Breaking the Binary with Data Doll

4th Aug 2022 Rhys Robin

Maestro of Mechanologist, runic translator, head judge and tournament organiser, Rhys Robin has championed Data Doll at events both casual and competitive. We're pleased to welcome them as our second guest writer for the Skirmish season, showing you how to make your mark with Data Doll, MKII!


If you are anything like I am you gravitate towards what appeals to you most, whether you see the words “Brute” or like the sword and spells of Runeblade there is a deck out there that just appeals to you personally. Data Doll is that hero for me. The appeal at first was the promise of an automaton in a fantasy universe but later I found what kept me playing was the intricacies of the deck itself. As a dedicated Dash player back in 2020 the idea of a new Mechanologist excited my steampunk nerd brain and nothing made me more happy than to see the new hero, items and BOOST cards that came out in Crucible of War. With these items and boosts we developed a deck that ran as fast as it could, and by run I mean crawl if you compare it to the deck it is today. Along comes Everfest with the Blessing of Deliverance, the collective Data Doll community cheer as we are gifted Micro-processor and more low-cost boost cards. I believe this hero was always invigorating to play but I’m going to show you just how fun a Data Doll deck can be. I'll start with a quick tutorial, then go over some in-depth tech and at the very bottom of this mad Mechanologist ramblings is the decklist I like to play.


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Quick Tutorial

When you take a first look at Data Doll you primarily see her Intellect, it's absolutely the elephant in the room. Card advantage is a huge part of an effective turn and Data Doll starts on the back foot from the get-go. This is where her hero ability has so much value, it has no cost and the items effectively have no cost either. Free items and you don’t lose an action point for playing them? Amazing. All you have to do is boost your items or banish them from other effects you’ll see down below. There are ways to make this mechanic more effective, stacking the top of your deck with opt effects as well as placing items there yourself creates more control over the items you want on the field. In the end, you have the card advantage as this deck has the ability to banish and effectively play more than one item per turn. It takes time to build a board state that applies pressure, it is a race to get these items out so you can lock out your opponent with boost attacks and wild pistol shooting. I call this a race-to-the-finish style deck because to get the most value out of your turns (with only three cards) you can’t afford to block, you have to gain the upper hand early and hold onto it for dear life!

The most important line of play I'll mention here in this quick tutorial, is to make sure you have at least one boost attack to start attacking with first. When you boost it means you can activate effects such as Teklo Foundry Heart and your Achilles Accelerator. If you can't boost during your turn these effects cannot be activated. Once you’ve boosted you can freely use Teklo Heart’s once-per-turn ability to banish two cards and hopefully, they are both items for your Data Doll effect. Secondarily you gain one resource for each Mechanologist card banished this way, the style of deck I love only runs Mechanologist cards so you never miss this effect or your boosts. So we boost once, banish twice giving us three opportunities for item banishes. Depending on the items banished from these early game opportunities depends on the way you play for the rest of the game. Let's talk about the items in depth to help make sense of all the knick-knacks.

Items and Balance

Choosing which items to play and balancing items and attack action ratio can be tricky as Everfest introduced a number of powerful items. We wish we could run two copies of them all but that would be an absolutely strange deck. Before we look into lines of play I'd like to give a run down on the most notable items.

Micro-processor

The first and most important item is Micro-processor, the gift that keeps on giving as I like to call it. This item is the only mechanologist item to have three activated effects that also net you an action point on the first activation. The second effect is the one I use most, activate it to draw a card then place a card from hand on top of your deck. Essentially this lets you choose an item from hand to put on top of your deck, that you can now boost to play for free. This effect helps fix those hands where you have all items and no boost attacks. Micro-processor additionally has an opt and a free top deck banish.

Optekal Monocle

An Item I rate quite highly even after the release of Micro-processor is Optekal Monocle. This is the primary way of setting up items for boosting. Micro-processor's opt is useful when needed but Optekal is much more effective in this instance, removing one of five counters to opt which you can continually do until you have no counters or the item you want on top is valuable.

Induction Chamber

An item that sees a lot of play in Mechanlogist is Induction Chamber and if you’ve versed a Dash before you know why. This gives your pistol a once per turn go again making your turn wider and wider, using this when your opponent is on low health pushes them to block leaving them with less cards on their turn.

Plasma Purifier

The right hand man of Induction Chamber is Plasma Purifier. Giving your pistols plus one for the entire turn threatens more damage to your opponent, having two of these on the board increasing your pistols to four damage makes blocking much more difficult.

Dissipation Shield

In this style of deck you can’t afford to block much, so this is where Dissipation Shield comes in handy. It is the sink below or fate foreseen of the deck. The four counters disappear slowly after each of your turns, but it initially blocks 4 incoming damage and is the highest base value blocking card in the deck below.

