The Game of Game of Thrones: our season six preview and truly confounding draft results

In which your scorekeeper blindly flails around pretending to know who Septon Meribald is


Sit down. Pour yourself a little of the Myrish firewine, that old favorite of ours. We are going to be here a while, so we may as well start off properly medicated.

In the Game of Game of Thrones, the offseason is where futures are made. One of the biggest running stories in the meta-Thronesverse is the perhaps-not-finalized fate of one Jon Snow — is he dead? Is he a zombie? What hotel did Kit Harrington stay in in Reykjavik? How long is his hair? What brand conditioner does he use? It was with heavy hearts that we crossed his name off the roster at the end of season five, but due to all this chatter your humble Thronesmaster felt obliged to include him in the draft, albeit with a question mark attached to his name. It was a gamble, I figured: you could end up with a character who is literally Dead On Arrival, or you could pick up that shiny new +50 score for Coming Back from the Dead And Putting a Zombie Fingernail Through Alliser Thorne's Stupid Eyeball. (That would actually be a total of 90 points, if you're curious.)

Of course, "Dead" Jon Snow was still a first round pick in our league. We are many things here in the Verge's corner of the realm (we had a legitimate debate today about whether or not a last-minute rape penalty should be added to the scoring guide, tabled for now,) but we are not faithless. Why else would Nymeria, aka Chekhov's Direwolf, MIA since season one, still be on the list?

Still waiting for nymeria, a.k.a. chekhov's direwolf

As Thronesmaster, I must take it upon myself to poke around the internet at the risk of spoiling myself, in order to get an idea of what characters we can expect to play a part in the next ten weeks. This has been a little harder this year, as HBO seems to have learned from last year's Sand Snakes debacle not to explicitly hype up any new characters. In building a character list I've been throwing around names book readers might be familiar with, like "Septon Meribald" and "Euron Greyjoy" and hoping they are of any consequence. I've also had to look up the official names of figures like "The Three-Eyed Raven" and "The Children of the Forest," whom I had originally listed collectively as "Magic Woodland Babies."

But for the most part, book readers won't be on hand to second-guess me this year: we are truly in new territory, completely independent of anything GRRM has put in print. There are no literary disadvantages this season; only handicaps for people who don't pore obsessively over subreddits and zoom-and-enhance blurry cell phone photos from Dubrovnik. And you can rest assured that your scorekeeper isn't one of those people — I mean, can you imagine? What a geek you'd have to be to spend that much time meticulously thinking about this dragons-and-zombies show? My scoring will not be tipped in favor of anything other than exactly what has transpired on screen — and as you may remember last year, I reserve the right to retroactively deem something lame or awesome depending on how it plays out. (I raise my glass to you, Dorne.)

A few housekeeping notes for you playing along at home: Scoring has now been divided into five categories. Characters can earn points for Violence, Sex/Nudity, Wits, Status, and Looks. Don't worry, we're still scoring based on an insanely long points guide, but the scores will just be funneled into those buckets.

Scoring has also changed slightly for anything involving character-on-character action — instead of calculating by draft order, characters have been grouped into "tiers" based on your wise Throneskeeper's estimation of their power and/or importance. If your character kills off a Tier 5 character, you have a higher multiplier vs. killing a Tier 2 character. Redshirt kills are still worth 10 points each, but scoring is capped after 5 per episode, so you can't make 1000 points from a killing spree of randoms. (Sorry, Sons of the Harpy.)

Some of you have asked via Twitter what a "read" is, as it appears under the "Wits" category. I'll let Dorian Corey take it from here:

As with the memorability of a death, the lameness of a subplot, and the fabulousness of an outfit, the harshness of a read will be judged by myself alone, though I will consult with a livetweeting jury to see which insults seem to have found the most purchase.

If you have any questions about the interactive game, please leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to address them. Now without further ado, let's get to the results of the Verge's GOGOT draft, which for me inspires feelings of affectionate dismay the likes of which only Davos Seaworth truly understands:

Game of Thrones

(Helen Sloan / courtesy of HBO)

The Brotherhood Without Manners

Kaitlyn Tiffany, social media manager
  1. Sansa Stark
  2. Ghost
  3. Tormund Giantsbane
  4. Meera Reed
  5. Gilly
  6. Kevan Lannister
  7. Wildlings
Kaitlyn says:

The theme of season six is "Wildlings take Westeros," mark my words! Everything worth watching this season is going to happen north of King’s Landing, where Sansa Stark is wrecking armies with her man-destroying glare and Ramsay Bolton is going up against everyone who hates him, which is everyone. I’m betting against him by drafting Tormund Giantsbane, The Wildlings, and Ghost the wolf. I feel good about all my draft picks except Kevan Lannister, who I ended up with mostly by accident.

