Valar Morghulis (the CP) – The Top 5

Over at CardGameDB.com, I got the opportunity to participate in a mass review of the entire Valar Morghulis chapter pack as part of The Small Council. While that was fun (and I’m still honored that I’m even rubbing shoulders with those folk), I wanted to expand a little on my thoughts regarding this pack and […]

Profile photo of Larry Gross By Larry Gross On May 29, 2012 Posted In Game of Thrones LCG

Over at CardGameDB.com, I got the opportunity to participate in a mass review of the entire Valar Morghulis chapter pack as part of The Small Council. While that was fun (and I’m still honored that I’m even rubbing shoulders with those folk), I wanted to expand a little on my thoughts regarding this pack and what I think are the best cards here in my “home” AGoT community and hear your feedback on what you agree with and disagree with in the comments!

Top Five

So, in no particular order, these are what I consider the best five cards in this chapter pack and what I think about the card itself.

The Bastard of NightsongResponse: After you win a challenge in which The Bastard of Nightsong participated, move 1 power from the losing opponent’s House card to The Bastard of Nightsong.

This is just an all around amazing card for Baratheon. I’ll have to see how this plays out in an actual deck, but what you’re getting with this character is a two-power swing every time you win a challenge in which he participated. Just think about that for a minute. This is better than Renown because you’re actually taking power away from the opponent. If he had a Power icon, that would just make it ridiculous.

Time will tell if he fits into the standard Bara Rush because those kinds of decks move so fast that there might not actually be any power on the opponent’s House card in the early game. If your deck is designed to win on Turn 2, you may not get much… but all it takes is for your opponent to grab a couple power per turn and then this card just steals it away while they’re rushing for victory. Any Bara players tried this yet? The Shagga in me really wants to know if this is as frustrating for the other player as it looks like it could be.

Willas Tyrell – While Willas Tyrell is participating in a challenge against an opponent running an agenda, he gains renown. While Willas Tyrell is participating in a challenge, participating Lannister and Martell characters do not count their STR.

Another great Baratheon card. He’s cheap and he will get Renown around 90% of the time in the current meta (almost everyone runs an Agenda these days). Those two things make him a very good card. He help with setup a bit and can help to lower your gold curve. He also adds to your Rush capability with Renown. All in all, a solid card… but wait, that’s not all.

Put him in a match against Lannister or Martell and suddenly he’s CRAZY-good. Granted, he’s a Venomous Blade target, but that card seems to not be as popular as it used to be (cards like this might make that card return as the Restricted card of choice, though). So, let me get this straight… I declare a challenge against you and you’re now stuck defending with Neutral of OOH characters? Yep – that’s pretty killer right there. If you’re Lanni or Martell, you will want to get rid of this card as quickly as you can if you actually want to win any challenges!

Aeron Damphair – House Greyjoy only. Stealth. If Aeron Damphair would be killed, instead attach him to your House card as your only agenda with the text: “Response: After a [Greyjoy] character is saved, draw 2 cards.”

What is the one thing Greyjoy has a hard time doing? Drawing cards. Yes, you have LIV and Fishmonger’s Square and the new Euron… but, those cards are weak when it comes to Draw unless you’re running a Mill deck that’s discarding a LOT of cards and even then you can’t consider these enough to guarantee that you hit draw cap every turn. Now, add this guy to the mix as your agenda and, BAM!, you’ve got draw for every save. Couple that with a few other draw cards and now you’re talking about serious draw.

Beyond that, this guy is still a Holy character. He’s still military on a Power of Faith turn and, yes, once you’ve added him as an agenda, you can STILL play his character card as a character because, once he’s an agenda, the version that’s become an agenda is no longer “in play.” If you want to go nuts and somehow risk Summoning Season, you could even run BOTH Aeron’s in the same deck (1X of this and 2X of the other) so you gain the benefits of both… but Summoning Season is insane. Why Summoning Season? You have to ensure he gets played first so you can use him to soak claim and become an agenda. Then you’re free to play the other Aeron’s as characters. (I will add that I don’t think Summoning Season is much of a risk at all in Melee.)

IncinerateHouse Targaryen only. Challenges: Kneel 1 influence to choose a character and name a Trait. Until the end of the phase, that character gets -X STR and is killed if its STR is 0. X is the number of Targaryen characters you control with the named Trait.

I gotta say – I LOVE this card! Now, I’m primarily a Targ player, so Burn cards hold a special place and this one is just amazing. Some folks don’t think it’s that amazing due to the trait limitation, but frankly, Targ has SO many traits in relatively high numbers that this card is a mean card in almost any Targ deck, whether it be Burn, Dothraki, or Dragons.

