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Canon Claude

Stannis vs Tywin

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Let’s assume that Stannis and Tywin were facing off on a completely even playing field. Same number of soldiers and noble factions, holding territory of equal size, and one side has to defeat the other. Neither man has a secret advantage over the other in terms of resources or wealth or bannermen, it’s simply about their own personalities; their abilities in war, diplomacy, their morality, etc. Who ends up defeating and conquering the other?

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Hard for me to be objective, given how much I like Stannis and hate Tywin, but I'll try and be fair. And since you're talking about all their aspects and abilities, then I'll go through the ones you mentioned part by part:

Military: Stannis wins. Tywin's victories on the field were always from a position of superiority. He always outnumbered his enemies and almost always took them by surprise. While it does take talent to win a battle, and Tywin's clearly shrewd and calculating, Stannis's record is more impressive. Whether he's been under siege, ambushing a larger force, or fighting an enemy on their home turf, Stannis almost always wins. The fact that his military ability translates to the sea, open battlefield, and a castle, it's indicative that he'd defeat Tywin.

Diplomacy: Tywin takes it here. Stannis can intimidate and rule with an iron fist, but he's too blunt for most people. Tywin managed to administrate the Seven Kingdoms while dealing with one of the worst kings that ever sat on the Iron Throne antagonising him. He can make deals in peacetime and wartime, and he can outmaneuver his enemies with letters. Stannis doesn't have an interest in that sort of thing, so it's a blind spot and a hindrance.

Morality: This one's obvious to me. Stannis is the truly just man. He gelds men for rape, he leads by example to the point that he administers punishments himself. He will fight to the bitter end, but he has certain principles which elevate him above the average lord in Westeros. Tywin, by contrast, has no scruples. He'll actively encourage his men to pillage and rape to their hearts' content, and carries out truly ruthless acts out of spite or personal reasons. Sure, Stannis is no angel, but Tywin is an outright villainous figure as far as I'm concerned. 

Charisma: This is a tough one; Stannis is disliked by most because he's asocial and he's blunt, but on the other hand, Tywin doesn't exactly win people over either. Both men are feared rather than loved, at least where the nobles are concerned. While we don't often get a view of the characters from the smallfolk's perspective, we do get a few hints during the novels as to how they view their leaders. Stannis' army is loyal to him, even when he's living in Robert's shadow. He proves his abilities and he earns a lot of loyalty from commoners. Tywin and Stannis are both willing to reward loyalty, but they both also expect it as a given. But since Stannis has lived long enough to evolve and change his way of thinking, he fights for the realm rather than expecting the realm. So while AGOT Stannis would lose the charisma battle to Tywin, I think ADWD Stannis emerges victorious.

 

So if we tally it all up, I'd say Stannis would be the better ruler and the better military leader, but Tywin's willingness to rely on treachery and deceit would still give him a chance to defeat Stannis. It'd probably be an even split with things dependent on the circumstances of the scenarios.

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Tywin of course.

Stannis can absolutely defeat Tywin in a pitched battle, so I see every reason to think that Tywin will stay away from a decisive engagement like that until he has peeled off a sufficient number of Stannis bannermen to have a decisive advantage, as Tywin's diplomacy and Stannis unsocial character should start to drive people away from the Stag. And even then Tywin may not risk everything on a battle but keep killing Stannis with a thousand cuts and leave Stannis no oppertunity for a "death or glory" gamble that Stannis might just bring to a success.

 

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19 hours ago, Canon Claude said:

Let’s assume that Stannis and Tywin were facing off on a completely even playing field. Same number of soldiers and noble factions, holding territory of equal size, and one side has to defeat the other. Neither man has a secret advantage over the other in terms of resources or wealth or bannermen, it’s simply about their own personalities; their abilities in war, diplomacy, their morality, etc. Who ends up defeating and conquering the other?

Tywin wins. He’s flexible and can see out of the box. He will use bribery and rewards if needed.

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55 minutes ago, Lion of the West said:

And even then Tywin may not risk everything on a battle but keep killing Stannis with a thousand cuts and leave Stannis no oppertunity for a "death or glory" gamble that Stannis might just bring to a success.

 

You're speaking about Stannis as if he were Robert, or Robb Stark for that matter. Stannis leads from the rear like Tywin does, he doesn't look at war as a sport, he brings cold calculation to it. Stannis is to Robert what Athena was to Ares. That's why Tywin viewed him as the biggest threat, as well as the fact that he couldn't be bought off or intimidated. 

