Dukhasinov

Rob Stark was really not that great of a General

60 posts in this topic

   There has been a lot written about Rob Stark`s tactical genius compared to his strategic and political incompetence, but I submit that his tactical brilliance is very much overrated. It seems to me that he won tactical victories because he looked for the easiest tactical opportunities regardless of whether or not they promises strategic gains. I`m not going to touch on his disastrous marriage or his foolish release of Theon Greyjoy, because it`s been gone over and gone over, and I think everyone is familiar with it. It`s also very popular to compare Rob Stark favorably with Tywin Lannister, on account of Rob outmaneuvering him so many times before his ultimate defeat. However, Rob and his cause were eventually destroyed by Tywin`s machinations. It doesn`t matter how many jabs you land of you`re knocked out by a hard right in the third round. Tywin failed to pin Rob down because Rob`s audacity and extremely risky maneuvers were hard to predict, especially for a seasoned and cautious commander like Tywin Lannister. If Rob and Tywin were playing Street Fighter, Tywin would be stringing together combos, while Rob would be furiously buttonmashing (Probably with Blanca). Rob`s sending his cavalry off to relieve Riverrun while sending his foot on a delaying action against Tywin came as such a surprise because it was so foolish. If Roose Bolton`s withdrawal in good order from the Green Fork had turned into a route, it would have been a complete massacre, without the Northern horse to screen the withdrawal. And then he continued to push his luck by keeping his force divided, leaving Roose Bolton to his own devices while taking his cavalry and newly acquired Riverrun men to raid the Westerlands. And while drawing Tywin away from Harrenhal by attacking the Westerlands was a good move, there doesn`t seem to be any evidence that Rob instructed Roose to take Harrenhal. It looks like Bolton did that on his own initiative. Also, while everyone (including Rob and the Blackfish) is quick to jump down Edmure Tully`s throat for blocking Tywin`s progress into Rob`s trap, that was entirely Rob`s fault for not informing Edmure of his overall plan. This was a very easily avoidable mistake, to. If your plan is to draw your enemy across a river and then trap and destroy him, the commander you have in the position to block the crossing should definitely know what`s going on, so he doesn`t, you know, fuck up your plan.

   Rob was brave, audacious, and clever, but he was very reckless, and also very lucky. If his foot had been routed at the Green Fork, (risking the annihilation of more than half his army) or if he himself had been killed storming the Crag (A castle without a substantial garrison or high ranking hostages, and so strategically useless) his career could have ended even more quickly than it did. In this, he was very similar to George Armstrong Custer. Custer`s career lasted a lot longer than Jon Stark`s, but his reckless daring finally got the better of him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Strikes when the enemy is unprepared (Oxcross), captures a key enemy commander (Jaime Lannister), uses the terrain to defeat enemy armies, steals enemy resources... And oh, he also wins battles.

Sounds like a pretty good war leader to me.

He isn't a good politician, though. But "not that great of a general"? For me, he is right up there with the best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, King Merrett I Frey said:

Strikes when the enemy is unprepared (Oxcross), captures a key enemy commander (Jaime Lannister), uses the terrain to defeat enemy armies, steals enemy resources... And oh, he also wins battles.

Leaves his capital poorly defended, does not explain his orders properly to his subordinates, has frequent mutinies and leaves the largest part of his military sitting on their thumbs for most of the war. 

 

Quote

Sounds like a pretty good war leader to me.

He sounds like an excellent Brigadier or Colonel rather than a good General or War commander. The morale and actions of the men directly with him were top notch, as was their respect for him. Unfortunately he was a poor war leader, which saw every part of the army that he was not directly with, Edmure at Riverrun, Roose at the Trident and Rodrick at WInterfell collapse. A commander is not just worrying about his own ass in a war, he has to coordinate others as well and Robb, for a variety of reasons, failed on this part. 

Edited by Bernie Mac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Bernie Mac said:

He sounds like an excellent Brigadier or Colonel rather than a good General or War commander. The morale and actions of the men directly with him were top notch, as was their respect for him. Unfortunately he was a poor war leader, which saw every part of the army that he was not directly with, Edmure at Riverrun, Roose at the Trident and Rodrick at WInterfell collapse. A commander is not just worrying about his own ass in a war, he has to coordinate others as well and Robb, for a variety of reasons, failed on this part. 

Edmure actually performed well at Riverrun, as far as his standing orders went. He blocked the enemy`s movement at a key choke point. The failure lay in Rob for not communicating his intentions to Edmure. Roose also performed well with his lopsided force. He met the enemy at the Green Fork and withdrew in good order. Later, he used guile and deception to seize control of Harrenhal. It seems to me that after Riverrun, Rob was in an excellent position to challenge Tywin directly. He had broken and scattered Jaime`s host, and swelled his own ranks with the troops from Riverrun and the Twins.The fresh levies at Oxcross would have taken months to work up to combat readiness and actually get into the field. If he had marched on King`s Landing, he would have put Tywin in a VERY difficult position, facing two opposing armies coming from different directions. Tywin would probably have been forced to withdraw into King`s Landing and prepare to defend the walls.

Instead, Rob left Roose Bolton in charge of his foot at the Trident, and took his cavalry and Tully levies WEST, FARTHER from King`s Landing, to ravage the Westerlands and prevent the Lannisters from raising additional troops. So, I guess he`s a bit of Hannibal, in addition to Custer.

