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Public Service Announcement: Mandarin/Capital

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The Mandarin/Capital ComboBy: Dan Brooks

Mandarin/Capital is an underappreciated combo, capable of multi-Province turns and reliable sustained greening.

The Mechanics:
Capital generates debt when it is discarded from play. If a Capital is topdecked to Mandarin's on-gain ability, it is not "discarded", so no debt is incurred.

The build path is broken down into three distinct stages.

1. Buy Capitals
The goal of this stage is to buy at least 3 Capitals, taking them on every $5+ hand. Terminal draw, sifting, and sometimes light trashing can be helpful, but don't build up like traditional engines - just buy Capitals.

2. Line up the Capitals
Once you have a few Capitals in your deck, buy Mandarins to continuously topdeck the Capitals you draw. As you sift your deck, you'll eventually have all of them in hand.

3. Greening
If multiple Capitals are in play, it's usually correct to buy green cards. Two Capitals + Copper can buy Mandarin + Province and Three Capitals + Silver + Copper can pick up Mandarin + 2 Provinces or Mandarin + Colony + Duchy.

The Mandarin Pile:
In a non-mirror, the deck picks up around 50-60 VP and empties the Province pile around turn 12-13 with a few Mandarins left in supply.

When mirrored, the Mandarin pile sometime runs out before greening is finished. Continue taking Provinces and close out the game with moneyish play. When there are two Mandarins left in supply, it's usually best to take both to deny one from your opponent.

Sample Game:

Words of Warning:
The Mandarin-Capital combo is resilient to most attacks. It can power through junking attacks like Mountebank and Cultist. Handsize attacks simply limit the number of Capitals topdecked.

Watch out for Minion and Possession, however, as they can disrupt your Capital investments ;)

Other Mandarin Golden Decks:

It is also possible to build a Mandarin golden deck without capital. The idea is to use a treasure generate an additional gain and to pick up Mandarin + a Victory card every turn.

Some of the more common examples are:

Horn of Plenty + Copper + Silver + Gold + Platinum -> Mandarin + Colony
Horn of Plenty + Copper + Silver + Gold + Treasure -> Mandarin + Province
Counterfeit + 4 Gold -> Mandarin + Province
Fortune + Treasure -> Mandarin + Province
Counterfeit + Potion + Treasure -> Mandarin + Vineyard

Most of the time, these Capital-less decks will be outclassed by multi-Province engines or outpaced by traditional money decks, but have applications on junk heavy boards, where a Province a turn can be winning.

With a Mandarin and 3 Capitals in play (which will happen as you buy Mandarins), that is a double Province turn as well. Simply topdeck whatever card is left (usually a Copper) and then buy double Province + Mandarin. Also, Copper and Silver in hand with the 3 Capitals guarantees Double Province + Mandarin for the rest of the game as well.

I got 56 VP and ended the game in 13 turns with a little assistance from the Kingdom. It's a wicked fast strategy.

Beyond Awesome:
Finally a use for the crap Mandarin card.

Burning Skull:

Yeah!  This is a fun one.  Now to see what happens when one player tries Mandarin/Capital, and the other tries Mandarin/Horn of Plenty.


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