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Aldarion

Tactical Overview: Golden Company

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First to see the composition. It has 10 000 men in total, including:

  •  1 000 bowmen under Black Balaq
    • 300 crossbows
    • 300 reflex bows
    • 300 yew longbows
    • 50 goldenheart longbows
  • 500 hundred knights (3 horses each)
  • 500 squires (1 horse each)
  • 12 elephants
  • if the rest are heavy infantry, this means 8 000 infantry

Golden Company's camp, described in ADWD, is of particular importance: it is described as compact, orderly and defensible, with a ditch dug around it, and tents in orderly rows with broad avenues. This is important because it shows that Golden Company is not just words: they truly are a competent, professional force. Camp is extraordinarily important. When Mongols / Tatars attacked Hungary in 1241., king Bela IV led an army of 65 000 soldiers against them. But he was an incompetent commander, and his army not well versed: camp was dense, with insufficient space between the tents, so that men tripped over tent ropes. When Mongols surrounded the camp, army was slaughtered - only Croatian and Italian troops as well as Templars managed to respond to the attack; everybody else ran away. The lesson of this is: show me how your army encamps, and I will tell you how good an army is. Only truly good armies - such as Roman / Byzantine armies - had camps as that described for Golden Company.

Another important point are elephants. Alexander the Great had problems since his horses would not willingly face Indian elephants. This makes Golden Company's elephants into a hard counter against favourite Westerosi tactic: cavalry charge, as horses have innate fear of elephants (it is the smell).

For these reasons, I believe that battle between Golden Company and the Reach army may end up being not a replay of Battle of Agincourt, but rather a combination of Agincourt and Trebia. At Trebia, Hannibal had 21 000 heavy infantry, 8 000 light infantry, 11 000 cavalry and 37 war elephants. Cutting numbers in third results in 7 000 heavy infantry, 2 000 light infantry, 4 000 cavalry and 12 elephants - close, but not equal to Golden Company. In the battle, Romans allowed themselves to be provoked in a frontal assault, much like French at Agincourt.  Hannibal however placed an ambush, which attacked from behind once Romans had committed.

Before the battle, Hannibal had strenghtened the flanks with cavalry and elephants. When armies engaged, Hannibal's cavalry and elephants sweeped Roman cavalry from the field, leaving infantry exposed. Soon after, Magos attacked Roman infantry from the rear, which then broke ranks.

Analysis from Wikipedia:

Three great errors Sempronius committed, of which every one deserved to be recompensed with the loss that followed. The first was, that he fought with Hannibal in a champain, being by far inferior in horse, and withal thereby subject to the African elephants, which in enclosed or uneven grounds, and woodlands, would have been of no use. His second error was, that he made no discovery of the place upon which he fought, whereby he was grossly overreached, and ensnared, by the ambush which Hannibal had laid for him. The third was, that he drenched his footmen with empty stomachs, in the river of Trebia, even in a most cold and frosty day, whereby in effect they lost the use of their limbs.

At Agincourt, for comparison, French cavalry charge was provoked - and then devastated - by English longbowmen. Retreating, panicked cavalry then scattered French infantrymen. French men-at-arms had proven nearly immune to longbow, but had to advance through muddy terrain. They were already tired when they reached English line, but even so English men-at-arms in the center were heavily pressed until archers attacked using melee weapons.

----

So, what does this mean? Tyrell main strength is in their cavalry. But the ground had been turned to mud by heavy rains, much at Agincourt. Therefore, likely series of events is as such:

1) Tyrell army will be provoked into attack (like Romans at Trebia and French at Agincourt). This will 1) deny them possible reinfocements, and 2) force them to advance across muddy terrain against a dug-in enemy. This is a problem, since majority of the army would likely be heavily armoured men-at-arms.

2) When Tyrell cavalry attacks, it will be impeded by the mud. If Tyrell army utilizes standard feudal tactics - which seems the norm in Westeros - then cavalry will charge in front of and separate from infantry. This will leave them exposed to arrow fire from Golden Company, and also limit their mobility due to muddy ground.

3) Once Tyrell cavalry had engaged, and been weakened by the missile fire, they may get struck into flanks by elephants. This will panick horses, and lead them to running away - headlong into Tyrell infantry.

4) Tyrell infantry will be disorganized, and eventually surrounded and massacred.

Edited by Aldarion

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The Tyrells are fighting in familiar terrain.  Would they be so silly as to not take that into account?  

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Chances are pretty high that the Golden Company and their allies will lure the Tyrells into a trap. But we cannot guess at how they will do that at this point. But it seems very likely they will use the terrain of the Kingswood. I doubt camp-building will figure much into that, more some sort of along the Kingsroad in the middle of the forest where both elephants and superior archers will be used very effectively.

It seems rather clear that the Golden Company could win a very decisive victory if they were to able to make use of their superior archers in a way that could neutralize/destroy most of the enemy horse before they reach Aegon's lines. And if they could use their cavalry and elephants in an optimal way Aegon could easily enough crush an army twice or thrice his own.

One must not forget the Tyrell numbers, though. Garlan took half of Mace's original force back to the Reach which means there are still 30,000-40,000 Tyrell men left in KL. I guess Mace would not take/send more than half of them against the Golden Company to ensure the Faith and the Kingslanders continue to behave, but we don't know that as of yet - just as we don't know whether he will have any losses due to whatever open violence might happen immediately after Kevan's murder or the trial(s) of the queens - which are supposed to take place before Mace deals with Aegon.

We can expect Aegon to have only the Golden Company contingents that made their way to Storm's End by that time (right now not all of them are there), bolstered by whatever Stormlanders have flocked to his banners by that time - which might include the Marcher Lords and their archers if they have the time to get there after he has taken Storm's End. As they discussed, the fall of Storm's End to Aegon should cause a lot of lords to reconsider their allegiances. But we don't know how many will be there in time. Arianne is not all that likely to commit her men to Aegon before the Tyrells are dealt with - or even if she did, they are not likely to be at Storm's End in time to involve themselves in the battle between the Golden Company and the Tyrells.

