Alright there, had a good weekend?

Last week was kind of insane for Transformers TCG players, especially in the UK, where I think the entire community was in UK Energon Open aftermath mode. We were all brewing crazy new ideas now that the competition was over, chatting to new friends and basically feeling pretty damn good about the game.

… and that’s without thinking about the monsoon of spoilers last week. How about those Kinetic battle cards?? How about Astrotrain and Sandstorm? How about the insane invasion of black pips this wave? How about Impactor, did you ever think you’d see an Impactor card? All that, and Apeface and Spinister are still to come! ARGH!!!!!

Needless to say it was an exciting week for Transformers players – and naturally I was very sick and bedridden for most of the week.

However, I was well enough to make gaming on Saturday, so I got a bit of Transformers in at least.

Mat & Marc getting some games in.

During this wave, I’ve been taking in-development decks to casual Saturday gaming. I did that again this week, taking a very early prototype of the Megatron Living Weapon deck I’m working on (I’m calling in Megadrive btw, but for the North Americans, you can call it Genesis). However I wanted to mix it up a bit this week. First up, since Blaster vs Soundwave is finally out in its retail version, I took a copy of Ben Saunder’s version of the Vector Sigma Blaster deck. This is the first time this wave I’ve actually put together a ‘meta deck’ to play with. I wanted to try it out, and have it replace Insecticons as my go-to four-wide aggro test deck, since the deck is likely to become more prominent now that it’s readily available.

Secondly, you might have heard a bit of buzz about another deck that was at the UK Energon Open, and that’s Mondo Spanner’s General Megatron deck, which he talked about on Bleeped Up Productions. Kevin Richardson of the Cityspeakers had a copy of the deck built, and let me have a go with it (I also built the deck, but it turned out the version of the deck I got was incomplete, d’oh!).

I didn’t read up too much on either of these decks. For Blaster I was relying on my knowledge of the deck from seeing it in play. For General Megatron though, I was mostly just aiming to see if I could work out how the deck played from looking at the cards.

A replay of the UK Energon Open finale – Blaster vs Shockwave

As it turned out my decks would be first enjoyed by someone else – store regular Alex had just bought Blaster, so I offered him my deck to try out so he could feel the full force of Blaster, rather than just play the less exciting pre-built deck. He played it into Mat’s Major Shockwave build. As Alex hadn’t seen Blaster in play, he was at a bit of a disadvantage, but then I saw both players making a lot of misplays – it was early, and it was a friendly game. Major Shockwave has a lot of game regardless; even against Blaster his card denial game is terrifying, and every aggro player needs to fear Gyro Blasters.

Soundwave isn’t as loyal as you might think.

After that Kevin arrived from Southampton, and the pair of us played Megatron Living Weapon (me) vs new Soundwave (Kevin). This was actually the first game Kevin and I have played against each other for nearly a year – the first time we played was at Dice Saloon’s inaugural Transformers tournament back in late October / early November.

My full list for Megatron Living Weapon is at the end of this post, but the lineup I picked was Megatron, Firedrive and Fireflight. Fireflight was the one I wasn’t sure on, but I also figured I couldn’t go wrong with him. Other candidates would be Flamewar, Ravage, or one of the card draw Stunticons. The deck was VERY heavy on the Blue, with 6 White, 3 Black, no blank or Orange.

We played best of three; for the first game I felt very much on the ropes, with Megatron suffering a lot of damage early on (I exposed him a bit too early). Whilst Soundwave doesn’t hit too hard, Kevin managed to get some Pierce out relatively early and even had an Erratic Energy Grenade on the go for me to deal with.

Much to my annoyance, I had put Disarm in my deck instead of Vaporise. That’s useful for dealing with battlemasters, but against an Erratic Energy Grenade I was essentially just making sure the bomb didn’t go off this time round, and moving it to the next goon next turn.

