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What decisions should the Blacks and Greens have taken during the Dance ?


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What are some of the better choices and more well-thought decisions that the Black and the Green sides of the conflict should have taken to better their respective position, make a better use of the dragons and military forces they had at their disposal, and secure more support from the noble houses and smallfolk ?

What are the choices that could have proven to be useful or even decisive if they had been taken but were ignored out of pride, impatience, wrath or outright stupidity which made the Dance even longer and worse instead ?

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Some ideas of each of the sides would be:

The greens:

  • Killing Lucerys was idiotic. It started hostilities in a time when time played in their favour. Also, the fact that Rhaenyra's son was killed at Storm's End probably played a part in Lord Borros fear of retribution and his refusal to commit his forces while the blacks had dragons on the field.
  • Lord Beesbury and the rest of the black allies at court shouldn't have been killed. Instead, they should have been kept as hostages to ensure that their houses do not fight against them.
  • Taking the Tyrell's support for granted was a terrible mistake. Convincing/bribing lord Tyrell's mother should have been a top priority.
  • The Redwyne fleet doesn't seem to have been put to any use during the war. If they had repelled the Ironborn invasion, the West may have sent reinforcements in later stages of the war. If they had joined the triarchy at the Gullet, the battle may have been a clear Black victory.

The blacks:

  • Use the dragon superiority. Even if you fear risking the lives of your family, the black's lack of response to the fall of Duskendale and the beheading of Lord Darklyn mas awful PR. Even if it was a trap (which it was), it was as much a huge gamble for the greens too: if either Aemond or Aegon died in the ambush, their cause became close to hopeless.
  • Lord Bartimos tax policy at KL certainly backfired. Other fiscal policies would have been preferable, such as obtaining loans from the Bank of Braavos, the Velaryons, or other loyal lords, and expropriating the defeated green lords.
  • After the fall of KL, distributing the dragonriders the way they did wasn't very sensible. Addams (the heir to Driftmark) and Nettles (the girl who cried over Jace's death) are more reliable than Ulf and Hugh (the older seeds with bigger dragons than you and endless ambitions). It would have been wiser to send one of them with Daemon.
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On 11/9/2022 at 11:15 PM, The hairy bear said:

Some ideas of each of the sides would be:

The greens:

  • Killing Lucerys was idiotic. It started hostilities in a time when time played in their favour. Also, the fact that Rhaenyra's son was killed at Storm's End probably played a part in Lord Borros fear of retribution and his refusal to commit his forces while the blacks had dragons on the field.
  • Lord Beesbury and the rest of the black allies at court shouldn't have been killed. Instead, they should have been kept as hostages to ensure that their houses do not fight against them.
  • Taking the Tyrell's support for granted was a terrible mistake. Convincing/bribing lord Tyrell's mother should have been a top priority.
  • The Redwyne fleet doesn't seem to have been put to any use during the war. If they had repelled the Ironborn invasion, the West may have sent reinforcements in later stages of the war. If they had joined the triarchy at the Gullet, the battle may have been a clear Black victory.

The blacks:

  • Use the dragon superiority. Even if you fear risking the lives of your family, the black's lack of response to the fall of Duskendale and the beheading of Lord Darklyn mas awful PR. Even if it was a trap (which it was), it was as much a huge gamble for the greens too: if either Aemond or Aegon died in the ambush, their cause became close to hopeless.
  • Lord Bartimos tax policy at KL certainly backfired. Other fiscal policies would have been preferable, such as obtaining loans from the Bank of Braavos, the Velaryons, or other loyal lords, and expropriating the defeated green lords.
  • After the fall of KL, distributing the dragonriders the way they did wasn't very sensible. Addams (the heir to Driftmark) and Nettles (the girl who cried over Jace's death) are more reliable than Ulf and Hugh (the older seeds with bigger dragons than you and endless ambitions). It would have been wiser to send one of them with Daemon.

All good points.

