Valkyrie is a hero who can excel as a minion destroyer or tear the villain to shreds with a single-minded focus. She’s somewhat of an advanced hero, however, and it takes effort to make her shine. Her core ability revolves around her Death Glow. It’s a set-aside card she can pay to attach to an enemy.
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When she defeats an enemy with Death Glow, she readies herself. If you have the resources, it’s pretty common to wipe out every minion on the board, one by one.
You can also place Death Glow on the villain. Most of her cards interact with Death Glow and can power her up to give the villain a severe beating. A particularly crafty player could mix it up, switching to alter-ego form detaches Death Glow. So it’s possible, though difficult, to do both.
Many heroes can be slapped into any deck and do okay, Valkyrie can’t. Her decks have to be built around her strengths and limitations. Her stats are awkward, and it can be difficult to keep her alive or to prevent the main schemes from breaking if you don’t plan for it.
Valkyrie’s deckbuilding isn’t limited though. She can be played with any aspect and built multiple ways within them, but every deck will require a planned focal point for her strategy. With multiplayer, she needs a laser-focused role on the team. In solo play, you have to cover her weaknesses.
In a lot of ways, I appreciate her design. Every character being well-rounded would be boring. We need characters like Hawkeye, Rocket, and Valkyrie to shake things up by having more pronounced highs and lows. The downside is she is difficult to play which can put off less patient fans of the game.
Valkyrie’s cards may look like a well-balanced mixture of damage, threat removal, and defense. But the reliance on Death Glow narrows how you will use them based on how you want to play her. For example, Shield Maiden is a strong defense card that allows her to stay ready. Yet, its usefulness is limited unless Death Glow is attached to the villain. If you are playing as a minion sweeper it’s more situational.
No matter how you build Valkyrie, there’s no ignoring Death Glow since her entire kit revolves around it. Both, her Spear and DragonFang boost her attack and defense respectively. But the bonus is higher against foes with Death Glow. Have at Thee and Flight of the Valkyrior are both potent cards in their given roles, but use Death Glow as the trigger.
The result of that focus is a hero that can pick an objective and zero in on it with unyielding accuracy. The downside is that some of her cards become niche at best and resources at worst between different strategies.
When I played protection Valkyrie, she was an invincible shieldmaiden that healed fast enough to make Wolverine blush. But I almost never used Have at Three. When I played her as an aggressive minion sweeper, Shield Maiden rarely saw play. It’s not a flaw really, but it can be clunky at times.
That’s not to say that any card was always useless. I ended games in Protection with Have At Thee, and survived by the skin of my teeth in aggression with a well-timed Shield Maiden. It is just not all the time and that kind of added to her fun. You don’t want to play every card of hers all the time, and I think that’s okay.
Asgard Support and Other Cards
Valkyrie has some other interesting cards too. Aragorn grants a nice HP buff and Aerial. Keyword support is always nice to see. Chooser of the Slain is interesting because if you focus on the action economy as explained in my piece on Fixing the Imbalance in Marvel Champions, there is no action advantage.
You spend a card to get two cards and a minion, which is an even trade at best, and a loss of tempo at worst if it’s a tougher minion. That doesn’t mean it’s useless though. It just means playing it the moment it hits your hand is a bad move. You should use it when you’re fishing for a combo or an answer to the board state.
Valhalla is great when you’re taking advantage of Death Glow, card draw is exceptionally strong and healing is always great. Visit Vahalla is straightforward and can get you a card you need in a pinch.
One of the biggest things that the Valkyrie pack brings is Asgard support in the form of basic cards. Godlike Stamina is a profusely strong card that is limited to Asgard heroes, and it’s probably an auto-include for every Valkyrie and Thor deck. The Bifrost lets you fetch Asgard-specific allies from the deck.
I love seeing support for old keywords, and I hope the trend continues with Gamma, Champion, and SHIELD. But it does have the issue of being limited to small pools of cards. Asgard has more to work with than the Android keyword that The Vision pack started to support, but it’s still rather limited, especially in the case of Godlike Stamina.
Weaknesses and Artistic Inconsistencies
I’m not usually that picky about art, but Valkyrie’s is so inconsistent I have to point it out. You have semi-realistic in her alter-ego, a comic book in her hero form, anime with her spear, The Last Airbender with Flight of the Valkyrior, and Kim Possible with Shield Maiden. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a minor complaint, but it really does bug me.
Valkyrie’s weakness is an interesting one because it’s reliant on how you play her and I think that’s neat. Whatever you choose to focus on will make you weak in the other areas. An aggressive Valkyrie will struggle with heavy hits and threat removal. A defensive Valkyrie will be a much slower burn on the damage.
At the same time, you don’t truly feel incompetent in those areas. A timely Have At Thee or Flight of the Valkyrior has big enough numbers to relieve the pressure of a built-up villain board. I think that makes Valkyrie much more interesting to play. She has a constant back and forth of feeling like a powerhouse then vulnerable and then back again.
Her design grants her a unique feel which is great. However, admittedly it does paint her as a character suited for multiplayer where teamwork can cover the gaps in her armor.
She’s perfectly viable in solo, but you are shoehorned into more specific builds. In addition, you have to tech against certain villains specifically, or you will get completely crushed.
Once again, that’s not inherently bad. It’s the reality of having diverse characters. They won’t all be effective in every role, player count, and against every villain. That reality is preferable to a pool of heroes that all feel the same.
Premade Deck and Aspect Cards
A Valkyrie deck requires two things, a focus and support for that focus. The premade deck has the former, but not the latter. The result is a deck that almost works but consistently fails.
Her premade deck is an aggressive one to showcase her Death Glow’s ability to ready Valkyrie and take advantage of that. But there isn’t enough economical support to allow it to happen.
