Ragnorak, on 20 June 2012 - 05:36 PM, said:
Tywin's reputation as a brilliant battle commander was completely undeserved even if he actually had the ability to live up to that reputation-- it was never truly tested. Tywin engagaed in some battles where he possessed superior numbers and won. You are supposed to win with superior numbers so victory is hardly proof of brilliance.
Tywin attacked the Riverlands to get Edmure to spread out his forces. Tywin had a plan, executed it and manipulated his enemy into following it. Tywin 1 Edmure 0. But Edmure defeated Tywin at the river crossing so Tywin is tied 1 to 1 with Edmure. Robb planned to make Tywin believe he was marching on him and Tywin fell for it. Robb planned to use Tywin taking this bait to capture Jaime and break the seige at Riverrun. Robb's plan worked across the board with both Jaime and Tywin following Robb's plan.
Tywin then retreated to Harrenhall. Retreating is a tactical choice to trade land for time which was an intelligent choice given the circumstances and not a defeat. Tywin then concludes that he can win a waiting game with Robb and that Robb must either wait or attack Harrenhall. Robb does neither. Robb attacks the Westerlands to force Tywin to come to him. Tywin comes to Robb. So after his opening move, Tywin fails to predict his opponents and fails as well to force his opponents into actions that he has planned. At the same time Tywin is forced or tricked into complying with his opponents plans on multiple occasions. Of course these are only clues. Robb and Tywin never actually met in battle which would be the real proof. But the clues seem to imply a more cautious, competent commander who knows that he has superior numbers and uses them in a traditional manner. Tywin only demonstrates exceptionalism in his brutality not his tactical or strategic warfare planning.
Tywin was primarily feared because of his scorched earth responses. The Reynes, the Tarbecks, the 4 year old princess stabbed over 50 times, Elia being raped with her infant sons brains used as-- well you get the picture. Defeat is always possible, and the brutal annihilation of a House that loses against Tywin Lannister is almost as certain as Winter. That is where his reputation really comes from. If he was a military genius, he died before he could show anybody.
I'm actually not clear where it was ever said that Tywin was a military genius? Maybe you can help me out. He was just a seasoned commander of men, with a reputation for for cunning and astuteness. I'm not sure GrrM really does military genius.
I do think Tywin was not an inferior commander to anyone else that we've see in action though.
On the Edmure thing, the two battles are hardly comparable. Edmure suffered a crushing defeat, his army was routed or captured, he was taken prisoner and his home besieged. You can't seriously say its 1-1 when old ed stops Tywin crossing a river after what appears to have been a few intense skirmishes. I doubt the bulk of the two armies ever engaged.
Tywin did get duped by Robb sure, but Frey behaved, imo, somewhat erratically and Cat played him well. Not the sort of event one easily foresees. The man mainly responsible for lannister defeat in that campaign was Jaime, not Tywin.
Tywin's waiting game did not work yes, nor did Robb's plan either, owing to a mistake on his part (not communicating with Edmure).
Might be of interest that Alexander the Great's second biggest victory, Issus, was won after he had abandoned a plan to wait for Darius III in Cilicia (near Tarsus) and proceeded down the coast, allowing Darius to cut him off in the rear. The result of the campaign is the most important, not the prior operational footwork and Tywin and Robb never met on the battlefield so...