One thing I'd add to the Blacks side of things is that Blood and Cheese shouldn't have stopped at Jaehaerys. They could have easily killed Alicent, bound and gagged Helaena, killed all three of the children, spared Helaena so Aegon can't marry again, then sneak over to Otto Hightower's office and murder him too. It would have completely crippled Aegon's council, demoralized him, and left the greens open to a ruinous defeat.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pre dance, Rhenerya shouldn't have trusted to twenty year old oaths. She should have been out there with her dragon, conducting progresses across Westeros after her marriage. Taking Leanor with her, riding their dragons. It would have certainly helped win her some allies.

Sending Meleys out alone at Rooks Rest was a mistake. Given her age, Meleys might have been able to take on Vhagar, and the two surviving Strongs might have been able to take Sunfyre.

The blacks should have used the armies of the Vale sooner. Leave a garrison to defend the Bloody Gate and march a army down to Kings Landing to help hold it.

She shouldn't have turned on Corlys and the bastards after the betrayal. It cost her most of her strength, and cost her King's Landing.

 

 

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7 hours ago, 1000th Lord Commander said:

Pre dance, Rhenerya shouldn't have trusted to twenty year old oaths. She should have been out there with her dragon, conducting progresses across Westeros after her marriage. Taking Leanor with her, riding their dragons. It would have certainly helped win her some allies.

Sending Meleys out alone at Rooks Rest was a mistake. Given her age, Meleys might have been able to take on Vhagar, and the two surviving Strongs might have been able to take Sunfyre.

The blacks should have used the armies of the Vale sooner. Leave a garrison to defend the Bloody Gate and march a army down to Kings Landing to help hold it.

She shouldn't have turned on Corlys and the bastards after the betrayal. It cost her most of her strength, and cost her King's Landing.

 

 

Joffrey is a child and Tyraxes is too small for combat. And committing both sons to a doubtful battle would be strategically foolish. Even so, Rook's Rest is an example of the relatively poor use that the Blacks make of their dragons throughout the campaign, considering that even at the outset they have more of them. Vhagar is the biggest threat, and while Meleys and Caraxes might be a match for Vhagar alone, it's still doubtful and a massive risk that the Blacks don't need to take.

At that early stage in the war, the Greens really only have two dragons to worry about: Sunfyre and Vhagar. Tessarion doesn't seem to be in play yet. The Blacks have Caraxes, Syrax, Meleys and Vermax. So even before the dragonseeds appear, the Blacks can afford to double up on dragons in order to ensure Vhagar doesn't pick them off one at a time.

To be fair, and while the Blacks do collectively make some decisions that are questionable, terrible, or just bizarre, the main reason they don't win an outright victory in the war is simply bad luck. They were unlucky to lose Jace at the Gullet, and that both Hugh and Ulf betrayed them at Tumbleton (seriously, what was their plan there?) and that a random mob of peasants managed to kill the dragons at the Dragonpit, and that Joffrey died trying to rescue them while also letting Syrax loose, and that somehow the peasants then managed to kill Syrax as well, and that Grey Ghost somehow couldn't deal with an injured Sunfyre even though the much smaller Moondancer was able to cripple him, etc.

One or two of those things can be put down to the unpredictability of war, but all of them? By contrast the only point at which the Greens fall victim to meaningful misfortune (as opposed to simply being outfought/outmanoeuvred) is Daeron's death at Tumbleton, and even with that, it's debatable whether that's really bad luck, and what difference his survival would have made in the ensuing battle.

Edited by Adelstein
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The Greens party has the major advantages that the Blacks lack - Time and people. They do well in setting themselves up before the dance, winning over the West and South, they could go further. While the Arryns are a lost cause on a couple of counts, and the Starks are notoriously prickly when it comes to honour, efforts should have been made to sway their bannerman into supporting Aegon. By tying up the North and Vale, they could have easily cut any support for Rhenerya off.