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On 7/13/2019 at 10:40 PM, 867-5309 said:

The Tyrells are fighting in familiar terrain.  Would they be so silly as to not take that into account?  

1) I'm not so sure they are familiar with Stormlands.

2) Tyrells are from Reach, which is where whole chivalry concept originated from. Which is basically saying that Martin is setting them up for a replay of Agincourt: chivalry (French) vs professionalism (English).

On 7/14/2019 at 12:46 AM, Lord Varys said:

Chances are pretty high that the Golden Company and their allies will lure the Tyrells into a trap. But we cannot guess at how they will do that at this point. But it seems very likely they will use the terrain of the Kingswood. I doubt camp-building will figure much into that, more some sort of along the Kingsroad in the middle of the forest where both elephants and superior archers will be used very effectively.

It seems rather clear that the Golden Company could win a very decisive victory if they were to able to make use of their superior archers in a way that could neutralize/destroy most of the enemy horse before they reach Aegon's lines. And if they could use their cavalry and elephants in an optimal way Aegon could easily enough crush an army twice or thrice his own.

One must not forget the Tyrell numbers, though. Garlan took half of Mace's original force back to the Reach which means there are still 30,000-40,000 Tyrell men left in KL. I guess Mace would not take/send more than half of them against the Golden Company to ensure the Faith and the Kingslanders continue to behave, but we don't know that as of yet - just as we don't know whether he will have any losses due to whatever open violence might happen immediately after Kevan's murder or the trial(s) of the queens - which are supposed to take place before Mace deals with Aegon.

We can expect Aegon to have only the Golden Company contingents that made their way to Storm's End by that time (right now not all of them are there), bolstered by whatever Stormlanders have flocked to his banners by that time - which might include the Marcher Lords and their archers if they have the time to get there after he has taken Storm's End. As they discussed, the fall of Storm's End to Aegon should cause a lot of lords to reconsider their allegiances. But we don't know how many will be there in time. Arianne is not all that likely to commit her men to Aegon before the Tyrells are dealt with - or even if she did, they are not likely to be at Storm's End in time to involve themselves in the battle between the Golden Company and the Tyrells.

I merely included camp-building to emphasize / prove my point that Golden Company are, indeed, career / professional soldiers. Many medieval armies completely ignored proper camp, which repeatedly led to disasters - such as one suffered by Bela IV against Mongols. But here they have the Storm's End, so there is no need for a camp.

Yes, it is indeed likely that they will win a significant victory. That is where the story is taking Aegon to - a temporary victory, as Brynden Blackfish put it. But what I'm trying to do here is to see how they will do it, as composition of Golden Company - relative lack of archers and presence of elephants - means that it cannot be a one-for-one replay of Agincourt.

I believe relative numbers will be similar to Agincourt. So around 6 000 to 9 000 Golden Company vs 12 000 to 36 000 Tyrell troops. But at Agincourt, 5/6 of English force were archers, whereas apparently only 1/10 of Golden Company are archers. Therefore, it cannot be a 1-for-1 replay of Agincourt. Which brings us back to Trebia. And the fact that lords will be joining Aegon means that composition of his army will likely be more similar to Hannibal's rather heterogenous force, than to Henry's relatively homogenous one.

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Let's not forget here that the Golden Company at Storm's End is at best half their full strength as many fighters were landed in many islands around Cape Wrath and even at the Stepstones. They also left contingents at the many castles they captured.

This should play a role.

 

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2 hours ago, rotting sea cow said:

Let's not forget here that the Golden Company at Storm's End is at best half their full strength as many fighters were landed in many islands around Cape Wrath and even at the Stepstones. They also left contingents at the many castles they captured.

This should play a role.

At Griffin's Roost, not Storm's End. How many men they (will) have at Storm's End we don't know yet. While chances are pretty good that they won't have all their men, they are not so bad that they will have more than they have now when the Tyrells finally march - which could actually be rather late depending what happens in KL before they move.

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On 7/13/2019 at 3:09 PM, Aldarion said:

First to see the composition. It has 10 000 men in total, including:

  •  1 000 bowmen under Black Balaq
    • 300 crossbows
    • 300 reflex bows
    • 300 yew longbows
    • 50 goldenheart longbows
  • 500 hundred knights (3 horses each)
  • 500 squires (1 horse each)
  • 12 elephants
  • if the rest are heavy infantry, this means 8 000 infantry

Golden Company's camp, described in ADWD, is of particular importance: it is described as compact, orderly and defensible, with a ditch dug around it, and tents in orderly rows with broad avenues. This is important because it shows that Golden Company is not just words: they truly are a competent, professional force. Camp is extraordinarily important. When Mongols / Tatars attacked Hungary in 1241., king Bela IV led an army of 65 000 soldiers against them. But he was an incompetent commander, and his army not well versed: camp was dense, with insufficient space between the tents, so that men tripped over tent ropes. When Mongols surrounded the camp, army was slaughtered - only Croatian and Italian troops as well as Templars managed to respond to the attack; everybody else ran away. The lesson of this is: show me how your army encamps, and I will tell you how good an army is. Only truly good armies - such as Roman / Byzantine armies - had camps as that described for Golden Company.

Another important point are elephants. Alexander the Great had problems since his horses would not willingly face Indian elephants. This makes Golden Company's elephants into a hard counter against favourite Westerosi tactic: cavalry charge, as horses have innate fear of elephants (it is the smell).

For these reasons, I believe that battle between Golden Company and the Reach army may end up being not a replay of Battle of Agincourt, but rather a combination of Agincourt and Trebia. At Trebia, Hannibal had 21 000 heavy infantry, 8 000 light infantry, 11 000 cavalry and 37 war elephants. Cutting numbers in third results in 7 000 heavy infantry, 2 000 light infantry, 4 000 cavalry and 12 elephants - close, but not equal to Golden Company. In the battle, Romans allowed themselves to be provoked in a frontal assault, much like French at Agincourt.  Hannibal however placed an ambush, which attacked from behind once Romans had committed.

