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Subject: Lannisters in King's Landing rss

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John Griffey
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Allow me to throw a big stink bomb of an idea into the forum. gulp

Several of the posts opine that House Lannister begins the game in the weakest position, and House Baratheon in the strongest.

The civil war which begins at the end of the novel, "A Game of Thrones," has a Lannister on the throne in King's Landing. Joffrey Baratheon is a Baratheon in name only.

Also in the novel, the Lannisters are the wealthiest house and appear to be very strong militarily.

Placing a Lannister footman in King's Landing would make them the strongest house at start, and create a dramatic situation at the start of the game, as Stannis Baratheon at Dragonstone tries to drive the Lannisters out of King's Landing. Why not let the game start this way, which is truer to the novels?


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Dirk James
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If willing Baratheon can easily take Kings Landing (strength 5) with his opening move. So placing a Lannister footmen (strength 1) in Kingslanding would only make things easier for Baratheon.
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Moshe
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The 2nd expansion of the 1st edition (Storm of Swords) actually did that, and was very true to the books.
This game is more of a "what-if" situation than an anything that actually happened.

Anyway,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Lannister doesn't have such a strong army as it just has many allies to help it (they would probably be lost without Tyrell.. )
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Starkiller wrote:
The 2nd expansion of the 1st edition (Storm of Swords) actually did that, and was very true to the books.
This game is more of a "what-if" situation than an anything that actually happened.

Anyway,
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Lannister doesn't have such a strong army as it just has many allies to help it (they would probably be lost without Tyrell.. )


Correct.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Also, it has more of a big standing army, while the other houses can call their banners have more forces. Having read all the books, I would estimate that both Tyrell and Martell can field larger armies. Then I would rank Arryn and Lannister, and perhaps Stark, with Greyjoy having the smallest land army.
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Alex Banks
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Doesn't it specifically say in A Feast for Crows from Doran Martell that Dorne has the smallest population of the Seven Kingdoms? I think I'd probably more rank armies (starting straight after Robert's death in AGOT):

Tyrell, Lannister, Stark, Martell, Greyjoy.

Arryn are an unknown factor as they remain neutral pretty much throughout, maybe they're similar to Stark. I'd say Lannister still has one of the largest armies, as they outnumber Robb even with the combined strength of the north and half the Tully's bannermen (Freys, the non-ravaged riverlords etc.)


In any case, I think people are right when they say it doesn't really benefit anyone Lannister controlling King's Landing with one footman, unless it also had the garrison of 4 or 5 alongside it. In which case is that a bit OP when you consider the mustering consolidate power.?
 
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Alexthebanks wrote:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Doesn't it specifically say in A Feast for Crows from Doran Martell that Dorne has the smallest population of the Seven Kingdoms? I think I'd probably more rank armies (starting straight after Robert's death in AGOT):

Tyrell, Lannister, Stark, Martell, Greyjoy.

Arryn are an unknown factor as they remain neutral pretty much throughout, maybe they're similar to Stark. I'd say Lannister still has one of the largest armies, as they outnumber Robb even with the combined strength of the north and half the Tully's bannermen (Freys, the non-ravaged riverlords etc.)


In any case, I think people are right when they say it doesn't really benefit anyone Lannister controlling King's Landing with one footman, unless it also had the garrison of 4 or 5 alongside it. In which case is that a bit OP when you consider the mustering consolidate power.?


Spoiler (click to reveal)
You are probably right. I found this:


Quote:

http://iceandfire.wikia.com/wiki/Westeros

Total Population of Westeros: 75 million

The population is divided by the provinces as follows (Note: these numbers are estimates):

The North: 15 million
The Vale: 10 million
The Stormlands: 15 million
The Reach (including Riverlands): 25 million
The Westerlands: 15 million
The Iron Islands: 2 million
Dorne and the southern provinces: 10 million
 
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Tom Hancock
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Vaaco wrote:
If willing Baratheon can easily take Kings Landing (strength 5) with his opening move. So placing a Lannister footmen (strength 1) in Kingslanding would only make things easier for Baratheon.


