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Varysblackfyre321

Do you think Balon's plan had merit?

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It was a lousy idea.  The North is way too big and underpopulated to be ruled effectively by an outsider, and is too poor to be worth the trouble and expense of conquest.  Asha had it right when she dumped out a pile of turnips and pine cones at the Kingsmoot.

Sure, there is timber, but they would probably let you take that for free.  The only population center, and the center of wealth, is White Harbour,  which is on the wrong Ocean, and well defended as well.

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NO it is literally the worse plan in asoiaf maybe even worse then Cat arresting Tyrion on the kings road, he was bitter about the Starks and the fact he could tell Theon actually liked and respected the Ned. The IB should be thankful lord Roose and Ramsey didn't get ahold of them they would be flayed in many new and exciting ways I'm sure. 

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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. 

Edited by Trigger Warning

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11 minutes ago, 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. 

But how would he get food to the soldiers? The people at Moat Caitlyn were starving by the time Theon had arrived so much so they were resorting to canibalism.

Yasha wasn't doing that better.

Abd the iron throne would take it back anyway no?

 

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It was a terrible idea. He declares independence from the Iron Throne and as a means of achieving said independence attacks another separatist rebellion against the Iron Throne?

If he wanted more land for himself, all Balon had to was wait out to see who won between Stannis, Renly and Tywin and send a letter to the victor saying he'll help out with that Northern problem if he gets lordship over the lands. If true independence was his goal, bite your tongue on your grudges against the North until after the Iron Throne has been taken down a peg. Balon's showed he's capable of that when he bent the knee.

Whatever you want to say about Theon, he was dead right when he told Balon that he'd only last until the winner of the Iron Throne crushed the rest of his enemies then noticed the fool on those islands calling himself a king.

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2 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

I've seen it proposed that Balon's plan had made sense; I'm of the majority opinion that says no; I would like to hear your case.

How is this even a debate, his plan worked, of course it had merit. 

"Asha my daughter," Lord Balon went on, and Theon turned to see that his sister had slipped in silently, "you shall take thirty longships of picked men round Sea Dragon Point. Land upon the tidal flats north of Deepwood Motte. March quickly, and the castle may fall before they even know you are upon them."

 ...Theon had to bite his tongue. Deepwood Motte was the stronghold of the Glovers. With both Robett and Galbart warring in the south, it would be lightly held, and once the castle fell the ironmen would have a secure base in the heart of the north...

"Victarion," Lord Balon said to his brother, "the main thrust shall fall to you. When my sons have struck their blows, Winterfell must respond. You should meet small opposition as you sail up Saltspear and the Fever River. At the headwaters, you will be less than twenty miles from Moat Cailin. The Neck is the key to the kingdom. Already we command the western seas. Once we hold Moat Cailin, the pup will not be able to win back to the north . . . and if he is fool enough to try, his enemies will seal the south end of the causeway behind him, and Robb the boy will find himself caught like a rat in a bottle."...

...."The lords are gone south with the pup. Those who remained behind are the cravens, old men, and green boys. They will yield or fall, one by one. Winterfell may defy us for a year, but what of it? The rest shall be ours, forest and field and hall, and we shall make the folk our thralls and salt wives."

 

Obviously his plan had merit, we have never saw the North attacked when the majority of its active army was a thousand miles away and it has been constantly hammered by the author that no army attacking from the South has ever taken Moat Cailin. 

And Balon had succeeded, he had (figuratively) taken the North, not only do men like Karstark think that but Robb himself concedes the fact

Robb considered that reluctantly, but in the end he nodded. "Yes. Very well. Keep him alive, then. For the present. Hold him secure at the Dreadfort till we've retaken the north."

 as does his mother

Aside from her brother Edmure's modest retinue of friends, the lords of the Trident had remained to hold the riverlands while the king retook the north

The argument so many have about the Greyjoys needing to control every blade of grass in the North to have taken it is far too literal an idea of what is being said, and something the characters don't agree with.

 

In the past the Ironborn have held the Riverlands, and large amounts of the entire West coast of Westeros, including large chunks of the North itself

Large tracts of the Stony Shore, Bear Island, Sea Dragon Point, and Cape Kraken have all been held by ironmen at times. Indeed, Cape Kraken, closest to the Iron Islands, has changed hands so many times that many maesters believe its populace to be closer in blood to the ironmen than to Northmen.

