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

Subject: Is there any hope for attacking play? rss

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Iordan Kostadinov
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i've played about 7 or 8 games now and even won a couple but a general theme seems to be that the player who wins is the one that bides their time. early attacks, even from greyjoy, appear to put a player at a disadvantage with house cards and the spreading of forces. i've found most houses will lose a battle or two but can come back reasonably easily within a turn or two.

has anyone managed to get aggressive play to work early in the game?
 
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Radosław Michalak
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In most cases it doesn't work.
And I don't consider it as defect of the game.
I wouldn't like to see Greyjoy winning in turn 3-4 with his aggresive cards and position, when I try to do anything as Stark/Martell, etc.
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Seli L
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It is not easy, but it can work. And it's actually not that difficult to quickly devastate another house beyond any help.
 
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Maltuvion Irewood
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Sadly the game does not favour as diverse playstyles as could be desired. Through years of playing we have yet to see a 7-stronghold premature victory, simply because aggression is essentially an unviable playstyle in terms of winning chances. As Seli says, you can wreck another house reasonably easy, but most of the time it will simply just strengthen your other neighbour, who is left in peace.

In short, the game (and I very much do consider this a fallacy) is very much catering to a single mindset rather than embracing differing tactics. It's far too easy to counter even the most brilliant early aggression (or even mid-game aggression). It's simply far too rare that the 7-stronghold victory condition is fulfilled for it to even be a meaningful implementation.
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Martin Hall
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Have a look at the pbf stats and I think you will see a different pattern. Most of them finish before the end of turn 10.

The game means that weakened houses find it very hard to come back, so there can soon be only a few left standing.
 
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Seli L
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I think this really depends on players. The game is naturally self-balancing and it's usually in the interest of all players to help weakened players they're not crushing, so the better the players, the more difficult it should be to win quickly. If everybody played optimally, I think it should be practically impossible.

Winning before turn 10 pretty much requires difference in skill in some way. Either it needs somebody to do a crucial mistake, or it needs somebody to outplay the rest, or it needs somebody to outsmart the rest. A house at 5 castles is already a threat, and with equal skill it's very hard to gain 2 castles in a turn and not lose one.

For this reason PBF statistics don't mean that much, they are played by people of different skill, and from the few I watched, I remember a number of them had blatant mistakes commited.
 
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Mattias R
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Most of our games at AGoT Sthlm have ended with instant victory at 7 locations before T10. We do have different skill levels, that probably has an effect.
 
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Ed Frew
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I think Tides of Battle cards make attacking play a lot more viable - you're not forced into playing your high cards when people expect you to, and you aren't as susceptible to being targeted by other houses who still have their better house cards remaining in their hands...
 
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Chris K.
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In my experience it largely depends on the playgroup.

If people hold grudges and consider limited attacks and battles a declaration of neverending war, then yes, an early attack will loose you the game.

If you have a bit more relaxed and pragmatic group of players you will see a lot more and limited "border disputes" and having many battles to recycle your deck once (or occasionally even twice) becomes a viable option.

Since in my opionion the latter makes for a more fluid, changing and interesting game I obviously prefer the latter type of player.
 
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Justin S.
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Maltuvion wrote:
Sadly the game does not favour as diverse playstyles as could be desired. Through years of playing we have yet to see a 7-stronghold premature victory, simply because aggression is essentially an unviable playstyle in terms of winning chances. As Seli says, you can wreck another house reasonably easy, but most of the time it will simply just strengthen your other neighbour, who is left in peace.

In short, the game (and I very much do consider this a fallacy) is very much catering to a single mindset rather than embracing differing tactics. It's far too easy to counter even the most brilliant early aggression (or even mid-game aggression). It's simply far too rare that the 7-stronghold victory condition is fulfilled for it to even be a meaningful implementation.


