Welcome back to Drill Hall, a series of articles intended for new players of Transformers TCG. It’s time for Part 2 of our look at Orange Decks and how they are constructed. If you missed Part 1, don’t fret! It’s here: Drill Hall: Orange Decks, Pt 1

In the first part of this article, I described what an aggro deck is, and the kinds of cards needed to make them work. I also provided a line-up for a concept that could use an aggro deck: Impactor, Powertrain, Mudslinger, Tote and Highjump.

You might have read last week’s article and considered how you’d go about making this deck yourself. In the second part of this article, I’ll show you two decks I’ve made for Impactor and Co., and then we’ll talk about some other aggro decks and their similarities and differences. Hopefully this will give you a better idea of what an aggro deck is, so you can build those decks yourself and go out and play them.

I recommend having Pojo and Computron up for referencing cards during this article.

So, shall we talk about some decks?

Ready to solve all your problems

Impactor and Off-Road Patrol
Last week, whilst I was writing the first part of this article, I put together a deck for Impactor and Co. I used the advice I wrote down in the first part of this article: It should have about 20 upgrades and 20 actions, it should have about 5-8 White pip cards, and it should only use Blue pips or blank cards if they are particularly good. It should also have card quantities within the following ranges:

Double Pip Cards: as many as possible
Bold Cards: as many as possible
Attack Cards: as many as possible
Draw Cards: 3-8
Upgrade Removal Cards: 2-6
Direct Damage Cards: 3-6
Defense: 0-3 (Forcefield)

In addition, for my first effort, I completely excluded blank cards and Blue pips. I also only used cards that were Common or Uncommon; this is to show that you can still make a reasonable list even with a limited card pool. Here’s how the deck looked:

Time for a quick patrol, make sure everything is in order…

Impactor and Off-Road Patrol (No Rares)
Characters:
Captain Impactor
Private Powertrain
Private Highjump
Private Tote
Private Mudslinger

Actions:
Confidence x 3
Ramming Speed x 3
Reckless Charge x 3
Supercharge x 3
Treasure Hunt x 3
Zap x 3

Upgrades:
Weapons

Enforcement Batons x 1
Erratic Lightning x 3
Flamethrower x 3
Grenade Launcher x 3
Powerpunch
x 3

Armour
Bashing Shield x 1
Forcefield x 3
Improvised Shield
x 3

Utilities
2 x Data Pad

Double Pip Cards: 3
Bold Cards: 9
Attack Cards: 9
Draw Cards: 8
Upgrade Removal Cards: 5
Direct Damage Cards: 3
Defense: 3

White Pips: 5
Orange Pips: 38
Other Pip Cards: 0

This deck met most of my criteria, though broke one requirement – it ended up having 18 actions and 22 upgrades. At the Common and Uncommon level, I think it’s easier to find decent weapons than it is decent actions. That’s okay; a card like Treasure Hunt prefers a slight lean towards upgrades, and a card like Confidence helps us dig for actions too. A 20/20 split is still an aim, but it’s not a hard rule.

It won’t win any tournaments, but this deck should be perfectly playable in a casual setting, and should feel like it can do something even if it isn’t especially powerful. When played, there should always be a useful card in your hand at all times.

How about if we wanted Rare cards in the mix though, or indeed some cards from Wave 4? Let’s see what changes we could make if we loosened up our rules:

Impactor isn’t sure about this card in front of him. 4 Wheel Drive? What’s that?

Impactor and Off-Road Patrol (Full)
Characters:
Captain Impactor
Private Powertrain
Private Highjump
Private Tote
Private Mudslinger

Actions:
4-Wheel Drive x 3
Confidence x 2
One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall x 3
Peace Through Tyranny x 3
Ramming Speed x 1
Reckless Charge x 3
Treasure Hunt x 3

Upgrades:
Weapons

Enforcement Batons x 1
Erratic Lightning x 3
Grenade Launcher x 3
Powerpunch x 3
Static Laser of Ironhide x 3

Armour
Bashing Shield x 1
Forcefield x 3
Improvised Shield x 3

Utilities
Datapad x 2

Double Pip Cards: 6
Bold Cards: 3
Attack Cards: 15
Draw Cards: 7
Upgrade Removal Cards: 3
Direct Damage Cards: 3
Defense: 3

White Pips: 5
Orange Pips: 35
Other Pip Cards: 6

(Press the Advantage would have been an auto-include in this list, but as it is now a banned card in organised play, I’m not including it)

This list brings in a few Rare cards of note: 4-Wheel Drive, One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall, Peace Through Tyranny and Static Laser of Ironhide. Peace Through Tyranny often becomes an auto-include in aggro lists, if only for the double-pips. The ability on the card is particularly powerful but as we can only use it on one card in this list, we’re including it only for it’s pips and nothing else. One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall is a very strong direct damage card – if an opponent is left with 3 health or less, it will let us kill two opponents at once for the cost of harming one of our own. Static Laser of Ironhide is just a particularly strong weapon, albeit one with a small cost – it damages the wielder when used; that’s fine, we expect the wielder to die next turn anyhow.

