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Subject: ASOS Revival rss

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Joel Schuster
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In an effort to revive one of my favorite games of all times, I recently reintroduced AGOT to my weekly gaming group. Only rarely we get to sit down on a 3+ hours monster like this on a regular working day. But for once we've had a full 6 player ACOK expansion game and then I focussed with the core group on ASOS. I wanted to get them a feel for the general mechanics before jumping to the more complex and more interesting ASOS. Our first game of ASOS left us with a mixed result, Julian and me played the game plenty of times before. But Marlon and Stefan they only played the base game once as just mentioned, so they were severely struggling with rules and mechanics while getting in touch with the various layers of tactics and strategy.

If I have one new player in ASOS, I'll always have him play Baratheon. If there are two new players and two experienced ones, my preferred setup is to have the noobs clash and the veterans clash in the usual 1:1, Lannister vs Baratheon and Stark vs Greyjoy. Since Lannister starts scattered pretty widely and with the delicate issue at Kings Landing, I also prefer to let the noobs play up north and have the veterans do the dance around the one true capital of Westeros.

In our first game I was Baratheon, Julian Lannister, Stefan Stark and Marlon Greyjoy. I won rather easily after Kings Landing fell. For this weeks rematch we sticked to the general distribution but switched sides in pairs, so Lannister for me, Julian Baratheon, Marlon Stark and Stefan Greyjoy.

Turn 1 Tyrell Army was out right away. Bad news for me, good news for Baratheon who would surely grab it. My only consolation was that with the tight early supply and army setup this would only add +1 to his strength onto KingsLanding(KL). So I could grab an ally as well as long as I put the Def+2 on KL. So I took Arryn Military Support. Tywin split his footmen to Acorn Hall and Southern Gods Eye (SGE). Jaime took Goldroad and Cornfield. Stark got the Frey Galleys which would allow him for a greatly increased flexibility. He otherwise took his usual regions and I sold back Ned for 4 power to Winterfell. Greyjoy took Mercenary Transport and rather took Riverrun with a March+1 to put a Consolidate Power (CP) to Oldstones instead of using 3 raids.

Turn 2 we got Mustering, Clash and Claim Westeros. Stark only had 1 power left, I got 5, Baratheon 3 and Greyjoy had the most. From some previous games I knew that gaining the initiative on Baratheon can be VERY powerful early on. So I made sure to take the Throne by a bid of 4, which paid out big time, also for breaking ties. Greyjoy defended the blade and Stark took the Raven by a surprise bid when everyone saved for the Claim when he knew he'd lose that anyways. By cheap ties I was able to gain 2nd places on both Fiefdoms and Kings Court track while untying Stark to go with no tactic card. Greyjoy won the claim bid. Noone could afford another ally this turn. So I went with Manage troops to get the newly mustered forces and Jaime all the way from Lannisport to KL in a dash ! I was able to outmaneuver Baratheons bulky armies with the added Tyrell forces and also put a footman to Roseroad. The northeners closed the gaps between them. I got company at Sarsfield while a Stark skirmisher infiltrated the riverlands on some Frey Galleys.

Turn 3 I decided for another Mustering with Throne of Blades while stocks were replenished by a Game of Thrones. Swing the Sword did not have any other effect apart from closing the fords already and disallowing March+1 orders. Another round of buying allies yielded Ser Loras Tyrell for Baratheon, Arryn Political Support for me, Frey Military Support for Stark and Outlaw Leadership for Greyjoy. With the still limited supply I was the only one to exhaust the full muster capacity. This, my initiative on the Throne and my Arryn Military Support allowed me once again to outmaneuver Baratheon. He did not gain any ground on me. Instead, I drove an attack on his flank at the Kingswood led by Jaime and two knights with support from Roseroad. Ser Ilyn made sure of a casualty, which had to be cast on the Tyrell allied footman, since the only retreat option was Haystack Hall. So that unit was gone forever. My position looking more comfortable than it actually was. Outskirts of KL secured but still heavy troops and Tyrell allies around. What bothered me most was Baratheons constant power production in the Eyrie and Storms End and triggers to Stannis. The boys in the north, they again just cancelled each other out. They stacked troops at the Oldstones border, instead of attacking or at least skirmishing, they just raided each other to no avail. I had to point out the many uses of other tactic cards such as Manage Troops to get some thinking going on different ways of handling situations instead of just sitting next to each other and waiting for something to happen. It did indeed start a process of lateral thinking, albeit a slow one

