Building Ratchet: Autopsy

That Ironhide project is getting a bit intense isn’t it? I think we could do with something a bit lighter this week, don’t you? Let’s make something exceptionally janky, something that definitely won’t be competitive – but it will be fun, and will do something incredibly stupid. This will be a light one – when this article releases, I’ll be on a train coming home from TFNation, and I definitely won’t be thinking about heavy subjects like how to deal with Lionizer, Bugs or General Prime.

Anyhow, guys and gals, bots, cons and NAILS, let me tell you about a stupid idea I have.

Let’s talk about Salvage for Parts

This is an autopsy. This card is disturbing

Is there a worse rare battle card in Wave 1 than Salvage for Parts? I mean, sure, some of you are probably already saying Null Ray of Starscream; but Null Ray of Starscream is still good if you’re playing Starscream… it’s just you’re probably not playing Starscream. Same with quite a few cards in Wave 1 – they aren’t good, because you aren’t playing the characters who use those cards, but if you were, you would. You could even just use those cards for the pips!

Nobody, though, has had any practical use for Salvage for Parts. It’s a card that repairs your opponent’s bots and kills all your upgrades, and it has no pips. Nobody would ever take this card – unless they’ve chucked a random deck together, playing in a Sealed game, or just don’t know how to build a deck yet.

With that all being said… let’s build a deck that not only has Salvage for Parts in it, but it’s the main core card that we want to play!

The oldest, grumpiest bot in town.. that isn’t Gears.

About a week into Wave 3 I came up with the following idea; “What if we were playing Ratchet, and we used Salvage for Parts; how much of an attack boost could Ratchet get?”

We discussed some potential ways of really maximising this, or combining it with other bots. You could flood upgrades on to Hound, boost his attack really high, then scrap the upgrades with Salvage for Parts and then boost Ratchet.

You could play Ratchet with Wave 2 Skywarp Skywarp would make sure you got the Salvage for Parts at the right time, Ratchet would be super powered and attack; plus you’d have all of Skywarp‘s other tricks (this would have been an idea presented in the Skywarp article had people voted for it).

You could also use Elita-1 with Ratchet; she could help keep the damage balanced, so when the Salvage for Parts was played, it played for maximum benefit.

Instead though I have another idea; I’m going to run through the concept here, create a rough test build, and then take it to TFNation and see how it plays. By the time you read this, the damage will have already been done. Hopefully that damage was in the late teens.

First of all, let’s talk about the team:

Specialist Ratchet
Captain Wheeljack
Wave 1 Chromia

All three of our characters have the Specialist trait. I feel like Specialists are always about twisting the game, seeing what we can do. Sometimes things break so much they can win tournaments…. but usually it’s not in a good way, like the infinite turns decks. Specialists aren’t here to win, they are here to show what you can do with the game engine. That’s kind of what we’re doing here today.

I picked these three characters because between the three I think we can create a pretty intense card draw deck. We’re guaranteed to have a Brainstorm in our hand thanks to Wheeljack, and Chromia can retrieve an Equipment Enthusiast into our hand using her alt mode ability. So long as we’re constantly upgrading our team, we should be able to engineer a game state where there are lots of upgrades on the table, and both an Equipment Enthusiast and Brainstorm in our hand. From there, we can make a recurring Brainstorm/Equipment Enthusiast play; this is our main goal, to get into a situation where we can easily do this multiple times in a turn. I’ve managed to get this to work with Bombshell, allowing him to kill combiners; the experiment here is to see if we can do the same with Ratchet.

Once we have a huge hand, and we’ve done our Salvage for Parts play once, we can set up to try and do this a second time by playing multiple upgrades from our hand, thanks to specialist cards. Because Salvage for Parts scraps cards, they’ll return to our deck immediately on shuffle, so we can Brainstorm->Salvage for Parts, Treasure Hunt.

The maximum number of upgrades we can have on our team is 13; assuming the enemy might have 1-2 upgrades in play and we’ve played to have a spread of damage on the table, we can maybe get as high as 18 attack with Ratchet.

Wheeljack and Chromia are otherwise unremarkable, though they both can draw cards when they do stuff I’d be doing anyhow. Ratchet, though, is what this is all about.

A core for a draw deck

Base Card Draw Deck
The following is the core of a card draw deck using Equipment Enthusiast ONLY. Generally speaking the rest of the deck should lean Blue. Typically you could use this core for Firedrive, Sunstorm or Bombshell decks, but we’re using it for a weird Ratchet deck today.

