Varysblackfyre321

Do you think Balon's plan had merit?

63 posts in this topic

21 minutes ago, The South Forgets said:

I always thought that Balon's plan was folly. Let's remember that at the time Theon arrived with his offer, Tywin had Robb and Stannis to contend with. Most of the Westerland forces are in the Riverlands, while Robb only took 20000 men out of the 30-35000 capacity of the North. And by sabotaging Robb's campaign, he was indirectly aiding the side which would subjugate him if they won. If he had aided Robb, he would have an ally instead of an overlord. Balon thought like a reaver, not like a ruler

Exactly!

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18 minutes ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

But a new army was being raised at Casterly Rock.

A raw and inexperienced army led by an incompetent lout.Balon could have run them in rings with his navy had he wished to.

 

20 minutes ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

I don't know where those figures come from, so won't dispute them, but it's clear from what happens when the Ironborn attack that the North is grossly under-defended. 

TWOIAF mentions that Torrhen Stark took 30k men to the Trident. The North wasn't grossly under defended, just unprepared, as can be seen by the fact that Ser Rodrik gathered 4k men in such a short time. Also, most of the Greyjoy force would've been committed in Moat Cailin, and the remainder scattered around the North 

 

26 minutes ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

 This is true, but Balon wasn't aiming to set up an independent kingdom with the North as an ally, he was hoping to bring back the days when the Ironborn were free to raid wherever they chose. 

Right, they would be free to raid whoever they want as a vassal of the Iron Throne,wouldn't they?

 

28 minutes ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

Exactly. But then, that's the whole point about Balon. His aim was to bring back the Old Way. There were all manner of other paths he could have gone down, so long as he abandoned that dream, but he was never going to. 

He was a stubborn fool. As Rodrik the Reader said, the Old Way died with Black Harren

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50 minutes ago, The South Forgets said:

A raw and inexperienced army led by an incompetent lout.Balon could have run them in rings with his navy had he wished to.

 

TWOIAF mentions that Torrhen Stark took 30k men to the Trident. The North wasn't grossly under defended, just unprepared, as can be seen by the fact that Ser Rodrik gathered 4k men in such a short time. Also, most of the Greyjoy force would've been committed in Moat Cailin, and the remainder scattered around the North 

 

Right, they would be free to raid whoever they want as a vassal of the Iron Throne,wouldn't they?

 

He was a stubborn fool. As Rodrik the Reader said, the Old Way died with Black Harren

I agree with pretty much everything you've said, just thought I'd point out that Rodrik only raised 2k men. Of course, Ramsay then raised 600 more and the Umber's later raise another 800, plus (I think) 300 more from Karhold. So yeah. At least 4k left even in the North even before we count the Dustin's and the Manderly's (who both have a lot of untapped manpower left), the Clansmen, the Crannogmen and then whatever house's Ryswell, Flint etc. can raise.

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The bottom line is that Balon Greyjoy was mentally unfit to rule over anyone. He was fortunate that Robert let him live after his first Rebellion which was even more stupid. Attacking Three Great Regions at the same time, including The Starks and Lannisters and thinking that nothing would be done about it was all we need to know. The Greyjoys then and now with Euron seem to be nothing more than a plot device to come out now and then.

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1 hour ago, The South Forgets said:

A raw and inexperienced army led by an incompetent lout.Balon could have run them in rings with his navy had he wished to.

Perhaps, but he argued that Casterly Rock was too strong, and Tywin too clever. The North, in his opinion, was an easier target. 

1 hour ago, The South Forgets said:

Also, most of the Greyjoy force would've been committed in Moat Cailin, and the remainder scattered around the North 

They were mostly concentrated on the west coast. There was a strong force committed at Moat Calin, but the rest were hardly scattered. 

1 hour ago, The South Forgets said:

Right, they would be free to raid whoever they want as a vassal of the Iron Throne,wouldn't they?

That's not what I was arguing. My point was that they were seaking a return to the Old Way. Clearly, he was declaring himself independent when he crowned himself, and he offered an alliance to the Iron Throne. But that wasn't his only, or even primary objective, independence without a return to the Old Way wasn't enough for him. 

1 hour ago, The South Forgets said:

He was a stubborn fool. As Rodrik the Reader said, the Old Way died with Black Harren

Yes, you could make an argument for all that, my point was that that was not his view, and analysing his plan without taking into account his main objective will lead to confusion.

Once again, I agree that the main weakness in his plan was that he could end up taking on the whole of the 7K united behind whoever came out on top of the war in the South. If he thought Tywin or Cersei would just accept him carving off half the realm that was clearly bizarre. If, however, he envisioned a complete fragmentation of the 7K, then his belief in a return to the Old Way may have been less crazy.

