Lord Varys

Winter warfare in TWoW (and later on)

112 posts in this topic

1 minute ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

Har!

Nothing indicates anybody in Westeros has proper snow gear for warfare. The clansmen are equipped well enough to get along in the autumn snows they face in ADwD but one assumes that even they will die like flies in a proper Northern winter snowstorm, especially in light of the fact that half of the North or more lacks the provisions to live through this winter. Such storms are likely to come pretty soon.

If you think about it the chances for the good guys to win against the Others are very bad. The Others can walk on snow, the humans can't, and the wights never tire. If the Others ever attack an army in the middle of a snowstorm they will crush the enemy. Even the dragons would be ineffective or even powerless in a snowstorm. We know that both Meraxes and Balerion were a lot less effective during rain.

But then, we have to keep in mind the fact that magic is supposed to become ever more important. Fire magic could keep both winter/the cold and the Others/wights at bay. Arrows dipped in wildfire should be much more effective against both Others and wights, and so on. And perhaps powerful sorcerers like Euron, Qyburn, Thoros (up to a point), Melisandre, Moqorro, Marwyn, etc. will be able to influence the weather as much as the Others can, bringing back warmth and light for a short period of time and thus enabling a small army march quite a few leagues in a short amount of time. That magic can influence the weather has been established by the Alester Florent sacrifice in ASoS.

But that would then be a magical game changer, something that is difficult to foresee at this point. Bran's powers could also increase dramatically, if the practice of blood sacrifice to the weirwood trees is revived by the Northmen (and eventually all across Westeros).

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1 minute ago, Lord Varys said:

Nothing indicates anybody in Westeros has proper snow gear for warfare. The clansmen are equipped well enough to get along in the autumn snows they face in ADwD but one assumes that even they will die like flies in a proper Northern winter snowstorm, especially in light of the fact that half of the North or more lacks the provisions to live through this winter. Such storms are likely to come pretty soon.

If you think about it the chances for the good guys to win against the Others are very bad. The Others can walk on snow, the humans can't, and the wights never tire. If the Others ever attack an army in the middle of a snowstorm they will crush the enemy. Even the dragons would be ineffective or even powerless in a snowstorm. We know that both Meraxes and Balerion were a lot less effective during rain.

But then, we have to keep in mind the fact that magic is supposed to become ever more important. Fire magic could keep both winter/the cold and the Others/wights at bay. Arrows dipped in wildfire should be much more effective against both Others and wights, and so on. And perhaps powerful sorcerers like Euron, Qyburn, Thoros (up to a point), Melisandre, Moqorro, Marwyn, etc. will be able to influence the weather as much as the Others can, bringing back warmth and light for a short period of time and thus enabling a small army march quite a few leagues in a short amount of time. That magic can influence the weather has been established by the Alester Florent sacrifice in ASoS.

But that would then be a magical game changer, something that is difficult to foresee at this point. Bran's powers could also increase dramatically, if the practice of blood sacrifice to the weirwood trees is revived by the Northmen (and eventually all across Westeros).

Your snowstorms sound like magical game changers. As a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division (Light), who has spent time aggressing against US Special Forces in near artic conditions, I can assure you that warfare is possible in such conditions. We required layered (not high-tech water-proof) clothing, heavy-duty boots with plenty of socks, snow shoes for traveling long distances, ahkio sleds (which are pulled by four fighting men) to transport equipment and supplies, wood burning stoves, bedrolls, and squad-sized tents. The men of Westeros certainly have sufficient technology to develop such equipment, and as you suggest, the Northmen already have a headstart. 

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1 minute ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

Your snowstorms sound like magical game changers.

A snowstorm would limit the vision of the living combatants, and hinder the flying and fire-breathing capabilities of the dragons. In addition, we can be reasonably sure that fire-based weapons aren't going to be effective in a snowstorm. Not to mention the problems to communicate with the men such a setting.

1 minute ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

As a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division (Light), who has spent time aggressing against US Special Forces in near artic conditions, I can assure you that warfare is possible in such conditions. We required layered (not high-tech water-proof) clothing, heavy-duty boots with plenty of socks, snow shoes for traveling long distances, ahkio sleds (which are pulled by four fighting men) to transport equipment and supplies, wood burning stoves, bedrolls, and squad-sized tents. The men of Westeros certainly have sufficient technology to develop such equipment, and as you suggest, the Northmen already have a headstart. 

But you weren't working with horses up there, right? Nor were your forced to march hundreds of miles or leagues with just the food and provisions you got to even reach the battlefield. You are not beginning a war in winter after another war has already ripped the land to pieces, destroying much of the provisions and food you would now have to use in this winter war.

We are not talking about short campaigns, nor about near-arctic conditions. If we get a second Long Night we could easily enough talk about antarctic conditions, and then many people of Westeros could easily enough the same fate as Robert Scott. The man also thought he was prepared to reach the south pole.

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8 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

A snowstorm would limit the vision of the living combatants, and hinder the flying and fire-breathing capabilities of the dragons. In addition, we can be reasonably sure that fire-based weapons aren't going to be effective in a snowstorm. Not to mention the problems to communicate with the men such a setting.

That's why infantry is the queen of battle. In the absence of artillery, it's the queen regnant. Follow Me!

8 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

But you weren't working with horses up there, right? Nor were your forced to march hundreds of miles or leagues with just the food and provisions you got to even reach the battlefield. You are not beginning a war in winter after another war has already ripped the land to pieces, destroying much of the provisions and food you would now have to use in this winter war.

We are not talking about short campaigns, nor about near-arctic conditions. If we get a second Long Night we could easily enough talk about antarctic conditions, and then many people of Westeros could easily enough the same fate as Robert Scott. The man also thought he was prepared to reach the south pole.