What makes the card so amazing is the fact that it does this incredible effect for the low, low cost of a single influence kneel. I’ve done terrible things with this card. Killed characters whose strength was already buffed to 8 because I marshaled a number of weenie Dothraki’s and played two Drogo’s Horde’s for free. It was a vicious turn! (And great fun for me!) There is just no way I’m not including this in a deck unless I can tell (due to trait count) that I’m not going to pulling it off to much effect in a game.

Magister Illyrio – Response: After a character enters play during the challenges phase, choose a non-unique character. Until the end of the phase, that character gets -1 STR and is killed if STR is 0

Another great Targ card in this pack. On his own, he’s a 3 gold, two icon character card that adds a much needed Intrigue icon to the Targaryen arsenal. So, right there, he’s a great card to include in a lot of decks. Add his Response and you have a whole lot of awesome going on. With the sheer number of Ambush cards Targ has, you’re sure to be able to trigger his ability multiple times. Our very own Nathan Bradley has already concocted a mean looking deck list using him to essentially make keeping non-unique characters on the board a very hard thing to do.

Add him to your deck and the wonderful Dragon Knight now becomes a -3 AND gains a terminal kill effect to a non-unique. Every. Single. Ambush. Minus one and killed if zero. There is just no downside to this card. Now, if he could kill uniques… then he’d be OP for sure – but there are a lot of juicy non-uniques you want dead out there.

So that’s my top 5 list of cards from the latest CP – would love to hear what you think of my choices and what your top five are and why they’re different from mine. So… sound off in the comments.

    1. You made an excellent case in the podcast for Hugor Hill… still, I couldn’t bring him in on the top 5. The requirement that he attack alone is the only thing that nerfs him a little for me. But, you did convince me he’s a lot better than I had initially thought.

      /sostopyercryin

    2. I think Hugor Hill is good, but not as good as Larry’s choices. The attacks alone requirement is tough at times and he has to fight the other Tyrions for time (although none of them are all that awesome except for Clansmen Tyrion, but he’s very situational).

      What would you move off of the above list for Hugor? Aeron maybe?

      1. Yes, it has totally panned out.

        Especially so considering the interesting thing about him in a PBTT deck that is playing Breaking and Entering first turn is I can now leverage my opponent’s interest in playing not only his attachments and locations out of his hand, but now also his characters. This essentially gives them a damned if they do, damned if they don’t type of scenario.

        Either you play those cards or I have a very good chance that I’ll be taking them for myself. Pretty absurd.

      2. Beg to differ! The Shadows Tyrion is up there with The Red Viper and No-Shadows Bob in the right deck. The crazy thing is that you don’t really have to commit a ton of slots in your deck to being shadows. About 9-10 should be enough to make Tyrion a monster! Just my opinion from the past 3 yrs of having him kick the crap out of me. :)

      3. I’ve seen Hugor pan out every single time. Absolutely incredible. People are not playing Lannister, and if they are, they’re playing it very poorly. This guy takes PBTT to an 11.

        Aeron I’ve found is rarely what I want to soak claim with. He’s such a strong character on the board. The few times he turned to agenda, I maybe got 1 draw out of him. The agenda side of him is not as good as I initially thought it would be.

      4. Interesting about Aeron. Were you running him 1X just for the agenda or did you have multiples and still found that using him as an agenda and never drew into him a second time?

    1. Was this just a repeat of the 2C1C Top 5? Now that’s funny. Unintentional – but funny. I based my top 5 on my initial perceptions when I looked at the pack – trying not to let anyone’s review’s since then color my opinion. I do recall thinking nodding a lot during that podcast. 😀

      1. Yeah, it’s a repeat. Lol, not that there’s a problem with that at all. I agree completely with these choices, though I’m betting we might differ some on bottom 5 choices. That one usually seems harder.

      1. +1. Hopefully you were kind to us Tulsa folk. They already told me they had an enjoyable time.

        But where are the decklists? This week’s pod can’t come soon enough!

  1. The Kindly Man is exceptionally good — I’m pretty sure the Stark deck I want to build will run him. It’s a good ramp to any Stark murder engine… really only a Stark deck looking to win mainly on dominance would have limited use for him. DEADLY on an intrigue/power challenge is very good even there as a minimalist approach to challenges, since he just attacks alone and kills opposition.

