Matthias
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Disclaimer: This post is based on two games with 4 people, all of them played the game for the first time. It's easily possible that we missed something obvious.

In our 4-player games, the starting positions seemed to be pretty unbalanced.

House Stark had serious problems breaking free from the north and gaining castles/strongholds.
Baratheon on the other hand can get to 7 castles/strongholds without even attacking other players. The problem seems to be all the free castles/strongholds in the south of the map. They are protected by neutral forces, but they seem much too weak to do anything. It seems odd that a 3 player game has many regions on the map closed off, but a 4 player game uses the whole map, leaving much room to expand into in the south.

A simple solution would be to use a few of the impassable tokens from the three player game to create a somewhat smaller map, but the question is which and how many regions should be came impassable.

Maybe there is a more simple answer to our perceived imbalance, so if you had similar (or an altogether) different experiences, please share.

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Alex Banks
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I was thinking about this too after your replies on the other thread. One thing I was thinking was perhaps replacing Greyjoy with Tyrell as a starting house? This might at least give Baratheon a challenger for the south side of the map (I guess you'd have to close off Pyke if that were the case). However even with that change it might be worth also closing off parts of the south (Sunspear etc.)
 
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Matthias
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I thought removing some areas in the south would be the best answer, but maybe removing Greyjoy (and Pyke) and using Tyrell instead is a better resolution. Baratheon need to be challenged, and Lannister can only go so far with Greyjoy at their back.
My next game is scheduled at the 5th November, maybe we try one or the other variant.

 
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Moshe Sulamy
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I was worried about this.
In the original game Baratheon needs to be constantly checked and that's WITH Tyrell, so it was a strange decision leaving him all of the south.

It would be great if you could get in a few more games with the original houses and setup and see if, when aware of this problem, Baratheon becomes weaker.
 
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Clyde W
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Surely FFG play tested this and found it balanced..?!
 
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Kevin Corbett
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It's a hard game to fully balance unless you make it a certain shape and make all territories identical. Never played this edition but in the first edition 6 players achieved the best balance. Everytime you cut a player out it made things less balanced. The impassable tokens and neutral unit might help.
 
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oystein eker
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(Own 1.ed)

This is the beauty of the game. Unbalance forces you to make alliances. 2 weak neighbours must agree on non military areas, or agree on invading area with no further buildup. A conquered Poland Nazi/Soviet type pact. I often ask my neighbour for free sea travel to conquer distant areas, and keep a peaceful common border.

I do not remember names, but often black and red will agree on an alliance expanding east to attack the strong yellow player. Of course when the yellow player is weakened, it maybe time to break the alliance. -"Let me conquer this area, or I have to break the alliance".
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Sean D.
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So, the empty areas in the south have neutral units, but they aren't much of a deterrent.. Hmmm, I sure this was play tested by FFG, I wonder why the neutrals are so weak then? Well, it may be too early to say for sure with so few 4 player games done what needs to be 'fixed' in the game.

My friend will be getting this one as soon as we can over here in Canada and I am looking forward to crushing the Starks as Greyjoy or Lannister! devil
 
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Tagore Nakornchai
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Yeah, it seems really odd to play 4-players with Tyrell. In the first edition, Tyrell is the player who most often keeps Baratheon in check (The Reach is right next to King's Landing, and Tyrell won't let Dorne go to Bara without a good fight!). I've always felt that Greyjoy had the most balance issues of the factions - to the extent that I'd prefer playing 5 players with Martell rather than with Greyjoy.
 
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Kim Brebach
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i did another 4 player review here http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/730585/a-game-of-thrones-2-0... and added some thoughts.
 
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John McD
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Maria is an interesting example of similar, a three player game where one player is quite deliberately substantially weaker than the other two. The only way they can survive and win is to make pacts with the other two players. They have a king maker role at the start and their challenge is how to turn that kingmaker position into that of king (or Queen, seeing as it is Maria. Well Empress then, God you’re pedantic).
 
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Janos Slynt
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We've played a 4-player game with:
- Tyrell instead of Greyjoy
- Pyke unattainable
- Sunspear and the three areas south and west of it unattainable

In this way, Tyrell can balance out the Baratheon power. Also, with 17 castles available for 4 players, it is a bit harder for anyone to gain an easy victory.

Although this may seem to be in the favour of Stark, we've found that Stark has nearly always been in trouble in less-than-6-player-games. They usually can not get much further south than Moat Cailin and the main problem is their fleet. They only have six boats and have pretty vital sea zones on two sides, so they have to either split their boats (which will still leave them weaker than both Lannister and Baratheon's fleet), or sign an alliance with one of either and hope they honor it. That, however, is usually suicide in this game. With Baratheon being the only one in the eastern sea zones in a 3-4-5-player game, it is quite impossible for Stark to survive without alliances/support.

Although we may be totally destroying the 4-player game and it's supposed balance, we find it has been much more interesting and much more fun like this. Some people say unbalance is fun, because it forces you to make alliances and fight 2-1 or 3-1, but in my opinion it's nicer when everyone has a pretty equal chance for victory .
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Kathlyn Rogers
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That sounds like a decent solution.
I prefer an equal game for everybody as well. Now the 4 player game forces Greyjoy, Lannister and Stark in an alliance to keep Baratheon in check. This kinda means Greyjoy cant do much the whole game...
 
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Michal Kazimierczuk
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A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) » Forums » General
Re: possible balance problem in 4-player games?
Hi guys,

You've put here pretty much nice stuff about solving the problem. Yet, allow me to ask: why not to close off Bara instead in less-than-6's?
 
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