The only Wave 4 card I ended up including was 4-Wheel Drive, which is particularly powerful in this deck. Any of our micromasters would suddenly be hitting with Attack 7 and Bold 1, possibly boosted by any weapons they had on them. Rather frightening, especially on a disposable 4-star character. It’s off-colour, but the effect is essentially +4/+5 attack in this deck – if the effect is +4 attack or better, it’s definitely worth going non-Orange in an aggro deck.

Again, this list was quickly put together and not tested. Whilst some of these cards are nearly automatic choices, a few others have a bit more nuance and would take time to decide what is the best fit. Even as I write this, I can’t decide what the best number of Confidence, Treasure Hunt and Ramming Speed is for this deck; I’d have to play the deck and determine for myself what the best mix is. Part of the deck building process is starting with something untested, and simply trying it out and finding out what cards work best for you; it’s not always a hard science which card is best some of the time.

Finally, if I were trying this out, I’d also try out switching Impactor and either Tote or Highjump for General Optimus Prime from Wave 3; that might prove to be a much better line-up.

Other Aggro Decks
Now we’ve discussed what cards tend to exist in an aggro deck, and made a couple of example decks, let’s take a look at some decks that have done well in major competitions.

Ban on Press the Advantage enforced by Misfire and Spinister

Blaster
(Blaster, Ramhorn, Steeljaw, Firedrive)
Vector Sigma
Deck List @ Computron (Ben Saunders)

I featured this deck in the first Drill Hall. I think it’s an easy deck to get to grips with, and constructing it isn’t too difficult. Even if you didn’t have all the cards, you could easily find alternatives. Here’s how the make up of the deck looks:

Double Pip Cards: 6
Bold Cards: 1
Attack Cards: 15
Draw Cards: 8
Upgrade Scrap Cards: 2
Direct Damage Cards: 5
Defense: 3

White Pips: 5
Orange Pips: 38
Other Pip Cards: 3

I think this deck is a perfect example of a standard, no-frills aggro deck. The most off-beat card in this list is Field Communicator, which let’s you play the top card from your deck (so in a very loose sense could be considered a draw card). Otherwise I’d describe this deck as ‘vanilla aggro’… and it’s very good at doing that!

This deck favours cards that give a static buff to attack, rather than Bold – there’s only 1 card adding Bold here (Supercharge). This means it is resistant to anti-Bold cards like Gyro-Blasters.

My Impactor deck looks very much like this one, which is probably not a coincidence – they both take advantage of the same basic tactics, so use similar cards. That being said, I think Blaster will end up doing the job better; Blaster‘s ability to play extra cards, the large health pool, Firedrive… all of this makes better use of the deck than Impactor and Off-Road Patrol would.

(This deck would now be illegal – it has 3 copies of Press the Advantage – but these could be substituted with more Supercharge or Power Punch.)

Mmmm, tasty cards! (tasty cards)

Bugs
(Skrapnel, Chop Shop, Kickback, Barrage)
Deck List @ Computron (Blaine Bublitz)

Bugs are slowly losing their status in TransformersTCG with the recent advent of Blaster, but are still a fearsome deck. They are also a very good option for a new player. Below is the makeup of Blaine Bublitz’s deck that came Top 4 at Gencon 2019:

Double Pip Cards: 5
Bold Cards: 8
Attack Cards: 9
Draw Cards: 6
Upgrade Scrap Cards: 6
Direct Damage Cards: 3
Defense: None!
(in addition, this list has 3 x I Still Function)

White Pips: 3
Orange Pips: 39
Other Pip Cards: 3

I wanted to feature this particular Bugs list because not only did it do very well, it’s actually not an optimised list – if I recall correctly, Blaine didn’t have a third Peace Through Tyranny so he only ran 2 copies, and substituted the third with a different card. He still did very well.