    I also like Stannis Baratheon. I grant that if he’s not the only king out there, he’s “meh” — but if he’s the only king, he’s really good. He reminds me of the “hyper-Viper”, except here I’d expect maybe Court Advisor on Stannis to make him a tricon. He works well with a lot of Baratheon cards as far as I can tell, and pairs well with a lot of their other stealth or renown characters as an attack duo/trio.

    The Bastard of Nightsong doesn’t -quite- impress me. I think his ability will be useful — and actually what he does as I see it is let you focus on winning military/intrigue (card advantage) instead of even trying power challenges. You just let his ability act as a pseudo-claim. It’s a good card but not great.

    Incinerate doesn’t impress me at all. If Targ has lots of bodies out, it’s at best a 1-for-1 card trade (in which they wasted gold and you didn’t, but still). I like kill cards and spot kill is excellent in this game, but one that can kill several would be better. I like Harried By Dragons better than Incinerate, by a bit anyway.

    Actually Magister Illyrio doesn’t impress me either, although I think he’s potentially dynamite with Shadowcat and Syrio. I like “ambush” as a mechanic, sure — but getting a character out in challenges for 2 gold is better IMO, and Targ’s burn creates a great stealth-ftw environment. That deck has some ambush in it for sure.

    I’d agree to Aeron Damphair and Willas Tyrell being uber-sauce, especially Willas Tyrell. Aeron takes the right deck, but I see Willas going into pretty much every Baratheon deck as a staple card.

    1. Stannis can truly be a hoss if he’s in the right environment and if you’re in a Maester’s build, nuking the King trait off of other cards is pretty simple. It just takes some manipulation – but if he’s the only king… just amazing. Really. That King requirement is the only thing that kept him out of my Top 5.

      Bastard of Nightsong – two power swing for 3 gold on mil and intrigue… hard to say no to that in any Bara deck, honestly. But I can see your point (I disagree – but I see it! :-)

      Aaah – Incinerate actually works better in play than on paper. I LOVE this card. It has juiced so many games for me. 1 Influence and you can nuke so much. Field of Fire is far superior, but it requires Summer. Harried By Dragons is good… but I don’t know if it’s better than Flame-Kissed or Dragon Skull or any number of other attachments. In a non-Summer deck – Incinerate can be just the right card to obliterate a card unexpectedly.

      Illyrio – I haven’t played him yet – but I love how he looks on paper and Nathan’s deck just looked sick.

      Agreed on Aeron – really does take the right deck. If you play this Aeron – you want to juice your saves and include as many as you can. 3X Iron Mines, Tarle, Wendamyr, maybe even 3X Iron Cliffs (though that’s a little harder as it has a cap).

    2. As an example for Incinerate, in my regular Burn decks, I run 3X Refugees, Killer of the Wounded, Khal Drogo, Jhogo, Thundering Cavalry, and more… all Dothraki. All it takes is 3 on the board at one time and I’ve already got more for 1 Influence than just about any other card (except Field of Fire).

      1. I don’t think in terms of influence… more in card trade. The 1 for 1 card trade you get from Incinerate is pretty easy to turn into more than that. Win a challenge, save yourself from a challenge, off a problem character with umpteen protections on it, etc. It’s an excellent utility card, I’d say the best spot-kill in the game actually because the requirements to play it (1 influence and have a few characters out) are so low.

        I’m not saying the card isn’t good. It’s VERY good at what it does. I suppose I just come from the wrong game — in MTG, cards that kills a single target are commonplace. No matter how good they are are, they can only impact the game so much. The limited ceiling of usefulness is why I’m not impressed with the card. Things that impress me are cards like Bear Island, Wintertime Marauders, Shadow Stalker — cards you can get multiple kills out of with 1 card.

      2. I would say the difference between burn kills (like incinerate) and regular targeted kills (like Bear Island) is that Incinerate is basically impossible to save from. You can take down a protected Robert or Cersei or Viper or what have you pretty easily, while Bear Island can just knock off a dupe or bodyguard or something.

        Incinerate is truly targeted kill.

      3. +1 on what Buz said. The deal with Incinerate is the inability to save. Sure – it may only be a one for one (though usually it’s a two-for-one or more due to dupes or attachments) but it’s certain death (well – unless they can cancel the event… which is always possible).

      4. At the point at which Incinerate is being used to kill past saves, I’m getting a 2-for-1 or better card trade out of it — the problem is that duplicates and Bodyguard as saves aren’t going to be particularly popular with Incinerate in the card population. Incinerate punishes disrespect to itself (how dragonlike!), should anyone build their deck on the hope of only rarely facing that card.