I knew this would be an interesting GOGOT year when Sansa Stark was the very first draft pick. Maybe getting profiled in Nylon is more influential than I previously would have assumed! It is likely they'll give Sophie Turner more to do now that she's Jean Grey, but that means Sansa will have to seriously step it up compared to her performance in previous seasons. Other than that, this Northern lineup is solid. And I don't think Kaitlyn needs to regret that Kevan pick as much as she thinks; Cersei will probably find a way to have him killed by the fifth episode, but he'll probably do some revenge-y damage from his seat on the high council before then.

Ser Pounce's Feral Menagerie

T.C. Sottek, managing editor
  1. The Hound?
  2. The Three-Eyed Raven
  3. Olly
  4. Ser Pounce
  5. Nymeria (the wolf)
  6. Robin Arryn
  7. Dragons
TC says:

My strategy in a word: naps. Ser pounce and his allies will lazily rest in the shadows this season, accruing few points while keeping a low profile. Then, when the world least expects it, my dragons will light everyone on fire — securing my victory.

I'm never going hate on a themed lineup. That said, where T.C. deviates from his non-human picks seem to be his biggest stumbling points. He's got two children and a man who is probably(?) dead. I see Dragons and the Three-Eyed Raven being the power players for a couple episodes a piece; punctuating long stretches of useless, regrettable inactivity, or, uh "naps."

Hot Pie-O-My

Andy Hawkins, transportation reporter
  1. Bran Stark
  2. Davos Seaworth
  3. Hodor
  4. Roose Bolton
  5. Missandei
  6. Loras Tyrell
  7. The Children of the Forest

Andy didn't have a chance to get me his comments on his lineup, but that's OK since his team name is the best team name in this or any other league. It's a bold move to put so many eggs in the "Bran Stark is magic" plotline, but having good old Davos in your corner is a great investment; as it certainly seems he be a bigger player in the wake of Stannis' (offscreen, totally unconfirmed) assassination.

The High af Sparrow

Michael Zelenko, features editor
  1. Arya Stark
  2. The High Sparrow
  3. Tommen Baratheon
  4. Alliser Thorne
  5. Osha
  6. Nymeria Sand
  7. White Walkers
Michael says:

My strategy was simple: pick characters with something to prove. Because when you have something to prove you'll do anything to win. And I mean N.E.THING.

I'm guessing Michael's mostly referring to Tommen Baratheon and Nymeria Sand, seeing as last season his lineup was responsible for 1) the bloody brothel murder of Ser Meryn Trant, 2) the imprisonment and shaming of Cersei Lannister, 4) the group shivving of Jon Snow, and 4) the single most GIF-ed moment of season five.

This is a decent lineup, but a lot of these characters have to seriously watch their back this year, including our dear Arya, for whom that might be a little difficult. :(

Maester of None

Loren Grush, science reporter
  1. Daenerys Targaryen
  2. Ramsay Bolton
  3. Varys
  4. Brynden Tully
  5. Ellaria Sand
  6. Septon Meribald
  7. The Old Gods
Loren says:

The Known World is a big place, so I tried to maximize my chances of winning by selecting a geographically diverse lineup. I have Daenerys and Varys heading up my Essos crew. Elaria Sand is raining down poisonous kisses in the southern kingdom of Dorne, while Ramsay Bolton is on the brink of murdering every wildling, crow, and white walker in the north. The Blackfish, who expertly escaped the Red Wedding thanks to a well-timed piss, will also be back seeking revenge in the Riverlands.

I do have a wildcard in the form of Septon Meribald, but thanks to probable casting of Ian McShane in the role, it's easy to assume that this priest will be playing a big part.

If I was a betting type (please note: The Verge does not condone or encourage gambling, especially not on the outcome of a TV show on which little forest elves shoot fireballs at skeletons) I'd put an awful lot of gold dragons on Loren's team. In addition to the plot diversity, she's also got both the most loved and hated of all characters in the realm, and a solid weekly Wits score with Varys. Loren, clearly a Maester of Behind-the-Scenes Gossip, was also savvy enough to pick up Meribald while other players saw his name on the lineup and said "who"? I'm telling you, being a shameless obsessive fan gives you a serious leg up in this game.

The Red Right Hands

Bryan Bishop, senior reporter
  1. Cersei Lannister
  2. Brienne of Tarth
  3. Theon Greyjoy
  4. Grey Worm
  5. Rickon Stark
  6. Walder Frey
  7. The Lord of Light (R'hllor)

Let's be absolutely clear: Cersei is going to burn down King's Landing this season. You don't put a character through ten minutes of abject humiliation and blurry CGI nudity and not expect it to be answered with pure hellfire. Do I know this for a fact? No. Would it be a bigger, more brutal twist if she was totally thwarted in her attempt to strike back at the Faith Militant and the high council? Absolutely. But in a weird way, I'm rooting for her. I think we all are, despite everything. Either way, season five champion Bryan has some solid killers here to back her up, and it's smart to have Brienne on hand, if for no other reason than to diversify in the war for Jaime Lannister's heart.

