Let’s be honest; the Aerialbots got some of the coolest episodes in the G1 cartoon.
In “War Dawn,” they’re sent back to the Golden Age of Cybertron, right before the war between the Autobots and Decepticons kicks off. They also have the chance to meet Orion Pax, who goes on to become our beloved Optimus Prime. In fact, depending on how you look at the events of the episodes, they may in fact be the catalyst for how Pax becomes Prime.
The shenanigans ramp up to 11 in “Aerial Assault.” I don’t have the time right now to go into some of the bonkers events of the entire episode, but it features quite possibly the craziest of G1 Megatron’s crazy schemes: a giant robot purple griffin superweapon.
Personality-wise, the Aerialbots have always been a bit meh. Silverbolt has the whole schtick of being terrified of heights, having to overcome that fear to lead a team of rare and badly needed Autobot fliers. Slingshot was always the whiny punk who got everyone else into trouble. The other three team members were just… there. To this day, I probably couldn’t tell you which of them is Air Raid, Fireflight, and Skydive without having some sort of reference.
For the Combiner Wars toyline, most of the teams added in a random, completely new fifth member for… reasons? It was never exactly clear why we got Alpha Bravo, Offroad, and Rook, other than to make Slingshot, Wildrider, and Groove into retailer-exclusive figures a few months down the road.
To wrap up my ramblings on backstory, Superion as one of our Combiners was never really in much doubt, seeing as how he was the first Autobot Combiner. Almost instantly, though, he caught my eye, for two main reasons.
- He has 3 ranged team members (hell yes to that Armed Hovercraft/Swap Parts dream I’ve been chasing).
- He has 2 Specialists that start the game on the board. The Predacons, Dinobots, and Stunticons all only have one available Specialist. The Sentinels CAN start with two on the board… but… eh, they just don’t grab me and they don’t have 5 members on the board.
DISCLAIMER: As of the writing of this article, we’re less than a week into Wave 2. I don’t profess to be an expert, but here’s what I’m finding to be working so far. Test it, tweak it, let me know how it goes.
Let’s break down the individual team members a bit!
There are TWO things that stand out about Air Raid.
- His robot mode has the highest native ATK value on the team.
- His robot mode ability can be useful, especially if you can play Pierce to ensure it triggers.
With that said, Air Raid is the obligatory 0 DEF team member, which means that you want to be careful about making him vulnerable to attack. Depending on whether or not your opponent has Planes, he is probably one of your best bets to flip first.
Alpha Bravo’s helicopter mode is only useful if your opponent is running a team with at least one Plane. Otherwise, he’s also one of your best choices for your initial flip. In addition to that, Bravo is also a Specialist, and an excellent choice for Multi-Tool or Field Communicator, as either upgrade will allow you to play additional cards AND will guarantee that his ATK value reaches 3 to get the full effect of his inherent Pierce 3.
There’s not a whole lot to say about Fireflight, except your opponent has to attack him. Whenever possible, I like to send him out as my second attacker (Skydive, with native Tough 2, is my preferred character to attack with first).
Fireflight’s robot mode is a joke. He is potentially a decent choice for The Bigger They Are (or another Pierce card like Piercing Blaster or Surprise Attack, assuming he has 4 damage or a +1 ATK upgrade.)
In the build I’m using, I run 0 orange pips, so Silverbolt’s jet mode ability might as well be blank. If the other player has a low-health character, I like to save him for my last or second to last flip, to possibly use him as a Zap to kill off a 1 health character. It’s a shame that he doesn’t have Leader as a keyword, as I’d love to toss a Matrix onto him.
Skydive is the best blocker in any of the 5-members-on-the-board Combiner teams. Built in Tough 2 is fantastic, especially if you can toss Reinforced Plating or Evasive Maneuvers on there as well. His robot mode ability can also be helpful, but I generally like to keep him as my last or second to last flip.
He’s also a Specialist, but since I like to send him out first, I tend to prefer tossing Specialist upgrades onto Alpha Bravo during the first round of activations (plus, by doing so, you’ll also grant him his maximum Pierce value).
Superion’s combined mode very clearly wants Armor that grants Tough. He also loves to have an Energon Axe, in order to pump his base ATK to 9, with Pierce 5 behind it. You will clobber orange or mixed pip builds. You SHOULD be able to tank the damage from most blue-based decks, while chipping away with Pierce.
It should be noted that you’re basically able to smack two characters for 3 unblockable damage when you combine (3 direct damage when combined, built in Pierce 3 on the attack). As such, you should definitely be looking for ways to have two opposing characters with 3 health remaining on the turn when you combine.
Obviously, you need the Enigma to combine. You do want to carefully time your combination. If you think you’re in a position where you’re likely to take a big hit from an opponent, it might be best to let them kill off one of the smaller guys and wait to combine on your NEXT turn. It may also be worth waiting in order to ensure you can form Superion while having at least a weapon and an upgrade on him.
When used as an action while already combined, it’s probably the least impressive (although Volcanicus also has a pretty meh effect as well). It’s basically an Armed Hovercraft, which is more useful the more opponents you have on the field, but that also makes it less likely that you’ll survive.
For the love of Primus, do not ever play this card.
If you go first, I like to flip Air Raid or Alpha Bravo. Air Raid is the obvious choice if your opponent as a Plane. Otherwise, it doesn’t really make a difference. Send out Skydive as your first attacker, as he should be able to survive the return attack. When you go again, send out Fireflight to divide their attacks, especially if you can toss a Force Field on him to keep making him the forced target.
If you are the second player, the general strategy should be the same.
- 3x Energon Axe
- 3x Armed Hovercraft
- 2x Multi Tool
- 1x Drill Arms
- 3x Reinforced Plating
- 3x Evasive Maneuvers
- 2x Force Field
- 3x Field Communicator
- 3x Vaporize
- 3x Marksmanship
- 3x Bigger They Are
- 3x Security Checkpoint
- 2x Pep Talk
- 2x Swap Parts
- 1x Inferno Breath
- 1x Heavy Handed
- 2x Enigma
The goal is to hopefully get either Field Communicator or Multi-Tool out early, as it’s incredibly helpful to cheat out multiple cards (especially if we can get multiple armors).
The ability to use Multi-Tool to play multiple upgrades in a turn means that we can have turns where we use Security Checkpoint that don’t force us to get rid of vital cards.
In all honesty, I should PROBABLY cut out Swap Parts (or at least drop it to a 1x of). I’ve had multiple games so far, however, where I was able to swap two Ranged characters with Armed Hovercraft to throw out two direct damage to all the opposing characters OR swap two Field Communicators on Bravo and Skydive to cheat out two cards from the top of my deck.
None of the other cards here are really surprising. With that said, I do feel like I need to slot in a few ways to just do automatic damage. This could take the form of Pierce (Piercing Blaster, Surprise Attack, more copies of Heavy-Handed to use while combined) or direct damage (Plasma Burst, Strafing Run, more Inferno Breath).
Sparring Gear is also a possibility to replace Evasive Maneuvers, if you don’t like the fact that EM is a one-time use upgrade. It also helps to be able to pull Sparring Gear into your hand after a battle flip. With that said, I’m slightly nervous to introduce orange into the deck at this point.
Inverted is also an interesting possibility to use while combined, but you NEED to ensure you finish off the enemy, as you’re not likely to survive the retaliation.
Looks for updates as I keep testing and refining the deck!