The horses are a nice supply of food. Supply would be the biggest problem for massed armies, but much less so for armies built around smaller, autonomous units. 

As to being tired of battle, sometimes you just gotta sucked it up and drive on. I remember reading about some African dudes marching nearly 100 miles n two days with no shoes into combat. Men do what they have to do to survive. 

There is a reason nobody lives permanently in Antarctica.  If that kind of weather falls on the Reach it's over. 

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3 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

That's why infantry is the queen of battle. In the absence of artillery, it's the queen regnant. Follow Me!

Sure, but marching through snow is still going to become a huge problem. I'm not saying that there won't be any conflicts in winter, just that they have to be smaller, more regional conflicts. We won't get a Second Dance involving pretty much all the lords of Westeros nor Daenerys (or anybody else) conquering the entire continent in an Aegon-like way.

3 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

The horses are a nice supply of food. Supply would be the biggest problem for massed armies, but much less so for armies built around smaller, autonomous units.

This could work in the Reach for a time. Possibly in the West as well. But not in the Riverlands, and not in the North. Dorne and the Vale should not see a lot of fighting on their own soil.

3 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

As to being tired of battle, sometimes you just gotta sucked it up and drive on. I remember reading about some African dudes marching nearly 100 miles n two days with no shoes into combat. Men do what they have to do to survive.

Sure, but nobody is going to fight for survival in winter. They would fight for or against this or that pretender. Mind you, I'm not saying that the Reach men would not continue to fight against the Ironborn in winter. They sure as hell will. But why should they fight for Daenerys, Tommen, Aegon, or Stannis in the middle of winter when this is pretty much going to mean that they will likely on die on the their march.

The Others/wights thing are another matter considering that they will be an universal threat. But if we assume Dany invades Westeros with a bunch of Dothraki the West can pretty much ignore that. In winter the Dothraki are not likely to reach their lands without much difficulty and should then be easy targets if they make it. After all, they are nothing without their horses (although we don't know yet whether they have any winter gear. Winter comes to the Dothraki Sea as well, and in the northern parts it should be pretty cold in winter.

3 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

There is a reason nobody lives permanently in Antarctica.  If that kind of weather falls on the Reach it's over. 

Well, we know that George likes huge things in this series. A huge wall, huge castles, insanely long seasons. Do you really think the worst winter ever is not going to approach Antarctic temperatures? I'm pretty sure it will.

But winter could also make some things easier. Rivers are going to freeze, changing the situation near KL (the Blackwater was even frozen hard during the short return of winter after the False Spring). Riverrun and the Twins should be much vulnerable if the Trident (or some of its forks) are frozen. It should also be much easier to get to the Isle of Faces if the Gods Eye is frozen hard. If the Mander and the Honeywine are freezing the Ironborn raidings will come to a crushing halt. And perhaps the sea itself will freeze. The Bite, perhaps, and Blackwater Bay, too. Keep in mind that the lagoon of Braavos is already freezing.

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24 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Sure, but marching through snow is still going to become a huge problem. I'm not saying that there won't be any conflicts in winter, just that they have to be smaller, more regional conflicts.

In a real world mediaevel setting there would be literaly no war during the weather conditions described in the most recent books. Everybody would wait for the next spring to come. There are very few - if any - examples for winter warfare in middle/northern Europe until the 19th century. And even then you just have to look at Napoleon who was unwillingly forced to battle in winter in Russia to understand that it would have been a pretty bad idea.

Since waiting for spring could take years in ASoIF I understand the motivation to carry on with wars but I doubt it would be realistic at all.

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10 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Sure, but marching through snow is still going to become a huge problem. I'm not saying that there won't be any conflicts in winter, just that they have to be smaller, more regional conflicts. We won't get a Second Dance involving pretty much all the lords of Westeros nor Daenerys (or anybody else) conquering the entire continent in an Aegon-like way.

Didn't Cregan march south in winter? 

11 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

This could work in the Reach for a time. Possibly in the West as well. But not in the Riverlands, and not in the North. Dorne and the Vale should not see a lot of fighting on their own soil.

I could see Dorne getting raided, but I would agree that there won't be much fighting there unless there is an internal struggle for power, which I kind of expect. 

I do expect to see fighting in the Vale. 

31 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Sure, but nobody is going to fight for survival in winter. They would fight for or against this or that pretender. Mind you, I'm not saying that the Reach men would not continue to fight against the Ironborn in winter. They sure as hell will. But why should they fight for Daenerys, Tommen, Aegon, or Stannis in the middle of winter when this is pretty much going to mean that they will likely on die on the their march.

I expect Euron will capture Oldtown, and put Aegon behind the eight ball. The situation could get very bad if Cersei throws in with the monster. But Daenerys will come and defeat him. I think. 

Winter will be as bad as the storyteller wants it to be. But it won't get in the way of the plot. 

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1 hour ago, Hodor's Aunt said:

In a real world mediaevel setting there would be literaly no war during the weather conditions described in the most recent books. Everybody would wait for the next spring to come. There are very few - if any - examples for winter warfare in middle/northern Europe until the 19th century. And even then you just have to look at Napoleon who was unwillingly forced to battle in winter in Russia to understand that it would have been a pretty bad idea.

That was the very point of this threat, thank you for bringing it up again. There was Hannibal's campaign in antiquity and some battles during the Wars of the Rose which were fought in winter, but both were highly unconventional and very risky.

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Since waiting for spring could take years in ASoIF I understand the motivation to carry on with wars but I doubt it would be realistic at all.

Tywin makes it clear that his pacification of the North would take place only in the next spring. And that's the way to do it. The North is already weakened, and winter will kill even more people, so that there won't be any resistance in the next spring.

1 hour ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

Didn't Cregan march south in winter? 

