Weekend Tournament: Ironhide

Third Brighton tournament of Wave 3 already? Seems these things are coming up thick and fast. This was a particularly odd one since Mat couldn’t directly run it, so I volunteered to proxy-run it for him, running pairing sheets between the tournament and the Magic control room (which a) is a thing and b) I now realise is full of pizza?).

Prize for winning the tournament? Free pizza of course! (or boosters or store credit, if you’re boring)

Let’s talk about the deck I ran first:

Captain Ironhide, v0.9

Captain Ironhide
Raider Triggerhappy

Escape Route x 2
Leap into Battle x 3
Marksmanship x 2
Security Checkpoint x 3
The Bigger They Are x 3
Treasure Hunt x 3
Vaporize x 2

Secret Actions:

Armed Hovercraft x 3
Drill Arms x 2
Energon Axe x 3
Enforcement Batons x 1
Handheld Blaster x 3
Mining Pick x 3
Noble’s Blaster x 2

Improvised Shield x 3

Security Console x 2


Blue Pips = 30
Orange Pips = 13
White Pips = 4
Green Pips = 5
Black Pips = 0
Blanks = 0

I’m calling this Ironhide and the Space Jets. I imagine this group as being like Ironhide‘s security team in Til All Are One; Ironhide is the security chief, he’s got some reformed Decepticons backing him up, and they’re out to keep the streets of Cybertron safe. If only the Combaticons were in the game. Maybe I should’ve had Sparkstalker in the sideboard, for some real Til All Are One vibes?

Nothing much has changed from testing – that’s mostly because I was too busy having fun testing this particular build that I didn’t really change it all that much, despite having some deficiencies. I swapped out the Sparring Gear and the Scoundrel’s Blaster for some Improvised Shields; this was mostly for Mining Picks, as I wanted to see if I could get some sort of maximum hit from Ironhide by having him Mining Pick into two Improvised Shields and then swap into an Energon Axe.

I wasn’t feeling especially confident about this deck – I had tested it into bugs and it did badly, and I knew the likelihood of it dealing with Aerialbots was minimal (I based this on no testing at all). I also had very little actual play with the deck – the most play I had with it was a couple games against Mat two days earlier, and that was against a weirdo Cosmos deck at that (we won a game each).

That being said I wasn’t too concerned about winning. I knew that people would be trying out competitive builds on the road to the European Energon Open (henceforth referred to as EEO in this blog). However I had just won the last tournament, so I was happy to show up and have some fun with a new deck and basically show off what Ironhide could do.

Photo by Mat Armstrong, really capturing my essence

So again, 6 players turned up for this tournament. No Michael, no Mat, no Matt for that matter, but there was a guest appearance from Dave Relph.

Here’s what everyone was playing:
Captain Ironhide / Triggerhappy / Dreadwing (me)
Major Soundwave / Detour / Laserbeak / Ravage (Alex)
Major Shockwave / Swoop / Flamewar (Dave)
Predacons (Joe)
General Prime / Wheeljack / Dragstrip (Nick)
Grimlock / Arcee / Lionizer (Marc)

Another weird mix, but the power level of the decks has definitely gone up since the last tournament. There’s a ‘classic’ Grimlock/Lionizer list, a General Prime list, and a Shockwave list in the mix. The Predacons list was in Blue which I wasn’t entirely sure about; and also Soundwave was there, because Alex likes Soundwave.

Pairings were made, games were played. Here’s how it went.

Photo by Mat Armstrong, Predacons vs Grimlock

Round 1 – Predacons
So real talk – a lot of my mind in this particular game, especially at the start, was on making sure I did all the things I was meant to do when ‘running’ a tournament. That effectively amounted to starting a timer and letting people know how much time they had on the clock, but about 20% of my brain power was devoted to this teeny tiny function.

This small distraction meant that, after about four turns of play, I finally realised I was playing against robots that transformed in to Predaking, and not Menasor. I am a good player, honest.

Predacons in Blue weren’t especially taxing for Ironhide and the Space Jets; both Triggerhappy and Dreadwing were designed to take out small, low health bots and repeated applications of Armed Hovercraft helped even more. I wasn’t packing any Espionage so I couldn’t stop Predaking from combining, but honestly I don’t think I really needed to. I was able to make sure that any Laser Cutlass upgrades were taken out with Vaporize or Enforcement Batons, which was nice.

By the time Predaking would form, he’d have 22-24 damage on him whilst I still had relatively clean bots. Predaking would only last a couple of turns; I could simply stack Pierce against him. Fairly clean win.

First round: 2-0

Photo by Mat Armstrong,Soundwave vs Shockwave

Round 2 – Major Shockwave
Dave and I played a couple of games against each before the tournament started, and in both of the games we played, Ironhide got an absolutely hammering. Major Shockwave‘s hand removal is absolutely no joke, and can really cripple a character reliant on upgrades (which is something I discussed briefly in the second part of my look at Ironhide). When I got the pairings, I joked that Dave was getting a free win out of this.

I don’t know exactly what happened between those games and the tournament games. Perhaps I was just more locked into these games than the ones earlier – I definitely felt more in the zone and blanking out everything else in this match.

First game was extremely tight – it basically amounted to Dave having to kill Triggerhappy in one blow, or else face a Pierce swing that would have automatically killed him. He hit for a quite substantial number, and absolutely on the dot. It was the kind of tight, close game that a lot of us expect from Transformers now.

In the second game I started to really find myself back on my feet, cutting down health from Shockwave early, and using direct damage and Pierce in a controlled and effective manner. I was surprised to find a win, and with only 15 minutes left on the clock, I started to think this would go to time.