This is a really neat idea, because it would put pressure on Baratheon from the beginning while taking away one of the strong "neutrals" that Baratheon has access to (and that makes Baratheon such a powerhouse in four player)

Unfortunately I think folks are right that it would actually make it easier for Baratheon to take King's Landing. The 5 neutral is tougher to beat than 1 Lannister strength which may play a card.

I can't come up with a Lannister starting position and a Baratheon starting position where Baratheon is unable to take King's Landing on the first turn if he wants to. At least with the neutral in King's Landing, Baratheon has to work a little bit.

Unless you put three strength of Lannisters in King's Landing, Baratheon can take it pretty fast. If you put three strength of Lannisters there, they've basically got to move out of Lannisport and I think Greyjoy would dominate that game.

I wonder how making King's Landing an impenetrable space would effect Baratheon's rush to the southern neutrals?

In other news, I can't type.
 
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hancock.tom wrote:
Vaaco wrote:
If willing Baratheon can easily take Kings Landing (strength 5) with his opening move. So placing a Lannister footmen (strength 1) in Kingslanding would only make things easier for Baratheon.


This is a really neat idea, because it would put pressure on Baratheon from the beginning while taking away one of the strong "neutrals" that Baratheon has access to (and that makes Baratheon such a powerhouse in four player)

Unfortunately I think folks are right that it would actually make it easier for Baratheon to take King's Landing. The 5 neutral is tougher to beat than 1 Lannister strength which may play a card.

I can't come up with a Lannister starting position and a Baratheon starting position where Baratheon is unable to take King's Landing on the first turn if he wants to. At least with the neutral in King's Landing, Baratheon has to work a little bit.

Unless you put three strength of Lannisters in King's Landing, Baratheon can take it pretty fast. If you put three strength of Lannisters there, they've basically got to move out of Lannisport and I think Greyjoy would dominate that game.


I've toyed with this idea a bit, and I've come to a similar conclusion.

One idea worth considering is making a scenario which corresponds to the early party of A Clash of Kings where Lannister holds King's Landing and several nearby territories (e.g. Harrenhal), and has a modestly large army to protect them. With an early lead, there will be a big target on him. Stark has a presence as far south as the Twins and Riverrun, but is a touch overextended. Greyjoy still has two tempting targets in Lannister and Stark, while Baratheon now has his work cut out for him. Greyjoy and Baratheon may need a little extra territory to start to balance things out, and the game should probably start on turn 2 or 3 since everyone has a head start with new territory.
 
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Moshe
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In the ASoS expansion for the 1st edition, Lannister starts in King's Lading with a single footman, but has a garrison there.

Perhaps turning the neutral 5-strength token of King's Landing into another garrison for Lannister will work.
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John Griffey
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Starkiller wrote:
In the ASoS expansion for the 1st edition, Lannister starts in King's Lading with a single footman, but has a garrison there.

Perhaps turning the neutral 5-strength token of King's Landing into another garrison for Lannister will work.


Right. This is what I intended in the original post. One Lannister footman plus the 5-strength King's Landing garrison hold the capital, making a successful Baratheon attack much more difficult.
 
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Kyle K
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I've played a varient setup in 1st ed vanilla that had ppl start with more. stark got a boat on each side, tyrell got 3 extra footmen and no knights, lanister got kings landing with 1 footman and a +2 garrison. greyjoy and baratheon got +1 garrisons in their home seas which could be used for sea transport. I also placed lanister just ahead of baratheon on fiefdoms. link: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/592144/opening-variant-more-...


it ended up with baratheon getting KL around turn 2-3, then tyrell 1-2 turns after. good time. it worked well because lanister couldnt effectively reinforce KL.


unsure how this would play out now when you can consolidate more armys. and with a dorne player, both of which will cause baratheon some trouble.

turn1 bara-5 attack strength
turn2 bara-8 attack strength if he fully commits all starting units, which is a bad idea longterm.

unreinforced lanister-1foot+2def+2garrison=5.5 (.5=fiefdoms)

if you really want lanister in KL, i suggest you do as i did above, with a +2 garrison and give everyone else something distinguishing worth about 1 muster point.
thoughts?
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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What if Lannister got a 4 or 5 strength garrison, but no units. Before he can start placing orders there, he has to move another unit from elsewhere or wait for a mustering. It gives Baratheon a chance to take it before Lannister can get much use, but he may have to spend a good House card to ensure victory if he doesn't go in with much power.
 
