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One particular criticism of season 8 caught my attention. According to some fans, Tyrion had recently become an idiot a poor strategist in the series. This has been blamed on lazy inconsistencies in character and sloppy writing.

However, having watched all of the seasons and read the books, I'm having a hard time recalling a time when Tyrion has proven he wasn't an idiot a poor strategist. Sure, he claimed to have been one of the best masters of sewage Casterly Rock ever had. He did an okay job as Hand of the King and then was titled master of coin as a setup for failure or nepotism. Then he suddenly found himself as hand of the queen despite botched diplomacy with the other masters in Slavers Bay.

He's cunning and wilely when it comes to individual deals and manipulation/convincing. There's no doubt he's an intelligent man, but there doesnt seem to be much evidence that he has any record of brilliant military or diplomatic strategy. In spite of this, he draws up a strategy for Daenerys in Westeros to refrain from using dragons, taking Casterly Rock and exposing Daenarys's allies and fleet, a plan which backfires tremendously and causes Dany to ignore his advice both in her assault on the Lannister supply train (S7E4) and her rescue of Jon Snows party North of the Wall (S7E6).

It would seem like his large scale strategies have always failed. Has Tyrion ever proven himself to be a capable strategist beyond individual relations?

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    It might just be survivor bias, but anybody who didn't die before S08E06 must have had either a lot of luck or some kind of strategy. – Eric Duminil May 16 at 20:31
  • Thanks for asking this question; it's been bugging as me as well as I've always seen Tyrion as a deft courtier rather than a military genius. – Matthieu M. May 18 at 11:55
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Does loading 8,000 jars of wildfire into one ship and sailing it into the middle of Stannis's fleet count?

Or the chain across Blackwater Bay?

Both, IIRC, were Tyrion's ideas and, as far as I can recall, his only momentous battlefield strategy. I don't think he was ever, nor ever claimed to be, a war or battlefield strategist.

I think his main strengths were in people manipulation - individual deals, man-management, board-room handshakes, subtle persuasion or extracting information from the unwitting...

He persuaded Bronn, after the trial at the Eyrie, that he would always out-bid any attempt on his life - which became important again in S08, when he offered Highgarden over Riverrun.

He extracted a confession from Janos Slynt of his participation in the murder of the Baratheon bastards, leading to his banishment to the wall.

He gives three individuals three versions of who Myrcella will marry - in order to find the one reporting to Cersei.

He was an eminent foil to the plans of Varys, Littlefinger, Cersei & Joffrey, Olenna Tyrell et al., and though he didn't always see things going the way he may have originally planned, managed to generally keep things on an even keel, moving in the Lannister's direction, for most of his time in Westeros.

I think by the end of Season 4 - Joffrey's death and Sansa's believed collusion; his trial and the subsequent defeat of his champion Oberyn Martell in the trial by combat; his loss of Shae, first emotionally and then literally; his murder of his father and subsequent escape in a crate to 'foreign lands' - he has lost control of his own destiny and for a time becomes a pawn in others' greater plans, drifting almost by accident towards Dany.

I feel he never regained his earlier assuredness - he was after that time always more bitter and cynical - things tended to happen to him or despite him, rather than being driven by him.

He was never, at any point, completely in charge of anything - he was the eternal advisor to people with more authority.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Napoleon Wilson May 16 at 18:00
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    He also talked his way out of having his cock cut off by slavers, he convinced them that he and Jorah should be kept together, he figured out who Jorah was just by looking at him. His metal successes far outweigh his failures, by my count. – Todd Wilcox May 16 at 18:05
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    @ToddWilcox And now I see Tyrion in a studded black leather jacket and wild long flowing hair playing a electric guitar in the cover of an album. With an iron throne full of skulls and some white walkers in the background and a dash of dragonfire for accents. – Mindwin May 17 at 13:12
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    Might also be worth mentioning that a lot of perception of him being a poor strategist is possibly from people being too used to "smart" characters being impossibly smart and lucky. Even the smartest people who ever lived are nowhere near as smart and lucky as the likes of House or Sherlock Holmes. Being smart and putting it to work in situations such as these means making a lot of informed guesses. It means you're gonna get some wrong. But you're going to get fewer wrong, and your miscalculations will still be closer to the mark on average than some one not as smart. – Shufflepants May 17 at 20:30
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Tetsujin has summarized all of Tyrion's achievements prior to season 5, so I won't reiterate them. However, it should be noted that nearly all of Tyrion's plans and strategies from season 5 and onwards do end up succeeding.

Successes

As pointed out in the comments, Tyrion successfully managed to get both himself and Jorah to Meereen alive, then convinced Dany to make him her advisor.

Tyrion negotiated with the slavers to have a gradual phasing out period of slavery, in return for stopping their attack on Meereen. Whilst it was not ultimately successful, it did buy a reprieve from the attacking army whilst Daenarys wasn't there. This gave her time to return with Drogon and break the siege.

Once Dany had returned, the ploy to have the three masters offer one as sacrifice, leaving him alive and executing the others to ensure would be loyal sounds like something Tyrion would have thought of (I don't know if it explicitly states it was his idea, but I was under the impression that it was).

In season 7, his plan to capture Casterly Rock was successful, and Dany suffered minimal troop losses. It ended up being a trap set by Euron in order to destroy the ships that transported the unsullied, but winning control of a major castle, including all of the lands surrounding it, in exchange for half of the ships under Dany's command seems to me like a resounding success.