About 3-6 months after winter officially began. That was not necessarily in winter. And his men would have been called in much earlier. And we don't know how worse winter was during the Dance. Unfortunately we don't know anything about the weather.

Our guys have already fought a devastating war in summer/autumn. Most of them won't be keen to continue or begin it anew in winter.

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I could see Dorne getting raided, but I would agree that there won't be much fighting there unless there is an internal struggle for power, which I kind of expect.

As of yet I see no reason for the latter. Euron is ideally positioned to take Sunspear and eradicate House Martell in the male line. Then there won't be a struggle for power but Anders Yronwood would step in and take over Dorne. At least if Princess Arianne has become the Queen Consort of Westeros by then.

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I do expect to see fighting in the Vale.

Between whom and for what? Those people are not willing to fight each other. Perhaps we are getting some clansmen stuff but they will deal with those.

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I expect Euron will capture Oldtown, and put Aegon behind the eight ball. The situation could get very bad if Cersei throws in with the monster. But Daenerys will come and defeat him. I think.

Euron could raid or burn Oldtown, but he cannot capture it. He isn't strong enough to hold it. Oldtown is a city, and Garlan and Willas could retake it. And taking it could be far too costly. Euron could lose half or more of his men in such an adventure.

Spoiler

'The Forsaken' gives no indication that Euron is particularly interested in the Reach. He thinks his lords of the Shields are fools. He most likely also considers everybody a fool who thinks he should take Oldtown. Oldtown isn't the road to the Iron Throne.

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Winter will be as bad as the storyteller wants it to be. But it won't get in the way of the plot. 

Well, I think winter will be part of the plot. The seasons are integral part of the story, and I think especially winter is going to shape the plot to come, not the other way around. George is not going to have some large 30,000 men army march a thousand miles through the snow. He will get to the point he wants to reach in a realistic way.

Edited by Lord Varys

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20 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That was the very point of this threat, thank you for bringing it up again. There was Hannibal's campaign in antiquity and some battles during the Wars of the Rose which were fought in winter, but both were highly unconventional and very risky.

Tywin makes it clear that his pacification of the North would take place only in the next spring. And that's the way to do it. The North is already weakened, and winter will kill even more people, so that there won't be any resistance in the next spring.

About 3-6 months after winter officially began. That was not necessarily in winter. And his men would have been called in much earlier. And we don't know how worse winter was during the Dance. Unfortunately we don't know anything about the weather.

Our guys have already fought a devastating war in summer/autumn. Most of them won't be keen to continue or begin it anew in winter.

As of yet I see no reason for the latter. Euron is ideally positioned to take Sunspear and eradicate House Martell in the male line. Then there won't be a struggle for power but Anders Yronwood would step in and take over Dorne. At least if Princess Arianne has become the Queen Consort of Westeros by then.

Between whom and for what? Those people are not willing to fight each other. Perhaps we are getting some clansmen stuff but they will deal with those.

Euron could raid or burn Oldtown, but he cannot capture it. He isn't strong enough to hold it. Oldtown is a city, and Garlan and Willas could retake it. And 

  Reveal hidden contents

'The Forsaken' gives no indication that Euron is particularly interested in the Reach. He thinks his lords of the Shields are fools. He most likely also considers everybody a fool who thinks he should take Oldtown. Oldtown isn't the road to the Iron Throne.

Well, I think winter will be part of the plot. The seasons are integral part of the story, and I think especially winter is going to shape the plot to come, not the other way around. George is not going to have some large 30,000 men army march a thousand miles through the snow. He will get to the point he wants to reach in a realistic way.

And of course Martin laid the groundwork for us, with his nice (and totally unnecessary) bit of backstory about Brandon "Ice-Eyes" Stark marching hundreds of miles from Winterfell to the future site of White Harbor in the middle of an unusually cold Winter, to capture the Wolf's Den from invaders.

Clearly if Martin wants it to happen, he will make it happen. There will be warfare in Winter. I guarantee it.

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7 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That is true. But then, taking KL should be quickly over. The Dornish armies are not likely to stay there indefinitely or march further north into the Riverlands.

By the way, I think the second Dornish army in the Prince's Pass will march into the Reach to offer assistance against the Ironborn. That way Aegon and Arianne could win the friendship/support of a lot of Reach lords including Garlan and Willas Tyrell. Only the army in the Boneway should cross the Stormlands to team up with Aegon at Storm's End.

I don't want to be so specific in particular plot lines, but it seems to me that the reaction of the Tyrells will depend a lot of what happens in KL. If they are able to get rid of Cersei, they have no reason to team up with Dorne and Aegon. If Cersei manages to hurt or kill Margaery they certainly will. In the first case you can have some 'friends in the Reach' helping Aegon and many others against him supporting the Tyrells. With both armies inexperienced in winter warfare, things are going to be quite brutal, but they cannot give up, else they lose the IT.

7 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

In any case, Aegon will take KL long before a Lannister army could be raised or arrive at KL. And they would have to cross the Riverlands to get their, possibly not exactly arriving in good shape then.

Exactly the point. With the stakes so high, they may be forced to march, ending in disaster and drawing the last forces in the West.

7 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

The plan in AFfC seemed to suggest them going to Winterfell next spring, when Stannis and the Boltons have either destroyed each other or have weakened each other sufficiently. The idea that the Vale troops would go north in winter to fight a war in the North makes no sense in any possible scenario. Littlefinger and Sansa both believe she is the last Stark alive, so they can take their time in restoring her to Winterfell. They are in no rush.

But with the news about Aegon new opportunities could present themselves, opportunities that could allow Sansa to become queen or Sansa to get her revenge on the Lannisters (and Tyrells) by supporting Aegon. Her main problem is that she is still accused of regicide, and that cripples her abilities to reveal herself. Once King Tommen is gone that whole situation is going to change. Winterfell can wait.

