Predaking, the Red-Headed Step-Combiner

I, am, by nature a contrarian. As the Combiner line-up for Wave 2 was being revealed and/or speculated upon, Predaking was probably the one that intrigued me the LEAST.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s cool and his toys (both the original G1 version and the newer Power of the Primes version) are impressive. At the same time, he’s always pretty much had the “Boba Fett” syndrome to me, where he shows up briefly, looks cool as hell, but ultimately doesn’t do much of anything. I’ve always had a soft-spot for Abominus and Piranacon, who were the only Combiners that I was able to complete as a kid.

However, once the remaining combiners were all revealed, people seemed to regard Predaking as the weakest of the bunch. At this point, I knew he had to be the first one I really focused on.

DISCLAIMER: I only have about a half-dozen games under my belt with Predaking, and only 2 of those games were with the fully revealed suite of Wave 2 battle cards. This is my starting point, which will surely be refined (or maybe flat-out overhauled) over time.

My usual deck-building process is to go a bit extreme in the early phases, then gradually trim out the pieces that end up being redundant or just flat-out not working.

My initial concept for the build is to go extremely heavy orange. Before we dig too deeply into the deck itself, let’s briefly talk about the team.

Razorclaw, the leader of the Predacons, is essentially a mini SR Bee. At the same time, though, we shouldn’t discount his alt mode, as the Bold 1 makes him a tempting target to hold back as one of the last members to flip into bot mode (especially since we would also like to potentially use it to kill off an opposing character that the other player is trying to protect by keeping them untapped).

Divebomb is probably one of the more tempting options to flip early, as you very likely have a 50% chance to getting an important Action card out of their hand. As the game goes further on, if Divebomb remains in bird mode, your opponent is likely to start using their stronger action cards to ensure they’re not discarded. Plus, if you use him earlier, you have the sheer joy of announcing to your opponent that you’re “flipping the bird.”

There’s not necessarily a ton to be said about Headstrong, other than he has Brave and your opponent has to attack him if he’s a valid target. His native 3 DEF is strong, but his 5 health means that he’s still going to die incredibly easily. If your opponent is the first player, Headstrong is going to be attacked. If you are the first player, I like to save Headstrong to attack with him later to potentially save a Predacon that was damaged but not totally wiped out by an attack. If our deck ran more blue, we’d certainly try to capitalize on his 3 DEF with something like Reinforced Plating, Sparring Gear, or Body Armor, but in this deck, we’ll just be flipping extra oranges and it won’t make a difference.

Rampage is also a decent possibility to send out as an earlier attacker, while also keeping him in alt mode. Assuring you get through 2 damage via Pierce isn’t shabby, especially if you’re sending him as your first attacker before you can start utilizing both your Action and Upgrade cards on your turns. His robot mode ability is also helpful, but we’re generally not too worried about it, as most of our Predacons are going to be one- or two-shot by attacks anyway.

Torox is interesting, as he has the potential to be useful as either your FIRST or your LAST flip into bot mode. At the moment, repairing isn’t really helpful enough to make his bull mode relevant, although it is amusing that it turns off I Still Function and there might be some extremely corner-case situations where that’s helpful. If you have Torox as your first bot mode flip, it allows you to see another card and potentially stack your deck with a double orange pip card for the attack. If you save him as your last flip before combining into Predaking, you can ensure that you end up drawing a card that you definitely want to play (remember that when you combine into Predaking, you draw a card and have the opportunity to play any card from your hand).

So far, my usual course of action is to flip Torox first, see another card, hopefully stack my attack with a double orange pip, then send in either Razorclaw or Rampage to attack. If I think the opponent has a lot of blue, I’ll go with Rampage. If they don’t, I’ll use Razorclaw. I definitely prefer Razorclaw if I’m the second player, as I can also buff him with either a weapon or action to enhance his attack. If I think they have ways to untap characters, I’ll usually save Razorclaw until later to finish off a character they wanted to protect by untapping them.

After that, Divebomb is usually my next flip, usually to try to rob the opponent as an action card. I usually try to keep Headstrong and Razorclaw in beast mode for as long as possible, as their alt mode abilities are both useful, and because Razorclaw’s bot mode flip can potentially be very useful.

