Hydratic

Who is the best commander out of Tywin, Eddard and Stannis?

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Posted (edited)

Could you please use spoiler warnings as I am caught up with the show but still on the first book? This my first post on asoiaf so sorry if i done something wrong.

Edited by Hydratic

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Posted (edited)

We don't know much about Eddard as a commander, besides the fact that he seems to have been able to inspire loyalty among his subjects. We only see him commanding an army at the very end of the Rebellion, when he only has to ride to Storm's End and receive the surrender from the Tyrell troops. In all other occasions, he seems to have stayed besides Robert, so we can't know how good a commander he would be on his own.

Stannis has a bigger resume, but it's not as impressive as the propaganda around them would make us to believe:he held Storm's End during the War (endurance and stubbornness are required, but not great tactical geniality), and then took Dragonstone (after the Targaryen fleet had been destroyed by a storm). Not very impressive. IMHO, his only notable victory before the start of the books would be the naval battle at Fair Isle during the Greyjoy Rebellion. But considering that he had the Redwynes and the Velaryons as his lieutenants, and that his fleet probably outnumbered the Greyjoys by a lot (it was basically all the realm against them), I'm not sure it deserves that much credit.

Same for Tywin. His aura of great commander seems to be exaggerated. In the war 9penny kings he was only a young knight, and armies of the West were commanded by Jason and Roger. So his only victory to date is the destruction of the Tarbecks and Reynes. Impressive, but attributable to the overconfidence and lack of preparation of the other side rather than actual tactical merit of his own.

Edited by The hairy bear

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Stannis > Tywin > Eddard (really has no business on this list)

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14 hours ago, Lord Wraith said:

Stannis > Tywin > Eddard (really has no business on this list)

I agree with this.

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Posted (edited)

Tywin was losing almost (if not all of them) every fair battle against Robb Stark, who was still a young boy. You can check out Tywin's way of winning wars (Blackwater, Sack of King's Landing, etc.) and you'll see that he is not a great commander, but a cunning politician who has his way of ending wars and conflicts.

Probably Stannis of all three, but as someone mentioned, not impressive. 

 

 

Edited by The Sunland Lord

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In my mind there's no question that Tywin is the greatest commander of them in terms of what he accomplished and due to his superior skills compared to these men. The reason I pick Tywin, as I think should be stated before all else, is that war is very much more than whoever won the most battles and a military leader must do more than win tactical battles to win a war, something which Robb learned to his sorrow. Things like providing leadership for the men under his command, people management (where I dare say that Tywin was more successful than not) and inspire loyalty are all important aspects of military command and especially so in a feudal setting.

But to make it clear. Tywin did mistakes, some serious mistakes, because he is a human and not a god, and so I don't think that Tywin was infallible and there are things I would have done different than Tywin. But even so, I don't think that Eddard or Stannis reaches up to Tywin in regards to military leadership.

Now when we look at Tywin's list of accomplishments I see the following:

War of Ninepenny Kings - personal bravery although this was when he was young and probably more impetuous.

Reyne-Tarbeck Rebellion - organizational skill, talent for planning and ability for creative solutions to problems, all good things in a military commander

Robert's Rebellion - was able to beat Eddard to King's Landing and in a matter of hours secure control over a city of about half a million or so (that's the numbers I've heard at least)

Greyjoy Rebellion - was taken by suprised but was with Robert to capture Pyke, but I wouldn't know what his exact role was

War of Five Kings - places the right people in place for most of the time, keeps the Westerlands together and pulling in the same direction (so that even while defeats and opposition rises there's no dissent while the Starks' kingdom crumbles no matter how many victories Robb gets) and is prudent enough to keep his army active and in the field in Harrenhall rather than panicing when Jamie's host is gone.

All in all I see in Tywin the following:

Leadership and building respect and loyalty from one's bannermen

Careful and don't take foolish risks

Ability to find or create solutions to problems

Good at dealing with stress and not lose the cool

Good planner and organizing skills

And the result of this that Tywin is never defeated in a single military conflict that he participants in while Stannis gets beaten when on his own, and even has something like half his army turn on him, while Eddard is a wild card that never got to hold supreme command in a significant conflict and so test himself. There were always men like Robert or Jon Arryn around to provide either leadership or be co-leader.

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1 hour ago, LionoftheWest said:

In my mind there's no question that Tywin is the greatest commander of them in terms of what he accomplished and due to his superior skills compared to these men. The reason I pick Tywin, as I think should be stated before all else, is that war is very much more than whoever won the most battles and a military leader must do more than win tactical battles to win a war, something which Robb learned to his sorrow. Things like providing leadership for the men under his command, people management (where I dare say that Tywin was more successful than not) and inspire loyalty are all important aspects of military command and especially so in a feudal setting.