I think a more intelligent long game for him would have been to ally with Robb in the short term, to speed up the break up of the 7K. That would have depended on Robb coming out on top though, which Balon clearly believed wouldn't happen. I also think, as I have said earlier, that his hatred of the Starks severely coloured his outlook. 

Edited by Shouldve Taken The Black

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42 minutes ago, A Ghost of Someone said:

He was fortunate that Robert let him live after his first Rebellion which was even more stupid.

I've gone back and forth on this for some time.

On the one hand, Balon had clearly demonstrated himself to be untrustworthy and dangerous, but what were Robert's other options? Removing Balon and replacing him with Euron or Victarion would have been a whole other level of stupid. At best it would have been no different. Installing a puppet at Pyke as lord,or some sort of Regent role with Theon would have probably meant dealing with uprisings and having to directly administer the mischievous Ironborn.

On the other hand, letting Balon remain alive ensured that the clean-up following the war, and administering the Iron Islands afterwards, was the Greyjoys' job. It also avoided any protracted resistance to the 7K after the rebellion. Robert had, many times before, benefitted from a policy of leniency to people so long as they bent the knee after defeat. Such an approach might occasionally lead to those you pardon coming back at you later on, but as a general rule I think the pros outweigh the cons.

Don't forget, Cersei thought Robert was stupid not to scour the Iron Islands after the rebellion. As a rule of thumb I assume Cersei is wrong about everything. 

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2 hours ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

I've gone back and forth on this for some time.

On the one hand, Balon had clearly demonstrated himself to be untrustworthy and dangerous, but what were Robert's other options? Removing Balon and replacing him with Euron or Victarion would have been a whole other level of stupid. At best it would have been no different. Installing a puppet at Pyke as lord,or some sort of Regent role with Theon would have probably meant dealing with uprisings and having to directly administer the mischievous Ironborn.

On the other hand, letting Balon remain alive ensured that the clean-up following the war, and administering the Iron Islands afterwards, was the Greyjoys' job. It also avoided any protracted resistance to the 7K after the rebellion. Robert had, many times before, benefitted from a policy of leniency to people so long as they bent the knee after defeat. Such an approach might occasionally lead to those you pardon coming back at you later on, but as a general rule I think the pros outweigh the cons.

Don't forget, Cersei thought Robert was stupid not to scour the Iron Islands after the rebellion. As a rule of thumb I assume Cersei is wrong about everything. 

Wise words spoken by Baelor Blacktyde before he was dismembered: "Balon's mad, Aeron's madder, Euron's maddest."  I'd say Victarion sort of doesn't factor in really as he's too dumb- as he would say he's suited to obedience but in reality he just follows Balon and Aeron (and unwittingly Euron).  I think Robert took the best of some bad options in allowing Balon to continue to rule, plus he probably had some hopes that after Balon died a Theon raised by Ned Stark could take over.

As to the OP, there's definitely SOME merit to Balon's plan, but it's also unclear what he actually desires and that's important.  Does he want independence or does he just want some land in the North to stick it to Robb and the Starks?  It's sort of a situation where he takes Deepwood Motte and more importantly Moat Cailin and then goes "Now what?"  Him dying and the Kingsmoot being called prevented us from seeing the outcome of his plan as Moat Cailin was left for dead, but I'd say there was also certainly some merit to Asha basically shitting on his "legacy" at the Kingsmoot and saying "nice we got some pinecones but now what?"  I think he and the Ironborn could have held Moat Cailin for a while and trapped Robb, but there was really nothing more he could do afterwards except rely on suing for peace with Tywin and getting what out of it?

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8 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

 

If anything, he owed Ned a debt of gratitude for providing a safe, secure and comfortable home to his son, who could have been kept in far worse conditions at many other castles across the realm.

Meh, that's stretching it. 

Theon is a noble.

Ned gave the proper treatment towards the boy as his ward/hostage, but that is merely fulfilling his obligation.

8 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

Well, the grudge against the Stark's is not even properly substantiated. The Starks didn't play a bigger role in putting down his rebellion than most other lords. It was the Iron Throne moving against him. If anyone, he should have hated Robert Baratheon's children - being Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen. It was Robert who crushed his rebellion. The other lords just followed Robert's commands.

 

I always took his stated animosity to the Starks when talking to Theon was mostly testing the boy's loyalties; he's been with the wolves far more than the krakens.

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Let's see...

Balon crowned himself King of the Iron Islands and was planning to take the North from Robb Stark as the majority of his forces were fighting in the Riverlands. He wanted to raid the western coast of the North, he commanded Asha to take Deepwood Motte, Victarion would sail through the Saltspear, then the Fever River to take Moat Cailin, by controlling Moat Cailin, Robb wouldn't be able to return to the North in land. Theon was commanded to raid the Stony Shore and raid villages, attracting the lords and forces who stayed in the North.

