The month of Alt-VP – Duke

In this article series I will explore the so called Alt-VP or Alternate Victory Point cards. I will analyze simple decks that use Alt-VP as their win condition and how well they fare against baseline strategies. I will also try to find (near) optimal strategies for the mirror match. 

Week 2 : Duke

For beginning players Duke is often the elephant in the room. They know it should be incorporated into their strategy, but haven’t a clue how. It’s easy to see that it can be a strong cards if you manage to get the majority of the Duchies, but most players find it hard to spend $8 on a Duchy, while it’s often the best move. Today I’ll be looking at a Duke-slog with Cache as an enabler.


Dominion: Intrigue


The simulator proves that Gold is worse than Cache in the Duke slog. This is caused by the “padding” effect of Cache. You see, in the mid to end game a deck with a lot of green cards will cause many hands to contain three or more victory cards leaving you with $4 (eg a Gold and a Copper) and unable to buy anything meaningful. Adding a bunch of Copper into this deck will cause hands to contain relatively fewer green cards (eg 2 Duchies, Cache and 2 Copper), hence the padding effect. Here’s how this simple deck (buy a few Caches, then Duchies, then Dukes) fares against simple Big Money Smithy (buy 1 Smithy, treasure and Provinces).


The Duke slog wins 64% of games. So it’s not a dominating strong combo and can easily beaten by a strong engine. Simulations suggest you want to build up some economy first. Three Caches seem to be the sweet spot before greening. You want to get at least 7 Duchies before attacking the Duke pile.

Now let’s look at the mirror match.

duke 2

In the mirror match it’s crucial to try to win the Duchy split. But you need a little bit of money first. It appears you want at least $18 worth of treasure in your deck before greening (so probably 3 Silver and 1 Cache or 2 Silver and 2 Cache). Once the Duchies are gone you need to keep buying green cards (Duke and Province). Switching back to building economy doesn’t work out well according to the simulator. Estates should be bought when there are 4 or less Dukes left on the board. This strategy wins 57% against the player who builds more economy first.

Join me next week when I tackle Vineyard.

(These bots have been incorporated in the latest version of the simulator)

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5 Responses to The month of Alt-VP – Duke

  1. Anonymous says:

    You call Cache a Duke “enabler”. Seems misleading, because I’m pretty sure Duke impacts player strategy in a 1 card kingdom containing only Duke. It’s not an enabler in the sense that Haven or Beggar is a Counting House enabler or something.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Any results on Smithy + Cache + Duke?

  3. luser says:

    These are bad examples, cache+duke is one of weakest support there. Also your single smithy bot is terrible, it should be double smithy at least and as it needs 8 provinces then it should probably be triple smithy that buys more gold/caches before greening.

    And last is that obviously smithy-silver into cache-duke is lot better than these bots.

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