“Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are like to do next. Sometimes the best way to baffle them is to make moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you.” (ASOS, Sansa V)
When I was younger, I had delusions of playing poker professionally. After losing money early on, I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. So, I read books to improve my game. While I was never able to really turn a profit in playing, I did learn about the various styles of play which made the actual pros tick. One of those styles of play is known as loose-aggressive. Loose-Aggressive players (sometimes pejoratively known as maniacs) play a lot of the hands dealt to them no matter the strength of the cards in hand. In this way, they consistently keep other players guessing what the true strength of their hand is.
If Littlefinger were a poker player, he would be a maniac. Like me, his early forays into the game resulted in losses for him — a scar and a broken heart being the most prominent. Unlike me, his later maniac style of play netted huge personal profits. But how did Littlefinger achieve this feat? We’ll pick up the story chronologically from part 1. I’ll talk about the knife and Littlefinger’s early intrigues of the court with Ned as Hand.
This is just a series I’m working on in /r/asoiaf. You can find the original post and discussion here!
Littlefinger . . . the gods only know what game Littlefinger is playing. (AGOT, Arya III)
Petyr Baelish: master player in the game of thrones or reckless opportunist motivated by personal reasons? The question is one that divides the fan-community, but I’d say that a majority favors the view that Littlefinger is a master strategist and player in the Game of Thrones. But is that sentiment true? Or is Littlefinger a reckless opportunist?
To spoil my main point, Littlefinger is both. Both sides of Littlefinger come through in A Song of Ice and Fire, often working in tangent with one another. But to come down squarely on one side of the debate does a disservice to the complexity of Petry “Littlefinger” Baelish. He is both a master player in the Game of Thrones and a reckless gambler motivated by personal grievance.
Have you ever wondered what the hell was going on while reading ASOIAF? I did. I could connect the basic plot while reading it, but even re-reading the books, I was unable to really grasp many of the characters, storylines, prophecies, locations, etc. Fortunately, my brother told me about /r/asoiaf – which quickly became one of my favorite places on the internet. I think the best thing about this subreddit is its analysis. While I love the theories that are bounced around the sub, I have to say my favorite part of this subreddit is the analysis. After yesterday’s very positive response (thank you all!) to the theories compilation, I started working on an analysis compilation. It’s intended to serve for those looking for greater depth in their re-reads. I’ve divided the sections up a little better this time around, so I hope it’s easier and more fun to read. Anyways, enough of an intro. Click on “More” for the best analyses all written of /r/asoiaf all written by its users!
“Battles,” muttered Robb as he led her out beneath the trees. “I have won every battle, yet somehow I’m losing the war.” – Robb Stark, ASOS, Chapter 14, Catelyn II
First, two bald statements to kick this post off:
- Robb Stark was the greatest tactician during the War of the Five Kings.
- Robb Stark was the worst strategist of the War of the Five Kings. (Though Balon Greyjoy gives Robb a run for his money for worst strategist.)
On the face of it, these two statements contradict each other, but in these posts, I will attempt to defend both of these statements with textual evidence and some non-technical references to military strategy.