David Dixon
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There has been much written about strategy for the five and six player versions of A Game of Thrones made possible by the base game and the Clash of Kings Expansion, but little has been written about the four player variant, which is actually quite good.

As I find time, I will write a seperate strategy for each house, starting with the most difficult, in my opinion, the Lannisters.
The Lannisters are in arguably the most difficult starting position in the game. Their forces are divided between three locations (Lord Tywin, in the Trident near Harrenhall, Jaime and the main body of Lannister forces at Lannisport, and the leaderless garrison at King's Landing). To their north, they have the Greyjoys, and, most troubling, there is only one way for the Barathons to expand--right towards King's Landing.

A successful strategy for the Lannisters hinges on three things.

First, the Lannister player must sieze Harrenhall as early as possible, since they are nearest it, and make it clear that it is a Lannister possession. Harrenhall should always be held by large enough a force to make it an unattractive target to other players looking for an easy VP.

Secondly, the Lannister player must foment conflict between the Stark and Greyjoy players. The natural Lannister enemy, due to board setup, is Barathon, and the natural Greyjoy enemy is Stark. As the Lannister player, this is how you want things to stay. Peace between the Starks and Greyjoys means that Greyjoy will focus its energy southward, towards Lannisport and Silverhall, both worth VPs you must have. Due to the aformentioned divided nature of the Lannister forces, Lannister is unable to defeat or even hold its own against a Greyjoy and Barathon attack simultaneously. Whatever promises need be made to the Greyjoy player must be made, and kept as much as possible. Greyjoys moving any further south than Riverrun spells disaster.

Lastly, King's Landing must be held. This is, by far, the stikiest wicket, as our British friends would say. Kings Landing is in a difficult place, defensively. The Barathon player can muster considerable forces to face it, and, overall, has the advantage. However, there are a few things the Lannister player can do to help tip the scales more in his advantage. First off, a smart Lannister will ignore Silverhall, the closest stronghold to Lannisport. Silverhall is worth VPs, but will delay Jaime. Silverhall will fall eventually, and it will fall to the Lannisters--no one else is anywhere close enough to even threaten it. The marshalling points there aren't worth the delay, and your early surge in VPs will spook the other players, so just bypass Silverhall early. Instead, march Jaime as quickly as possible towards King's Landing, and try to diplomatically stall a Barathon rush to King's Landing. This is tough, because most Barathon players will not be so easily put off from seizing King's Landing. Therefore, it is much more likely that you'll have to move Tywin's army out of Harrrenhall (but leave some units as a garrison, just to discorage an opportunistic Stark or Greyjoy thrust) back to the Trident Woodlands so that he can be prepared to cut Barathon support from the Lower Kingsroad to back a move from Dragonstone to King's Landing. Jaime can do the same in the south, and, what's better, since he can march during the raid phase as a +2 march, he may even be able to win a battle against Melisandre at Kingswood.

Usually, defeating the Barathons once at King's Landing when they invade from Dragonstone, or forcing one of their supporting armies to retreat (hopefully while capturing their general), is enough to buy one or two turns of respite from the Barathon player, as he's out of position and you are not. Press the advantage, by contiuing to put pressure on Storms End and attacking during the raid phase with Jaime instead of waiting for their marches.

During these interventing turns, keep telling Greyjoy whatever he wants to hear to keep him focused on the Starks, and build enough units the first time marshalling is drawn to take Silverhall, but do it only after King's Landing is secure. With King's Landing safe, Silverhall, Harrenhall, and Casterly Rock, all you need to win is Storm's End (which should be possible if you've beaten the Barathon forces at King's Landing at least once) and the "Hear Me Roar" tactics card or a successful bid during Claim Westeros. Keep in mind though, that other players will notice your march to victory, so don't play "Hear Me Roar" until its too late for them to do anything about it. You don't want to be sitting at six VPs out of eight when the Greyjoy player decides you're more threating than the Starks and comes screaming down from the riverlands.

Barathon is higher on the Fiefdoms's track than Lannister, which is unfortunate for the Lannisters, but don't forget to use your position on the King's Court track to adjust your orders as necessary. When orders are revealed, if there's no attack coming to King's Landing (don't forget that Melisandre can march during the raid phase, though!), switch your defense orders to a consolidate power order and build fortifications if you're playing Clash of Kings, or just take in the three power if not.

