Back in Dothrak - Stahleck Top 8

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SonOfBattles1 436

Back in Dothrak (Prince Good Khal)

Before we begin, please stand for the Pledge of Khallegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the Khal of the Bloodriders of Dothrakia, and to the Agenda, for which he stands, one khalasar, under Targ, unresettable, with overwhelming and claim raise for all.

Introduction

Prince Good Khal! This deck has actually been a running work in progress for the last year since I was assigned Targaryen for Team USA during the 2023 World Cup. The Prince that was Promised is one of my favorite agendas in the game and Dothrakis have plenty of power icons, so it seemed like a decent fit. The intuition was correct - the deck went 4-1 during the World Cup, 2-0 for Team Targaryen during 8 Regents, and made the top 4 of US Nats. However, the credit is not fully mine. I'm typically a Baratheon player, so I ended up getting a lot of help honing this list. I specifically have to thank Andy Boyd, Reinhard Schefcik, Jordan Davis, Martin Naze, and Alex Serban for helping me workshop this deck throughout the year and bringing the list to where it is now for Stahleck. The deck is pretty easy to pilot and intuitive enough to hand to a new player, but also has a variety of in challenge tricks to make it appealing for a more advanced pilot.

Strategy

Challenge Order

The key to this deck is to prioritize military pressure over triggering the agenda (unless you're playing Martell, then prioritize Power challenges since you don't want to 4 claim yourself). Often times a challenge phase will proceed like the following:

  • If possible, poke for intrigue to see if they kneel a military or power icon to defend
  • Swing for military if you cannot trigger the agenda and take military claim
  • Swing remaining characters for power, trigger the agenda if able

Once your opponent's board has been adequately reduced, you'll be able to easily trigger your agenda to find Khal. If he's already on the board, the agenda will stand him and further increase your tempo.

Jumping

This is where the magic comes in. The jump capability of Dothrakis is what makes this deck really difficult to predict. All of the jump abilities, with the exception of Qotho (R), return to hand at the end of the phase, which, in my opinion, is better than staying in play, since it makes it really difficult for an opponent to come ahead when playing a reset. Aegon Targaryen (TSC) and Womb of the World (R) are the most obvious jump abilities, but the following two can occur mid challenge and swing it in your favor:

  • Overwhelming Numbers, jump in any two Dothraki characters from your discard pile and or hand. You need to be attacking with two Dothrakis to play the event, but it basically allows you to win any challenge that you meet those conditions in. If you sit on 2 gold, opponents may even let power challenges go by unopposed since they fear kneeling their strongest characters to oppose a challenge and only to lose to this event. Also, by pulling from discard, you can confidently pitch expensive Dothrakis like Raiding Khalasar or Dothraki Outriders for reserve.
  • Blood of My Blood, search your deck for a Bloodrider character and put it into play. Chief targets of this are Cohollo, who you can use his ability to include him the challenge to often enable a win by 5 trigger and intimidate, Aggo, which can stand any of your bloodriders if there's a Summer plot, Qotho (R), who you can jump in the following turn if you flip The Mother, or even Devoted Bloodrider for a surprise strength bump.

Deckbuilding Decisions

Good vs Bad Khal

Of course, there are two versions of Khal Drogo, Core and DotE, who I will refer to as Good Khal and Bad Khal, respectively. I started this list with Bad Khal, but despite his admittedly strong ability, he doesn't provide the consistent pressure that a Dothraki deck really needs. Good Khal was swapped in for the following reasons and immediately made the deck better:

  • There are few problems aren't solved by more military challenges
  • His ability cannot be cancelled
  • Bad Khal's ability begs for a reset - it usually keeps a large Dothraki on the board and shrinks your hand, what opponent wouldn't play Valar Morghulis or Valar Dohaeris after seeing that?