Dissolution Sphere

Additionally there is Dissolution Sphere which also helps with damage negation, I’ve found this blocker to be most useful against ninja’s running kodachis and illusionists attacking with Aura’s. It blocks exactly one multiple times a turn and shuts down the wide chip damage decks.

Teklo Pounder

A new addition to the deck is Teklo Pounder, it aids in making your initial boost card a bit bigger. It is most useful on boost cards with on hit effects that your opponent would like to block, which is now harder with the increased damage.

Signal Jammer
Hyper Driver

Lastly the two Items I believe are worth mentioning are Signal Jammer and Hyper Driver. Signal Jammer is useful in matchups where your opponent may want to use more than one non-attack action in a turn such as Wizard or Runeblades. Hyper Driver is also a card I hold close as it gives you more resources once per turn when you boost.

In-depth Tech

There are a few interactions with this deck that are important to point out, notably you will always want to go first even against decks that like instant speed, this style of deck also runs High Octane which can be crucial to gaining the upper hand. Data Doll is also fairly aggressive and can play similarly to an aggressive Dash. Lastly, I'll talk about item and equipment activation on the combat chain.

Starting first as Data Doll gives you the opportunity to build your board state early, you ideally want to banish as many items as you can first turn so you can start to control the game. The first items you’d like to find are Micro-processor for making your turns more consistent, Optekal Monocle to help find other items, or Induction Chamber for making your turns wider and more awkward to block.

The past Data Doll decks I've played and seen did not run High Octane, the reason was because you’d often draw an entire hand of items with very few ways of fixing it. High Octane is much more effective if you can boost at least once to gain that extra action point. With Micro-processor we can activate the second effect to replace a card from hand to hopefully gain a boost card to fix those unlucky draws. High Octane now acts like a “third Induction Chamber”, when we boost we gain an additional action point which we will often use on another pistol attack. It saves us spending a pitch to reload Induction Chamber. We can also use that action point to play important items from hand without ending our turn as we have an additional one to keep attacking afterward. This is best when we have a Micro-processor, Induction Chamber, or Plasma Purifier in hand.

Although this deck likes to prioritize pistol lines of play Data Doll is equipped with fantastic boost cards notably Throttle, Zipper Hit, Zero to Sixty, and Zoom In. These cards in red can pack a punch, Zoom In and Throttle can be used with Goliath Gauntlet for tall unexpected hits to force blocks from your opponent. Pairing these with Combustible Courier or High Speed Impact can net you some even taller and dominated attacks people don't always expect from a Mechanologist.

The last bit of tech which is more so advice; is to be careful of items and the combat chain. Activating and loading breaks the chain and if you wish to utilize an on-hit from cards like Combustible Courier or High Speed Impact you’ll need to make sure you do not activate items between attack actions.

Defending

To put it simply, don’t! The longer answer is to assess their on hit effects and the damage they could do in their turn. Early game it is best to take damage to build your board. But you have to make sure you aren’t taking too much as it’s exceptionally hard to climb back and gain the upper hand as Data Doll. If their attacks have no additional effects then it's likely ok to take the damage if it's not going to kill you! With three cards in hand it's impossible to defend and attack back effectively, so when you have your Dissipation and Dissolutions out you have an easier time at defending.

Additional Ways to Play

Let's end this with a couple of notable changes you could make to suit a different play style. One of which is expanding your defensive capabilities by adding the low cost defense reactions such as Sink Below and Fate Foreseen. This can help slow down the game and change the deck to a more classic “Pistol Dash” style. I recommend trying to arsenal your defense reactions when you can to get the most use out of your turns. Adding defense reactions to your deck however can be dangerous when you boost as you will not gain go again if you banish one. It takes a bit more setting up with Micro-processor and Optekal Monocle to effectively use your defense reactions.

Another way to play is to prioritize boost and taller attacks. I recommend less items and more boost cards. Keeping in Teklo Pounder for additional damage and siding out Plasma Purifiers for Red Payload as a big turn ender. I'd also consider adding in more copies of Combustible Courier or High Speed Impact for that damage bonus and dominate!

To End It Off

That's the end of this Data Doll 101 lecture. My journey developing this deck started in early 2021 when I rolled up to a Calling with an early version of the deck below. It’s the one I mentioned at the beginning, that crawled so very slowly. I won a total of ONE game, I shared my knowledge with that experience and over the course of this last year we’ve reached new heights! Talented players have won armories with great deck building including the new technology we’ve received from Everfest. These experiences have inspired me to continue my efforts improving the deck and I hope I've inspired you to give the deck a go this Skirmish season!


Rhys Robin is a competitive Flesh and Blood player and author of content relating to gameplay and strategy. The opinions expressed in the above article are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Legend Story Studios.