   Looking at the big picture, he lost track of his original objective (reaching King`s Landing and securing the release/avenging of his family) and allowed his followers to declare him King in the North, which changed the game completely. If he had remained an aggrieved lord instead of a secessionist pretender, he could have supported the claim of Renly or Stannis and strategically encircled King`s Landing, which is the ultimate objective. Instead, he tried to instigate an alliance with the Seastone Chair to strategically encircle Casterly Rock, which, while that would have been nice, would not have been a decisive end to the war.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Would you say that a lawyer who never lost a case was not that great of a lawyer?

Or a physician who never lost a patient was not that great of a doctor?

Tywin Lannister, one of the greatest generals Westeros probably ever had, could not beat this kid. 

Robb had natural raw talent. What he lacked was experience. You can't blame him for being his age and having grown up during a time of peace. Given twenty more years, Robb would have outpaced even Tywin.

Edited by Lady Blizzardborn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First Tywin had very little to do with Robb's defeat. It was Roose Bolton and Walder Frey who did most of the work and they did it for their own own reasons. With Theon delivering the major blow that left him vulnerable.

Second, Roose had two fallback positions at the Green Fork, the Twins and the Neck, his purpose was to keep Tywin busy. In truth he didn't really have to engage him. And Jaime's troops were vulnerable. Both parts of his army had good odds in achieving their objectives. And then he basically obliterated Jaime's army.

For Tywin to abandon Harenhal meant abandoning the throne and salvaging what he could. That's tapping out.

But yes, Martin wrote him winning every battle, pinning his numericall superior opponent and having him employ the more elaborate tactics, because he meant for him to suck.

Seriously the only two commanders who went beyond direct confrontations, are Robb and Euron with Stannis on occasion. The others' tactics are rudimentary and their startegy more about prestige than tangible strategic benefits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Dukhasinov said:

Edmure actually performed well at Riverrun, as far as his standing orders went.

Well yes and no. I don't see a problem with him going after Tywin, he possibly saved the injured Robb's life. What he did do which was a pointless decision was move Tallhart and the 400 Northern troops to Roose's 10k. It makes no sense. just weakens the Twins should they be attacked.

Really GRRM needed Tallhart and his men away from Walder so he could plan the Red Wedding. So made someone do an act that makes little sense in the here and now to justify something he is planning ahead. (Similar to how Tyrion spends all his time focusing on the chain to stop ships when Renly is the main threat and the Redwynes are neutralised). 

1 hour ago, Dukhasinov said:

Instead, Rob left Roose Bolton in charge of his foot at the Trident, and took his cavalry and Tully levies WEST, FARTHER from King`s Landing, to ravage the Westerlands and prevent the Lannisters from raising additional troops. So, I guess he`s a bit of Hannibal, in addition to Custer.

He successfully does that in what, the first quarter of ACOK? Rather than head East and press his advantage or further box Tywin in he instead wastes his time in the West knowing full well that he does not have the strength to take either Lannisport or the Rock. 

As I said, excellent Brigadier poor General. There is no shame in that, he was only 16. He could very easily, and likely, grown as a great commander but his mistakes in the war of the five kings cost the North dearly. 

 

1 hour ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Would you say that a lawyer who never lost a case was not that great of a lawyer?

He did though. He was the Commander of the North and the North lost many battles during the War of the Five Kings and fell under his leadership. 

A better analogy would be a lawyer who makes some excellent speeches and still see's his client receive life imprisonment. 

1 hour ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Robb had natural raw talent. What he lacked was experience. You can't blame him for being his age and having grown up during a time of peace. Given twenty more years, Robb would have outpaced even Tywin.

That is quite possible. But he didnt, he died and the realm(s) and armies he commanded were soundly beaten while he was alive. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is why I don't judge competency based on technical minutiae. You can argue back and forth all day on what constitutes good military strategy and whatnot, but the only thing that provides is evidence of the author's military proficiency. The characters are limited to what GRRM can imagine. The only thing that matters here is what he intended, and I think in Robb's case, it's that he's a great general.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

<snip

He did though. He was the Commander of the North and the North lost many battles during the War of the Five Kings and fell under his leadership. 

A better analogy would be a lawyer who makes some excellent speeches and still see's his client receive life imprisonment. 

That is quite possible. But he didnt, he died and the realm(s) and armies he commanded were soundly beaten while he was alive. 

I was referring to the battles he personally led. Battles led by other "generals" of the North and Riverlands do not affect Robb's stats as a battle commander. Part of the Robb Stark inspiration was Edward IV, another young king with no experience who won all of his battles. 

Which makes little difference to the argument. It is not remotely fair or even reasonable to compare the record of a 14/15 year old boy with no previous battle experience to the great adult generals of the real world or even the story world. Of course the rest of them did better...they had time to learn from their mistakes and improve. It's like having a discussion about great race horses of history and throwing in a horse who had a short career due to a tragic injury and saying he sucked.