So yes, there was merit to Balon's plan. But just because the plan was sound does not mean it would have been successful longterm, (or that it would not have been.) Far too many variables to know for sure what the future may have held. 

 

And when it came to choosing between the Westerlands with its Navy, well protected capital and its army a few hundred miles away led by a man whose reputation was one of the most formidable in Westeros vs the North, with no Navy, a poorly defended capital, its army a thousand miles away and being led by an untested teenager then Balon was 100% correct in his assessment. 

I mean to carve out a kingdom with fire and sword . . . but not from the west, and not at the bidding of King Robb the Boy. Casterly Rock is too strong, and Lord Tywin too cunning by half. Aye, we might take Lannisport, but we should never keep it. No. I hunger for a different plum . . . not so juicy sweet, to be sure, yet it hangs there ripe and undefended."

 

 

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17 minutes ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

But how would he get food to the soldiers? The people at Moat Caitlyn were starving by the time Theon had arrived so much so they were resorting to canibalism.

Balon had control of the supply lines at the Fever river. They were well fed while Balon was alive, it was only when Balon died and (iirc) 9/10ths of their men returned, as Euron did not care about the North, did they begin to suffer. 

17 minutes ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

Yasha wasn't doing that better.

Like Moat Cailin she too lost many of her men to Euron. 

If my father still lived, Moat Cailin would never have fallen. Balon Greyjoy had known that the Moat was the key to holding the north. Euron knew that as well; he simply did not care. No more than he cared what happened to Deepwood Motte or Torrhen's Square. "Euron has no interest in Balon's conquests. My nuncle's off chasing dragons." The Crow's Eye had summoned all the strength of the Iron Isles to Old Wyk and sailed out into the deepness of the Sunset Sea, with his brother Victarion following behind like a whipped cur. There was no one left on Pyke to appeal to, save for her own lord husband. "We stand alone."

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Her lord father had given her thirty longships to capture Deepwood. Four remained, counting her own Black Wind

Balon's plan failed because he was dead, not because a lack of a plan. 

17 minutes ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

Abd the iron throne would take it back anyway no?

Balon was willing to make a deal with the Throne and many on the Small Council were willing to agreee to his plan

"That we recognize his kingship and grant him everything north of the Neck."
Lord Redwyne laughed. "What is there north of the Neck that any sane man would want? If Greyjoy will trade swords and sails for stone and snow, I say do it, and count ourselves lucky."
"Truly," agreed Mace Tyrell. "That's what I would do. Let King Balon finish the northmen whilst we finish Stannis."
 
Now unfortunately for Balon Tywin had already made an agreement with Roose and Walder, but he was more than happy to let the North be ruled by Balon for the next decade or so. 
 
Furthermore Balon was willing to compromise, it is something he taught his daughter
 
"No man has ever died from bending his knee," her father had once told her. "He who kneels may rise again, blade in hand. He who will not kneel stays dead, stiff legs and all."
 
 
Balon was willing to compromise, and men who are willing to compromise always seem to come out ahead even if they don't secure what they originally wanted. 
 
 

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1 hour ago, Bernie Mac said:

"Victarion," Lord Balon said to his brother, "the main thrust shall fall to you. When my sons have struck their blows, Winterfell must respond. You should meet small opposition as you sail up Saltspear and the Fever River. At

Huh Balon literally sees Yasha as a son? Weird I missed that. I knew she was playing replacement to sons lost but still...

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2 hours ago, 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. 

But how was the Ironborn going to survive the Northern winters? Yes the Iron Islands get harsh winters but nothing like the North. They don’t have the means, equipment or knowledge to survive that environment. Asha is ADWD was barely surviving a Northern autumn and thought the Northmen winter equipment odd. Balon’s plan was stupid, short sighted, and dangerous. He lost men for land he and his wouldn’t have been able to keep come winter. 

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9 minutes ago, The Wolves said:

But how was the Ironborn going to survive the Northern winters? Yes the Iron Islands get harsh winters but nothing like the North. They don’t have the means, equipment or knowledge to survive that environment. Asha is ADWD was barely surviving a Northern autumn and thought the Northmen winter equipment odd. Balon’s plan was stupid, short sighted, and dangerous. He lost men for land he and his wouldn’t have been able to keep come winter. 

