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A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)» Forums » Rules

Subject: Glass strongholds rss

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Marcello Tridenti
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Hello,

I got the game yesterday and have been going over the rules a couple times.

Did I get it right that castles and strongholds offer no defensive bonus whatsoever? If anything, they are more vulnerable locations as they can be attacked with siege engines.

I know the game is kind of abstract, but this looks a little strange... or did I miss something?
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Alex Banks
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You are correct.

There was a topic on this issue and possible solutions here

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/741669/tob-and-stronghold-va...
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Georgios P.
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No, that's right. The main focus isn't necessarily on capturing the strongholds, but on holding them against the other houses. That's one of the main concerns when haggling and negotiating treaties. It's often very tempting to just grab one under control of an "allied" house, while they are busy setting up an attack against somebody else.

The whole game centers around how much trust and faith you put into another player's word that he won't attack you this turn.
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Nacho Facello
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It's thematically not good, but it works. I wouldn't change it.
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Mike Smith
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I think there are no defensive benefits to them because there was a desire not to produce a game where you could turtle. With 6 playing it could be highly likely to stagnate at around 3 castles/strongholds each, especially given the long and narrow nature of the map, so bringing in any form of defensive bonuses would need careful consideration, becaue it might tend to work towards producing a static quagmire. So the game as it stands is one where attack is given a high premium, and the deadly interactions of some of the rival House cards tends to heighten this and makes careful timing of a decisive stroke crucial. The power of the fleets (probably thematically too strong ) also works towards making this an attacking game, since it allows sudden long range swoops. Reluctantly I think its necessary to counteract the narrow constricted nature of the land mass.

So, both the over-utility of the fleets and the lack of defensive benefits for castles/strongholds feels "unrealistic" but they probably make it a better game.
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Hans Hansen

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IMO the defensive orders resembles the use of strongholds and cities or even small forts not depicted. If the army is on the march or busy supporting, there is no bonus. It is more of a strategic view.

Hans
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Seli L
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Mantuanwar wrote:
I think there are no defensive benefits to them because there was a desire not to produce a game where you could turtle. With 6 playing it could be highly likely to stagnate at around 3 castles/strongholds each, especially given the long and narrow nature of the map, so bringing in any form of defensive bonuses would need careful consideration, becaue it might tend to work towards producing a static quagmire. So the game as it stands is one where attack is given a high premium, and the deadly interactions of some of the rival House cards tends to heighten this and makes careful timing of a decisive stroke crucial. The power of the fleets (probably thematically too strong ) also works towards making this an attacking game, since it allows sudden long range swoops. Reluctantly I think its necessary to counteract the narrow constricted nature of the land mass.

So, both the over-utility of the fleets and the lack of defensive benefits for castles/strongholds feels "unrealistic" but they probably make it a better game.


Arguable. Having too strong attacks and weak defences reduces the importance of diplomacy. It should be next to impossible to turtle enough to withstand a coordinated attack from two houses, but why bother making a deal with somebody if attack is strong enough to make it alone? The game Diplomacy takes this to an extreme, with all units being equally strong and just one unit per territory it's very easy to turtle in equal fights, but better diplomacy can solve everything. AGoT BG is not Diplomacy, but I personally think that the addition of siege engines has taken it too far in the other direction.
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Mike Smith
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Going it alone is extremely problematic and will lead to you being the meal rather than a diner at the feast of swords. The diplomatic nature of the game allows you to narrow the field of leading players, and the attacking nature of the game gives you a feasible way to seize a win from this priviliged position.
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Piotr Kaplon
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I came to conclusion that the best option is to give +1 defence bonus to both castles and strongholds (after a few games, if it works, maybe +1castles/+2strongholds). I just need to find people willing to test it, bacause most of my friends prefer standard rules - for balance purposes. The game as it is is very playable, only slightly unrealistic...
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You'll find someone can turtle into King's Landing (once they have supply of 5 or 6), and the whole game will become everyone else marching on King's Landing in a giant armageddon showdown.