Death Glow is a resource suck that needs a resource every time you want to attach it. Without the right foundation to support it, you’re left choosing between using it or tackling a board state issue and never both.
The new Thor ally is fantastic, the ability to attack all minions engaged with you is insane. Add in The Bifrost to dig Thor out, and you have a minion munching machine. But the reliance on Death Glow and the lack of resources in the premade makes him difficult to ever play on the board.
The new cards do add some great versatility to the aggression aspect, however. Smash the Problem and The Best Defense, both fill gaps in the aspect that should allow for even more interesting deck builds.
Quick Strike is a nice bit of burst damage for attack buffing builds. Throg being a 2 cost ally with toughness is very cost-effective, even if you need a minion to play him.
Premade decks are rarely worthy, and the Valkyrie doesn’t impress me here. But the new aggression cards and Asgard support balance the scales quite a bit.
Valkyrie’s Nemesis set is great because it’s a threatening challenge. But it’s also terrible because it’s nearly a complete reprint of an existing encounter set.
Enchantress alone isn’t much of a threat, but the fact that she enters play with Seduced and Powerful Enchantments is deadly. Powerful Enchantments prevents Seduced from being removed, and Seduced prevents you from attacking. Valkyries built-in threat removal, Flight of the Valkryrior, requires her to attack first. The nemesis set is a hard counter to Valkyrie.
That’s mostly a good thing. Nemesis sets should be scary, but this one is actually too much in solo. In multiplayer, other players can help you deal with Powerful Enchantments. In solo, you have to rely on drawing any extra threat removal support you put into the deck and hope it’s enough. Enchantress pretty much ended any solo game where I pulled Shadow of the Past.
I’d rather Nemesis Sets lean toward being too strong than too weak, and Enchantress is definitely strong without relying on big numbers so I can look past it. If you somehow survive her entrance, drawing Beguiled is brutal since it steals your allies and that’s a nice challenging twist to deal with.
What I can’t look past is the fact that the Nemesis Set is pretty much the Enchantress Encounter set found in The Mad Titans Shadow. The only difference is a copy of Beguiled is swapped out for Powerful Enchantments. I’m going to be exceptionally disappointed if this becomes a trend moving forward.
The fact that Vision’s nemesis was a scaled-down version of the Villain Ultron is bad enough. But ripping off existing sets wholesale is a whole other level of disappointment.
Here we enter pet peeve central. Does Valkyrie feel like a bad-ass Asgardian warrior? Maybe? She’s certainly strong from the standpoint of pure mechanics, which is all we have to go by because her cards are almost entirely generic concepts.
Chooser of the Slain, Flight of the Valkyrior, Have at Thee, and Shield Maiden are just words written on the top of a card with only vague if any relation to the cards they are written on.
If you read many of my Marvel Champions review’s you will know what I mean by this. To put it simply, take a card like Captain America’s Shield Toss. It’s an example of a thematic card. Break the mechanics down, and the card can cast a visual picture of what’s happening in the game world. Cap throws his shield, and it bounces into X amount of bad guys.
Have at Thee visualizes what exactly? It’s a massive 7 damage attack with overkill if the enemy has Death Glow. Did she just yell “Have At Thee!” and the villain took 7 points of poop his pants damage?
One of the biggest things that hooked me onto the game was how well the game intertwined theme and mechanics. The theme has bounced around a lot through various expansions, but to get an entire hero with almost no theme whatsoever feels awful.
Some of the best games, such as Spirit Island, Gloomhaven, and Terraforming Mars always hook the theme and mechanics together and at times Marvel Champions sits with them. Other times it flops.
Mechanically Valkyrie has a unique playstyle. Thematically it doesn’t really feel like you’re playing anything. Maybe a generic warrior with a sword and spear and not much else, and that’s a real shame
Verdict on Valkyrie
I have a lot to criticize with this pack. The inconsistent art style, lack of theme, and reprinted nemesis set are among them. Individually those issues are frustrating but all of them being in the same pack definitely compounds the disappointment.
On the other hand, I don’t really have any gameplay-related complaints. Valkyrie is unique and fun. Would she be more fun with thematic cards? Yes. But she’s still a well-designed hero mechanically speaking.
The aspect cards have similar issues with a distinct lack of theme but bring a lot to the card pool. Cards like The Best Defense and Smash the Problem nearly sell the pack alone due to the diversity they bring the aggression aspect. The Thor Hero card also gets a big buff thanks to Asgard’s support. There’s just a bunch of great stuff in the pack.
Certain elements of the pack died a heroic death to bring the rest to life. It’s just a shame that their escort to Valhalla looks less like a Valkyrie and more like a shadowed figure with a scythe. A generic guide to the afterlife in every sense of the word.
I’m definitely a gameplay-oriented person. However, in a lot of games theme and gameplay are hard to separate. Anything as iconic as the Marvel brand is one of them. These characters live in our minds. We have read the comics, played video games, and watched cartoons and movies that star them. There’s an expectation there and it feels really great when our perceptions of those characters translate to the game on the table.
Without a thematic connection, it doesn’t matter that we’re playing Spider-Man or Iron Man. They might as well be numbers on a blank white card and that is sadly what Valkyrie feels like.
I can appreciate Valkyrie’s mechanics and have fun theory-crafting deck builds. But there will always be something missing when I play her, and that really bums me out.
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- A unique hero that requires focused deckbuilding
- Great new aspect cards that help diversify the aggression aspect
- Asgard support is great
- Death Glow is an interesting mechanic to play with
- A Threatening Nemesis set
- Lack of theme makes Valkyrie feel faceless
- The Nemesis set is a copy of an existing encounter set
- The art style on Valkyrie’s cards is inconsistent
- The premade deck is poorly constructed