Wikia

Game of Thrones Wiki

Army size and numbers discrepancies

2,169pages on
this wiki

Forum page

Forums: Index > Watercooler > Army size and numbers discrepancies


We've been running into some unavoidable problems with army size and numbers; this was obvious by the end of Season 1 but it has reverberated into a bigger impact now that the War of the Five Kings has started.

I think its really an "elephant in the room" situation, where the problem is obvious but it is difficult to tackle head-on and we didn't really want to admit that the problem existed.

All of this centers around how in Season 1, they changed the size of Robb Stark's army at Whispering Wood and doubled the overall size of the Lannister army from 30,000 to 60,000.

Rather than dance around saying what actually happened, it isn't that hard to put forward an educated guess.

Take the following assumptions:

A - Robb Stark's army is outnumbered two to one in his underdog victory at Whispering Wood.

B - The Lannister standing army in the Riverlands was divided into two roughly equal parts, Jaime in the west and Tywin in the east. (Thus Robb's armygroup at Whispering Wood is one fourth the size of the total Lannister standing army).

C - The Reach, being the most fertile and populous of the Seven Kingdoms, can field an army almost twice as large as two others combined, in the 60-70,000 range. Each of the other regions of the Seven Kindoms can, on average, field a total standing army numbering in the 20-30,000 range (Dorne probably the least; but the Lannisters easily had 30,000, the Starks 20,000. And this was without scraping the bottom of the barrel with young boys and old men).

What the TV show changed in Season 1, was that it seems they didn't want to have to complicate things and introduce Roose Bolton that early, and explain how he was commanding during the Battle of Green Fork. So instead of dividing Robb's army in half at the Twins (well, 16,000 infantry go east, 6,000 cavalry go west, cavalry count more), they truncate and condense the Battle of Green Fork by saying Robb just sent a feint force of 2,000 and they were annihilated. We later see Roose Bolton with Robb at Oxcross. I do believe that they're going to send Roose Bolton back east to take Harrenhal later this season, which while I wince at it, isn't too much of a stretch (no reason they can't go back the way they came, or rather, even in the books Robb left much of his strength under Edmure to hold the Red Fork; Roose himself riding alone could transfer east and take command of new troops, not necessarily march thousands of soldiers back east...but I digress...).

At any rate, the logical result of all of this is that they *directly state*, in dialogue, that Robb has 18,000 men at Whispering Wood. As a result of condensing the plot surrounding the Battle of Green Fork.

The problem is that this upsets assumptions A, B, and C, which are all about *relative* numbers. Robb's force at Whispering Wood has to be outnumbered two to one. If he's got 18,000 men, it doesn't make dramatic sense if Jaime still has the 15,000 from the books. Because Robb didn't divide his army in half at the Twins, but took essentially the whole army west and only sent a light screener force east as a feint. Thus, to maintain dramatic consistency, they state in dialogue that the standing Lannister army in the Riverands has accordingly been *doubled* in size, now giving Jaime 30,000 at Whispering Wood and restoring the proportion ("Assumption A": Robb was outnumbered two to one) between his army and Robb's (well, more or less). Given "Assumption B", this was "half" the Lannister army, which means Tywin also has 30,000, for a total of 60,000.

Now as the story expands and we have to deal with the Baratheons and Tyrells, it gets more complicated, due to "Assumption C", "the Reach's army should be twice as big as the Lannisters".

At first, I just assumed that they were going to consistently double *all* of the armies in Westeros -- why not? Until I realized this was done as a QUICK FIX due to condensing the Battle of Green Fork.

Because the actual aired information hasn't been consistent as a result, and hasn't doubled everything else to keep it proportionate:

Renly states that his combined Tyrell/Stormlands army is "100,000 strong"...which is the number in the books. 20-30 thousand Stormlands, 60-70 thousand Tyrells. They didn't double it up to "200,000", to maintain the point that the Reach has a bigger army than the Lannisters.

  • NOR* did they do this for Robb Stark and the North: they also had (well, roughly) 20,000 soldiers enter the Riverlands in the books.

So suddenly, Robb's forces in the Riverlands weren't outnumbered two to one (overall), but THREE to one.

So currently, this means Tywin at Harrenhal has 30,000 men as opposed to 20,000 in the books. I honestly think/hope that the Stark situation will get back in line by saying he sends Roose Bolton back east and splits his army giving half to Bolton -- they just wanted to wait until season 2 to introduce Bolton. And there's not MAJOR logical impossibility to saying he split up his army later, what with essentially controlling the Trident north of the Red Fork.

But you see, the whole thing has been thrown out of whack as a result, particularly for this wiki: everything else goes by book numbers, both Renly's army and Robb Stark's (overall) army, but the size of the Lannister army does not.

I've already seen edits from new anonymous users who take the point that "the Reach has twice as many soldiers as anyone else", and thus doubles up their army to Two Hundreds Thousand (200,000).

How are we going to address this?

I personally vote that, given the overall match to the books by the Starks and Baratheons (in terms of total army size), we should just make a note in articles that the Lannister army size is a mistake.

It wouldn't be the first time the show made a short-sighted mistake, due to limitations of time and budget. Let me stress that I love the job the TV creators have been doing, and they have to worry about the task at hand. In Season 1, I doubt they were happy about truncating the Battle of Green Fork given how this has a domino effect on what happens with Bolton and the eastern Stark cohort. But look at "Yara Greyjoy" -->Anyone reading the books would point out that "Osha the Wildling" isn't as big of a character as "Asha Greyjoy", and in ADVANCE, they should have renamed the Wildling girl "Yara" and retained "Asha Greyjoy". But they didn't anticipate that they'd give "Osha" more scenes to do; this was a late idea. Maybe it was a late change that they take much of Green Fork out.