Sitting in the castle eating the winter stores and exploiting the local populace and resources the same as the Northern lords would do. They might live in the North but I still can't see the local lord and his garrison pottering about on mountain horses and snow shoes when winter comes, they'll hunker down and take what they need as their lordly due from the castle's lands and people and anything else they'll learn quick enough, humans are incredibly adaptable. The important thing in this scenario is controlling the castle which in Winter will be the heart of the community even more so than in summer. 

 

Edited by Trigger Warning

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2 hours ago, Bernie Mac said:

Balon had control of the supply lines at the Fever river. They were well fed while Balon was alive, it was only when Balon died and (iirc) 9/10ths of their men returned, as Euron did not care about the North, did they begin to suffer. 

Like Moat Cailin she too lost many of her men to Euron. 

If my father still lived, Moat Cailin would never have fallen. Balon Greyjoy had known that the Moat was the key to holding the north. Euron knew that as well; he simply did not care. No more than he cared what happened to Deepwood Motte or Torrhen's Square. "Euron has no interest in Balon's conquests. My nuncle's off chasing dragons." The Crow's Eye had summoned all the strength of the Iron Isles to Old Wyk and sailed out into the deepness of the Sunset Sea, with his brother Victarion following behind like a whipped cur. There was no one left on Pyke to appeal to, save for her own lord husband. "We stand alone."

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Her lord father had given her thirty longships to capture Deepwood. Four remained, counting her own Black Wind

Balon's plan failed because he was dead, not because a lack of a plan. 

Balon was willing to make a deal with the Throne and many on the Small Council were willing to agreee to his plan

"That we recognize his kingship and grant him everything north of the Neck."
Lord Redwyne laughed. "What is there north of the Neck that any sane man would want? If Greyjoy will trade swords and sails for stone and snow, I say do it, and count ourselves lucky."
"Truly," agreed Mace Tyrell. "That's what I would do. Let King Balon finish the northmen whilst we finish Stannis."
 
Now unfortunately for Balon Tywin had already made an agreement with Roose and Walder, but he was more than happy to let the North be ruled by Balon for the next decade or so. 
 
Furthermore Balon was willing to compromise, it is something he taught his daughter
 
"No man has ever died from bending his knee," her father had once told her. "He who kneels may rise again, blade in hand. He who will not kneel stays dead, stiff legs and all."
 
 
Balon was willing to compromise, and men who are willing to compromise always seem to come out ahead even if they don't secure what they originally wanted. 
 
 

Ok you make a good case. I give you credit for a well-formulated argument.

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If the Iron Throne had a history of granting independence to lords for "good service", then yes, his plan had merit. Because it relied completely on the mercy of the Iron Throne. Based on the facts at his disposal when the decision was made, there was no prospect for him to hold onto any piece of Westeros as an independent king by force of arms. He would have to bank on the Iron Throne allowing him to have it.

So if his play was to get the Iron Throne to "give" him a piece of Westeros to rule as his own, then his course of action was appropriate. If instead his aim was to try and win a piece of Westeros with the Iron price, (that piece realistically being the Iron Isles themselves), then he should have allied with Robb, the Riverlands, and based on information available at the time, likely the Vale too, with Dorne a very real possible ally as well.

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Balon’s plans make more sense if you see it from his perspective. As far as he’s concerned the Starks are his bitterest enemies. Ned Stark not only fought alongside Robert, he took his son away. Granted, he may have had equal reason to hold a grudge against the Westerlands or the Baratheons, but he certainly appears to aim most of his bile at the Starks.

Taken from a more pragmatic perspective, there are still merits to it. He faces two prospective opponents. The Lannisters, who hold the IT, have a second army in the West, and are led by one of the most talented and ruthless men in the 7K; and the North, who have entirely committed themselves in the Riverlands and are over-extended, are surrounded by enemies, and are led by a boy.

The main weakness of his plan, as others have mentioned, is that sooner or later he was going to come up against the might of the IT, and taking out the Starks will simply mean that the IT can turn on the Ironborn sooner. However, as we see from Storm onwards, the Ironborn are largely left alone, as the IT has bigger fish to fry in the South, and the Ironborn are largely allowed to abandon the North and attack elsewhere. That may not have been Balon’s plan, but one of its benefits was that the Ironborn could always bail if they started to lose.

