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The Game of Game of Thrones: who will win season five?

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Tracking the wins and losses of Game of Thrones with the Verge staff's high fantasy league

  • Emily Yoshida

    Jun 16, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 10

    Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

    In the Game of Game of Thrones, timing really is just about everything. Knowing when to peace out and/or cut your losses is key to being able to live another day, gouge another eye. The legacy of Stannis Baratheon, may he rest in the deathless flames of Rh'llor, was basically a giant metaphor for a gambling addiction; selling off his life piece by piece, rolling the dice one more time while feverishly mumbling, "Fire Priestess needs new shoes." By the time the remainder of Stannis' army finally made their pathetic march on Winterfell, he was barely even a king anymore (although who is a king in the topsy-turvy world of Thrones!) — he had no queen and no heir, not that he seemed particularly upset or deterred about either. Hey, at least he still found it in himself to kill off a random from the Bolton army (+10) minutes before his death. When Brienne of Tarth stopped by to finish him off (+45) it was kind of like launching a missile at the Titanic. Cool gesture, very powerful. I guess you can take credit for that now, if you want.

    As scorekeeper of the realm, I feel I exercised a heroic amount of restraint and open-mindedness last week when I didn't dock Stannis any points for the worst single act of the season, on the principle that "Hey! Maybe burning your sweet, bookish, and only child alive might work out for you!" I think we can say pretty unequivocally this week that it did not. Farewell, Stannis, please accept this -100 as a lovely parting gift.

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  • Emily Yoshida

    Jun 10, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 9

    Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

    By the time we finally made our way to Meereen this week in the Game of Game of Thrones, I felt like Wun-Wun after a long walk in the snow: kind of over this. The gladiatorial drums of the fighting pits hammered away, as if to say "another day, another child burned to a crisp," but it was hard to get on board when the screams of Shireen Baratheon were still ringing in our ears. Farewell, Princess. We'll throw you a +5 for acquiring a cute carved stag before striking you off the board, and another +10 for fully curing Davos Seaworth's illiteracy before you left. ("Thank you ... for teaching me to be a grown up," said Davos, which was objectively the best line of the week. +15) Thank goodness this writeup is just an impartial, cut-and-dry scoring recap, and not some kind of podium for my personal opinions and feelings about television, or we might be here all day!

    Just to show how little I care about subjective things like good vs. pitch-black-hopeless-void evil, I'll even go ahead and throw +30 at Ramsay Bolton — who, come on, wasn't even in attendance this week! His resoundingly successful mission with his "20 good men" effectively brought Stannis Baratheon and his army to the tough predicament they found themselves in this week. You have to respect the uncompromising world George R.R. Martin has built: unlike your mom's lamestream sword-and-sorcery books, where the heroes predictably always manage to slay the bad guys against impossible odds, in Westeros, the villains always manage to slay the good whatever guys against impossible odds, which is way more realistic and less predictable. This show is very subversive!

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  • Emily Yoshida

    Jun 3, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8

    Helen Sloan/HBO

    Ever since the second season finale, we've vaguely been aware that the White Walkers are out there, in great numbers, sort of ambling toward the wall at a leisurely pace as winter makes it way across Westeros. But in the Game of Game of Thrones, you only get one point for attendance. And for the past few years, attendance has more or less been what the Walkers have been relegated to: showing up, reminding us they're still on their way, like a lost Uber driver who's been pinging your phone saying he's "now arriving" for the past half hour.

    So I underestimated what a force the White Walkers would actually be this year. And I certainly didn't think that after a couple of rather dour weeks on the show, they would be the ones to get me fully locked back into this season again. "Hardhome" felt huge and mythic and significant, up there with Game of Thrones' G.O.A.T. penultimate episodes "Blackwater" and "The Rains of Castemere" — and we've still got two more hours left in the season! For that, plus the more quantifiable accomplishments of assimilating an entire Wildling fishing village and just being generally terrifying, they are the first player on the board to get a 100-point score in a single night.

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  • Emily Yoshida

    May 27, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 7

    Macall B. Polay/HBO

    [UPDATE: This week's episode was originally scored with Nymeria and Tyene Sand's scores switched. Your GOGOT correspondent has corrected this and updated the charts accordingly. This took a really long time. I hope you're happy.]

