Spotlight is a new series where we pick one character from the Transformers TCG, discuss building options, and then present an entirely untested prototype deck, all within one article. Enjoy!
Note: This is a pilot article to test out a one-and-done format. Feedback is extremely appreciated.
In this article we will discuss, in no particular order:
- The mechanics of Twin Twist and Flameout.
- A recap of titan master mechanics.
- Thoughts on how to get the most of your titan master head.
- Ways to work with Twin Twist‘s abilities.
- Potential build ideas for Twin Twist (three different decks!).
Topspin and Twin Twist were toys originally presented in the Transformers Generation 1 toyline in 1987. Collectively known as the jumpstarters, their gimmick was they didn’t actually need manual transformation – instead you simply pulled them back whilst in alt mode, they automatically sped forwards, and then they dramatically jumped into bot mode at the end.
Here’s a toy commercial of it happening:
Having not been featured in the original Generation 1 cartoon, the jumpstarters didn’t get much of a showing in the Transformers franchise at all – limited to appearances in the original Marvel comics, as part of the elite group The Wreckers. Since then, they’ve been relegated to being that terrible toy your parents picked up at the car-boot sale (or ‘yard sale’, for you non-British people), that couldn’t be posed, and probably didn’t work properly any more. It seemed like they would be lost and forgotten about; those neglected toys, that not even a collector would want.
However, they made a surprising return in the toyline Titans Return, this time as headmaster-type characters with detachable ‘titanmaster’ partners. Whilst their original toys were maligned as being gimmicky and inflexible, both Twin Twist and Topspin are regarded as some of the best toys in the entire Titans Return line.
They’re definitely two of the most anticipated characters in the new Titan Masters Attack set – they’re titan masters, members of the elite Wreckers sub faction, and their unique jumpstarter gimmick begs for a specific gimmick in card form, just as the battle-chargers Runabout and Runamuck did. How could we go about building a deck around one of these?
That’s what we’re going to do today, by taking a look at the first of these characters to be revealed – Twin Twist.
Deck Design Consideration – Titan Master Mechanic
Before we talk about Twin Twist specifically, we should talk about Wave 5’s core mechanic, the titanmaster. This is the first time we’ve discussed it on the site – or anything Wave 5 for that matter – so it’s worth going over the basics.
Titanmasters are characters that are composed of two separate character cards – a Head card, and a Body card. They don’t need to be corresponding cards – you can couple Twin Twist (a Body card), with any number of Head cards – he can be with Flameout, his normal head, or you can choose Kup‘s head Flintlock, for example. Each Body and Head have separate star costs; so Twin Twist would be 9 stars, whilst Flameout, his default head, would be 3 stars. When determining their star cost, these amounts are added together – so Twin Twist+Flameout is a 12 star character.
Twin Twist+Flameout, in isolation and ignoring titanmaster mechanics, would appear very under-powered for a 12 star character. Twin Twist‘s stat line is about on par with a 9 star character – in fact his stats are exactly the same as Captain Ironhide. He has some really interesting flip abilities (which we’ll get to in a bit), but otherwise he seems very much on the under-powered side, at least for a 12 star character.
… but that’s where our Head character comes in. The head does two things; first, whilst he is in head mode, he gives Twin Twist a small boost; in the case of Flameout, it’s Bold 2 regardless of what mode Twin Twist is in. Secondly, when Twin Twist is KO’d, Flameout stays in play – and immediately flips to Bot mode, untapped.
I’ve glossed over a lot about the Titan Master mechanic for space; but you can read the original release article here.
Revenge is a Dish Best Served Flaming.
The way heads work mimics the Revenge trait; when the defender is KO’d, a thing happens that your opponent shouldn’t like. However Revenge – and similar abilities like Elita-1‘s bot-mode ability – haven’t really done much to influence the game yet.
