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Better know a card: Valar Morghulis

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#1
istaril

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Ok, there have been a number of people speaking up on this topic either directly or indirectly, and I thought I'd take a break from my usual forum persona and rant a bit.

 

Meet Valar Morghulis:

 

First, let's introduce Valar: a 1.0 plot that read "When revealed, kill all characters in play", with 2 gold, 0 initiative and 0 claim.

 

It was a staple of pretty much every control deck, most toolbox decks, a certain brand of aggro (Greyjoy), and many combo decks. It was printed in the 1.0 core, and was a defining element of the game from then on - you could safely assume your opponent was running a copy, and play a meta-game of delaying until your opponent was forced to Valar themselves, or luring out a Valar early in order to exploit the post-valar space. It was an interesting card, and it defined the first edition for a long time. That doesn't mean all good decks ran it (or should), but it's probably fair to say that it was in 80+% of decks (and deserved it's place in about 75%).

 

It made intrigue challenges generally better than military challenges by punishing the person who relied too heavily on characters on the board and couldn't refill the board, card draw even more critical than it already was, saves better in general, decks built around triplicate copies of characters worse... the list could go on, as so many elements were shaped by this. 

 

Rose-coloured glasses:

 

The sentence that has often been repeated, and triggered (initiated?) this rant is that Valar was a "comeback card". Huh? I think you're mis-remembering. 

 

Valar doesn't inherently make the game swing back and forth more, it doesn't make it so the person who is "losing" gets to turn the game around, etc. In GJ or Brotherhood, you were playing Valar aggresively - pushing an advantage (in saves/immunity) you had. In a control deck, you were playing Valar defensively, leveraging your location base/hand size/card draw engine as superior to your opponent's. In combo decks, you might be playing valar to eliminate disruption of your combo. 

 

These are "leverage". In all of these cases, you're saying "My non-character tools are better than your non-character tools, so let's wipe the board and pit those against each other". You are leveraging hand size, card quality, draw engine, location base - and doing so against character board presence. That's not a comeback - within the state of the 1.0 game, it's pretty obvious to a veteran player who is in the lead, and that's a decision that factors in Valar. It just means that "who is in the lead" is not solely defined by bodies on the board. Saying Valar is a comeback card, to me, is akin to saying "I got to 13 power before that Bloodthirst game turned the game around! I almost had it!". Naive.

 

Between equally skilled players, Valar doesn't help you come from behind if you're out-drawn 2 to 1. It doesn't help you come from behind if your opponent has thrice the economy you have. It doesn't help you come from behind... at all. In the vast majority of cases, if you think your "Valar turned the game around", you were probably wrong. And you're probably not remembering all the times you Valard but failed to affect the outcome. Sure, maybe Valar delayed the inevitable - but in the slower core 2.0 environment, do you really want to take 2-3 more turns to lose?

 

Don't get me wrong:

 

Valar was great for first edition. It created tense turns, skillful play, a bluffing game, a powerful sense of impermanence, and made you look at considerably more than board state when evaluating a game. It might even be just as good for second edition (reserve values, bouncing attachments and a limited economy make it very different, if it were to re-appear). I'm just asking that you don't make it into something it wasn't. 

 

We have "leverage" plots; Game of Thrones leverages intrigue icons, Fortified Position leverages raw STR, Jousting Contest, Wildfire and Calling the Banners leverage against swarms. Supporting the Faith leverages against challenge surprises, Naval Superiority leverages your economy, Power Behind the Throne leverages your best character, Filthy Accusation leverages against theirs. Those cards change how you evaluate the GAME state (in this case, often the board state) and find out who is winning. They do so by making certain elements more important than others - which is what Valar did.


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#2
kizerman86

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These are "leverage". In all of these cases, you're saying "My non-character tools are better than your non-character tools, so let's wipe the board and pit those against each other". You are leveraging hand size, card quality, draw engine, location base - and doing so against character board presence. That's not a comeback

 

+1

 

This is exactly my argument against the "Valar is an easy-button crutch" point that keeps getting brought up.

 

Valar is a tool that you have to know when and how to use, and how to play around.  Overextending early is not punished AT ALL in 2nd Edition, making it feel more like a race for key characters than a back and forth test of wits.  I agree that we don't need Valar yet (the cardpool just can't really support it, too many 3x Uniques are necessary in current decks), but I would love to see it return in approximately 9-12 months.


