check em' out below for the first time ever!
OPTIONAL GAME RULES: THE WHITE WALKERS:
Here is a set of optional rules to add another single-player faction to Aegon's Conquest, adding the dread from the Lands of Always Winter - the Others, who are sometimes called the White Walkers.
The White Walkers is a slow-building force. They sleep in their cold tombs for eons, waiting for the rise of telepathic power in the world of ice & fire. Though the faction represents a vast horde of ice zombies, it is controlled by just a single player. This faction seeks to snuff out everything which we call life, taking on the powers of those sacrificed at the mouth of the Snow Gate. The Others win by if they control at least 13 lands at the end of the game. The White Walkers player may travel to any table and perform one action there, interrupting Banner Order.
At the Westeros Table, the White Walkers may resurrect any one army that has been disbanded this turn as a horde of hideous, undead wights. The Others may only use this ability during Winter. This army takes from the maximum army pool of that House and functions as any other normal army. Armies controlled by the White Walkers may not be disbanded normally through combat and do not ever require upkeep. These armies do not March, but may use Force March in Winter. See Knights & the Westeros Table for additional information on the types of actions armies may perform.
At the Throne Table, the White Walkers can spend a Resource Card to force any one Lord to discard a Resource Card of their choice. In addition, the White Walkers may take a Resource Card from each Lord which did not gain Gold during the Court Intrigue phase.
At the Delve Table, the White Walkers can spend a Resource Card to Delve, looking for forgotten artifacts in the cold, dark places of the world. If the Others describe how their mastery of telepathy and telekinesis benefits the scenario, roll three dice and take the highest two. See Heirs & The Delve Table for additional information on delving. The White Walkers may Delve in any lands, regardless of Alliances.
At the Citadel Table, the White Walkers may spend a Resource Card to re-roll the die used to determine when the Seasons change.
Maesters may spend seven Crystals of Knowledge to disband a wight army controlled by the Others.
Any Maester may spend a Resource Card to Arrange A Marriage with the White Walkers, treating the Others' as if their Bloodlines Card had all Green X's. The spent Resource Card is given to the White Walkers.
Aegon's Conquest is totally free and can be downloaded here. Continue on to the media gallery for a deeper look at the board and mini-games.