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baron vendredi
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AnimalMother wrote:
Several of the posts opine that House Lannister begins the game in the weakest position, and House Baratheon in the strongest.

The civil war which begins at the end of the novel, "A Game of Thrones," has a Lannister on the throne in King's Landing. Joffrey Baratheon is a Baratheon in name only....
Also in the novel, the Lannisters are the wealthiest house and appear to be very strong militarily.


I strongly disagree actually. Everyone seems to think Lannister should be stronger than they're represented just because they seem to gain such a dominating position, but if you look closely at the events of the books, nearly all Lannister gains are due to sheer dumb luck and the mistakes of their rivals.

Consider the following from the book regarding King's Landing (spoilers mostly for book 1)

Spoiler (click to reveal)

-Firstly, the Lannisters never *own* King's Landing. At the end of Book 1 Baelish estimates the Lannisters as having less than 100 swords in the city.
-What the Lannisters do control, is the ostensibly neutral City Watch (several thousand strong), which are in any case beholden to the King (Joffrey is ostensibly still a Baratheon), which is helped by Littlefinger's influence.
-Recall, it's really Littlefinger who controls the Watch - he intimated as such to Ned. So it's not so much the Lannisters actually control King's Landing so much as Littlefinger finds it convenient to back them.


Secondly, on Lannister's military prowess: (again, Book 1 spoilers, with Book 2)
Spoiler (click to reveal)
-Tywin's furious with Joffrey for executing Ned precisely because the Lannister position is spread out, with most of the army at Casterly Rock in the west - they can't survive a two front war with Stark and Baratheon.
-Tywin rides hard for King's Landing but thanks to Joff's execution, is caught by the Northmen.
-Note the Lannisters lose EVERY battle in the field against the Northmen except for the fight against Roose Bolton - which they were supposed to lose in!
-Obviously this is dictated by the plot, but it's clear that militarily speaking Lannister certainly doesn't enjoy a decisive military advantage.



Finally, the reasons for Lannister's position at the end of Book 1 and Book 2
Spoiler (click to reveal)
-Baratheon split between Stannis and Renly. This buys Tyrion enough time to make a strategy to save King's Landing. If the Baratheon brothers attacked immediately (possibly with Tyrell) King's Landing would have been a goner. Instead, Stannis and Renly get caught up fighting each other.
-Greyjoy attacks Stark. Rather than hit a weak and bleeding Casterly Rock, Balon Greyjoy does the least rational thing and attacks Stark instead, which cuts off Robb's army.


Despite their villain status, House Lannister is really the underdog throughout. So I think their relative strength on the board reflects this accurately.


That being said, if you do want a Lannister start in King's Landing, I'd probably say the Footman + garrison idea is best. Perhaps a 2 strength garrison in King's Landing, along with the Footman.
Lannister can hold onto KL on the first turn if he wants with a +2 Defence order and a high card, but has to weigh the cost of doing so carefully - and it does give Lannister a bargaining chip with which to entice Baratheon.
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Amin
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I basically agree with everything Baron Vendredi said on this.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Lannister pulled off a 1 in 50 victory in the books. The board game setup matches their tenuous situations in the books - in particular, they are a vulnerable target for Greyjoy. The problem is that we want Lannister to win more than 1 out of 50 times in the board game - we didn't need *that* much realism when it comes to the board startup

But their setup does force them to usually engage in the most diplomacy of any faction - which again, matches their adept diplomacy in the books
 
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Travis Hall
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baronvendredi wrote:
Despite their villain status, House Lannister is really the underdog throughout. So I think their relative strength on the board reflects this accurately.

Perhaps so, but then, that's exactly the problem. The on-board strength of House Lannister quite possibly is a reasonably good match for the forces sworn to House Lannister according to the books, noting the lack of precision when all the knights loyal to a Great House and ready to march at the start of the war are represented by a single token.

However, the lords of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms did not seem to consider the standing forces of sworn swords to be the total measure of Lannister's strength, and I don't see why we should either.