The titanmaster mechanic is quite significant – it throws a completely untapped new character on the table. If our Body was KO’d during a regular attack, the turn now returns to us and we can retaliate, even if we had previously been fully tapped out and our opponent still had characters to activate. We can actually get our revenge!
Flameout, though, doesn’t have much to speak about in terms of offensive force; he’s Bold 2, sure, but he also only has Attack 2. He’s also Melee, so we don’t have access to the Ranged cards. With only two Health, Flameout is also incredibly vulnerable to Marksmanship (or plenty of other direct damage effects), so he might not survive another attack if our opponent is ready for him, so we need to make the most of the turn we get when he deploys.
So our build should either:
- Have plenty of Orange for his Bold 2.
- Have plenty of Black to guarantee damage.
- Use Pierce cards like The Bigger They Are or Designated Target.
When a new wave brings in a major mechanic, the meta is nearly always heavily influenced by that mechanic – Wave 2 by combiners, Wave 3 by battlemasters and Wave 4 by micromaster teams. Titanmasters are likely to follow that trend, so long as we build them in a way that’s effective. The titanmaster mechanic can mess with turn order (by adding an untapped character to the field), which is something we need to be very mindful of when playing with and against them. Think about how much the landscape changed when the above mechanics were introduced; or when a character like Blaster showed up for the first time with cassette-deploy mechanics; the introduction of a titanmaster could be equally as significant.
With the amount of knowledge we have about the cards in this wave it’s very difficult to get a full picture of how titanmaster decks will work, but we can try and build a deck around one regardless, using Wave 4’s current ‘in thing’.
Let’s do the Twist!
Let’s move on to Twin Twist himself. We’ve already talked about his stat line, but let’s look at his card abilities:
- When flipped to Bot Mode, our opponent picks one of his characters and does 1 damage to them. If Twin Twist has been flipped twice this turn, instead do 1 damage to everyone.
- When flipped to Alt Mode, he gets Pierce 3 until end of turn.
It’s rare for a character to have flip triggers on both modes; and it’s the first time we’ve seen a character specifically boost an ability if he has been flipped more than once this turn. Twin Twist isn’t so much flip-intense as he is a flip-black hole, requiring every flip you can possibly get out of him, with very little room for anyone else.
The problem with requiring lots of flips though, is that a lot of the cards that we’d normally play to flip a character to alt mode won’t work on Twin Twist. Specifically, the cards Hunker Down and Escape Route require a character to be in bot mode before flipping to alt mode; Twin Twist doesn’t have a bot mode, instead he has a body mode. This is a shame; both of these cards would have been perfect.
Showing Off could be useful for Twin Twist; he starts in alt mode, we can flip him to body mode, then play Showing Off to give him the Pierce 3 and then the 1 damage to all enemies. Honestly though, the card we might be looking for …
… is just good ol’ Rapid Conversion, at least until we see a better flip card that works on body modes (which is possible, but not guaranteed). This card would only give us the double-flip trigger when we start in body mode, though.
With indirect and sweeping damage on his body mode side, and Pierce on his tank mode side, Twin Twist is looking like he’ll be suitable for a Blue heavy build, preferably one with some armour and some Black in the mix too. Pierce cards are likely to be our friend too. Whilst Flameout’s Bold conflicts with Blue, having some Black for him to see in his flips might help get Flameout and Twin Twist the added extra Pierce.
Because Twin Twist is a flip-black hole, he should be paired with a team that requires no flipping at all. Three members of a micromaster patrol might be fitting; that would ultimately make this another micromaster build (which are extremely common, especially with Air Strike Patrol), but without knowing further options in Wave 5 it makes sense to pair Twin Twist with the Flavour of the Wave from the previous set. It’s very unlikely what we’ll make will rival builds using the likes of General Optimus Prime from Wave 3, because Twin Twist doesn’t really do anything to support the micromasters; but it’ll be fun trying out Twin Twist‘s mechanics regardless with the resources we currently have.
Protoype Deck #1
Fortress Maximus Link.