Most criticisms of Balon’s plan are valid, if you start with the assumption that Balon is just trying to bring about independence for the Iron Islands. Making that assumption was actually Robb’s mistake. He wasn’t. Balon’s main problem, as the Reader and Osha pointed out, was that he was obsessed with bringing back the Old Way. While the 7K are relatively united, there is no plan that can really bring that about. However, seen from that perspective, falling on the weaker opponent and seizing land and plunder while they grapple with the stronger made some sense.

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1 hour ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

Balon’s plans make more sense if you see it from his perspective. As far as he’s concerned the Starks are his bitterest enemies. Ned Stark not only fought alongside Robert, he took his son away. Granted, he may have had equal reason to hold a grudge against the Westerlands or the Baratheons, but he certainly appears to aim most of his bile at the Starks.

Taken from a more pragmatic perspective, there are still merits to it. He faces two prospective opponents. The Lannisters, who hold the IT, have a second army in the West, and are led by one of the most talented and ruthless men in the 7K; and the North, who have entirely committed themselves in the Riverlands and are over-extended, are surrounded by enemies, and are led by a boy.

The main weakness of his plan, as others have mentioned, is that sooner or later he was going to come up against the might of the IT, and taking out the Starks will simply mean that the IT can turn on the Ironborn sooner. However, as we see from Storm onwards, the Ironborn are largely left alone, as the IT has bigger fish to fry in the South, and the Ironborn are largely allowed to abandon the North and attack elsewhere. That may not have been Balon’s plan, but one of its benefits was that the Ironborn could always bail if they started to lose.

Most criticisms of Balon’s plan are valid, if you start with the assumption that Balon is just trying to bring about independence for the Iron Islands. Making that assumption was actually Robb’s mistake. He wasn’t. Balon’s main problem, as the Reader and Osha pointed out, was that he was obsessed with bringing back the Old Way. While the 7K are relatively united, there is no plan that can really bring that about. However, seen from that perspective, falling on the weaker opponent and seizing land and plunder while they grapple with the stronger made some sense.

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.

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.

There is no real reason given why Balon hates the Starks more than any other lords that participated in the war against him. And really, the Baratheon's on the Iron Throne should have been his prime targets, not the Starks.

So the personal vendetta motivation can be safely discarded. Leaving only strategic reasons for doing so. And  those too, fall flat, in the long run.

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8 minutes 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.

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.

There is no real reason given why Balon hates the Starks more than any other lords that participated in the war against him. And really, the Baratheon's on the Iron Throne should have been his prime targets, not the Starks.

So the personal vendetta motivation can be safely discarded. Leaving only strategic reasons for doing so. And  those too, fall flat, in the long run.

Well, it's never truly stated, but I think the fact that Ned (from Balon's perspective) took away his son may have been a major motivating factor. He certainly, clearly hates the Starks, and doesn't seem to hold the same grudge against Tywin. Just because that's illogical doesn't mean it isn't what he feels. 

8 minutes ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

So the personal vendetta motivation can be safely discarded. Leaving only strategic reasons for doing so. And  those too, fall flat, in the long run.

Really? He seemed to be doing pretty well up until he was launched off the bridge. To be fair, I think Tywin/Roose would have eventually wrested the North back, but we don't know for certain, as the Ironborn abandoned the North as soon as Bolon died. In fact, compared to the other contenders in the WOTFK, the Ironborn have come out pretty well. They plundered the North largely unopposed for quite some time, left without suffering serious losses, and are now happily plundering the Reach, and potentially threatening Oldtown and the Arbour. 

I'm not arguing Balon's plan was brilliant, but the Ironborn are actually closer to successfully reviving the Old Way than ever before, which was Balon's intention. 

Edited by Shouldve Taken The Black

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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

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18 minutes ago, The South Forgets said:

Most of the Westerland forces are in the Riverlands

But a new army was being raised at Casterly Rock.

19 minutes ago, The South Forgets said:

while Robb only took 20000 men out of the 30-35000 capacity of the North

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. 

20 minutes ago, The South Forgets said:

If he had aided Robb, he would have an ally instead of an overlord.

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. 

21 minutes ago, The South Forgets said:

Balon thought like a reaver, not like a ruler

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. 

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