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Sinisterone

Playing baratheon in a dance with dragons

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I've been playing the second edition with some buddies. And have recently picked up the new expansion. 

 

Baratheon being my favourite house I choose to play them first. However in the first few turns I find myself a great 

disadvantage to every other house.  Any help with my dilemma would be awesome.

 

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I'd advise one of two things:

1. Attack White Harbor and commit to a war in the North against "Stark," hoping that Storm's End and Dragonstone don't fall/accepting that they might.  Most people would probably push for Winterfell and in my experience it will be what "Stark" will expect/will defend much more carefully, which should lead White Harbor open to an attack.  Alternately if an attack on White Harbor is expected Winterfell should be fairly exposed.  A march from Castle Black supported by the Shivering sea and Karhold should be able to take whichever one is less defended, or if the situation is right march unsupported to use Stannis' special ability.

Pros: If you can manage it, there are a lot of cities in the North, and once "Stark" starts to retreat it'll be harder and harder for him to regroup while you gain steam. Plus, you'll need supply badly and there's a good bit of it in the North.  The Lannister player will likely be looking for somewhere to expand, and assuming the Greyjoys are busy with the Tyrells/Martells it could be easy to convince the Lannisters to march up the Neck and further weaken the Starks.  There are also some rare circumstances in which you might get the Tyrells to support you, but I wouldn't count on it. 

Cons: With Roose and Ramsay both being effective 4s at the start of the game (and Ramsay having 3 swords as long as Reek is in his hand) the "Stark" deck is pretty powerful immediately, while the Baratheon deck is more average until the Wildling track builds up and Mance becomes stronger.  If Storm's End and Dragonstone fall and the "Starks" prove difficult to dislodge, it could mean you out of the game very early.  Similarly, if the Lannisters do March up the Neck they'll be very close to winning the game.  While players further South will probably attack them to stop this, you'll still have to deal with a powerful Lannister army marching straight towards you, and you could easily find yourself in a situation where you simply traded the "Stark" threat for a Lannister one.

 

2. Make a deal with the "Starks" where you'll leave for the Vale if they don't attack you.  Since you have no castles in the North, the only thing "Stark" has to gain from fighting you is removing you as a threat, so it should be easy to convince him to let you leave peacefully.  Wether or not that deal includes getting the Eyrie will depend on the players, but a march on the Mountains of the moon should be acceptable.  You'll probably have to leave the footman in Karhold behind, and or throw a battle if "Stark" insists it be destroyed.

Pros: As said, it's easier for Stark to simply let you walk away than to fight you, so any Stark player that doesn't accept such a deal is probably not playing their best game.  From the Vale you can do quite a bit, and provided you have both of your ships and a lucky muster or two has hit, it'll put you in a position where you can probably reinforce Storm's End and/or Dragonstone.  Hopefully the Stark player will be busy with other things and you'll be able to take the Eyrie (1 knight + 2 footmen supported by 2 ships) and having another castle is never a bad thing.  Since it's so isolated, the Vale can be a great place to regroup and consider your next move.

Cons: The Vale can be very isolated.  While you can regroup effectively, it can be hard to go somewhere else.  "Stark" will probably want the Narrow Sea at some point, and if it's sooner rather than later you might find yourself cut off from naval support.  A march into Harrenhall is still an option, but the Tyrells and/or Lannisters will probably have that well guarded.  Also, remote though it is, you'll still be at risk of attacks from the Lannisters/"Starks."  If your deal with "Stark" is short term, he could eaisly regroup, turn around and march right into the Vale and try to finish you off.  The Vale's main downside, however, is that there's no real logical next step.  An attack on Craclaw would be beneficial, but depending on how you stand with the Tyrells/how strong they are it might not be a realistic option.  Reinforcing Dragonstone and Storm's End can be beneficial, but then you'll end up sitting on your original 2 castles, not really making progress.  The Vale can be a great option, but you need to have a next step planned, or you need to make a plan as soon as "Stark" agrees to let you leave.

 

I suppose there are probably other options as the Baratheons, but these two are the most common variants in my experience.  Baratheon is probably my favorite house to play in A Dance with Dragons because of how difficult a starting position they have.  My advice is to take option 2 and wait for the Southern powers to come into conflict with one another.  As they wear each other down they'll start looking for more allies, and you might find those previously attacking you offering to support you into lands that once were theirs. 

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