Dash has been blowing up the scene recently, with many people naming it the deck to beat. The recent Metrix Daily x Card Merchant $1,000 Event Top 8 featured a whooping 3 Dashes, all playing a variant of control, more than any other class. While this Dash isn’t going that fast, why is the pew pew for 2 being named the top tier deck?
Firstly, let’s look at what makes Dash Control tick.
This card gives Dash Control 4 damage a turn for 3 resource points and 6 damage per turn for 5 resource points. I know what you’re thinking… “But Karol, Anothos hits for 6 a turn and you don’t even need 5 resources, what makes the pew pew pistol attack so strong???”. Well, the fact that pistol attacks are spread over chunks of 2 damage each, makes it a pain to block. You can fully block Anothos for 6 with 2 cards that block for 3, you can’t do that for the pistols. Also, any left over resource points a Dash player has, can be used to turn the chambers on in preparation for the turn after. These pistol hits pair up extremely well with the plethora of generic defence reactions available.
Dash is the only class in the game that doesn’t have a class defence reaction. Luckily for the control variant, there are enough generic defence reactions to really bolster Dash’s shields.
The idea here is simple. You use these reactions to block up as much damage in your opponent’s turn as possible, then pistol them back! Notice how the defence reactions only use up 1 card to block up 4, 6 or even 8 damage, if you’re pitching to pistols, you’re barely losing cards in deck. This can make it easier to fatigue your opponent late game. The defence reactions also help with setting up some powerful damage turns.
Dash can deal large amounts of damage with very little cards in hand. The deck can set up the contentious Pummel + Command and Conquer with only 3 cards (with the help of 3 counters on tunic). Pitch a blue card (card 1) and Command and Conquer (card 2), then use the leftover resource point and tunic to pummel (card 3). Whereas cards like Zipper Hit, Enlightened Strike and Push the Point can efficiently put pressure after a nice pistol chain. Eg. use 3 cards to block with, nullifying the opponent’s turn. Pitch 3 for Induction Chamber and Pistol hit, to use remaining one resource for a Zipper Hit or Push the Point from arsenal. That’s some efficiency spice for ya!
On top of all this, Dash Control uses life gain cards to maintain a life lead over the opponent. This allows Dash to prolong the game into the late game, where triple pistol hits really shine. Cards like Tome of Fyendal, Sigil of Solace and Life for a life, can gain a Dash player between 15-20 life in a game! This, paired with the defence reactions, makes it extremely hard to get Dash Control to 0 life.
OK, consistent damage, great suite of defensive cards and some sweet damage bursts… but how do we beat it?
To start off my analysis, I wanted to ask a few fellow players about their thoughts on the deck – and most importantly on how to beat it.
I began by speaking to Nick Butcher; who could be a better person to ask, than he who popularised the deck by taking out the “Win-a-Case” event one weekend, then defeated it in the finals of the Card Merchant $1,000 event with “fast” Warrior.
First, Nick Butcher, with the inside word on Dash Control:
“How to beat dash control is to do exactly what she says ‘gotta go fast!’
“Mistakes I see players make is playing defence reacts vs dash control. CUT THEM ALL [unless you have a specific reason for them]”
Next I spoke to Rohan Khanna, about how to beat Dash Control:
“In the tournament I lost to Ninja, Bravo and Warrior in the finals.
Ninja and warrior are similar in the sense that they are so aggro and put on so much pressure that it’s hard to keep up. They just take the damage and swing back for way more.
Also tough because it’s tricky to block both decks, and blocking wrong can really snowball their turns as well as ruin your next turn. So yeah aggro snowball decks are a mission to deal with.
And with regards to the more control matchups like bravo and dash mirror, I feel like control Dash’s damage is relatively capped. There are no crazy 25 damage turns. So if you get crippling crushed or Command and Conquer pummelled early and the other control player gets ahead on life, they can really pick and choose what damage to take while planning solid turns and getting back ahead is tough versus a good player.”
Then I decided to quiz, outspoken Dash critic, Cayle McCreath:
“You beat Control Dash with pressure. The most simple is to out damage them. If you’re attacking with 3-4 attacks per turn for at least 4 power, even if they block, they take damage.
Second way is to go tall, look at what Nick Butcher has done with warrior, sharpened steel, valor, response all capable of being a 10+ attack.
The third is to do a more unfair thing than them, look at brute the way it can just intimidate a hand and attack for 20..
Generally the idea is to make them have to block and tax their resources whilst getting trample damage, the moment you start throwing cards away to prevent 4-8 damage you end up giving them time and resources which means more damage.
Ironically dash in the hero who boasts having to go fast, but to beat her you have to go faster!
Ok, let’s take a closer look.
As most of the above players mentioned, pressure is key in this matchup. If you can consistently threaten between 10-15 damage a turn, the Dash Control player will either take a huge chunk of damage, or be forced to use up their hand to block, and therefore, won’t be able to attack you back on their turn. Cards like Scar for a Scar and Ravenous Rabble are great, as they can do up to 4 damage per card with a go again attached. In order to maximise the pressure on a Dash Control player, you have to have hands that consistently build up threatening hands. This means reducing your defence reactions.
Cut defence reactions
There are two main reasons why defence reactions are not as good versus Control Dash as they are versus most decks. Firstly, the pressure generated by pistols is in multitude of 2 damage hits – this means a pistol hit can be fully blocked by every card that blocks in the game. In other words, that red Sink Below blocks a pistol hit just as well as a red Scar for a Scar. Secondly, the Dash Control player relies on their Command and Conquer to generate an advantage in the game. Your defence reactions won’t help you there. For survivability consider cards like Sigil of Solace or Bone Head Barrier. These cards aid in minimising the damage taken from pistols and can help in playing around the pesky Command and Conquer play.
Playing around the Pummel and Command and Conquer combo
Ever since Arcane Rising came out, I’ve noticed a lot of discussion about this interaction. Command and Conquer stops defence reactions, making the pummel the perfect ally in getting damage through, destroying the arsenal AND taking a card from your opponent’s hand. This play can break a game. However, it takes a little bit of setting up. There are a number of ways in dealing with this. Firstly, against Dash Control we established that putting on pressure is the way to go, then why not use your whole hand and not arsenal at all? This is a simple yet effective trick to dodge the combo all together. Command and Conquer won’t be as impactful, and you’re putting the pressure! Another way is to take advantage of instants. Sigil of Solace, Remembrance and Art of War are some of the cards that can really nullify the attack. Pop one of those in the arsenal and wait for your opponent to go for the play, then pop your instant in response! The third, and probably least efficient way of dealing with it, is to just drop your hand and defend with everything. Your opponent might save the pummel, but you have protected your arsenal and mitigated a lot of damage.
Big Bursts of Damage
In Dash control, the damage output tends to be capped. Giving them a five card hand isn’t as punishing as in other decks. This is why setting up burst turns can give you an edge. Their defensive capability is limited to 4 cards in hand and 1 in arsenal, hence why hitting them for a massive Barraging Beatdown turn, a dominated Cripping Crush for 16+ damage can really turn the tide… Mordred Tide 😉 Actually, don’t get me started on Runeblade. Cards like Sloggism and Arknight Ascendancy can do ridiculous damage that cannot be defended easily. Simply save the cards you need for a massive play in arsenal or hand and put pressure on with the rest.
There you have it. Whether you already have a deck you’re happy playing, or brewing something new, I hope this article has sparked some ideas on how to improve your matchup versus the annoying pistols! To sum it all up, as the others have said.. To beat Dash Control.. You just gotta go fast!
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