It sounds like a good plan. Stay behind the mountains, be careful with the provisions and keep your strength for the forthcoming spring. But won't happen. Something will make them to get out and march towards their own little doom.

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1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And of course Martin laid the groundwork for us, with his nice (and totally unnecessary) bit of backstory about Brandon "Ice-Eyes" Stark marching hundreds of miles from Winterfell to the future site of White Harbor in the middle of an unusually cold Winter, to capture the Wolf's Den from invaders.

That was not after a civil war ripping the North to pieces, though. And we have no idea how large that army was. Was it half the North or just the garrison of Winterfell supported by some Cerwyn men and some petty lords living in near Winterfell and the White Knife. In addition, Brandon could have used the White Knife (if it wasn't frozen) to carry provisions and the like down to the Wolf's Den.

I never said a few hundred men couldn't march through the snow in winter if they are well-provisioned and know the terrain. That could work. I just don't expect that to happen on a regular basis.

And again - the winter that has come isn't some ordinary winter. It is the winter of the Others.

1 hour ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Clearly if Martin wants it to happen, he will make it happen. There will be warfare in Winter. I guarantee it.

If you can also explain how George is going to make it happen I might even agree with you. I'm not saying there can't be any warfare in winter. Just that it has to be a certain way to be realistic.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

I don't want to be so specific in particular plot lines, but it seems to me that the reaction of the Tyrells will depend a lot of what happens in KL. If they are able to get rid of Cersei, they have no reason to team up with Dorne and Aegon. If Cersei manages to hurt or kill Margaery they certainly will. In the first case you can have some 'friends in the Reach' helping Aegon and many others against him supporting the Tyrells. With both armies inexperienced in winter warfare, things are going to be quite brutal, but they cannot give up, else they lose the IT.

It doesn't have to be about Cersei. It seems that the Golden Company will have to face the Tyrell army on their own. If Aegon crushes them and the survivors are more inclined to join him rather than to die or continue to oppose him the entire Reach (Tyrells included) might decide that the dragon is a safer bet than the false stag. They can no longer use those dead Reach men against the Ironborn and if Arianne only sends word to the Dornish army after the Tyrell army marching against Storm's End has been defeated then the Reach could easily enough face attacks from both Euron and the Dornishmen. That wouldn't be a good position to be in. Vice versa, with the Golden Company having friends in the Reach Aegon should do anything in his power to ensure they will stay their friends and come to their aid. That isn't going to work if he has Dorne attack the Reach. But he could win even more friends if he sends help to Garlan/Willas and/or Oldtown.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

Exactly the point. With the stakes so high, they may be forced to march, ending in disaster and drawing the last forces in the West.

But right now nothing suggests there is a leadership in the West capable or willing to raise a new host. Daven isn't even in the West and we don't know what authority Damion holds as castellan of Casterly Rock. If Cersei (and Tommen/Myrcella) get back to Casterly Rock such a thing could happen.

1 hour ago, rotting sea cow said:

It sounds like a good plan. Stay behind the mountains, be careful with the provisions and keep your strength for the forthcoming spring. But won't happen. Something will make them to get out and march towards their own little doom.

Well, if you can't imagine what that doom will be I'm skeptical. I expect them to commit themselves to some pretender, most likely Aegon but possibly even Daenerys later on, and then play a huge role in the installation/defense of that pretender.

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4 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

That was not after a civil war ripping the North to pieces, though. And we have no idea how large that army was. Was it half the North or just the garrison of Winterfell supported by some Cerwyn men and some petty lords living in near Winterfell and the White Knife. In addition, Brandon could have used the White Knife (if it wasn't frozen) to carry provisions and the like down to the Wolf's Den.

I never said a few hundred men couldn't march through the snow in winter if they are well-provisioned and know the terrain. That could work. I just don't expect that to happen on a regular basis.

And again - the winter that has come isn't some ordinary winter. It is the winter of the Others.

If you can also explain how George is going to make it happen I might even agree with you. I'm not saying there can't be any warfare in winter. Just that it has to be a certain way to be realistic.

It doesn't have to be about Cersei. It seems that the Golden Company will have to face the Tyrell army on their own. If Aegon crushes them and the survivors are more inclined to join him rather than to die or continue to oppose him the entire Reach (Tyrells included) might decide that the dragon is a safer bet than the false stag. They can no longer use those dead Reach men against the Ironborn and if Arianne only sends word to the Dornish army after the Tyrell army marching against Storm's End has been defeated then the Reach could easily enough face attacks from both Euron and the Dornishmen. That wouldn't be a good position to be in. Vice versa, with the Golden Company having friends in the Reach Aegon should do anything in his power to ensure they will stay their friends and come to their aid. That isn't going to work if he has Dorne attack the Reach. But he could win even more friends if he sends help to Garlan/Willas and/or Oldtown.

But right now nothing suggests there is a leadership in the West capable or willing to raise a new host. Daven isn't even in the West and we don't know what authority Damion holds as castellan of Casterly Rock. If Cersei (and Tommen/Myrcella) get back to Casterly Rock such a thing could happen.

Well, if you can't imagine what that doom will be I'm skeptical. I expect them to commit themselves to some pretender, most likely Aegon but possibly even Daenerys later on, and then play a huge role in the installation/defense of that pretender.

See, @Free Northman Reborn, it has to be realistic. ...

That's why the fire-breathing dragons will be grounded. ...

Now, when the ice dragon shows up, we will have some realism! 

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2 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

See, @Free Northman Reborn, it has to be realistic. ...