18 minutes ago, Widowmaker 811 said:

Tywin wins. He’s flexible and can see out of the box. He will use bribery and rewards if needed.

And yet Tywin managed to not only alienate his son Tyrion (who was objectively one of Tywin's best assets given who else we have to compare him to) but also wilfully let him die for a crime he didn't actually commit. 

While I do concede that Tywin has an edge with bribery, I'd say Stannis is better at rewarding his followers. Look at Davos Seaworth as the obvious example; a common born man who normally wouldn't even be allowed to sniff the inside of a nobleman's court, but Stannis elevated him for his skills and his morals. Stannis doesn't care if the 'onion knight' makes him a laughingstock among the nobles, he recognises character, and benefits greatly from having Davos by his side. 

Aside from traditional bannermen and family members, Tywin's allies are won by bribery, but as soon as Tywin shows weakness, those allies turn on him and look for a new master (ex. The Brave Companions). True, the same thing happened to Stannis, but there's a core of his troops that remain loyal to the bitter end when they have no reason to do so. Clayton Suggs is a truly awful human being who loves to bully and torture people, but at the same time, he was so loyal to Stannis that he single-handedly charged towards approaching horsemen to give the rest of the camp a chance to react, even if it meant his own life being lost. Any other bully would have run away, or probably wouldn't have even gone north in the first place, but Clayton stood by Stannis, and still does.

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If you put them both at the head of similarly sized and quality armies across a battlefield and Stannis likely would do better on that single day of battle. If you put them both at the head of their causes at the beginning of a campaign, Tywin probably does better. Stannis is probably a better battlefield commander, but Tywin understands the relationship between war and politics and is by far a superior politician than Stannis. 

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8 hours ago, James Steller said:

You're speaking about Stannis as if he were Robert, or Robb Stark for that matter. Stannis leads from the rear like Tywin does, he doesn't look at war as a sport, he brings cold calculation to it. Stannis is to Robert what Athena was to Ares. That's why Tywin viewed him as the biggest threat, as well as the fact that he couldn't be bought off or intimidated. 

I don't think that Stannis is Robert or Robb. But Stannis make grevious mistakes that Tywin don't do. I'd put it down to Tywin thinking of Stannis as the largest threat to be to him not having a feel for the Young Separatist at that point. But it could also be that Robb and Stannis have different objectives.

If things goes to hell, the Lannisters can always let the Riverlands and North go. Its really bad but there's the oppertunity of accepting the secession of the North and Riverlands. There's no such alternative with Stannis who wants the the Iron Throne. Its death or victory in the Baratheon civil war in a way I don't think is true in regards to the Northern rebellion. Hence why I think that Stannis is seen as the greater threat.

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53 minutes ago, Lion of the West said:

I don't think that Stannis is Robert or Robb. But Stannis make grevious mistakes that Tywin don't do. I'd put it down to Tywin thinking of Stannis as the largest threat to be to him not having a feel for the Young Separatist at that point. But it could also be that Robb and Stannis have different objectives.

If things goes to hell, the Lannisters can always let the Riverlands and North go. Its really bad but there's the oppertunity of accepting the secession of the North and Riverlands. There's no such alternative with Stannis who wants the the Iron Throne. Its death or victory in the Baratheon civil war in a way I don't think is true in regards to the Northern rebellion. Hence why I think that Stannis is seen as the greater threat.

That doesn't make sense. By that logic, Renly would be the biggest threat to Tywin, since by that point he's got control of the Reach and the Stormlands. But Tywin clearly specifies that he has always viewed Stannis as the most dangerous threat. It's not because Stannis has the most men, because he doesn't. He also isn't the only person to be wary of Stannis; Varys and Cersei and Tyrion all consider him a dangerous man, whether it's because he's a proven military leader, or it's because he's a 'truly just man'. It's not just because of his objectives.

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On 4/20/2021 at 4:44 PM, James Steller said:

Tywin's victories on the field were always from a position of superiority. He always outnumbered his enemies and almost always took them by surprise.

Stannis has similar advantages in almost all of his victories.  For example, at Fair Isle he would have had greater numbers than Vic.  Against Mance, he had the advantage of being guided by the NW into a surprise attack to the rear camps of infamously undisciplined army.  He had both greater numbers and surprise when he defeated Asha.