Womb of the World

It is known that Womb of the World (R) took a huge hit to its power with the rework. Instead of choosing the Dothraki character to put into play, Womb chooses the lowest cost one, regardless of it being a dupe or not (we'll refer to finding a dupe as only a slightly better whiff than missing entirely). In addition, the card found returns at the end the of the phase, which means dupes will be popped back to hand as well (the previous version was character). Still, with all of these drawbacks, Womb remains a draw engine that allows you to out tempo any opponent if you don't whiff. To minimize whiffs, the following things had to be done:

  • The majority of characters need to have the Dothraki trait, this is unchanged from earlier Dothraki decks like OuttaYaMind's Sea Of Blood deck.
  • Only Dothrakis that help Khal, have high strength, or enhance military pressure are included (goodbye to Horselord, Crone of Vaes Dothrak, and Braided Warrior)
  • Unique Dothrakis that are more than 1x, specifically Jhogo (TS) and Rakharo (DotE), should in most cases not be marshaled unless you have a dupe in hand (helps against resets and the dupe whiffing mentioned earlier).

Aegon

Aegon Targaryen (TSC) is the restricted card here. His ability to fetch Raiding Khalasar, which increases claim while attacking with any Bloodrider, is incredibly strong. Dothraki Honor Guard can also be fetched and is arguably stronger during the late game when your hand is small and you can consistently trigger the agenda with them. 1x Septa Lemore acts as a plus bodyguard for Aegon, she functions just like Maester Kerwin or Jory Cassel since her ability is an Interrupt. Instead of a save though, she returns Aegon Targaryen (TSC) to shadows, making any reset played by you or an opponent, positive for you (especially your own First Snow and Valar Dohearis).

Plots

  • The Maiden. Initiative control wins games. Most scenarios you'll want to go first to wipe your opponents board, but early on (or against Bara or Martell) you'll want to go second, leave an empty board, and jump everyone into play via Womb of the World (R), Aegon Targaryen (TSC), or Blood of My Blood.
  • The First Snow of Winter. You have a lot of military pressure, but it's not useful if your opponent isn't claiming their key characters. First Snow typically puts you ahead tempo wise as well since you can jump characters into play for 3 gold or less. It's also a viable opener against weenie decks like The Lord of the Crossing.
  • Valar Dohaeris. Sometimes an opponent has too many big characters to push a military challenge through. VD answers this scenario and punishes you less since most of your big characters jump back to hand (Womb, Overwhelming, Aegon, Blood of My Blood).
  • Marched to the Wall. Useful in any aggro deck. If it can be arranged, try to flip this when you have Freedmen on the board since they can be put back into play again later in the round.
  • Fury of the Khalasar. The gold amount says 3, but it usually gives you 9 gold worth of tempo, since typically Khal Drogo (Core) or Raiding Khalasar will be put into play by it. It's not unusual to get 4, 5, or 6 claim military turns on this plot (via Khal and multiple Khalasars).
  • Vanquish the Unbelievers. Another great aggro plot for a tribal deck. Can be flipped if Aegon Targaryen (TSC) and Septa Lemore are on the board for another Aegon trigger that round.
  • The Mother. This was a late include, but an amazing one. It provides enough gold to marshal Drogo or Womb, it has the Summer trait for Qotho (R) and Aggo, and it puts your opponent in a really difficult position. Do they put out more bodies to oppose your tempo and let you draw cards? Or do they sit back and let you aggro them further?

Stahleck

Here's what I remember about each match. It's been a few days out since the tournament, so feel free to chime in the comments if I misreported something:

Round 1 vs Agatha Crossing (W)
Agatha set up some hedge knights and 4 cost KotF, while I had Jhogo, Nope Throne, Roseroad, and Aegon in shadows. I hate Green Apple Knight so I named it with Throne, she instead played a lady and left gold. She got to 8 power round 1 with crossing and Lady Sansa's Rose, but I swung back with Aegon, Jhogo + Khalasar + overwhelming for another Khalasar and dothraki to make it 3 claim to wipe her board. I marched the power laden KotF the next turn and I had the game in hand from there. 1-0.

Round 2 vs Saraa Mummers (W)
I hadn't seen Stark Mummers before, but Saraa was regent Stark this year and an experienced pilot with the faction so I was on guard. Round 1 she had Dontos with 2 dupes and I figured it was just him with Stark ladies. Fortunately, I had 2x Consuming Flames in hand round 1, so when I swung military, Dontos burned, and I had control of the rest of the game. It went to 6 plots though since Meera and Winterfell slowed things down. 2-0.