Turn 4 we finally got a Supply adjustment, Dark Wings, Dark Words, which Stark decided as a Game of Thrones, in order to make sure to be able to pick up another ally and pay for military support, and another Swing the Sword. Baratheon actually passed to take another ally this turn since it was Tyrell Supplies (lucky for me), Stark got a Frey Knight, Greyjoy the Mercenary Raiders and I got me the Frey Lookout ! Being unable to threaten KL directly, Baratheon focussed all his effort onto driving me out of the Kingswood again. Which I gave up willingly after analyzing the situation. I told him he wasnt getting anywhere really. And he told me that I dont win like that either The boys north were not making that much progress yet, just a skirmish at Flints Finger but then Stark was a hard nut to crack with his strong Frey Allies. So Greyjoy had to take careful steps. Stark wasnt really able to get out of the deadlock either, but he also shifted some units at least.

Turn 5 we got the inevitable 2nd clash where I had to compete with Baratheons massive income, being threatened to lose my good track positions. Another supply adjustment and a Claim Westeros was also revealed. I decided to stay out of the throne bid and go from there. Good decision as Baratheon bid alot (7 power IIRC). I took a shot on the blade and won it for 3 or 4 power. I bowed out of the Kings Court bid again which had Greyjoy win the thing. You have to go with priorities. Star orders are nice when you are spread out, but so is the blade because it could add just anywhere. Combine that with a Military Support that could also add just anywhere, you are strong even in small numbers, and you are deadly where you put the core of your troops. I also gambled on having a shot on the claim bid, because if I wanted to win indeed, I needed to win Claim bid rather sooner than later. I was disappointed to be left with 6 power against the 7 of Baratheon. I could add +1 by my Political Support but he would break the tie It still was a gamble bid because we are cut throat players 4 vs 4 by token bids left me with the claim, Stark to go without tactic another time. In the actual turn, I played Hear me Roar, because Arryn Plots was up and I did not want to take that. Baratheon played Forge Alliance, but he did not buy an ally. He just wanted to use the secondary effect, so he could replace a raided support order by paying 2 power. Glad he did because he paid but overlooked that I could reinforce my own support positions before he assembled his attacking strength in full force. An oversight I usually dont get from Julian, because he plans his moves to a great detail with alot of thinking

Turn 6 we had another mustering which let me max out and put all troops to the board, all 4 knights and both leaders stacked in KL Noone else maxed out but they all got close to. Another Game of Thrones and one more Swing the Sword. Baratheon finally took the Tyrell Supplies, the northern boys finally get to like and use Manage Troops to some neat effects, as do I I took Silverhall with my rear footmen and shifted through a supporting position with the ongoing effect to defend KL for another turn and execute a late attack to retake the Kingswood. Having setup a supporting axis, plus the blade, plus military support, plus Arryn Lookout, Baratheon found out he cannot even defeat my lone footman in SGE and turns his attention to have Ser Loras lead an attack to drive some Stark skirmishers before the gates of Harrenhal. Stark used his Manage Troops ongoing effect to put another skirmisher as far as Ashemark. Remarkable Greyjoy didnt get any further as camping a huge host just outside of Winterfell at Flints Finger.

Turn 7 we had another Mustering that I was unable to make any use of. We also had one more Game of Thrones and finally a Hidden Schemes, so no ally buys that turn. But Tyrell Military Support was put on top. I rather finish this quickly or I never will. So I used Manage Troops again, getting more footmen from the rear to the front. Ser Loras was denied passage at SGE so he couldnt rejoin with the main forces led by Stannis and Mel at Dragonstone. Baratheon decided to take Harrenhal instead. I slipped through a supporting position again by Manage Troops. Everybody played Careful Planning this turn, maxed out on power anyways, you dont forfeit such options. So I had a star order
and went with 3 marches in order to delay and march late against Storms End. Being able to combine 4 knights and both leaders I maxed my strength with the other means mentioned before. Two footmen at Storms End but no support from Haystack Hall and no defend order, Baratheon could add 3 more knights and 2 leaders, but its far from enough. We cut the last turn short as its obvious that I'll take Storms End for the 8th and final claim.

So we finished in a little more than 3 hours. Everybody agreed this is as great a game as it gets, but its also long and exhausting and takes quite a few plays to master.
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