Brandon
United States
Christiansburg
VA
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There is no middle ground.

Recently, myself, my girlfriend (A), my roommate (J) and general friend and boardgaming groupie (P) unfurled the relatively massive (compared to our standard fare) rendition of Westeros across our table to settle down for a rousing evening of intrigue, negotiation, and gritty unmerciful battle.

Of the four players, I was the only BGG'er, and thus felt I may have an advantage considering I'd read a little on various strategies and positioning whereas the remaining 3 persons were purely fresh to the rules and concepts.

Dealing out our House cards didn't do much to alleviate my fears -- I drew Baratheon.

It turns out said fears were soon alleviated. I had a rough start, trying to do to many things at once and spread myself a little too thin. I sailed north and made my presence known to Stark (A) in a manner that said "don't try it!". The cost was a falter on the mainland that let Lannister (P) extend his supply and create a simply massive force compared to the rest of us.

Tully was wiped clean early and left with a feeble force by the hands of Lannister. Without Greyjoy to deliver that early kick in the pants, the lions were simply out of control. This opened up a much needed truce between myself and Tyrell after I helped drive the reds out of the south. I could rest easy as my slowly rebuilding forces were safe from Lord Mace's fury.

With a couple of supports, King's Landing fell swiftly as Baratheon knights held the city for the remainder of the game. My footmen traveled south by ships to hold Sunspear pushing my total city count to 5....but that still wasn't enough for a leading edge...

Stark took both the Iron Throne and King's Court but perhaps failed to utilize them to their fullest, playing a very defensive game, wary of the Lannister march north. The move solidified the Lannister's leading position with 6. Now was the time to act!

On the 8th and final turn, The scarlet forces seemed doomed as Tyrell looked to march from the south, Stark from the north, and Baratheon from the east. The other offensives drew out exactly as expected, but a -1 march shifted my stag boats into Redwyne Straights to completely dominate the south and western seas. It went seemingly unnoticed from Tyrell; his very next march took his strongest force north out of The Reach and exhausted the Mace house card. Undefended! I wouldn't need another turn after all!

I split my large force from King's landing: A single unit took the Reach without resistance. The remaining knights arrived on the shores of Oldtown via boat with Renly's house card leading the pack. Supporting forces from Sunspear who'd earlier marched west under the guise of "just getting supplies" supported an already powerful siege. Even with Valyrian steel, a single footman was pushed out of his homeland and in one single march Stannis Baratheon claimed his 6th and 7th stronghold needed for the instant win conditions.

The look on Tyrell's face was pretty priceless.



As a mini-review, I (and I believe the others as well) enjoyed this game thoroughly. Even though I did win with what seems to be the generally accepted strongest house, I felt the 4 player game was pretty balanced (we did use ports after all). I know Tyrell is considered one of the harder houses to win with, but in this case, I think the early loss of forces just ended up being an unlucky play rather than a lack of any possible good strategy. The area around the Trident and the Twins was a hot zone. I look forward to 5 and 6 player games and seeing their impact on how things play out. I doubt we'll have nearly as much freedom and will have to be on our toes even more!

Great first session for what will probably turn into a frequently played game at my household. Highly recommended!
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Joel Schuster
Germany
Bretten
Baden-Württemberg
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Actually, in a 4 player game when you do not consider the island of Pyke to not exist, Lannister should win most games and its nowhere near balanced (too many free strongholds for the Lion nearby).
But that doesnt matter much in your first game ever...

Its in a 5 player game where Baratheon and Greyjoy dominate the map while Lannister and Tyrell are screwed.
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