I like the fact the game is dynamic, ever-shifting. The whole point of the novels is that there are wheels within wheels, things keep turning, like chess, you can't ever sit still and hope to win. This isn't a military game in the classical sense. It breaks just about all of Sun Tzu's maxims at some point or other. There aren't meant to be strongpoints, a la Stalingrad.

You'll find strongholds plenty strong - they're usually packed with knights. BTW during the historical Feudal Period (and AGoT is based around this period's weapons and ways of fighting), it was quite surprising that almost all sieges were successful - like 70 or 80%.
 
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In fact I'd go so far as to say, holing up in a fortification is suicide. Didn't work for the city of Tyre, Constantinople got crushed eventually, and the Maginot Line didn't work out too well either. Without a field army to relieve you, you were a sitting duck, and time was not on your side - it was on your enemy's.

He had armies of engineers and scientists figuring out new and exciting ways to "root you out of your keep and hang you as an oathbreaker" while your stronghold was already built. There wasn't much new you could do. In the game scale represented, I place far more faith in the engineers of modern Westeros, than in walls of keeps that were built thousands of years ago. Heck even The Wall isn't stopping the Wildlings anymore...

When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. You don't grow old behind your walls...
 
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Nacho Facello
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broadsword wrote:
In fact I'd go so far as to say, holing up in a fortification is suicide. Didn't work for the city of Tyre, Constantinople got crushed eventually, and the Maginot Line didn't work out too well either. Without a field army to relieve you, you were a sitting duck, and time was not on your side - it was on your enemy's.


Constantinople held out for a thousand years. It took the biggest cannon ever built to finally breach those walls. The Maginot Line wasn't taken, just maneuvered around.

As for realism, yeah, castles and strongholds should be easier to hold than open ground. The thing is that game balance trumps realism every time. I like the game to be dynamic.
 
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Gabriel Perez
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I tried playing with Strongholds providing a +1 or +2 Combat Strength only when the Defending Army played a Defense Order.

This would represent the army preparing the Stronghold for an attack. Special Raids can still void Defense Order on a Stronghold.

The one time I played this way, there was only one battle in 7 Rounds that a Defense Order was played on a +1 Stronghold. The Defender still lost the battle.

So it doesn't impact the game in any negative way that I saw. I'm going to be playing this way at least a few more times to make sure it doesn't mess with the original game mechanics.
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Constantinople didn't "hold out" for a thousand years, as there wasn't a besieging army permanently in place outside it's shores for a thousand years. It won a bunch of sieges before losing one rather decisively.

That was an exception (there always are), and it, too, fell relatively quickly when it did fall. The game time scale is pretty long-term is it not? At that scale, I am unimpressed by castle walls. They lose you your kingdom and your life more often than not. They appear mainly useful for keeping robbers and brigands out, and for buying a defending liege enough time to allow his brothers in arms to march to his aid before his walls are overcome.

In game terms, by not allowing castles/strongholds an additional defence, you're forcing a player to "spend" resources defending it, which is as it was. Want to keep Lannisport? Pump up your supply to level 4+ and fill it with knights. But then you won't be off crusading against those vile Stark barbarians and traitors, will you? And I m guessing that's the point of the design.

I have successfully defended many a keep in the game, but at great cost. You CAN turtle somewhat in this game. You just can't turtle AND be everywhere else as well.

My point about the Maginot was exactly that. The French put all their faith in a static, hugely-fortified position, and gave up all chance of maneuver. And then Hitler promptly turned around and forgot that same lesson, and "dug in" behind the Atlantic Wall, throwing all his resources into static defence. Really, really, really dumb...
 
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roftie
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broadsword wrote:
In the game scale represented, I place far more faith in the engineers of modern Westeros, than in walls of keeps that were built thousands of years ago. Heck even The Wall isn't stopping the Wildlings anymore...

The Wall was never built to keep out Wildlings...

