Last year I played a multi-generational game of grand strategy Crusader Kings 2 using the A Game of Thrones mod, which transforms the historical medieval setting of CK2 into the continent of Westeros from George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire novels (and the HBO series). My goal was to play as the most minor of lords and experience the conflict and drama of Westeros from the ground floor. Game of Checkers will run on Sundays for ten weeks.
Land of Brothers
The late Lady Daisy, despite ruling during decades of near-constant bloodshed and strife, and despite her final act being the attempted assassination of Yohn Baelish, was actually very well-liked by her family, her entire court, and even her Queen, who ultimately had her executed. Even some of the lords who invaded her holdings had a high opinion of her.
Her son Nobbrick, whose body I am now inhabiting, does not enjoy the same luxury. My brothers, Needrick and Nomordrick, hate and resent me, despite having their own holdings in The Fingers. Needrick, living in Sunset Keep, is on the brink of revolting. Nomordrick, over on the island of Pebble, also isn't a fan. I award Needrick a title and send him a gift in hopes of calming him down. It improves his opinion of me, but not by much.
I also have one son, Nicedrick, named in the hopes he'll actually be nice to me. So far, he seems content.
And, as always, war is currently tearing the country apart. The Vale claimed independence a while back, and the Iron Throne has marched in to remedy that. They've begun their destructive stomp on my holdings, naturally. I can raise only four soldiers in Wycliffe at the moment—not 400, not 40, but four—so there’s nothing I can do but wait and see how it shakes out. It shakes out fast. The Queen of the Vale submits, and once again, it’s one big happy Seven Kingdom family, sworn to the Iron Throne. For doing absolutely nothing during the war, Lady Paramount Sarya grants me title Keeper of the Swans.
Sigh. Five generations later, I’m still feeding someone’s birds.
Some plots trickle in. Nomordrick has hatched a plan to buy the loyalty of Sunset Keep’s Master of Whispers. That's Needrick’s Master of Whispers, not mine. Eh, whatever. I’d rather have my two brothers plotting against each other than against me.
More troubling—much more troubling—is the next plot my spymaster uncovers. Someone doesn’t think Pearse Waters is actually my father, and my very claim over The Fingers is being questioned. This is dangerous, because it means someone could legally declare war on me and my army of four soldiers, and strip me of all my titles and holdings.
Who is behind this plot? None other than Denys Baelish. Grandson of Petyr Baelish. Another. Damn. Littlefinger. I guess he wants to have Midlor Point back, and is willing to tear the rest of my dynasty down to get it. Even worse, backing him is my brother, Nomordrick, and my other brother, Needrick. I'm under siege from my family. Again.
Sometimes letting people know you're aware they're plotting against you will convince them to back off. Not so in the case of this plot: my brothers won't drop it, and neither will Baelish, so I've got to take more drastic measures. I decide to try to capture and imprison Needrick. He escapes, which is bad, and he declares open revolt against me, which is worse: he’s currently got the biggest army in The Fingers.
I ask my Uncle Neejerk to join me. He says no. I ask Lord Paramount Steffon of The Reach, who still owns The Paps and is married to my sister. He laughs and tells me to get stuffed. Needrick, meanwhile, has only one ally: Nomordrick. My two brothers are going to war with me. Family. What a giant pain in the ass.
Needrick raises his army, only about 200 strong, but they just stand there in Sunset Keep. Nomordrick, for the moment, doesn't do anything, but I'm still in a bit of an awkward spot. I'm afraid if I march my levies out of Wycliffe and Midlor Point to meet Needrick over in Sunset Keep, Nomordrick will raise his levies and march them into Wycliffe. I'd much prefer it if Needrick would walk over here and attack me, but he's not budging.
I decide to split my armies up. I pay for 1,000 mercenaries and send them marching to Sunset Keep, and move my army from Midlor Point into Wycliffe, just in case Nomordrick tries to siege it from Pebble. My mercs stomp Needrick, sending him fleeing, but I don’t have enough soldiers to siege Sunset Keep. Meanwhile, Needrick marches to the undefended Midlor Point and starts sacking it. Dang it. I just don't have enough men to cover all my bases.
I chase Needrick back out into the Vale, but without enough men to siege his holdings, this could go on indefinitely. Time for a new plan.