This weekend was Wave 3 excitement weekend, with boxes of cards (do I have to use the word product?) winging their way to Transformers TCG players everywhere. I got lucky with my half-case and pulled an Ultra Magnus, most of the rare character cards (including my much needed Elita-1, and only shy Needlenose and Cindersaur), and nearly a full playset of rare battle cards.
But that’s only half the fun of release weekend – ’cause Saturday was Sealed Tournament day!
This wave I opted to just do one release event instead of two, despite both Chichester and Southampton running events on the Sunday. Doing events across the weekend left me feeling a bit exhausted in Wave 2, so I just stuck with Dice Saloon in Brighton on the Saturday.
Seemed like a pretty good opening attendance, about 14-16 players in total; most were regulars to the casual play days or the local tournaments, with a couple of new faces among the crowd. There were fewer players than last wave, but I think that was mostly down to a few more events going on in the greater Sussex area than last time – Crawley had pulled a few players away, as far as I could tell. The smaller crowd meant I got time to at least say hello to everyone, and the venue didn’t feel overcrowded on such a hot, sunny day.
Wasn’t quite as lucky with my pack pulls as I was last wave (I pulled super-rares in both events I played at), but I did get a Needlenose which I was very happy with. Otherwise my character pulls across five packs were:
… and a bunch of micromasters who I forget.
I knew ahead of time that I’d probably want to play a Battlemaster in sealed to get a feel for how they play, so Blowpipe was in. I had no Medic! in my battle cards, so Ratchet was pretty much out, and my star cards weren’t very exciting, so Needlenose was out too. Of the remaining three large characters, Prowl and Hound seemed like they’d get the most work done in sealed. I could have gone with a pair of micromasters in place of either, but I figured raw power might be better than more bodies.
With only 30 cards to create a deck of 25 from, battle card decisions were pretty slim. I removed an excess star card (Heroic Team-Up; which probably would have been a better choice than EMP Wave which I kept in my deck for the double blue), an EM24 IR Laser Launcher and a few cards that I couldn’t play. I probably could’ve done with keeping the Laser Launcher, as +3 Attack more than makes up for the blank pip occasionally, but I felt like I had enough weapons including Blowpipe himself. My deck was mostly black, a fair amount of blue, with a smattering of white and orange.
Round 1…. FIGHT!
First game was against tournament top table regular Jim. I’ve only played against Jim the once and in a constructed tournament setting but he’s a tough opponent; naturally he managed to pull both Optimus Prime AND Shockwave, so this was going to be an uphill challenge. I had a fair amount of damage output and black pips in my deck, but even then two high armour opponents with 31 points of health between them is a tall order.
Still it turned out I had some tricks. Prowl’s ability to deal 2 damage to an opponent with a weapon meant that Jim was reluctant to place weapons on vulnerable characters; in one battle, Prowl’s ability caused a KO on Shockwave before we even played cards. Meanwhile Hound’s +2 for every upgrade played meant that he could easily get to 7 Attack without too much effort (upgrade in bot mode, flip to alt mode). A trick I had learned was to upgrade Hound with a Metal Detector, then use that to upgrade him again to hit for 8 Attack when he attacks. Another nasty trick was loading Blowpipe up with an Erratic Energy Grenade; if he wasn’t killed by the other player, he’d explode on my turn, giving Hound a free upgrade, then getting a regular upgrade, and THEN flipping to his alt mode for a solid 9 Attack.
All of this aside, whilst Prowl and Hound did play a good game, I lost 2-0 in this opening match, much to nobody’s surprise.
Next game was against Will, who I had met for the first time at the last release event in Brighton. At this point I was nursing a fairly nasty migraine, struggling a fair bit and trying to keep myself hydrated and caffeinated.
Will was running Triggerhappy, Cindersaur, Tote and Roadhugger. I felt it was incredibly saddening playing Blowpipe into his target-master; but Triggerhappy did seem like the primary threat and I wanted to see Blowpipe die early each game.
Will’s line up was much easier to deal with than Shocktimus, as the Micromasters could more or less be ignored, and Cindersaur didn’t have enough orange in his deck to ever become useful. Once Triggerhappy was done, it felt more or less like I just needed to clean up. 2-0 to me.
My head was feeling better by Game #3, which was against Joe B. Joe had apparently been doing rather well with Soundwave, having grouped him with Blowpipe, Detour and Roadhugger. I honestly felt a bit dismissive of this line-up first – what were these punny Micromasters going to do against me? – but I quickly realized this setup was very effective.
Joe had the same tactic as myself – throw Blowpipe first, then move everything else in later. He’d then throw the Sports Car Patrol at me next, often armed with weapons and using their tap abilities. Soundwave would only come in to play once my team had tapped out; at which point Soundwave had an EM24 and an Energy Pack for bonus health. My high attacks from Prowl and Hound gave me some oomph, as did the odd well placed Erratic Energy Grenade; he’d soon work out counters though, including using Personal Targetting Drone on a sacrificial character to knock out my Grenade.
I rarely got past the half way mark with Soundwave, with the Energy Pack being more than enough to keep Soundwave out of the KO zone. I held on in there, but in the end Joe smacked me down 2-0.
Final game was against John, who I had spoken to a bit online and briefly met last event. John was running Ion Storm, Flamewar and Roadhugger (people loved this guy as you can tell, +3 attack is handy). I knew Ion Storm was likely to be a beast in Sealed with his meaty stats, so he’d be priority number one, cleaning up Flamewar and Roadhugger in the aftermath.
Ion Storm indeed turned out to be John’s main hitter; combined with his ability to knock upgrades back to my hand (or in to my KO pile in the case of Blowpipe), he was a tricky one to beat. However, both Hound and Prowl had a lot of damage between them, and coupled with black pips Ion Storm would fall down by round two. Of particular note in the first game was an attack from Hound with Blowpipe that landed all five pips.
It felt a bit touch and go in this particular match up – I think our respective teams were well matched for each ever, but I ended up winning 2-0. A final result of 4 games won, 4 games lost, a reasonable result.
Thoughts on Sealed Wave 3
Sealed is a really weird format in Transformers that we don’t see in Brighton very often, most local players are far more interested in Constructed, including myself. But Wave 3 felt a lot more fun than the previous wave, with plenty of cards feeling like they really shine in this kind of environment.
I left the tournament thinking that black pips were very handy; my deck had a higher than normal amount of black pips in it’s construction so I was quite regularly negating high armour characters. Battle masters were also very fun; my opponents seemed almost resentful that I made them have to target poor old Blowpipe.
In terms of individual battle cards, I really enjoyed playing Erratic Energy Grenade and would definitely look to include it in Constructed decks. I enjoyed Anticipation Engine / Metal Detector even though both cards were very flakey. Laser Cutlass and RR Disruptor Blade were also often weapons of choice during the game.
I didn’t like the trait-based armour cards, perhaps because I was constantly being penalized by them, since I had both ranged and melee characters in my team, The upgrade-that-scraps-an-upgrade-when-scrapped cards were also a bit weird, and I’m not sure if I’d really want to use them in Constructed. Back-up Bag always felt like a dead card in my hand, as did EMP Wave.
Overall though I enjoyed the tournament quite a bit. It did run on a bit long and I ended up having to leave before closing scores, etc. which somewhat sucked. Will definitely be keeping that in mind for the next one.
Looking forward to some Constructed next, in less than two weeks!