I've probably played 25-30 times counting a handful of games of the 1st edition. I've seen one of them end with the game reaching 10 turns without someone having taken 7 castles. (Plus a couple where the 7th castle was taken in turn 10. I don't think all out agression can work, because then you're fighting a war on multiple fronts. Alliances and negotiations are key. I just won as Martell, because I had a solid agreement with Tyrell and was able to move hard against Baratheon. I don't think you can win by playing it safe, or just going all out from turn 1. Diplomacy and controlled agression are the keystones to victory, at least from what I've seen.
 
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ken carson
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aGoT is very heavily influenced by playing the odds in the Westeros deck. Aggression basically hopes for a turn 2 muster to stabilize an overextended position. Unfortunately, that is much less likely than no muster.

Possible " Turn 1 aggressive moves:"

Baratheon: Moving both ships into Narrow Sea or East Summer Sea if Stark/Martell fail to play M+1. Muster does nothing to help this unless you move to Crackclaw Point first. Even then, quite suboptimal though you do have the most control over a muster. The muster will always favor someone else over you.

Lannister: Taking Riverrun, moving Ship into Sunset Sea, and Mustering on Lannisport. All moves are easily countered by Greyjoy's standard opening. Muster is actually less desirable for this strategy because it will always favor Greyjoy.

Stark: Take Crackclaw Point. This might be the safest of the aggressive moves since a muster helps you, and a retreat to Mountains of the Moon after playing Ser Roderick against whatever lame card Baratheon may play is quite acceptable. However, it is completely unsustainable and really is more of an annoyance to Baratheon than an actual strategy for winning.

Martell: Doesn't have one.

Greyjoy: Blitzing Lannister in Riverrun, potentially Golden Sound as well. The original aggressive move. Against anything but perfect play from Lannister, this will leave you with a very strong position. It's generally a bad idea to vacate Iron Man's Bay, so think of the Golden Sound as a gravy play (IE, it has a useless order on it that Lanni doesn't change). Heavily dependent on muster or collapses. This is a pure gamble, because GJ can have a 7 point muster if things go well and be a sitting duck if things go poorly.

Tyrell: Attacking Starfall. This is a bad idea simply because you aren't getting a stronghold. However, if you are the gambling type, attacking 2v1 and using Garlan will almost always kill the enemy unit. The major issues are 1.) you pretty much have to retreat, though Prince's Pass is a nice turn 2 pickup 2.) you have pissed off Martell and will probably eat Doran very shortly. A muster is not very helpful as you will almost certainly lose your mustered FM to a Martell counterattack.


All that said, it just doesn't make sense to go all-in offensively. There just are not enough units to make it a viable strategy for Greyjoy and Tyrell, especially since they have no guarantee that they will be able to muster troops for a while.
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Paul Oakes
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Thanks to Ken for this helpful opening guide. I've played the game 3 times now and feel somewhat disappointed with the experience. I've tried doing virtually nothing and building for a late grab, but this seems a strategy for a good result but not a win. The fairly active approach seems more promising, but you need at least 1 safe border to ignore if this is going to be any better than a war of attrition, the thing I was avoiding with the quiet strategy.

If I play again I intend to be demanding in negotiations with my neighbours and ally with any who give me what I want. Hopefully with superior territory I can campaign against 1 neighbour throughout the game.

I am very disappointed in the symmetry of the positions. Why do all the players start with equal money (Lannister's strength is supposed to be wealth) and why do they have identical objectives? The game needs its heavy-use players to test alternative opening set-ups and victory requirements to give it more flavour, very poor that players have to do so much development work.
 
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Radosław Michalak
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PaulinTheLion wrote:
I am very disappointed in the symmetry of the positions. Why do all the players start with equal money (Lannister's strength is supposed to be wealth) and why do they have identical objectives? The game needs its heavy-use players to test alternative opening set-ups and victory requirements to give it more flavour, very poor that players have to do so much development work.

