Game of Thrones: The Card Game has been around since 2002. That should read: Game of Thrones: The Card Game existed well before the television series, and with a solid decade of fantasy gaming geeks picking up the strategy, there is something of an intimidation factor when non-gamers decide to dive in. Ready to put your first deck together? Excellent, just make your selection from this inventory of over 1,500 cards and you'll be one your way. See what I mean?
Publisher Fantasy Flight Games has done everything possible to provide an on-ramp for new players: they've packaged the game into a starter set (pictured above) and gone so far as to release a 10-part video that completely replaces the rulebook. But with the HBO show minting hordes of new Game of Thrones fans, there's the very real chance that the card game will be filled with concepts completely foreign to this crowd. A special touch is required, and Fantasy Flight has just the product: a 2-player Game of Thrones introductory card game, separate from the existing card sets and with toned down rules.
Shown at this year's Gen Con, ICv2.com grabbed a picture of the game's prototype box from the Fantasy Flight Games booth. What separates this visually from Fantasy Flight's previous efforts is definitely the HBO series license. Fantasy Flight has commissioned enough Game of Thrones artwork for their prior games that they literally collected it all in a hardcover book.
With this new introductory card game, the visuals are simple: the box says Game of Thrones atop an image of the Iron Throne. Below, the game's tagline reads out "a game of intrigue, betrayal, and struggle for power." It's unknown at this point whether any actor's likenesses will make it into the card art, but it's not a stretch to assume so as the HBO logo is prominently displayed on the face of the box.
Update: during Fantasy Flight's "InFlight Report" panel at Gen Con, cards were shown on screen that used images from the HBO series.
What we do know is that the mechanics are lifted directly from the existing Game of Thrones card game, but have been simplified to the point that cards from this beginner set are not compatible with the existing Living Card Game (LCG) sets.
It's also reasonable to assume that this will hit retail in a way that presents itself to non-gamers. Fantasy Flight Games already has numerous titles in distribution with Target and Barnes & Noble. With brand recognition and a strong retail presence, don't be surprised if you see Game of Thrones leading the charge in creating new hobby gamers.