Well, in the context of the story, yeah. If the conditions around Winterfell become widespread throughout westeros, no one would choose to do what Stannis is doing unless they were absolutely forced to (and Stannis is only doing it because the snows began midway through his march). Even Roose, immobile and apparently well-supplied, is struggling to maintain his army in the current conditions. As this style of warfare becomes less viable people will look for alternatives. Access to ports and control over fleets should be much more important, if nothing else.

That said, I don't know how long it will take for the northern conditions to spread south, so there may be time for some large-scale wars between Aegon, Tommen, Dany, Euron and whoever LF throws in with. I get the impression 'light snows' won't be as much of a hindrance as they were in real life.

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7 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

See, @Free Northman Reborn, it has to be realistic. ...

That's why the fire-breathing dragons will be grounded. ...

They will, in a snowstorm. They will even suck as weapons during a normal rain. Dragons aren't super weapons. They only work properly under optimal conditions, and those are in summer/autumn as the Field of Fire proved, certainly not in winter.

4 hours ago, The Drunkard said:

Well, in the context of the story, yeah.

Thanks for seeing reason.

4 hours ago, The Drunkard said:

If the conditions around Winterfell become widespread throughout westeros, no one would choose to do what Stannis is doing unless they were absolutely forced to (and Stannis is only doing it because the snows began midway through his march). Even Roose, immobile and apparently well-supplied, is struggling to maintain his army in the current conditions. As this style of warfare becomes less viable people will look for alternatives. Access to ports and control over fleets should be much more important, if nothing else.

Indeed. And the idea that some Targaryen pretender or some Ironborn madman writing letters, or conquering/destroying some cities or castles hundreds or thousands of leagues away from your home is not going to cause you to decide that this kind of thing is important enough for you or your men to go on some kind of death march through the snow.

People actually don't care all that much who sits the Iron Throne.

And even if Dany and the other dragonriders pull a Jace/Luke flying around Westeros to try to convince people to declare for her they might still be unwilling to actually go on a march. Because, you know, that would likely mean their death.

4 hours ago, The Drunkard said:

That said, I don't know how long it will take for the northern conditions to spread south, so there may be time for some large-scale wars between Aegon, Tommen, Dany, Euron and whoever LF throws in with. I get the impression 'light snows' won't be as much of a hindrance as they were in real life.

There is still some time for warfare in the Reach and the Stormlands (and Dorne, although I doubt that much is going to happen there in this regards), and the relatively mild winter weather in the Crownlands and the Riverlands should also still allow for some battles to occur in the near future.

We are not talking about winter crippling warfare in the first half of TWoW. We are talking about how the winter the Others are going to bring will affect Westeros when it really arrives full force. Presumably things will first get worse in the North, and then in the Riverlands, the West, the Vale, and so on, but there is no guarantee for that. Stannis and the Boltons suffered from a major autumn storm while the weather wasn't as bad as that by far at the Wall. It is difficult to predict how things will turn out there. Could very well be that at one point the Reach is hit by very bad and cold weather while things are reasonably fine in the Riverlands.

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In addition, you have to keep in mind that anybody taking KL in winter (say, because she came by sea with a huge armada) could have to just chill out on the Iron Throne and force any enemies she might have to come to her. Those marches through the snow could easily enough lead to the end of an entire army, resolving the problem without even a battle.

And if there are some people at the far corners of the Realm who think Dany or Aegon or Euron should not sit the Iron Throne, and if they have still some strength left they could just as well wait for the next spring. If the Others have not yet made their move they would believe that spring is going to come again sooner or later, and they could then continue the war if it is necessary.

Wherever Euron ends up raiding or occupying land people will be forced to fight for their survival, of course, because he is a cruel madman.

And once Aegon has taken KL he is not likely to meet much resistance. He is a Targaryen king, and even the Lord of the West once bowed to the dragons. There is no reason to necessarily believe that they prefer Cersei's bastards over a dragon king. Not now, with Tywin and Kevan both dead.

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13 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

In addition, you have to keep in mind that anybody taking KL in winter (say, because she came by sea with a huge armada) could have to just chill out on the Iron Throne and force any enemies she might have to come to her. Those marches through the snow could easily enough lead to the end of an entire army, resolving the problem without even a battle.

And if there are some people at the far corners of the Realm who think Dany or Aegon or Euron should not sit the Iron Throne, and if they have still some strength left they could just as well wait for the next spring. If the Others have not yet made their move they would believe that spring is going to come again sooner or later, and they could then continue the war if it is necessary.

Wherever Euron ends up raiding or occupying land people will be forced to fight for their survival, of course, because he is a cruel madman.

And once Aegon has taken KL he is not likely to meet much resistance. He is a Targaryen king, and even the Lord of the West once bowed to the dragons. There is no reason to necessarily believe that they prefer Cersei's bastards over a dragon king. Not now, with Tywin and Kevan both dead.

That's a lot of mouths to feed. 

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7 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

That's a lot of mouths to feed. 

That is why Dany is going to crush the Free Cities, kill the ruling elites, and use the food that is grown along the Rhoyne and at the Orange Coast and wherever the hell the Free Cities get their foods to feed her people. If she brings in the food to feed both her vast armies as well as the common people nobody is going to hate her.

If she doesn't have a lot of provisions when she comes to Westeros her armies will starve and her campaign will fail before it even started because the additional numbers of mouths to feed will result in even more starvation and suffering in Westeros than before. Dragons mean nothing if people starve and freeze to death.

Aegon might try a similar ploy with Illyrio's help. The man could bring shiploads of food from Pentos and the Flatlands to KL to help his lad to buy the allegiance and love of the smallfolk.

Keep in mind that KL has been overrun by sparrows and other refugees from the Riverlands. They didn't even have the food to feed the Kingslanders during the War of the Five Kings when Renly and the Tyrells had cut off the Roseroad and the Riverlands had declared for Robb.