Here’s an initial prototype of a deck with Twin Twist as the centre character, before much else of the rest of Wave 5 has been known. I’ve gone with Battle Patrol, for the extra direct damage and also for shared alt modes; though I ended up not using much in the way of Tank cards.
This is a completely untested, ‘first try’ build. There’s some obvious failing already – the HP total for the team is incredibly low, and I don’t think there’s enough Blue pips in this deck. Whilst this seemed like the right way to go at first, I don’t think this deck would work particularly well, even before testing.
With further consideration, even though we’d get more mileage from his abilities, a wide Blue deck is not a great idea without widely available and reliable in-built Pierce. A bad hand and our battle patrol is likely to be wiffing into aggro decks, let alone Blue decks. I’d be inclined to put this concept to one side and try other approaches for a deck featuring Twin Twist.
So let’s see what else we got! We can stay with micromaster patrols for now, which might mean exploring Orange and Black decks.
Prototype Deck #2
Fortress Maximus Link.
In my second attempt, I’ve thrown out the idea of doing a Blue deck and gone for a straight forward aggro deck. I’ve also switched out the Battle Patrol for the Off-Road Patrol; since we’re using a pip colour that benefits from Bold, this team might be better suited. We’re also making better use of Flameout!
Because Powertrain is a leader, he’ll be the recipient of the Matrix of Leadership I’ve put in this deck. This is something I couldn’t do with the Battle Patrol, since that team’s leader didn’t fit into the deck (Flak is 5 stars, and we already needed Sunrunner).
I already feel much better about this deck than the Blue one. Certainly it feels weird having Pierce 3 in a deck that is probably just going to overwhelm an opponent with 10+ attacks each time, but what we’re really wanting from Twin Twist is the sweeping direct damage.
Prototype Deck #3
Fortress Maximus Link.
Finally, I thought I’d try and put together a Black variant. This used my Thundercracker deck as a base, but because we’re not constrained by requiring Black in every flip for Thundercracker‘s abilities, I can still use some other colour cards. The likes of Matrix of Leadership can remain for some added Pierce.
My initial feeling is that this is a better direction than either of the last two decks; it does a lot of what the Blue deck was trying to do, but will manage to achieve more Pierce damage because of the Black pips. We’re replacing the use of Tough in the Blue deck to keep Twin Twist alive with +Health upgrades (Increased Durability, Minor Medic-Kit – we could also try Energy Pack here since Twin Twist is a valid recipient of that upgrade).
For both this and the Orange deck, I’d probably want to test and refine the deck to see if I could get enough flip cards in hand, and whether I’d need more draw power. I’d also want to see if doing the extra flips was actually worthwhile; is spending a turn doing a Rapid Conversion worthwhile if I could use Head-On Collision on a micromaster instead?
Well, naturally I can’t really play any of these decks any time soon – Twin Twist isn’t out for another two months, and I’m not a fan of proxy-playing cards that haven’t been released, at least not on game night. That doesn’t necessarily mean I can’t try out these decks in a test environment with a proxy; if I finally manage to get some free time now that my move is (nearly) done, I can try them out in between working on the targetmasters. I could even see how Twin Twist might work with other patrols – maybe a White-centric rescue patrol build would be fun? If only someone would give me some math to tell me how to get the most of them.
I’d be surprised if Twin Twist is a break out character in Wave 5; unless there are indeed flip cards that are specific to titanmasters or even just to Twin Twist specifically, Twin Twist‘s mechanic will be hard to pull off. I hope there’s something that can help us achieve the most out of Twin Twist though; and if it’s something that could let us see him and Topspin together regularly, that’d be terrific. Who knows, maybe Topspin could do something that causes Twin Twist to flip multiple times?
If I do get to try out these builds, and more importantly am able to improve on them, I’ll report back in a follow-up article.
Until next time.
Special thanks to Brain Blair, Nick Petrasiti and ‘The Big C’ for their words of encouragement.