Efforts also should have been made to secure the Stormlands before Viserys died. A marriage pact with the Baratheons could have been made a lot earlier. Aemond might also have made the attempt to secure command over the Stormlands, so they don't go wandering off into the mountains when they are needed. Also more effort to get the Tyrells on side, which could have swung the allegiance of many Reach bannermen. Their opening gambit to persuade Rhaenyra her position is hopeless is a good one, and one that

As for the dance itself, the greens make a lot of smarter decisions than the blacks. Rooks Rest, the Gullet are both solid victories for the greens, and the use of Erryk to try and sow distrust is a good reply to blood and cheese.

The Greens biggest mistake is underestimating the opposition. Quite a few lords have not forgotten their oaths, and they dismiss many lesser lords as minor threats. These minor threats are what ties down the host from Oldtown, until Tessarion comes. Had this host moved faster, they could have used that in the Riverlands, rather than the host from Kings Landing.

Abandoning Kings Landing for Harrenhal is another bad decision, one Daemon relies upon. Had they held out in Kings Landing, they could have forced a attack on the capital, defended walls. We see the blacks were reluctant to attack the city, the greens could have used this to try and defeat the blacks in detail.

Larys Strong is one of the smartest players in the Dance. He hides Aegon,

Finally Aegon's determination to destroy his enemies utterly and not offer pardons to the blacks after Rhenyras death seals his doom. Had he announced a general amnesty, taken a few hostages and declared a general peace, he could have saved himself.

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On 11/9/2022 at 10:05 PM, Canon Claude said:

Viserys shouldn’t have married again, and he should have dragged Westeros kicking and screaming into a more feminist age.

With him just having a single child and a half-mad, childless brother as heirs it would have been madness not to remarry.

On 11/10/2022 at 5:15 AM, The hairy bear said:

Lord Beesbury and the rest of the black allies at court shouldn't have been killed. Instead, they should have been kept as hostages to ensure that their houses do not fight against them.

I understand why they didn't do that (although I think the chances are actually not that bad that Beesbury was never actually killed). The executions only started after Blood and Cheese when Aegon II had had enough of looking like a weak puppet king. And they were given the choice to declare for Aegon II.

On 11/10/2022 at 5:15 AM, The hairy bear said:
  • Taking the Tyrell's support for granted was a terrible mistake. Convincing/bribing lord Tyrell's mother should have been a top priority.

I'm sure they did just that ... and failed. Ormund's youngest son was a ward at Highgarden at that time. The Hightowers had connections to the Tyrells. They were just not enough to convince a woman whose top priorities would have been the well-being of her young son and her own power as his regent rather than getting her house involved in a pointless succession war.

Lyonel Tyrell's father cannot have died a long time ago, possibly only as late as late 128 or early 129 AC (Lord Lyonel is still in his swaddling clothes, so he may been born quite recently). He may have been in the Green camp. Lady Tyrell could easily enough have been from a house with Black leanings - a Tarly, Merryweather, Rowan, or Caswell. Or the castellan or steward of Highgarden (the men who helped Lady Tyrell to rule in her son's name) may have been very cautious and/or have connections to the Blacks.

On 11/10/2022 at 5:15 AM, The hairy bear said:
  • The Redwyne fleet doesn't seem to have been put to any use during the war. If they had repelled the Ironborn invasion, the West may have sent reinforcements in later stages of the war. If they had joined the triarchy at the Gullet, the battle may have been a clear Black victory.

The behavior of the Redwynes both during the Dance and afterwards (when Alyn wants them to help him defeat the Ironborn) strongly indicates that the Lord of the Arbor at that time was all talk. The Redwynes effectively just declared for Aegon II, possibly because of their close marriage ties to the Hightowers, but apparently never had any intention to actually take part in the fighting.

On 11/10/2022 at 5:15 AM, The hairy bear said:

The blacks:

  • Use the dragon superiority. Even if you fear risking the lives of your family, the black's lack of response to the fall of Duskendale and the beheading of Lord Darklyn mas awful PR. Even if it was a trap (which it was), it was as much a huge gamble for the greens too: if either Aemond or Aegon died in the ambush, their cause became close to hopeless.

