Pay the Iron Price

What House Greyjoy Brings to the Struggles of The Iron Throne Board Game

“No man gives me a crown. I pay the iron price. I will take my crown.”
     –Balon Greyjoy

Each of the Great Houses in The Iron Throne board game pursues its conquest of Westeros in its own fashion. In fact, even within the different Houses, you'll find a wide range of possible strategies—each empowered by the House's different leaders and their unique abilities.

For example, Tyrion Lannister inspires you to play a more Cunning game while Tywin Lannister wields the Wealth of the Rock like a blunt weapon. Other leaders—like Eddard Stark , Daenerys Targaryen , and Stannis Baratheon —promote other strategies. And these strategies are all given further shape by the unique House cards that you can play during your encounters with the other Houses.

Soon, you'll enjoy even more possible paths to power. When The Wars to Come expansion releases, it will mark the introduction of House Greyjoy and House Martell, along with all their leaders, House cards, and the myriad strategies they represent.

The addition of these Houses means that you'll be able to enjoy your games of The Iron Throne with as many as seven players. But it means more than that. These Houses, their leaders, and House cards also allow you to enjoy more of HBO's hit Game of Thrones television series come to life on your table—more battles, schemes, and hostages… and more of your favorite characters.

Today, we begin our previews of The Wars to Come with a look at some of the ways that House Greyjoy and its leaders may hope to seize the Iron Throne. (Hint: It's not through stately diplomatic negotiations…)

Play as the Ironborn

The ironborn of the Iron Islands are a hard-weathered and fiercely independent people. And while most Westerosi worship the Seven or the Old Gods of the North, the seafaring ironborn devote themselves to the Drowned God—and they believe he created the ironborn to sail the seas, reaving, raiding, and plundering.

Accordingly, the ironborn of The Wars to Come want to play aggressively. And like Balon Greyjoy , their leaders all feature encounter-focused abilities.

Whenever you win an encounter, Balon Greyjoy allows you to strip one power from each opponent's leader sheet and distribute one power from his supply for each power that was removed. By accelerating the speed at which you can heap power on your characters, Balon's ability helps you surge forward and build the momentum to win future challenges. It also reduces your opponents' ability to rebuild, limiting the total amount of power they have available. And, notably, you can trigger Balon's ability whether you win as the active player or while lending your support.

Balon's not the only Greyjoy who wants to surge forward while he's got the momentum. Theon Greyjoy's ability becomes increasingly powerful with each victory you win. His ability to draw a card right before he needs to play one is handy, of course, but then he also allows you to distribute a power for each influence you've already spread.

Typically, the hardest encounters to win in The Iron Throne are the final encounters, in which you're trying to build from three or four influence to the fifth you need to win. But with Theon, you can parley the four influence you've already won into four power that you can apply directly to the challenge—if you wish.

Even the Greyjoys who don't immediately reward you for winning encounters still encourage you to press the attack:

  • Yara Greyjoy's ability allows you to manipulate your total combat strength after House cards are revealed.
  • Euron Greyjoy allows you to spread influence to any House corresponding to a hostage you torment, meaning that your early aggression may allow you to completely bypass the final battles you'd normally need to win to spread your fourth and fifth influence.
  • And Aeron Greyjoy can revive any of the characters you lose in battle, thereby diminishing the risks you assume by commiting to an aggressive playstyle and ensuring that you'll be able to play any of the House cards you draw.

Take What Is Yours

It's notable that Aeron Greyjoy allows you to recover any of the characters you've lost because if you want to play a character-specific House card, you need to command that character's leader sheet or commit that character's token to the encounter. And since your House cards allow you to make use of hidden information for the purposes of bluffing, Aeron ensures that all your bluffs remain viable—as do all the other surprises your House cards permit you.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of these Greyjoy surprises revolve around the game's mechanic for "plunder"—hostages:

  • Win a battle with Euron Greyjoy , as your leader or participating character—either as the active player or just while lending your support—and you can play Raider to score a hostage from each opposing player.
  • Win a later battle with Balon Greyjoy, and you can convert those hostages into raw power by playing Salt and Iron .
  • And if you send Theon Greyjoy into battle against a player to whom you have already spread influence, you increase your chances of scoring a vital character card hostage by playing Heartless.  Not only will this card more likely hit a character card after you and your opponent have played your House cards, but if you do capture a character card, you'll be removing your opponent's ability to surprise you with it after the House cards are revealed.

"We Do Not Sow."

One of the things that makes The Iron Throne such an exciting and intriguing recreation of HBO's Game of Thrones is the fact that there are innumerable paths to victory. You can bribe, cajole, and blackmail the other players. You can charge straight into battle. You can spread your influence through truces or as a supporting player. Or you can sail hard past your opponents' defenses with a host of fearless, battle-tested raiders and reavers.

You might not win any allies as House Greyjoy. The other Houses might not appreciate all the hostages you claim. But for all the other Houses that seek to lend support or gather support or rally the other Houses to their cause in one form or another, the truth of the game is that there's only one Iron Throne. And as House Greyjoy, you gain all the tools you need to take it by force.

The only question is whether you'll be able to use those tools well enough to succeed—and that's a question you'll be able to answer when The Wars to Come arrives at your local retailer. It's on its way now, so be sure to contact your favorite local gaming store and pre-order your copy today!

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