Let's put a whole mess of stuff in spoiler tags...
Spoiler (click to reveal)
As noted, the real military strength in King's Landing when Lord Eddard was beheaded was the Gold Cloaks. Sure, they weren't technically Lannister forces, but they did side with Lannister. Alone, they numbered 6000 - thrice what Stannis Baratheon was able to take to Storm's End.

King Joffrey was a Baratheon in name, and we should not discount that this brought to him to the loyalty of many of those sworn to House Baratheon. Most of those followed Renly when he married Margaery Tyrell and declared himself king, but very few, if any, could be considered loyal to Stannis at any point during the Five Kings' War.

So what effect did all these forces loyal to Lannister have on the war? Can't have been that great, since they northmen defeated them every time, right? Well, that's true as far as it goes, but the Lannister forces - their sworn swords, not others loyal to Lannister - defeated the River lords soundly and repeatedly, and the River lords were firmly loyal to the Starks. And Lannister did effectively put paid to Stannis's campaign at the Battle of the Blackwater. (Not Lannister forces? Yeah, right.)

And ultimately, the Lannisters won the war. The northmen did suffer a defeat, at the Red Wedding. (Again, not Lannister forces? Oh, I'd say they were.) It only takes the one defeat if it's the wrong one.


So, here's the thing... It's all very well to declare that the true strength of the Lannisters is not in their direct military might, but rather in their intrigues, diplomacy and ability to direct events, but if that is the case, then the game lacks any representation of that. Sure, they start with the Raven token, but that's very temporary. Without strength on the board, Lannister cannot win the bidding over and again, especially towards the end of the game, in order to retain that ability.

Basically, if you expect the tokens on the board to reflect standing forces directly sworn to that Great House, and then claim that each House has appropriate strength, you are claiming that Lannister could win without a Red Wedding, or any of the other events that favoured them during the war.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
(Nor does anything simulate two thirds of the Greyjoy forces sailing off to another continent, nor the Tyrell's being brought to Lannister's side by the sorcerous murder of their candidate for the Iron Throne.)


And frankly, if any House is the baby of the War, militarily, it's Baratheon, with Stannis commanding a bunch of ships and only the soldiers of the Lords of Dragonstone at the start of hostilities.

So, if you want a game that simulates the conditions of the War of the Five Kings, you can't ignore everything that favours the Lannisters, and if you don't care about simulating those conditions and just want a wargame on a Westeros-shaped board, you'll get a better one by giving every house a decent chance without hoping that one particular house is played by a master diplomat of considerably greater skill than his opponents.
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Cameron McKenzie
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That much is true I guess. The military power at kings landing is not Lannisters and the lannisters don't own the city. They just have a lot of influence in the court and over the heir, but this is represented by their position on the influence tracks.
 
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baron vendredi
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Wraith wrote:
So, if you want a game that simulates the conditions of the War of the Five Kings, you can't ignore everything that favours the Lannisters, and if you don't care about simulating those conditions and just want a wargame on a Westeros-shaped board, you'll get a better one by giving every house a decent chance without hoping that one particular house is played by a master diplomat of considerably greater skill than his opponents.


All good points. But I feel the design choice is simply to simulate the starting conditions of the War of the Five Kings. If we simply simulate them all, we might as well read the book.

This issue is inherent to the design of the game - much like Diplomacy, A Game of Thrones is really dependent on players who are willing to shift alliances throughout the game to counterbalance dominance - anyone can find himself in a "Lannister-esque" situation very quickly. If you don't play with people who are willing to be that fluid the game can be very frustrating (and I do admit it can be tough to find players who have the right mentality).

Quote:
Sure, they start with the Raven token, but that's very temporary


I can't say I agree with the assessment that the temporary nature of the influence tracks makes them less valuable. Everything is temporary in this game (in the sense of timing) - units, territory, house cards, power tokens, etc. And time is very much a factor since the turn limit is 10 turns (or possibly less if you want to cut down play time). Lannister starts high on the Throne *and* on the King's Court, which is a big advantage. Try playing Greyjoy or Tyrell - you'll be cursing the lack of extra marches and how slow everything goes for you.