PT is not money!
Same objective makes it easier to fight with each other for new players (you don't have to score points for your objective and in the same time slow your enemies, you do both with the same thing).
What development work? Many players enjoy what they have form box (not talking about 4-5 player setup).
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ken carson
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PaulinTheLion wrote:

If I play again I intend to be demanding in negotiations with my neighbours and ally with any who give me what I want. Hopefully with superior territory I can campaign against 1 neighbour throughout the game.


I would say "demanding" is a bit too far, but firm is probably about right. Give your neighbor a DNM (do not maneuver) area that will result in open war. For example, a Lannister may tell Tyrell that Searoad Marches is a DNM (usually fine for both houses anyway), the Twins is one that the Kracken may want to negotiate DNM with Stark, etc. However, be aware that by the mid-game, every spot is going to be contested. You will have to break into war with a neighbor, or you're not going to win. In general, there are only alliances of convenience in this game. As soon as an alliance is no longer beneficial to you, plunge in the knife.

PaulinTheLion wrote:
I am very disappointed in the symmetry of the positions. Why do all the players start with equal money (Lannister's strength is supposed to be wealth) and why do they have identical objectives? The game needs its heavy-use players to test alternative opening set-ups and victory requirements to give it more flavour, very poor that players have to do so much development work.


The positions are anything but symmetrical. Lannister opens with the Raven and is dead last in Fiefdoms, while Greyjoy has the Blade but is at the bottom of the King's Court. The House cards are also a massive difference in symmetry. Martell has amazing low cards and a great 4 power card with some meh ones in the middle while Baratheon has a solid, but unspectacular option at every level. One thing that I love about this game is the asymmetry. Play it a few more times and I think you'll really like it.
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Mattias R
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PaulinTheLion wrote:
very poor that players have to do so much development work.

One man's bug is another man's feature. I'd say that one of the strengths of this game is that the outcome and balance is completely up to the players.
 
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Paul Oakes
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uncle benjen wrote:
PaulinTheLion wrote:

If I play again I intend to be demanding in negotiations with my neighbours and ally with any who give me what I want. Hopefully with superior territory I can campaign against 1 neighbour throughout the game.


I would say "demanding" is a bit too far, but firm is probably about right. Give your neighbor a DNM (do not maneuver) area that will result in open war. For example, a Lannister may tell Tyrell that Searoad Marches is a DNM (usually fine for both houses anyway), the Twins is one that the Kracken may want to negotiate DNM with Stark, etc. However, be aware that by the mid-game, every spot is going to be contested. You will have to break into war with a neighbor, or you're not going to win. In general, there are only alliances of convenience in this game. As soon as an alliance is no longer beneficial to you, plunge in the knife.

PaulinTheLion wrote:
I am very disappointed in the symmetry of the positions. Why do all the players start with equal money (Lannister's strength is supposed to be wealth) and why do they have identical objectives? The game needs its heavy-use players to test alternative opening set-ups and victory requirements to give it more flavour, very poor that players have to do so much development work.

For
The positions are anything but symmetrical. Lannister opens with the Raven and is dead last in Fiefdoms, while Greyjoy has the Blade but is at the bottom of the King's Courts . The House cards are also a massive difference in symmetry. Martell has amazing low cards and a great 4 power card with some meh ones in the middle while Baratheon has a solid, but unspectacular option at every level. One thing that I love about this game is the asymmetry. Play it a few more times and I think you'll really like it.


My territorial negotiations already split into carving up assets and creating DMZs (may be entered to claim them initially but afterwards left empty else all agreements are void). I was never under any illusion that alliances were more than merely conveniences to be abandoned when profitable, and that a win without a war is probably a mathematical impossibility. However, as this thread asks, can you blitz a win or even just get a strong position that can be maintained, a question you have given detailed analysis. This gives me a start point to work from in how I want the early turns to develop, thanks for that.