But to make it clear. Tywin did mistakes, some serious mistakes, because he is a human and not a god, and so I don't think that Tywin was infallible and there are things I would have done different than Tywin. But even so, I don't think that Eddard or Stannis reaches up to Tywin in regards to military leadership.

Now when we look at Tywin's list of accomplishments I see the following:

War of Ninepenny Kings - personal bravery although this was when he was young and probably more impetuous.

Reyne-Tarbeck Rebellion - organizational skill, talent for planning and ability for creative solutions to problems, all good things in a military commander

Robert's Rebellion - was able to beat Eddard to King's Landing and in a matter of hours secure control over a city of about half a million or so (that's the numbers I've heard at least)

Greyjoy Rebellion - was taken by suprised but was with Robert to capture Pyke, but I wouldn't know what his exact role was

War of Five Kings - places the right people in place for most of the time, keeps the Westerlands together and pulling in the same direction (so that even while defeats and opposition rises there's no dissent while the Starks' kingdom crumbles no matter how many victories Robb gets) and is prudent enough to keep his army active and in the field in Harrenhall rather than panicing when Jamie's host is gone.

All in all I see in Tywin the following:

Leadership and building respect and loyalty from one's bannermen

Careful and don't take foolish risks

Ability to find or create solutions to problems

Good at dealing with stress and not lose the cool

Good planner and organizing skills

And the result of this that Tywin is never defeated in a single military conflict that he participants in while Stannis gets beaten when on his own, and even has something like half his army turn on him, while Eddard is a wild card that never got to hold supreme command in a significant conflict and so test himself. There were always men like Robert or Jon Arryn around to provide either leadership or be co-leader.

Petyr Baelish was smart to show late on Battle Of The Bastards with young Arryn's army, does that make him a good commander? 

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52 minutes ago, The Sunland Lord said:

Petyr Baelish was smart to show late on Battle Of The Bastards with young Arryn's army, does that make him a good commander? 

Depends on how he conducted the battle and if he held a military command. I'm inclined to think that he would not be a great commander since he don't seem to lead men into battle, but maybe he'll suprised us?

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I think Robb was better than all those three as batlle commander, but Tywin was the best commander in general. 

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@LionoftheWest

I think you exaggerate the actual "accomplishments" of Tywin. I'll go one by one:

On 11/5/2017 at 2:44 PM, LionoftheWest said:

War of Ninepenny Kings - personal bravery although this was when he was young and probably more impetuous.

I don't recall any record of acts of "bravery" done by Tywin in the war. In fact, the world book says that in the war he fought "in the retinue of the king’s young heir, Aerys", which is another way of saying that he was always as far from danger as possible and he only saw fighting from afar.

On 11/5/2017 at 2:44 PM, LionoftheWest said:

Reyne-Tarbeck Rebellion - organizational skill, talent for planning and ability for creative solutions to problems, all good things in a military commander

I agree that Tywin had all these qualities you mentioned. But at the end, what he did was to suddenly attack his father's bannermen against his father's wishes. His victory wasn't due to commanding abilities, but to betrayal. The Tarbecks and Reynes were unprepared not because Tywin's cunning manoeuvring or deceptive movements, but because it was peace time. Under those conditions, any decent commander would have won.

On 11/5/2017 at 2:44 PM, LionoftheWest said:

Robert's Rebellion - was able to beat Eddard to King's Landing and in a matter of hours secure control over a city of about half a million or so (that's the numbers I've heard at least)

This is the one I disagree the most with you. I don't see how the sack of King's Landing can't be presented as an achievement. Even if we ignore of the fact that it was yet another victory obtained through betrayal (it seems it's the only kind Tywin is capable of) and that there wasn't even an opposing army (it was just a slaughter of civilians),

All Tywin had to do is seize the control of the city to deliver it to Robert and start his reign in good graces. It was the easiest think to do, given that the mad king decided to open the gates. Instead, his army started raping and pillaging the capital of the kingdom, demonstrating that he was incapable of controlling his men. He is still hated in the city decades afterwards. Then, he "forgets" to give instructions regarding Elia Martell, gaining the permanent hate of the Dornish. And instead of delivering the Targaryen children to Robert, or at the very least give them a clean death, he has them indecently brutalized.

What should have been an efficient bloodless operation, became a bloody mess and a PR distaster due to Tywin's inability to control his men, give precise instructions and the use of mindless savages to do his dirty work.