    In the Game of Game of Thrones, sometimes you wish you could just draft Winter. It makes an appearance or gets shouted out pretty much every week, and every character is mortally afraid of it. And no matter how brutal or foreboding it is, it doesn't try to rape anyone.

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  • Emily Yoshida

    May 20, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 6, Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

    Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

    It was just last week that I introduced the Marriage Pits into The Game of Game of Thrones, and my initial hesitance has already justified itself. Sansa Stark and Ramsay Snow went ahead and made it official in the Godswood (+20 each) and celebrated, as is tradition, in the North with a controversial rape scene! (+20 each ... ?) Can I even give points for something this unpleasant? (Answer: no.) Of course, far away on the distant continent of Blogospheros, many would argue that this is the point at which not only Ramsay "lost the show" but the show "lost touch with humanity." I was rather hoping for Sansa to shiv Ramsay right in the assault kit, but the symbolic black dye has been washed out of her hair (side note: how long has she gone without a shampoo, then?), and without her mentor in deviousness Littlefinger around, she's lost her newly acquired cynical 'tude. Instead, the best we can hope for at this point is a "the fucked becomes the fucker" (ugh) plot line, which is hardly original territory for Thrones, or, you know, any old exploitation film.

    At least she got to lay down the law for a moment with her would-be (and probably still will-be) tormentor Miranda. "I'm Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home, and you can't frighten me," she declares to Ramsay's visibly stunned sidekick / piece. (+10) It worked for the moment, not that it matters much — Miranda's not exactly her biggest problem right now.

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  • Emily Yoshida

    May 11, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 5

    Helen Sloan/courtesy HBO

    In the Game of Game of Thrones, all men must die, but perhaps the scorekeeper shouldn't get so excited to strike their names out every time they fall over and close their eyes and stop moving. Last week, I told you that Grey Worm died in the arms of (the actually dead) Barristan Selmy, in what I thought was a pretty heroic standoff against a bunch of Sons of the Harpy (but which I have been told, both by Daenerys and the commenters, was an inglorious slaughter in an alleyway. I dunno, Benioff and Weiss, maybe next time don't pick such a strikingly lit alley filled with such cool looking assailants!) So when I saw GDub's perfect, gleaming, hairless chest rising and falling, as all-purpose concerned onlooker Missandei looked on concernedly, I knew the first order of business this week would be to reverse at least part of last week's impressive Harpy pointage (-30) and award our guy a special bonus for Not Being Dead. (+10)

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  • Emily Yoshida

    May 4, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 4

    Helen Sloan/courtesy HBO

    When Barristan Selmy showed up again in Season Three to pledge his allegiance to the Mother of Dragons, he was met with a resounding "who?". Never mind that he got one of the best "You can't fire me, I quit!" scenes in the history of modern television, Selmy easily melted into the background in a first season full of armored white guys we were told were once fearsome warriors — a first season where we were still getting our heads around Thrones' sprawling cast of knights, noblemen, and schemers. Even in last night's episode, folks were still reminiscing about Barristan in his prime — Littlefinger treats Sansa to a historical speech about his duel with Rhaegar Targaryen (+5). But in the Game of Game of Thrones, there are no points for history, only the damage you can do in the here and now.

    Luckily, Selmy can (or — spoiler alert! This is a recap of a television show you presumably watched last night! — could) still prove he was that same "painter who only used red" that Jaime Lannister once waxed nostalgic about. When he left then-king Joffrey's service, he claimed he was a "knight, and [he] shall die a knight," and he made good on that bit of foreshadowing tonight. That he should meet his end alongside Grey Worm, a former-slave-turned-his-brother-in-arms, is evidence of how dramatically the world has changed since the heyday of Hot Young Thing Barristan Selmy. Both men died knights, but for Barristan, it was an achievement in consistency; for Grey Worm the chance to be remembered after his death — to be the kind of guy whose helmet gets knocked off mid-battle so you can identify him as a character to root for — was an unthinkable feat.

