This weekend, the Elita-1 Blue Cars deck was put through it’s paces at two tournaments in Southampton (Dice in the City) and Brighton (Dice Saloon) plus extra games: 15 tournament games, 2 post-round games, 1 warm-up game, 2 casual games, for 20 games in total.
Here’s the full deck list:
Wave 2 Mirage
Wave 1 Red Alert
I Still Function x 3
Marksmanship x 3
Press the Advantage x 2
Security Checkpoint x 3
Start Your Engines x 3
Vaporize x 2
Battlefield Report x 3
Armed Hovercraft x 3
Energon Axe x 2
Handheld Blaster x 2
Laser Cutlass x 2
Noble’s Blaster x 2
Bashing Shield x 2
Field Communicator x 3
Turbo Boosters x 3
Orange Pips = 8
Blue Pips = 34
White Pips = 3
Green Pips = 6
Black Pips = 0
Blanks = 3
Sideboard: Espionage x 3, Leap of Faith x 1, Infiltrate x 1, Calculated Strike x 3, Heavy Handed x 2
In a nutshell, the tactic has been to untap where possible, throw as much Pierce weapons on Red Alert and Mirage as I can, boost Elita-1 to 10 Attack w/Field Communicator + Energon Axe (and possibly Press the Advantage for 12 Attack) where possible. Elita-1 absorbs damage from Mirage and Red Alert, Direct Damage cards are applied when available, Elita-1 is brought back with I Still Function in later stages of the game. Mirage is often allowed to die so he becomes a Disruptive Entrance and kills an action from the other player’s hand. That’s a very cliff notes version, but we’ve talked about this deck a lot so let’s not dwell too much more.
Shall we hit the stats for how she did?
vs Shockwave 1 / Aimless / Flamewar (x 1, casual)
vs Demolisher / Darkmount / Warpath / Flak (x 1, casual)
vs King Starscream (x 2, tournament)
vs Hound Jank (x 1, warm-up)
vs General Megatron (x 2, tournament)
vs Optimus Prime BFL / Arcee Lionizer (x 1, post-round*)
vs Hot Wheels (x 2, tournament**)
= 10, 4 casual, 6 tournament.
vs Grimlock BFL / Swoop / Lionizer (x 3, 2 tournament, 1 post-round*)
vs Menasor (x 2, tournament)
vs Optimus Prime BFL (x 2, tournament)
vs Double Shockwave (x 2, tournament)
vs Hot Wheels (x 1, tournament)
= 10, 1 casual, 9 tournament.
* match had been won, a third round was played for fun.
** one of these games went to time, we played the last few turns anyhow and Elita-1 won
I think those results say a lot about the state of the deck and where it sits amongst other decks; a fun, interesting and unique experience that will win on occasion in casual play, has some cool twists and a neat mechanic, but not really enough to warrant regular play in a competitive environment.
I won’t go into every single game individually – partly because I haven’t taken notes, partly because such a task even without notes would result in a massively long essay that wouldn’t be interesting. But let’s pick out some highlights and give a general summary.
I’m picking this match out because Marc ‘Good Moment, El Scarscream here’ La Cras talked about the match already in this week’s City Speakers podcast. They actually gave Flip Flip Bang Bang a plug this week, so let me plug them right back – guys, you’ve been plugged. If you want to skip to Marc’s discussion of our match, skip to 23:55, but I recommend you give the whole podcast a listen, even if only for Mat’s ‘Test yourself for Bugs today!’ joke.
Sometimes it’s really good to get an opponent’s perspective of a match, because what Marc probably didn’t realise is that I didn’t think I was going to win this match at all, and I felt both of our games were much closer than they actually were. Marc talks a bit about being frustrated in dealing with Elita-1, and how it means any damage you do on Mirage just ends up meaning very little. That means that the deck is actually working the way I want it to, and whilst it doesn’t work all the time, there is at least some sound logic there.
There were other things that were working in this match – apparently I used Security Checkpoint in this match (I honestly don’t remember!), but what I certainly recall is hitting a Vaporize on an Elita-1 death, knocking off a Mining Pick from Starscream. Starscream needs his pieces in place, removing them makes him a very vulnerable target.
Elita-1 was able to remove Starscream‘s required pieces, so shall we talk about a deck that does the same to Elita-1?
I don’t think there is a character in the game that can ruin Elita-1‘s game plan quite as much as Major Shockwave. Wave 1 Shockwave is fine – indeed I got a win earlier in the week, mostly because he has low health and I can get enough Pierce on the table to wipe out 11 health without much trouble.
However Major Shockwave is 17 HP of hand removal. My Elita-1 deck needs cards in hand in order to do untap abilities, and to give Pierce and Direct Damage to Mirage and Red Alert. So having those cards removed, often early and often with damage applied to me at the same time, there’s not really much I can do.
Oh, and then there’s this upsetting starting hand:
Great, every I Still Function, and they are all being removed from my hand before I can use them. I’ll go cry in a corner now.