I Hate Thenns

Everybody Hates Thenns

Kwame Opam, news editor
  1. Jon Snow?
  2. Euron Greyjoy
  3. Daario Naharis
  4. Olenna Tyrell
  5. Dorian Martell
  6. Tyene Sand
  7. Sons of the Harpy

Kwame says:

My team is packed with low-key killers who are sure to surprise on multiple fronts. And with the obvious return of Dead Jon Snow, I’m confident we can take the Fantasy Draft Throne. (Is that what we’re calling it?)

Again, it just boggles my mind that Dead Jon Snow is a first round pick, but that's the power of hype. Other than that, this team is too Dorne-y for my own personal comfort (yes, two Dornish characters are two too many) but the presence of The Sons of the Harpy and Olenna Tyrell should help out mightily in the wits and body count departments.

Nekro Atsume

Liz Lopatto, science editor
  1. Melisandre
  2. Jaqen H'ghar
  3. Yara Greyjoy
  4. Podrick Payne
  5. Qyburn
  6. Mace Tyrell
  7. The Faith Militant

Liz says:

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from history class, it’s that people who think God is personally talking to them will totally murder the hell out of anyone in their path. Which is why I’ve assembled a team of cultists: Melisandre, who appears to have no scruples whatsoever; the Faith Militant, because my cultists need an army; Jaquen H’ghar, who literally worships death; Yara Greyjoy, whose devotion to the Ironborn lifestyle borders on religious; and Qyburn, to keep everyone in potions. Mace and Podrick round out the team — mostly, I suspect, as comic relief.

I love Liz's creepy-ass team. It is very metal. I question how good the attendance episode-to-episode will be for some of these folks (I could always use more Yara and Qyburn than we've been getting) but sources seem to indicate we'll be getting a good dose of Greyjoy family drama this year. And I don't think Liz is even giving herself enough credit when it comes to Podrick — someone has to help Melisandre round up those Sex Points when she's busy raising folks from the dead and offering up fire sacrifices. That said, Mace Tyrell is useless, utterly useless. Sorry.

Valar Margulies

Ross Miller, managing editor
  1. Tyrion Lannister
  2. The Mountain
  3. Jorah Mormont
  4. Samwell Tarly
  5. Wun-Wun
  6. Obara Sand
  7. The Faceless Men

Ross says:

How do I feel about Valar Margulies (rough translation: All Men Must Watch The Good Wife)? Frankly, having Tyrion Lannister as a captain feels like a safe bet, but we're entering uncharted waters … like, what if Tyrion spends all season in a drunken stupor? What if The Mountain extends his vow of silence to a vow of pacifism? What if Benioff and Weiss don't spend three out of the ten episodes exploring What's Next for Obara Sand and her sisters? The only constant is change — change and Samwell Tarly. Slow and steady wins the race. Go Samwell, go.

This is the bro-iest of all the lineups, but at least there is a diversity of bros. You've got little drunk bros for wits points. Giant undead bros for violence points. Lovelorn diseased bros for the wild card. (Jorah Mormont looks more and more like Walter White every year, and now he's got a terminal illness to motivate him. Grey matter, indeed.) And you've got WUN WUN! I can't believe Wun-Wun didn't get drafted until the fifth round. How did Wun-Wun get drafted after Tommen Baratheon? Wun-Wun, Wun-Wun, Wun, take a wight or two.

Wun Wun

That's So Three-Eyed Raven

Jamieson Cox, entertainment reporter
  1. Jaime Lannister
  2. Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish
  3. Margaery Tyrell
  4. Bronn
  5. Lancel Lannister
  6. Trystane Martell
  7. The Unsullied

Jamieson says:

I’m looking at my team for the first time right now, and the word that’s coming to mind is "balance": we’ve got schemers (Littlefinger and Margaery), able killers (Bronn and Jaime), D-list prettyboys (Lancel and Trystane), and a bunch of nameless dudes who should coast to a bunch of easy points on the back of Khaleesi’s re-election campaign. If there’s one fantasy draft where you don’t mind picking last, it’s the Game of Game of Thrones — this is not a top-heavy world, and the next MVP could come from nowhere. I’m a little worried about not placing much investment in the looming Northern battle, but it’s still not quite winter. Here’s hoping my heavy hitters get some shade, slaps, and Dornish cab-sauv in before the snow hits.

For getting last pick, Jamieson's team could be a lot worse. That is, if accidental hostage Trystane Martell and religious bimbo Lancel Lannister aren't the first to die in the season premiere. And if Margaery manages to get out of her filthy cell. And if the Unsullied actually start being good at their jobs. And if Jaime and Bronn manage to avoid getting caught up in another devastatingly awful road trip plotline. Yeah, never mind. This lineup is bad.

That's all for now! Come back tomorrow for the first scoring, and don't forget to set up your own league on! They make this thing go, I just sit back and count zombie deaths and make puns.