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Balon Greyjoy, the worst strategist ever?


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113 replies to this topic

#1 LordOldNick

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 05:09 AM

I wonder why Balon attacked the North.

The move was non-sense by many aspects:

1 The North and the Stark don't have a huge fleet, or at least it is in White Harbor very far away, so it wasn't a threat to his kingdom. The Lannister and the Tyrrels were a bigger threat

2 The fish villages and cities on the coast were poor. The only rich castle is Winterfell, but he actually didn't planned to attack it

3 Lannisters are enormously rich and fighting a war on many fronts, so it would have been a rich prize with small risks

4 House Stark didn't smashed the first Balon Rebellion, it was maily due to Stannis and the Royal fleet. Ned Stark only fostered Theon, so there is no revenge against them

5 By attacking exclusevly the North they made Robb very weak and ultimately caused Roose Bolton to plot against King Robb and to the Red Wedding

 

(Sorry for any mistake in my writing as English in not my mother tongue)



#2 Myrish Swamp Thing

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 05:14 AM

More or less

 

Balon wanted to break away, and Robb was the only continental leader who was okay with that. So attack him, of course.



#3 TalalOfDorne

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 05:20 AM

He wanted revenge against the Starks who DID help crush his rebellion and take his heir. He also wanted independence.

In the end the Ironborn attack did damage the North, and the Ironborn are independent. Id say he did ok.

#4 AntZ

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 05:24 AM

Balon was mad.


#5 Tywin Manderly

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 05:26 AM

Balon is not a bad strategist, but a spiteful idiot.



#6 LordOldNick

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 05:30 AM

Yes, independent, but for how long?

 

At the kingsmoot Asha considered to "surrender" and keep their conquest. The Arbor fleet is coming back to reconquer the Shield Islands. Except for Aegon and the GC landing the kingdom is more or less united under the Baratheon/Lannister/Tyrrels alliance (Ok, I know that there is LF in the Valley to plot, trouble in Dorne and ESPECIALLY the North being a mess with Stannis and the Maderly's rebellion).

 

So in the end I forecast a grim period for the Ironborn (although with George you can never be sure, it could even end with King Theon 1st of His Name)


Edited by LordOldNick, 13 October 2013 - 05:36 AM.


#7 NomadicDirewolf

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 05:33 AM

actually i can see where he was coming from when he attacked the north, because despite of all those things, it was vulnerable as its king and army was down south and wouldnt be able to get back up north again if they took moat cailin. Also saying that the only rich castle is winterfell isnt neccesarily true, i dont recall getting any information about how wealthy other castles in the north or how wealthy winterfell is for that matter, if the show is anything to go by, it doesnt look very rich. White Harbour or Barrowtown would probably be better targets. 

Balons hope was that he could take the north and then ally himself with the IT and somehow still remain independent and keep the north, which isnt very likely if i'm honest. Main thing about Balon's decision making is that it seems when he's confronted with logic, he just thinks 'i dont need logic, we're ironborn' and goes and does the thing which would best suit his pride. For example, not allying himself with robb and attacking the west because he didnt like theons attitude toward the northmen, and robb said he would 'give him a crown'.

Whilst I see his logic, in the end i probably agree that the north had very little plunder to be taken, and wasn't really worth conquering, he just wanted to take it because he could, and so he could look at the huge map of the north and say he owned all that 



#8 LordOldNick

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 05:43 AM

Well I thoguht the North to be poor because when there was the Kingsmoot were Asha said that they only get pine cones from Deepwood Motte and stones from the Rocky shore. To be more subtle I should ask why ONLY the North? You prosper into chaos, so had better to enlarge chaos to all Westeros.

And also why keep it? I mean the comparison is beween the Ironborn and the Vikings. So why keep deepwood motte? They do not lead raids agianst other regions of the Norh, it should take all the precious thing you can take and fleed. Attacking Bear Island would have made much more sense to me.

Lucky the Iron men have Euron and that idiot of Aeron wants to take him down.

Victarion is also cool, but I feel he has small to live



#9 AntZ

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 05:58 AM

If Balon just accepted Robb's offer, they could ravage Westerlands so hard that Tywin would willingly deliver his arse to Robb to do as he pleases.



#10 Knight Of Winter

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 06:17 AM

Iroborn are nation of fools and jerks (with few noteworthy exceptions). Balon, being King of Ironborn, is the biggest fool of them all. After Balon died, Ironborn elected next biggest megalomaniacal fool to take his place.

 

Strategical decisions listed in OP have been discussed and mostly agreed upon to be errors and mistakes. Balon could have profited much more from attacking the Lannisters, but the let his foolish pride cloud his judgement. Oh, and he thought that Tywin Lannister, who fought against Robb for seceding, would be okay with Balon claiming Iron Islands and North as independent kingdom.



#11 The Frosted King

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 06:24 AM

He wanted revenge against the Starks who DID help crush his rebellion and take his heir. He also wanted independence.

In the end the Ironborn attack did damage the North, and the Ironborn are independent. Id say he did ok.


The ironborn are only still independent due to larger problems continually presenting themselves. They're not independent based on the power they themselves hold, but the lack of it.
They keep skating due to other pressing concerns.

One was Stannis, the other was Robb, currently its now the Kingslanding faith uprising, and the trials.

There was no strategic gain in hobbling Robb.

Imagine if both Robb and Theon were trying to escape the captivity of Gregor Clegane....

Only, instead of them both working together to bring him down, while Robb does some serious damage to the Mountain, Theon takes out his bow and shoots Robb in the back.
Then tries to ally with Clegane.
Knowing that he's a sadistic, cruel monster.

That's basically what Balon did. And he's rightly derided as a fool for doing so.