Before the battle, Hannibal had strenghtened the flanks with cavalry and elephants. When armies engaged, Hannibal's cavalry and elephants sweeped Roman cavalry from the field, leaving infantry exposed. Soon after, Magos attacked Roman infantry from the rear, which then broke ranks.

Analysis from Wikipedia:

Three great errors Sempronius committed, of which every one deserved to be recompensed with the loss that followed. The first was, that he fought with Hannibal in a champain, being by far inferior in horse, and withal thereby subject to the African elephants, which in enclosed or uneven grounds, and woodlands, would have been of no use. His second error was, that he made no discovery of the place upon which he fought, whereby he was grossly overreached, and ensnared, by the ambush which Hannibal had laid for him. The third was, that he drenched his footmen with empty stomachs, in the river of Trebia, even in a most cold and frosty day, whereby in effect they lost the use of their limbs.

At Agincourt, for comparison, French cavalry charge was provoked - and then devastated - by English longbowmen. Retreating, panicked cavalry then scattered French infantrymen. French men-at-arms had proven nearly immune to longbow, but had to advance through muddy terrain. They were already tired when they reached English line, but even so English men-at-arms in the center were heavily pressed until archers attacked using melee weapons.

----

So, what does this mean? Tyrell main strength is in their cavalry. But the ground had been turned to mud by heavy rains, much at Agincourt. Therefore, likely series of events is as such:

1) Tyrell army will be provoked into attack (like Romans at Trebia and French at Agincourt). This will 1) deny them possible reinfocements, and 2) force them to advance across muddy terrain against a dug-in enemy. This is a problem, since majority of the army would likely be heavily armoured men-at-arms.

2) When Tyrell cavalry attacks, it will be impeded by the mud. If Tyrell army utilizes standard feudal tactics - which seems the norm in Westeros - then cavalry will charge in front of and separate from infantry. This will leave them exposed to arrow fire from Golden Company, and also limit their mobility due to muddy ground.

3) Once Tyrell cavalry had engaged, and been weakened by the missile fire, they may get struck into flanks by elephants. This will panick horses, and lead them to running away - headlong into Tyrell infantry.

4) Tyrell infantry will be disorganized, and eventually surrounded and massacred.

Let's also not overlook the potential wild card in all of this: the "friends in the Reach" that Laswell Peake mentions. If these friends are on the order of Randyll Tarly or Mathis Rowan, then the balance of power can shift dramatically in the Stormlands before the battle is joined.

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11 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Let's also not overlook the potential wild card in all of this: the "friends in the Reach" that Laswell Peake mentions. If these friends are on the order of Randyll Tarly or Mathis Rowan, then the balance of power can shift dramatically in the Stormlands before the battle is joined.

Those friends cannot magically teleport troops. And chances are not that high that either Rowan or Tarly are among them. Rowan should join Aegon when he takes Storm's End - he won't have a choice - but he should only have a small contingent of troops. And Tarly is likely going to be the guy (co-)leading the Tyrell troops marching against Aegon. If he were to switch sides there would likely not even be a battle - and Tarly has less to gain from joining Aegon than from crushing him. Not to mention that while Rowan and, perhaps Tarly, too, have connections to the Targaryens, they have none to the Golden Company that we are aware of.

Peake would be referring to other Peakes as potential allies, one imagines (Lord Titus Peake), and there is a chance that the Merryweathers have connections to the Golden Company. But aside from those houses those other mystery friends should be relations of exiled members of the Golden Company.

I mean, realistically, the only friends the Golden Company should have would be via men who had been recently exiled in the wake of Robert's Rebellion, say. The last time the Blackfyres sat foot on Westerosi soil was in 236 AC, and that's a long time ago - not to mention that back then pretty much nobody declared for them, anyway.

Franklyn Flowers is not exactly likely to have any friends in the Reach, and the Peakes aside we have yet to meet an influential Reach man in the company.

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43 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Let's also not overlook the potential wild card in all of this: the "friends in the Reach" that Laswell Peake mentions. If these friends are on the order of Randyll Tarly or Mathis Rowan, then the balance of power can shift dramatically in the Stormlands before the battle is joined.

I do not think they will be in time to join the first battle, but will definitely play a role in replenishing the losses down the road.

16 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Those friends cannot magically teleport troops. And chances are not that high that either Rowan or Tarly are among them. Rowan should join Aegon when he takes Storm's End - he won't have a choice - but he should only have a small contingent of troops. And Tarly is likely going to be the guy (co-)leading the Tyrell troops marching against Aegon. If he were to switch sides there would likely not even be a battle - and Tarly has less to gain from joining Aegon than from crushing him. Not to mention that while Rowan and, perhaps Tarly, too, have connections to the Targaryens, they have none to the Golden Company that we are aware of.

Peake would be referring to other Peakes as potential allies, one imagines (Lord Titus Peake), and there is a chance that the Merryweathers have connections to the Golden Company. But aside from those houses those other mystery friends should be relations of exiled members of the Golden Company.

I mean, realistically, the only friends the Golden Company should have would be via men who had been recently exiled in the wake of Robert's Rebellion, say. The last time the Blackfyres sat foot on Westerosi soil was in 236 AC, and that's a long time ago - not to mention that back then pretty much nobody declared for them, anyway.

Franklyn Flowers is not exactly likely to have any friends in the Reach, and the Peakes aside we have yet to meet an influential Reach man in the company.

I actually can see Tarly joining Aegon. Remember that Lord Puff Fish has an overinflated image of his own military leadership skillz. He may refuse to even share the glory of defeating Aegon in battle, which will lead to Randyll sitting that one out. And if Puff Fish gets himself skewered by Griffin, Tarly may decide to join the winning side.