Edited by Lady Blizzardborn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Dukhasinov said:

   There has been a lot written about Rob Stark`s tactical genius compared to his strategic and political incompetence, but I submit that his tactical brilliance is very much overrated. It seems to me that he won tactical victories because he looked for the easiest tactical opportunities regardless of whether or not they promises strategic gains. I`m not going to touch on his disastrous marriage or his foolish release of Theon Greyjoy, because it`s been gone over and gone over, and I think everyone is familiar with it. It`s also very popular to compare Rob Stark favorably with Tywin Lannister, on account of Rob outmaneuvering him so many times before his ultimate defeat. However, Rob and his cause were eventually destroyed by Tywin`s machinations. It doesn`t matter how many jabs you land of you`re knocked out by a hard right in the third round. Tywin failed to pin Rob down because Rob`s audacity and extremely risky maneuvers were hard to predict, especially for a seasoned and cautious commander like Tywin Lannister. If Rob and Tywin were playing Street Fighter, Tywin would be stringing together combos, while Rob would be furiously buttonmashing (Probably with Blanca). Rob`s sending his cavalry off to relieve Riverrun while sending his foot on a delaying action against Tywin came as such a surprise because it was so foolish. If Roose Bolton`s withdrawal in good order from the Green Fork had turned into a route, it would have been a complete massacre, without the Northern horse to screen the withdrawal. And then he continued to push his luck by keeping his force divided, leaving Roose Bolton to his own devices while taking his cavalry and newly acquired Riverrun men to raid the Westerlands. And while drawing Tywin away from Harrenhal by attacking the Westerlands was a good move, there doesn`t seem to be any evidence that Rob instructed Roose to take Harrenhal. It looks like Bolton did that on his own initiative. Also, while everyone (including Rob and the Blackfish) is quick to jump down Edmure Tully`s throat for blocking Tywin`s progress into Rob`s trap, that was entirely Rob`s fault for not informing Edmure of his overall plan. This was a very easily avoidable mistake, to. If your plan is to draw your enemy across a river and then trap and destroy him, the commander you have in the position to block the crossing should definitely know what`s going on, so he doesn`t, you know, fuck up your plan.

   Rob was brave, audacious, and clever, but he was very reckless, and also very lucky. If his foot had been routed at the Green Fork, (risking the annihilation of more than half his army) or if he himself had been killed storming the Crag (A castle without a substantial garrison or high ranking hostages, and so strategically useless) his career could have ended even more quickly than it did. In this, he was very similar to George Armstrong Custer. Custer`s career lasted a lot longer than Jon Stark`s, but his reckless daring finally got the better of him.

I haven't read the full block of text above, but I think I largely agree with the overall sentiment. I don't think Robb was a particularly good general. I think the Blackfish's advice was very important to his success. Yes he was bold, and yes he was willing to take risks. They paid off.

But a great general - no, I would not say that. Not nearly in Eddard's much more measured and strategically capable league. And Eddard does not appear to have had any more battle experience at the start of Robert's Rebellion than Robb had at the start of the WotFK, as far as I can see. Sure, he was about 5 years older, so maybe that made the difference. But if I had to pick a general to lead the North into war, I would pick the 20 year old Eddard over the 15 year old Robb every time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking back he did seem overhyped by the narrative. His plan to split his forces and thereby defeat an unsuspecting Jaime was a smart move, but beyond that, nothing he did was either successful or that noteworthy. His plan to lure Tywin back and defeat him with cavalry superiority may have worked, but plans are rarely 100% successful and Tywin isn't a lemming to walk into a trap. His navigation around the Golden Tooth was complete authorial fiat ("ah yes, this impenetrable natural defense that has worked for thousands of years is undone by a goat track no one knew of") and the Lannister uncle running the third army was a complete and utter moron to not have any scouts or defenses posted. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

I was referring to the battles he personally led. Battles led by other "generals" of the North and Riverlands do not affect Robb's stats as a battle commander.

OP is clearly talking about overall command. His leadership of the North (and then the Riverlands) in their war. Generals and War commanders are, generally speaking, in charge of more than just their individual platoon. Robb was the North's war commander; he was responsible for his subordinates actions. That is what command details. Weak commanders give vague instructions (Edmure) no instructions (Roose) or leave subordinates undermanned (Rodrik). 

As I said before, Robb is an excellent Brigadier or Colonel, but a pretty average (at times inept) Commander. 

And of course Robb looks fantastic in the battle field compared to his subordinates. Robb divides the North's military into two, him taking the cream of the crop (the cavalry) and taking on the 15k with Jaime (who has a smaller cavalry) while having Roose face a larger force with 7k cavalry to his 500. Is anyone really surprised that Robb's force was the more successful of the two in that situation?

 

It should be noted that Robb heads West with around double the cavalry that he leaves Roose and Edmure to face Tywin, any other factions and generally keep the peace in the Riverlands. He limits their options and capabilities while he can target undermannned castles and farmers while avoiding the likes of the Golden Tooth, Casterly Rock and Lannisport .   Not only does his magic direwolf help him but he automatically takes the cream of the crop leaving all three of his subordinates in a weaker position. 

 

Quote

 

Part of the Robb Stark inspiration was Edward IV, another young king with no experience who won all of his battles. 

King Robb lost battles. King Robb does not have to be present at his capital for its loss to count as a defeat. 

Quote

Which makes little difference to the argument. It is not remotely fair or even reasonable to compare the record of a 14/15 year old boy with no previous battle experience to the great adult generals of the real world or even the story world.

He was 15/16. And this is a conversation about commanders, which Robb was one. There is not a separate thread for jnr Commanders, but you are more than willing to start one. 

No one is denying that Robb was young, just like Daeron I was young, Robert and Ned were young and Tywin was young. I'd argue all fared better in their exploits at an age comparable to the young Wolf.  Robb is not alone in being a young commander in charge. 

