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Oakwolf

balance between the decks (and default 7 plots)

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We've been playing this game regularily since a bit, and i've come to doubt the ability of the Stark deck to get a proper, decisive win. Lannisters seems to pummel the Starks most of the time.

Is this what others have experienced?

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As much as i rarely want to reply to my own thread, we've figured  that the pummeling we've been noticing is almost always related to the "Valar Morgulis" plot card.

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After more testing, it seems that the Starks must hold onto a powerful character until after Valar Morgulis is played. This is a double edged sword because Lannisters are good at intrigue that  you run the risk of seeing your character discarded. I assume that is exactly the purpose of the (hidden in shadows) plot which allows you to get a character from the discard pile.

The Lannisters are weak on the turn they play Valar Morgulis due to a lower income (depending on locations) and they cannot threaten you with challenges due to 0 claim. The outcome of the game is often determined on how the players can recover after Valar Morgulis.

So you don't have to throw it away, but it does have a huge impact in the game. It's a big tabula rasa…and forces the game into a final sprint.

Since we've played more games, we've found out that sometimes the Starks can recover really quick thanks to cost-reducing locations and brutal military challenges. This is even more true if the characters that Lannisters play after Valar Morgulis do not have a military icon.

However sometimes the Lannisters just have too much bonus to income and even Valar Morghulis won't slow them down, especially if they can "bodyguard" powerful characters like Tywin or Littlefinger…or even worse: The Mountain (this guy is the bane of Starks)

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Yes, it kills all characters (from both sides). The result of this plot depends on what locations both  players control. With sufficient gold income, the Lannisters can bounce back up easily. Starks can really get characters out cheaply if they have cost-reduction shenanigans going on.  Characters with bodyguards and dire wolves will survive Valar Morghulis, so this  may also play into the equation.  The plot is a game accelerator in many ways…but not always in favor of the house that is ahead in points.

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Agreed…Valar Morghulis severely tilts the game in favor of the Lannisters. It is very difficult for the Starks to win with this card in play, and generally a cake-walk for the lions. In a half dozen games played so far, there have been no Stark victories when this plot is used, and only 1 game wasn't a complete blowout.

 

Am I doing something wrong? Is there a winning strategy for the wolves? The noted strategy of holding back characters until after VM still relies on a lot of things going right for house Stark - locations coming out early, being able to save characters in hand, hopefully bumping off Lanister bodyguards and dupes. Even with superior Stark military might, Lannisters are very good at kneeling opponents and neutralizing the threat… And once Stark does manage to overcome and start getting the advantage - bam! - Valar Morghulis.

 

Very surprised and disappointed that this game doesn't have better balance right out of the box, considering it's meant as a more casual game than LCG.

 

Otherwise a great game, but I definitely recommend you leave VM in the box.

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I have played this game maybe a half-dozen times since receiving it as a gift in early January of this year. In my experience (playing only with the seven default plot cards thus far), Stark has won more frequently than Lannister. We've had some very tight games (1-2 power token difference at the end), but we've also had times when one house clearly dominated over the other (due either to luck of the draw and/or the strategic choices/mistakes made by the players). The different houses definitely have different strengths and weaknesses, but overall, I consider them relatively well balanced, even with VM in the Lannister deck.

 

When playing Stark, I try to avoid playing too many strong cards before the Lannister has played Valar Morghulis (I realize that this is not always practical or strategically viable). If the Lannister player plays Valar Morghulis as their seventh plot card, then you know you'll have at least seven rounds before the card comes again. Keep in mind that the Lannister player may be reluctant to play VM if they also have a lot of good cards on the table, and so may only play at as a last resort… plan accordingly!

 

I have also found that, as the Stark player, if I can get Littlefinger in play early in the game, that can do a lot to neutralize some of the Lannister player's intrigue challenges, and to help Stark collect a lot more gold. Of course, luck will determine when/if you draw Littlefinger from your deck!

 

Finally, I have found that one of the biggest factors influencing the outcome of the game is how soon each house draws/plays the Iron Throne card. If one house has the Iron Throne in play from the beginning and the other one does not draw/play it until much later, the side that drew early will have a significant advantage in terms of acquiring power tokens.

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Heh… That having been said, I got my ass whipped today playing House Stark. I kept drawing events and locations and had virtually no characters to play (aside from Maester Lewen, Osha, Arya, and, after several rounds, Varys and Robb Stark). My opponent got 15 power tokens by the end of round 5 (if I remember correctly) - Valar Morghulis never even came into play! :-)

 

Oh well...

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Played as House Stark with the default 7 plot cards this weekend, playing the same player/opponent I always play against… and this time, House Stark won 15 - 0!!! So again, even with VM in play, it is possible for House Stark to win (I had the Iron Throne in my starting hand, which helped a lot; my opponent never drew the Iron Throne).

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Played House Stark last weekend using the default plot decks and won 15-2, even though only my opponent had the Iron Throne card in play.

 

So all in all, I've come to the conclusion that the decks are reasonably balanced. Sometimes Stark whoops butt, sometimes Lannister does, and sometimes it's pretty close… Works for me! 

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