Tinkering with the Hybrid Mech in the Age of Dynasty
Tim previously gave detailed guidance for the Uprising-era Hybrid Dash build, and today examines how Dynasty has changed the deck and the options you have when building it.
What Makes a Hybrid?
Until Dynasty, a hybrid Mechanologist build meant playing a deck that consisted of 2 packages: a more aggressive boost-focused aggro package and a defensive pistol item package. This allowed Dash to bridge the gap between racing other aggro decks and countering fatigue in the slower, grindier matchups.
So how has Dynasty changed that?
Not that much.
The core philosophy of this approach stays roughly the same, with two distinct approaches contained within the sideboard to improve your edge against the polar strategies of offense and defense. But with some additions from the Dynasty expansion, we got a lot of shiny new tools that let us mold our offensive and defensive to our liking and create the hybrid we want to play.
Pistol Chamber Aggro
Let me start with what I personally play. My aggro package typically starts with a Teklo Plasma Pistol alongside an Induction Chamber for my weapon and starting item. I do this to combat possible fatigue attempts from my opponent by boosting less when I won’t gain enough value from those boosts. It also allows me to convert additional blues into more efficient damage, rather than playing those blues as small chain links and potentially boosting stronger red cards away.
Alongside those choices, I run a fairly low cost curve of mostly 0- and 1-cost boost attacks alongside some impactful 2-cost boosts - namely, Throttle and Combustible Courier.
All those boosts are not only there for go again, but some synergies as well: High Octane to shoot my pistol a bunch of times, and 2 copies of Maximum Velocity to follow up with our strongest attack, if we get it to work.
Teklo Pounder Aggro
Before fatigue became a major concern to me, I liked to start with Teklo Pounder in play. The overall curve of this deck remains low, and because we don't need to load additional steam counters, we remain extremely pitch efficient.
The catch here is that the damage enhancement from Pounder is limited to 3 times, whereas you could use Chamber the whole game. This means your starting Item essentially amounts to an early-game push, and later in the game you have only your cards to fall back on.
This strategy shines in aggro matchups where you want to deal damage as efficiently as possible, and is even capable of racing Fai. This aggro package has recently seen a new addition in the form of our next package - which, truth be told, can be viewed as more of an expansion on this one.
Hanabi Blaster Aggro
Currently when talking about starting with Teklo Pounder, it is mostly associated with playing the new weapon Hanabi Blaster, which creates a highly efficient aggro package.
When first looking at Hanabi Blaster, you might be a bit confused since there is no traditional way of paying resources to attack with or load your weapon. Instead, you have to boost a lot to be able to attack with it. People have reacted to this in vastly different ways.
One camp sees this as a weapon that attacks for free in the right deck, and don't you already want to boost a lot of times on each turn? That sounds exactly like our core aggro boost gameplan! And if we do this already, why not play a Blaster that attacks for free, rather than a Pistol that's weaker and needs resources? This is definitely true - in an optimal game.
The other side of that coin is that, while this may seem like a weapon that attacks for free, the true cost of using this weapon lies in deckbuilding constraints and bad turns forced on us to keep the Hanabi firing - which defeats the purpose of running it. Why run a stronger weapon if it means I need to play out low-costed blues and yellows like T-Bone to be able to use it?
Does the weapon help against fatigue? Yes and no. If you deal more damage on average to your opponent (which is the goal of playing this weapon), you should be faster at taking them out. But you probably need more boosts to do so, which taxes your deck; and if you end up in a late game where your opponent forces you to block, your weapon becomes useless once you have no more remaining counters on it.
Hyper Driver Aggro
As we continue to see Aggro Packages that build on and flow into one another, we find people starting Hyper Driver to eliminate some shortcomings of Hanabi Blaster.
If you start with Hyper Driver, you gain more consistency in playing out a whole hand, possibly without pitching at all. The idea would be to play a 0-cost boost card, gaining 1 resouce from Hyper Driver, and either paying for the other boost cards with only that resource; or maybe using the resource for Teklo Foundry Heart and then play 2 more boost cards. This improves some other synergies as well, like the earlier mentioned Maximum Velocity.
The other weakness of Hanabi Blaster - losing your weapon in the late game - could then be mitigated by playing another big card from Dynasty: Nitro Mechanoid - but I'll talk a bit more about that one in the next section, since it is mostly used in defensive packages right now.