Keeping the Greyjoy player happy can also come in handy in this regard, because if pressed, you can possibly get him to intervene with the Valyrian Steel Blade and tip the scales of a tied battle with the more powerful Barathons in your favor.

In sum, as the Lannister player you'll have to use your wiles, which is appropriate given the Lannisters in the books, as well as your military skill to triumph. Remember--sieze Harrenhall early, keep the Greyjoy's occupied, and secure King's Landing by ignoring Silverhall. There's no guaranteed win in A Storm of Swords, but doing this will go a long way in securing a Lannister claim to the throne!
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Johannes Åman Pohjola
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Nice work! I've been thinking about undertaking a project like this myself, but you beat me to it. I disagree with a lot of this and have a very different playing style from yours though, so one day I might still write my own

In our games, Harrenhall is as cursed as it is in the books, if not more so. The player who goes for it (unless he does it as an endgame claim grab) almost inevitably loses, since you pretty much have to overextend yourself if you want to hold Harrenhall in addition to your natural territory. You will inevitably leave a weak spot somewhere else that a smart opponent can exploit.

With your style of Lannister play, the weak spot is obviously the Greyjoy front. Sure, you can use diplomacy to keep Greyjoy in check sometimes, but you can't rely on it forever. Eventually, he will smarten up, especially if you play with experienced players.

Personally, I think going for Silverhall early is the stronger play. With a turn two mustering, you can take Silverhall in turn two without delaying Jaime's trip to the east. Still, I must admit going for Harrenhall is an interesting option, and one that I hadn't even considered!

Also, there are several important aspects of gameplay that you do not adress in this guide. I feel these are the two most important omissions:

- Power token management

With Lannister, your supply of power tokens will be very limited, and even more so if you ignore Silverhall in the early game (Harrenhall is, unlike Silverhall, not a safe "battery" for harvesting power since anyone can just park right outside it and raid things.

How should I spend what little power is available to me? Do I go for claim bids, allies (and if so, which allies), clashes (and if so, what tracks do I bid on)? And what to do with Eddard Stark?

- Non-best-case scenarios

You have described a very strong Lannister position, and how to fight for it - which is all well and good. But if everything doesn't fall right into place, how do I recuperate? What if the conflict between Stark and Greyjoy reaches a stalemate and they both just turtle against each other (a surprisingly common occurence, since you don't have to fight in order to win in this expansion)? What if I loose King's Landing early? And so on.

Also, a couple of things in your post imply to me that you haven't understood the rules properly.

Diis wrote:
During these interventing turns, keep telling Greyjoy whatever he wants to hear to keep him focused on the Starks, and build enough units the first time marshalling is drawn to take Silverhall


Huh? How could anyone fail to do that? Since there are no ships in this expansion, mustering doesn't really involve any active choices (except the obvious choice of going for knights or footmen, but that's trivial)? This sounds like maybe you got the misconception that you pay something to muster troops.

Quote:
Keeping the Greyjoy player happy can also come in handy in this regard, because if pressed, you can possibly get him to intervene with the Valyrian Steel Blade and tip the scales of a tied battle with the more powerful Barathons in your favor.


The Valyrian steel blade can only be used in battle if the owner of the blade token participates as either attacker or defender. This is said on both page 7 and page 14 of the rulebook.
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David Dixon
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Diis wrote:
During these interventing turns, keep telling Greyjoy whatever he wants to hear to keep him focused on the Starks, and build enough units the first time marshalling is drawn to take Silverhall


Huh? How could anyone fail to do that? Since there are no ships in this expansion, mustering doesn't really involve any active choices (except the obvious choice of going for knights or footmen, but that's trivial)? This sounds like maybe you got the misconception that you pay something to muster troops.

I understand the rules about mustering troops.

What I should have clarified was that I'm playing with the Clash of Kings expansion--meaning build seige engines instead of footmen, reference Silverhall. That way they don't need any support (Claim Westeros tactics cards and the usual +0 march order will do it), which frees up additional units to head to King's Landing.

As far as the Valyrian Steel blade goes... I got that rule wrong.
 
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Joel Allen
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I like the idea of getting something like this together because Lannister needs a ton of help.

This could stand to be fleshed out a bit.

I have the map and starting positions (available on the page above) open in front of me right now. It might be easier to read this post if you do, too.