So long as Major Shockwave is around, unless I can find a suitable way to deal with him, this deck won’t be able to find it’s footing. This player didn’t do too well in this tournament as it happens, but given that another Shockwave player did very well this weekend, I think we’ll be seeing much more of Shockwave, and much less of Elita-1.
Optimus Prime Battlefield Leader / Arcee / Lionizer
Finally let’s talk about this match-up. There were two Lionizer decks played this weekend, imho I think this was the weaker of the two – Grimlock with Lionizer just shreds through everything in it’s path, and whilst Optimus Prime always has game, I think in a Bold-heavy aggro deck, Grimlock triumphs. Plus he can be brought back from the dead.
My first game against Optimus Prime was extremely close. Elita-1‘s schtick was working – Mirage goes in, does a bit of damage, then takes about 6-8 damage from the opponent, then Elita-1 absorbs the damage, Mirage is untapped with Turbo Boosters or Start Your Engines, rinse and repeat. Steve, my opponent, was doing something similar – Lionizer goes in, does some damge, then is attacked, takes some damage, Lionizer uses Ready for Action, rinse and repeat.
This created something of a stand-off, with myself using every opportunity I could to take down health from Optimus Prime – if he was tapped, he’d take damage. Eventually Mirage would fall, and I’d use his KO flip ability to sap a card from Steve’s hand; Peace Through Tyranny would be the priority target, because it would be late in the round and I didn’t want to be hit by a double swing from a Lionizer wielding Arcee. Unfortunately that wasn’t quite enough in the first game, and I got hit twice by heavy blows anyway… but the first game was close.
In the second game I brought in Novastar, and I simply got out activated. Bringing in Novastar felt better against Nick’s Grimlock variant the day before, but here I think I needed the extra body more and I didn’t need to worry about Grimlock‘s ability. The other player thought I made the wrong choice and I agreed, and he even reckoned it would have been a tight match up had I stuck with Mirage and Red Alert.
We had time left on the clock so we played a third game, with everything reset to how it was in game one. The game proceeded just as the first did. It did feel a little like my opponent wasn’t being as crafty as before (or, perhaps, he simply didn’t have the right cards), but still the third game turned out to be a surprise win for Elita-1, she simply managed to out-tap and got the important hits in. Playing into an Orange deck, it is much easier for Elita-1 to swing for 8-10 damage and actually get some hurt in, unlike against Blue decks (like Shockwave above) where she is just hitting for 2-3. I’d like to play into this team again, and see how often Elita-1 can actually get a win here.
General Tournament Thoughts
I really enjoyed both tournaments in Brighton and Southampton, so thanks to ‘Mixed Pip’ Mat and Kevin for organizing the pair of them. It was especially nice to play in a new town and meet new people, I hope plenty of these guys make the road trip to Brighton next time, it wasn’t such a long ride. Also thanks to Marc for driving Mat and myself down from Brighton, I don’t think I could have done the trek all the way from Seaford otherwise.
The Future for Elita-1
I’m going to pause the Elita-1 deck for a little and try out something new – more on that later in the week. I’m enjoying Elita-1 but I feel she exists in the same niche as characters like Wave 1 Shockwave, Sunstorm, Wave 2 Bombshell, etc. – strange, mischievous characters that twist rules and bring an interesting element to the game. They make tournaments interesting, because they bring the unexpected – see the King Starscream match above, when combat goes in a way you don’t expect, it can really throw you.
She’s reasonably good into aggressive lists, though I think Grimlock is a difficult match up for her unless you’re being incredibly clever with what you have tapped. I wish I had the opportunity to play into an Insecticons list, as I think that would have been a fun matchup. Alas, I didn’t get to play against any Insecticon players over the weekend.
However, against control and hand disruption, this list can’t do anything at all. On a lucky day it can perhaps achieve something, but most of the time it’ll crumble into nothing.
Novastar never proved her worth; I don’t think I’d use her again. I actually find sideboards a bit tiring and not especially fun, mentally I don’t want to second-guess deck decisions on the fly. I appreciate some people are really enjoying them but I prefer to just know what I’m playing. But, that’s where this game is apparently. I might adapt to them more as this wave goes on.
So… what about Aggro Elita-1? Honestly I keep coming back to this, and it seems like a good idea on paper; someone takes damage, Elita-1 absorbs, untap and go again but this time with a hard hitter and Bold 1+. Great in theory, but Elita-1 would absorb nearly as much damage as she would take if she had just led out, which defeats the point a bit. A 11 HP+Def character like either of the early Prowls is also liable to be one-shotted by a lot of decks. It’s an idea, for sure, but it won’t offer anything that is particularly noteworthy and if you’re going to make an aggro deck centered on a 12-star car, it should be Blurr.
There’s more to look into though, and I plan to do that later in Wave 3, but for now I think I’m done with Elita-1, and ready to move on to someone older… someone wiser… someone sage-like…
Until next time!