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alfredo094

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I have the ADWD expansion. I was wondering what the best way of balancing the base scenario is with the new cards.

I'm considering just replacing everyone's decks, except for Baratheon and Stark. What is your experience with this?

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This is the balance changes I did to my home games, based on win statistics from thronemaster and personal experience: 

Balancing 6p AGOT 

I prefer to play games that are balanced. After many plays of AGOT live and online, I last month decided to alter my version that I use in my local play group. Many of my regulars didn't find it fun to play with Lannister (mostly) and to a lesser degree Tyrell. There are certain houses that just give you a significantly higher probability that you will win, even before you have done a single move. There are many factors to this, such as game board design, start locations, amount of start units etc etc.

So now what? Well, in terms of how you can balance the houses more in 6p games, I've found the best and easiest way of doing so, is with house card replacements from the DwD expansion pack.

PART 1, stats and thought process: 

As with any balance changes, you'll have to look at some statistics first. If you look at the game stats on this site, which accounts for over ~12 500 games (2nd Edition stats), this is the win stats for each house:

1. Greyjoy. 25.1% (+8.5%)
2. Stark. 23.9%. (+7.3%)
3. Baratheon. 18.1%. (+1.5%)
------------------------------
4. Martell. 13.6%. (-3.0%)
5. Tyrell. 10.1%. (-6.5%)
6. Lannister. 9.2%. (-7.4%)
*If we expect all 6 houses to win the same amount of games, the statistical average is 16.6%. The difference from this amount for each house is shown in (+/-) above.

1. Greyjoy. The weakness of Lannister, the close proximity to so many Strongholds, and most importantly: Their incredibly strong house card deck (Balon......).

2. Stark. Amazing power token farm, lots of lands which are easily defendable, Roose-Ned combo. If Stark doesn't make big mistakes early on, then he's usually very strong and hard to stop late game.

3. Baratheon. Close to a lot of castles, good defensive position, though weak supply. I love playing Bara. In our group this has proven to be the best house to play if you are new to the game.

4. Martell. Can take 4 castles very quickly. Still, the biggest problem is that he has 0 other Strongholds nearby. And terrible power token farm unless Tyrell is at peace with him and allow him to farm in Prices Pass. Stark is in the same position as Martell in terms of Strongholds, but Stark has other major advantages that makes up for it. Martell is fun to play, but is definitely more challenging than the other 3 houses above.

5. Tyrell. Tyrell CAN be super strong late game, with good supply, castles nearby and Loras/QoT is amazing combo when finishing. That said, Tyrell is extremely vulnerable early on. If Martell wants to cripple you during the first 2-3 rounds (No muster/bid during R2-R3, which sadly isn't uncommon) there is nothing you can do about it.

6. Lannister. Weak card deck (due to the strength of GJ and his cards) and weakest position on the map in terms of defending your home areas. Being able to raid/support/move into Riverrun from Ironman's Bay was the worst map balance decision in the game. The biggest annoyance I have with the map in AGOT.

PART 2, balance:

So now what? There are several changes that people have suggested to improve the 6p AGOT balance, we have discussed this a lot over at boardgamegeek.

If we look at the statistics again, we see 3 houses that win more games in average, and 3 houses that do not. Greyjoy and Stark are far, far above, while Baratheon is actually the house that is closest to the statistical average, at 16.6%. Martell is also fairly close at 13.6%, though weaker. Then Lannister and Tyrell clearly the weakest.

I prefer to keep the "house rules" to a minimum. I have done no changes to the map, and no changes to units that each house start with. The balancing has been purely on the house card level. I have tagged the changes in two tiers: 1st tier changes are essential, while 2nd tier are recommended. They are: 

Greyjoy:
- Replace Balon with DwD Dodrik the Reader. 
The single-most important reason for Greyjoy's strength is the ridiculous power of Balon. They start with 1 more boat, the blade and Balon which negates the power of your house cards.. While being a 2 STR card on its own.. If you want to make as few changes as possible to your home game, just doing this single card swap goes a long way in making Greyjoy more manageable. That said, Rodrik is actually a good card for GJ. For example if you really need that bid or muster coming up next.
Greyjoy house card deck is still very strong.

Lannister:
- Replace Kevan Lannister with DwD Addam Marbrand.
You rarely use Kevan with a proper effect, as you have more knights than footmen during the mid and late game. This is simply a better version of Kevan in the base game. It is also a big buff for Lannister that Greyjoy no longer has Balon in his deck. Thus we did no other changes.

(PS: Some people have swapped Cersei for DwD Qyburn, you can do this if you feel like Lannister needs even more work in your games. Though be careful, Qyburn is a monster card, essentially giving Lannister another 4 STR card with their combat icons, as they can replicate for example The Viper or Eddard Stark.)

Tyrell:
- Replace Alester Florent or Margaery Tyrell (the cards are identical) with DwD Paxter Redwyne. 

Tyrell has some great cards (Loras/QoT), and some really **** ones.. The change with Paxter is the most important one. During the first rounds, if no muster/bidding comes up, then Tyrell can't get new units while Martell Star CP muster units, or get star orders. Martell can then just stroll his ships into the sea of Tyrell while he can do nothing about it. Martell can attack with +1 Move and 2 of his 3 ships, while Tyrell will just have 1 ship and 1 defense token. To counter this imbalance Tyrell get Paxter Redwyne from DwD deck. He can give Tyrell ships in combat +1 STR, which is vital during the early game for Tyrell. This will help Tyrell stay alive during the weak rounds before he can muster units. 

- Replace Mace Tyrell with DwD Mace Tyrell. 
Mace in the base game is not great, one of the poorest 4 cards in the game. During ship combat he's just a 4 STR card and nothing else, while at land he will rarely make any difference, as people will use mostly knights or SE later on. Any other house (perhaps other than Lannister) has a more meaningful 4 STR card.

Martell:
- Replace Nymeria Sand with DwD Gerris Drinkwater.
Gerris will ensure you one space increase on the tracks as long as you win, which can be very powerful. Martell has very few interesting cards in the base game, as only Arianne and Doran have special text abilities. It is a nice smaller buff, which is enough for Martell.

Stark:
No changes. A lot of the power of Stark comes from the game board design and their Roose-Eddard combo (and we can't remove that or Stark would be dead). Not really anything that can be easily changed. Though they do have the worst 0 STR card in the game, and without Balon it is even less meaningful. At least on our home games, Stark often comes out on top due to Greyjoy preying on Lannister, while it is hard for Baratheon to attack north. 

If you want to make the 0 card more useful, you can for example add: "If you win the combat, you may muster 1 point in any of your castles or strongholds". 

Baratheon:
- Replace Stannis Baratheon with DwD Stannis Baratheon.
Stark is very strong already, and all the neighbors have received some improvements. Baratheon is a good house, and they do have the only card in the deck that can be a 5 STR card. This does rarely happen though, and more often than not Baratheon prefer to stay high on the IT Influence track. It is a situational card, some hate it, some think it is ok. The DwD Stannis card is a very interesting card, and our gaming group loved it. It doesn't give (potentially) 5 STR anymore, but it has a powerful break-through ability, which is useful for example if Baratheon wants to go north. This could depend on your group if you'd want to add it or not.


That was all, thanks for reading. In the end, we have played some games after we added these changes, and it has been great. Martell and Stark has won the games so far.

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