        And in terms of “strength on the board”, a character with 5000 saves on it only counts its strength once. Even when you get that good card trade, you aren’t affecting your ability to make/defend challenges all that much. Not directly anyway.

        I do like the card. I’d likely play it if I was Targ, at least until deck builds start to shift to avoid getting too hurt by it.

      5. The biggest thing I’ve seen with incinerate is the ability to completely turn around a weaker board position or as an ability to recover from a bad draw. If you can’t field enough characters, the ability to just nuke your opponent’s power character can make all the difference in the game.

      6. I think of it this way. A new character out is generally a 1 to 4 strength shift (a few are higher of course) on the board, at some cost in gold. Incinerate is 1 influence for a 3+ strength shift on the board, and usable to change the winner of a particular challenge unexpectedly. So generically, Incinerate is better than most characters you could think to include — you include 3 of it before you even look at what characters you might want in your deck. It’s definitely a very good card.

        Bear Island picks off something that can’t save (ideally) to weaken their board, then lets the military challenge next turn deal with saves. It’s certainly not nearly as good as Incinerate in certain situations — like vs Stark, where Bear Island is virtually a dead draw. I wouldn’t want to face Lightbringer with Bear Island (although Lightbringer doesn’t want to face Bear Island either, so it’s a push in a way). Bear Island is dominance phase, so it doesn’t help me get in challenges and can’t save me… in the short term, anyway. But Bear Island picks off Balarion or some other absurd first turn drop, where Incinerate sobs quietly in the corner. Apples and Oranges, those cards.

        If I add up what I expect Bear Island to do, it’ll give me more output per game than 3 Incinerates will (assuming you draw all 3). In terms of raw power, recurring kill trumps. But I’m talking 3 gold and you are talking 1 influence… Incinerate is a card that is EASY to play early for an immediate swing, as you say. Save the day, at least for the moment.

      1. Illyrio is incredibly good, and a great “Build Around Me” card. That said, I’m not as worried about him as I am about incinerate. Incinerate lacking the traditional attachment limitation and being actually pretty easy to power up is going to once again deal a blow to uber character decks.

      2. That’s been my experience… people groan when they see Incinerate pop in. It’s just so lethal and so very cheap.

        In my Dothraki deck it’s just absolutely brutal… really, really brutal.

  2. Hmmm…. I seem to have lost the ability to directly reply to a few posts, sooo….

    @Buz, I won’t have all the decklists available to me for this cast, but mine and Zeiler’s for sure. Hope to be able to wrangle Greg back onto the cast for next week so that we can get info on both of his winning lists. We will, however, have a brief stats update.

    @Everyone else, concerning the Kindly Man- I think there are going to be some great Shagga builds with him. At the moment, one of the most fun that I’m thinking is one that recycles House Umber Berserkers. Get the Kindly Man in play, then play Berserkers and choose to kill him as your kill if need be, or Berserkers otherwise. Let the opponent kill whatever they want, then keep using the Kindly Man to bring your Berserkers back into play where you kill them, and the opponent must kill something else. You can loop this for as many turns as you can win the appropriate challenge. Then if you combine this with Bear Island, you’re going to have an awful lot of recurring kill….

    1. A question on the chargendas — if I have The Kindly Man attached to my house and then play The Kindly Man from my hand, where does he play? Is he a character, or is he a duplicate to the attachment? And are the chargendas considered to be agendas, attachments, or both?

      1. Once you kill him, he becomes an agenda (they probably shouldn’t have used the verb “attach” as it creates some confusion with the “attachment” card type). At that point, it is only an agenda and nothing else, so if you draw another copy of the character, you can play it as a character without problem.

      2. That one fact is what makes these charagendas so intriguing to me. Play 3X of them, use the first one as an agenda, and, in many cases, you still have an amazing character you can field (Aeron and the upcoming Griff).

      3. Thank you, Kennon.

        I think I agree that they are 3-of characters, generally — you want one early, and want a second copy because they aren’t bad in play. The Kindly Man is pretty excellent. He’s not even useless in Siege, since you can just run him as a solo intrigue challenger to make them choose between DEADLY and losing cards by not opposing. There are some characters that might shut him off that way of course… but not that many.

        Do chargendas replace your agenda? I can see a deck like Siege starting off as a military machine and then using The Kindly Man to switch games if it isn’t working… assuming I’m reading the wording correctly, and The Kindly Man’s “become your agenda” works if you already had one.