The Best Game of Thrones Game Isn’t Officially Game of Thrones

Licensed games have been around for almost as long as video games themselves. Beginning with the likes of Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and even E.T., they’ve been a staple for decades.

While their quality tends to vary, there’s something special about games based on favorite franchises. We have Spider-Man and Arkham games for comic fans, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter games for fantasy fans, and even a 007 game in development. But sadly, Game of Thrones fans have been left with very little.

And honestly, this seems surprising. After all, Game of Thrones has everything you’d want from a successful fantasy franchise. Memorable characters, in-depth lore, a story that keeps millions on the edge of their seats… not to mention dragons, zombies, sex, and murder. Nevertheless, there’s very little in the way of decent video game adaptations.

But luckily for Game of Thrones fans, modders have given them the game they’ve always wanted.

The King of Westeros sitting on the Iron Throne in King's Landing in a mod for Crusader Kings III
Screenshot by Twinfinite

The thin collection of Game of Thrones games is a strange bunch. Many are simple mobile games that cash in on the show’s success, often devoid of engaging gameplay or storytelling. Browser games like Winter Is Coming aren’t much better either, despite advertising campaigns that famously overpromise what the game would offer.

That isn’t to say there aren’t any good Game of Thrones games in existence. They’re just a minority.

Telltale Game of Thrones with Cersei Lannister and Margaery Tyrell
Image Source: Telltale Games

A Game of Thrones: The Board Game – Digital Edition has its fans. But although it’s a great game set in Westeros, it doesn’t have the same engaging narrative as the show.

Reigns: Game of Thrones also lacks the complex relationships the franchise is known for. It may be fun, but its simple and repetitive gameplay won’t hook players for long.

For many fans, the Telltale entry is the best Game of Thrones game out there. It almost perfectly emulates the personal drama and stakes of the show. But although there are big decisions to make and complex relationships to navigate, its scope always feels smaller and more personal than the show.

That doesn’t mean there’s no hope for Game of Thrones fans in search of the perfect game. Strangely, the best and most quintessential Game of Thrones experience is a game that isn’t even a licensed Game of Thrones game at all – Crusader Kings III.

A loading screen for Crusader Kings with a Game of Thrones mod
Screenshot by Twinfinite

Paradox Interactive is well-known for grand strategy games. Hearts of Iron focuses primarily on warfare; Europa Universalis focuses on leading a nation to greatness.

Crusader Kings combines both of these with a greater focus on dynasties and personal relationships. And it’s precisely this blend of politics and personalities that makes it feel like Game of Thrones.

In Crusader Kings III, your job is to develop a noble house’s legacy and create a dynasty, forming alliances and waging war against rivals as you expand your empire. But war is only a small part of it; most of the time, you’ll sway opponents or seduce their spouse, marry children off for alliances, execute and ransom prisoners, discover secrets to blackmail rivals, beg the Pope for money… and all the while, other characters are scheming against you too.

A decision screen on Crusader Kings III with the Game of Thrones mod
Screenshot by Twinfinite

But what gives it an even stronger Game of Thrones feel is its role-playing aspect. Players are bombarded with important decisions that each have multiple outcomes. For example, you might have to hold your child back from a fight to ensure they don’t develop a negative personality trait or perhaps take sides in a dispute between vassals. And since each ruler has their own personality, strengths, and weaknesses, it’s crucial to navigate these decisions and characters carefully.

Bringing this level of personal drama makes players feel much more connected to the characters. It’s not just a digital version of a strategy board game – you feel connected to the characters. When your sister has a child out of wedlock, your son is murdered on the battlefield, your wife is accused of being a witch, or your best friend exposes your darkest secret – it really starts to feel like Game of Thrones.

A Crusader Kings map with a Game of Thrones mod
Screenshot by Twinfinite

The good news is that even the base game has a Game of Thrones feel. But for fans who want a fully immersive Game of Thrones experience, there’s a mod that achieves precisely that.

There’s a huge number of third-party mods for Crusader Kings III. Several of them apply the mechanics of Crusader Kings III to various franchises, from the lands of Middle-Earth to the kingdoms of Tamriel. There are plenty of mods to keep fantasy fans happy, but it works best in the world of Westeros.

Available both on Steam Workshop and Nexus, ‘A Game of Thrones’ (AGOT) is a mod that combines the mechanics of Crusader Kings III with the world, lore, and characters from Game of Thrones.

Tywin Lannister in Crusader Kings 3 with a Game of Thrones mod
Screenshot by Twinfinite

It’s an impressive feat, completely converting the game to fit in with George R.R. Martin’s fantasy world. The map is molded into the shape of Westeros and even the loading screens have been redone to fit the theme. Knights are called the Kingsguard, and Catholic priests are long gone, replaced by the Faith of the Seven, the Lord of Light, and High Septons.

Perhaps the most impressive change is the royal courts. An enormous stone lion towers over Tywin Lannister as he holds court in Casterly Rock. Meanwhile, the Iron Throne is faithful to the book, standing tall and proud in the court at King’s Landing.

Crusader Kings 3 character selection with a Game of Thrones mod
Screenshot by Twinfinite

Players can choose from a range of periods and characters to start off. There are the likes of Aegon V and Jaehaerys Targaryen in the War of the Ninepenny Kings, Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon during Robert’s Rebellion, and Twin Lannister and Stannis Baratheon in The Crowned Stag era. These give you a great jumping-off point to recreate famous moments from the series or change the course of history itself. Ever wondered what would happen if Ned seduced Cersei? Go for it. Want Tyrion to rule the Wildlings beyond the Wall? Give it a go!

Alternatively, you can start as a smaller, lesser-known house or start your own from scratch as you seek to make your mark in the history books of Westeros. You won’t miss out on anything – you can still interact with fan-favorite characters and see famous locations from the show. It even has a perfect recreation of famous landmarks, such as the Wall, Dragonstone, Winterfell, and King’s Landing.

The Wall from a Game of Thrones mod in Crusader Kings III
Screenshot by Twinfinite

If any studio were to ever make a proper Game of Thrones video game that truly captured the essence of the franchise, combining the political intrigue, diplomacy, and personal relationships, it would be almost identical to the AGOT mod for Crusader Kings III.

And with dragons on the horizon in future updates, it’s about to get a whole lot better…

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