Finally, I still don't think you need to be a master diplomat to play the Lannisters. You just need to be aware of their tenuous board position and play accordingly (and hope that other players see it too). If you do get blown up, well, those are the breaks - but there are plenty of chances to catch up so long as players choose to balance the dominant player.

That being said, there are plenty of already useful and helpful Lannister tweaks out there - this thread being an example. And it is a board game after all, with all the flexibility that entails. So if your group all feels the same way, change things up a little - playing with alternative setups or experimental house rules keeps the game from getting too stale.
 
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Travis Hall
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baronvendredi wrote:
All good points. But I feel the design choice is simply to simulate the starting conditions of the War of the Five Kings.

Then the game fails. At the start of the war, the Lannisters control 6000 swords in King's Landing (triple what is available to Stannis Baratheon), plus the Royal Fleet which is at harbour in Blackwater Bay, plus command the loyalty of various Baratheon banner lords in the Stormlands. The events of the war give plenty of opportunities for that control to change (because they aren't all Lannister bannermen), but those are the precise events you suggest ignoring.

Quote:
Sure, they start with the Raven token, but that's very temporary


baronvendredi wrote:
Everything is temporary in this game (in the sense of timing) - units, territory, house cards, power tokens, etc.

Not that temporary. Positions on tracks are determined by bidding power tokens, power tokens are generated using areas controlled on the map, so as the game goes forward the Houses that obtain good positions on the tracks are those that control territory. Lannister has no more ability than anyone else to control territory, so do not have a particular strength in terms of influence from the first Clash of Kings onwards. (And many would say less, because their precarious position makes it difficult for them to take, hold and use territory.)

If you want to justify giving Lannister a weak military position because they make up for it in other ways, you have to actually give them those other ways. Else, you just produce a crap game.

baronvendredi wrote:
And time is very much a factor since the turn limit is 10 turns (or possibly less if you want to cut down play time). Lannister starts high on the Throne *and* on the King's Court, which is a big advantage. Try playing Greyjoy or Tyrell - you'll be cursing the lack of extra marches and how slow everything goes for you.

Have done. I'll take the lower initial positions on the King's Court and Iron Throne tracks over Lannister's poor position and low Fiefdom's position any day.

baronvendredi wrote:
You just need to be aware of their tenuous board position and play accordingly (and hope that other players see it too).

And that's the entire problem. You hope that the other players have a perception that favours Lannister, and if they don't Lannister can't do anything about it.

Meanwhile, good players should never so overestimate an opponent's weakness that the weakness actually becomes a strength. Other players favouring the weak over the strong can mitigate a weakness, but only negates it entirely if they are playing poorly. This idea that any weakness, no matter how severe, doesn't matter as long as there is a diplomatic aspect to the game is baloney.

Now, new rules in the second edition do lessen Lannister's weakness somewhat, and I am not sure that Lannister isn't now strong enough to be worthwhile - marginally so, but maybe. I'm just saying that this waving of hands in the air and shouting "diplomacy" is no substitute for proper analysis of the game.

Also, I'll point out that saying "It works in Diplomacy," doesn't cut it. Diplomacy is a different game that translates the effects of diplomacy into on-board gains much better than A Game of Thrones, and if I wanted to play a game that plays just like Diplomacy, I'd pull out my Diplomacy set rather than settle for an inferior game of that type. A Game of Thrones can be a very good game, but doesn't do that by being a Diplomacy clone.
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As long as we are looking at variants that can help Lannister, this thread from 1st edition has a good summary of the proposals:
http://boardgamegeek.com/article/6181830

Travis, I noticed you tried one of those variants back then as well.

My group liked the Riverrun seaborder move(making it only accessible from Golden Sound) so much we actually engraved it on the 1st edition board Another good one was turning the Greyjoy (and Baratheon) knight to a footman, equalizing everyone's initial strength (in muster points)
 
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Travis Hall
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Sabzevarian wrote:
Travis, I noticed you tried one of those variants back then as well.