On 11/5/2017 at 2:44 PM, LionoftheWest said:

Greyjoy Rebellion - was taken by suprised but was with Robert to capture Pyke, but I wouldn't know what his exact role was

I don't think we've been told that Tywin being at Pyke.

On 11/5/2017 at 2:44 PM, LionoftheWest said:

War of Five Kings - places the right people in place for most of the time, keeps the Westerlands together and pulling in the same direction (so that even while defeats and opposition rises there's no dissent while the Starks' kingdom crumbles no matter how many victories Robb gets) and is prudent enough to keep his army active and in the field in Harrenhall rather than panicing when Jamie's host is gone.

Tywin's track record in the war is not precisely good. Robb fools him at the Green Fork, where he only realizes that he had been fighting only half of Robb's army well after the battle is ended. Then Edmure defeats him with a smaller force in the Fords. And only when he joins the Tyrells he is able to obtain a real victory, where Garlan and Loras are clearly the ones leading the army.

Placing the right people in place? He gave Jaime half of the army in the West and he was soundly defeated. He had his cousin Stafford recruit another army, and was obliterated at Oxcross. He left Amory Lorch in front of Harrenhal and he lost it. He choose two sellsword companies to fight for him, and both turned to the other side at the worst possible moments.

Perhaps the really good appointment that Tywin has made is sending Tyrion to act as a Hand in King's Landing. Considering that a few hours before he had sent him to a likely death in a battle flank he expected to crumble, it's hard to consider this much more luck than cunning. But anyway, this wasn't a military appointment.

 

In short, as I see it, Tywin is a great politician and and excellent propagandist, but he hasn't proved to be a good battle commander at all. He is respected, but mostly not out of loyalty but out of fear (even, or specially, among his children). And in the long term, his brutal and hard-line approach usually ends up causing more problems than it solves.

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4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

@LionoftheWest

I think you exaggerate the actual "accomplishments" of Tywin. I'll go one by one:

Sounds good, I'm not afraid to defend my position.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I don't recall any record of acts of "bravery" done by Tywin in the war. In fact, the world book says that in the war he fought "in the retinue of the king’s young heir, Aerys", which is another way of saying that he was always as far from danger as possible and he only saw fighting from afar.

I kind of assume that the facts that he "fought" means he traded blows with the enemy. I see no reason to think that he essentially only watched the fighting for a distance when his younger brother himself made a name as a warrior in that very war. Or that Tywin was apparently already knighted, as I recall, by the end of that war.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I agree that Tywin had all these qualities you mentioned. But at the end, what he did was to suddenly attack his father's bannermen against his father's wishes. His victory wasn't due to commanding abilities, but to betrayal. The Tarbecks and Reynes were unprepared not because Tywin's cunning manoeuvring or deceptive movements, but because it was peace time. Under those conditions, any decent commander would have won.

Not even close. Tywin demanded that the Reynes and Tarbecks show up at Casterly Rock and they refused and renouced their oaths to the Lannisters and even before that the conflict between Tywin and them had been building. It should not come as a suprise that Tywin made a move. Only after the Tarbecks and Reynes had renounced the Lannisters did Tywin move and while he managed his camapaign well and ordely, his enemies bumbed around essrntially. There had not been "peace times" in the Westerlands since Tytos became lord and since Tarbecks and Reynes had been engaged in local wars already I see no reason to think they would be of a peaceful outlook.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

This is the one I disagree the most with you. I don't see how the sack of King's Landing can't be presented as an achievement. Even if we ignore of the fact that it was yet another victory obtained through betrayal (it seems it's the only kind Tywin is capable of) and that there wasn't even an opposing army (it was just a slaughter of civilians),

Except that Eddard Stark tells Robert there were thousands of Targaryen loyalists inside the walls so there were certainly defenders there to fight. Tywin was, again, more creative and organized the conquest of the city so well that he could take it in a matter of hours. But I shall agree that deception was used.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

All Tywin had to do is seize the control of the city to deliver it to Robert and start his reign in good graces. It was the easiest think to do, given that the mad king decided to open the gates. Instead, his army started raping and pillaging the capital of the kingdom, demonstrating that he was incapable of controlling his men. He is still hated in the city decades afterwards. Then, he "forgets" to give instructions regarding Elia Martell, gaining the permanent hate of the Dornish. And instead of delivering the Targaryen children to Robert, or at the very least give them a clean death, he has them indecently brutalized.

When there are thousands of Targaryen loyalists inside the city, its' not at as easy as you may think. Add to that the size of the city and the fact that there was no reason for Tywin to antagonize his own men for the sake of a enemy city and there's clear reason as to why he wouldn't try to force his men to not loot a city they are capturing. Not to mention the need for speed least Aerys escapes or gets around to kill Jamie etc.