You and other responders point out the start positions are not perfectly symmetrical; I had noticed the map was not a mathematical abstraction as well. My point was there could be far more differentiation of starting positions and different victory conditions as well, which would both make the game more representative of the source material and give players a variety of strategic options other than just grabbing more significant territory than anyone else.

I might play again if a game with people I like comes up (with 6 I will always prefer Funkenschlag and Imperial though), but the game length means for me it's costing me a game of Through the Ages.
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Iordan Kostadinov
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Unley
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thanks for the responses guys, i think that my original thoughts are still standing, at least for players in my group. we know the game well enough to prevent giving anyone enough of a lead so there's not much point in going for it early.

still a great game - i love the politics and backstabbing. it's just a bit frustrating that you pretty much have to just lay low, consolidate power and limit losses until mid to late game.
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Marko Badric
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It's risky, but not at all imbalanced.

Think about it - if you attack a neighboring house and take their territories, it's pretty much over. High stakes - high gain.
 
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Trent Boardgamer
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mr18196 wrote:
PaulinTheLion wrote:
very poor that players have to do so much development work.

One man's bug is another man's feature. I'd say that one of the strengths of this game is that the outcome and balance is completely up to the players.


Agreed. Seems to just depend on the players you play with. If you play with a bunch of backstabbing lying friends, it's anyone's game. We normally see everyone team against any obvious leading players, so you need to time your win moves very carefully.

The first game I played was a bit mundane as we were all new players and everyone played either an overly aggressive strategy which locked you into battle with one other player for most of the game or sat there trying to stay out of the fighting (Which worked best). By the second game and after some discussion the game became a lot more dynamic.

We didn't bother playing with the tides of battle cards, but then found most people where too calculated in their attacks, the tides of battle created a need for support request from allies to ensure combat victory so opened up more diplomacy instead of individual strategy play.

I really only enjoy this game with people that play to win and don't give up trying to win by teaming with others if need be. If everyone plays this as a by the numbers game, it just really doesn't shine.
 
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pernunz z
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I would like to think you can make non-traditional alliances for different strategies.

I play in Iordaman's group, and have played the Baratheon's twice. I would really like to see a Baratheon, Martell alliance for the first 2 turns.

Baratheon:
Turn 1: March ships into the south eastern ocean, consolidate power* in base, get Seige tower.
Turn 2: March ships into the south western ocean (typically unoccupied on Turn 2 as Tyrell normally uses the 2 marches on troops in turn 1 to leave base exposed) then use a second march token to take the Tyrell base.

This requires a lot of trust on the two front, and leaves Baratheon prone to a water attack from the Starks.
 
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Matteo Angioletti
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pernunz wrote:
I would like to think you can make non-traditional alliances for different strategies.

I play in Iordaman's group, and have played the Baratheon's twice. I would really like to see a Baratheon, Martell alliance for the first 2 turns.

Baratheon:
Turn 1: March ships into the south eastern ocean, consolidate power* in base, get Seige tower.
Turn 2: March ships into the south western ocean (typically unoccupied on Turn 2 as Tyrell normally uses the 2 marches on troops in turn 1 to leave base exposed) then use a second march token to take the Tyrell base.

This requires a lot of trust on the two front, and leaves Baratheon prone to a water attack from the Starks.


Feels like a suicide strategy for Baratheon. Tyrell usually moves his ship out to WSS in round 1, and even if he doesn't he will in round 2, pushing back Baratheon anyway before the SE lands in Highgarden. Martell then goes in and cuts down Baratheon ships, Round 3 comes and Baratheon has an uphill game as he wasted time and resources for nothing
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Ruck Ness
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This move requires 3 boats meaning that initial Consolidate Power (assuming no second round muster) has to be split and muster a single boat into Shipbreaker Bay and upgrade Footman to Seige Engine.

3 boats:
1 - Shipbreaker Bay
1 - East Summer Sea
1 - West Summer Sea

Bad idea in my opinion.
 
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