Building Skytread: End Notes

I wanted to cap the Skytread series with a quick post about doing this project, from the start to playing him in a local tournament just this weekend. This will just be text, and a lot of personal reflection type stuff, none of the usual toy photography or the like. You can totally skip this one; it’s the DVD extras.

If you haven’t read the Skytread series, here is Part 1, here is Part 2.

Okay, got it? Cool.

Skytread is a weird one because I think a lot of people want to play him and try to make him work, but he doesn’t quite work the way people want. There’s a lot of awkward bits in his design and behaviour and that’s what makes him such a curious character card to play with. He’s perfect fodder for FFBB.

My general rule for a project on this blog is that it should focus on a character that’s not obviously strong, and not currently or ever likely to be the focus of the competitive meta. They should pose particular problems or behave in weird ways, because they are fun to talk about. I also generally pick characters that give me the opportunity to go over cards that I’ve not gone over before, e.g. Thundercracker this was Black cards, for Starscream it was direct damage and cards that scrap upgrades, etc. I don’t choose a character like Skytread (or Barricade who was the other poll option) because they are good; I choose them because they are curious and interesting.

All this being said, when in the thick of development and testing, it’s easy to lose sight of why you do these things and… well, there was a point during testing last week where I really started to wonder why the hell I was doing this project, why anyone would care, whether I was missing how the game had changed in Wave 4 with card-draw becoming more of a thing, etc. I was very much questioning Flip Flip Bang Bang’s role in the TFTCG fan-creator community and generally speaking feeling anxious and down. What’s the point of covering cards that I didn’t think would really be good? Why put in all this effort? Who really cares?

*deep breath*

Playing this deck in a local tournament environment really helped me get my head back into the game.

We had 6 people for the Brighton local this past weekend, about typical for the first weekend of the year. Mostly regulars, with the additional of the UK facebook group mod Ben Cottee also popping down to play.

I played 10 games in total, winning only 3, but coming close in most of the other games. The Skytread deck definitely wasn’t going to be defining a new meta any time soon.

… but here’s the thing, it was hell of a lot of fun to play. Every game, I had a lot of interesting tactical options to consider – more so than normal – doing often difficult and perplexing moves with Peace Through Tyranny and Involuntary Promotion. Where in testing I’d see a fairly similar pattern emerging each time, I’d see things like Swoop easily surviving into Turn 3, or both Skytread pieces being able to be tapped before I combined Skytread with Peace Through Tyranny. I saw all the cards appear in varying orders, and against a very wide spread of opponents, giving me a really interesting view of the deck that testing just hadn’t given to me at all.

The deck wasn’t ‘good’ – but from a tactical perspective, I found it incredibly rewarding to play. I didn’t mind losing with it, because each play ended up being a little puzzle I had to work out – did I play PTT now, or IP now, where did I put Stealth, who should I dangle to my opponent next, etc. It was an aggro deck, but it never felt like playing an aggro deck. So whilst it wasn’t a successful deck in terms of being powerful, it was successful at being interesting and fun to play.

I think if I really wanted to, I could find some ways of improving the deck and getting more out of it. Ben quite rightly suggested Energy Transfer for the deck, which would let me move damage away from combined Skytread over to one of the dinobots. I don’t think Snarl and Swoop are necessarily the best companions, either, and I think the deck requires more experience and comprehension of match-ups for it to really excel. I will probably move on to the next thing before I get to that, but it’s a nice thing to consider and think about.

Either way, whilst I felt a bit down during the making of this project… now that it’s done, I actually feel quite happy with it. Hopefully it broadened people’s thinking on Skytread, too.

As a final note, I did draft a Blue variant of the deck that was going to be tested alongside the Orange version with Snarl and Swoop. Here it is, if you want to try it out:

See full deck at FortressMaximus.io

This deck has not been refined or even thought about beyond an initial selection of cards; I can already see a lack of armour being an issue, lack of green, way too little Blue… there’s arguably a lot of cards here that can be taken out and changed. I never did anything with the deck, so it just stayed in this prototype form. You’re more than welcome to take it and refine it yourself and maybe see if you can make something better than my Snarl-version of the deck. I don’t think it can do the Peace Through Tyranny / Involuntary Promotion moves though, due to Ravage being an illegal target for Peace Through Tyranny, and Triggerhappy never being an option to bring back with Involuntary Promotion.

That’s all for now – as said before, January is going to be a busy month for me personally, so there will be a short break from Building articles but hopefully not too long. Hopefully we can start Wave 4 project #3 before the month is over.

Until next time.

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