Here we go.
Lannister's situation at the start of the game is even worse than you make it out to be. to wit:

1) Baratheon has a turn 1 attack against Kings landing with a power of 9, not counting house cards. This attack is: Control Westeros tactic + Stannis March + Melisandre + knight + 2 footmen. 2+2+1+2+2. Nine power.
Lannister has 7 units of defenders present, but is behind Baratheon on the Fiefdom's track, so a +2 defense order just means a tie and a loss, assuming correct house cards are played.

2) Lannister begins the game with a measly 2 power. Other houses have 4 or even 6 power to start. Failure to gather power immediately to prepare for an inevitable bidding round will leave Lannister at the bottom of all Influence tracks. This then combines with divided armies for a quick drubbing and (usually) a Baratheon game win.

3) Greyjoy is 2 Squares away from Lannisport at the start of the game, and your lannisport armies are needed in the east.

what to do about this? Well, if we need to hold kings landing at all costs, as you suggest, then the only play we have turn 1 is to choose "Hold Territory" as our tactics card. While it does nothing for us from a development standpoint (it doesn't help us in future bids, it doesn't help us move our troops), this card will bump our defense of Kings Landing to 9 not counting the order, and we can hold there for 1 turn.
In this case a competent Baratheon player will try an enveloping strategy, placing support units in Kingswood and Lower kingsroad and special-mustering Knights (or worse, seige engines) at Drangonstone for a Huge turn 2 Strike. If the Mustering card flips up on turn 2, he can swing in for something like 17 (Stannis, Knight, 2 Engines, +2 tactics card, Melissandre, Plus 2 points of support from either Kingsroad or Kingswood- unless you raid them both)
So, after we've crippled ourselves playing "hold territory" to keep KL for one turn, we lose it on turn 2 regardless. If you don't believe me, count yourself lucky your Baratheon player doesn't know how to play.

What do we do, really? Well, if you know the Yellow Hammer is coming, do our best to plan ahead:

Turn 1: Tactic: Control Westeros.
Orders: March +1 on Tywin, March on Jaime. Consolidate Power on KL. Special Order (muster) on Lannisport.

If your Baratheon opponent tries something "original" (read: dumb) and doesn't place orders to strike KL on turn 1, then you gain 3 power and count yourself lucky. Otherwise, you use your raven and change the order to DEF+2 to get the numbers closer.
First march, Jaime and Knight to Goldroad, footman to Cornfield. This is fairly standard expansion: you're getting power and mustering points.
Somewhere in here Baratheon does his second march and slams kings landing for 9. If you expect him to play the correct house card, you play Tywin lannister to keep your footman alive and retreat him to Southern Gods Eye.
Your next march is Tywin and footman into Harrenhall. March plus 1 and the Tactic "control westeros" allows you to take the hall with Tywin and 1 footman. The remaining footmain moves to Acorn Hall.

Turn 2: Tactic: Manage Troops.

What you've done here is set up a chain of territories that allows Jaime to re-take Kings landing during the raid phase of turn 2. You pick "manage troops" as your tactic card and immediately move a second knight (mustered last turn) into Goldroad. You raid-trigger Jaime and move him from Goldroad to Tumbleton, then immediately into Acorn Hall where another raid is waiting. This in turn moves him to Southern god's eye and then to Kings Landing, where he's attacking for 7. Baratheon is ahead of you on Kings Court, most likely, so if you see him place a raid in Kings Landing, you switch the Southern God's eye order to March+1 with the messenger raven. This allows Jaime and friends to still hit stannis for 7 when his defense will be 6 (Knight, 2 footmen, Stannis, Melisandre). If he raid-triggers Melisandre and attacks the southern god's eye first, you just attack *that* force from acorn hall.
OK- assuming the fight is at Kings Landing, what about yellow support? Well, back on turn 1 your Tywin army had a march+1 and was going last. This has the effect of discouraging the Crackclaw Point army from heading to the lower Kingsroad and supporting KL. The Kingswood in the south is where support is more likely, but in order to do both that *and* attack Kings Landing for 9, the Yellow player would have to split both the Crackclaw and the Storm's end armies, most likely each contributing 1 footman (and Melisandre) to Dragonstone, before finally marching from the 'stone. If Baratheon is smart enough to do this, Lannister is in much trouble.

Anyways, What I'm getting at is that this turn 2 is much better than the turn 2 in the first scenario, where we used "hold territory" and just turtled ourselves. In this new scenario we've taken Harrnehall and our Control westeros tactics card will give us an effective +3 power should a bidding round occur. Jaime has a chance of hitting Baratheon for a loss, and we're not as far behind as most Lannisters are at this point.