The Riverrun Range rule? I didn't just try it, I invented it. However, when ports were added to the game, I was dissatisfied with how the range interacted with the ports. Basically it made it so easy to defend in the area that neither Lannister nor Greyjoy could attack each other effectively, which meant the whole theatre just locked up and got really boring. I don't want these two to be so secure that they never fight, or so indefensible that one always gets steamrolled, and I haven't found a satisfying middle ground. Nor do I want to give up ports, as there are very good reasons for them.
 
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baron vendredi
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Wraith wrote:
Also, I'll point out that saying "It works in Diplomacy," doesn't cut it.


Okay, now hold on - that's a completely uncharitable reading of my statement. My statement merely suggests that A Game of Thrones relies on much of the same player attitudes as is needed in Diplomacy. I'm not saying by any means what works in Diplomacy will work in A Game of Thrones.

It's not that suggesting that diplomacy somehow magically removes Lannister's weakness - I feel that the starting asymmetry is intended - Lannister *is* in a precarious situation.
But overall I feel the game is much "swingier" than you make it out to be. Lannister's weakness does not feel so cut-and-dried an issue to me.
It's precisely the sort of thing that all players will want to exploit in some way at the start of the game. And maybe it's something that will come out in more plays, like you say, but I'm convinced second edition Lannister isn't *that* easily pushed around.


Quote:
...those are the precise events you suggest ignoring.

On this point again - My feeling is that I much prefer the light theme of the board game and how it allows you to write the story differently.

In any case, I'm not opposed to houserules that help out Lannister in a thematic way, but I think they should be fairly lower key; the border switch for Riverrun is a nice, subtle change. And if you give them King's Landing, like I suggested a garrison of 2 and a footman could do it.
 
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Travis Hall
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baronvendredi wrote:
Wraith wrote:
Also, I'll point out that saying "It works in Diplomacy," doesn't cut it.


Okay, now hold on - that's a completely uncharitable reading of my statement. My statement merely suggests that A Game of Thrones relies on much of the same player attitudes as is needed in Diplomacy.

Even Diplomacy does not rely on the same player attitudes you hope will give Lannister a break in AGOT. Diplomacy has asymmetric starting positions and it is well known that the probability of winning varies by nation, but no nation in standard Diplomacy starts with the type of vulnerability that Lannister has in AGOT. Nobody in Diplomacy can quickly be steamrolled by a single other player without the assistance of a third party.

In other words, nobody in Diplomacy needs help from the start of the game to even be able to participate. Everyone has something worthwhile to offer a potential ally. Lannister really doesn't, he just gets to hold on and hope someone will come to take stuff from Greyjoy.

baronvendredi wrote:
It's not that suggesting that diplomacy somehow magically removes Lannister's weakness - I feel that the starting asymmetry is intended -

This is a sentiment that has been repeatedly expressed by people unfamiliar with the history of the game, but the idea that this is an "intentional asymmetry" is obviously untrue once you do know the history. Let me fill you in, very briefly...

When the game was first released - not in 2011, in 2003 - the fans quickly discovered that Greyjoy could take the Golden Sound, Lannisport, Riverrun and, IIRC, Seagard in turn 1 and there wasn't a damn thing anyone could do about it. Even if other players beat Greyjoy back later in the game, Lannister's chances were destroyed. It wasn't just unbalanced, it was unfun, and obviously so. FFG basically had to admit it, and they errataed the game in an attempt to make it playable. If what gets published demonstrates designer intent, regardless of what holes the fans find in it, then the intent of the designers must have been to make a game that sucked and for one player each game to hate even having turned up to play.

Since then, every change that has been made with an effect on this part of the board has been a patch trying to further ameliorate the imbalance. The first errata (putting Greyjoy to the bottom of the King's Court track), ports, and now the special Consolidate Power order, garrisons and starting a Greyjoy ship in port. (I forgot about the new garrisons during my last post.)

There's no reason to believe that the latest official evolution of the game has reached the designer's intent any more than the previous changes did.

It is also interesting to note that most of the changes in this area have been fun suggestions, rather than originating with the designer. The King's Court track switch errata to the first edition was a fan idea. Ports were a fan idea (with an official implementation that differed only in very minor ways from fan versions). Garrisons started out as a modification for the rules for the ASOS four-player game, with no official rules for use in the base game, but fans suggested doing this too.

