neko flying
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Disclaimer 1. This is my first session report. Please go easy on me.

Disclaimer 2. A couple slightly vulgar passages, but very much in line with (and actually midler than) George R. R. Martin's style.

Disclaimer 3. While mostly fiction, there are some very cryptical hints at events from the second book / tv series of ASoIaF. Nothing too spoilery, but you might want to skip this if borderline paranoid about spoilers.

__________________________________________

"Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens." (Tywin Lannister)


The Backstory

Three days after the King's train arrives in Winterfell, Bran Stark witnesses King Robert bedding his sister Sansa and calling her "Lyanna." King Robert tries to push Bran down the window, but he is too fat and drunk, and Bran dodges, escapes, and tells on him. Eddard Stark is pissed big time. He is close to declaring war to the Iron Throne, but he realises it would all go to the Lannisters' advantage, so he just sends Robert away, and decides to go on a holiday trip to the Iron Islands with Theon, Jon and Robb to make peace with the Greyjoys. Besides, he figures he could sell out Sansa to the Ironmen for a barrel of salted fish.

Meanwhile, in King's Landing, Brienne of Tarth finally resolves to declare her love to Renly. The youngest Baratheon tries to turn her down, but Brienne is too strong and resolute, and cows Renly into marrying her. This puts an end to Renly's affair with Loras Tyrell, and to all his ambitions. On the plus side, Robert's homophobic loathing for his brother is cooled down, and he makes Renly the new Hand. He calls a tournament in honour of his brother, but no one is there to keep him from participating. He enters the mêlée drunk, hits himself in the face with his own war hammer, and dies shortly afterwards.

In a fast turn of events, Stannis declares himself new King and makes Renly heir to Dragonstone and King's hand, declaring war on the Lannisters.


The Variant Setup

All standard rules hold. Setup is as with three players, but in addition all territories north of Moat Cailin are impassable. 11 available VP, victory at 7 VP.


The session report

This was Baratheon's first game, but he is well known to pick up on tactics and strategy fast, so he gave Lannister quite a good fight.

In his war room in Dragonstone, King Stannis Baratheon studies a huge map of the Seven Kingdoms. He realises that his sphere of influence includes the five Muster Points bordering the West seas (Dragonstone, Moat Cailin, The Eyrie, Crackclaw Point, King's Landing). A fast attack on the landlocked territories of Harrenhal and The Reach, with catapults deployed against King's Landing and the Eyrie should secure a fast victory without having to face Lannister's navy.

Baratheon neglects Consolidate Power orders altogether. Having control of the Valyrian Sword is a truly formidable advantage 1vs1. This combines with the Iron Throne, that not only acts as a guarantee in case of early Wildling attacks and Clash of Kings events, but provides initative, that can be used to strike a surprise attack at one's seventh VP.

Baratheon's plan worked pretty well. The first skirmish, in Searoad Marches, proved a catastrophe for Lannister. Defeat was assured and, fearing a Sword card from Baratheon (Melisandre or Brienne), Lannister played his only Tower card (The Hound). Baratheon dispatched Renly instead, promoted a footman to a knight already in turn two, and threatened to attack an undefended Lannisport on turn three.

Melisandre reads into the fire, and sees a fast victoy for King Stannis on turn four.

So I (Lannister), had to turtle. I focused on strengthening the three bordering Strongholds of Lannisport, Riverrun and Seagard, hoping for early mustering events, and denying Baratheon Harrenhal. I also neglected Flint's Finger for the moment, trusting that Baratheon would not head there and muster a fleet in the Bay of Ice, even though that would have proved a catastrophe to me.

At the end of turn three, Baratheon was controlling five Muster Points: Moat Cailin, Harrenhal, Crackclaw Point, The Reach, and Dragonstone. Lannister was reduced to three victory points only. In addition, Baratheon had already mustered a Catapult, so during turn four he only needed to use his initiative advantage to capture the neutral strongholds of the Eyrie and King's Landing, while using the Valyrian Sword and his better cards to resist Lannister's first attack.

This is when R'hllor turned his back on King Stannis.

Turn four began with a Wildling attack and a Clash of Kings. King Stannis had spread out far and wide, had spent gold (power tokens) at leisure, and was bankrupt. King Stannis simply didn't have enough gold to participate in four bids and keep control of his castles when moving his units out to take the Capital and the seat of House Arryn.

Lannister, thanks to the Messenger Raven, knew that the Crow Killers event card was going to be drawn. Also, to take advantage of Kevan leadership skill, Lannister had mustered mostly footmen. Baratheon, on the other hand, had a strong host of knights, thanks also to Renly's promotions. The Wildlings prevailed, and the Baratheon host took a terrible blow, seeing all its Knights reduced to footmen.

Somehow Baratheon managed to keep the Valyrian Blade in the following bids, but Lannister, now in control of the Iron Throne and the Messenger Raven, made a wise use of the initiative so gained, and with relentless pressure obtained his victory on round seven.

Lord Tywin Lannister did, in the end, shit gold.


My impressions on this 1vs1 variant

I was a bit skeptical of a 1vs1 game. I had read many negative comments from other 'geeks, and saw this game mostly as an opportunity to introduce my friend to the game. In the end, I must say that the experience was extremely positive. The game was entertaining, rich in strategic and tactic choices, and played out fast and fun. We are definitely going to play 1vs1 again.


What will I change next time?

In a 1vs1 player with 11 VP total, 7 VP is a bit too little to win. We would probably keep the same setup with 11 castles / strongholds, but play to 8 VP next time.

The only other flaw I saw in this specific scenario is that there is really no confrontation at sea. Circumnavigating Westeros takes a lot of turns, and the odds of Baratheon mustering a Ship in Flint's Finger are very remote. Perhaps a Martell vs. Tyrell scenario could be more fun to play, with sea battles providing deeper tactical and strategic choices. And it would also make sense from the ASoIaF point of view, given the feud between these two houses.
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salem .
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sounds like fun. I was also trying to think of a way to have a 2 player version, but I was going to add more conquerable neutrals to the 3 player setup rather than adding impassables. but impassables probably make more sense.

how long did it take to play?
 
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neko flying
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About two hours, it was rather fast.

I don't think garrisons really work. If you have (say) 14 VP total on the board, then both players can get to 7 VP without even having to fight each other.
 
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