Realistically, anyone slighted by Lannisters is a potential friend to Golden Company. Which was quite a list, even before Cersei came to be in charge (and she is, now that both Tywin and Kevan are dead). Question is, how many of them could have been contacted in advance?

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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

At Griffin's Roost, not Storm's End. How many men they (will) have at Storm's End we don't know yet. While chances are pretty good that they won't have all their men, they are not so bad that they will have more than they have now when the Tyrells finally march - which could actually be rather late depending what happens in KL before they move. 

My opinion on the matter is the following, but as everything is speculative.

Whoever leads the Tyrell army descending to Storm's End is going to defeat Aegon. Maybe he gets injured. Why?

- Aegon is insisting in leading the army (specially after the victory in taking the castle) instead of leaving that task to a more experienced man like JonCon.

- If the Tyrells just "bend the knee" after a defeat, Aegon does not need - urgently - the Dornish support (something they consider as granted) and does not need to marry Arianne then and there. He can still wait for Dany.

- A protracted siege helps better the story, allowing to events at KL and the Reach to mature making the besiegers more desperate.

Imagine from the point of the besiegers. Tommen is dead making the whole marriage with Margaery pointless (maybe she is also dead?). Two Dornish armies are descending upon them. Without a sea blockade the Golden Company continues to be re-supplied at Storm's End. Dire news arrive each day from the Reach: the slaughter of the Redwyne fleet, fall of the Arbor and even Oldtown. Why should they continue to fight someone who claims not to be your enemy?

 

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5 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

I do not think they will be in time to join the first battle, but will definitely play a role in replenishing the losses down the road.

Yeah, when they march against KL they will have the Dornish armies, the Marcher Lords and other Stormlanders, some Reach lords, Riverlanders, and, of course, Crownlanders.

5 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

I actually can see Tarly joining Aegon. Remember that Lord Puff Fish has an overinflated image of his own military leadership skillz. He may refuse to even share the glory of defeating Aegon in battle, which will lead to Randyll sitting that one out. And if Puff Fish gets himself skewered by Griffin, Tarly may decide to join the winning side.

Yeah, many people have suggested this, but I don't buying it. Tarly is now the brains behind Mace (Kevan's opinion) and thus one of the most powerful men in the Realm. He was well-rewarded for his service, marrying his heir to the heiress of Maidenpool, reaping other rewards, and joining the Small Council. With Kevan gone he would likely have even a greater role in the regency government. Whereas he cannot really expect the same kind of prominence under Aegon - who has to reward his Golden Company allies first.

If Mace were to decide to leave the city to Tarly and march against Aegon all by himself - which could happen - then I can see Tarly handing over the city to Aegon after Mace has lost.

I could also see Rowan being with Aegon - a man who is actually a well-known Targaryen loyalist and who was really angry when the murder of Elia and the children was discussed in council in ASoS - may have an effect on the Tyrell men marching against the Golden Company. We could have a situation here where the Reach men either refuse to offer battle or defect to Aegon without any input from their lords.

5 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

Realistically, anyone slighted by Lannisters is a potential friend to Golden Company. Which was quite a list, even before Cersei came to be in charge (and she is, now that both Tywin and Kevan are dead). Question is, how many of them could have been contacted in advance?

Yeah, sure, but people usually interpret it as being rather specific friends. Hidden Targaryen loyalists are everywhere.

7 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

My opinion on the matter is the following, but as everything is speculative.

Whoever leads the Tyrell army descending to Storm's End is going to defeat Aegon. Maybe he gets injured. Why?

- Aegon is insisting in leading the army (specially after the victory in taking the castle) instead of leaving that task to a more experienced man like JonCon.

I doubt he is going to be that stupid. Storm's End will be led by Aegon, but it will be Connington's plan. I doubt Aegon is going to be as stupid as to believe he and his few soldiers can defeated an army twice or thrice their size. The lad may be bold but he is not stupid.

7 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

- If the Tyrells just "bend the knee" after a defeat, Aegon does not need - urgently - the Dornish support (something they consider as granted) and does not need to marry Arianne then and there. He can still wait for Dany.

Aegon will marry Arianne not because they need the alliance, but because both are going to want that when the news about Dany's marriage to Hizdahr and/or her disappearance arrive.

Arianne may pledge Dorne to Aegon even before a marriage contract is made, or she might not. But I'm sure she will wait for the Tyrell battle before making a decision - especially if it turned out that the Dornish troops can't be at Storm's End before the Tyrells arrive. If they could arrive that quickly then she might command them to save Aegon's ass. But she certainly is ruthless enough to set up Aegon for the slaughter, using him to pave the way for Dany/Quentyn and then casting him aside. Aegon and his gang have no idea about the Quentyn plan, after all. But once she learn that idea is (effectively) dead she will have to work with Aegon - regardless who he thinks he actually is.

7 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

- A protracted siege helps better the story, allowing to events at KL and the Reach to mature making the besiegers more desperate.

Imagine from the point of the besiegers. Tommen is dead making the whole marriage with Margaery pointless (maybe she is also dead?). Two Dornish armies are descending upon them. Without a sea blockade the Golden Company continues to be re-supplied at Storm's End. Dire news arrive each day from the Reach: the slaughter of the Redwyne fleet, fall of the Arbor and even Oldtown. Why should they continue to fight someone who claims not to be your enemy?

That is not the kind of scenario we expect from an Aegon who is going to be cheered by crowds, is it?

If Aegon doesn't look like a successful warrior-king but a pitiful pretender and fraud people won't flock to his banner just because there's nobody else. They will find somebody else - Euron, Myrcella, possibly some other Targaryen-Baratheon cousin. And Strickland tastes the defeat rather than victory he is not unlikely to take Aegon prisoner to sell him to the highest bidder in exchange for coin and other favors. Those men are sellswords, after all. And Euron can already throw fortunes at his men.