Attack Drone x 3
Field Communicator x 3
Multi-Mission Gear x 3
Multi-Tool x 3
Extra Padding x 3

Brainstorm x 3
Equipment Enthusiast x 3
New Designs x 3

Blue = 9
Orange = 6
White = 9
Green = 6
Cards = 24

There’s only one card here that actually draws cards, and that’s Equipment Enthusiast. I’ve not included Treasure Hunt (6 Orange is already quite a bit of Orange) nor Data Bank (9 White is A LOT of White). The objective is to play an upgrade each turn, and build up a set of Attack Drone or Extra Padding. We’re also using the specialist cards for extra plays, and New Designs to play an upgrade if we’ve already done so this turn; for example, if we’ve played Field Communicator and it triggered an Equipment Enthusiast, we can use New Designs to play a card drawn from that card.

This is obviously just the core 24 cards. We have 16 more cards to include beyond this – we can add some double blue pips for defense, general attack cards (The Bigger They Are or Energon Axes might be useful), further draw cards (a copy or two of Treasure Hunt if we don’t mind going further Orange, Data Bank if we’re okay with even more White, maybe even Metal Detector)… and in this deck, we’re going to also want repair cards.

Repair Cards
So very quickly, I want to list out some repair cards, see if there’s any we might want to take:

Cooling Vents (Orange, 1 from one Ranged bot)
Diagnosis (White, 1 from one bot)
Emergency Maintenance (Orange, 1-2 from one bot)
Field Repair (Orange, 1 from one bot)
Medic! (Blank, 2 from one bot)
Repair Bay (Orange, 1 from all friendly bots)
Rest and Relaxation (Green, 1 from one bot)
Salvage for Parts (Blank, variable repair from variable bots)

I won’t lie – this is a really disappointing set of cards. I can definitely understand that the designers don’t want to include Blue repair cards, but that doesn’t really change the fact that we don’t really want Orange cards for repairing. Diagnosis might be tempting (especially as it draws a card), but we’re already full on White. Also, nearly all these cards are repairing just one damage. Just one.

Let’s take one Salvage for Parts (we only ever want to play the one card), one Medic! (because it’ll start in our hand anyhow), and consider taking either another Medic! or a Repair Bay.

You totally can see my socks. And a Sainsburys bag. Professionalism!

Specialist Ratchet
Captain Wheeljack

Attack drone x 3
Extra Padding x 3
Field Communicator x 3
Handheld Blaster x 3
Multi-Misison Gear x 3
Multi-Tool x 3
Noble’s Blaster x 2
Sturdy Armor x 3
= 23

Brainstorm x 3
Equipment Enthusiast x 3
Medic! x 2
New Designs x 3
Salvage for Parts x 1
Security Checkpoint x 3
Treasure Hunt x 2
= 17

Blue = 26
Orange = 8
White = 9
Green = 12
Black = 0
Blanks = 3

Sideboard: 1 Repair Bay, 2 Press the Advantage, 2 Vaporize, 3 Battlefield Report, 2 Photon Bombs, 2 Ready for Actions

The ‘sideboard’ is less an actual sideboard (it has 12 cards for starters) and more a selection of cards that I want with me to switch out cards and try out different things, as I’m only playing this deck on a casual level. The Sturdy Armor and Noble’s Blaster cards will be the first things swapped out.

On top of the core deck, I’ve added the double-blue suite, two copies of Treasure Hunt (so I can bring back upgrades the turn I played Salvage for Parts), some standard Green pip upgrades and then the repair cards discussed earlier. Pretty much half the sideboard are general ‘good’ cards for Blue autobot decks, plus I have included one Repair Bay to see if that will work better than two copies of Medic!

I’ve added Ready for Action as an option; I figure I could potentially stand Ratchet back up and do it all over again if I can get upgrades in play straight after a Salvage for Parts. I’ve also put two Photon Bombs in the sideboard; I’m taking these in case I find that Salvage for Parts can’t find the damage to repair from my bots. In that case, I’ll hurt my bots first, and THEN repair them.

Intended Result

Final Thoughts
Do I think this deck will work? Well, I think we’ll at least get to see Ratchet hit for a high attack value. That’s really the goal, rather than actually winning a game. Different decks have different win conditions – and for this one, the win isn’t winning the game, the win is being able to say ‘I played a game where Ratchet hit for 19 damage’.

Hopefully by the time you’ve read this, I’ll already be able to say if I could do this or not.

Until next time.

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