How Many Dupes Does It Take?

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).