The dragon policy of the Blacks never made any sense. The way to use them after there Luke's death was in a show of force. Rather than arrange some pointless assassination to answer Luke's death, have Rhaenys and Daemon fly to Highgarden, Oldtown, and Lannisport, respectively, and give the lords there the choice between bending the knee to Rhaenyra or another Harrenhal.

There is no chance that sane lords would stand with Aegon II in light of Rhaenyra's dragon advantage. The Greens could never possibly protect cities, towns, and castles from the Black dragonriders, and as soon as people realized this - which they would if the dragons started knocking at their doors -, support for Aegon II should crumble.

And if people need a demonstration of your determination - torch Storm's End, possibly after giving them a day or so to abandon the castle.

The dragon logistics are also so bad that it is quite clear that the Green dragonriders could have never defended KL against a surprise Black dragonrider attack, especially not one done at night/close to dawn.

The dragons were all kept at the Dragonpit, and nothing indicates that Aemond ever lived there, so if Rhaenyra's dragonriders had fallen on the city in a surprise attack they could have cut off the Greens from their dragons while they were all sleeping in the Red Keep.

For the story to make sense Aegon II should have actually moved with his family to the Dragonpit or have most of the dragons (especially Vhagar) moved to the Red Keep so they can mount them the moment they see enemy dragons approaching the city.

On 11/10/2022 at 5:15 AM, The hairy bear said:
  • Lord Bartimos tax policy at KL certainly backfired. Other fiscal policies would have been preferable, such as obtaining loans from the Bank of Braavos, the Velaryons, or other loyal lords, and expropriating the defeated green lords.

One imagines that Braavos wasn't recognizing Rhaenyra as the queen yet. And I guess Corlys was lacking in ready coin after the Gullet ... or unwilling to provide it.

On 11/10/2022 at 5:15 AM, The hairy bear said:
  • After the fall of KL, distributing the dragonriders the way they did wasn't very sensible. Addams (the heir to Driftmark) and Nettles (the girl who cried over Jace's death) are more reliable than Ulf and Hugh (the older seeds with bigger dragons than you and endless ambitions). It would have been wiser to send one of them with Daemon.

Yes, I think that is the core mistake. If Daemon had to go to the field, he should have been the one going to Tumbleton, dealing with the army there. Better still, though, Rhaenyra herself go there to actually command one of her own armies. Corlys and Joffrey could have kept the peace in KL. There was no Targaryen at Tumbleton representing Rhaenyra's cause, and that's clearly what enabled the broad-swept treason there.

If Daemon insisted on going after Aemond, Addam and Ulf, say, should have gone to Tumbleton, whilst Hugh remained behind in KL and Daemon and Nettles did their thing. Allowing two dragonseed dragonriders to do stuff without any oversight was a grievous error, especially with Hugh and Ulf.

Rhaenyra has all but won the war in early 130 AC. The only real danger to her reign was the Hightower army. Aemond was little more than a nuisance, and the Westermen were already out of the game. If Ormund and Daeron had been crushed at Tumbleton, the war would have been over. Perhaps it would have taken some casualties in dragons and dragonriders (1-2, say) to deal with Aemond, perhaps not, but Rhaenyra's throne would have been secure.

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It’s hard not to bring the show into this but let’s try. The fault mainly is on Viserys for not setting up Rhaenyra for success. He could have abdicated and had her installed before his death. He allowed the Hightowers too much power. A mistake repeated by Robert with the Lannisters.  Rhaenyra needed guidance and support. Viserys failed her.

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3 hours ago, Moiraine Sedai said:

It’s hard not to bring the show into this but let’s try. The fault mainly is on Viserys for not setting up Rhaenyra for success. He could have abdicated and had her installed before his death. He allowed the Hightowers too much power. A mistake repeated by Robert with the Lannisters.  Rhaenyra needed guidance and support. Viserys failed her.

