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Balancing and/or Variants for 4-Player Games?

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Recently bought the 2nd Edition - while I've set up the board and walked myself through a few turns, have yet to play. I'm looking at the first couple playthroughs being 4-player excursions, with maybe more folks for later games. A mix of veteran strategy gamers along with more casual players, but we're pretty laid back about it all - not much min/maxing and not overly competitive, just looking for a little devious backstabbing/alliance grand strategy fun.

Unfortunately, reading through here it sounds like the 4-player version is extremely unbalanced against the Lannister player and in favor of the Baratheon. I'm wondering if it's even worth trying the default 4-player setup - since I've got some more casual players lined up it'd be nice to have a fun balanced experience from the start, lest they lose interest quickly.

If the standard isn't recommended, are there any *playtested* & balanced variants? I've heard some sub in Tyrell for Greyjoy, but I'd guess there are some other tweaks needed to make this work. I'm not interested in theoretical variants, only ones that have been played thru multiple times and resulted in actually more satisfying games.

Also, do the 5 and 6 player versions play a bit better as-written?

Thanks in advance guys. As usual for FFG the production and design values for this are great and the mechanics seem fun - too bad they apparently didn't address the balance issues from the 1st edition, but still really looking forward to a game!

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