I initially misunderstood how Predaking worked. Clearly, he has 5 Weapon slots. In my head, though, I was comprehending the Enigma as allowing you to pull in one upgrade for each CATEGORY (Weapon, Armor, Utility) as opposed to allowing you to pull in one upgrade for each SLOT. Predaking can potentially come into play with 5 Weapons, 1 Armor, and 1 Utility. Obviously, this is very unlikely, but we have to chase the dream.

Ideally, when you combine Predaking, you’d like to have at least two weapons on him. You need him to be able to one-shot characters to limit the damage coming back at him, especially since we’re playing aggressively and are likely to combine with a lot of damage, probably only being able to survive two additional hits. It’s also important that you’re trying to take out at least one character while you’re uncombined.

Decklist

Upgrades

  • 3x Grenade Launcher (O)
  • 3x Flamethrower (O)
  • 3x Mining Pick (O)
  • 3x Erratic Lightning (O)
  • 3x Force Field (W)
  • 3x Improvised Shield (OO)

Actions

  • 3x Supercharge (O)
  • 3x Incoming Transmission (O)
  • 3x Swindled (O)
  • 3x Peace Through Tyranny (OO)
  • 3x Treasure Hunt (O)
  • 2x The Bigger They Are (B)
  • 2x Ramming Speed (O)
  • 2x Predacon Enigma (G)
  • 1x Rapid Conversion (W)

We have 12 weapons total, in order to make sure an individual Predacon can always hit harder AND to try to assist Predaking to come into play with more than one weapon. Specifically, I aimed for the heaviest hitting orange weapons I could find.

We definitely never, ever want to use Improvised Shield or Peace Through Tyranny (especially since with 5 star characters, we can’t use PTT anyway, at least not until we’re in Predaking mode and that would cause a game loss anyway). We do have multiple ways to get double orange pip cards on top of our deck, though (Incoming Transmission, Mining Pick, Torox’s Plan).

Force Field helps to keep an individual Predacon on the table for more than one turn, or to limit big swings against Predaking.

Swindled potentially allows us to cheat out a second upgrade during a turn.

As of now, I don’t think a 3rd Engima is needed, although that might change if the meta swings toward more cards that let you discard cards from your opponent’s hand (ie. Disruptive Entrance, Espionage).

We have one copy of Rapid Conversion. We might want a second to help us get to Predaking faster, but… we have to time the combination turn carefully to ensure we don’t get ganged up on AND we want to try to be using our action each turn to help deal damage.

A third copy of The Bigger They Are is a possibility, but it’s also obviously less helpful while we’re in combined mode.

Treasure Hunt is there because we’re running 18 upgrades and 22 actions. We have to be a bit careful when using it, though, as you can’t draw in the Enigma if you flip it during a Treasure Hunt.

Other Possible Cards

  • Energon Axe: Clearly a fantastic weapon, but best for when in Predaking mode, as your individual Predacons die so quickly.
  • Handheld Blaster: Bold 1 is a bit meh, but occasionaly spiking into a double blue on defensive flips doesn’t hurt.
  • New Designs: Being able to play multiple upgrades a turn before you combine into Predaking would be very helpful.
  • Power Sword: Everyone except Divebomb is a melee character in both modes.
  • Zap: Direct damage, good. Orange pip, good.
  • Bashing Shield: Orange/green, good. Armor removal, good. This is likely to find its way into the deck.
  • Enemy Combat Analysis: With the prevalence of 5 star characters (Combiner pieces, Flamewar, Kickback), this might be interesting as a 1 of.
  • Inferno Breath: Not a bad option during the mid-game if heavy blue decks continue to be popular. Not as a 3-of.
  • Power Punch: Bold 3 in a heavy orange deck is good, but it’s a one-time use. I decided to go for Grenade Launcher instead. Worth testing out, or possibly running a combination of the two.
  • Reckless Charge: I like it in theory, but we have to be careful about doing damage to our own guys. At the same time, it’s likely that our Predacons are getting one-shot anyway, so having 7 health left as opposed to have 4 health left isn’t a huge deal. Also worth testing.
  • Scrounge: If we push toward a heavier upgrade ratio, definitely worth using. Even without it, we might be able to get use out of this with Torox’s Plan.
  • Surprise Attack: If we see super heavy blue become commonplace again, this might help the individual Predacons push damage through.

That’s it for now. In very early testing, the Predacons have been performing better than I suspected they would. You’ll be sure to see them on camera more, so keep your eyes out on our channel!

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