A side point to all this: if you can do it at all, sell back Eddard stark. Try to get 3 power out of him, but do it for as low as two. You can gaurantee the stark player will comply just by saying "you can have your guy back NOW for 2 power, or I can just drain 2 power out of your each turn for the rest of the game." The added benefit of this move is stregthening Stark and keeping Greyjoy out of the westland. Like you said, being hit by Greyjoy plus Baratheon effectively ends the Lannister game. In my experience this most likely hands the session to Stark, or possibly Baratheon if he's smart enough.

So, in summary, The goal of any Lannister stategy sequence should be to *not be completely crippled* after the first bidding round. Most of the time, a Lannister who spends all his energy trying to hold off Baratheon just withers and dies after bidding, losing the raven, and landing near the bottom of the other tracks,

anyways, that's a lot of typing and I acknowledge that maybe it was hard to read. Like I said, I have the map in front of me while I type this.

Assuming players of relatively equal skill, I don't see Lannister ever winning this game. However, if you can outsmart Baratheon and keep Greyjoy occuppied with a strong Stark player, then you have a chance.
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Johannes Åman Pohjola
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Joel, great post! I agree that Lannister shouldn't stand a chance if you play with all the ACOK stuff, particularly siege engines. But without ACOK, I still believe Lannister should have a fighting chance of holding onto King's Landing. Baratheon certainly has the advantage, but if you play smart, and most importantly have good luck with the card draw, I maintain that it is possible.

It also depends a lot on the Stark player - in our group, Eddard often sells for 4 or 5 power tokens. This makes things a lot easier on the Lannister player should there be a turn two clash. As a Stark player, I certainly don't mind paying that much. You have a shitload of mustering points anyway, so good positions on the tracks aren't really necessary to fend off Greyjoy in the early game

By the way, there are situations when you can hold onto King's Landing in turn one without playing Hold Territory. What I'm referring to are the situations when there are two or more army cards available for purchase, or maybe even outlaw military support. If that option is available, you should go for it!
 
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Amin
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Interesting Lannister strategy ideas. If I play Lannister I will definetely try to get some sort of turn 3 leave deal (to cash in the hear my roar card). Then I will consider such alternative tacts, just trying to hold onto KL from the start doesn't seem to work very well. And moving North seems to be an easier and closer to my capital's defence lines.
 
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Joel Allen
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That's the catch-22. Lannister is at a disadvantage in the east, true... but they can't leave without handing Baratheon the game. If you abandon kings landing without the option to strike back (described above) then you risk Baratheon setting up a base of Dragonstone + Storms End + Kings Landing. If he manages to consolidate power unmolested in those three regions for a couple of turns, his power supply will dwarf (no pun intended for those of you who read the books) everyone elses.
Baratheon's got just one battle front. Lannister is the only one there to fight him at the start of the game. Stark is occupied by the stronger Greyjoy. Greyjoy is too far away. Lannister has to at least threaten KL or Baratheon has the game in a near-lock.

Most of the games in our group (8 or so sessions to date) have resulted in Baratheon wins. Greyjoy sometimes, Stark rarely, Lannister never. I read a session report of another group where Lannister won, but it was clear from the description that the Baratheon player was a newbie.

Another option to the one I mentioned: if you still want to pick hold territory on turn 1, you can set up the same chain of raids by splitting Tywins force to Southern God's eye and Acorn Hall. This leaves you without Harrenhall and stops you from getting the bid bonus of +1, but it does guarantee you hold KL for the first turn. Then Jaime can bring in a group of 2 Knights, himself and Tywin early on turn 2 to either reinforce KL or retake it. You have to worry about Baratheon armies in the Kingswood and lower Kingsroad in this version, but it does leave you with the 6-power garrison for a longer time.

I don't like this version as well because it loses everything on a bidding round on turn 2, unless you can sell Eddard for huge amounts of power. In my games no Stark player has ever agreed to 5 or 6 power for Eddard-- I would love it if they did.


Sen045: yeah, I hadn't spec'd the situations where multiple good Army Units are available for purchase from the Ally decks. But with Baratheon ahead on the King's track, Lannister can little afford to gamble on purchasing allies. I don't know the statistics of how often 2 high-quality Military support cards will show up, either. I know that on turn 1 Baratheon's attack on Kings Landing is limited by his supply allotments-- he could add 1 point more to his attack, for a total of 8 ,if he buys a Ally Knight at puts it on dragonstone and uses it instead of a footman from elsewhere. Maybe that's a good thing for Lannister, if it stops him from selecting "Control Westeros" on turn 1 and attacking for 9. In this scenario Lannister is *still* hosed and needs to play Hold Territory, or like you said, purchase a knight of his own to place on KL. But this takes up all your power, and I've harped on that point a lot already.

