Game Review: Game of Thrones S08


RATING: 5/5.

So all you losers whining about the Battle of Winterfell, or: The Charge of the Dothraki Brigade. You’re approaching this as you would a real medieval battle, criticizing show writers D&D for giving Winterfell such an absurd order of battle (cavalry go first; trebuchets out in front; palisades right behind the infantry; almost no soldiers manning the walls, few archers, no boiling oil, no defensive siege weaponry, not using Dothraki as cavalry archers, etc).

But I think I have figured D&D out. Thing is, true to their moniker, you should look at Game of Thrones as some kind of TBS RPG/strategy hybrid, not as an actual TV show.

In this brilliant new light, the Battle of Winterfell actually makes patent sense:

  • Cavalry was controlled by Leeroy Jenkins type player.
  • No evasion bonus from taking cover.
  • No accuracy penalty when shooting at moving targets.
  • Firewall conceals NPC line of sight, they literally don’t see the wights behind it and hold their fire.
  • Not enough free tiles to fit the vast majority of your troops into the fortress.
  • Otherwise feeble zombies having enough strength to break through stone crypts is too powerful a trope to avoid.
  • Lv. 80 Night King has 100% ice and fire resistance, one shots anyone from within melee range, can only be killed by critical strike from stealth by a max initiative, high AP character.

See? All the subsequent episodes start to come together.

  • X-Bow class should be nerfed. OP as fuck! Takes down Lv.20 dragon in two hits despite high evasion stats.
  • The Lv.50 dragon has much higher evasion and initiative, destroys frat boy Euron’s teleporting fleet like so much driftwood. And it has a Wall Destruction perk too. Neat!
  • Greetings from Daenerys, Mother of Dragons… Our words are backed with DRAGON FIRE.
  • Vassal Opinion plummets and triggers tons of plots.
  • Dany spent all her points on dragon-riding and none on intrigue, leaving her vulnerable to palace conspiracies.
  • Maxed out Speech skill tree allowed Tyrion to pass persuasion checks from Yara Greyjoy and the Dornishmen and force a non-violent resolution to the “Northern Independence” quest.
  • Player Bran was on God Mode since Season 1 Episode 1. Sorry Stannis. Sorry Cersei. Sorry Dany. The game was rigged from the start.

Broke: Credible character arcs, world consistency, logical plotting, realistic logistics, literary themes, suspension of disbelief.

Woke: Subverting expectations.

Bespoke: Next gen graphics and hauntingly brilliant music from Ramin Djawadi make up for what is still a respectable story by video game standards. 5/5!

PS. In retrospect, Night King did nothing wrong. The Six Kingdoms are presided over by an omniscient deity who is indifferent to human welfare, and the North is ruled by a spiteful, ingrate traitor.

I also wish D&D the best of luck in putting the Star Wars franchise out of its misery with their trademark aplomb.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. AltSerrice says


    I’ve talked about the ending of the show so much that I’ve little left to say. But the council scene and electing Bran as king actually made me laugh out loud. It was worth watching as a comedy. Akin to The Last Jedi and flying force Leia.

    The lack of respect for the source material shown by D&D is the ultimate example of the modern TV/Film industry and what happens when you let a certain group of people have creative control over what were once deep and meaningful characters and stories.

  2. songbird says

    I think TV is only as good as it has to be – which mostly means it is a steaming pile.

  3. I burst out laughing this episode. Something ‘broke’ inside of me. Reminded me of this:

    Seriously I was making dolphin noises gasping for air. The sheer combined absurdities piling up on top of each other.

    6/5 easy. Can’t wait to see them dig up the SW corpse buried by RJ and violate it in new and unique ways.

  4. Is it just me or would a FNV tv show be great? Wacky adventures but a tight overall story, like the randomness of a Z-Nation episode, but more focused overall.

  5. Anonymous says

    I liked it overall. Rushed for sure, could have used more exposition, sloppy with some details, but thematically it was interesting.