It was not a bad plan for a raid, but it was a stupid plan for a conquest. How would they hold the North? Do you think that the Iron Throne would just let them have the North? Whomever sat the Iron Throne would send warships and land troops in the North. Sooner or later they would fall. Balon said he wanted the North, then again, he wanted to remain close to the sea. I don't quite understand what did he want to be honest, just trying to find out what his plan was about.

If he had been clever, he would have allied with Robb and in the end he would have the Westerlands, full of gold.

Edited by Shadow of Asshai

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1 hour ago, Shadow of Asshai said:

If he had been clever, he would have allied with Robb and in the end he would have the Westerlands, full of gold.

Well he wouldn't have owned it but he'd have their gold for sure.

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8 hours ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

I've gone back and forth on this for some time.

On the one hand, Balon had clearly demonstrated himself to be untrustworthy and dangerous, but what were Robert's other options? Removing Balon and replacing him with Euron or Victarion would have been a whole other level of stupid. At best it would have been no different. Installing a puppet at Pyke as lord,or some sort of Regent role with Theon would have probably meant dealing with uprisings and having to directly administer the mischievous Ironborn.

On the other hand, letting Balon remain alive ensured that the clean-up following the war, and administering the Iron Islands afterwards, was the Greyjoys' job. It also avoided any protracted resistance to the 7K after the rebellion. Robert had, many times before, benefitted from a policy of leniency to people so long as they bent the knee after defeat. Such an approach might occasionally lead to those you pardon coming back at you later on, but as a general rule I think the pros outweigh the cons.

Don't forget, Cersei thought Robert was stupid not to scour the Iron Islands after the rebellion. As a rule of thumb I assume Cersei is wrong about everything. 

Well,he could have ordered another lord's moot or something. Then again, he could have really went nuts and ordered every house to submit hostages and remove the Greyjoys. Bottom line is that Balon was nuts to try his first rebellion and he might have won his Independence in the second had he only taken Robb as an ally instead of attacking him.

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12 hours ago, The South Forgets said:

A raw and inexperienced army led by an incompetent lout.Balon could have run them in rings with his navy had he wished to.

He'd first have to get past the Westerlands Navy, something he did not have to do in the North. Plus both the North and West had inexperienced armies left to defend it, but the West seems to have been able to call up more men and in a far quicker time than Rodrik was able to do in the North. 

12 hours ago, The South Forgets said:

 

TWOIAF mentions that Torrhen Stark took 30k men to the Trident.

Sure. As every realm was fighting the Targs he did not have to worry about another realm of the seven kingdoms attacking the North. 30k in that situation might be doable, it was clearly a mistake for Robb. 

12 hours ago, The South Forgets said:

 

The North wasn't grossly under defended, just unprepared,

It was both. 

12 hours ago, The South Forgets said:

 

as can be seen by the fact that Ser Rodrik gathered 4k men in such a short time.

He gathered just under 2k and it was months. It was not a short time. 

12 hours ago, The South Forgets said:

Also, most of the Greyjoy force would've been committed in Moat Cailin, and the remainder scattered around the North 

Yup, that was the game plan. Up until Robb and/or his army was defeated the wise thing to do was hold Moat Cailin. The rest of the North could wait. 

 

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Balon was more perceptive than most here, the likelihood of the IT ever coming for his rocks or slice of the north was minimal. Robert was a special case, and he died.

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On 2/13/2018 at 6:08 PM, Trigger Warning said:

Whether you think it's good or not is entirely up to you but it certainly makes a decent amount of sense.

He wanted land not plunder, it was Theon that overextended. He quickly captured castles and castles project power, the main Northern strength was below the neck and the campaigning season would be ending soon. He has time to broker deals, offer land to ambitious northern nobles etc etc. In essence he captured staging points for further expansion in the North, it's not a matter of capturing all the castles and holding them in one go. The Ironborn can't just raid forever, manpower and trade of goods, crops and natural resources is more important for the long term stability of a kingdom than plunder and the North was his best opportunity to grab some land and hunker down in preparation for further expansion.

 The Vikings didn't just raid forever, they took land, brokered deals and assimilated. 

Hard to square this with "We do not sow". Unless you mean you have a whole lot of slaves who sow for you, and slavery is off the table in Westeros. 

And I can't see Balon brokering deals. Just not in character.

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15 hours ago, Tagganaro said:

I think Robert took the best of some bad options in allowing Balon to continue to rule, plus he probably had some hopes that after Balon died a Theon raised by Ned Stark could take over.

That's actually an important point. As a long term planning goes, it has much to recommend it. 

