Dashing into Uprising: Playing Midrange Matchups
For no reason in particular, it's Dash Day! Check out our double feature on adapting your Mechanologist to the newest expansion! Shahmir Samee explores the deckbuilding end of the Uprising update, while Kiki Labad talks matchups.
The heroes of Uprising have shaken up the metagame. Clearly very powerful heroes, the trio all have quite high ceilings in Classic Constructed. However, they all appear to fit within the current capabilities of a midrange Dash build, and therefore she may have a shot at taking some of them down. I did some testing with Dash against these new heroes to see just what her competitive prospects might be.
Dromai’s initial decklists appear to be trying to play along the same axis as Prism- which is a good matchup for Dash, with the right mindset. The clearest difference between the two Illusionists is that Ashwings are not Spectral Shields. While it’s optional whether you do hit them or not- and your weapon allows you to take them down while retaining your ability to keep attacking- they effectively prevent damage when anything above the dragon's health doesn’t leak over to your opponent. That being said, you do have a fantastic weapon in order to keep them in check that your opponent can’t block to do something about it.
As for the larger, named dragons in the deck, once again the pistol provides good insurance to make sure you are able to take them out efficiently. In order to do so, you’ll likely need the help of the Plasma Purifier, as a fair few of the dragons have 3 health. Similar to the Ashwings, you’ll want to clear these out efficiently, as leaving them on board for long periods of time will start to eat away at your resources. In addition, your larger boost cards will help you clear some of the high-end dragons: Nekria, Ouvia, Tomeltai, Dominia, and Dracona Optimai.
The main- and unique- concern of this matchup is Kyloria. While it's easy enough to stop the on-hit, it is critical to do exactly that, as the threat of losing one of your items is too great.
Of the three new heroes, I believe Dromai will be the hero Dash will be most successful against. The matchup is similar to Prism, but the lack of spectra makes it much easier to clear the board, plus you have nine 6-powers in the deck to pop any problematic dragons. Play cautiously, protect your life total, and you should be okay to grind out the win.
While Iyslander belongs to the Wizard class we're already familiar with, she plays very differently from the current CC iteration of Kano. Leaning toward a control deck that grinds out advantage over time, Iyslander is very Oldhim-esque in that sense, where she taxes your resources over a long game with frostbites and discard effects, all the while chipping away at your life total.
Her new weapon, Waning Moon, could be a struggle to deal with, as you’re having to pitch a whole blue away to block it on your turn, which lowers the number of times you can use your pistol and items in a turn- effectively slowing your overall game plan. Ultimately, you may be able to grind through that with the sheer number of blues in the deck- but if you’re forced to overpay due to frostbites and other effects, you may struggle to put pressure on Iyslander. The upside here is that you do have a lot of blue cards in the deck, which you may be able to use in order to prevent significant arcane damage and keep your life total high.
Perhaps in contrast with the Oldhim comparisons, Iyslander also reminds me of Ice Lexi- a powerful tempo deck that forces blocks while leaking damage in order to close out the game at the end. Unless you’re packing more than 3 Arcane Barrier, damage is likely to leak through; your opponent may be taking enough out of you that you won’t be able to apply enough pressure back, keeping you on the back foot for the entire game right from the start.
Due to the nature of our deck, you wll be forced to take some of the damage along the way, as you need your blues to both crack the frostbites and attack. The reds in this matchup will hurt, but should you be able to come back with some of those attacks alongside your weapon, you should be okay.
I think the biggest concerns about both options above for Dash is the ability to leak damage through. Midrange Dash usually gains significant advantage from blocking meaningful damage throughout the game, only leaking in order to grind out with the pistol to close. If either version of Iyslander can keep you off your feet enough that you don’t have the resources, their arcane damage may pose a problem too great that you will not be able to reach that end point.
All of that is to say that Iyslander is a particularly intricate matchup with many difficult decision points. But with the right plays, we have what we need to succeed.
Of the three heroes, Fai is the one I’ve had the most trouble with in testing so far. Fai presents a problem similar to Briar, in that they attack so aggressively that we aren't able to set up with items in a timely manner- and we risk losing in the mid-game due to drawing too many non-blocking items. As a result, I do not feel as if the pistol strategy here works as well, and you are going to have to move to an aggressive strategy.
Similar to other aggro matchups, you’re going to have to side out the majority of items so you’re able to block during crucial moments, as well as siding out your generic cards. To win this matchup with this strategy, we are going to be leaning hard on High Octane/Tome of Fyendal, leveraging a blow-out turn to force them low enough so they have to block regularly- and thereby affecting how much damage they can do back. This strategy becomes less effective should you not be able to reach this critical turn before they start combo-ing off themselves. Sometimes you may just have to lean on a High Octane with a Teklo Core in play and no Tome.
Should you decide to play the defense reactions, you will be able to block more of the damage; however, this hinders your ability to apply pressure effectively due to less reliable boost odds. I do not think this is the way to go, as Fai cares less about on-hits and is more focused on raw damage. Between Spreading Flames, Stubby Hammerers, and Art of War, combined with Salt the Wound, the damage output from Fai can easily go over the top of a control strategy.
Overall the Fai match up isn’t unwinnable, but it definitely takes some luck and tight play as their ceiling and consistency is higher.
In the End, Is Midrange Dash Viable?
Ultimately what I’ve found with my initial testing with midrange Dash into the new heroes is that, while the matches are not unwinnable, it’s going to be a rough time due to the sheer power of the heroes. Fai's presence in the new meta puts Dash in a rough spot, and an Iyslander meta could hurt consistency. But if Dromai increases in play once Prism hits Living Legend, and if Oldhim also comes back with a higher percentage share of the meta, Dash will be primed for a return.
Kiki Labad is a longtime TCG enthusiast who picked up Flesh and Blood in its infancy. With a Finals appearance in Road to Nationals and a Finals appearance in The Calling June 2021, they've now got their eye on reaching the top of the mountain.
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