Aside from the house balance issue this game is a really fun time.
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Jeff Abramson
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Joel, great writeups - FYI to others I am one of the other players. This week we played, Joel played Lannister and I played Stark. Lannister won for the first time. (Both he and I came close before.)

So what I think happened, all three other players were dinking around, didn't really mount any sort of offensive. Lannister just expanded little by little, held KLs and was able to win. Although the Baratheon player took KL and held it the turn that Joel played the KL victory point card!! I got stuck with the wrong units in the wrong place and couldn't take Riverrun.

Fun game, plays different every time!
Jeff

 
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Joel Allen
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After finally getting a win with Lannister, I should probably add some thoughts to my long "lannister is in real trouble" spiel up above.

There's now something to be said for playing the "hold territory" tactic on turn 1, I think. This is because, with the base defense of 9 at Kings Landing, you now have the option to Consolidate Power there in the event Baratheon does NOT pick "Control Westeros" as his tactic card.
That's what happened in this game on turn 1- our Baratheon player chose to buy a Political Support card. His best attack against KL was therefore 7, and I could hold the location without using a defense order there. Hence, +3 power for me.

This happened and 1 split tywins force (gaining an additional power when he flipped) between Acorn Hall and God's eye to set up Jaime's cross-country raid chain for turn 2 (described above). Also, Jeff as Stark offered me 3 power for Eddard.

Then, during the next westeros Phase, "all area's with crowns provide power" came up. So, my coffers we're pretty full before the first bidding round happened, and I was able to get ahead of Baratheon on the Kings Court track, assuring that Jaime-led armies strike before Melisandre's.

Turn 2: Jaime raid-chained across the continent and his presence next to KL with still a move remaining prevented Baratheon from attacking there for a second turn.

Next turn, KL again provided power during the Westeros Phase. I used some of this to retain control of several southland regions in the areas around silverhall and expand my controlled territory.

So, you can see- keeping a hold of that Kings Landing(as was mentioned by the original writer in this thread) can pay huge dividends. When Baratheon does something besides "Control Westeros" on turn 1, Lannisters power pool can get very large.

So, perhaps the best tack for lannister is to do the "hold territory" on turn 1, and use the messenger raven to change the KL order to either Defense (if Baratheon chose "Control Westeros") or Consolidate (if he didn't)

Another thing to mention is that taking Harrenhall on turn 1 (as I said up above) may not be advisable, because it effectively paints a target on your chest. When you're lannister, you can't attract the eary attention of Greyjoy or you're completely boned. Jeff and Brian, as Stark and Greyjoy, played back and forth for most of the game, and by the time Brian thought to push south, I had Tyrel Military support and a bunch of power to spend on it, prevening him from breaking through on the Goldroad.

so, yeah, the night went well for Lannister. In the mid- and end-game Baratheon was bottled up and lost some musters to supply constraints, and he eventually lost Dragonstone and Kings Landing (which he did end up taking from me for a couple of turns) for my final victory points.
 
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Kyle Murphy
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wrench217 wrote:
Turn 1: Tactic: Control Westeros.
...
Your next march is Tywin and footman into Harrenhall. March plus 1 and the Tactic "control westeros" allows you to take the hall with Tywin and 1 footman. The remaining footmain moves to Acorn Hall.


Just wanted to point out that "Control Westeros" does not allow you to take a neutral city like Harrenhal with the second move. You can read this in the description of the tactics cards at the back of the rulebook.
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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kytmuisco wrote:
wrench217 wrote:
Turn 1: Tactic: Control Westeros.
...
Your next march is Tywin and footman into Harrenhall. March plus 1 and the Tactic "control westeros" allows you to take the hall with Tywin and 1 footman. The remaining footmain moves to Acorn Hall.


Just wanted to point out that "Control Westeros" does not allow you to take a neutral city like Harrenhal with the second move. You can read this in the description of the tactics cards at the back of the rulebook.


You gain an additional 2 strength to March orders against cities or strongholds.

It doesn't say anything about the strength not counting towards a neutral city.
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