The third game was also close, but ultimately came down to a devastating finishing blow that also revealed a trick in Ironhide that I hadn’t noticed in testing. Shockwave had taken only 6 damage, and had just failed to kill Triggerhappy (he had one health remaining); Dreadwind and Triggerhappy were both wielding Energon Axes, and Ironhide had an Armed Hovercraft on him. Realistically, this game at this point was mine anyhow, but Dave could probably salvage things. Shockwave could survive the Pierce from Dreadwind and Triggerhappy this round, and Ironhide was unlikely to break through his armour. Next turn he could do some direct damage to Triggerhappy, finish off Dreadwind and then leave me with just Ironhide.

Dreadwind swings, Pierce 4 damage. Triggerhappy swings, Pierce 5 damage and flips a Noble’s Blaster on the attack which I swap into my hand. Then Ironhide attacks… and I realise the Noble’s Blaster (which I didn’t have before the attacks started) can be swapped on to Ironhide to guarantee the kill. Huh. Hadn’t thought about that interaction at all, but it was a quick Pierce 2 that sealed the deal.

This was a really tough match, probably the most shaky I’ve been in a tournament match for a long time, really enjoyable round and probably evidence that Ironhide and the Space Jets were better than I thought they were. My team isn’t especially heavy on Blue, but they are probably Blue enough that if you aren’t stacking high numbers or high Pierce, they’d be hard to chomp through. I think that was Shockwave‘s problem here; I had managed to get the Pierce out, he wasn’t hitting hard enough in response.

Second round: 2-1

Genuine real board state

Round 3 – General Prime
I’ll be really honest – I did not want to win this game. If I won this game, it would mean I’d have won two tournaments in a row with decks I’ve made from scratch over a period of weeks as some sort of ‘infotainment’ on this blog. I would get an ego… actually, I already have an ego, this would have made my ego unbearable (moreso). I wasn’t going to throw the game – winning a Brighton tournament is a free pizza after all – but man did I not want to win for ‘mental health’ reasons.

I didn’t have much to worry about though; even from the low hits from Dragstrip, I was definitely feeling more damage coming in than I had with Shockwave or the Predacons. Captain Ironhide‘s crew had plenty of Pierce, sure, but it was only enough to maybe take a couple of bots down; General Prime would still be standing at the end, ready to punch the last of the group down.

Nick also made an astute assessment of my team – rather than worry about Triggerhappy (probably the hardest hitting in the previous two rounds), he instead targeted Ironhide with the most persecution. Triggerhappy and Dreadwind weren’t really offering threats with their low attack values, but Ironhide could reach a range of between 12-16 if the cards were played right. He could potentially take down Wheeljack in one hit. Once Ironhide was down, I could still get good Pierce levels of 5-7 with The Bigger They Are out from the space jets, but that wasn’t enough.

Oh, and Press the Advantage is a pain. But we all knew that.

This match-up needed more work if I wanted to get Ironhide in a position to take General Prime on.

Third round: 0-2

Placing: Second

Final Results

Placing at all with Captain Ironhide was something I didn’t think was likely, but placing second was something I really didn’t expect. That gave me a lot of excitement for the list, and I came home thinking there was probably a lot more I could do with the list if I tested it some more and went over my options for characters to team with Ironhide, battle cards I should be using and how I want to develop my sideboard. That’s not where I expected to be when he was picked over Skywarp to be the third character focus of this blog. Cheers everyone for voting for him, this has been a lot of fun.

Dealing with aggro is certainly an issue for the list as it is right now, so that’s going to be something I will need to look at. What I’d like to find is a sideboard character that can handle aggro but also do a decent amount of damage in a Blue deck. That might not be so easy.

Last tournament I was left with the feeling that I probably sneaked into first place rather than earned it; but this time around I’d be hard pressed to say that Ironhide and the Space Jets didn’t earn their place. The games against Shockwave were very hard work, and even Joe’s Predacons weren’t entirely a push over and required foresight to make sure Predaking wasn’t full powered. I would have probably lost against Marc’s Grimlock deck, though Ironhide being able to negate Grimlock‘s trample damage is something I’m now aware of (thanks Blaine if you’re reading). Overall though, I felt like I earned second place this time around.

Future for the Ironhide deck
There’s a lot more to think about with Ironhide, as I think my focus so far has been mostly on what he can do with weapons, and not too much on everything else. So if you will indulge me, I’ll be continuing on with Ironhide for at least one more week, possibly two, and will be trying to improve the deck a bit more. Hopefully we can gleam a bit more from him than we’re already seeing.

Otherwise, the next few weeks are very busy; TFNation will be next week, and I’ll be bringing both the Alpha Trion and Ironhide decks (and some newbie decks, and maybe Elita-1) with me if anyone wants to see them in action. If you’re coming, and aren’t already on the Transformers TCG UK facebook group, you should absolutely join it so you hear about games as they are being arranged.

Then on August 24th there is a tournament in Southampton that I’m strongly considering going to, and on August 31st in Brighton there is an EEO trial tournament. Finally on September 14th, as I’m sure you’re all aware, there’s the EEO tournament itself which I can finally say I will attend (because it doesn’t start at 8am anymore). It’s a busy one f’sure; if I end up skipping a blog post here or there, this busy schedule will be why.

Until then, hope you have a good time flipping cards!

PS. Flip Flip Bang Bang is now on Facebook and Twitter. I’m endeavouring to only post once a week on non-local social media pages, so if you want to read posts as they happen, please follow the blog on your chosen Social Media platform. Thanks!

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