Nothing indicates that the city as so much as a single granary. How they get even through a half-year-winter is beyond me.

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

That is why Dany is going to crush the Free Cities, kill the ruling elites, and use the food that is grown along the Rhoyne and at the Orange Coast and wherever the hell the Free Cities get their foods to feed her people. If she brings in the food to feed both her vast armies as well as the common people nobody is going to hate her.

If she doesn't have a lot of provisions when she comes to Westeros her armies will starve and her campaign will fail before it even started because the additional numbers of mouths to feed will result in even more starvation and suffering in Westeros than before. Dragons mean nothing if people starve and freeze to death.

Aegon might try a similar ploy with Illyrio's help. The man could bring shiploads of food from Pentos and the Flatlands to KL to help his lad to buy the allegiance and love of the smallfolk.

Keep in mind that KL has been overrun by sparrows and other refugees from the Riverlands. They didn't even have the food to feed the Kingslanders during the War of the Five Kings when Renly and the Tyrells had cut off the Roseroad and the Riverlands had declared for Robb.

Nothing indicates that the city as so much as a single granary. How they get even through a half-year-winter is beyond me.

Dany arriving with not only the massive army needed to defeat the Others, not only the Dragons needed to burn the wights, but ALSO all the food needed to feed a hungry Westeros is just too perfect and neat a wrap up of this story. That's not the type of tale that Martin spins.

However, Jon using the negotiation and leadership skills he has learnt the hard way, to import food from Braavos by dealing with the Iron Bank, and Sansa redeeming herself to her people by using her political skills to manipulate the Vale in selling food to the North, and Aegon becoming the favorite of the South with Illyrio's help, thus casting Dany as the villain with her foreign hordes in the eyes of Westeros, THAT is the type of story that Martin writes.

As for Winter warfare, well, i don't see it as armies in the tens of thousands marching up and down the length and breadth of Westeros. Certainly not that, no. And I'd imagine that Brandon Ice Eyes's force numbered perhaps a couple of thousand men at most. But if that number can be marched from Winterfell to White Harbor - in a Winter so cold that the firth at the mouth of the White Knife froze up, then the same can be done across most of the North, if you pick your time carefully and are familiar with the conditions.

So smaller armies numbering in the hundreds, and perhaps low thousands, marching all over the place is very feasible in Winter. I see a lot of that happening. But that will only be in Dream of Spring. In the next book conditions won't be that bad yet. Armies of ten thousand or more could march even in the North, as long as they march inbetween blizzards.

 

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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45 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Dany arriving with not only the massive army needed to defeat the Others, not only the Dragons needed to burn the wights, but ALSO all the food needed to feed a hungry Westeros is just too perfect and neat a wrap up of this story. That's not the type of tale that Martin spins.

That is also not the kind of thing I told. The way it looks right now Dany is going to assemble the largest army in Martinworld's history. An army consisting of all the Dothraki, several companies of sellswords, her freedmen, the former Volantene slave soldiers (apparently one of the largest standing armies in Essos, if the size of the fleet that is used to get them to Slaver's Bay is any indication), the reformed Ghiscari, and Victarion's Ironborn.

To get such an army from Slaver's Bay to Westeros she needs a lot of provisions else all her people have to starve or turn cannibal on the journey. She will feed them by taking food from the people she conquers, most likely all the Free Cities on her way, beginning at Volantis.

Whatever food she takes from them certainly won't be enough to feed all of Westeros. But it might be enough to buy the allegiance and loyalty of the people she actually conquers, most notably of the Kingslanders if we assume she is going to land there. And where else should she land?

In winter pretty much nobody should be able to feed anybody because winter will make it possible to send food all across the Realm. The roads are pretty bad in any case and every evidence we have is that people have to make due with the food they grow on their lands or starve and die (the large cities possibly excluded because they are all harbors).

45 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

However, Jon using the negotiation and leadership skills he has learnt the hard way, to import food from Braavos by dealing with the Iron Bank, and Sansa redeeming herself to her people by using her political skills to manipulate the Vale in selling food to the North, and Aegon becoming the favorite of the South with Illyrion's help, thus casting Dany as the villain with her foreign hordes in the eyes of Westeros, THAT is the type of story that Martin writes.

Oh, Aegon most likely will paint Dany as some kind of evil villain if there is a war between them, but that is most likely going to change after Dany has won or after she has at least a foothold in Westeros (say, KL, or wherever else she might land). Aegon's ability to throw food at the people will also be limited by winter, by the way, and if Dany's forces take Pentos and the Flatlands Illyrio won't be able to help him much in that regard. If he is not with Aegon by that point he might even be killed.

The Vale certainly could sell some food to the Night's Watch and the North, as could Braavos, but one wonders why they would do that this early in winter. TWoW is most likely only going to cover some months of winter and if the Northmen and Watchmen are already in need of food exports this early in the season it might make more sense for the Valemen and the Braavosi to let them all die because even if they sell them food they can't have possibly enough to feed both them and themselves. Not if they don't know how long winter will last which people in Martinworld never do. It could be a two-year-winter or a six-year-winter. Or perhaps even a longer winter still. Parting with your provisions early on in the season would be insane.

I'm also wondering where Braavos could have much food to sell. They are city in a lagoon and have to import food (aside from fish) from their hinterlands. We don't know how fertile they are nor whether the Braavosi have any food to spare.

Coin from the Iron Bank does not equal bought food (nor sellswords, by the way). You still have to buy it, and if food get scarce and people expect that their own might starve in winter even gold might not buy you food.

Whatever you expect to happen in the North won't be based on food imports arranged by Jon or Sansa. Due to the vastness of the North and the winter weather we can expect only places like White Harbor (and perhaps settlements along the White Knife if it does freeze soon in winter) and Eastwatch will profit from that. Perhaps even Karhold and other places near the coastline (if they have workable and well-known harbors).

