Profile photo of Larry Gross By Larry Gross On March 22, 2012 Posted In Game of Thrones LCG

How Many Dupes Does It Take?

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March 22, 2012

So, I’ve been building decks lately. I’ve only recently started this process. Up until recently, I’d only used templated decks I’d found either at or from some obscure PDF from some meta that listed the decks from a regional. I did this to try and understand the game mechanics a bit. But, with the Regionals only a month away, I realized I really needed my own deck.

So, the active discussion of how many dupes do you need has really been hitting home with me. I thought I’d default to 3-up of a unique I absolutely had to have in my hand as quickly as I could (without resorting to a type specific draw effect) and that I was limiting to a single character. I’d go with 2-ups that I thought were still pretty vital, but not critical, and 1-up of anything else. Then, with non-uniques, I focused on resource curve. Looking at my characters that were vital to my strategy, I checked what those were costing me and what icons I was bringing to the table and tried to ensure my non-uniques would balance that out with cannon fodder or army types… all while trying to keep an eye out for other card interactions that could help me. (Dizzying for a new deck builder)

I used exactly this formula for a recent Dothraki themed deck I’d built that I really loaded up with Dothraki characters, while keeping an eye on my resource curve. I balanced these out and then added some attachments and events that I thought would support this deck. I had 2X of Jhogo, Rakharo, and Aggo plus 1X of Khal Drogo. 2X of Drogo’s horde, 2X of Killer of the Wounded, and a number of others that I can’t recall off the top of my head.

Speculative Map of Essos by theMountainGoat and Tear

During a test game, I drew ZERO Dothraki characters on setup. None. Zip. Nada. I figured I’m almost guaranteed a Dothraki on the setup redraw. So, I setup four cards (Street Waif and some other non-Dothraki weakling for my characters), drew back to 7 and, STILL NO DOTHRAKI. What the what? The whole deck strategy is based on Dothraki – the bulk of my attachments and events are Dothraki specific – I ended up with attachments I couldn’t attach and events I couldn’t play. I tested (once again) against my bane – Greyjoy Priests. While it took 8 turns for it to end, I never got above 4 power and ended the game at 1 power. It was a brutal slog-fest. All I could do was prevent unopposed attacks to prevent Greyjoy from gaining extra power.

Now, I probably should have Mulligan’d, but the few times I have called a Mulligan, it’s rarely helped me… so I’m skittish, preferring to play the hand I’m dealt because I know what it is (because I’m looking at it). But, rather than taking the Mulligan, I started thinking about the “how many uniques” debate. In my specific case, assuming I would stick with 30 character slots, if I had 3X Jhogo, 3X Aggo, 3X Rakharo – it would definitely have increased my chances to bring a Dothraki onto the field (assuming I was replacing non-Dothraki characters), but it also increased my chances for a dead draw if any of them died (and I wasn’t running Maegi’s Promise… which I’m rethinking, but not sold).

I thought that going with 2X of those primary characters would be just right, but when I drew none of them in the setup and none in Turn 1, I began to doubt myself. Now, it’s a Dothraki themed deck, but I had no attachment hate in the deck (and Fishing Net made killing Khal Drogo meaningless to the opponent) and, while I had a decent gold curve, my characters were far more vulnerable than I had hoped since I drew NO DUPLICATES at any point in the game.

So, the question, was this just a bad draw or do I really need to reconsider that a Dothraki themed deck needs more dupes in order to guarantee it works? What have you other Targ players discovered in your Dothraki builds? Or do you just Mulligan right away if you pull ZERO Dothraki on the setup hand? Of course, there’s always the possibility that Targ is too much for my n00b brain to build a strategy on (there seem to be few Targ winners in Championships).

  1. Ok, I’ll chime in here. Targ is super hard to build…but not really for Dothraki. Just cram in lots of Dothraki. You might think, but what am I going to take out of my deck in order to fit in more of these brutes? Well without seeing more of a decklist I can’t comment on specifics. However I did see that you are playing Street Waifs. Normally, unless there are key cards like Flame Kissed or To be a Dragon that you are running then Dothraki decks shouldn’t worry about discard pile recursion all that much. So there is a slot for more Dothraki. As far as the dupes go, I would go with 3x Aggo, 3x Jhogo, and 2x Rhakaro. Also find room to up the Jhogo’s Horde to 3. Killer of the Woiunded is good but only if you are running some burn effects. Do you have Horseback Archers and Bloodriders in there? Those should be 2x as well for both along with some influence locations to take advantage of the abilities. 3x Dothraki Handmaiden is a must as well as 3x Blood Crazed Screamers. If you aren’t going to sell out to Dothraki 100% then they aren’t going to work. It just sounds like you need a lot more Dothraki in general.

