George R. R. Martin wrote the story for the strategy game tracing 1000 years of history.

As in any fantasy story, Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series has a lot of events that lead up to the conflicts dramatized in the books. Some are recent, like Robert’s Rebellion, while some stretch back hundreds of years like Aegon Targaryen’s conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. Then there is the First Men and the Children of the Forest and their fight against the Others beyond the Wall. Rather than let players assume the roles of characters and Houses in the present, Cyanide Games (Blood Bowl) and Martin have chosen to bring all of that wonderful history to life with Game of Thrones: Genesis.

When I first heard about this game, I was skeptical that Cyanide would be able to pull off creating a strategy game that really felt like it was pulled from Martin’s pages. There is so much more to the series than a unit of horsemen running down some archers, or even a dragon laying waste to a castle. The Game of Thrones is political wrangling, backstabbing, incest, vengeance and lust. How well would a “dudes on a map” strategy game represent all that?

It seems that the developers were just as worried that the game wouldn’t recreate such intrigue. Cyanide promises that the player will be able to win the game without ever fielding an army by using spies, assassins and kidnappers to ransom lords. Harassing caravans and staging secret alliances will be possible as well, but I’m not convinced that such tactics will be just as powerful as a thousand heavy horse thundering down the field.

Setting the game in the past is a brilliant way to circumvent preconceived notions of the characters he all know and love like Tyrion or Daenerys. All we as readers and fans of the HBO adaptation know about the events in the game is when they happened, like memorized dates in a history book. Genesis has a mostly blank canvas on which to paint the emotions and pathos of characters like Nymeria as she lands in Dorne or the passions of the Targaryens as they rode their dragons over Westeros.

Given all the new information and the new screenshots, I’m now cautiously optimistic to play Game of Thrones: Genesis when it releases on PC on September 29th.

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