His siege at Storm's End only shows he can hold discipline not any tactical/strategic ability. 

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1 hour ago, Minsc said:

Stannis has similar advantages in almost all of his victories.  For example, at Fair Isle he would have had greater numbers than Vic.  Against Mance, he had the advantage of being guided by the NW into a surprise attack to the rear camps of infamously undisciplined army.  He had both greater numbers and surprise when he defeated Asha.

His siege at Storm's End only shows he can hold discipline not any tactical/strategic ability. 

Stannis defeated the Ironborn at sea. He defeated the wildlings north of the Wall. In both cases, the terrain was unfamiliar to him to the point that it was his literal first time fighting there, and it was also his enemies' home turfs. If that's not fighting from a disadvantaged position, I don't know what is. And even if he did have the Nights Watch guiding him, he was still vastly outnumbered; Mance could have rallied his troops and defeated him like Tywin defeated the Reynes' surprise attack. 

And one can't dismiss the siege of Storm's End, either. It clearly defined him, it's the first thing people think of when they talk about him. He was barely old enough to drink (by my country's standards) and yet he held Storm's End for a year without falling victim to mutiny or despair. He held firm from without and from within, and he inspired the garrison to follow suit. Maintaining that kind of discipline isn't something to be sneezed at. 

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2 hours ago, James Steller said:

That doesn't make sense. By that logic, Renly would be the biggest threat to Tywin, since by that point he's got control of the Reach and the Stormlands. But Tywin clearly specifies that he has always viewed Stannis as the most dangerous threat. It's not because Stannis has the most men, because he doesn't. He also isn't the only person to be wary of Stannis; Varys and Cersei and Tyrion all consider him a dangerous man, whether it's because he's a proven military leader, or it's because he's a 'truly just man'. It's not just because of his objectives.

Well it makes sense if you look at what the Lannisters will lose from a loss in the war. But you are right that I forgot about Renly so you have a point in that reasonably Renly should, by my logic, be a greater threat than Stannis due to the Tyrell support. So I will agree that its likely that its Stannis' military experience and proven record that makes him a larger threat in Tywin's eyes.

As for how just Stannis is, I'm starting to lose my conviction that Stannis is a just man. Sure, Stannis is happy to enforce very strict morals and principles on others but for himself he's more lax. Like adultry, treating others like shit while complaining that others are mean to him...

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11 minutes ago, Leonardo said:

"Tywin's more underhanded and willing to be crafty than Stannis"

>.>

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/images/f/fa/Shadow_baby_birth.jpg

Fair point, but I would argue that the shadow baby is an indication of Melisandre's influence upon Stannis. We see that from Davos' perspective; the intention is that Stannis' conscience, and the figure who represents Stannis at his best, is appalled at what Stannis has become in his bid to finally get what he feels he deserves.

Anyway, I'd say sending shadow babies to kill two men still pales in comparison to Tywin's long list of cruel actions:

-Sending the Mountain to rape and kill Elia Martell because she managed to marry Rhaegar instead of Cersei (and he totally did that on purpose, you can't convince me otherwise)

-Shaming his father's mistress for all Lannisport to see

-Manipulating Jaime into lying to Tyrion about Tysha and then forcing Tyrion to watch a host of men rape Tysha and then rape her as well

-Approving and partly orchestrating the Red Wedding and then protecting the perpetrators

-Supporting Janos Slynt for the Lord Commander of the Nights Watch despite the fact that he went around killing babies

-Continually making use of the Mountain and Amory Lorch and the Brave Companions, etc.

And it's worth pointing out that Stannis disapproves of almost all those previous actions. 

30 minutes ago, Lion of the West said:

But you are right that I forgot about Renly so you have a point in that reasonably Renly should, by my logic, be a greater threat than Stannis due to the Tyrell support. So I will agree that its likely that its Stannis' military experience and proven record that makes him a larger threat in Tywin's eyes.

As for how just Stannis is, I'm starting to lose my conviction that Stannis is a just man. Sure, Stannis is happy to enforce very strict morals and principles on others but for himself he's more lax. Like adultry, treating others like shit while complaining that others are mean to him...