Still, the deck was kind of working – I managed to use Callous Leadership TWICE to keep Megatron alive, and even managed to Hunker Down into a Superior Plating. Once I had dealt with the smaller minions, and Firedrive was being wielded by Megatron, killing Soundwave wasn’t too difficult – Megatron with a Scoundrel’s Blaster, Firedrive and 5+ cards in hand is a terrifying attack for just about anyone. Unless you can pull out a lot of Pierce, or hit beyond 12 damage per swing, you either need to knock off the Superior Plating or realize you’re not doing damage.

The second game went a bit more in my favour from the start, though Kevin was able to pull out some tricks like a Recover Cassette on a heavily damaged Ravage. I forgot that card was a thing – definitely one to look out for in Soundwave decks. However I think my winning play was leaving Megatron exposed and ready to be killed… but secretly playing a Hiding Spot, forcing Kevin to attack into Firedrive instead; to which Megatron retaliated by hitting Soundwave for 20+ damage.

The deck is faaaaaaar from being in a working condition, there’s a lot of dud cards and choices that can be improved, but it’s a start and it has potential. Soundwave isn’t a good test for the deck, but it let me ‘get the reps in’, as Kevin would say.

Mat unhappy about Ion Storm’s current dilema

After that it was Blaster time vs Mat. Mat was playing Ion Storm, as piloted by Ben Cottee and based on an original deck by Kevin of Wreck n’ Rule.

First game went pretty well; definitely some teething issues from me – for one, I hadn’t played into Ion Storm since release day (I kept putting on Forcefields and then immediately remembering that Ion Storm can knock them off with ease). Secondly… Blaster can be mildly tricky if you’ve not played him before.

Still I kind of got into a groove, felt the music and the rhythm flow through me, and blasted through the first game. Mat then sided into Ion Storm / Optimus Prime Battlefield Leader, and promptly smashed me into the ground. I don’t think there was much that I could do, both of those characters have such might and can easily pulverize any of my team. Also, I just wasn’t expecting it!

I hadn’t brought a sideboard character with me, but Mat had General Prime on him anyhow, so I tried the Blaster / General Prime / Steeljaw team. Despite really not knowing how to play this particular line-up, it felt pretty good and I was still able to take on Optimus Prime and Ion Storm.

Blaster seems really good, especially the Vector Sigma build. There’s a bit of complexity in Blaster, but other than that I think the deck is fairly intuitive one to play. I can see why people are doing well with it. I wasn’t entirely sold on the presence of Confidence in the deck, but later testing with the deck suggested there’s a lot of worth in those cards. I think with more practice it will end up being an excellent test deck to replace Bugs.

Michael had taken up Bee keeping.

After that I had a bit of chill time, whilst Kevin played against Michael and Mat played against Marc. Marc has a very interesting list that I won’t say anything about just yet, but hopefully he’ll be talking about it more soon. #GetHyped

My last game of the day was against Michael. I got to borrow Kevin’s General Megatron deck, and Michael played a Beehive list. Michael had basically set himself a weird challenge – a lineup that contained only Bumblebees, and the deck had to have a complete playset of every card that had Bumblebee on (Zap, Team-Up Tactics, Handheld Blaster, etc.). Beehive decks don’t tend to be very good, but this was obviously a fun, novelty deck that Michael had cooked up just because he could. It also had a Lunar Bee in it, which is not something you see everyday.

As such, this wasn’t an especially fair test for the General Megatron deck, since one deck is a novelty and the other deck nearly made it to Top 8 at the UK Energon Open. It did mean I got a nice, gentle pair of games to finish the day with and determine if I can work out General Megatron.

So I haven’t watched Mondo Spanner’s deck profile at Bleeped Productions yet (but will do as soon as I’ve finished writing this). I wasn’t going into the deck completely blind – I had spoken to Mondo Spanner briefly about it and he made a few deck change recommendations, and Kevin had informed me of a great play with Hunker Down. If you haven’t seen the deck, it’s General Megatron, Aimless and Flamewar, in very heavy Blue.