    You can nitpick things like GoT endlessly: how does a winter that lasts some arbitrary, unknowable and random number of years make sense in terms of planetary orbits? How do people without knowledge of electricity or steam power build a wall that’s as tall as the Hoover Dam and many miles wide? How can human beings withstand the G forces and wind resistance necessary to ride dragons, especially with nothing but some horns to hang onto? And of course the existence of dragons themselves, and zombies, and magic that can bring people back to life, and giants, and people who are invulnerable to fire etc etc. But I still found it entertaining. And anything that triggers people like Warren and Ocasio-Cortez can’t be all bad.

  6. songbird says

    how does a winter that lasts some arbitrary, unknowable and random number of years make sense in terms of planetary orbits?

    Wouldn’t they all be super smart and be future-orientated? Meaning they wouldn’t engage in pointless war.

  7. At least this disproves the myth that jews run Hollywood because of the long tradition of jews being skilled story tellers (this is the reason they give). (((D&D))) are clearly idiots, one does not have to be an expert on military tactics to see how idiotic their thinking was. There is only one reason they got the job and it is because they belong to the tribe, almost anyone on the planet could come up with better work.

    What is interesting is that GOT was very much a normie favourite, even they are getting upset about this, which is a good thing.

  8. All of these objections are nothingburgers.

    First, all of these world-building elements are established early on in the series and are taken as a given within the magical laws of GRRM’s universe. That is perfectly fine not just in fantasy but even in relatively hard sci-fi (Seveneves starts with the Moon getting blown up into 7 chunks in the first sentence, which defies the laws of physics; nobody was complaining about this). It is resolving plot points once you’re deep into the story with unexplained magic (otherwise known as handwaving or deus ex machina) that is extremely bad practice.

    Second, none of these are even overly objectionable from a realism standpoint. Seasons of variable length can occur under certain astrophysical scenarios (you can find a surfeit of physically possible explanations on places like Quora). The Wall was made with magic. Dragons are not particularly fast or agile. If you can accept the idea of massive flying creatures that breathe fire (not particularly realistic), then it is trivial to accept that people would be able to ride them.

  9. How does one explain away the Dothraki all returning from their doomed cavalry charge in the next show? Likewise the unsullied also seem to suddenly increase in number to depict a Nuremberg rally in the next show.

  10. Where exactly do I dispute that there is no credible plot or world consistency?

    I merely said that the specific objections that Anon raised (which were present from the start of the series) were all irrelevant. They are an attempt to apologize for how the series collapsed since Season 5.

  11. Spoilers!

    I thought it was a good show.

    My takes:

    1. Danny went Trotskyist in the end and should have been killed by Arya with an ice pick in a location resembling Mexico. Fitting.

    2. Since we can’t have Arya kill two important characters in a row, Night King should have been killed by a Bran-Fat Kid (Sam) combo. For example, Sam reads in books that undead dragons really like peanut butter, and Bran mind controls ravens or whatever to drag a bucket of peanut butter over and dump it on the Night King. Undead Dragon eats Night King. It would be more believable.

    3. Major bonus points for everybody laughing at democracy idea in the end. That system is horrible, and deserves mockery. Double bonus points for electing Deep State surveillance NSA type (Bran) for ruler – very realistic. If they didn’t, he would leak what they all did with three goats and a barrel of wine to whatever the equivalent of Washington Post is in the GoT universe. However, picking him because he doesn’t breed is just asking for a civil war down the road. Game of Thrones 2?

  12. AltSerrice says

    This is a seriously brainlet take.

    Fiction doesn’t need to make sense by the laws of our universe, all that matters is that the world building, character arcs, and plots make sense in its own universe.

    In-universe continuity.

  13. make sense

    Its the new woke paradigm, to “subvert expectations”. Basically to destroy every story world and replace it with supposedly shocking new ideas, but they are mostly just predictable SJW orthodoxies.

  14. songbird says

    On the other hand, summers that went on for several years would probably be bad for the spread of tropical diseases northward – so maybe that would introduce enough random mortality to not make them smart, or something.

