Should I use more than 12 briquets to start my basket (assuming I am doing a long burn) say for brisket or pork butt? NO
Should I leave the cap off the nipple during the cook and just regulate with the ball valves?
NO two drums are the same if that is what works for your UDS do it.
I never met a Cow that I didn't like with a little Salt & Pepper! Certified PORK-A-HOLIC