 

Edited by Bernie Mac

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If Tywin hadn't underestimated Robb, knowing that the Starks could realistically not hope to be more than a nuisance in the grand scheme of things, considering their numbers, Robb would have been dealt with quickly and decisively.

But he was preoccupied with the death of Robert and the true dangers posed by Stannis and Renly. They had claims to the Iron Throne and the power and reputation to actually gain a lot of support for their campaigns.

Had Tywin had the leisure time to actually put himself in Robb's shoes and think everything through he may have seen through his ruses and properly predicted his stratagems. But then, he had grown and apparently forgotten how he himself acted in Robb's age.

Robb was able to use surprise and the terrain to his advantage. That was the key to victory in all his battle. Surprise won the day in the Whispering Wood, at Riverrun, and at Oxcross.

Aside from that, there is little speaking in favor of Robb's abilities as a general. For instance, he doesn't come up with a unique way to make use of his archers, cavalry, etc. during a pitched battle against a bigger army, or something of that sort. That is the kind of thing characterizes a truly great general.

Still, using your knowledge of the terrain and your ability to be where the enemy does not expect you is a pretty strong feat. It usually is what decides battles. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

OP is clearly talking about overall command. His leadership of the North (and then the Riverlands) in their war. Generals and War commanders are, generally speaking, in charge of more than just their individual platoon. Robb was the North's war commander; he was responsible for his subordinates actions. That is what command details. Weak commanders give vague instructions (Edmure) no instructions (Roose) or leave subordinates undermanned (Rodrik). 

As I said before, Robb is an excellent Brigadier or Colonel, but a pretty average (at times inept) Commander. 

And of course Robb looks fantastic in the battle field compared to his subordinates. Robb divides the North's military into two, him taking the cream of the crop (the cavalry) and taking on the 15k with Jaime (who has a smaller cavalry) while having Roose face a larger force with 7k cavalry to his 500. Is anyone really surprised that Robb's force was the more successful of the two in that situation?

It should be noted that Robb heads West with around double the cavalry that he leaves Roose and Edmure to face Tywin, any other factions and generally keep the peace in the Riverlands. He limits their options and capabilities while he can target undermannned castles and farmers while avoiding the likes of the Golden Tooth, Casterly Rock and Lannisport .   Not only does his magic direwolf help him but he automatically takes the cream of the crop leaving all three of his subordinates in a weaker position. 

King Robb lost battles. King Robb does not have to be present at his capital for its loss to count as a defeat. 

He was 15/16. And this is a conversation about commanders, which Robb was one. There is not a separate thread for jnr Commanders, but you are more than willing to start one. 

No one is denying that Robb was young, just like Daeron I was young, Robert and Ned were young and Tywin was young. I'd argue all fared better in their exploits at an age comparable to the young Wolf.  Robb is not alone in being a young commander in charge. 

 

OP is clearly comparing a man with 40+ years experience to a kid with no experience when he talks about Robb and Tywin playing Street Fighter. It is not an accurate or fair comparison.

That's somewhat subjective, don't you think? There are those who would say that weak commanders micromanage, don't trust their subordinate officers to think on their feat, don't allow for unforeseeable circumstances requiring a change in plans, etc. Leaving someone understaffed depends on circumstances too. No one can plan for every single possible contingency. Any general who tried to do that would spend all his time planning for contingencies and none of his time actually leading. The ideal would be something between extremes. No general is ideal before he has any experience.

Robb is 14 at the start of the books. AGOT lasts about six months. ACOK another six months. That gets him up to 15. Then add another six months, roughly, for ASOS. That's still 15. So we're both right.

Ned was 20 and Robert was 21, and they had Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully (both seasoned veterans) who would have carried the bulk of the generalship at the start of the war. Ned and Robert didn't take over leading until later. Ned and Robert also had half the realm with them, and were only fighting one enemy.

Tywin's first taste of warfare, that we know of, was when he was 18 during the War of the Ninepenny Kings. His uncle Ser Jason was leading, not him. It helps to watch others lead before you have to do it yourself, and to know what war is like before you have to fight one. It wasn't until the year after this that he slaughtered the Reynes and Tarbecks. If we count the Rains of Castamere as Tywin's first exercise in generalship, he starts at 19.

So all of your examples have 4-6 years on Robb, years during which a boy can learn and mature quite a bit, as well as possibly see some real battle, and one of them (probably the best one) had previous battle experience before he started leading armies. Do you still not see the disparity?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

If Tywin hadn't underestimated Robb, knowing that the Starks could realistically not hope to be more than a nuisance in the grand scheme of things, considering their numbers, Robb would have been dealt with quickly and decisively.

But he was preoccupied with the death of Robert and the true dangers posed by Stannis and Renly. They had claims to the Iron Throne and the power and reputation to actually gain a lot of support for their campaigns.

Had Tywin had the leisure time to actually put himself in Robb's shoes and think everything through he may have seen through his ruses and properly predicted his stratagems. But then, he had grown and apparently forgotten how he himself acted in Robb's age.

Robb was able to use surprise and the terrain to his advantage. That was the key to victory in all his battle. Surprise won the day in the Whispering Wood, at Riverrun, and at Oxcross.

Aside from that, there is little speaking in favor of Robb's abilities as a general. For instance, he doesn't come up with a unique way to make use of his archers, cavalry, etc. during a pitched battle against a bigger army, or something of that sort. That is the kind of thing characterizes a truly great general.

Still, using your knowledge of the terrain and your ability to be where the enemy does not expect you is a pretty strong feat. It usually is what decides battles. 