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2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Yeah, many people have suggested this, but I don't buying it. Tarly is now the brains behind Mace (Kevan's opinion) and thus one of the most powerful men in the Realm. He was well-rewarded for his service, marrying his heir to the heiress of Maidenpool, reaping other rewards, and joining the Small Council. With Kevan gone he would likely have even a greater role in the regency government. Whereas he cannot really expect the same kind of prominence under Aegon - who has to reward his Golden Company allies first.

If Mace were to decide to leave the city to Tarly and march against Aegon all by himself - which could happen - then I can see Tarly handing over the city to Aegon after Mace has lost.

I could also see Rowan being with Aegon - a man who is actually a well-known Targaryen loyalist and who was really angry when the murder of Elia and the children was discussed in council in ASoS - may have an effect on the Tyrell men marching against the Golden Company. We could have a situation here where the Reach men either refuse to offer battle or defect to Aegon without any input from their lords.

Rowan almost definitely, but I would not discount Tarly either - precisely for the reason you have mentioned. Mace has overinflated ego and sense of his own competence, and will likely sideline Tarly so that latter does not "steal his glory" - remember how Mace took credit for Tarly's victories? He likely sees himself as more competent soldier than Randyll (LOL) and will not like to see latter "steal his glory". So I see Mace marching against Aegon alone, and Randyll staying in the capital.

You say that Tarly had been well-rewarded, but if memory serves me, it was mostly Mace who received first-order rewards. Tarly was given consolation prizes, and he is aware of it.

38 minutes ago, rotting sea cow said:

My opinion on the matter is the following, but as everything is speculative.

Whoever leads the Tyrell army descending to Storm's End is going to defeat Aegon. Maybe he gets injured. Why?

- Aegon is insisting in leading the army (specially after the victory in taking the castle) instead of leaving that task to a more experienced man like JonCon.

- If the Tyrells just "bend the knee" after a defeat, Aegon does not need - urgently - the Dornish support (something they consider as granted) and does not need to marry Arianne then and there. He can still wait for Dany.

- A protracted siege helps better the story, allowing to events at KL and the Reach to mature making the besiegers more desperate.

Imagine from the point of the besiegers. Tommen is dead making the whole marriage with Margaery pointless (maybe she is also dead?). Two Dornish armies are descending upon them. Without a sea blockade the Golden Company continues to be re-supplied at Storm's End. Dire news arrive each day from the Reach: the slaughter of the Redwyne fleet, fall of the Arbor and even Oldtown. Why should they continue to fight someone who claims not to be your enemy?

Not likely. As Varys already pointed out, Aegon has to be a threat to Daenerys, and he will never achieve that if he is defeated in his first real battle. If he is defeated by Lord Puff Fish, do you really think Dorne etc. will join him? If he wins, however, Dorne may still not be willing to join him - it is just one battle, after all - unless he marries Arianne; and he will still need to replace his losses - from both taking of Storm's End and the battle in the field. And Dany's vision indicates that Aegon will take King's Landing.

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1 hour ago, Aldarion said:

Rowan almost definitely, but I would not discount Tarly either - precisely for the reason you have mentioned. Mace has overinflated ego and sense of his own competence, and will likely sideline Tarly so that latter does not "steal his glory" - remember how Mace took credit for Tarly's victories? He likely sees himself as more competent soldier than Randyll (LOL) and will not like to see latter "steal his glory". So I see Mace marching against Aegon alone, and Randyll staying in the capital.

You say that Tarly had been well-rewarded, but if memory serves me, it was mostly Mace who received first-order rewards. Tarly was given consolation prizes, and he is aware of it.

Tarly is rewarded but yeah he definitely gets the short end of the gifts in comparison to the Tyrells.

“Lesser tracts were granted to Lord Rowan, and set aside for Lord Tarly, Lady Oakheart, Lord Hightower, and other worthies not present. ”

Tarly does "get" the betrothal to the Maidenpool heir, but I always read that as him seizing it at swordpoint (aka the army at his back) and no one saying he couldn't as opposed to him being rewarded with it. The most common reason I see Tarly listed as having a beef is Brightwater Keep.

“Tyrell demanded the lands and castles of Lord Alester Florent, his own bannerman, who’d had the singular ill judgment to back first Renly and then Stannis. Lord Tywin was pleased to oblige. Brightwater Keep and all its lands and incomes were granted to Lord Tyrell’s second son, Ser Garlan, transforming him into a great lord in the blink of an eye.”

His wife is a Florent, so both for reasons of political largess and dynastic continuity, it makes sense to award that castle, land, and incomes to him. He did lead the center battle at Blackwater and made sure Stannis wasn't going to benefit from more of Renly's infantry at Bitterbridge. That said, Garlan lead the van at the Blackwater and he essentially won the battle. It's not like Garlan's reward is undue either.

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5 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Rowan almost definitely, but I would not discount Tarly either - precisely for the reason you have mentioned. Mace has overinflated ego and sense of his own competence, and will likely sideline Tarly so that latter does not "steal his glory" - remember how Mace took credit for Tarly's victories? He likely sees himself as more competent soldier than Randyll (LOL) and will not like to see latter "steal his glory". So I see Mace marching against Aegon alone, and Randyll staying in the capital.

Ah, well, the Mace situation is more complicated than that. Tarly was not the commander of the army that defeated Robert at Ashford, he was just commanding the vanguard which, for some reason, had already defeated Robert before the main army arrived on the battlefield. It certainly means that Tarly is the guy whose tactical abilities were a (deciding) factor in the victory, and it is somewhat embarrassing that Mace pretends he defeated Robert if he pretends he made the call. But nominally this certainly was Mace's victory, because it was his army and Tarly just his underling and vassal. I mean, a lot of Robb's victories - especially those in the Battle of the Camps - were won by other men.

If we had evidence that Tarly resented Mace Tyrell in any way, shape, or form we would have reason to speculate he might betray him, but at this point there is no evidence for stuff like that.