So doubling the size of the Lannister army really screws up a lot of our numbers with regard to army size. I bring it up now not so much out of my own obsession, but because I've already seen multiple users not sure of what to do with these relative army sizes an numbers.

This is one of this major questions that someone with access to "the grapevine" and major fansites like Westeros.org, possibly those who have a chance to meet cast & crew in person, should get around to at some point, i.e. Benioff, Weiss, Cogman, even GRRM.

Because come the Battle of the Blackwater, if circa 30,000 Stormlands soldiers are fighting *30,000 men* under Tywin, why would the Lannisters particularly need the Tyrells? (to the point that they're increasingly dependent on the Tyrells by "A Feast for Crows", which became a MAJOR plot point).

And all because they had to condense the Battle of Green Fork, thus essentially doubling the size of Robb Stark's army at Whispering Wood.

(Sigh). For want of a nail...--The Dragon Demands 05:36, April 27, 2012 (UTC)

George R.R. Martin wrote "The Pointy End" which details the size of Robb's army and his ruse with the scout. Robb marches 18,000 northmen south but lets the scout report 20,000. After splitting his force at the twins he has 16,000 northmen plus Frey reinforcements. The show clearly states that the Lannister force with Tywin in "You Win or You Die" numbers 60,000 and he splits it in half.
I think you are incorrect about Robb being outnumbered 2:1 at the Whispering Wood. Remember that in the books Robb tackles Jaime's army in a series of battles beginning with the Battle of the Whispering Wood and leading into the Battle of the Camps. AWoIaF says that Robb had a few hundred men with him at the Whispering Wood to Jaime's thousands. AWoIaF says that Robb's force was a third of the size of the Lannister force in the Battle of the Camps. What are you basing assumption A on?
We don't need to assume for B. Tywin clearly lays out in dialogue his decision to split his 60,000 strong forces in two in "You Win or You Die."
Assumption C seems true for the books but this is a wiki about the show.
I don't think they directly state in dialogue that Robb has 18,000 at Whispering Wood. When and who? I think they establish that he had 18,000 before splitting his force but do not clearly say what size force he fights with at Whispering Wood.
I disagree that Robb's force at Whispering Wood "has to be outnumbered two to one". As I've said above the assumption doesn't seem to hold true to information from the books. The TV show is an adaptation and has clearly made major changes to these early battles in the war; Robb need not be outnumbered by the same ratio in individual battles as he was in the book.
The Stormlands/Reach army with Renly is established as 100,000 strong in dialogue. We don't know how many more are with Mace at Highgarden. We don't know if Renly has other armies like the Lannisters do. We can't assume what will happen to the army in future episodes. In the book Stannis obtains numbers from the Reach portion including the fleet of House Florent. I don't think you can assume even numbers at the Blackwater on the basis of Tywin's force being increased alone - we have no idea how many men Stannis is fielding in the show at this point and cannot assume how many will join him before the Blackwater. Even if your assumptions hold and the size of Tywin and Stannis's forces are equal forming an alliance with the Tyrell's and outnumbering Stannis more than 3:1 in the battle is hardly a bad thing for House Lannister!
The show establishes in "The North Remembers" that Robb has won 3 victories. Whispering Wood is 1. Camps might be 2. Who was he fighting in 3? He might have bled some of Tywin's men in a battle in the Riverlands. He has now won 4 victories including oxcross.
The show is detailed enough about this that it is clearly a major difference in the adaptation and I don't think we should consider that a mistake without an independent source clearly stating that it was an error.
How are we going to address this? I personally vote that, given the overall match to the books by the Starks and Baratheons (in terms of total army size), we should just make a note in articles that the Lannister army size is a mistake.|The Dragon Demands}}
I strongly disagree with this proposal for two reasons. Firstly I don't think we should leap to assuming error, particularly on the basis of the flawed assumptions you have stated. Secondly I don't think we should put our speculation into our articles; we need reliable third party sources for this kind of thing. We should report the information that the show presents and offer comparison to the source material in the "In the books" section. I think a series of blogs speculating further about this are appropriate without sources but we should be very careful about stating that the show has made an error without reliable third party sources to back our assertion.--Opark 77 07:57, April 27, 2012 (UTC)
I would love to see this explored in an interview with the writing staff but fear that they would see it as nitpicking.--Opark 77 08:05, April 27, 2012 (UTC)

While I'm on the subject, we should really remove the "army size" entry from the template for Great Houses and Regions: it isn't actually informative. So what if the North has an army of "20,000"? It's even been a stated plot point in season 2 that almost all of those 20,000 are in the Riverlands now, leaving the North wide open to the Ironborn. What good does "overall standing army" size do? Were we planning on updating this on an episode by episode basis? Yes, there is and should be a "military strength" category on say, "The Reach"....pointing out that *in general*, historically, they tend to have an army twice as big as any other. But it really shouldn't be part of the infobox. --The Dragon Demands 05:36, April 27, 2012 (UTC)

I disagree. It is informative and removing it makes the article less informative. It is interesting to note the size of a region's army. The infobox should present the factual data within the article in a summary style so I'm happy with it being in the infobox if it is in the military strength section.--Opark 77 07:57, April 27, 2012 (UTC)
Stannis has the largest army after Renly's bannermen joined him.
Commander19907 08:29, May 19, 2012 (UTC)
Stannis blatantly does not have the largest army after Renly's bannermen joined him. Renly had 100,000...of which two-thirds serve House Tyrell and didn't join Stannis. He did instantly go from having a mere 5,000 to some 20-30,000 men, enough to attack King's Landing and drastically outnumber the small garrison left behind there (the bulk of the Lannister army is with Tywin in the Riverlands). --The Dragon Demands 18:56, May 19, 2012 (UTC)

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki