Weekend Casual: Megatron Living Weapon

What’s happening, folks, how you flippin’ doing?

It’s been a week of Wave 3, a week of deck building and the weekend is time to go and try out all the stupid piles of cards I’ve decided go well together. They probably don’t, but for a fleeting moment I can convince myself that they do.

Friday night I went to Marc AKA El Scarscream’s flat in Brighton to record an actual play video for his youtube channel. Quite recently he’s joined up with Mat and Kevin (who host the local tournaments in Brighton and Southampton respectively) to relaunch the City Speakers podcast. If you haven’t heard the reboot podcast, go and check it out just below here, cause it’s lovely.

The main thing I wanted to get out of the recording session was to get the current progress of the Elita-1 Cars deck on camera. What I posted a few days ago is certainly usable but there’s definitely some decks it struggles with – and by that I mean any of them that aren’t orange – so it’s almost certainly going to change within a few days. It’d be good to have it’s early stages documented.

We played two matches, with Marc playing a Runabout / Runamuck / Flamewar blue deck, with a little bit of black. These were long, difficult matches with a lot of Start Your Engines being played; in a warm up game, I counted 4 Start Your Engines played in a row across four turns.

Unfortunately there were some technical errors with the recording of the match so alas I can’t show it to you; on the plus side I can tell you how Elita-1 did: She did not do well. Playing into Blue decks is definitely an issue for the three-wide Elita-1 team, but that’s something that’s going to be worked on next week. A lot might come down to how I sideboard – most likely having someone like Novastar in my sideboard for a very tall, very tough double car line up. Will talk more about that another time.

Megatron Living Weapon – the Dream Realised!

I also tried out a Megatron Living Weapon deck. I wrote the deck down on a spreadsheet about two weeks ago; basically playing on the idea of having Megatron using two battle masters. It felt so novel and interesting at the time… but then it turned out that everyone had made a Megatron Living Weapon deck with the same idea. D’oh.

But I figured I’d bring it with me anyhow, so Marc could optionally shoot a second match. We didn’t shoot it, but we played a couple of games of Megatron / Aimless / Blowpipe into Starscream Decepticon King / Fireflight / Skydive. Megatron didn’t do very well in the first game, so I tried switching out Blowpipe for Fireflight.

Keeping the attention focused away from Megatron gives him enough time to get a full load out, often by the end of Round 1 if going second; so long as nobody else is being flipped, and you flip Megatron each turn, he can normally get three weapons on him without any trouble. With three Fusion Cannons of Megatron, plus Heavy Handed, plus whatever black pips you happen to have in your deck (I had a lot), he can end up hitting for a crazy amount of pierce damage.

Both Michael’s and my own mat, ready for play

I tried out both decks again on Saturday at Dice Saloon in Brighton, mostly playing against Michael (who you can also find playing against Marc in his videos). Michael ran two aesthetically similar, Decepticon decks – Nemesis / Aimless / Demolisher and Wave 1 Shockwave / Aimless / Flamewar. Both decks were very focused on getting specific behaviours out of the centre characters: for Nemesis, it was pure deck milling to power up Nemesis, and for Shockwave there were lots of heavy System Reboot-ing going on. Two pretty fun decks, especially Shockwave, who I’ve not really had enough time to get to play myself.

As I’ve said before, Elita-1 needs some serious work if she wants to take on decks like these, as I struggled to make a reasonable dent against Nemesis in her three-wide format. With a two-wide format (with Novastar) she works a bit better but it is still a long, long way from working.

Megatron, though, was rather fun against Shockwave. As said before, it seems to be fairly easy to get 10+ Pierce when using Megatron Living Weapon alongside Fireflight and Aimless. 11 Pierce is enough to one-shot Shockwave, which is rather tasty. Not exactly a Tier-1 competitive deck (neither are Shockwave and or even Nemesis decks, to be fair), but what was merely something I threw together a couple of weeks ago is starting to develop into something I quite like.

Worth noting this was the first time Michael and I played against each other since Michael got his new mat; both of the designs (above) were drawn by a great artist called Borezet, check his deviant art – https://www.deviantart.com/borezet/ – he has a ton of excellent Transformers illustrations.