And if Kevan is right, and Tarly is really the brains of the Mace operation at court right now, then Tarly himself acts as a champion of House Tyrell not as a man undermining them. Tarly is the guy who swore a vow to the High Septon to return Margaery and her cousin for the trial, a vow he apparently has no intention to keep. Instead he is willing to cleanse the city and the Great Sept with steel.

And in the Epilogue Tarly and Mace repeatedly downplaying the Aegon threat is, in my opinion, part of their game to increase the pressure on Kevan. They want Margaery acquitted no matter what, and they make it clear that they won't do anything until that is accomplished. What road they are going to take now that Kevan is gone is a very crucial factor we don't know anything about at this point. Mace agreed to not defy the High Septon openly while Kevan was still alive - but what will he decide now that he is gone? Will he have Tommen declare Margaery's innocence and allow/command Tarly to attack the Great Sept? That is a real possibility...

But, certainly, if Mace were to decide that he is going to crush the Golden Company all by himself without Tarly's help then we certainly can see how Aegon is going to win this thing. Whether he is going to do that himself would depend how they deal with the Margaery situation, though. I don't see Mace himself leaving the capital before Margaery is acquitted. If her situation is not yet resolved by the time Storm's End falls to Aegon - and he and Tarly decide that something has to be done about this threat now - then chances are pretty high that Mace would indeed sent Tarly to Storm's End while he remains at KL to personally ensure nothing happens to his daughter.

If George wants to put Aegon as quickly as possible on the Iron Throne it would be a good way to have Mace himself lead and fuck up the campaign. He could die in battle or end up prisoner - which would then also lead to House Tyrell switching sides. But the same also goes if Margaery and/or Tommen die before there is a battle between the Tyrells and the Golden Company, or merely if Tommen and Myrcella are declared bastards, destroying their claims to the Iron Throne, or if Margaery is found guilty and this ends the marriage between her and Tommen.

5 hours ago, Aldarion said:

You say that Tarly had been well-rewarded, but if memory serves me, it was mostly Mace who received first-order rewards. Tarly was given consolation prizes, and he is aware of it.

He got rewards and there is no indication that he wanted something else or more. Tarly also came across as a rather determined follower of 'King Renly', meaning he basically had had no issue with his liege lord's rather ludicrous support of that guy - who claim-wise was basically just a would-be usurper and traitor. If the man harbored a secret grudge against Mace/the Tyrells he would have not gone along with that plan, one assumes, or he would have followed his father-in-law Lord Alester Florent in declaring for Stannis after Renly's death - after all, Selyse and Tarly's wife Melessa are first cousins.

5 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Not likely. As Varys already pointed out, Aegon has to be a threat to Daenerys, and he will never achieve that if he is defeated in his first real battle. If he is defeated by Lord Puff Fish, do you really think Dorne etc. will join him? If he wins, however, Dorne may still not be willing to join him - it is just one battle, after all - unless he marries Arianne; and he will still need to replace his losses - from both taking of Storm's End and the battle in the field. And Dany's vision indicates that Aegon will take King's Landing.

Arianne will decide whether Dorne joins Aegon or not. And we will learn soon enough what she thinks of him. I don't doubt that they will marry eventually, but as I said above I certainly can see Arianne originally just using Aegon as a placeholder for Dany/Quentyn. Together they can overthrow Tommen - and if they wait any longer the window of opportunity might close again.

3 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

Tarly is rewarded but yeah he definitely gets the short end of the gifts in comparison to the Tyrells.

“Lesser tracts were granted to Lord Rowan, and set aside for Lord Tarly, Lady Oakheart, Lord Hightower, and other worthies not present. ”

Tarly does "get" the betrothal to the Maidenpool heir, but I always read that as him seizing it at swordpoint (aka the army at his back) and no one saying he couldn't as opposed to him being rewarded with it. The most common reason I see Tarly listed as having a beef is Brightwater Keep.

“Tyrell demanded the lands and castles of Lord Alester Florent, his own bannerman, who’d had the singular ill judgment to back first Renly and then Stannis. Lord Tywin was pleased to oblige. Brightwater Keep and all its lands and incomes were granted to Lord Tyrell’s second son, Ser Garlan, transforming him into a great lord in the blink of an eye.”

His wife is a Florent, so both for reasons of political largess and dynastic continuity, it makes sense to award that castle, land, and incomes to him. He did lead the center battle at Blackwater and made sure Stannis wasn't going to benefit from more of Renly's infantry at Bitterbridge. That said, Garlan lead the van at the Blackwater and he essentially won the battle. It's not like Garlan's reward is undue either.

You would have a point here if Tarly had gone on record to complain. We don't know whether he ever wanted Brightwater Keep - and the next in line would still be Melessa's brother Alekyne Florent, not she.

The thing is, we really have no reason to believe that Mace has severe problems with those lords of the Reach who accompanied him to KL - i.e. Redwyne, Rowan, Tarly, etc. If there are lords he doesn't have strong connections with it should be such that were sidelined by both him and Renly. And that would Titus Peake, for instance, who did not join Renly's army. The Merryweathers are suspect, too, due to Orton being an exile once (he and/or his late father and grandfather could have fought with the Golden Company before Robert allowed them to return) and they behaving as if they were willing to play the Lannisters and Tyrells against each other rather than playing a standard game of personal advancement - which would have entailed Taena and Orton choosing one side and sticking to it rather than allowing/helping Cersei and Margaery to end up in the position they are in right now.

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2 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

You would have a point here if Tarly had gone on record to complain. We don't know whether he ever wanted Brightwater Keep - and the next in line would still be Melessa's brother Alekyne Florent, not she.

I do have a point. It's a pretty common belief here on the thread as well, so I can't even claim it for my own. Given the relative merits of Garlan's performance and the leverage the Tyrells had, the case for Tarly receiving BK isn't even that compelling. However it's nearly laughable to think he wouldn't want BK and its lands and incomes. We haven't ever seen a noble turn down more land once in the books. He later literally seizes Maidenpool with an army and sets his house up to rule.