For those that feel that strongholds/castles are too weak, just play without siege engines. Then you would have to rely solely on support to gain victory, like in 1st Ed.
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Travis Hall
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broadsword wrote:
The game time scale is pretty long-term is it not? At that scale, I am unimpressed by castle walls.

Around two years in total. The game represents (very roughly, as it gets many details of that conflict wrong) the Five Kings War, which started in the 298th year since the conquest of Westeros by Aegon the Conquerer, and finishes in the 300th year. (For certain definitions of finished. Not everything is quite settled, but there are no hosts upon the field of battle at that point.) A game turn would be around three months, maybe. Arguably even shorter, as the war took a while to ramp up from Robb Stark calling his banners to a five-way conflict, and Greyjoy, Tyrell and Baratheon are active at the start of the game.

And on that timescale, I am not sure your examples are at all relevant. You speak of not growing old being castle walls, but nobody really grows old during a 3-month siege. You can't just sit in a castle for years and have any real hope that besiegers will pack up and leave, not without a host coming to break the siege, but defending a fortress for a few months while your relief maneuvers around the enemy is a hell of a lot easier than doing the same with an open field, especially if your forces are not all trapped inside the castle.

broadsword wrote:
In game terms, by not allowing castles/strongholds an additional defence, you're forcing a player to "spend" resources defending it, which is as it was. Want to keep Lannisport? Pump up your supply to level 4+ and fill it with knights.

And then lose when your opponent attacks you with two siege engines and a footman (as that provides greater strength than your four knights). The issue that people are seeing is not that it is impossible to defend a stronghold, but that the cost of doing so is far greater than that of attacking it. Tactically, it seems to me that the defenders should be able to abandon their fortifications entirely and fight in the open, in the same terrain as the attackers, and be on even footing, and so defensive fortifications can only improve the situation for the defenders, but in this game, the defender is at a significant disadvantage just for being the defender. That really doesn't make sense, and can't be justified thematically. You might find the game more enjoyable that way, but let's not lie to ourselves about the justifications.

broadsword wrote:
But then you won't be off crusading against those vile Stark barbarians and traitors, will you?

Actually, you will, because you'll be doing it with those siege engines that are so powerful in offense and useless in defense. There's not a huge overlap in the resources required for defense and the forces required for offense in this game.
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Travis Hall
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broadsword wrote:
You'll find someone can turtle into King's Landing (once they have supply of 5 or 6), and the whole game will become everyone else marching on King's Landing in a giant armageddon showdown.

You can't maintain a supply of 5 or 6 while turtling in King's Landing. IIRC, King's Landing provides no supply, so even if you could turtle there (which you can't currently, not against a determined attack), the result would be that you lose the surrounding lands, your supply drops and you lose defenders from your army, whereupon the attackers overrun you. That sounds like a fairly accurate representation of how successful sieges go.

A long time ago, I did a little analysis asking the question, can the Siege of Dragonstone occur under AGoT:tBG mechanics? The Siege of Dragonstone was a famed, successful defense of Dragonstone during Robert's Rebellion. When siege engines were involved, the answer was a resounding "no". At the time, the current rules allowed three siege engines, which would easily overcome any and all defending forces, and the siege would be overrun on the shortest timescale the game has. It's better with only two siege engines available, but you have to make some pretty odd assumptions to have the Siege of Dragonstone occur as we hear about in he novels.

broadsword wrote:
BTW during the historical Feudal Period (and AGoT is based around this period's weapons and ways of fighting), it was quite surprising that almost all sieges were successful - like 70 or 80%.

I wouldn't call 80% "almost all", and of course sieges were likely to be successful in the long term - if a siege isn't likely to be successful, the aggressor doesn't lay siege.
 
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Travis Hall
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Okay, so if you don't like the strength of siege engines against castles and strongholds, what can you do about it? I think I've written about this sort of thing before, but I can't find it on BGG, and I suspect I may have written it on the FFG forums before one of the many crashes with loss of data suffered there.

