Joe Dizzy said:
Hang on. While the depiction of the diplomacy was very tongue-in-cheek, what really matters is the outcome of the diplomacy. With Greyjoy being so strong on the board at the start of the game, Lannister needs very strong support from other players to be able to stave off Greyjoy and stay in the game.
Now, it may be possible to get that at times, but failure to get it is not necessarily the result of poor diplomacy on Lannister's part. Really, Lannister has very little to offer others for their support. Basically nothing, in fact. He hopes that they will help him in order to stop Greyjoy, but smart players may well not be fooled into thinking that "stop Greyjoy" means "help Lannister", at least not beyond the point of turning Lannister into a dyke to hold back the Iron Tide.
Joe Dizzy said:
Yes, that's precisely it. Lannister cannot con (and that's precisely what he has to do) his opponents unless they let him.
Now, it is true that Stark (and Tyrell, for that matter) needs to put enough pressure on Greyjoy to prevent him from winning before Stark is in a position to make his own power-play. (Stark is set up to slowly gather the north to him and emerge as a major power later in the game - that's how he'll win if he does.) However, Stark has very little reason to put in the effort required to shore up Lannister. That simply doesn't help Stark (and is difficult to boot). All it takes is for Stark to be a good enough player to do what he needs to do to keep things in hand and no more and Lannister is effectively out of the game.
Unless he can persuade Tyrell to help him, but the same logic applies to Tyrell. Or maybe Baratheon, which is even harder becaus Baratheon's path to Greyjoy is right through Lannister, but before you even consider the practicalities there's the fact that the logic applies to Baratheon instead. And to Martel also.
If the other players choose not to engage in the game at that level, Lannister is screwed so badly he basically has no chance and the game will be long and frustrating for him. And other other players have good incentives not to engage the game at that level. I want all the players to have a shot at enjoying the game even if the other players play well in their own interests. I don't want to depend on someone letting themselves get suckered to make the game fun for someone else.
Joe Dizzy said:
Or six-player games at all.
Joe Dizzy said:
Look, if I want to play a Diplomacy-style game, I've got Diplomacy, which is a game that does it well. In Diplomacy, there isn't just one player who is utterly dependent on getting others to engage during diplomacy. In Diplomacy, everyone is dependent on that, so everybody has to engage or die. A Game of Thrones doesn't do it nearly so well. In this game, the rest of the group don't depend on diplomacy, so may quite rightly choose not to do it.
(Now, if I had a good Diplomacy map for six players... Something to research, I suppose.)
Okay, so, now I'm going to give a little history lesson. I was an early player of the first edition of A Game of Thrones: the Boardgame. I'm not sure how much awareness of the history remains here.
When the first edition came out, it didn't take at all long for players to identify just how badly Lannister's on-board position was screwed. There were a few people who tried to argue, as is occurring here now, that diplomacy makes it all okay, but the evidence of severe imbalance was generally considered very strong.
And FFG admitted that there was a problem and issued an errata. That errata was incorporated into later printings of the rulebook, so that before the second edition came out the changed starting position was the default. (This errata moved Greyjoy to the bottom of the King's Court track so that this House starts with no access to special orders in a full game. The legacy of this can be seen in the second edition 6-player starting positions today.)
Now, note that they changed the default start of the game in response to play and analysis by the player community. In essence, they agreed that the game should not have been balanced the way that it was.
The player community in those early days also found that the way ships worked was a problem, and the analysis done convinced many of us that it was contributing to the imbalance between Lannister and Greyjoy. Furthermore, we suggested a fix to ease that issue. That fix was ports. Ports were not a part of the original game. As fan-created modifications to games go, there were a few versions of port rules floating around, as different people tweaked them in ways that they liked, but they operated on the same basic principles. Lo and behold, the first expansion to the first edition added ports, basically exactly the same as what had been figured out by the fans. There were tiny implementation tweaks, but certainly no greater than the variation the community already had.
The community considered these things to be great improvements, but many were never really happy with the result. Some have patiently waited in the wings until the second edition arrived, hoping that it would fix the last of the problems we saw.
So now, the second edition is here, and people are trying to claim that the game balance is exactly was the game designer intended. Well, no, that doesn't seem likely. The bulk of the elements we see in the new rules-set got that way through fixes demanded and/or implement by the fan community. There have been some further tweaks, but I for one am as-yet unconvinced that those tweaks have fixed the problems. Those tweaks are the altered starting position for Greyjoy (with one ship in port), the new House cards and the new mustering ability of the special Consolidate Power token.
Now, I haven't bought the new edition yet, and I don't intend to until and unless I am convinced that the balance problems (and specifically the balance between Lannister and Greyjoy) are alleviated or can be with house rules. I haven't gotten around to doing the extensive analysis of the House cards that might convince me of that.
I have some hope that the new ability of the special Consolidate Power order can help. Perhaps, on seeing that Greyjoy intends to take Riverrun, Lannister can use the Messenger Raven to put a Consolidate Power token on Lannisport and suddenly have extra strength to fight back in turn 2. (Even if mustering comes up, if Greyjoy cannot take Seagard as well, Lannister still gets equivalent muster out of this, and if mustering doesn't occur then Lannister gains 2 strength over Greyjoy.)
But this idea that the game is exactly as it is meant to be straight out of the box because somebody has seen Lannister smooth-talk his way to victory? Sorry, I don't buy that. Corrections got the game to the point where your Lannister is using it for the smooth-talking, and you aren't saying anything that wasn't said before those corrections.
(Also, I still smart a little from a play-by-email game years ago when, during the process of choosing our optional rules and house rules, a certain combination of house rules was put forward, and I said that those rules should not be used because they allowed Greyjoy to walk straight through Lannister, and to prove the point I outlined the exact moves that Greyjoy should use to do it. The rest of the group voted to play with those rules anyway, I was assigned Lannister - supposedly at random by the arbiter, though the truely cynical might question that given the situation - and Greyjoy walked right through me using exactly the moves I had instructed him to make. I should have simply stated that I would refuse to play if assigned Lannister using those rules, and I learnt that lesson, but the other lesson I learnt was not to trust anybody else's assurances that a game is balanced. Only evidence can show me that, and I'm not seeing much evidence here.)