And, at the very least, the main branch of House Florent was dispossessed. We specifically know Alekyne was attainted. The appendix in AFFC literally refers to him as an attainted lord. Whether or not Melessa would be counted in the attainder is debatable -- I would generally think not since she's a Tarly now and had nothing to do with their "treason" -- but her relation to the family is more pretext a la Robert and his Targ blood than actual governing efficiency. Sure it's expedient to have a blood claim if it makes the smallfolk love you (e.g. the Lannister/Frey rule of Darry) but somehow I don't think Randyll Tarly cares too much about that

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6 minutes ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

I do have a point. It's a pretty common belief here on the thread as well, so I can't even claim it for my own. Given the relative merits of Garlan's performance and the leverage the Tyrells had, the case for Tarly receiving BK isn't even that compelling. However it's nearly laughable to think he wouldn't want BK and its lands and incomes. We haven't ever seen a noble turn down more land once in the books. He later literally seizes Maidenpool with an army and sets his house up to rule.

The Brightwater issue is something only you come up with here on the thread. This whole thing is not about merits, nor is anybody saying merits demand greater rewards. The reason the Iron Throne rewards House Tyrell is because House Tyrell saved Joffrey Baratheon's ass. Randyll Tarly played a part there, but not exactly a very significant part. King Joffrey also chose to marry Margaery Tyrell rather than one of Randyll's daughters, didn't he?

Well, I'm sure he wouldn't reject Brightwater if it were offered, but the point is whether he expected to get it and whether he resents the fact that he didn't get it. And there is just no sign that this is the case.

How things go with Maidenpool remains to be seen. Lord William isn't dead yet, and I don't think it would be easy for a Lord Dickon to rule both Horn Hill and Maidenpool.

6 minutes ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

And, at the very least, the main branch of House Florent was dispossessed. We specifically know Alekyne was attainted. The appendix in AFFC literally refers to him as an attainted lord. Whether or not Melessa would be counted in the attainder is debatable -- I would generally think not since she's a Tarly now and had nothing to do with their "treason" -- but her relation to the family is more pretext a la Robert and his Targ blood than actual governing efficiency. Sure it's expedient to have a blood claim if it makes the smallfolk love you (e.g. the Lannister/Frey rule of Darry) but somehow I don't think Randyll Tarly cares too much about that

We know that he doesn't seem to care that Garlan Tyrell was named Lord of Brightwater, either. It seems to be pretty clear that all the Florents must have been attainted, or else they would have had claims to Brightwater, no? Even if one were to ignore the married women (which makes no sense) then Lord Alester still has a brother and a bunch of nephews left. The fact that Garlan was named Lord of Brightwater means all the Florents lost their claims because of the behavior of Alester and his family.

Tarly had more than enough opportunity to insist that he be given Brightwater or some other great seat. Loras took Dragonstone, for instance. Tarly was the one who freed Margaery and her cousins. He could have made them his hostages to put pressure on Mace, for instance. He could have sided with Kevan against Mace. He could have refused to march down from Maidenpool at all after the queens were imprisoned, etc. Yet he did nothing of that sort.

And he got rewarded again after he freed Margaery and her cousins - by being named Master of Laws. There is no indication that he cares more about Brightwater than about a high office at court - rather there is the opposite since he accepted such a position at court while - to our knowledge - never complaining that Garlan Tyrell was named Lord of Brightwater.

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10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Ah, well, the Mace situation is more complicated than that. Tarly was not the commander of the army that defeated Robert at Ashford, he was just commanding the vanguard which, for some reason, had already defeated Robert before the main army arrived on the battlefield. It certainly means that Tarly is the guy whose tactical abilities were a (deciding) factor in the victory, and it is somewhat embarrassing that Mace pretends he defeated Robert if he pretends he made the call. But nominally this certainly was Mace's victory, because it was his army and Tarly just his underling and vassal. I mean, a lot of Robb's victories - especially those in the Battle of the Camps - were won by other men.

If we had evidence that Tarly resented Mace Tyrell in any way, shape, or form we would have reason to speculate he might betray him, but at this point there is no evidence for stuff like that.

And if Kevan is right, and Tarly is really the brains of the Mace operation at court right now, then Tarly himself acts as a champion of House Tyrell not as a man undermining them. Tarly is the guy who swore a vow to the High Septon to return Margaery and her cousin for the trial, a vow he apparently has no intention to keep. Instead he is willing to cleanse the city and the Great Sept with steel.

And in the Epilogue Tarly and Mace repeatedly downplaying the Aegon threat is, in my opinion, part of their game to increase the pressure on Kevan. They want Margaery acquitted no matter what, and they make it clear that they won't do anything until that is accomplished. What road they are going to take now that Kevan is gone is a very crucial factor we don't know anything about at this point. Mace agreed to not defy the High Septon openly while Kevan was still alive - but what will he decide now that he is gone? Will he have Tommen declare Margaery's innocence and allow/command Tarly to attack the Great Sept? That is a real possibility...

But, certainly, if Mace were to decide that he is going to crush the Golden Company all by himself without Tarly's help then we certainly can see how Aegon is going to win this thing. Whether he is going to do that himself would depend how they deal with the Margaery situation, though. I don't see Mace himself leaving the capital before Margaery is acquitted. If her situation is not yet resolved by the time Storm's End falls to Aegon - and he and Tarly decide that something has to be done about this threat now - then chances are pretty high that Mace would indeed sent Tarly to Storm's End while he remains at KL to personally ensure nothing happens to his daughter.

If George wants to put Aegon as quickly as possible on the Iron Throne it would be a good way to have Mace himself lead and fuck up the campaign. He could die in battle or end up prisoner - which would then also lead to House Tyrell switching sides. But the same also goes if Margaery and/or Tommen die before there is a battle between the Tyrells and the Golden Company, or merely if Tommen and Myrcella are declared bastards, destroying their claims to the Iron Throne, or if Margaery is found guilty and this ends the marriage between her and Tommen.