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  • Emily Yoshida

    Apr 27, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 3, The High Sparrow

    Helen Sloan/courtesy HBO

    As each week passes here in the Game of Game of Thrones, the number of total points scored continues to dwindle, and we here running the numbers are beginning to wonder how this season will rank in the overall legacy of the most entertaining show on television. Perhaps all those disparaging things I said last week about Daenerys' garbage season really just apply to the show as a whole this year, but I'm not ready to throw such strong words around quite yet. It's possible Season Four spoiled us last year, when the top-10 insanity of The Purple Wedding left us gagging all of two episodes in. (It also might be the case that watching this show while numerically quantifying its entertainment value can skew one's perspective — possibly!) But if you go back and track where the series' Tentpole Shockers have landed prior to that (we're talking Smoke Babies, Astapor-torchings, and of course, Red Weddings), we're not even close to behind schedule.

    And hey, last night wasn't without its thrills: we had the return of Jorah Mormont and his waste-no-time kidnapping of Tyrion (+10), as well as the kind-of comeback of Gregor "Abomination Zombie Mountain" Clegane — surely a bit of vindication for their owners. We even got another beheading last night — that of Janos Slynt by Lord Commander Jon Snow (+20). Still, it so closely echoed last week's beheading in both method and possible ramifications for the beheader that it felt a little too familiar to be shocking, except perhaps for all you hardcore Slyntheads out there. (He was born in 260 AC to a butcher. He died in 300 AC by beheading. He was an asshole.)

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  • Emily Yoshida

    Apr 20, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 2

    Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO

    In the Game of Game of Thrones, there are generally two strategies when it comes to assembling your team. You can pick proven MVPs, those who have already enjoyed some of the greatest victories and moments of the entire show, or you can invest in promising underdogs still waiting for their season to shine. But in the heat of draft day, it feels pretty damn good to stack your lineup with 100 percent winners, with the Yunkai-torching, slave-freeing mother of dragons at the top of your list. She gives that badass speech about breaking the wheel in the trailer, after all. She must just kill everyone this season. Fast forward two weeks, and your girl's getting hissed at like a common veterinarian.

    But we're getting ahead of ourselves, so let's double back and start with Thrones' longest-running underdog. As much as Arya Stark has been a fan favorite since day one, her appeal has been largely in her potential and not in tangible on-screen action. That's a lot of what is so likable — she's not a world-weary cynic like so many of our other favorite drunks and killers, though she has the hit list of one. Remember that scene in season one when the late Ned Stark is watching her practice her swordplay, and suddenly the sounds of battle fill the room, and an ominous look crosses his face? We've been waiting for that battle for four years now. Crossing the narrow sea (+40) is a promising development, as is finally meeting up with Jaqen H'ghar and the Faceless Men, but it's been a long time since Needle's drawn blood from anything bigger than a pigeon (+1), and we're ready to move on from the setup of the "Arya becomes a deadly assassin" arc.

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  • Emily Yoshida

    Apr 13, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 1

    Helen Sloan/HBO

    "The freedom to make my own mistakes is all I ever wanted."

    These words, uttered by a certain late king beyond the wall, could just as easily have been spoken by any of the brave souls at The Verge playing the Game of Game of Thrones this season. Our high fantasy league embraces imperfection. Mistakes will be what makes this season worth fighting for: misplaced trust in characters, misremembered plot points from the books, inadvisable smack talk. What's really important is that we all have a sense of agency in this game; that we're not ruled over by some self-righteous mother of dragons who thinks we're too good for this kind of debased human cockfighting. We'll tear each other apart for sport if we want to, thank you very much. And we'll emerge stronger for it.

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  • Emily Yoshida

    Apr 10, 2015

    Emily Yoshida

    The Game of Game of Thrones: who will win season five?

    Courtesy of HBO

    The fifth season of Game of Thrones premieres this Sunday night on HBO, though if you're reading this I'm sure you don't need me to remind you. You've already set your DVR, sent out the Evite for your watch party, ordered the case of Ommengang Three Eyed Raven, and have the wild boar marinating in the fridge for your pre-show feast. And I'm not here to judge you. Game of Thrones is the most fun show on television, and it absolutely merits whatever ancillary activities you need to optimize your viewing experience.

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