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#3
widowmaker93

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I have been one to call Valar a comeback card because in 1.0 if you and your opponent had roughly equal cards in hand and economy but he had a decidedly larger character advantage you could utilize it to try and stabilize and get back on equal footing. It was possible with the right deck. Without Valar you would just lose no matter what.

Yes, it did all the things you talked about but it could also be used as a comeback mechanism. Too say otherwise would be blatantly ignoring well established facts.

#4
kizerman86

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My perspective is that if my opponent is overextended, he isn't *ahead* of the game as a whole(despite his board advantage) since he is more vulnerable to Valar.  He is merely ahead for the round, since it is a given that Valar exists and will likely be played by one/both of us soon.

 

Losing your own characters, and taking a 0 claim round is a sufficient cost for an effect that punishes overextension, too.  Making a comeback from Valar isn't easy, but it is possible if you play around it and plan how you are going to recover.  This type of long-game strategy isn't "easy-button" as many have been calling it.


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#5
jeermaster

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Where is the rant you promised in the intro?


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#6
widowmaker93

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Where is the rant you promised in the intro?


Yeah. I could probably sue for false advertisement.
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#7
istaril

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That was a Canadian rant! I'd apologize, but then... you'd make fun of me even more.


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#8
Masus04

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My perspective is that if my opponent is overextended, he isn't *ahead* of the game as a whole(despite his board advantage) since he is more vulnerable to Valar.  He is merely ahead for the round, since it is a given that Valar exists and will likely be played by one/both of us soon.

 

Losing your own characters, and taking a 0 claim round is a sufficient cost for an effect that punishes overextension, too.  Making a comeback from Valar isn't easy, but it is possible if you play around it and plan how you are going to recover.  This type of long-game strategy isn't "easy-button" as many have been calling it.

 

right here, you're not ahead because of all those characters IF you are not at least equal in locations, economy, hand etc. It's really a question of strategy and purpose of your deck.


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#9
chriss

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Very interesting post, but like some others, in my personal experience, Valar would indeed help even up the game - particularly in the early rounds when one's had a slow start. In these games, Valar was crucial. When this has happened to me - a slow opening hand - and I've not been running Valar, I often just quit - having experienced the futility of such games so many times before, knowing that I was locked down by a powerful field. Would Valar always bring it back for me? No. Not at all. But *sometimes* it gave me just enough breathing space to pull it off.

It also doesn't explain then why so many people seem to be finding this imbalance in the second edition. It is possible that they could all be wrong - I haven't played it myself, so I hold out hope that they are - but their experience certainly lines up with my non-Valar days, so I'm inclined to be concerned.


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#10
sidefor

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Not sure if I'm missing something, but why are you talking about 1.0 stuff on the 2.0 forum? I like the in-depth card analysis though, even though you kinda went on some tangents; keep it up!



#11
FedericoFasullo

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"Between equally skilled players, Valar doesn't help you come from behind if you're out-drawn 2 to 1. It doesn't help you come from behind if your opponent has thrice the economy you have. It doesn't help you come from behind... at all. "

 

But if you are not being out-drawned nor chocked it would have helped. So, it doesn't work every single time, what's the matter? I mean Valar is not the solution of all problems it's a solution for a problem.

 

"but in the slower core 2.0 environment, do you really want to take 2-3 more turns to lose?"

 

Nope, but in the future...

 

"We have "leverage" plots; Game of Thrones leverages intrigue icons, Fortified Position leverages raw STR, Jousting Contest, Wildfire and Calling the Banners leverage against swarms"

 

Yes, but let me use your words: Sure, maybe ____ delayed the inevitable - but in the slower core 2.0 environment, do you really want to take 2-3 more turns to lose?

You can fill the blank with any of the plot you mentioned. 

 

Except the few consideration I made I agree with all the rest of the post, great analysis.


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#12
ingsve

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Not sure if I'm missing something, but why are you talking about 1.0 stuff on the 2.0 forum? I like the in-depth card analysis though, even though you kinda went on some tangents; keep it up!

You're missing the discussion that people are having about wanting Valar to return in 2.0 because they feel it's needed.