This deck definitely favours Bold over static attack buffs when compared to the Blaster deck, and it goes about card draw in a different way. The Blaster deck wants to make sure it has as many cards as possible to enable Firedrive; this one just wants enough cards to keep playing an upgrade and action a turn, so it uses Work Overtime for card draw instead. The deck also uses Incoming Transmission, so it can draw cards and then stack a double-pip card on top of his deck.

An interesting build choice with this deck is the lack of Force Field. A philosophy with some aggro players is the belief that a card like Force Field will only be removed by a Bashing Shield, so you’re better off just equiping a weapon on a character, and doing more damage instead of trying to stay alive. Mileage on this tactic tends to vary, but it’s easy to see the argument for not including Force Field.

Otherwise the 2 signature cards for this deck are Swarm and I Still Function; neither would appear in a Blaster deck. However, replacing these cards with six ‘vanilla’ aggro cards could instantly make this a playable Blaster deck, and vice versa. The decks wouldn’t be entirely tuned – for example, each have their preferences for draw cards – but they would still work reasonably well.

Prowl considers the strategy behind these cards carefully.

Cars (Firewheels)
(Wheeljack, Prowl, Arcee, Fireflight)
Wreck n’ Rule
Deck List @ Computron (Brian Theurer)

Since Transformers TCG began, there’s been a number of different cars decks, though the main concepts behind them remain the same. Whilst there’s quite a few that contain the hard-to-get promo exclusive Cliffjumper, let’s focus on Origins Top 4 deck Firewheels as piloted by Brian Alan of Wreck n’ Rule. This deck doesn’t contain Cliffjumper so it’s much more accessible. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of that deck:

Double Pip Cards: 6
Bold Cards: 8
Attack Cards: 7
Draw Cards: 8
Upgrade Scrap Cards: 2
Direct Damage Cards: 1
Defense: 1
(in addition, this list has 1 x I Still Function!, 3 x Start Your Engines and 3 x Turbo Boosters)

White Pips: 3
Orange Pips: 39
Other Pip Cards: 4

This deck is a bit older than the others, so there’s less emphasis on general upgrade removal. I’d imagine an updated version of this list might be keen to include ways of removing weapons and utilities, since Wave 3 made those upgrades more problematic for aggro decks.

This deck has some ‘tribal’ cards, cards specific to the Cars alt-mode, in the shape of Start Your Engines and Turbo Boosters. These cards are used for untapping cars – letting us get more turns to attack with Wheeljack and Prowl, two big hitters in this list. Fireflight – who has the ability Brave, which forces incoming attacks to target him when able – serves as a means of redirecting attacks away from the others, whilst Arcee is there to deal large amounts of Pierce damage to high-defense targets.

This deck is a little more unusual than a standard cars deck, which might use Bumblebee Trusted Lieutenant instead of the Arcee/Fireflight combo. However the use of Fireflight means that the poorly defended characters have a bit more breathing room and aren’t liable to take as many hits as normal.

This list is the most different from the others we’ve talked about, but has a lot of adaptablility within its own ‘tribe’. Without changing the deck, the line-up could be changed to use either Bumblebee Trusted Lieutenant or Bumblebee Legendary Warrior instead of Arcee and Fireflight. It could also be used as a Blurr deck, partnered with both Prowl Military Strategist and Prowl Strategic Mastermind. There’s plenty of characters that turn into cars, so you could probably try out many using this same deck. Plus, like the Bugs and Blaster decks, many of these cards can be substituted with similar cards (although Start Your Engines and Turbo Boosters are fairly essential)

… and then they all lived happily ever after.

Conclusion
Aggro decks are relatively easy to build from scratch, adaptable to different teams, and quite forgiving in terms of card choice. You can build these decks with a variety of different cards, and so long as you’re including particular categories of cards, the deck should do its job very well. This makes an aggro deck the best place to start for a new player wanting to do well in the competitive scene.

Whilst netdecking is completely fine, I strongly encourage you to try and build your own aggro decks. Deckbuilding is a major part of the fun of a TCG, and aggro decks are an easy place to start.

There’s definitely more to discuss in this area – whether to have few big characters or many small characters, what to do with sideboards, what are favourable matchups, even aggro decks that are less focused on Orange pips. Those are subjects for another time, though!

Next
… but what if you didn’t want to play aggro? What if you wanted a more unusual playstyle? In the next Drill Hall, I’ll be talking about Blue decks, and what kinds of playstyles can utilise a deck that is mostly comprised of Blue pips.

Until next time!

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