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Valar Morghulis

Valar Morghulis (Core) 2-0-0
Limit 1 per plot deck.
When revealed, kill all characters in play.

Arguably THE meta-defining card for A Game of Thrones LCG, Valar Morghulis demands the attention of every player not only during play but also as they build their decks. How does the option of “Valar” influence the best player’s decisions? I have some theories but would ultimately like to hear from the community on how Valar Moghulis guides your AGoT experience.

When I consider Valar Morghulis, it is usually in one of four general ways:

i) A Safety Net – I would use Valar Morghulis as one of my seven plots in this case to recover from a poor start. Even the best tuned decks have poor flops/opening hands or face nightmare flops/opening hands from their opponent. If you don’t account for below average starts, you won’t have an answer when they happen. I’m not saying that Valar is an all powerful actual reset of the game, infact, in many cases it just delays a loss when used this way. It does, however, provide a better chance than just trying to play from behind for the rest of the game. It would be interesting to see the thought process of top players after a poor start. I’m sure they are playing towards some form of a reset. How does this planning ahead inform their decisions? How many rounds can they afford? Which characters are held back and which options are used before or saved for after?

ii) Part of the plan – I would use Valar Morghulis as one of my seven plots in this case as part of my strategy to gain and capitalize on a card and resource advantage. A classic example of this would be a Lannister Control Deck. This deck baits the opponent to play more and more characters in an attempt to break free of character control. To the Lannister player this is a good thing. As their opponent is flooding the board, they are building up a large hand(Golden Tooth Mines (Core)), resource base(Lannisport Steward (Core)) and depleting the other hand with intrigue challenges(The Power Behind the Throne (LotR)). All of this is leading to a “flipping of Valar” which usually signals the end. The result is a refilled board by the Lannister player and a controllable board by the opponent.

iii) Offensive Weapon – I would use Valar Morghulis as one of my seven plots in this case to wipe my opponent’s board and leave my board relatively strong. This is most easily achieved by using Greyjoy and their access to character saves(The Iron Mines (KotS)), although any deck using saves(Maester of the Sun (ASoS)), cannot be killed(Beric Dondarrion (IG)), shadows(Tyrion Lannister (CoS)), or jump into play effects(Drogon (QoD)) might consider Valar in this regard.

iv) The fourth way I consider Valar Morghulis is as a threat to my board position. In this case it is the presence or possible presence of Valar in my opponent’s plot deck that I need to account for. This awareness of Valar influences me in both deck building and the playing of the cards. For deck building I need to balance my desired flow of the game with ways to defend against an opponent’s Valar. An example of this would be a Baratheon Rush Deck whose desired flow of the game is an early accumulation of 15 power through renown(Stannis Baratheon (Core)) and power grabbing effects(Melisandre (RotO)). If the deck was 60 cards dedicated to this objective, a well timed Valar Morghulis would be crippling. That is why many rush decks will include cards that help mitigate a Valar at the same time as partially slowing down the speed. Specific cards would be Loyal Guard (WotN), Bodyguard (Core), Narrow Escape (KotStorm), Lightbringer (Core), and Maester Lomys (CbtC)[some may argue he doesn’t help]. Draw effects and Intrigue defence can help as well while slowing down the deck slightly. I don’t include The Power of Blood (Core) here because as it does a great job defending against Valar, the nature of having seven plots allows for flexibility and doesn’t force you to sacrifice rush oriented plots.

When it comes to the playing of the cards I have seen the phrase “over extend” as something that you want to try to not do. This is where knowing your deck and how you play really becomes important. Over extending to one deck may look like a conservative strategy to the next deck and vice versa. Again, I would like to pick the brain of the top players on this topic. What are the main things you are thinking about in regards to a reset as you play your rush/aggro decks in the first rounds?

I hope this can start a discussion on Valar Morghulis and that average players like myself can gain some insight into high level play and decision making.
  • BraavosiBanker likes this