Allow me to make a concession in turn. I probably am leaning too heavily on that quote from Varys. Not that I think Varys is lying about Stannis (he has no reason to lie about Stannis being just in that scene) but it's definitely a simplistic take on Stannis, just like Ned isn't really 100% honourable. If Stannis was truly just, then he'd be a very wooden character without the layers that make him so fascinating to me. He is certainly capable of hypocrisy, as you pointed out, but those moments you described are also Stannis at his worst. His thralldom to Melisandre's influence represents his low point, and once Davos re-enters his service and acts as a Hand should, Stannis listens and takes Davos' messages to heart, and he becomes a better version of himself. His character evolves during the story, and when he isn't wallowing, he doesn't blindly follow Mel's religion. He listens to people like Davos and Jon Snow, to his own benefit. 

Tywin, meanwhile, does not have such an evolution. He is firmly set in his ways, and he is also a hypocrite about what a cruel vindictive tyrant he really is. Hypocrisy is one of his main character traits; he is all about family while also alienating nearly all his family members against him, he's all about political marriages even though he only married once for love, he despises prostitutes while making use of a secret passageway just to go visit them, even when he was happily married.

Stannis is a complex antihero, but Tywin is a complex villain.

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19 hours ago, James Steller said:

Stannis defeated the Ironborn at sea. He defeated the wildlings north of the Wall. In both cases, the terrain was unfamiliar to him to the point that it was his literal first time fighting there, and it was also his enemies' home turfs. If that's not fighting from a disadvantaged position, I don't know what is. And even if he did have the Nights Watch guiding him, he was still vastly outnumbered; Mance could have rallied his troops and defeated him like Tywin defeated the Reynes' surprise attack. 

And one can't dismiss the siege of Storm's End, either. It clearly defined him, it's the first thing people think of when they talk about him. He was barely old enough to drink (by my country's standards) and yet he held Storm's End for a year without falling victim to mutiny or despair. He held firm from without and from within, and he inspired the garrison to follow suit. Maintaining that kind of discipline isn't something to be sneezed at. 

He defeated them with twice their numbers while commanding forces just experienced at the sea as the Ironborn.  The Wildlings are vastly more undisciplined than Tywin's Westernlanders.  Furthermore, his hit in the rear hit their camps of children, women, and elderly further causing chaos.

It defines him as being stubborn and being able to hold discipline.  He didn't need any strategic ability as he had an extremely defensivable castle and an unmotivated foe.  Penrose likely would have held a similar length if not for magic.  Regarding his age, it is less remarkable when one remembers Robert and Ned were leading armies in the field at the same age.  Similarly, even Tywin was of a similar age during his attack on the Reynes and Castameres.

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On 4/20/2021 at 5:10 PM, Canon Claude said:

Let’s assume that Stannis and Tywin were facing off on a completely even playing field. Same number of soldiers and noble factions, holding territory of equal size, and one side has to defeat the other. Neither man has a secret advantage over the other in terms of resources or wealth or bannermen, it’s simply about their own personalities; their abilities in war, diplomacy, their morality, etc. Who ends up defeating and conquering the other?

A lot of responses not taking into account the OP’s point of a hypothetical even playing field. Politics and coin are irrelevant in this case. I believe Tywin is a skilled commander, but all things equal it is suggested that Stannis is the better field commander and would win.

That aside, in most plausible campaign scenarios I think Tywin would win. This would take into account politiking and so on.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, nyser1 said:

 

A lot of responses not taking into account the OP’s point of a hypothetical even playing field. Politics and coin are irrelevant in this case. I believe Tywin is a skilled commander, but all things equal it is suggested that Stannis is the better field commander and would win.

That aside, in most plausible campaign scenarios I think Tywin would win. This would take into account politiking and so on.

Politics and coin are still relevant to Claude's scenario. It's not a matter of who has more money, but how they use them. Even if all five kings in the War of the Five Kings had an equal amount of money, they wouldn't all spend that money in the same way. You can't rule politics and coin out just because the two combatants have equal access to both.

I find it an interesting competition, personally. In a lot of ways, Tywin and Stannis are similar men, but in other ways, they're complete opposites. Neither man enjoys war the way Robert or Jaime do, neither of them spend lavishly on themselves like Renly or Cersei do, and they're known for being prudent and level-headed men who take active interest in ruling and administration, even when they have to put up with shitty kings like Aerys and Robert. Both men make enemies easily, but also have a number of allies who are loyal to the bitter end (Kevan, Davos, etc).