  15. I would be worried about things going the other way. In the past, Magic Wall held up things in the North so that they stayed in the North, yes? But now the Wall is breached by Dragon so all those mountain glaciers and permafrost down below will leak south.

    I hope Sansa has good flood insurance. If she doesn’t, it’s a good thing she has a relative on the throne of six kingdoms, will make asking for a bailout easier.

  16. Kent Nationalist says

    In this case however, the subversive SJW expectation that the Trotskyist cat-lady and her brown hordes would win was itself subverted. The Culture of Critique (for once) was a double-edged sword.

  17. Anonymous says

    Agreed, but which character arcs from this season were totally implausible?

    -Daenerys the mad queen is explicable in terms of her lineage as well as her circumstances. This hardly even qualifies as a twist because so many people saw it coming (it’s also heavily foreshadowed in the books)
    -Jon’s lack of political ambition and strong conscience puts him back where he started: the poor, forgotten warrior at the end of the world
    -Once again Cersei’s arrogance and short-sightedness put her in a precarious position, which this time she was unable to get out of
    -As with Jon’s sense of duty, Jaime’s love for Cersei ultimately overwhelms his better judgment
    -Since Season 1 Arya has survived by deception rather than brute strength; in the story cunning is consistently the most important survival instinct, and if she’s cultivated it the best then it makes sense that she would ultimately be the one to defeat the Night King (cunning is what gives humans the advantage over other creatures)
    -Sansa’s character could have been developed better, but a Stark was always going to rule Winterfell
    -Bran as King was the biggest surprise, which makes me thing it was Martin’s idea; there is a logic to having an omniscient person as your ruler though
    -Tyrion always had a divided heart, and his advice to Dany reflected a continuing affection for the Lannisters. His poor tactical counsel was a feature and not a bug (which Dany ultimately recognizes, albeit too late)

    Martin has freely admitted that he doesn’t have a great eye for practical details and that many elements of the show–e.g. the height of the Wall–don’t make sense. GoT is a story of politics and human psychology, not logistics or military strategy. On those criteria it was still a success.

  18. Somewhat of a nit.

    Trotsky was killed by what in American is called an ice ax, a quite dramatic weapon, not what we call an icepick, simply a nail on a handle.

    In UK it turns out they call an ice ax an ice pick.

  19. I haven’t watched the series but have seen quite a few out-takes.

    The Dothraki are supposed to be analogues of the Scythians. But they don’t fight even vaguely like them, or like any other nomadic steppe tribe.

    The Scythians were largely mounted archers, light cavalry. They did NOT charge the enemy headlong waving swords. They harassed and rode around the enemy shooting, did a lot of fake retreats, etc.

    Some steppe tribes were (or had) heavy cavalry, such as the Sarmatians. But they wore lots of armor and used lances, not shortish and badly designed swords. Even the Mongols were something like 1/3 heavy cavalry lancers. The Dothraki look like very light cavalry but seem to act like heavy cavalry. Does not work.

    A large tribe such as the Dothraki would also have required an immense herd of sheep and other animals to support them. They just seemed to ride across the landscape with no support. Presumably stopping at 7-11 to get supplies.

  20. I liked the finale. I didn’t read the books, so I don’t care about faithfulness to the source material (I was mildly perturbed by the inconsistency in the power of dragons between episodes 4 and 5 that Anatoly alludes to here, but I’m over it).

    Tyrion got one last great speech, which included a bit of meta-fiction about the power of story, and a subtle knock at second-guessing fans (the laughter at Sam’s suggestion of democracy). I don’t interpret the ending as a complete rejection of primogeniture, but as the invention of an accession council. And there were a lot of call backs to earlier episodes for those who remember them (e.g., Dany’s speech to her troops). I didn’t catch all of these, but there are YouTube videos about them.

    Plus, how can you not like this?