Anyways, here’s what I’m running with Megatron Living Weapon:

Megatron Living Weapon Wave 3 Deck, early draft.

Actions:
Callous Leadership x 3
Heavy Handed x 2
Steady Shot x 3
Security Checkpoint x 3
Calculated Strike x 3
Vaporize x 2

Secret Actions:
Battlefield Report x 3
Dampening Field x 2
Take Cover x 1

Weapons:
Fusion Cannon of Megatron x 3
Handheld Blaster x 3
Scoundrel’s Blaster x 2
Smokethrower x 3

Armour:
Extra Padding x 3
Smoke Cloak x 3

Utilities:
Security Console x 1

Orange Pips = 0
Blue Pips = 34
White Pips = 6
Green Pips = 5
Black Pips = 12

Sideboard: 3 Infiltrate, 2 Take Cover, 1 Dampening Field, 3 Gyro Blaster, 1 TBD.

(This is a real work in progress, don’t take this deck to an important local tournament expecting results…. actually, don’t take any deck I post to your local tournament expecting results, go to Vector Sigma or something, this is all jank city!)

Battle Masters are an obvious go-to for Megatron Living Weapon, but honestly Wave 3 brings much other utilities for the old soldier to take advantage of. Playing a weapon each turn means you want to use your action for defense; with the advent of Secret Actions you can do exactly that, so having a wide selection of secret actions that hamper the attacks of your enemies is a great thing. I’m not sure which should be in the main deck and which should be in the sideboard, that’s something to work out. I also really like black pips with Megatron – unless you’re lucky enough to get all three Fusion Cannons on Megatron, you’re probably hitting for a lot of damage but a more reasonable amount of Pierce; black pips help boost that potential. I suspect a card like Extra Padding will be removed for more black, at 34 blue pips I can currently afford to lower the defense.

I don’t know about Sideboard partners yet; I could look into Nemesis, Blitzwing or even Ultra Magnus. I’ll try and find some time to work on this deck and keep it in a regular rotation. But I’d definitely like to see what he can do against something like Superion. (PS, I tested it, it did not go well for Megatron)

Megatron and Ultra Magnus together again?

Well that’s about it for this week; next week I’ll be working out the next stage of the Elita-1 build (I think I’m calling two-wide Elitastar?), and this weekend is a double-whammy of tournaments on the south coast. Will I survive? Can I even win a single game with Elita-1? Who knows, time will tell.

Until next time, later folks.

Building Elita-1: I’m In Love With My Car (Part 1)

So in my initial look at Elita-1, I discussed all the various aspects of Elita-1, and some initial ideas to start off with. Naturally, with Elita-1 being an Autobot car, trying a deck centered around cars seems like the best place to start off.

Elita-1 Police Action!

My very first draft – so early in fact that I’m using a piece of cardboard for Elita-1 – was to create an orange aggro car deck. I’d pair Elita-1 with both Prowl cards from Waves 1 + 2, giving me access to lots and lots of bold, and simply wail into my opponent.

A few test games against myself showed that it was okay, hardly ground breaking but a reasonable deck. It’s also nothing new – if you haven’t already noticed, the double Prowl setup is exactly how most Blurr decks were played, and the deck itself was almost exactly the same as the typical Blurr deck.

Plus, aren’t most Cars decks from Waves 1 + 2 kind of like this? If I’m going to try and make a Cars deck around Elita-1, let’s try something different: let’s try something a little more blue…

First draft of a Blue deck

I went through the motions a bit with who to pair Elita-1 with. Wave 3 Chromia seemed like the best companion to begin with, and I considered another specialist for the third slot. There wasn’t really a specialist car that I really liked in the third slot though, so with only six points to spare, I settled on Bumblebee Brave Warrior from Wave 1. I figured with his Tough, he’d be a good point man and Elita-1 could soak up the damage.

However the Melee trait wasn’t feeling very useful to me; I could put Energon Slingshot on Bee, but that was only one point of damage. He wasn’t swinging for much, and with only 9 health he wasn’t really a very good defender either. Unfortunately other 6 point options for cars also didn’t fit well: Prowl was too Bold focused, Jazz too flimsy and addicted to white. If only there was a 6 point Car that was also Ranged…. oh …. wait ….

A long forgotten card…

Remember this guy? Probably not, because nobody brings this guy out in a constructed list. But the original Red Alert from the Autobot Starter Set fits in perfectly here. His health pool is great for his points cost, his defense in Car mode is good whilst in a Blue deck, and in Bot mode he can hit for a reasonable amount with a weapon and utility in hand. Plus, with the Ranged trait, he can bring Armed Hovercraft and Marksmanship into the mix.

So I have the makings of a team: Elita-1, Sergeant Chromia, Red Alert. My initial deck (above) is set up around trying to get Start Your Engine and I Still Function into hand, with weapons available to boost my support characters. There’s also a couple of direct damage cards in the mix, and some typical blue cards (Vaporize, The Bigger They Are, etc.) This is certainly not the final version of the deck, so I won’t go into it too much.

The opposition; at least for testing

For testing, I started off with my Bugs deck. Pretty much any version of my Elita-1 deck could take on a lower tier test deck, so I needed to be testing it against a much more aggressive deck if I really want to iron out the creases. My Bugs deck is decent, albeit not as optimised as it could be and certainly not improved since Wave 3 came out. However, it’s still challenging and a good benchmark; if I can make my Elita-1 deck perform well against Bugs consistently, then the deck is worth testing against the next test deck.

Testing with the team brought out a few issues with my line-up. When it came to flipping, I could not decide whether to flip Chromia and then attack with her, or flip Elita-1 and then attack with Chromia. Chromia, for all her Blue pip-orientated tricks did not fit very well at all. I rarely had Blue armour in hand, and drawing the odd one card when she was defending was underwhelming. She also didn’t hit very hard, and took a lot of damage. She needed to go.

Image result for rodimus mtmte
Yeah, look at me, I am versatile and not about to fall over AT ALL!

Good old Hot Rod. Hot Rod has been a mainstay in Blue-orientated line-ups throughout Wave 2, so I guess I should have called on him earlier. I could have also gone for Mirage, and traded in Tough for Pierce, but Hot Rod felt like a reliable choice. This also meant I now had two targets for Ranged cards; if Red Alert somehow ended up dying, I could still play Armed Hovercraft and Marksmanship.

I now had a pretty solid team. Here is my general plan of attack throughout the first round of play:

  • Flip first with Elita-1, attack with Hot Rod. If I were going second, play a weapon on Hot Rod if possible.
  • Hot Rod would be almost guaranteed to survive the next hit; he’d need to be hit for about 15 points worth of damage to reliably KO him.
  • On my second turn, I’d try and be in possession of a Start Your Engines, use it to untap Hot Rod, flip Elita-1 to alt mode and absorb the damage, put another upgrade on Hot Rod and send him out again.
  • Theoretically I could then do this again on my third turn if I were lucky enough to have another Start Your Engines, but at this point I’d send Elita-1 in bot mode, preferably with a weapon.
  • Bugs would have to kill Elita-1; she’d play a few cards on death.
  • Then I’d bring back Elita-1 with an I Still Function, rinse and repeat, hopefully with everyone loaded with weapons at this point.
  • If necessary, Red Alert would flip into bot mode too; Attack 5 is nothing to sneer at after all.

Most of this plan relied on me getting Start Your Engines and I Still Function in my hands, so I realised I needed to focus on cards that let me draw (and preferably play) more cards. So I quickly made the following important cards in the deck: Confidence, Field Communicator, Battlefield Report, and later Security Console. Each of these had other advantages too: Confidence gave me a little bit of orange to occasionally spike damage; Field Communicator could end up bringing Marksmanship or weapons on to the field; Security Console and Battlefield Report would add to my defense by putting double-blue pip cards back on my deck for defense.

Even with that in mind, I couldn’t always guarantee Start Your Engines in my hand, so I added Turbo Boosters into the mix as well like any good cars player should. I tried adding some black pip cards; but honestly, at least in this match-up, they were rather redundant.