As for their differences, Tywin revels in playing 'the game' while Stannis works to abolish it whenever he can. Just look at the character of Janos Slynt, the Commander of the goldcloaks. Stannis tried to have him removed from his post, even tried for corruption. Tywin considered Janos' corruption an asset, for who would bid higher for his loyalty than himself? Of course, Tywin wouldn't ever have given Janos Slynt Harrenhal, while Stannis will give an even lower-born man the title of Hand, be damned what people would say about it. 

If I was going to be realistic, I'd say Tywin would ultimately win against Stannis, though it would have to be through treachery and deceit. 

Edited by Floki of the Ironborn

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Posted (edited)

Could easily go either way though I still maintain that Stannis the Mannis' military genius is a fandom meme, the guy's a threat because he's competent and tenacious not because he's a tactical genius. Stannis' only really impressive feat of command is Fair Isle but it's a naval battle which means absolutely dick all as far as battlefield command goes especially when it consists of luring an idiot into the only place where his entire fleet can be enveloped by massively superior numbers. 

No one ever seems to take points off him for marching off to King's Landing with two armies bigger than his own within relief range of the city and getting subsequently dicked down, or fucking off into a blizzard to besiege a monstrous castle with no supplies, sure he might end up pulling something miraculous off in Winds at Winterfell but fundamentally it's dumb as fuck. Anyone else would get called out but not Stannis. 

I can't reconcile these points with him being a military genius or even a particularly gifted strategist, nor have we ever even seen him command anything close to a pitched battle so how on earth can we know he's so good tactically. 

 

Edited by Trigger Warning

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

 

No one ever seems to take points off him for marching off to King's Landing with two armies bigger than his own within relief range of the city and getting subsequently dicked down, or fucking off into a blizzard to besiege a monstrous castle with no supplies, sure he might end up pulling something miraculous off in Winds at Winterfell but fundamentally it's dumb as fuck. Anyone else would get called out but not Stannis. 
 

 

To be fair, the blizzards didn’t start until well after Stannis’s march to Winterfell had begun. He couldn’t just stay at Deepwood Motte all winter, and attacking the Dreadfort or marching to Barrowton  was out of the question. Seizing Winterfell and toppling House Bolton was a good strategy to ingratiate him to the North. He’s preparing for the real threat coming south, just like Jon Snow is doing. We the readers know that these two guys are looking in the right direction, it’s been foreshadowed and hinted to us from the first book when Osha remarks that Robb was marching in the wrong direction.

That said, I do agree that a lot of Stannis’ fans are blithely overlooking his worst traits to praise his best ones. Especially after the abomination smeared his character.

Edited by Canon Claude

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5 minutes ago, Canon Claude said:

To be fair, the blizzards didn’t start until well after Stannis’s march to Winterfell had begun. He couldn’t just stay at Deepwood Motte all winter, and attacking the Dreadfort or marching to Barrowton  was out of the question. Seizing Winterfell and toppling House Bolton was a good strategy to ingratiate him to the North. He’s preparing for the real threat coming south, just like Jon Snow is doing. We the readers know that these two guys are looking in the right direction, it’s been foreshadowed and hinted to us from the first book when Osha remarks that Robb was marching in the wrong direction.

That said, I do agree that a lot of Stannis’ fans are blithely overlooking his worst traits to praise his best ones. Especially after the abomination smeared his character.

I could agree if the idea of atacking a place as well defended as winterfell during winter didn t sound cray cray. It is something that either must be done as fast as possible or not at all. 

 

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, divica said:

I could agree if the idea of atacking a place as well defended as winterfell during winter didn t sound cray cray. It is something that either must be done as fast as possible or not at all. 

 

I think it was only well defended in the abomination. Roose described it as being a broken and ruined place. He was hoping to appear vulnerable to Stannis and he was also relying on the clansmen’s insistence on saving Ned’s daughter. Plus he had Arnolf Karstark in his back pocket ready to betray Stannis at a word from Roose. But that also proves your point, since the only thing that saved Stannis from striding right into a trap was Jon Snow sending him a warning. For the second time in that book’s chronology.

Come to think of it, it’s really Jon Snow who planned Stannis’ military campaign, and he saved it from failure twice. 

Edited by Canon Claude

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