#12 northernmonkey

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 06:31 AM

His plan actually makes sense to me.

He gets his revenge against the Starks, without losing too many men and with little chance of retaliation (because as you say, White Harbour's so far away). It's actually a very low risk strategy. Worse comes to worse, they retreat back to the Iron Islands and the Starks continue to fight the Lannisters.

Compare that with the risk had he sided with Robb. If I remember correctly, the Lannisters and Tyrell fleets weren't really involved in the war against Robb, leaving them free to attack the Iron Islands. It's a massive risk and what for - the independence that they pretty much have anyway (I don't think the crown interfered with the Iron Islands very much).

I say Balon would have been stupid to side with Robb against the Lannisters. Even if they'd have won the war, Robb wouldn't have given them half of what they deserve.

Edited by northernmonkey, 13 October 2013 - 06:32 AM.


#13 Knight Of Winter

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 06:46 AM

I say Balon would have been stupid to side with Robb against the Lannisters. Even if they'd have won the war, Robb wouldn't have given them half of what they deserve.

Based on what, exactly? Robb seems an honest person who genuinely proposed alliance with Iron Islands.

 

You know who didn't give Balon half of nothing of what they deserved? Tywin Lannister. While Balon planned to ally himself with the IT, Tywin's plan was to use him for fighting against Robb and then forbid him independence. How's that for choosing allies?



#14 Marco

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 06:49 AM

Tactical he was good. As he predict, Northeners lost while they went to south, but strategically, it was stupid idea. Iron born's power came from sea, north is the biggest region in seven kingdom, there is no way iron borns could hold it in long-term. Westerlands, Riverlands even Reach they can hold it, but not the North. It is too far from sea...

 

Tactically ; good

Strategically ; bad

Politically ; very stupid


Edited by Marco, 13 October 2013 - 06:49 AM.


#15 Tywin Manderly

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 06:55 AM

Compare that with the risk had he sided with Robb. If I remember correctly, the Lannisters and Tyrell fleets weren't really involved in the war against Robb, leaving them free to attack the Iron Islands. It's a massive risk and what for - the independence that they pretty much have anyway (I don't think the crown interfered with the Iron Islands very much). 

 

The Lannisters have no fleet anymore, since it was burned at anchor during the Greyjoy rebellion. Furthermore, the Tyrells were not with the Lannisters at the time. 

                  

I say Balon would have been stupid to side with Robb against the Lannisters. Even if they'd have won the war, Robb wouldn't have given them half of what they deserve. 

 

The Ironmen are not given, they take. And they would be loaded with plunder if they had sided with Robb Stark.



#16 northernmonkey

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 06:58 AM

Based on what, exactly? Robb seems an honest person who genuinely proposed alliance with Iron Islands.
 
You know who didn't give Balon half of nothing of what they deserved? Tywin Lannister. While Balon planned to ally himself with the IT, Tywin's plan was to use him for fighting against Robb and then forbid him independence. How's that for choosing allies?


Without the Greyjoy alliance, Robb lost the WOT5K, but with it they could have won. But Robb only offered independence, whereas they would have deserved half the kingdom. It's obviously not worth it.

I think it's quite that Balon wasn't willing to rebel against Tywin, because he feared him (and rightly so). We should give him a bit of respect for knowing his limitations.

#17 The Frosted King

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 06:58 AM

The crown would never allow the iron islands to be independent.
Either with the north as spoils, or just the islands.
The north is half the realm, losing that would be a deathblow to the iron.
The entire continent being held but the islands remaining free is too silly to countenance, as the ironborn wouldn't be peacefully independent, but raiding and pillaging the west and the reach for their wealth.

If Balon had attacked Lannisport or Casterly Rock, they might've fallen. Or at least, taken lesser castles and towns. This would draw Tywin west, as both northmen and ironborn gutting your lands is indigestible. Tywin being that far west keeps him from defeating Stannis. Who takes KL, and either kills or captures the KL Baratheons.
Tywin at this point must fight, as Stannis won't merely allow him to return west to plot revenge.
The Tyrells also are in a bad spot, as this is the second time they were foes to Stannis.

In short, Balon helping dagger Robb only helped the Lannisters consolidate their grip on the south.
Which only hastens Balons inevitable defeat.
Balon weakening the favored winner helps Balon, as the more chaos in the south, the longer it takes them to gather ships to go north. And when/if they do, it makes them that much weaker and more depleted.

Balon was a fool.

He lost the first time against the power of a united Westeros.
So what does he do in his second rebellion?
He helps reunite Westeros.

His daughter spoke against the wisdom of his plan at the kingsmoot, and his brother who won it promptly abandoned his "gains" and did exactly what Balon should've.

#18 Tywin Manderly

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 07:03 AM

His daughter spoke against the wisdom of his plan at the kingsmoot, and his brother who won it promptly abandoned his "gains" and did exactly what Balon should've.

 Indeed. On the Shield Islands alone there is more wealth to be found than in all of the North, except for White Harbor. Not to mention the rest of the Reach.



#19 LordOldNick

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 07:09 AM

Exactly! Moreover, without any possible threat to the Iron Island, they could have used their fleet for long-distance raids.

Imagine the Iron Fleet in the Narrow See: it could even possible be a threat to some of the Free Cities, not to mention Dorne, the Stormlands or even KL



#20 Spartan64Destiny

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Posted 13 October 2013 - 07:13 AM

Iron Born only take what is theirs and not given, "Iron is taken not given," and "We don not sow." This is the mantra or credo of House Greyjoy and it clearly explains the ideals the Iron Culture abide by. When you live by these code of terrible ethics, your not going to win a lot of wars or rebellions. Case in point with Balon Greyjoy, its like that old saying goes, "You Can't Fix Stupid."