It may be nominally Mace's victory, but - forgive me if my memory is playing with me - my impression was that Tarly doesn't get credit at all. Recall Stannis' comments - it would appear that Puff Fish has hogged all the glory, and only military commanders who actually fought in the war are aware of Tarly's role.

But whatever the case, I definitely can see Mace trying to defeat GC by himself, getting crushed, and Tarly joining with now victorious Aegon. And I believe George's emphasis on Mace's ego, his opinion of his own military competence and propensity to give "tactical advice" all point to him not allowing Randyll to lead his army while Mace himself stays at King's Laning; rather, opposite is more likely IMO.

10 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Arianne will decide whether Dorne joins Aegon or not. And we will learn soon enough what she thinks of him. I don't doubt that they will marry eventually, but as I said above I certainly can see Arianne originally just using Aegon as a placeholder for Dany/Quentyn. Together they can overthrow Tommen - and if they wait any longer the window of opportunity might close again.

But final decision still lies with Doran. He could decide to override Arianne's decision.

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23 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Those friends cannot magically teleport troops. And chances are not that high that either Rowan or Tarly are among them. Rowan should join Aegon when he takes Storm's End - he won't have a choice - but he should only have a small contingent of troops. And Tarly is likely going to be the guy (co-)leading the Tyrell troops marching against Aegon. If he were to switch sides there would likely not even be a battle - and Tarly has less to gain from joining Aegon than from crushing him. Not to mention that while Rowan and, perhaps Tarly, too, have connections to the Targaryens, they have none to the Golden Company that we are aware of.

Peake would be referring to other Peakes as potential allies, one imagines (Lord Titus Peake), and there is a chance that the Merryweathers have connections to the Golden Company. But aside from those houses those other mystery friends should be relations of exiled members of the Golden Company.

I mean, realistically, the only friends the Golden Company should have would be via men who had been recently exiled in the wake of Robert's Rebellion, say. The last time the Blackfyres sat foot on Westerosi soil was in 236 AC, and that's a long time ago - not to mention that back then pretty much nobody declared for them, anyway.

Franklyn Flowers is not exactly likely to have any friends in the Reach, and the Peakes aside we have yet to meet an influential Reach man in the company.

Yeah, I'm not saying it's definitely Rowan or Tarly, but whoever it is, Peake at least seems to think it will be significant. So when sizing up the relative strengths of GC and House Tyrell at Storm's End, it would be wise to keep in mind that the allegiances as they are now might not be the same when the battle is joined. Even a relatively small number of troops can turn the tide if they are implemented in the right way at the right time.

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22 hours ago, Aldarion said:

I do not think they will be in time to join the first battle, but will definitely play a role in replenishing the losses down the road.

I actually can see Tarly joining Aegon. Remember that Lord Puff Fish has an overinflated image of his own military leadership skillz. He may refuse to even share the glory of defeating Aegon in battle, which will lead to Randyll sitting that one out. And if Puff Fish gets himself skewered by Griffin, Tarly may decide to join the winning side.

Realistically, anyone slighted by Lannisters is a potential friend to Golden Company. Which was quite a list, even before Cersei came to be in charge (and she is, now that both Tywin and Kevan are dead). Question is, how many of them could have been contacted in advance?

It could very well be that Mace himself will support Aegon. If it becomes widely accepted after Cersei's trial that Tommen is illegitimate, then marrying Margy to him would be of dubious benefit even if Cersei prevails in the eventual TBC. So he might see a better opportunity in Aegon and a possible betrothal to the new king on the Iron Throne.

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16 hours ago, Aldarion said:

It may be nominally Mace's victory, but - forgive me if my memory is playing with me - my impression was that Tarly doesn't get credit at all. Recall Stannis' comments - it would appear that Puff Fish has hogged all the glory, and only military commanders who actually fought in the war are aware of Tarly's role.

Oh, actually everybody seems to be knowing that Randyll Tarly is the hero of Ashford. His victory there is the reason why he is seen as 'the finest soldier of the Realm'. There is no indication that Tarly suffers or broods over the fact that Mace claims or pretends he won the victory at Ashford. He is not like Stannis, who complains all day long that he is not Lord of Storm's End, he knows what he can do, and everybody else does, too, it seems. In that sense, there is no reason to suspect that the man feels slighted.

And there was certainly reward for the victory at Ashford, especially not after King Robert sat on the Iron Throne.

And Tarly certainly reaped rewards for his role at the Blackwater and at Duskendale and Maidenpool. And by the time of the Epilogue he reaped even another reward - the office of Master of Laws.

16 hours ago, Aldarion said:

But whatever the case, I definitely can see Mace trying to defeat GC by himself, getting crushed, and Tarly joining with now victorious Aegon. And I believe George's emphasis on Mace's ego, his opinion of his own military competence and propensity to give "tactical advice" all point to him not allowing Randyll to lead his army while Mace himself stays at King's Laning; rather, opposite is more likely IMO.

This certainly is a possibility. How likely it is is going to depend on the KL situation and how things with the queens and the Faith, etc. unfold there. Is Mace also going to command the troops if his daughter is not yet safe or the situation in the capital uncertain? I don't know. Is a scenario imaginable in which Mace and Tarly would both command the army marching against Storm's End? Certainly, although that would be utter stupidity considering that it would weaken the Tyrell position in KL.

16 hours ago, Aldarion said:

But final decision still lies with Doran. He could decide to override Arianne's decision.

As per the sample chapters 

Spoiler

Doran actually left that decision completely to Arianne. He gave her authority and the necessary codes to authorize the army commanders in the passes to either start the war or remain where they are. She certainly might first correspond with her father to ask for his advice - and she certainly would be informing him of her decision - but as things stand she doesn't have to do that. She can decide on her own what the Dornish armies are going to do.

 

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