I will say that a recent discussion on the Riverlands strength had me tick off the Lannister's victories in the WotFK, and frankly, if Robb had NOT dealt them some defeats, that would have had a ridiculousness in its own right. Because then you would have had 35k Westerman smashing the Riverlands border guard at the Golden Tooth, smashing the Riverlands main host at Riverrun, decimating the Riverlands forces along the borders, defeating the Northmen at the Green Fork and defeating the Northmen at the Whispering Wood.

Basically allowing Tywin to defeat two other powerful kingdoms with a combined strength significantly exceeding his own, without suffering any major losses himself. That would have made for a rather one sided and frustrating story.

Basically, Tywin marching into a foreign territory, and smashing a kingdom with a strength not far below his own without suffering any losses, and then sitting with basically his full starting army undiminished, biding his time on foreign territory, only to defeat another kingdom's fresh armies.

Just wouldn't have worked. Why was Tywin not suffering ambushes and raids from the Riverlands on whose home turf he was? Why was his forces not diminishing due to desertion, sickness and other common issues the way all other armies appear to suffer if they are camped in foreign territory? Why were his supply lines never in danger?

Jon tells Stannis that the Umbers know every rock and every tree in their territory and would bleed his forces every step of the way, and this despite the Umber's main forces having been anihilated 1500 miles away in the Riverlands. Why is Tywin not suffering similar issues?

Is he supposed to be some superman? Are the Riverlanders supposed to be utter weaklings? It seems to me the Northmen have been rather effective in every southron campaign they have engaged in, and Tywin would have been stupid to underestimate them. And that things went pretty much the way they should have once the Northmen joined the war. It should not have been the upset some saw it as. Certainly if Eddard was leading them, it would have been the expected outcome. He was after all the greatest general of Robert's Rebellion. Winning the war for Robert according to Robert himself.

But that in itself should have earned the Northern forces in general a certain reputation for efficacy and a high threat level.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Robb was able to use surprise and the terrain to his advantage. That was the key to victory in all his battle. Surprise won the day in the Whispering Wood, at Riverrun, and at Oxcross.

Aside from that, there is little speaking in favor of Robb's abilities as a general. For instance, he doesn't come up with a unique way to make use of his archers, cavalry, etc.

Surprise as in the enemy was not expecting it to be possible that Robb to be anywhere near them?

 

6 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

If Tywin hadn't underestimated Robb, knowing that the Starks could realistically not hope to be more than a nuisance in the grand scheme of things, considering their numbers, Robb would have been dealt with quickly and decisively.

But he was preoccupied with the death of Robert and the true dangers posed by Stannis and Renly. They had claims to the Iron Throne and the power and reputation to actually gain a lot of support for their campaigns.

Give me a senario where Tywin beats Robb without having to deal with Roberts brothers.

Tywin needed to take Riverrun so that gos down as it happened.  Tywin moves north to counter the expected attack from the north and vale.

Alternative Options Tywin splits his army into 3 either side of trident and one at Riverrun, which means Robb would have numerical advantage which ever way he came south.

Tywin keeps his whole army at Riverrun in which case he has not subdued the Riverlands and caught between the castle and Robbs whole army while again needing to split his army in 3 because of the terrain.

He moves even further north to face Robb before the neck in which case his rear is exposed to the Vale.

 

Tywin is a mug he was drawn out of Harrenhall to chase Robb when he needed to be in close proximity to KL to guard against Renly/Stannis.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

I will say that a recent discussion on the Riverlands strength had me tick off the Lannister's victories in the WotFK, and frankly, if Robb had NOT dealt them some defeats, that would have had a ridiculousness in its own right. Because then you would have had 35k Westerman smashing the Riverlands border guard at the Golden Tooth, smashing the Riverlands main host at Riverrun, decimating the Riverlands forces along the borders, defeating the Northmen at the Green Fork and defeating the Northmen at the Whispering Wood.

The Riverlands are not united under a single powerful lord and general. The West is. The Riverlords are quarrelsome lot. They suffer the Tullys as their liege lords but they don't respect them the way the Vale respects the Arryns, the North the Starks, or the West the Lannisters.

During the Dance the Riverrun stayed out of the war for half the war or more but the Riverlords rose for Rhaenyra and Aegon II, and killed each over it. And when the Blacks finally consolidated their power they eventually dealt with the Lannister army there. There you see that Jason Lannister and his successors as the generals of the Western army weren't Tywin or Jaime Lannister.

Just as Forrest Frey, Elmo and Kermit Tully, Benjicot and Black Aly Blackwood, etc. aren't their counterparts during the War of the Five Kings.

Numbers are not everything in a war, strategic decisions are important, too.

The Riverlands are weak because Hoster Tully is dying Edmure Tully is not exactly Elmo Tully (who also had to deal with an ailing grandfather during the Dance). The Lannisters attack the Riverlands with all their force while the Riverlords continue to care more about protecting their own lands than to actual marshal an army to defeat the enemy in the field. That way Tywin can (and does) defeat them piece by piece. That even continues after Robb's proclamation. The majority of the Riverlords take their levies and return to their lands. They don't remain at Riverrun and march against Lord Tywin at Harrenhal.

If you have morons commanding an army or allow morons to make the decisions that's what you get. Robb allowed Edmure to send his bannermen home.