Note that nobody is saying that the designer intended a perfectly symmetrical game. A degree of variation in chances of winning is acceptable (as we can see in the cases of certain other very popular games). The necessity to vary your strategies depending on which position you play is acceptable. The call is just for a game that makes playing every position fun for the majority of groups that will play it. (Of course, for most players, being fun for everyone requires giving everyone a decent chance of winning, even if not precisely equal chances of winning.)

There's a "design scenario" that I consider far more likely, considering what we got, than the designers carefully calibrating the game to give Lannister his very difficult, marginal position that might just be good enough to make the game worth playing again. It goes like this... FFG lands the deal to produce an AGOT-themed boardgame and assigns the task to a couple of their developers. Those developers divide up a Westeros map into regions to produce a board (without paying particular attention to the actual terrain, because not that many board-based wargames do), put together a decent base set of rules, designate starting areas on the board based on where the Great Lord's seats are, and assign equal starting forces (plus an extra ship for those starting on islands to help them get off those islands) on the assumption that equal starting forces should keep the game reasonably balanced. Their intent was to produce a roughly balanced boardgame with A Song of Ice and Fire styling without any real connection to the plot of the novels. Unfortunately their in-house playtesting was not thorough enough to reveal the problems with what they produced, and those problems quickly surfaced once hundreds of players got their hands on the game.

baronvendredi wrote:
But overall I feel the game is much "swingier" than you make it out to be.

Some of us have been playing the game for over eight years now, on and off. I know how "swingy" the game is, and none of the recent changes are so fundamental to make a significant difference to that. Lannister's start needs to not totally suck to give him a decent chance, and at the moment the Lannister position is marginal enough to warrant the concerns that have been expressed.

Quote:
...those are the precise events you suggest ignoring.

baronvendredi wrote:
On this point again - My feeling is that I much prefer the light theme of the board game and how it allows you to write the story differently.

And again, I say if you want a game that doesn't take the theme into account for more than artwork, you don't get to use the theme as an excuse for poor design decisions. Lannister's weak position cannot be justified by your earlier claims that House Lannister is weak militarily. Either you use the theme to justify the design or you don't - you don't get to rely on the theme when it supports you and ignore it when it doesn't. You don't get to say, "Lannister's army in the west should be weak because they always lost to the northmen," and "I don't want to take into account Lannister's forces in the east, despite them being triple Baratheon's, because that's just theme."

Basically, I say: Choose. Either give Lannister a decent fighting force in a decent position in the west, based on a desire for a good boardgame. Or, give Lannister thematic advantages that match the thematic disadvantages of their position.

baronvendredi wrote:
In any case, I'm not opposed to houserules that help out Lannister in a thematic way, but I think they should be fairly lower key; the border switch for Riverrun is a nice, subtle change.

That might help regarding gameplay - I haven't done a thorough enough analysis using that plus the newest official changes to the game to know. However, it isn't a thematic change. Thematically, having Riverrun accessible from the Golden Sound makes no sense at all, and this gets worse when it is accessible from the Golden Sound and not Ironman's Bay. There is a large mountain range in the way.

baronvendredi wrote:
And if you give them King's Landing, like I suggested a garrison of 2 and a footman could do it.

A garrison of 2 and a footman makes it easier for Baratheon to capture King's Landing than it already is. For Lannister to get any benefit out of King's Landing, they have to be able to hold it for long enough to get some use out of it. That's 3 strength on the board plus two for use of the special defense order, and Lannister's bottom position on Fiefdoms means Baratheon only has to match him. With that setup, either Lannister keeps playing his special Defense order on King's Landing, which means he gets no real use out of it, or he plays something else and gets a shot at using it but more likely just loses it. And even if he just defends King's Landing, that really won't do him any good.

The real problem with giving Lannister King's Landing is that if you weaken the force there in doing so, you are really just giving Baratheon a leg up (and more incentive to take King's Landing quickly, now that it can be used against him), and if you give Lannister enough strength there to both hold it and use it, it may become impossible for Baratheon to do anything about it.

But maybe there is a better way. I'll post an idea separately so it doesn't get lost.
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Travis Hall
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Okay, what if Lannister doesn't directly control the force in King's Landing, but influences it instead?