13 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

I always took his stated animosity to the Starks when talking to Theon was mostly testing the boy's loyalties; he's been with the wolves far more than the krakens.

Fair point, but I think there's clearly actual animosity there, and what that dynamic with Theon showed was Balon's resentment at the Starks taking his son away and raising him their way.

8 hours ago, A Ghost of Someone said:

Well,he could have ordered another lord's moot or something. Then again, he could have really went nuts and ordered every house to submit hostages and remove the Greyjoys

The Kingsmoot is a tradition that hadn't been invoked in centuries, and few on the mainland were likely to be aware of it. Furthermore, it's a huge roll of the dice, to allow the defeated Ironborn to choose their own leader just after giving them a whipping. They could have chosen someone very unsavoury, in fact Euron would probably have been the front runner. He could have asked for hostages, true, but why do that when you can just take one hostage - Theon - and achieve the same result.

6 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

He'd first have to get past the Westerlands Navy, something he did not have to do in the North. Plus both the North and West had inexperienced armies left to defend it, but the West seems to have been able to call up more men and in a far quicker time than Rodrik was able to do in the North. 

Yes, also in late summer it would have been much easier for troops to move quickly about the West than the North. Less spread out, less isolated castles, less long, exposed coast lines. 

 

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1 hour ago, Light a wight tonight said:

Unless you mean you have a whole lot of slaves who sow for you, and slavery is off the table in Westeros.

Thralls are not though. 

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11 hours ago, Shadow of Asshai said:

Do you think that the Iron Throne would just let them have the North? Whomever sat the Iron Throne would send warships and land troops in the North. Sooner or later they would fall.

Probably true in the final analysis, but interestingly, no-one in the South seemed that keen on marching North, particularly with winter on the way. Tyrell and Redwynne were pretty much happy with accepting the Greyjoy alliance and giving up the North. Tywin was clever enough to see no benefit to that, but even then was happy to let the Boltons and Freys fight the Iron Born rather than send his own army up there. His long term plan was to send Tyrion and Sansa north, but he hardly seemed in a rush. 

The idea that so long as he beat the Northmen and held Moat Calin then he might hold the North seems less crazy in that light, though Tywin's analysis was probably right and after a long winter fighting the Northmen their power would be spent. 

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Um, wasn't the Lannister fleet burned in the Greyjoy rebellion? Also, in Feast Cersei mentions having to rely on the Redwynes for naval power, something which wouldn't be the case if the Lannisters have a fleet as well

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13 minutes ago, The South Forgets said:

Um, wasn't the Lannister fleet burned in the Greyjoy rebellion? Also, in Feast Cersei mentions having to rely on the Redwynes for naval power, something which wouldn't be the case if the Lannisters have a fleet as well

SSM http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/The_Lannister_Fleet

"Mr. Martin, we found it peculiar that Tyrion considered the importance of the Greyjoy fleet in aCoK (when Balon's message reached him in KL), since he never thinks about the West's own naval strength and it's usefulness against the Starks.

So we began to doubt said strength.

Did Tywin ever rebuild the Lannister fleet, after Euron burned it eight years ago?

And if he rebuilt it, did he ever appoint a permanent commander of this fleet?

Yes, Lord Tywin certainly replaced the ships that were lost.

However, as far as naval power goes, the only fleets comparable to that of the Greyjoys are the royal fleet (most of it destroyed on the Blackwater) and the Redwyne fleet, based on the Arbor. Besides the king, the Greyjoys and Redwynes are the traditional sea powers of Westeros.

The lords whose lands abut the coast of the Sunset Sea all keep a war galley or three about for coastal defense, and of course those shores are home to scads of fishing boats as well. The Lannisters have a larger and much grander fleet, but we're still only talking about twenty to thirty ships, perhaps. To fight a major battle, they would call the ships of their various bannermen, just as Stannis summoned the lords of the narrow sea for the battle on the Blackwater.

For what it's worth, however, their ships would be larger and more formidable than the longships of the ironmen -- cogs, carracks, and war galleys of various sides, up to the great dromonds with scorpions and catapults on deck.

The Tyrells are in more or less the same position as the Lannisters, though they depend even more on their bannermen, especially the lords of the Shield Islands off the mouth of the Mander. The Hightowers have only a few warships, but control Oldtown, home to numerous trading vessels."

 

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Nevermind whether the Iron Throne lets Balon keep the North.  Even if they do, the 20k men with Robb are but a miniscule percentage of the North's total population. So thinking that he can hold onto the North permanently just because there are 20k men away right now, is surely delusional.

The North will absorb the loss of 20k men within a decade or two. And have new armies available to expel the Ironborn. At best, Balon would hold on to bits and pieces like some of his ancestors did, for a time, but will be expelled eventually. Even if it takes a generation or two.

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