The deck has both Attack Drones and Extra Paddings, so there is a focus on getting upgrades on the table quickly and in large quantities to help with General Megatron‘s abilities. There’s no other armour, and the only other weapons are Scoundrel’s Blasters and Armed Hovercrafts (the latter of which Mondo Spanner recommended replacing with The Bigger They Are, but Kevin hadn’t made this change in his deck). Another thing I noticed was the deck did not use upgrades for upgrade removal (no Bashing Shield, Drill Arms, Enforcement Batons, etc.), instead it exclusively used Disarm and Vaporize for this purpose. That’s a really interesting choice I think – since you’re using upgrades to play the Attack Drones / Extra Paddings, using your action for killing enemy upgrades works quite well. Also, both of these can kill utilities, and Disarm is also great at killing battlemasters. Finally the deck made a lot of use of flip actions – complete playsets of Escape Route and Hunker Down. Naturally, these were to keep General Megatron flipping and applying his alt mode damage, but then be ready for his next turn in his bot mode for the sweeping direct damage effect.

General Megatron all padded up and ready to dish out direct damage

As said before, this was not a particularly fair game – it’s competitive vs novelty – but after playing the General Megatron deck, I’ve got to say I’m a huge fan. It is very easy to understand and it’s very easy to get Megatron in a state where he is constantly delivering direct damage. A great play that was suggested to me by Kevin was using Hunker Down to play one Extra Padding on General Megatron, whilst you had the other two Extra Padding in hand. That makes collecting the Extra Padding much easier, and it’s definitely a consideration for my own Megatron deck. Both the Hunker Down and Escape Route cards meant I could regularly get out direct damage, so I think every turn I was doing about 5 points of direct damage; that’s without any battle cards that do direct damage themselves.

There were a few things I didn’t get to see with the deck – it had a playset of Bravery for diverting damage to Aimless which was cool, and I didn’t really get to play enough Attack Drones to REALLY maximize Megatron‘s alt mode ability. Overall though I was really impressed; I expect to see General Megatron being played a lot more after the buzz surrounding this deck.

After that, it was time to go. Good casual day’s gaming.

Megadrive Prototype v0.01

Megadrive Prototype
Characters:
Megatron Living Weapon
Private Firedrive
Fireflight

Actions:
Callous Leadership x 3
Disarm x 3
Espionage x 1
Hunker Down x 3
Security Checkpoint x 3

Secret Actions:
Battlefield Report x 3
Dampening Field x 2
Hiding Spot x 3
Infiltrate x 3

Weapons:
Armed Hovercraft x 1

Drill Arms x 1

Energon Axe x 2
Fusion Cannon of Megatron x 3
Handheld Blaster x3

Laser Cutlass x 2
Scoundrel’s Blaster x 2

Armour:
Superior Plating x 2

Utilities:
None

Pips:
Blue = 37
Orange = 0
White = 6
Green = 3

Black = 3
Blank = 0

Sideboard:
None

This is an extremely early prototype, thrown together in about 15 minutes on a Saturday morning, so there are A LOT of obvious issues with it – no utilities, dead cards, lack of Green, etc. It gives you an idea of the direction I want to go in, though – more action-orientated than you’d expect, hard Blue, lots of secret actions. I’ll comment more on this deck when I write up Megatron Pt 2, but for now you can take a look at what I went with and make your own thoughts.

Finally
Worth giving a shout out to Dice Saloon – this Saturday was their 4th year in business. They’ve been a great social centre not only for the Transformers TCG, but for a lot of board gaming, miniature gaming, card gaming and roleplaying in Brighton during these four years. I’ve made a hell of a lot friends in the Brighton area thanks to the shop, so to everyone who works there thank you so much for all the effort you’ve put in over these years. Let’s make this year a big one for gaming in Brighton, eh?

Until next time!

Megadrive/Genesis joke by Michael. Stolen without shame or permission.

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