I will start with this : I hate Valar. I find it the most irritating card in the game.
Now, to answer your question. I play a Stark Army deck like 90% of the times, so i always end up with my opponent using it against me in turn 2-3. After a game, a friend suggested i should play some shadow cards alongside my armies. So i did just that. Mostly i use jumpy cards like Meera, Arya or Syrio. I try to keep these cards in shadow as much as i can, just so i can overwhelm my opponent with them if he tries to "reset" the game. There are times when i do that, just so i can get rid of his characters. So, you could say it's a "safety net" tactic, but it can also help you clear the table, and leave you in advantage.
I think that a game, shouldn't have a card that is "almost" a must in a tourney deck. I said that for what I can see in all the decks I saw in the web, I have no big Experience in this game, but I have some in other card games. Is just my humble opinion.
    • Andras likes this
Valar is such a balanced card it's annoying. Any other 2 gold plot I would dream of playing is, at a minimum, 2 claim. 0 initiative so you will most likely be at the mercy of your opponent for turn order. 0 claim is huge. So your opponent has a turn to breathe and rebuild while you usually do not. Then the effect, while possibly the strongest in the game is universal. Sure some houses deal with it better. I have played many a game where I drag a losing position into the 7th plot only to have my opponent's valar wipe the board and I launch a comeback for the win.

Without valar the game usually turns into a mass of characters on the board which usually stalemates a lot of the game. Valar forces people to assume every character has an expiration date, to not overextend themselves, and to focus on draw and hand protection. All of these are good things for deck building and play. I will say it is hard on houses that struggle to draw but the problem is not Valar but rather lack of in-house draw options.
    • zordren, Egg, BraavosiBanker and 1 other like this
I usually have wildfire assault rather than valar as my plot reset. I play a Lanni intrigue deck. Knowing that most decks have valar in them, I have successfully baited my opposition into playing it early by overextending with non-uniques and protecting my best uniques with power of blood. In those cases I've used intrigue to reduce my opponents hand size to almost nothing, so valar hurt them more than it hurt me. Not sure that would work in tourney play, but it does with my mid level deck, since it leaves me with a large hand and money and my opposition has few cards and no claim
I've had games where I have not marshalled any characters one round while ahead wanting to hold them in my hand (esp if my hand is lighter on characters than the deck as a whole) knowing a valar from my opponent likely to come soon. This is good. Without valar, I could overwhelm from a strong start and build on my strong early board position.

Valar balances a game where one player gets an ideal setup and draw early in the game and the other player starts with a clunky hand full of expensive characters and events. The ability for either player to reset the characters on the board balances the game. As branagan pointed out, the plot itself is well balanced at only 2 gold and 0 claim as the sacrifice for the big effect.

Without valar we'd all be playing either Stark Siege or Bara noble rush.
    • zordren, Egg, schi0384 and 1 other like this
Theres been times when i would have loved to burn that card because its stoped me winning on the 7th plot turn. But then theres times when the other player has used it and its tottaly not effected my side of the board but has left him with 2 gold and no claim. I have used it my self, But i cant stand waiting to use it, Changing my whole game plan around 1 card.

Valar to me is not a massive thing in the game, my meta has 5 people and only 2 of them use it though we all have the card. All in all as long as it is not in my plot deck i really dont mind the card.
Feb 15 2012 03:16 AM
Run it because theres a good chance when playing against good people you will at some point have you back against the ropes. And when you do, you Valar.
Feb 15 2012 04:02 AM
I have learned that "Art of Seduction" is a fantastic answer to Valar. If you see it coming soon (and most often you can) play "Art of Seduction" as your plot. Either they will play valar the same turn and be stuck at 2,0,0 for an additional round, or you will hold off annihilation for one more turn ;)
    • mischraum and schi0384 like this
i gotta a friend that hates this card with a passion. he thinks that the cost (2,0,0) is way too small a cost to fire off a kill effect for every character is play. he contends that all other kill effects require a much steeper price (more restrictive, must draw the card(s),etc.) and targets fewer characters. he questions if all other kill effects in the game are restricted and limited, why have a plot card that isn't. To him, Valar defeats the idea of "he who marshals and challenges better than his opponent from the start is who SHOULD win."

it is an interesting point, i guess. I can and have given him dozens of reasons of why the game needs Valar, mainly that renown rush and military rush become the only viable strategies as everything else (control, combo, etc.) would take too long to accrue power. he is definitely not "Jaime" player. he wants to win, just his way.

when you play with valar, the whole concept and approach to your game changes. everything dies it is just a matter when. just because you marshal a character into play, does not entitle it to survive until the end of the game. player can not be attached to his characters but must callously use them to fulfill an ends and discard them after. you have plan for it with saves or be able to rebound from it.
it requires a sense of detachment that most games do not have which is why i think my friend struggles with valar. funny how a single card can do that.
Using 'save' effects to save your characters not only allows you to counter Valar, but also allows you to use Valar to your advantage. Valar with Robert Baratheon + lightbringer gives you 2 more power on baratheon usually.