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Artifact Fire

Blink Dagger: Playing to What You Can't See

January 15th, 2019 | jscaliseok

Introduction



There are many powerful cards in Artifact. However, as with most games, it is often the more mundane or non-flashy ones that slip under the radar. Something you see often, or a card that doesn’t come with a large animation, is easy to overlook. Even so, it is typically those cards that can teach the most important lessons about the game.

An example of that is Blink Dagger, a seemingly straightforward card that can completely alter and change the way Artifact plays out. What makes the item so interesting is that, in order to properly plan for it, you have to both focus on what you can and can’t see.

It can be easy to only plan for what’s in front of you, but being able to plan for the unknown, as well as a range of hypothetical scenarios, is what a player needs to take that extra step.

Breaking Down the Dagger



To begin this discussion, we must first break down Blink Dagger as a card. It is an item that costs a reasonable seven gold and comes with two abilities. While the extra two attack is not irrelevant, it hardly matters in the long run. Rather, what’s important is the ability.

Blink Dagger is perhaps the most popular item in Artifact, and the reason for that is it gives heroes the ability to jump from lane to lane. As we’ve discussed in past articles, nothing is stronger than being able to move around the board. Though that often comes as a delayed cost (like dying or Town Portal Scroll) or costs mana, here you get to trigger it right away and then every two turns after as you please.

That is incredibly strong for a variety of reasons. Not only does it suddenly mean that your opponent has to analyze all of their plays with the item in mind, but it also means that lanes once abandoned are back in play. It is not just about focusing on the game one lane at a time. Now, the focus comes to the board as a whole.

Artifact is all about foresight, which is why the dagger is so important. It is not just a card that changes the look of the game, it is something that you need to see coming or you will get run over.

What You Can’t See Can Hurt You



Now that we’ve broken down Blink Dagger as a card, we next need to understand why it’s worth devoting an entire article to. The reason is that, like so many critical plays, it forces you to think about Artifact in a completely different way.

The whole game is built around lanes, but Blink Dagger breaks that rule wide open. For that reason, you need to keep it in mind unlike any other card you face.

It is easy to assume you plan ahead for dagger like you do for Annihilation or Time of Triumph. However, it’s not the same because of how it allows your opponent to go or move anywhere they want. When planning for a unit, improvement, or spell, you only need to focus on the lanes where your opponent has heroes. In contrast, Blink Dagger makes you think about all three lanes at the same time, which heroes could move into those lanes, and what cards could be cast once they move. That trifecta is not only daunting to try and track, but it also brings up an important lesson in planning for the future.

For instance, let’s say your opponent has one Blue hero (Zues) on the board and it’s in the middle lane. If you’re worried about Annihilation coming in and taking out your creeps, that’s the only place you need to focus on. Yes, you still have to plan for the spell by either playing out of that lane or attempting to get initiative before your opponent can drop it, but your opponent is confined to one area.

If they have an item in hand (which well could be Blink Dagger) your thinking needs to change to both the middle and third lanes. They may drop the AOE right away, but they may also slow play to test the water. If you don’t commit, or if use up your mana, they can suddenly drop Dagger and catch you off guard in lane three.

Those plays happen all of the time and you need to be ready for them when they come.

A New Level of Foresight



Anytime your opponent has an item in hand it could be a dagger. As such, you need to constantly understand how their heroes, regardless of where they are, could affect all lanes. Even a hero in lane three can jump back to the vulnerable lane one and set up a tower kill for next turn.

All cards games take some foresight. When playing against an opponent with items in hand that foresight needs to be amped up to level ten. You cannot simply think of one scenario. It is no longer “What if my opponent drops down Coup de Grace before I get initiative?” Rather, it is, what can each hero do in each lane?

You both may have given up lane two, but there is always a chance your opponent is waiting for you to relax so they can take it out of nowhere. Perhaps you think they’ve given you lane three, but they’re just hoping you commit more before moving in and blowing it up. Those choices are everywhere and they constantly need to be on your mind.

It is the nearly endless number of possible scenarios that make Blink Dagger such an interesting card. The item shifts your thinking, and in doing so provides an extremely important lesson about Artifact. You never want to get caught looking at the game in one way.

As mentioned above, it is easy to only think about the cards on your opponent's side of the board. However, to be truly efficient you always want to stay focused on their potential plays, as well as how those potential plays could shift the game. It is great to have foresight about a certain card, but you want to go beyond that. What would happen if that card got played? How would you respond? What follow up might your opponent have? Being able to see multiple turns ahead or plan for various scenarios will enable you to win a lot of games you would normally lose.

It may seem odd to put a hero from the fountain into the long-abandoned lane one, but if you cut off your opponent from blinking a hero into it and going for an easy push, you’ve done your job and narrowed down the number of situations you need to think about.

Dagger as a Threat



The other vital lesson Blink Dagger teaches is how you can use the threat of an item or ability to change the shape of a game. Though most activations occur right away (to instantly take advantage of a certain board state) just knowing they could happen is enough to make someone react.

The more things a player has to think about, the more likely they are to slip up. Knowing that the dagger could be in play is a part of that, but so is reacting to it once it’s on the board. If your opponent knows you can jump lanes next turn, they will likely plan accordingly by either playing into other lanes or doing what they can to pressure the one that has your equipped hero in it.

That threat alone may make someone lessen their pressure or force them to spread out their heroes in a way that helps you. Understand that when first choosing where to move your daggered hero. Every single play in Artifact should be made with a purpose in mind. Even if you aren’t doing something game changing right away, the threat of being able to move again soon will force your opponent’s hand in the future.

This is not something specific to the dagger, but it is an aspect to always think about when you have an ability on a timer. As with the planning example, it is very easy to see how an ability changes the game when it’s being used. It is also key to think about how it changes the game when it’s not.

Conclusion


So much can be learned from a single card. Blink Dagger is one of the strongest plays in the current Artifact meta, and it will continue to be powerful for quite a long time. You always need to think about the future in card games, and it helps to have a card that constantly keeps you on your toes. Never get caught in the moment. Yes, it is key to adapt to what’s in front of you, but just as often it is key to respond to what’s not. 
(Last Updated: January 17th, 2019)

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