Say we turn the neutral force in King's Landing into a garrison, to be treated like any other garrison. However, it isn't a Lannister garrison. Instead, it holds the city for whomever controls the Messenger Raven token (that is, whomever is at the top of the King's Court influence track. Why the King's Court? Because that gives initial control to Lannister, matching the effect we desire.)

Now, add a single Lannister footman into King's Landing, to give Lannister a chance to play orders to get some benefit out of King's Landing and enough strength to discourage Baratheon and Tyrell from just taking it away from him.

But here's the twist... When the Messenger Raven changes hands, so does the loyalty of the King's Landing garrison. If another force shares the city at that time, there will be an immediate battle between those forces (including card play). There won't be any support, because this is taking place during the Westeros phase and there will be no tokens on the board. Likewise, no Defense order. The garrison can't retreat if it loses, so will be destroyed in that case. If it wins, the other force retreats (potentially after losses due to swords). As this occurs during the Westeros phase, that will leave that army routed for the rest of the turn - 0 strength and dies if it loses a battle. You could still give that army an order, but it won't be able to March (you can play that order, but it may not be very useful).

(Doran Martel could result in a change to King's Court position outside of the Westeros phase. That'd be rare, but if it happens, just allow Support and Defense orders to affect the battle as normal.)

This means that Lannister can use Consolidate Power orders to muster troops or gain power tokens in King's Landing, but in doing so risks losing his gains if and when the garrison changes loyalty.

Further possible complications...

You might allow the owner of the King's Landing garrison to disband the garrison under certain circumstances. Possibly you might require that he have at least 5 strength of units in the city, and maybe it has to be done when a March order either brings one or more units into the city or is resolved in the city without reducing that army's strength below 5. You might also allow it during mustering.

Possibly you could make it a bit harder for Baratheon to take the King's Landing by adding a single ship (either controlled by Lannister or loyal to the holder of the Raven token) to Blackwater Bay. If it is loyal to the Raven Token, it might be given a restricted range of orders or not be permitted orders at all.

Maybe you'd prefer to link the garrison to the Iron Throne token instead of the Messenger Raven. In this case, move Lannister to the top of the Iron Throne track and let him start with the Iron Throne token. This switch shouldn't have a lot of effect on other aspects of the game, because Lannister and Baratheon are at the top of the track anyway and with the two of them usually not coming into contact in the early game, which of them moves first usually doesn't matter.

Or, you could make the King's Court garrison a separate bid that occurs with each Clash of Kings. If you do, you might also put the force at the Eyrie up for grabs at the same time. (Start this "garrison" as uncontrolled at the start of the game.)
 
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Cameron McKenzie
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Those garrison rules are getting a bit too complicated. Keep in simple.

If you HAVE to introduce new rules, I'd go with something simple.
When battles occur at King's Landing...
The defender gets a bonus based on their Iron Throne position (the attack is viewed as a rebellion against the throne so KL "neutrals" rise up in defense).
The attacker gets a bonus based on their King's Court position (knowledge of troop deployments, buying off guards, etc.)
This bonus is 5 at the highest level and drops by 1 point.

Thus, the starting bonus would be +4 for a defensive Lannister, and +2 for an offensive Baratheon. You could then put in a meager footman+garrison for Lannister, which will allow them to actually hold it for some time, but without risk of becoming completely impervious (which you risk with a bigger garrison). Lannister's position is KL is never completely secure because Baratheon could gain the advantage if he is dominant on the tracks.
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Travis Hall
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MasterDinadan wrote:
Those garrison rules are getting a bit too complicated. Keep in simple.

Huh? Offensive and defensive combat bonuses based on two different influence tracks is less complicated than what I suggested? To be clear on that, the changes I suggested are:

Add a Lannister footman in King's Landing.
The 5-strength marker in King's Landing is a garrison loyal to the holder of the Messenger Raven, with a battle occurring immediately if this ever results in forces of two different Houses occupying that stronghold simultaneously.

Everything else was either an examination of the consequences of those rules or a variant of those rules for those who don't like them quite that way. I fail to see how you have presented anything simpler.
 
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