Also Tywin is hated in the city about a decade and a half afterwards, not decades.

And what harm has the hate of Dorne done to Tywin? I can't recall a single thing they managed to do to him, only that they watched, waited and did nothing.

In the last thing I agree that it would have been better to just arrest the Targaryens and deliver them to Robert. A captive capital and royal city would have been proof of fealty enough.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

What should have been an efficient bloodless operation, became a bloody mess and a PR distaster due to Tywin's inability to control his men, give precise instructions and the use of mindless savages to do his dirty work.

I really fail to see how a city garrisoned by thousands of Targaryen loyalists would have been a bloodless conquest.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

I don't think we've been told that Tywin being at Pyke.

The World Book tells us that:

"With his Wardens of the West and North beside him, Robert forced landings on Pyke, Great Wyk, Harlaw and Orkmont, and cut his way across the isles with steel and fire."

The World book, The Iron Islands, the Old Way and the New.

We know that Robert and Eddard was at Pyke so with the mentioning of the Warden of the West next to the Warden of the North I will assume it means that they were both with Robert at Pyke.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Tywin's track record in the war is not precisely good. Robb fools him at the Green Fork, where he only realizes that he had been fighting only half of Robb's army well after the battle is ended. Then Edmure defeats him with a smaller force in the Fords. And only when he joins the Tyrells he is able to obtain a real victory, where Garlan and Loras are clearly the ones leading the army.

And Tywin defeats Robb's infantry and much more than half of it, then Tywin takes a superior position at Harrenhall to keep himself active in the war and be ready to counter both Robb in the Riverlands as well as the Baratheon brothers should they attack King's Landing, allowing him to burn out several of the Riverlords from their seats after Edmure divides his forces. Half of Stannis army switch sides when the Lannister-Tyrell army strikes and Robb's kingdom crumbles around him. Tywin stands strong in charge of a unified Westerland army despite all the setbacks that comes against him and is ready to either create openings or capitalize on them when they appear.

Also I never got the impression that Garlan and Loras lead the army. I get the impression that they lead the charge on Stannis but that's minor command when compared to overall command of an army.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Placing the right people in place? He gave Jaime half of the army in the West and he was soundly defeated. He had his cousin Stafford recruit another army, and was obliterated at Oxcross. He left Amory Lorch in front of Harrenhal and he lost it. He choose two sellsword companies to fight for him, and both turned to the other side at the worst possible moments.

And he put Tyrion to manage King's Landing and regardless of the dread situation for a while all his subcommanders proved loyal to Lord Lannister. While Edmure was uninformed of the plan rtobb had and while Roose was undercutting Robb, Tywin's team pulled in one direction. Also two sellsword companies? I only know of the Brave Companions, not to mention that I never saw that it was a serious effort by Tywin to hold Harrenhall when he left a skeleton garrison behind.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

Perhaps the really good appointment that Tywin has made is sending Tyrion to act as a Hand in King's Landing. Considering that a few hours before he had sent him to a likely death in a battle flank he expected to crumble, it's hard to consider this much more luck than cunning. But anyway, this wasn't a military appointment.

It was both a military, administrative and political command. Wars are more than just ordering soldiers around and so it was a military command, at the least in part.

4 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

In short, as I see it, Tywin is a great politician and and excellent propagandist, but he hasn't proved to be a good battle commander at all. He is respected, but mostly not out of loyalty but out of fear (even, or specially, among his children). And in the long term, his brutal and hard-line approach usually ends up causing more problems than it solves.

And in short I see him as a great overall leader, for as you may know, battle command, also known as tactical skill, is just one part of warfare and in fact a secondary skill for the grand leader of a major faction at war. Strategic considerations are in my opinion more important.

House Lannisters' current problems can mostly be attributed to his children inability to rule. Cersei is not falling into a pit dug by Tywin but into a pit she's digged herself.

I have also not seen any hint that fear is the prime motivator for Tywin. Plenty of people refuse him and Ser Swyft calls Jamie, his favored son, a fool to his face without any kind of punishment. That's Tywin would rely only on fear is something which I see very little evidence for in the texts. Now that's not to say that it isn't a part of it, but it certainly isn't the only thing he got going.

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On 5/11/2017 at 9:58 AM, The Sunland Lord said:

Petyr Baelish was smart to show late on Battle Of The Bastards with young Arryn's army, does that make him a good commander? 