Players of the 2nd Edition may not all be aware that when the siege engines option first came out in the A Clash of Kings expansion, there was a corresponding defensive option: fortifications. One option would be to implement fortifications in the 2nd Edition. To implement them exactly as written, you would need 9 markers of some sort. When any Consolidate Power order is resolved (except in a port - since ports can't be attacked fortifying them wouldn't help anyway), a fortification may be placed in that area instead of collecting power. When an area with a fortification is attacked, the defender gets +1 strength and the strength of any knights attacking or supporting the attack is reduced by 1. However, siege engines have 4 strength when attacking any area containing a fortification (regardless of whether there is a castle or stronghold there). The fortification is removed whenever the owning player's last unit leaves the area, including when losing a battle in that area (so can never be captured). The fortification tokens are not House-specific.

That makes defense easier, but doesn't actually reduce the power of siege engines. Fortifications will be built in castles and strongholds most often because anywhere else they make the builder vulnerable to siege engines. Fortifications did not make it into the 2nd Edition, and I think this is because they were relatively unpopular, and they were unpopular because they usually weren't worth doing.

So, what about ways to make fortifications worth it?

Here's one to make it easier to place a fortification. Instead of resolving a Consolidate Power to place a fortification, allow a Defense Order to be resolved during the Raid phase to place a fortification. When a player chooses to do this, the Defense order is removed and a fortification marker is placed in that area. However, it shouldn't be that area. When allowing this, Raid orders can also sort-of-raid Defense orders. When a Raid is used to disrupt a Defense order, it is turned face-down on the board and cannot be resolved during the Raid phase. At the end of the Raid phase, turn all face-down orders face up again.

That provides easier access to the bonus of fortifications to a defender while also allowing a canny attacker to prevent that bonus.

How about an extra bonus in those areas that should be easier to defend/fortify? Rather than a blanket bonus to all castles and/or strongholds, how about +1 for a castle and +2 for a stronghold only when the area is fortified? Now we are getting defensive bonuses that stack up against siege engines. Fortifications are effectively worth +1, +2 or +3 depending on the area, as well as negating attacking knights.

What about this business of attacking siege engines being so effective against fortifications not on castles and strongholds? Here's an idea - allow the defender to discard his fortification marker after declarations of support (but before choosing House cards). This allows defenders to simply abandon their static defensive positions when being pinned down will just get them slaughtered. Of course, this loses them the bonus for stout castle walls as well, but that seems reasonable.

You could also make your fortifications House-specific. Give each house, say, two fortification markers. That seems about the right number.

Those options for fortifications can be chosen to give the level of extra defense that you think is warranted.

Me, I think I like the lot: fortifications giving extra bonuses for castles and strongholds, built with Defense orders (and possibly Consolidate Power orders also) and able to be removed after seeing what is attacking, siege engines only getting their full strength against fortified areas. However, I'd also be worried that this would tip things too far to the defense and negate the utility of siege engines. To make up for that, I'd consider alternative rules for siege engines.

One such alternative for siege engines would be to give them 1 strength when defending or when attacking areas which do not contain castles, strongholds or fortifications. That rather makes sense. Footman units can be upgraded to siege engines. Do those troops suddenly forget how to fight? Can't they just leave their siege engines behind and take to the field with spear and shield the way they did before the upgrade. Yes, this adds to their defensive value, but really, you aren't going to be keeping them in reserve waiting for them to give 1 strength in defense. The 1 strength in defense just means players will be more inclined to use them in offense, with less fear of the counterattack.

You might also allow them to have their full 4 strength when attacking any area with a Defense order, and allowing Defense orders to be discarded after declaration of support. Generally, the real effect of this will be to allow a siege engine to negate a Defense order.

You could also allow defenders +1 for a castle and +2 for a stronghold when there is a Defense order in the area. Between the previous option and the new power of the special Raid order, there are ways to negate this, and it still provides a representation of defensive value of these features.

Many options... I don't know that a straight bonus to castles and/or strongholds would be too good, but maybe some combination of what I've described or similar idea could improve the game for some.
 
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