Svante Hedström
Sweden
Lund
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I have played the game approximately 10 times, but this was the first time playing with only 4 players. Two of the other players were experienced with 5-6 player games and the last player was a newbie.

We decided on blocking off the north, since our experience from 5-player games is that Tyrell and Baratheon get large advantages. So the rulebook 4-player variant would give Baratheon a too large advantage, we felt. Consequently, we blocked Riverrun, the Fingers, the Twins, Ironman's Bay and everything north of it, while also adding a bridge between Riverrun and Mountains of the Moon.

The players
* Lannister. Played by my flatmate, having as much experience as me, ~10 times of which most were 6-player games. His playstyle is usually quick expansion, relying more on westeros cards for power/army generation.
* Martell. Played by me. It's hard to judge ones own playstyle, but I have a tendency to play "safe" in the sense that I don't often attack without thinking that I will win, and I try not to anger my neighbors unless needed.
*Baratheon. Semi-experienced player, have played ~5 games, and won 2 of them. Often thinks for VERY long when placing the orders and choosing actions. Tends to "play nice", i.e. trying to stay friends with as many as possible.
*Tyrell. The newbie, which was helped by a fifth, more experienced guy for the first hour.

Initial moves
I set out to claim as much land as possible, going west with my ground troops and to East Summer sea with ships. Baratheon expanded more northwards, taking Crackclaw and Kings Landing in the second round, while focusing much on power generation. Tyrell, being a little unsure, proposed a non-agression pact with me and tried to claim land around Highgarden. Lannister, whom I would expect to expand as quickly as he could, rather went for CP* mustering and power generation.

Midgame
Until round 5, I had not been in a single fight, and had the most power tokens of all. I was only waiting for the "no support orders allowed" or a bid, to be able to go attack Baratheons ship from East summer sea. Baratheon and Lannister had had many skirmishes, which hadn't resulted in much. Tyrell was getting close to Lannister, and with our non-agression pact still holding, Lannister was getting a bit afraid.

Lannister and Baratheon then went on to ally, aiming to push southwards together. Some tactical mistakes from the inexperienced Tyrell then allowed for Lannister to claim much of the central ground, whereas me and Baratheon were in a stalemate where I could not attack him in shipbreaker bay as long as he continously supported from blackwater bay, Dragonstone port and Narrow sea, and I did not get a chance to bid for the sword. Baratheon held a couple of siege engines in Dragonstone and Eyrie with which he could threaten to take, but never hold Storms End.

Endgame
The meaningless and rather boring stalemate between me and Baratheon continued for the rest of the game, partly due to (in my biased opinion) very unlucky Westeros cards for me, i.e. no bidding when I was ahead on power tokens, the wrong orders forbidden, two untimely reshuffelings etc. The "no support orders" Westeros Card turned up in the very last round, but then Baratheon simply moved his 3 ships in Blackwater to Shipbreaker.

While Tyrell was being pushed back slowly by Lannister, the only castle Lannister could take eventually was The Reach. In the final round, Baratheon broke his alliance and easily took Harrenhall even though Lannister saw it coming and tried to stop it. Tyrell, having nothing better to do, went in to east summer sea and took Storms End from me with his last move.

Result
Baratheon won with 5 victory points (Dragonstone, Kings Landing, Crackclaw point, The Eyrie and Harrenhall). The rest of us remained at 3 victory points each.

Discussion
The most uneventful game I've had so far, but perhaps that is what to expect from 4-player sessions? The house rules we applied were in my opinion too beneficial for Lannister and Baratheon, who were relieved from potiential threats from the north, being now able to focus entirely southwards. Martell and Tyrell have the the exact same enemies as in a 6-player game.

So what can be done to get a more dynamic gameplay for 4 players? Perhaps some other house composition is better? Perhaps close off more areas north of the river to weaken Baratheon?
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roftie
Germany
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Svante wrote:
We decided on blocking off the north, since our experience from 5-player games is that Tyrell and Baratheon get large advantages. So the rulebook 4-player variant would give Baratheon a too large advantage, we felt. Consequently, we blocked Riverrun...
I assume you meant that you blocked off Seagard, and not Riverrun?

I think you hinted at the problem yourself: leaving the Mountains of the Moon and the Eyrie in the game essentially only benefited Baratheon and not Lannister, since Baratheon can gain them much easier than Lannister. That is the problem when you start blocking off whole sections of the map, since the balance of the game is very much tied to the map as well.

I made some overlays a while back for the 4- and 5-player game setups that seek to address the issues you stated. If you're interested, you can download them here.
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pyetya
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I strongly advise to block MOTM and Eyrie. That's how we played southern variant and it worked very well.
 
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