18 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Basically allowing Tywin to defeat two other powerful kingdoms with a combined strength significantly exceeding his own, without suffering any major losses himself. That would have made for a rather one sided and frustrating story.

Well, if the Riverlords and Northmen had attacked an undefended/unprepared West they could also have had the same amount of success. If you cannot marshal your armies or properly deploy them against the enemy you lose the war. That is what happened to the West during the Dance and the North during the War of the Five Kings when the Ironborn invaded them.

18 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Basically, Tywin marching into a foreign territory, and smashing a kingdom with a strength not far below his own without suffering any losses, and then sitting with basically his full starting army undiminished, biding his time on foreign territory, only to defeat another kingdom's fresh armies.

Just wouldn't have worked. Why was Tywin not suffering ambushes and raids from the Riverlands on whose home turf he was? Why was his forces not diminishing due to desertion, sickness and other common issues the way all other armies appear to suffer if they are camped in foreign territory? Why were his supply lines never in danger?

Perhaps because he was lucky? Or because that's not the story George wanted to tell? And it is not that he loses no men. He loses some on the Green Fork, and quite a few in the Whispering Wood and Riverrun. And also some during the forced march to Harrenhal. But Tywin is a very competent commander. He enforces discipline, has the coin and supplies to ensure loyalty and dedication to his cause, etc.

Eventually he faces raids, etc. from the Brotherhood without Banners and other rebels in the Riverlands, but you have to keep in mind that he crushes all the official enemies in the places where he holds sway, and the war doesn't exactly last all that long. A couple of months, at best, and most of that time he sits at Harrenhal, being perfectly safe, living off the land and foraging with professional soldiers into other territories. 

If the Riverlords had had a determined leader they could have used the forces they still had to attack those foraging parties (and the outlaws do). But attacking or besieging Harrenhal was completely out of the question.

18 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Jon tells Stannis that the Umbers know every rock and every tree in their territory and would bleed his forces every step of the way, and this despite the Umber's main forces having been anihilated 1500 miles away in the Riverlands. Why is Tywin not suffering similar issues?

See above.

I doubt Jon is correct there about the Umbers. They wouldn't be that much of problem. The trap at the Dreadfort would be the problem. And Jon seems to be smelling that one. But it is not that unlikely that the Umbers would leave this wilding army under Stannis little more than burned land and poisoned wells on their way to the Dreadfort if they hadn't been on board with the attack on the Dreadfort. And chances are that they wouldn't have been.

18 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Is he supposed to be some superman? Are the Riverlanders supposed to be utter weaklings? It seems to me the Northmen have been rather effective in every southron campaign they have engaged in, and Tywin would have been stupid to underestimate them. And that things went pretty much the way they should have once the Northmen joined the war. It should not have been the upset some saw it as. Certainly if Eddard was leading them, it would have been the expected outcome. He was after all the greatest general of Robert's Rebellion. Winning the war for Robert according to Robert himself.

But that in itself should have earned the Northern forces in general a certain reputation for efficacy and a high threat level.

The Northmen under Roderick Dustin pretty much all got themselves killed during the Dance with their ridiculous heroics. They had an effect on the battles they fought in but they were overall not successful. The Fishfeed was very much a Pyrrhic victory, and First Tumbleton was still lost by the Blacks despite the fact that the death Lord Ormund Hightower and his cousin influenced the cause of war and prevented a Green victory.

Cregan Stark didn't fight any battles in the South at all. 

Ned did save Robert's ass at Stoney Sept but the great warrior-general of Robert's Rebellion was Robert, not Ned. 

The reason why Tywin never had any good reason to fear both the North and the Riverlords is that he could always retake the territory they controlled, especially after they came up with that ridiculous independent kingdom idea. Their realm was defenseless against invasion, both by land (Riverlands) and sea (North) as the course of the war showed.

33 minutes ago, elder brother jonothor dar said:

Give me a senario where Tywin beats Robb without having to deal with Roberts brothers.

Easily done. The Reach, Crownlands, Stormlands, and Vale join Tywin in his campaign in the Riverlands.

It is only the real problems of the war - Renly and Stannis - that prevent the Crownlands, Reach, and Stormlands from joining the Hand of the King in the Riverlands. 

Tywin hangs out at Harrenhal as long as he does because he isn't sure whether he should march to KL or against Robb. If Robb had been his only problem he would have marched against Riverrun and had dealt with Robb there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The Riverlands are not united under a single powerful lord and general. The West is. The Riverlords are quarrelsome lot. They suffer the Tullys as their liege lords but they don't respect them the way the Vale respects the Arryns, the North the Starks, or the West the Lannisters.

During the Dance the Riverrun stayed out of the war for half the war or more but the Riverlords rose for Rhaenyra and Aegon II, and killed each over it. And when the Blacks finally consolidated their power they eventually dealt with the Lannister army there. There you see that Jason Lannister and his successors as the generals of the Western army weren't Tywin or Jaime Lannister.

Just as Forrest Frey, Elmo and Kermit Tully, Benjicot and Black Aly Blackwood, etc. aren't their counterparts during the War of the Five Kings.

Numbers are not everything in a war, strategic decisions are important, too.

The Riverlands are weak because Hoster Tully is dying Edmure Tully is not exactly Elmo Tully (who also had to deal with an ailing grandfather during the Dance). The Lannisters attack the Riverlands with all their force while the Riverlords continue to care more about protecting their own lands than to actual marshal an army to defeat the enemy in the field. That way Tywin can (and does) defeat them piece by piece. That even continues after Robb's proclamation. The majority of the Riverlords take their levies and return to their lands. They don't remain at Riverrun and march against Lord Tywin at Harrenhal.