But the places where the Ironborn struck - the Stony Shore, Deepwood Motte, the entire center and western part of the North - won't be reachable by ship. The people there will suffer and starve because there is no way that some food carts can reach those people, nor would this be feasible in the situation the people are in. The plot continues, after all. The stakes are rising, and the Others will come.

45 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

As for Winter warfare, well, i don't see it as armies in the tens of thousands marching up and down the length and breadth of Westeros. Certainly not that, no.

Then we are basically in agreement. This thread was supposed to be mostly about the idea a lot of people were entertaining like this or that house at the end of the world declaring for this or that pretender simply because they might have some strength left late in the story. And they might even do that, but that is not necessarily going to translate into them making a difference on the field.

45 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

And I'd imagine that Brandon Ice Eyes's force numbered perhaps a couple of thousand men at most.

Well, you don't have any evidence for such high a number, do you? And why would you assume such a high number in the first place? King Brandon wasn't declaring war on some foreign kingdom. He wasn't even defending against or preparing for the arrival of an enemy invasion. He was just sneaking up on a bunch of slavers who happened to have taken possession of one of his former castles. You don't need a lot of men for that, especially if you success is based on stealth and swiftness. Brandon retook the Wolf's Den because the slavers didn't see him coming. If they had seen him coming there would have been a siege, and Brandon most likely didn't have to provisions or the equipment for siege.

This whole campaign was successful because Brandon did something unexpected (attacking an enemy in the middle of winter) as well as because the slavers weren't all that familiar with the terrain or winter weather in the North.

Something like that certainly could happen in the series to come as well. If you have read my posts then I expect the Riverlords and Brotherhood to kill all the Freys in winter, never mind the weather. That might come unexpected to Lord Walder and sons as well. But it is one thing to do this on a small scale against a hated enemy who isn't prepared for you (and might even make a lot of mistakes because they are stupid/quarreling amongst themselves) and quite another to expect people to actually fight pitched battles or conduct long sieges in the middle of winter.

That kind of thing isn't going to happen. At least not when winter has set in.

45 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

But if that number can be marched from Winterfell to White Harbor - in a Winter so cold that the firth at the mouth of the White Knife froze up, then the same can be done across most of the North, if you pick your time carefully and are familiar with the conditions.

No, it can't. Because we know that the people in the North don't live all at one place. Raising even a small host should not be possible for the lords controlling as large a territory as the Umbers, Karstarks, or Boltons. They could, perhaps, take their castle garrisons and raise some more men from the lands around their seats, but it makes little sense to assume that men who already don't have much to eat would be willing or capable to march hundreds of miles to their liege lord only then to march thousands of miles to some battlefield.

And in the North something of that sort isn't even necessary. We can reasonably hope that the civil war in the North will end at Winterfell. Stannis and the Boltons will decide the matter. If there is any fighting thereafter it might involve the wildlings and the Northmen against the Weeper, or further infighting at the Wall. But one really hopes that large battles in the North for political reasons are over with after the fighting at Winterfell.

45 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So smaller armies numbering in the hundreds, and perhaps low thousands, marching all over the place is very feasible in Winter.

Certainly not all over the place. From KL to Duskendale? Most certainly. From KL to Maidenpool? Perhaps. From Lannisport to KL? Most likely not.

45 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I see a lot of that happening. But that will only be in Dream of Spring. In the next book conditions won't be that bad yet. Armies of ten thousand or more could march even in the North, as long as they march inbetween blizzards.

And why do you think the weather isn't going to get as worse as possible as quickly as possible? Winter has come. It can be as worse as possible pretty much at once. This is the winter of the Others, not some average winter. And George has said repeatedly that 'The Winds of Winter' will be about winter, not necessarily about the Others, but about winter.

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25 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That is also not the kind of thing I told. The way it looks right now Dany is going to assemble the largest army in Martinworld's history. An army consisting of all the Dothraki, several companies of sellswords, her freedmen, the former Volantene slave soldiers (apparently one of the largest standing armies in Essos, if the size of the fleet that is used to get them to Slaver's Bay is any indication), the reformed Ghiscari, and Victarion's Ironborn.

To get such an army from Slaver's Bay to Westeros she needs a lot of provisions else all her people have to starve or turn cannibal on the journey. She will feed them by taking food from the people she conquers, most likely all the Free Cities on her way, beginning at Volantis.

Whatever food she takes from them certainly won't be enough to feed all of Westeros. But it might be enough to buy the allegiance and loyalty of the people she actually conquers, most notably of the Kingslanders if we assume she is going to land there. And where else should she land?

In winter pretty much nobody should be able to feed anybody because winter will make it possible to send food all across the Realm. The roads are pretty bad in any case and every evidence we have is that people have to make due with the food they grow on their lands or starve and die (the large cities possibly excluded because they are all harbors).

Oh, Aegon most likely will paint Dany as some kind of evil villain if there is a war between them, but that is most likely going to change after Dany has won or after she has at least a foothold in Westeros (say, KL, or wherever else she might land). Aegon's ability to throw food at the people will also be limited by winter, by the way, and if Dany's forces take Pentos and the Flatlands Illyrio won't be able to help him much in that regard. If he is not with Aegon by that point he might even be killed.

The Vale certainly could sell some food to the Night's Watch and the North, as could Braavos, but one wonders why they would do that this early in winter. TWoW is most likely only going to cover some months of winter and if the Northmen and Watchmen are already in need of food exports this early in the season it might make more sense for the Valemen and the Braavosi to let them all die because even if they sell them food they can't have possibly enough to feed both them and themselves. Not if they don't know how long winter will last which people in Martinworld never do. It could be a two-year-winter or a six-year-winter. Or perhaps even a longer winter still. Parting with your provisions early on in the season would be insane.