Tyrion advised Dany not to go north of the wall to save Jon with her dragons, which went unheeded. This led to the death of Viserion and ultimately caused the army of the dead to break through the wall. Whilst not a "success", it was a major event where Tyrion gave the correct advice.

Whilst Tyrion didn't convince Cersei to help defeat the Night King, he did convince Jaime, which lead to him revealing not only Cersei's deception, but also the fact that she was hiring the Golden Company, something that they did not know beforehand.

Tyrion told Dany that Varys had betrayed her after he learned Jon's secret. I see this as an absolute win for Tyrion, because Varys quickly turned on Danaerys when a better option came along. If Varys had found out this information independently of Tyrion, he might have been successful at poisoning her before anyone found out about it. Similar to when Tyrion rooted out Maester Pycelle as Cersei's spy in season 2, he quickly discovered that Varys was only loyal to Dany as long as it was beneficial to him and his goals.

Failures

When Jon and company followed Tyrion's plan to venture north of the wall to capture a wight to show to Cersei, they were ambushed by the Night King's army. Considering that the Night King seemingly had unexplained powers of foresight similar to Bran (he could see and touch him whilst he was warging, and he seemed to know that Daenarys was on her way with her dragons so that he could claim one and use it to break the wall) there was never any chance that they would be able to successfully pull this off.

The plan to convince Cersei of the need of an alliance against the army of the dead may have been successful, if Jon hadn't been so stubbornly honest and told her he had already pledged his troops to Dany's cause. However I believe that it's highly likely Cersei would have betrayed them anyway, so I'm still putting this as a failure for trusting her.

Tyrion convinced Danaerys to attempt to make peace with Cersei after Rhaegal's death, which led to Missandei's execution. Again he was wrong, but if they had attempted to attack directly before negotiating then Missandei would have possibly been executed anyway.

Other

After the plan to attack Casterly Rock, Danaerys lost Highgarden, Yara's fleet and the Dornish leadership. These, however, are not down to any decision Tyrion made. Despite being ambushed, the respective armies should have at least been able to reasonably defend themselves, and none of the other advisors Dany had (including Varys, Ellaria Sand, Olenna Tyrell, Jon Snow, Yara and Theon Greyjoy, Jorah Mormont and Grey Worm) expected Cersei and Euron to be so aggressive and attack where they did, so these failures don't only rest on him.

Tyrion advised Dany not to attack the baggage train as she might get killed, and she very almost did. Whilst the attack was a success for her, they don't really gain much apart from killing some Lannister troops and having some more surrender, as the gold had already been transported to King's Landing.

Dany was also ambushed when heading to Dragonstone in Season 8, and this led to the death of Rheagal and Missandei. Again, this wasn't down to Tyrion. It's unlikely that with so many battle strategists advising her, that it was solely his idea to go there without any regard for an ambush or a counterattack.

Summary

Realistically, the only time Tyrion made any mistakes with his advice was in regards to a supernatural being with some type of magical ability to know things he categorically shouldn't, and his sister. Considering that the plan to get Cersei's help originated from trying to get her to come to an arrangement with Dany, it could be argued that all of Tyrion's mistakes came from believing that Cersei was a better person than she was.

Considering that one of Tyrion's biggest issues throughout the entire series is the complicated relationship he has with his family, it's at least understandable (although not necessarily excusable, from Danaerys' point of view) that the only times he was wrong was in regards to underestimating or looking out for Cersei.

So I would say that overall, no, Tyrion is not a poor strategist. In fact, he's a fairly excellent one. His only issue seems to be his split loyalty between his family and his Queen.

It could be argued that this is exactly what makes him a poor strategist, but I would say this is exactly what makes him Tyrion.

  • Despite the loss of Viserion, I'm not sure it was the "correct advice" to not rescue the sortie north of The Wall. If she hadn't gone, then several important leaders of the army of the living would have been lost, and that would likely have lead to the breakup of the coalition, and then Dany would have been faced with trying to figure out how to take the Iron Throne and defeat the army of the dead without any allies and potentially many more enemies. – Todd Wilcox May 19 at 15:10
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First, let's differentiate between strategy and tactics. The use of wildfire and dragging the chain across Blackwater Bay to trap the enemy fleet are tactics. Strategy is a higher-level concept (e.g. Baratheon's decision to attack King's Landing when he did using a fleet was a strategic decision; any plans on how the ships and men were used once the invasion fleet were there were tactical decisions, or at best operational level decisions). Strategy can also be applied to politics; many (though not all) of Tyrion's decisions at that level were strategic in nature and successful - except, as pointed out by others, when it comes to his misplaced trust in his sister. It is definitely one of his biggest blind spots.

However, I think the recent belief that Tyrion is an "idiot" speaks far more about Danaery's sudden paranoia than Tyrion's skill or loyalty. She doesn't truly believe that Tyrion is incompetent; her statements thinly veil accusations that Tyrion is secretly working on behalf of his family to undermine and defeat Dany. Her treatment of everyone close to her this season has changed drastically; the loss of two dragons, open defiance by the Stark family (read Lady Sansa), open rebellion by one of her inner circle, the loss of her closest confidante Jorah and the revelation that her bastard lover is actually her nephew with a better claim on the throne seems to have really unraveled her. That everyone loves Aegon and not her (to her viewpoint) and the decision to rule by fear alone is probably also driving her to now threaten and demean her advisors instead of lead them - and that includes Tyrion.

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