If you have morons commanding an army or allow morons to make the decisions that's what you get. Robb allowed Edmure to send his bannermen home.

Well, if the Riverlords and Northmen had attacked an undefended/unprepared West they could also have had the same amount of success. If you cannot marshal your armies or properly deploy them against the enemy you lose the war. That is what happened to the West during the Dance and the North during the War of the Five Kings when the Ironborn invaded them.

Perhaps because he was lucky? Or because that's not the story George wanted to tell? And it is not that he loses no men. He loses some on the Green Fork, and quite a few in the Whispering Wood and Riverrun. And also some during the forced march to Harrenhal. But Tywin is a very competent commander. He enforces discipline, has the coin and supplies to ensure loyalty and dedication to his cause, etc.

Eventually he faces raids, etc. from the Brotherhood without Banners and other rebels in the Riverlands, but you have to keep in mind that he crushes all the official enemies in the places where he holds sway, and the war doesn't exactly last all that long. A couple of months, at best, and most of that time he sits at Harrenhal, being perfectly safe, living off the land and foraging with professional soldiers into other territories. 

If the Riverlords had had a determined leader they could have used the forces they still had to attack those foraging parties (and the outlaws do). But attacking or besieging Harrenhal was completely out of the question.

See above.

I doubt Jon is correct there about the Umbers. They wouldn't be that much of problem. The trap at the Dreadfort would be the problem. And Jon seems to be smelling that one. But it is not that unlikely that the Umbers would leave this wilding army under Stannis little more than burned land and poisoned wells on their way to the Dreadfort if they hadn't been on board with the attack on the Dreadfort. And chances are that they wouldn't have been.

The Northmen under Roderick Dustin pretty much all got themselves killed during the Dance with their ridiculous heroics. They had an effect on the battles they fought in but they were overall not successful. The Fishfeed was very much a Pyrrhic victory, and First Tumbleton was still lost by the Blacks despite the fact that the death Lord Ormund Hightower and his cousin influenced the cause of war and prevented a Green victory.

Cregan Stark didn't fight any battles in the South at all. 

Ned did save Robert's ass at Stoney Sept but the great warrior-general of Robert's Rebellion was Robert, not Ned. 

The reason why Tywin never had any good reason to fear both the North and the Riverlords is that he could always retake the territory they controlled, especially after they came up with that ridiculous independent kingdom idea. Their realm was defenseless against invasion, both by land (Riverlands) and sea (North) as the course of the war showed.

Easily done. The Reach, Crownlands, Stormlands, and Vale join Tywin in his campaign in the Riverlands.

It is only the real problems of the war - Renly and Stannis - that prevent the Crownlands, Reach, and Stormlands from joining the Hand of the King in the Riverlands. 

Tywin hangs out at Harrenhal as long as he does because he isn't sure whether he should march to KL or against Robb. If Robb had been his only problem he would have marched against Riverrun and had dealt with Robb there.

Tywin's move to the East depended entirely on Jaime's host remaining in place at Riverrun. The moment Jaime was wiped out, Tywin's host was in a terrible position. Enemies to the North (Roose), enemies to the West (Robb and Edmure) and enemies to the South - the Baratheons.

Anyway, this is rehashing old fights, long done and dusted. In the end, the plot went the way George wanted it to go. But like Theons conquest of Winterfell, the good fortune that extricated Tywin out of his quagmire includes a rather long list of plot gifts. Including, but not limited to, Catelyn releasing Jaime (losing Robb a key hostage and the Karstarks), Robb sleeping with Jeyne (and losing the Freys), Bolton being a traitor, Stannis killing Renly with a magical shadow, and so on and so forth.

In the end, that's the way George wanted it to go, but that doesn't make all of it a foregone conclusion from the start, or even entirely plausible in hindsight.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

OP is clearly comparing a man with 40+ years experience to a kid with no experience when he talks about Robb and Tywin playing Street Fighter. It is not an accurate or fair comparison.

OP is talking about Robb's strategies against the only commander he thought he was facing. That is why the comparison always comes up. There is not a single military conversation on this forum that mentions one and not the other in terms of command. Robb being young and inexperienced did not realize that he may well have more than one enemy so focused all his energy on one faction; Tywin's  

44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

That's somewhat subjective, don't you think?

No. OP is talking about command. The majority of his OP is about movement, strategy and leadership. He is not talking about individual battle command but the role of a General (its in the title of the thread). 

What Robb was great at was controlling an individual platoon but as General of the North (and eventually the Riverlands) he was in command of the whole show. This topic is clearly about Robb the General. Robb was not just responsible of the troops that were directly present with him but every one under him. 

 

 

44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

 

There are those who would say that weak commanders micromanage, don't trust their subordinate officers to think on their feat, don't allow for unforeseeable circumstances requiring a change in plans, etc. Leaving someone understaffed depends on circumstances too. No one can plan for every single possible contingency. Any general who tried to do that would spend all his time planning for contingencies and none of his time actually leading. The ideal would be something between extremes. No general is ideal before he has any experience.

Stripping Winterfell of every one but the untrained teenagers is a poor decision when a General goes to war. This is not a case of planning for every single circumstance, this is just common sense. 

He told Roose and the larrgest part of his army to fight Tywin at the Green Fork and then not another objective for half a year. This is not a case of planning for every single objective but just poor strategy. 

He gave Edmure vague instructions and did not clue him into what he was doing when he disappeared to the Westerlands for half a year. Poor communication and general planning. 

Generals with poor delegation, communication and lack of forward thinking will always get exposed. It is just poor command. 

44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Robb is 14 at the start of the books. AGOT lasts about six months. ACOK another six months. That gets him up to 15. Then add another six months, roughly, for ASOS. That's still 15. So we're both right.

Robb is 15 when he goes to war

"Grey Wind was restless too," Robb said. His auburn hair had grown shaggy and unkempt, and a reddish stubble covered his jaw, making him look older than his fifteen years. 

And was actually close to 16 before his first battle

 

"I will be sixteen soon enough," Robb said.
"And you are fifteen now. Fifteen, and leading a host to battle. Can you understand why I might fear, Robb?"
 
He turns 16 in ACOK. Robb, at 14, was not a commander. This is what I disagreed with. 
44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Ned was 20 and Robert was 21,

Ned was born in 263 and war broke out in 282. Ned was very likely still a teenager. A ward with no experience of Leadership or battle (given that the realm had been in peace for the last two decades)

Robb and Ned were in similar positions and both teenagers, though Ned a little older. I did not claim they were exactly the same, but similar. 

44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

 

and they had Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully (both seasoned veterans)

Blackfish, Greatjon, Karstark? Robb was likely surround with just as many experienced warriors given that the North had fought and been victorious in two wars in the last 20 years. 

 

44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

 

 who would have carried the bulk of the generalship at the start of the war.

Hoster was not involved at the start of the war and gets immediately injured in the first battle. 

For Jon Arryn read the Blackfish; both benefited from able counsellors. 

44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

 

Ned and Robert didn't take over leading until later.

Where is that claimed?

44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

 

Ned and Robert also had half the realm with them, and were only fighting one enemy.

Not initially. And of course they had half the realm fighting against them. Robb was facings a smaller percentage of the realm than his father was facing. 

44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Tywin's first taste of warfare, that we know of, was when he was 18 during the War of the Ninepenny Kings. His uncle Ser Jason was leading, not him. It helps to watch others lead before you have to do it yourself, and to know what war is like before you have to fight one. It wasn't until the year after this that he slaughtered the Reynes and Tarbecks. If we count the Rains of Castamere as Tywin's first exercise in generalship, he starts at 19.

Castamere is what I was counting. He, like Robb, was still a teenager. 

44 minutes ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

So all of your examples have 4-6 years on Robb, years during which a boy can learn and mature quite a bit, as well as possibly see some real battle, and one of them (probably the best one) had previous battle experience before he started leading armies. Do you still not see the disparity?

 

I said similar, not exactly the same. And I am not sure your point. This is a conversation about commanders and Robb was one. Pretty much everyone who labels him bad mentions his age and inexperience. No one ignores this but if telling people they can't talk about him as a commander because of his age is redundant. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Tywin's move to the East depended entirely on Jaime's host remaining in place at Riverrun. The moment Jaime was wiped out, Tywin's host was in a terrible position. Enemies to the North (Roose), enemies to the West (Robb and Edmure) and enemies to the South - the Baratheons.

Roose was pretty much broken. That host wasn't really a danger to Tywin. He could easily enough have pursued them and crushed them completely. That he didn't do that was due to the fact that he realized Robb and the cavalry wasn't with Roose at all.

And that it wasn't really necessary. Tywin wasn't on some mad quest to eradicate the Tullys or Starks. He wanted to deal with this uprising so that he could get around to deal with Robert's brothers. Had Tywin captured Robb or Catelyn he most likely wouldn't have killed them. He would have kept them as hostages or demanded some of the younger Stark sons as hostages and then he would have made a peace with them. Even more so while Cersei still had Ned. And with Robb capturing Jaime they could have reached an agreement even more easily.

Tywin himself didn't give shit about Jaime's life, by the way. When he sends Tyrion to KL it is clear that he expects Jaime to die in captivity. The smart way to deal with a hostage situation is to write them off as losses when they are captured. That way you can't be blackmailed. That's how Tywin intended to deal with another Lannister hostage situation back when Lady Tarbeck took those three Lannisters. A man like Tywin doesn't allow himself to be blackmailed. It is a sign of weakness.

9 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Anyway, this is rehashing old fights, long done and dusted. In the end, the plot went the way George wanted it to go. But like Theons conquest of Winterfell, the good fortune that extricated Tywin out of his quagmire includes a rather long list of plot gifts. Including, but not limited to, Catelyn releasing Jaime (losing Robb a key hostage and the Karstarks), Robb sleeping with Jeyne (and losing the Freys), Bolton being a traitor, Stannis killing Renly with a magical shadow, and so on and so forth.

In the end, that's the way George wanted it to go, but that doesn't make all of it a foregone conclusion from the start, or even entirely plausible in hindsight.

Well, that's basically how wars go. You sound like a guy complaining that Napoleon didn't win in Russia despite the fact that he should have some success because you would like that. Or complaining about the halt order that allowed the British to escape being captured/killed by the Germans at Dunkirk. Stuff like that does happen in war. People make mistakes, don't know things they should know to make an informed decisions but have to make one anyway, etc.

War is not fair. People are not equally smart or talented nor do they command equally strong or well-equipped/provisioned armies. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now