Finally, a staple of blue decks are cards that give Tough 2 or 3; I honestly never seemed to want to put an armour on any of my characters. Elita-1 was okay dying, Hot Rod was already quite defensive, and Red Alert was rarely in trouble as I would attack with him very late on. So Reinforced Plating was cut in favour or trying out another Secret Action; Infiltrate. At least for this matchup, it’s very useful.

By Tuesday night, my deck looked like this …

Cat is the new meta.

… okay, let’s try again, by Wednesday night, my deck looked like this …

Elita-1 Cars – 3/7/19

Actions:
I Still Function x 3
Confidence x 3
Marksmanship x 3
Security Checkpoint x 3
Start Your Engines x 3
Vaporize x 2

Secret Actions:
Battlefield Report x 3
Infiltrate x 2

Weapons:
Armed Hovercraft x 3
Energon Axe x 2
Handheld Blaster x 2
Noble’s Blaster x 2


Utilities:
Field Communicator x 3
Security Console x 3
Turbo Booster x 3

Orange Pips = 6
Blue Pips = 30
White Pips = 6
Green Pips = 2
Blanks = 3

With this deck, Elita-1 was managing to beat my Bugs in my test environment about 60% of the time, with better results likely the more I get used to the deck.

I’m starting to get a better feel for the character as well. Her alt mode ability is definitely the stand out, and synergises with Hot Rod’s Tough and Start Your Engines / Turbo Boosters extremely well. Her bot mode ability felt more like a nice bonus; sometimes it’d trigger something great, like untaping a character into play when two attacks would otherwise have been made due to all my her team being tapped.

The deck seems good for what it has been tested into; and is certainly at the point where I’d like to see it in a casual play environment, so that’s what I’ll do with it next. It suffers currently from an obvious problem – it has very little in the way of dealing with a defensive deck, especially a deck like Superion. So next week, I shall be testing Elita-1 against my Aerialbots deck, and working out a sideboard in time for a weekend of tournaments on the south coast.

Until next time!

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Weekend Tournament: Sealed Siege I Release Event

This weekend was Wave 3 excitement weekend, with boxes of cards (do I have to use the word product?) winging their way to Transformers TCG players everywhere. I got lucky with my half-case and pulled an Ultra Magnus, most of the rare character cards (including my much needed Elita-1, and only shy Needlenose and Cindersaur), and nearly a full playset of rare battle cards.

But that’s only half the fun of release weekend – ’cause Saturday was Sealed Tournament day!

This wave I opted to just do one release event instead of two, despite both Chichester and Southampton running events on the Sunday. Doing events across the weekend left me feeling a bit exhausted in Wave 2, so I just stuck with Dice Saloon in Brighton on the Saturday.

Seemed like a pretty good opening attendance, about 14-16 players in total; most were regulars to the casual play days or the local tournaments, with a couple of new faces among the crowd. There were fewer players than last wave, but I think that was mostly down to a few more events going on in the greater Sussex area than last time – Crawley had pulled a few players away, as far as I could tell. The smaller crowd meant I got time to at least say hello to everyone, and the venue didn’t feel overcrowded on such a hot, sunny day.

Misfire guards my scrap pile. Or he loots it. He probably loots it.

Wasn’t quite as lucky with my pack pulls as I was last wave (I pulled super-rares in both events I played at), but I did get a Needlenose which I was very happy with. Otherwise my character pulls across five packs were:

Needlenose
Prowl
Hound
Ratchet
Skrapnel
Blowpipe
Laserbeak

… and a bunch of micromasters who I forget.

I knew ahead of time that I’d probably want to play a Battlemaster in sealed to get a feel for how they play, so Blowpipe was in. I had no Medic! in my battle cards, so Ratchet was pretty much out, and my star cards weren’t very exciting, so Needlenose was out too. Of the remaining three large characters, Prowl and Hound seemed like they’d get the most work done in sealed. I could have gone with a pair of micromasters in place of either, but I figured raw power might be better than more bodies.