  21. Also, how can you not enjoy feminist pols getting BTFO by the finale?

  22. Tyrion got one last great speech, which included a bit of meta-fiction about the power of story, and a subtle knock at second-guessing fans (the laughter at Sam’s suggestion of democracy).

  23. Okay, this was funny:

    GREY WORM: I will tolerate only one more impassioned speech setting the course of the future of this land and deciding your own fate. Two, at most.

    But Tyrion didn’t kill Joffrey, did he? I thought it was the old lady played by Diana Rigg who had him poisoned.

  24. anonymous says

    Credible character arcs, world consistency, logical plotting, realistic logistics, literary themes, suspension of disbelief.

    LOL. It had been explained to you many times that only minuscule percentage of nerds care about these things, and they were watching the show anyway, if only to to whine and moan about it.

    Here are results that matter.

    How ‘Game of Thrones’ Generated $2.2 Billion Worth of Profit for HBO

    also wish D&D the best of luck in putting the Star Wars franchise out of its misery with their trademark aplomb.

    If you are so certain, put your skin and your prestige to the game and predict the box office results of D&D Star Wars movie.

  25. If anybody’s looking for HBO to redeem itself after turning one of its most successful series into a video game, I recommend checking out the Chernobyl mini-series. It’s a very high quality production with exquisite attention to sets, wardrobe and detail. The way it’s shot is an ode to Perestroika-era Russian cinema, dark, gritty, with even similar type-set announcing locations and dates.

    I don’t know enough about the event to comment if the story adheres to the facts, but it seems quite realistic. The show does a good job of impugning the Sovok without the usual Russophobic tropes you’d expect to find in an American TV show. Indeed, there’s the juxtaposition of amazing, yet ordinary, people performing heroic acts while simultaneously being trapped inside a grotesquely dysfunctional, decaying system.

    For the record, I am not an atomophobe, but the discussions of how things could have turned out much worse are really hair raising.

  26. How interesting! And the debate you started is just neverending.

  27. If you are so certain, put your skin and your prestige to the game and predict the box office results of D&D Star Wars movie

    The overall trends are clear, every new Star Wars movie will produce less profits. The novelty has worn off and even the normie Star Wars fans will grow wary of the Star Wars sausage factory that Disney has gone for. Add to this the fact the jews have also decide to use Stars Wars as a SJW propaganda tool, this will turn off a lot of more dedicated fans, it will also produce less toy sales as blue haired feminists and gay black men are not big into Star Wars toys.

    The (((D&D))) movie will struggle to make more than $500 million, and this movie will no doubt have a huge marketing and production budget, which will not be a success for a Star Wars movie.

  28. Philip Owen says

    They weren’t zombies. The word used in medieval Catholic Europe was Revenant. In Eastern Europe, the word Vampire covered the concept.

    There was a curious fascination with sterility. More than a few characters could not produce children. Could Tyrion? I don’t remember being told that he could not but he had none.

    Tactics were terrible. Most of the time, large armies did not fight it out. Occupiers of a beseiged castle would be paid off to surrender. Armies assembled at the battlefield. The progress of the English army through France in the 100 years war was unusual hence its notoriety.

  29. Justvisiting says

    The scene where they laughed at Democracy–called it allowing horses and dogs to vote–certainly was not SJW. They were insulting horses and dogs! (My mutt has far more common sense than the average voter–of course he hasn’t been brainwashed by the major media.)

  30. Ali Choudhury says

    Maybe, the Disney Star Wars movies have been hurt by developing too many in too short a timeframe without having an overall plan for the new trilogy. Hence the overreliance on the old movies. After the last movie is out, they will be slowing development down. TLJ looked like a movie which needed six months more of development to address weaker areas of the story.

  31. Ali Choudhury says

    Some of the Dothraki made it back from the charge, others could have been left at Dragonstone which is why Euron didn’t try occupying it. Same for the Unsullied, not all may have arrived in the north. They would have been short on ships after S7.

  32. The Wild Geese Howard says

    Whoa whoa whoa Anon[339]….you get out of here with all this common sense thinking and rational talk…