My preferred defensive package consists of running Induction Chamber and Plasma Purifier, assembling them on the board while slowly increasing the pressure of how much damage my boardstate represents with a few blues. This works well with a Pistol Aggro plan, as the switchover from offensive to defensive package requires less cards.
Alongside those, I play some defense reactions, to stay alive and block dominated or buffed attacks from Bravo or Dorinthea. Those reactions typically include a selection of Fate Foreseen, Sink Below, Unmovable, and sometimes Reinforce the Line.
Before Dynasty, this was the only real option for a defensive package, and it still serves as the the core plan for fully defensive "control" Dash lists as well.
With the release of Dynasty, another option became available in the form of Nitro Mechanoid.
At first sight, this card had everything a Mechanologist player could have dreamed of, and a lot of people were as excited as Dash herself in the artwork. Assembling a scary machine had always been a part of Dash strategy up to this point in the form of the Pistol items, so it felt like a natural evolution to get Dash in the robot and overpower her opponents with a huge Mechanoid.
And as exciting as the robot itself is - with a huge attack power of 5 or 6 (thanks to Galvanic Bender), 8 free attacks that aren’t restricted to once per turn, and a total of 15 armor - not every part of building this is as much fun as piloting the mech.
To Construct Nitro Mechanoid, there are some problematic requirements. You need to have full Mechanologist equipment, which at this point locks you into playing Galvanic Bender, Teklo Foundry Heart, Achilles Accelerator, and Viziertronic Model i.
Galvanic Bender and Teklo Foundry Heart are amazing for the mech, since you can block with them early and still use their abilities - the Heart before you construct the Mechanoid, and the Bender after. But the other two can be seen as liabilities. Achilles Accelerator and Viziertronic Model i have similar problems with this strategy: if you activate their abilities, they get destroyed, and alongside them your ability to use the Mechanoid in that game.
So you have 2 equipments that do nothing unless you fight a hero that uses arcane damage - but against such heroes, you lose your Arcane Barrier once you assemble the Mechanoid, and your gained armor probably won’t matter that much!
Additionally, the Mechanoid takes your weapon offline, along with the prerequisite 3 Hyper Drivers - which is, thankfully, easier than getting the Pistol items out. Finding Construct Nitro Mechanoid itself is harder since you can’t search for it, but overall manageable.
Once you've met all those requirements and gotten the Mechanoid built, a lot of people like to combo it with High Octane to get a bunch of action points and then attack a lot of times with it. If you use Teklo Plasma Pistol and you don’t have the chance to construct the Mechanoid, playing a High Octane turn with your Pistol can be a fine backup plan as well.
If the upside still looks better than the hoops you'll need to jump through, there are a few additional weaknesses you'll want to keep in mind. Dromai can steal the Mechanoid with Kyloria, and Brutes can use Argh… Smash! to destroy it. Further, Warriors can use Shatter, Guardians Buckle or Mangle, and Dromai Tomeltai to destroy necessary equipment - or the Mechanoid itself!
So Which Hybrid Combination is the "Correct" One?
Short answer: The one you like.
The longer answer would be more like this:
What i like most about Dash is her hero ability, which is essentially whatever you want it to be. Her options are only bound by the variety of Items available to the class; everything is usable in some way and the strongest option can change drastically.
Take a look at Hyper Driver. This ARC item was solely used in commoner, but after getting some new synergy options in Dynasty it's now a viable archetype all its own. Only time and an inventive spirit will show what else could be built.
When I started with Dash, most just used the tried and true Pistol items; Teklo Pounder wasn’t even worth looking at. At the time, I just built a hybrid for fun. I wanted to play with all the great options without letting go of the other ways I liked to play. It wasn’t refined at first, but the foundation was laid for me at that point.
Now, the options for hybrid builds just keep on increasing exponentially, and each new option introduces a bunch of new combinations.
From a competitive point of view, there will surely be an optimal build among all of those, but I didn’t choose Dash to be the most competitive - rather, to have the most fun on this journey while never being forced into one specific way to play.
Tinker away, and let nothing keep you away from interesting ideas. Your options are endless and will only expand with time, so take it all in, follow your spark, and make what you want.
Tim Bierholz (@Just_a_Human96) is a longtime TCG player who picked up Flesh and Blood shortly after the release of Tales of Aria and fell in love with the game. He mostly focuses on his main hero, Dash, and his goal to get her to the top of the meta.
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