With only 30 cards to create a deck of 25 from, battle card decisions were pretty slim. I removed an excess star card (Heroic Team-Up; which probably would have been a better choice than EMP Wave which I kept in my deck for the double blue), an EM24 IR Laser Launcher and a few cards that I couldn’t play. I probably could’ve done with keeping the Laser Launcher, as +3 Attack more than makes up for the blank pip occasionally, but I felt like I had enough weapons including Blowpipe himself. My deck was mostly black, a fair amount of blue, with a smattering of white and orange.

The action starts…

Round 1…. FIGHT!
First game was against tournament top table regular Jim. I’ve only played against Jim the once and in a constructed tournament setting but he’s a tough opponent; naturally he managed to pull both Optimus Prime AND Shockwave, so this was going to be an uphill challenge. I had a fair amount of damage output and black pips in my deck, but even then two high armour opponents with 31 points of health between them is a tall order.

Still it turned out I had some tricks. Prowl’s ability to deal 2 damage to an opponent with a weapon meant that Jim was reluctant to place weapons on vulnerable characters; in one battle, Prowl’s ability caused a KO on Shockwave before we even played cards. Meanwhile Hound’s +2 for every upgrade played meant that he could easily get to 7 Attack without too much effort (upgrade in bot mode, flip to alt mode). A trick I had learned was to upgrade Hound with a Metal Detector, then use that to upgrade him again to hit for 8 Attack when he attacks. Another nasty trick was loading Blowpipe up with an Erratic Energy Grenade; if he wasn’t killed by the other player, he’d explode on my turn, giving Hound a free upgrade, then getting a regular upgrade, and THEN flipping to his alt mode for a solid 9 Attack.

All of this aside, whilst Prowl and Hound did play a good game, I lost 2-0 in this opening match, much to nobody’s surprise.

Kevin looks to be plotting something sinister, whilst Will looks to the camera woman with fear in his eyes.

Round 2
Next game was against Will, who I had met for the first time at the last release event in Brighton. At this point I was nursing a fairly nasty migraine, struggling a fair bit and trying to keep myself hydrated and caffeinated.

Will was running Triggerhappy, Cindersaur, Tote and Roadhugger. I felt it was incredibly saddening playing Blowpipe into his target-master; but Triggerhappy did seem like the primary threat and I wanted to see Blowpipe die early each game.

Will’s line up was much easier to deal with than Shocktimus, as the Micromasters could more or less be ignored, and Cindersaur didn’t have enough orange in his deck to ever become useful. Once Triggerhappy was done, it felt more or less like I just needed to clean up. 2-0 to me.

Round 3
My head was feeling better by Game #3, which was against Joe B. Joe had apparently been doing rather well with Soundwave, having grouped him with Blowpipe, Detour and Roadhugger. I honestly felt a bit dismissive of this line-up first – what were these punny Micromasters going to do against me? – but I quickly realized this setup was very effective.

Joe had the same tactic as myself – throw Blowpipe first, then move everything else in later. He’d then throw the Sports Car Patrol at me next, often armed with weapons and using their tap abilities. Soundwave would only come in to play once my team had tapped out; at which point Soundwave had an EM24 and an Energy Pack for bonus health. My high attacks from Prowl and Hound gave me some oomph, as did the odd well placed Erratic Energy Grenade; he’d soon work out counters though, including using Personal Targetting Drone on a sacrificial character to knock out my Grenade.

I rarely got past the half way mark with Soundwave, with the Energy Pack being more than enough to keep Soundwave out of the KO zone. I held on in there, but in the end Joe smacked me down 2-0.

Myself (right) versus John, sporting very similar beards I just noticed…

Round 4
Final game was against John, who I had spoken to a bit online and briefly met last event. John was running Ion Storm, Flamewar and Roadhugger (people loved this guy as you can tell, +3 attack is handy). I knew Ion Storm was likely to be a beast in Sealed with his meaty stats, so he’d be priority number one, cleaning up Flamewar and Roadhugger in the aftermath.

Ion Storm indeed turned out to be John’s main hitter; combined with his ability to knock upgrades back to my hand (or in to my KO pile in the case of Blowpipe), he was a tricky one to beat. However, both Hound and Prowl had a lot of damage between them, and coupled with black pips Ion Storm would fall down by round two. Of particular note in the first game was an attack from Hound with Blowpipe that landed all five pips.

