Monday, 30 July 2012

A Game of Thrones: Second Edition Strategy: House Stark

This is part 2 of the What About Cynics AGoT 2e strategy guide.  The following is tried and tested but not perfect.  This is the guide for the Motherland, House Stark.

Strength: Best power collecting potential in the game
Weakness: Needs to travel a long way from home to get castles

With only about 5 readily available castles in the north, Stark needs to penetrate deep into southern lands to effect a victory.  While excelling at defence, Stark lacks attacking prowess, and so he will rely heavily on Eddard Stark to forge a path through the neck. 

Stark should station footmen in Karhold and Castle Black as soon as possible and have them consolidating continuously.  If he has enough * orders, a special consolidate in The Eyrie (if at peace with Baratheon) can secure either his 6th power token of the turn or a handy extra troop to reinforce the Moat Cailin arena.  With this in place, a well timed clash of kings can make all the difference to a Stark warpath, as his immense power economy ensures him some positions of privilege and more than likely a shot at the Blade, which aids tremendously in the fight against Greyjoy’s house card apocalypse.  For this reason it is best to bide in the north until you can buy the influence needed to deal a finishing blow to Westeros.    

In a typical game, Stark will not have to sling his diplomatic weight against anyone other than Greyjoy and Baratheon until the late stages of the game, and will probably not be called in to settle any local disputes either.  Having an abundance of * orders early on makes attacking him a costly prospect, but if his neighbours work together he is quite powerless, so making an alliance with one of the two is crucial. 

Short term goals:
Control and reinforce the Narrow Sea (vital)
Secure a 2nd or 3rd supply barrel
Keep Greyjoy out of Moat Cailin
Capture the Eyrie

Long term goals:
Have a footman each on the two crown territories north of Winterfell to consolidate power continuously
Prevent a zealous Greyjoy from taking Winterfell
Secure high positions on the influence tracks
Stark begins with only one barrel, so expanding supply is a high priority.  However, Stark can only reach its potential by conquering the vale and gathering the extra supply and mustering power available.  The Eyrie is a particularly useful territory, as it has one of the North's highest concentrations of resources.  In order to do this, and to protect his own coast, it is vital to take the Narrow Sea.  Even if Baratheon has the temerity to march into it, a March+1 from the Shivering Sea and a muster of a boat on White Harbor is enough to retake it on turn 1 and hold it for a long time. 

Moat Cailin is important to Stark’s relationship with Greyjoy, either as a battleground or as a demilitarised zone.  If Greyjoy takes it, he has a great raiding and supporting position from which to orchestrate the capture of Winterfell via naval convoy.  Keeping him out of the Bay of Ice prevents this, but the Greyjoy navy is nigh unstoppable, and so this can’t be depended on.

Useful Opening Moves:

Foot + Knight [Winterfell] March +0 
1 Knight to Widow's Watch 

Widow's Watch or Stoney Shore will provide the much needed turn 1 barrel, but the former is harder to access once the Shivering Sea is vacant.  The footman could move to take Moat Cailin or a 3rd barrel, but it is much more useful for mustering in Winterfell on turn 2, which may become considerably more pressing if Greyjoy moves towards the Bay of Ice or expresses little interest in Lannister. 

Boat [Shivering Sea] March +1 *

1 Boat to Narrow Sea

The timing of this move depends on Baratheon's actions and level of aggression.  The key is to move your boat after he has moved his, as you will benefit from the combat bonus on the march order, which is vital in evening the score in the rare event that Baratheon marches both ships into your sea.  This can only be guaranteed when Baratheon has played 2 or fewer march orders, and even if not then he must march both ships into your sea to beat Stark's fiefdoms advantage, which leaves him in a horrendously weak position in terms of structure, unit count and vulnerability to Martell.  

Foot [White Harbor] Consolidate Power *

1 Boat in port

This completes the securing of the Narrow Sea.  The reason for mustering in port is to benefit from the Support +1 * order, and gather an extra power token if the Game of Thrones Westeros card comes up.  Later in the game, however, Stark suffers form a unique condition of order token drought, as his well of orders is strained by the sparseness of his forces.  When this time comes, the ship in port will not seem like such a good idea and should be moved preemptively.

House Card Breakdown:

4 Eddard: As mentioned above, a deciding factor in Stark's offensive.  When the enemy is not expecting 2 swords, give them to him.
3 Robb: Since there are usually only one or two legal areas for a retreat, Robb's power is fairly benign unless you have a means to rout the retreating enemy.  This tends to be very tricky but can be lethal.
2 Roose Bolton: An incredibly useful card, especially since Stark's neighbours are lacking in swords with which to punish him.  Knowing when to throw a fight to top up your deck gives Stark a huge combat strength advantage.
2 Great Jon: A handy extra sword.
1 Ser Roddrick / The Blackfish: The dependable Stark defence that makes your armies untouchable.
0 Catelyn: A very underwhelming card which will take your enemy by surprise if nothing else.  Use Roose before it comes to this.  

Coming soon: Greyjoy...maybe


  1. When is part 3 coming out? Will it be Greyjoy?

  2. No ETA on part 3 at the moment, if I really put my back into it I might write it this week.

  3. Please don't stop, anxiously awaiting part 3.

  4. I'm writing my own guides at the moment, since I just picked up this game about 3 weeks ago and have been playing one round every weekend since.

    Would love to read the rest of your guides, since I find them spot on so far!

    1. I would love to actually make them but I am in a vicious circle of procrastination and self loathing

    2. Would it ease your pain if I got started on it for you?
      I don't need to get any credits or whatever.
      I could just write a strategic summary out of the games we've played over the past weekends and my analysis from reading far more strategy threads online than I'd like to admit...

      In short: I could write a draft for you that you may edit and publish.
      Just want to get discussion and hype back up for this marvelous game.

    3. Send me a mail at if you're interested.

  5. Quick question - how does a CP* / muster in the white harbour port allow you to retake the narrow sea in turn 1? Doesn't the CP* / muster happen after the marches?

  6. I would love to here more... Anyone... anyone?

  7. Hear Hear, did you and Bjorn ever talk about it?

  8. bjorn ljusenius2 April 2013 at 15:56

    We did. I sent him a large Word-file after a brief email conversation but he never got back to me.
    I reminded him per email a few weeks ago but so far still no response. Quite disappointed to be honest.

    1. I have been terribly unproductive, but I make these articles only when it pleases me to do so. Moreover I'm currently of a mind that anything I write to continue this series won't be of the same standard, as I haven't played in a while and my GoT-brain has turned into fluff.

  9. Just found this page after starting playing weekly in May. These strategy guides were some of the best advice for the game available on the internet. It's unfortunate Simon didn't finish them.

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  11. Bad opening... better is to muster in winterfell, march +1 to the sea and move boy for an aditional barrel. Than muster one ship and one boy. Next turn march to wi terfel to tak both areas with crown on a north and (knight either stay in winterfell or go for an aditional barel) I played 4 games with stark and won 3 of them. ( sory for bad english, I'm from czech republic:)

  12. Can someone explain "Robb's power is fairly benign unless you have a means to rout the retreating enemy. This tends to be very tricky but can be lethal." ? Don't you always route a defeated enemy? Do you mean kill them? If so, what is better about killing than routing since routing depletes max resources?

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