Round 3 vs Dennis Luke Crossing (W)
Dennis is a dangerous pilot with Stark Crossing, but he mulliganed into a setup with 0 cost econ and 4 2 cost characters. Seeing that, I opened First Snow and he was never really able to establish a board. Nope Throne helped by naming Smallfolk Mob later in the game, which he had in shadows. 3-0.

Round 4 vs Alvaro Rodriguez Aloof (L)
Alvaro played a great game with lots of strength bump tricks and duped Left and Right that made it difficult for me to gain a military advantage. Despite that, in the last round, I was up by 5 power and likely to win the game, but I made my biggest error of the day - I forgot to trigger Fury of the Khalasar! Without the Raiding Khalasar to put into play, I didn't have enough strength to stop Alvaro from closing. 3-1.

Round 5 vs Rakovsky Marton Free Companies (W)
I was not looking forward to this match. Cas is a Lanni FC wizard and that deck packs a lot of tech that prevents me from playing Womb. Despite that, I set up Womb, Highroad, and a Market, hoping I could get a trigger off once early. He seized it immediately, and kept using his agenda to ensure its presence, but I was able to reduce his front board by a first round First Snow and a second round Valar Dohearis. Consuming Flames stopped him from triggering Bran the Builder twice and he whiffed on the only trigger he got. Unlucky. Without Casterly Rock he was unable to get his engine going and couldn't compete with my tempo once I marshaled Khal. Hard fought win. 4-1.

Round 6 vs Albert Lorenzo Many-Faced God (W)
Scary burn deck. First round Albert had Drogon and a front board, while I had Nope Throne, duped Jhogo, and a Bloodrider. He setup Drogon and roasted my whole board round 1, but I was able to name Daenerys Targaryen every marshaling phase with Nope Throne. Round 2 I put Aegon into shadows and marshaled Plaza, I let him go first, he attacked my hand, which fortunately had 2x Freedmen in it, and I responded with Aegon to fetch a Dothraki Honor Guard, which had a ton of strength from my lousy hand size, was able to trigger Freedmen and the agenda. Albert had no answers for it. The rest of the game consisted of that DHG winning power challenges and defending board until he ran out of fuel. I never played Khal that game, I kept pulling him out of discard to pitch and stand the DHG with Plaza. Craziest game of the day for me. 5-1.

Round 7 vs kantzsot (bookerma) Many-Faced God (W)
Martell game. I knew I couldn't swing military all the time here. Round 1 he setup a bunch of Sandsnake weenies while I had Nope Throne, econ and a bloodrider. I opened First Snow, which he unluckily flipped Summer Harvest into, and that really set him back. I named Dorne with Nope Throne until the final round and I was able to safely intrigue and power challenge him the whole game. 6-1 and in the cut.

Round 8 vs chrissie Crossing (W)
Another very dangerous player with Stark Crossing. Round 1 he had 4 cost Catelyn, so I couldn't just cheese First Snow and come ahead. I opened Maiden, burned Core Arya with Consuming, and was able to trigger my agenda to find Khal. I played The Mother Round 2, while he played Sorrows, and he made me go first to prevent me using cards I would draw with The Mother since he needed to reflood. I was able to marshal duped Khal, who is amazing on Sorrows turns, and continued to out tempo him until I got the win. 7-1.

Round of 32 vs Djokovic Assault (W)
I'm traditionally a Bara player and I like the Assault deck, so I knew the tricks to look out for - specifically Traitor from Shadows and Privileged Position to stop Womb. I played around this the whole game - only swinging power when I had a No Attachments army participating, prioritizing military with my other characters, and only trigger Womb after I had won a power challenge. Djokovic was never able to establish board presence, and once he had to claim Delena during a 4 claim military swing, he couldn't stop any of my stand tech or my tempo. A funny moment was he played Seen in Flames on me twice and had to choose between Freedmen, Missandei, Aggo, and a Roseroad. We had a chuckle of how poor of the options to discard there were. 8-1.