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#13
kizerman86

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It also doesn't explain then why so many people seem to be finding this imbalance in the second edition. It is possible that they could all be wrong - I haven't played it myself, so I hold out hope that they are - but their experience certainly lines up with my non-Valar days, so I'm inclined to be concerned.

 

People, in general, don't play defensively enough.  If you get behind, relax, and sit back playing defense as best you can until you can regain tempo.  1 claim challenges don't often let you come back, but kneeling out your board for them basically guarantees your opponent will hit back harder.

 

 

Not sure if I'm missing something, but why are you talking about 1.0 stuff on the 2.0 forum? I like the in-depth card analysis though, even though you kinda went on some tangents; keep it up!

 

Big picture, we're talking resets.  Specifically in this thread, we are discussing the premier reset for this game and how an iteration of it could affect the 2nd Edition (since Nate told us Valar would come to 2.0 at the announcement last year).

 

There could be more interesting resets that fill its role (First Snow should reappear since it is a champ card, Aftermath, etc....) but Valar is the only one that fundamentally changes your approach to deckbuilding and the extent to which you commit to the board.  It defined the game twice as much as Milk of the Poppy defines 2nd Edition, and something similar to it is coming to 2nd Edition, per Nate.


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#14
Masus04

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People, in general, don't play defensively enough. If you get behind, relax, and sit back playing defense as best you can until you can regain tempo. 1 claim challenges don't often let you come back, but kneeling out your board for them basically guarantees your opponent will hit back harder.



Big picture, we're talking resets. Specifically in this thread, we are discussing the premier reset for this game and how an iteration of it could affect the 2nd Edition (since Nate told us Valar would come to 2.0 at the announcement last year).

There could be more interesting resets that fill its role (First Snow should reappear since it is a champ card, Aftermath, etc....) but Valar is the only one that fundamentally changes your approach to deckbuilding and the extent to which you commit to the board. It defined the game twice as much as Milk of the Poppy defines 2nd Edition, and something similar to it is coming to 2nd Edition, per Nate.


Do you have a source for that, i mean nate's anouncement? I Seen to have missed it and it sounds interesting.

#15
kizerman86

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I think Team Covenant has the video on their YouTube page, but I can't access that currently to link it.

 

I can't remember if he brought it up, or if it was part of the Q&A.



#16
Gamaran

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Valar isnt needed in the current state of the game, it was a necessity in 1.0 but cards as good as Valar just hog over the meta and shape everything there is around them. The more easy to play board clears there are, the less people will be willing to include expensive iconic characters in their decks, then the game will revert back to 20+ small/mid dudes and a few big guys that can power through the Valar meta.

 

You also have to take into account that your memories of 1.0 and the environment we have in 2.0 are two different worlds. The cards a player had in hand sometimes got absurd in 1.0 and this is limited in 2.0, and economy was many times over what we have right now, so instant not answerable board clears weren't as overwhelming if you played around them, as you said it was something you planned for. Card draw and general effects are mostly dependent on challenges in 2.0 and economy is much more scarce than in 1.0.

 

I have no problem with a board clear agenda being printed in 2.0 but i honestly hope it interacts in some way with the board before setting off, as is the overall theme on most things in 2.0.


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#17
rooneg

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I think Team Covenant has the video on their YouTube page, but I can't access that currently to link it.

 

I can't remember if he brought it up, or if it was part of the Q&A.

 

It's here, in the Q&A, the question starts at 42:42. Note that he doesn't say it's definitely coming, just that Valar is the game's most defining card, so there's a pretty good chance it'll be in second edition at some point.



#18
Alexfrog

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Valar doesn't inherently make the game swing back and forth more, it doesn't make it so the person who is "losing" gets to turn the game around, etc. In GJ or Brotherhood, you were playing Valar aggresively - pushing an advantage (in saves/immunity) you had. In a control deck, you were playing Valar defensively, leveraging your location base/hand size/card draw engine as superior to your opponent's. In combo decks, you might be playing valar to eliminate disruption of your combo. 

That sounds exactly like what Varys does. :)



#19
PulseGlazer

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That sounds exactly like what Varys does. :)


Plot deck answers vs draw deck answers.
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#20
Alexfrog

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Plot deck answers vs draw deck answers.

True, its not on a plot card.

 

So now all we need is "Varys Morghulis": Plot: 2/0/0: When revealed search your deck for a copy of Varys and put it into play?


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