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  2. Wow – thanks for the quick (and detailed) response. Yeah, I have 3X Refugees, 2X Blood Riders, and 2X Horseback Archers. What I started running into was a concern over my resource curve. Many of the Dothraki characters are expensive, so I wanted to include a few more low cost characters in the mix, but I’ll have to take a harder look at the cards and try some of your suggestions.

  3. I’m not sure on the exact odds offhand — but if memory serves me, you only need 14 of something in a deck to “guarantee” you draw at least 1 of it but a whopping 26 if you want more than 1 in your starting hand. You want half the deck (every character pretty much) to be Dothraki, especially if you have cards that can’t be played on/with anything else.

    To be fair, it was a bum draw. I had a MTG tournament game once where my 26 creature deck (22 land, 12 spells) drew nothing but land and spells for the entire duration of a match… about 15 turns, and I saw about 22-23 cards. I lost of course and was pretty annoyed, but it is what it is. Fluke. If you want 100% odds to get a Dothraki in your opening hand + starting draw, you need 52 Dothraki in a 60 card deck…that’s just the nature of a card game. You will have fluke games where no matter how well built your deck is, it will refuse to work.

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    1. This is true. This happens every time I play Jonathan Benton(longclaw on FFG forums) in a big tournament or regional. Twice this past year i played him. First time was in our TN regional and my Lanny maester deck that had face smashed everyone i played up until him just fell flat. I had a 2 card flop which was terrible, and i did not see a single card draw card the entire game(which lasted about 4 rounds). The next time was at the Gencon World Championships where i played my Targ Wildling deck and i drew 14 of 17 total locations i had in the deck within the first 3 turns. It was terrible. At home just gaming around we’re fairly even and my decks usually work fairly well.

      So in closing, yeah it could have been a crap draw. But if you have cards in the deck that specify that you must have a dothraki to play it then i would say put at least 20 Dothraki in the deck. Also, you say you aren’t running attachments abd you have 30 character slots…up that to between 33 – 35 and drop some events or locations. That will help as well.

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      1. My mistake…reread where it says you are running attachments. Max you’ll want 6 attachments. Anything more(unless it has the setup keyword) and you’ll start edfecting your flops. Also no more than 8 events if you run that many attachments. It will clog your opening hands and you won’t get the board position you need to be able to control the game.

  4. Sounds like a bad draw indeed! Not seeing Dothraki in a Dothraki deck is going to certainly slow you down.

    I’m pretty liberal with my 3x allocation. If I need it early, it’s 3x, if I can see it mid-late game, it’s 2x. If I can search it, it’s 1x. I still hold by the theory that, barring equivalence, a card is worth running 2x or not good enough to run at all. (with a few exceptions, like cards you absolutely never want to see duped – dead pile Theon being the example).

  5. I do x3 on non-uniques that are my main driving force in challenges. (i.e. horseback archers)
    x2 on support roles that don’t do much when marshalled together (i.e. bitter crone)
    x1 on uniques. Unless it is extremely necessary.

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  6. I’m with Niknok on how i build decks(and most tournament winng decks are built the same) if a character is absolutely vital to a deck such as shadows robert in most bara decks or the new cersei lannister in a power behind the throne deck then i will run 3x. Other than that it’s 1x. Why? Because of Stark Murder and Targ Burn. Once they start killing off you characters if you draw those second copies late game that will spell your doom. I would rather have more bodies to play than a better chance at getting a character with a certain ability. Dead draws = dead chance at winning.

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    1. This is the grand debate! I doubt it will be settled soon :) If my cards are powerful enough to dominate off of T1/T2, I want to see them incredibly early. If I can lock a game down with certain abilities, it minimizes the ability for Stark to do its thing. You have to weigh the possibility of dead draws with early abilities. I still think at the least, 2x of a unique or not at all. Your potential for dead draw is very low if the character dies, but you see the ability a good percentage of the time given the mulligan.

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