Keep show stuff in the show forum please it has no bearing here. Although keeping the Vale forces out of the war while everyone else kills each other and blows their winter stores on war seems some sound military strategy to me. After all I am sure that he picked up a thing or two from the Blackfish in his time at Riverrun.

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3 hours ago, Lord Wraith said:

Keep show stuff in the show forum please it has no bearing here. Although keeping the Vale forces out of the war while everyone else kills each other and blows their winter stores on war seems some sound military strategy to me. After all I am sure that he picked up a thing or two from the Blackfish in his time at Riverrun.

Yeah sorry, I'm new and still adjusting here.  

 

 

 

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A bunch of my argument is going to be pure speculation, but here's how I see their various strengths and weaknesses:

 
Tywin's greatest strategic asset in a strictly military standpoint is his logistical expertise; to paraphrase a certain cavalry commander, his men get to the field of battle first and with more material than their enemies, and they tend to be of consistently high quality. His defeat of the Reynes and Tarbecks was partially fueled by the simple fact that his forces were organized and formed quicker than the Reynes could properly counter, and we've all heard some speculation about how suspicious his quick deployment into the Riverlands looks. Nonetheless, this is a huge advantage of his, and it makes sense, considering he controls a kingdom that's got the men and material to maintain such a logistical nightmare of a force. His other great strategic weapon is his political skills, though it could be argued his clearly two-faced nature in regards to certain mores causes far more headaches than necessary, and he clearly fails to evaluate adequate lieutenants in this area.
 
Stannis seems like the classic high-discipline conventional commander.  He doesn't seem all that electrifying in battle from what we've heard and seen, but he does seem a very unforgiving opponent who's memorized the classic rules of warfare. His logistical skills seem to lag behind Tywin strictly because the Old Lion has that nailed down, but unlike Tywin, he seems to have fewer seemingly inexcusable battlefield defeats; unless you bring more men and material, he'll probably beat you. And he seems to have a decent judge of character working in his favor, at least where it matters most, with Davos as his hand and his willingness to listen to Jon Snow in unfamiliar territory. He also seems to be an expert in mixing naval and infantry forces,a rare talent for the setting. Like Tywin, his skills are perfectly suited to his homeland; not as rich as the Westerlands, but with a proud and stubborn military ethos.
 
Ned is the one we haven't gotten any POV shots of when it comes to his actual battle command; we only have the after-reports and the tales of his son and best friend's victories. And since both Rob and Robert seemed to excel in high mobility and adaptive tactics, maybe we should see that as Ned's strength as well. He may be the best *tactical* commander of the this trio, since he seems to have a flawless battle record like his son and came out on top in two separate wars. He also might be the best wartime commander when it comes to managing the leadership; the North being so vast and diverse, a skilled hand at managing interpersonal politics and organization is key, and while it's partially thanks to the North containing great POV characters,  we do see a large number of skilled commanders operating in areas that suit their skills under Rob, and that apparatus was under Ned's control previously. His biggest strategic weakness is clearly that his political skills are specialized for the North, and only the North.
 
In short, Tywin probably has the biggest strategic advantage, Ned has the greatest tactical skills, and Stannis is probably the most balanced of the three. However, it's impossible to tell who's actually best. All we know for sure is that when all three were allied, you could predict their side would win, and that two of them were betrayed by their political skills in kingslanding, while one has had a near perpetual handicap because of his brusque nature.

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Tywin i feel is being underrated as a tactician and is actually at least on par with Ned. As a strategist and in terms of pure intelligence, on the other hand, he takes this one hands down. 

Stannis i think is by far the best tactician of the 3.

Ned i think is on par with Tywin as a tactician but probably the least gifted at strategy. 

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On 5/14/2017 at 7:50 AM, The Sunland Lord said:

Yeah sorry, I'm new and still adjusting here.  

 

 

 

No worries, just don't the mods to come down hard on ya.

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I'd say none of the above.  Or perhaps all mediocre?  

Tywin didn't face an army during Robert's rebellion, then he failed miserably against Robb Stark...resorting to bribes and treachery (and Robb's stupidity) to win.  

Stannis sat in an impregnable castle for a year against an army with arguable the weakest leader in the seven kingdoms.  He did well with the navy in Baylon's rebellion...but not a huge win since the battle was won in the keep.  

Ned was ok, wasn't defeated but didn't do much.  "Competent" is the word that comes to mind.  Ned is a better leader than Stannis, inspires more loyalty in my opinion.

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Tywin isn't a commander, he is a steward. He is good at ruling and maintaining some high level of prosperity in the realm when he was the hand of the King (Aerys).

Eddard is neither good nor good imo, but he won't be remembered as a commander.

Stannis is the obvious winner.

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