It felt a bit touch and go in this particular match up – I think our respective teams were well matched for each ever, but I ended up winning 2-0. A final result of 4 games won, 4 games lost, a reasonable result.

Detour and Roadhugger, the real MVP of Wave 3 Sealed?

Thoughts on Sealed Wave 3
Sealed is a really weird format in Transformers that we don’t see in Brighton very often, most local players are far more interested in Constructed, including myself. But Wave 3 felt a lot more fun than the previous wave, with plenty of cards feeling like they really shine in this kind of environment.

I left the tournament thinking that black pips were very handy; my deck had a higher than normal amount of black pips in it’s construction so I was quite regularly negating high armour characters. Battle masters were also very fun; my opponents seemed almost resentful that I made them have to target poor old Blowpipe.

In terms of individual battle cards, I really enjoyed playing Erratic Energy Grenade and would definitely look to include it in Constructed decks. I enjoyed Anticipation Engine / Metal Detector even though both cards were very flakey. Laser Cutlass and RR Disruptor Blade were also often weapons of choice during the game.

I didn’t like the trait-based armour cards, perhaps because I was constantly being penalized by them, since I had both ranged and melee characters in my team, The upgrade-that-scraps-an-upgrade-when-scrapped cards were also a bit weird, and I’m not sure if I’d really want to use them in Constructed. Back-up Bag always felt like a dead card in my hand, as did EMP Wave.

Pictures taken by Dice Saloon, used with permission

The End
Overall though I enjoyed the tournament quite a bit. It did run on a bit long and I ended up having to leave before closing scores, etc. which somewhat sucked. Will definitely be keeping that in mind for the next one.

Looking forward to some Constructed next, in less than two weeks!

Building a Wave 3 Deck – Elita-1

At the start of each wave of this game, it can be difficult to focus on something to play. Sure, there’s plenty of players with decades of experience who will look at the new cards that come out each wave and declare ‘This is what is going to be good’. For the rest of us mere card-playing mortals, it’s not so easy.

I found myself a bit listless (pun not intended) about what to play in Wave 2, bouncing between several already established high-tier decks – Aerialbots, Orange Sentinels, even Cars and Metroplex – but not really creating much from scratch. At the end I had a lot of fun building a bizarre Bombshell deck, and for Wave 3 I wanted to move more in that direction, instead of focusing on doing well in tournaments. At least, I’d like to develop a deck myself; instead of feeling like I’m cribbing on other people’s ideas.

To begin with in Wave 3, I’ve decided to focus on one particular character, and see what I can do with that character. That character will be Elita-1.

A rather fine lady if she does say so herself

Who is Elita-1?
Transformers didn’t have much in the way of female characters in its original run; prior to Arcee, the only women in the show were the Decepticon robot Nightbird, who only showed up for one episode, and Spike’s friend and love interest Carly.

But then came the episode ‘The Search for Alpha Trion‘ where it turned out there were female Autobots still on Cybertron. Elita-1, alongside other characters like Chromia, Greenlight, Lancer, Firestar (later Novastar) and Moonracer, make their debuts and then… well, that’s pretty much it. No toys, no reappearances, nothing; Elita-1 would get mentioned again in the episode ‘Wardawn’, where it is strongly implied she used to be a civilian named Ariel, but that was that.

Who cares about some kid’s cartoon in the ’80s though? Let’s talk about a more interesting Elita-1.

In the 2005 IDW comics continuity, Elita-1 is not a member of the Autobots, and doesn’t show up until the very end of the mini-series Combiner Wars. She is very far removed from her original incarnation; this version of Elita-1 is the leader of Cybertronian colonists living on the titan Carcer. She is an aggressive, militant leader who becomes a secondary antagonist to Windblade in the series ‘Til All Are One, guarding a dark secret about the titan Carcer itself. She’d eventually stand against both Windblade and Starscream in an election to become president of Cybertron; and with Carcer acting as the Cybertron fleet’s flagship, fought against the immense Unicron at the end of the continuity’s run.