I'm also wondering where Braavos could have much food to sell. They are city in a lagoon and have to import food (aside from fish) from their hinterlands. We don't know how fertile they are nor whether the Braavosi have any food to spare.

Coin from the Iron Bank does not equal bought food (nor sellswords, by the way). You still have to buy it, and if food get scarce and people expect that their own might starve in winter even gold might not buy you food.

Whatever you expect to happen in the North won't be based on food imports arranged by Jon or Sansa. Due to the vastness of the North and the winter weather we can expect only places like White Harbor (and perhaps settlements along the White Knife if it does freeze soon in winter) and Eastwatch will profit from that. Perhaps even Karhold and other places near the coastline (if they have workable and well-known harbors).

But the places where the Ironborn struck - the Stony Shore, Deepwood Motte, the entire center and western part of the North - won't be reachable by ship. The people there will suffer and starve because there is no way that some food carts can reach those people, nor would this be feasible in the situation the people are in. The plot continues, after all. The stakes are rising, and the Others will come.

Then we are basically in agreement. This thread was supposed to be mostly about the idea a lot of people were entertaining like this or that house at the end of the world declaring for this or that pretender simply because they might have some strength left late in the story. And they might even do that, but that is not necessarily going to translate into them making a difference on the field.

Well, you don't have any evidence for such high a number, do you? And why would you assume such a high number in the first place? King Brandon wasn't declaring war on some foreign kingdom. He wasn't even defending against or preparing for the arrival of an enemy invasion. He was just sneaking up on a bunch of slavers who happened to have taken possession of one of his former castles. You don't need a lot of men for that, especially if you success is based on stealth and swiftness. Brandon retook the Wolf's Den because the slavers didn't see him coming. If they had seen him coming there would have been a siege, and Brandon most likely didn't have to provisions or the equipment for siege.

This whole campaign was successful because Brandon did something unexpected (attacking an enemy in the middle of winter) as well as because the slavers weren't all that familiar with the terrain or winter weather in the North.

Something like that certainly could happen in the series to come as well. If you have read my posts then I expect the Riverlords and Brotherhood to kill all the Freys in winter, never mind the weather. That might come unexpected to Lord Walder and sons as well. But it is one thing to do this on a small scale against a hated enemy who isn't prepared for you (and might even make a lot of mistakes because they are stupid/quarreling amongst themselves) and quite another to expect people to actually fight pitched battles or conduct long sieges in the middle of winter.

That kind of thing isn't going to happen. At least not when winter has set in.

No, it can't. Because we know that the people in the North don't live all at one place. Raising even a small host should not be possible for the lords controlling as large a territory as the Umbers, Karstarks, or Boltons. They could, perhaps, take their castle garrisons and raise some more men from the lands around their seats, but it makes little sense to assume that men who already don't have much to eat would be willing or capable to march hundreds of miles to their liege lord only then to march thousands of miles to some battlefield.

And in the North something of that sort isn't even necessary. We can reasonably hope that the civil war in the North will end at Winterfell. Stannis and the Boltons will decide the matter. If there is any fighting thereafter it might involve the wildlings and the Northmen against the Weeper, or further infighting at the Wall. But one really hopes that large battles in the North for political reasons are over with after the fighting at Winterfell.

Certainly not all over the place. From KL to Duskendale? Most certainly. From KL to Maidenpool? Perhaps. From Lannisport to KL? Most likely not.

And why do you think the weather isn't going to get as worse as possible as quickly as possible? Winter has come. It can be as worse as possible pretty much at once. This is the winter of the Others, not some average winter. And George has said repeatedly that 'The Winds of Winter' will be about winter, not necessarily about the Others, but about winter.

Starting with the last bit, you yourself said that the next book will only cover a few months at most. In fact, as it stands, Stannis's army is trapped by a blizzard, and they were waiting for it to pass. By the time the Battles of Ice and Fire are done, we may well be almost halfway into the book. So we could essentially be halfway into the book, with the current blizzard only just having broken, and some clear weather following it. Clearly as of now there is still hope for the thousands of wildlings trapped at Hardhome to march hundreds of miles down to the Wall. Else Jon would not have considered that an option.

So if that is possible, North of the Wall, why can't thousands of people also march South of the Wall?

We know there is plenty of conflict ahead. And that conflict cannot happen if everyone is stuck in their castles from now until next Spring. Cregan Stark was mentioned before. Well, he marched a large army from the North down to King's Landing, in Winter. Clearly it can be done. And that would have been further into Winter than the point we are at now, seeing as the White Raven only arrived at the end of Dance.

There is some marching left to do. And in large numbers.

But in the very depths of Winter, those numbers will decrease. Even so, however, smaller, lighter groups on hardy mountain ponies, or equipped with snowshoes and the like will still be in play. And probably give the Northmen a vast advantage over much larger Southron forces that are essentially  stuck in place. Should the plot need to unfold in that direction.

Imagine 2000 Northmen, for example, traversing a snowcovered Riverlands with snowshoes and garrons, hitting large, immobile and isolated southron armies at will, because those souhtroners are not used to operating in such conditions.

It need not be 20,000 men to make a big impact in such a scenario. Note that even in the original Dance of the Dragons, some of the most notable battles of the War involved maybe 2000 men on one side. And yet resulted in turning points for the conflict. So I foresee more of those type of engagements. Smaller in army size, but huge in impact.

Imagine 20,000 Dothraki stuck in the snow, and anihilated by 2000 Northmen who have mastered the conditions perfectly, for example. Not saying that is something that will happen, but certainly a scenario worth sketching. And maybe one which forces Daenerys to the negotiating table, and to the apparently inevitable marriage with Jon.

 

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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