Round of 16 vs Lemming Rains of Castamere (W)
This was a really novel Rains deck that seemed to be centered around setting up one or two big finishing challenges with Doran's Game and Scorpion's Sting. Fortunately, I pulled two of David's Scorpion's Stings for intrigue/Rakharo claim, and his Desert Raiders got me about 5 power worth of prized via First Snow and claim throughout the game. The last round was tense though when he triggered Wheels within Wheels to dig for Doran's Game, but he got very unlucky and did not find it. 9-1.

Quarterfinals vs Werner Conclave (L)
I knew this was going to be a very tough match going in. Werner was around the top of the standings throughout the whole day of Swiss and had beaten some really good pilots. I had Womb, and a lot of econ setup, while he had duped Gormon and some weenie Maesters. I marshaled Nope Throne and was feeling pretty good, since in my mind, I could just name Daenerys Targaryen (R) in marshaling going forward and stop the keystone of his deck. However, he marshaled Archmaester Marwyn, who is incredibly dangerous in this deck with the card access he grants. During round 1 challenges, he had 0 gold and limped in a power challenge with Gormon that I let go by unopposed, triggered conclave to move a card to the top of his deck, knelt Kedry, cracked a Highroad, played The Higher Mysteriesfrom Conclave (I had never seen that card played before ever!) and put Dany into play, triggered her, got a Dragon, and was off the races. I decided I had to play VD round 2 and risk Outwit to get Marwyn off the board, but of course Werner did not play greedy and Outwitted me. The game was his from there on. It was a marvel to see all the tricks he maneuvered though. 9-2.

Overall, I wildly exceeded my own expectations for this tournament and the whole experience was an absolute delight. Apart from the mechanics I mentioned earlier, Consuming Flamesand The Iron Throne (LMHR) were incredibly valuable throughout the day and probably won me a couple games. They should be considered in almost any competitive Targ deck. I'll probably give Dothraki a break for a while now, but it was good to show Womb of the World (R) is still a good card and that Khal Drogo (Core) is the best Khal.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

More Challenges = More Fun.

It is known.

Peter

9 comments

BlueHill 30

Thank you for sharing the deck Peter! It was nice to meet you and play melee on Friday. I'll try this deck, it looks like fun.

  • Antti K.

hurr_lee 11

Awesome deck and great writeup! Congrats on the incredible result with this deck, it was a blast hanging out and hopefully we'll get a chance to play more here in the States!

Reim 855

Congrats Captain. Great performance and fantastic deck description. I was very close playing your deck as well at Stahleck but ended up with Brotherhood. Werner beat me the round before and he also showed me the Higher Mysteries.

Req 7

Congrats and well played! A couple of questions from a non Targ player: -What's the benefit of having this agenda compared to something like Sea of Blood? -Do you tend to play first or second player? Going First makes sense to clear the board, while second makes triggering the agenda easier and protects the drawn Prince from intrigue claim

SonOfBattles1 436

Thanks all!

Great question @Req - Imo Prince provides more consistency than Sea Of Blood, it's a whole deck/discard/dead pile tutor for a keystone character or it's a stand and draw effect that increases tempo. Also, in Dothraki, your opponent's board will be wiped more often than not, I think it's better in that scenario to swing big for Power instead of Military since it's actually getting you closer to winning. As you've deduced in your second question, it depends on the situation to go first or second. If your opponent has no board, or playing control decks like Martell or Bara, you'll want to go second. In most other cases you'll want to go first to wipe their board. Remember the Prince agenda works on defense as well, so you can trigger it off of an opponent poking power at you too!

Odrl 1206

Congratulations. :) Despite your betrayal, it was great to meet another one of our Bara champions from last year. Hopefully we can steal you away from Targ again at some point. ;)

Derry 126

congrats! fun and bold deck

Palpa 122

There can only be one Khal ;) Very well done Peter. You've proven yourself a true Dragon

mak 313

Beautiful Dothraki list! Now I understand why I got wrecked in CoW 😉 gg on your top8!