In the current run, she’s made a couple of brief appearances, and even appeared on the cover of the latest issue. So far she appears to be a member of the Ascenticon Guard, a group meant to guard Ascenticon guards from violence. So far she seems much more calm and sympathetic, in contrast to her 2005 version and closer to her original depiction.

The Card Itself

Card Analysis
Elita-1 has a few interesting aspects that should make her a unique character to play, whilst having a few elements that should also let her fit into current deck archetypes.

Star Cost
First of all, Elita-1 is 12*. Being a 12* character means you can fit into two common archetypes – being a supporting character to a 13* character like Optimus Prime Battlefield Leader, or leading a three-wide team consisting commonly of either a 8*/5* or 7*/6* split. You could theoretically have a four-wide team, but you’d need at least two 4* cards and that doesn’t seem especially worth while. You can also drop star costs in favour of adding star cards (e.g. pairing Elita-1 with Bumblebee Trusted Lieutentant and three Leap of Faith cards.)

Alt Mode
Next, Elita-1 is a car; in fact she is the third 12* car in the game, after Blurr and Novastar. Being a car means that she can benefit from Turbo Boosters and Start Your Engines to untap and hide away from incoming attacks and make further attacks yourself. She can also benefit from other car buffs – Wave 1 Prowl‘s Bold 2 buff, Wave 1 Wheeljack‘s card digging, even Cliffjumper‘s card draw.

The ability to untap as a 12* character is significant; the card Ready for Action can untap non-car cards, but is restricted to 10* or less characters only, and Swap Missions would require tapping another character.

Stats
Elita-1 has an incredibly impressive health pool of 17, matching that of Ultra-Magnus for highest health pool at the 12* level, though still lower than that of 11* Cosmos. She has no defense at all, so will need to rely on armour to curb incoming damage. Her attack of 5 in alt mode and 6 in bot mode is okay; not quite at the dizzying heights of Trucks like Nemesis Prime or Inferno, but still rather high.

Other Traits
Surprisingly, Elita-1 is a Specialist. This means she can use the somewhat odd specialist upgrades Multi-Tool, Multi-Mission Gear and Field Communicator to cheat additional cards. Multi-Mission Gear is especially interesting as it means she can play two actions from my hand, and Field Communicator means she can play a card directly from the deck.

Unique Abilities
The most interesting thing about Elita-1 is of course her character-specific abilities. Her bot mode ability, which is always in effect, let’s her play two cards from the deck when she is KOed; essentially a free Leap of Faith. Her alt mode ability, which kicks in when she flips to her alt-mode, let’s her move damage from other friendly characters to her, so long as it doesn’t cause her to KO (like Sludge can).

All Elita-1s must keep Starscream in his place.

Initial Thoughts
Elita-1’s unique abilities really inform us as to how she can work in a team. Her high health pool and low defense mean that her role and playstyle is likely to be to absorb damage from the rest of her team (likely just one initial hitter), then present herself as a target afterwards, especially if her teammates can be untapped in the process (cards like Swap Missions and Start Your Engines would help a lot here).

Because she’s going to flip cards on her death, we should also make sure her deck has a high percentage of cards that work well when played at that point; attack boosting actions might not be useful on these flips, for example, but almost all upgrades would, as would direct damage cards.

As her bot mode ability triggers whenever she KOs, a card like I Still Function would not only bring her back into play but also mean that more cards could be triggered as a result of playing that card. As we’re already thinking about what cards would work well with her bot mode ability, cards with similar functions like Field Communicator (which will work with Elita-1’s Specialist trait), are also worth thinking about.

With all that in mind, here are three initial ideas for line-ups that can serve as a starting point for future decks:

Orange Cars Deck (Prowl Tactical Specialist / Prowl Strategic Mastermind / Elita-1)
Blue Cars Deck (Sergeant Chromia / Bumblebee Brave Warrior / Elita-1)
‘Autobot Lovers’ Deck (Optimus Prime Battlefield Leader / Elita-1)

In my next post, I’ll talk about my ideas for these three decks, test them against some several example opponent decks, and work out how they can be improved.

Until next time!

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