So in my initial look at Elita-1, I discussed all the various aspects of Elita-1, and some initial ideas to start off with. Naturally, with Elita-1 being an Autobot car, trying a deck centered around cars seems like the best place to start off.
My very first draft – so early in fact that I’m using a piece of cardboard for Elita-1 – was to create an orange aggro car deck. I’d pair Elita-1 with both Prowl cards from Waves 1 + 2, giving me access to lots and lots of bold, and simply wail into my opponent.
A few test games against myself showed that it was okay, hardly ground breaking but a reasonable deck. It’s also nothing new – if you haven’t already noticed, the double Prowl setup is exactly how most Blurr decks were played, and the deck itself was almost exactly the same as the typical Blurr deck.
Plus, aren’t most Cars decks from Waves 1 + 2 kind of like this? If I’m going to try and make a Cars deck around Elita-1, let’s try something different: let’s try something a little more blue…
I went through the motions a bit with who to pair Elita-1 with. Wave 3 Chromia seemed like the best companion to begin with, and I considered another specialist for the third slot. There wasn’t really a specialist car that I really liked in the third slot though, so with only six points to spare, I settled on Bumblebee Brave Warrior from Wave 1. I figured with his Tough, he’d be a good point man and Elita-1 could soak up the damage.
However the Melee trait wasn’t feeling very useful to me; I could put Energon Slingshot on Bee, but that was only one point of damage. He wasn’t swinging for much, and with only 9 health he wasn’t really a very good defender either. Unfortunately other 6 point options for cars also didn’t fit well: Prowl was too Bold focused, Jazz too flimsy and addicted to white. If only there was a 6 point Car that was also Ranged…. oh …. wait ….
Remember this guy? Probably not, because nobody brings this guy out in a constructed list. But the original Red Alert from the Autobot Starter Set fits in perfectly here. His health pool is great for his points cost, his defense in Car mode is good whilst in a Blue deck, and in Bot mode he can hit for a reasonable amount with a weapon and utility in hand. Plus, with the Ranged trait, he can bring Armed Hovercraft and Marksmanship into the mix.
So I have the makings of a team: Elita-1, Sergeant Chromia, Red Alert. My initial deck (above) is set up around trying to get Start Your Engine and I Still Function into hand, with weapons available to boost my support characters. There’s also a couple of direct damage cards in the mix, and some typical blue cards (Vaporize, The Bigger They Are, etc.) This is certainly not the final version of the deck, so I won’t go into it too much.
For testing, I started off with my Bugs deck. Pretty much any version of my Elita-1 deck could take on a lower tier test deck, so I needed to be testing it against a much more aggressive deck if I really want to iron out the creases. My Bugs deck is decent, albeit not as optimised as it could be and certainly not improved since Wave 3 came out. However, it’s still challenging and a good benchmark; if I can make my Elita-1 deck perform well against Bugs consistently, then the deck is worth testing against the next test deck.
Testing with the team brought out a few issues with my line-up. When it came to flipping, I could not decide whether to flip Chromia and then attack with her, or flip Elita-1 and then attack with Chromia. Chromia, for all her Blue pip-orientated tricks did not fit very well at all. I rarely had Blue armour in hand, and drawing the odd one card when she was defending was underwhelming. She also didn’t hit very hard, and took a lot of damage. She needed to go.
Good old Hot Rod. Hot Rod has been a mainstay in Blue-orientated line-ups throughout Wave 2, so I guess I should have called on him earlier. I could have also gone for Mirage, and traded in Tough for Pierce, but Hot Rod felt like a reliable choice. This also meant I now had two targets for Ranged cards; if Red Alert somehow ended up dying, I could still play Armed Hovercraft and Marksmanship.
I now had a pretty solid team. Here is my general plan of attack throughout the first round of play:
- Flip first with Elita-1, attack with Hot Rod. If I were going second, play a weapon on Hot Rod if possible.
- Hot Rod would be almost guaranteed to survive the next hit; he’d need to be hit for about 15 points worth of damage to reliably KO him.
- On my second turn, I’d try and be in possession of a Start Your Engines, use it to untap Hot Rod, flip Elita-1 to alt mode and absorb the damage, put another upgrade on Hot Rod and send him out again.
- Theoretically I could then do this again on my third turn if I were lucky enough to have another Start Your Engines, but at this point I’d send Elita-1 in bot mode, preferably with a weapon.
- Bugs would have to kill Elita-1; she’d play a few cards on death.
- Then I’d bring back Elita-1 with an I Still Function, rinse and repeat, hopefully with everyone loaded with weapons at this point.
- If necessary, Red Alert would flip into bot mode too; Attack 5 is nothing to sneer at after all.
Most of this plan relied on me getting Start Your Engines and I Still Function in my hands, so I realised I needed to focus on cards that let me draw (and preferably play) more cards. So I quickly made the following important cards in the deck: Confidence, Field Communicator, Battlefield Report, and later Security Console. Each of these had other advantages too: Confidence gave me a little bit of orange to occasionally spike damage; Field Communicator could end up bringing Marksmanship or weapons on to the field; Security Console and Battlefield Report would add to my defense by putting double-blue pip cards back on my deck for defense.
Even with that in mind, I couldn’t always guarantee Start Your Engines in my hand, so I added Turbo Boosters into the mix as well like any good cars player should. I tried adding some black pip cards; but honestly, at least in this match-up, they were rather redundant.
Finally, a staple of blue decks are cards that give Tough 2 or 3; I honestly never seemed to want to put an armour on any of my characters. Elita-1 was okay dying, Hot Rod was already quite defensive, and Red Alert was rarely in trouble as I would attack with him very late on. So Reinforced Plating was cut in favour or trying out another Secret Action; Infiltrate. At least for this matchup, it’s very useful.
By Tuesday night, my deck looked like this …
… okay, let’s try again, by Wednesday night, my deck looked like this …
I Still Function x 3
Confidence x 3
Marksmanship x 3
Security Checkpoint x 3
Start Your Engines x 3
Vaporize x 2
Battlefield Report x 3
Infiltrate x 2
Armed Hovercraft x 3
Energon Axe x 2
Handheld Blaster x 2
Noble’s Blaster x 2
Field Communicator x 3
Security Console x 3
Turbo Booster x 3
Orange Pips = 6
Blue Pips = 30
White Pips = 6
Green Pips = 2
Blanks = 3
With this deck, Elita-1 was managing to beat my Bugs in my test environment about 60% of the time, with better results likely the more I get used to the deck.
I’m starting to get a better feel for the character as well. Her alt mode ability is definitely the stand out, and synergises with Hot Rod’s Tough and Start Your Engines / Turbo Boosters extremely well. Her bot mode ability felt more like a nice bonus; sometimes it’d trigger something great, like untaping a character into play when two attacks would otherwise have been made due to all my her team being tapped.
The deck seems good for what it has been tested into; and is certainly at the point where I’d like to see it in a casual play environment, so that’s what I’ll do with it next. It suffers currently from an obvious problem – it has very little in the way of dealing with a defensive deck, especially a deck like Superion. So next week, I shall be testing Elita-1 against my Aerialbots deck, and working out a sideboard in time for a weekend of tournaments on the south coast.
Until next time!