I'm not so sure this is actually Viserys' fault as much as the blatant stupidity of Rhaenyra and Daemon both.

Okay, back in the 110s when tensions were really running high between Rhaenyra and Alicent it makes sense for Rhaenyra to go to Dragonstone for a while so that things can cool down a bit. Lyonel Strong is still the Hand, and in the book we can imagine him as a Black (especially since Harwin is explicitly named as the foremost of the Blacks whilst he was still alive), so Rhaenyra's interests are represented on the highest echelons of power.

With Laenor, Harwin, and Lyonel dead, and the Handship vacant, Rhaenyra and/or Daemon should have either seized that office themselves and/or installed one of their followers there.

Even if they failed at that it, it was utter madness and stupidity to not return to court, cultivate a following there, and ensure that the other faction cannot, you know, keep the king's death a secret, stage a coup, and crown one of Alicent's sons.

By abandoning KL for Dragonstone and allowing that the people closest to the king's very person were all leaders of the Greens (Alicent, Otto, and Criston) all but ensured that Rhaenyra wouldn't be crowned.

If they didn't see that coming they were utter morons. The only other (and better) take on this is that the writing sucks.

(You see how silly this in the show where they actually have Laenor address the issue of moving to Dragonstone, giving Alicent exclusive access to the king's ear ... without Rhaenyra or the show giving any good explanation for this. Even less so, of course, after the Rhaenyra-Daemon marriage and the king's terrible illness allowed Alicent and Otto to take the reins of the government - this wouldn't have happened this way if Rhaenyra and Daemon had been there.)

That the latter is the case you can also see from the silly fact that allegedly the teen Dalton Greyjoy - who most likely never set foot at the royal court in all his life - had deeper insight into the machinations of the Blacks and Greens than Rhaenyra or Daemon.

Neither Rhaenyra nor Daemon had prepared for the king's death nor expected that Rhaenyra's succession would be challenged. They need to approach those (great) houses they think they might be inclined to favor Rhaenyra only after the war has effectively already begun.

That the Greens had to act clandestinely is obvious - they could not risk that they treason be told to the king, so they would have only worked with people they trusted, but the Blacks had no such problems.

Rhaenyra shouldn't have been on Dragonstone when the war began, but abroad in Essos, or better still visiting Dorne or the Wall (say, as part of a grand progress of the Realm taking 1-2 years). That way it makes sense she would be cut off from the information and not prepared for a war. But the story as given makes little sense. She and Daemon sat on their lazy asses for nearly ten years, doing nothing to prepare for a war or cultivate friends. Why the hell didn't they secure Borros Baratheon's friendship earlier? Why were no betrothals made between Joffrey Velaryon, Aegon the Younger or Viserys and any of Borros's younger daughters? Why is none of the Four Storms among Rhaenyra's ladies? Why didn't Rhaenyra cultivate the friendship and support of any of the great houses who weren't decidedly Green? Why aren't there any Tyrells, Starks, Tullys, Arryns, etc. among Rhaenyra's ladies? Why didn't she or Daemon not take in any pages and squires from any of the great houses? Why did they not foster children from any crucial house on Dragonstone?

They don't look like the heirs to the Iron Throne in 129 AC but like landless peasants, barely better than Aegon the Conqueror prior to the Conquest (although with more dragons).

The entire narrative of the two factions at court feels underdeveloped and badly written when most lords and houses only declare for one side at the beginning of the actual war - and the people who were part of any of the factions earlier were all minor lords. Surely, if there were two powerful factions at court either faction would have cultivated the friendship of various great houses even if the lords in question were not attending court often. Viserys' reign was the reign of a party king - there were always tourneys, feasts, balls, masquerades, etc. in KL, and any such event would have drawn various great lords to court. More than ample opportunity to make friends and recruit followers. Even the Starks would have been at court every now and again - if they visited the court of Jaehaerys I - and they did repeatedly - they would have also visited the court of Viserys I.

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