I’m not a strong deck-builder – too often I’ll go for flashy, inconsistent combos that look and sound cool on paper over something that is, well, consistently good. I like to think that I bucked that trend here, and it only took me three waves to do it! This was the deck that I would have played in the Top 32 of Gen Con had I made it. Like the deck Joe had played in the Open, this was a deck that I was confident no one was prepared for; whether it would have performed well is a different story all together, but with heavy orange aggro the last day, I believe it would have at least had a fighting chance.
Before we get into the deck itself, let’s start with the team and how I even got here. It was June, it was the end of Wave 2, and blue was still the favored color in the Meta. I’m a heavy orange player because I tend to like to not think any more than I have to, so I wasn’t really comfortable with a blue control deck (and still really not). I wanted to try something different, and try something that I don’t believe anyone had tried before. In my mind, the opposite of heavy bold and just flipping as much orange as humanly possible is heavy tough and flipping as much blue as humanly possible. I’d figure out the damage aspect later, but at least I had a base to start with. My initial team I started out with was Flamewar, Dead End, Skydive, and Sunstreaker. Everyone has Tough, or gives Tough in Flamewar’s case, and I had 3 extra stars to add in Energized Fields to really go HEAVY blue. Good luck getting any damage through! I played a suite of Field Communicators, Sparring Gears and Reinforced Platings and just tried to outlast my opponents. Sounds great in theory, but doesn’t work well in practice if you can’t push damage through. In came Joe, where he had an idea of his own: five-wide mixed combiner team, and just ping out damage left and right – Energon Slingshots, Armed Hovercrafts, Marksmanship, etc. That’s where Blue Burn was born.
Flamewar – Veteran Decepticon – 5*
Skydive – Air Warefare Specialist – 5*
Autobot Hot Rod – Impulsive Fighter – 7*
Dead End – Doomed Loner – 5*
I took Joe’s idea of pinging out damage and applied it to my now-modified team. Sunstreaker is okay (even though he is a jerk), but Hot Rod is better. Hot Rod gives you access to the ranged keyword, plus an extra defense point. Not only those things, but he allows you to ping another damage by flipping when he is KO’d, something that has come in handy more than once (when I remember to flip him in the KO pile!). The survivability part remains the same, but now I have more access to more burn.
3 Bolt of Lightning
3 Inferno Breath
3 The Bigger They Are…
3 Security Checkpoint
3 Battlefield Report
2 Calculated Strike
Let’s talk actions first. The initial thought was that if you’re playing an action in this deck, you want it to hurt. With the amount of survivability we have, it doesn’t bother us if we have to tap someone down using Inferno Breath. Skydive is a great target for this with his innate Tough 2, plus another Tough 1 from Flamewar. Pierce is essentially burn, as it is unblockable damage, so The Bigger They Are… and Calculated Strike fit in perfectly here. The fact that everyone is 7 stars or less means The Bigger They Are… triggers more often than it doesn’t. We have two ranged characters in Dead End and Hot Rod, so Marksmanship is an obvious choice here as a blue Plasma Burst. Battlefield Report is there if you are really in a pinch and need cards, or you can kill an opponent with just your weapon equipped and don’t need to add more pierce/direct damage. Bolt of Lightning using our extra star allocation is self-explanatory – it is good even though it has no pips. Security Checkpoint, in this deck, you are really only playing for the pips. Every so often you will play it for the effect, but as I stated in the beginning, when you play an action in this deck you want to make it hurt. The actions, coupled with our upgrades, really make this unassuming deck hit harder than you’d expect at times. What a great segue!
3 Field Communicator
3 Laser Cutlass
3 Reinforced Plating
3 Smoke Cloak
3 Handheld Blaster
2 Armed Hovercraft
2 Noble’s Blaster
1 Scoundrel’s Blaster
I’ll address the elephant of the room and start out by explaining the biggest omission in the deck: Energon Axe. My thought process was, and still is, this deck is burn and pierce focused. The one extra attack damage of Axe over Noble’s and Scoundrel’s Blaster really didn’t move the needle for me. Add in the fact you can grab the other two on demand and it was quite the easy omission. Not only that but the fact that if I go second, it oftentimes makes an Energon Axe in the opening hand unplayable and that’s definitely not the case with both blasters. Laser Cutlass is one of the best cards in the set, and is live on every character on the team. Field Communicator has two targets, and is great when most of its abilities targets is direct damage in some form. The Reinforced Plating is there for even more survivability. Watching an opponent get visibly frustrated when your Skydive has Tough a million and blocking for two million is incredibly rewarding. Smoke Cloak is another last ditch effort, obviously Reinforced Plating is the better play and you’d rather have the black pips circulating in your deck for even more pierce but it is still playable on its own. Armed Hovercraft is great and again we have two targets for it in Dead End and Hot Rod. Handheld Blaster is Handheld Blaster, we don’t play it for the effect we play it for the pips.
I like the deck because it’s easy to see your turns and how you should play ahead of time. You know how much guaranteed damage you’re going to do, so it’s easy to calculate. You only ever worry about flipping two characters: Flamewar the first chance you get, and then on every turn after that you flip Dead End back and forth for extra card draw. You will flip Hot Rod in the KO pile to finish someone off, but other than that, you are never flipping him while he is still alive, and you are never, ever flipping Skydive. I seriously don’t even know what Skydive does on his other side at this point – again, I don’t play blue decks so I have never played Aerialbots before! A typical first complete turn for me looks like this (complete turn being until we all untap): Flip Flamewar to bot mode -> send Skydive -> flip Dead End to bot mode -> send Hot Rod -> flip Dead End to alt mode -> send Dead End -> flip Dead End to bot mode -> send Flamewar. This happens whether I go first or second. Flamewar has enough health where it’s extremely unlikely that she is getting one-shot on your opponents first turn, and if they go into anyone else other than her first, you are extremely happy and will still play out the turns the same way.
If deck-building is a weakness of mine, then I would not even know how to describe sideboarding. It’s much weaker than my deckbuilding. I am still messing around with it, and there’s a number of directions you can go. If you have a problem you can’t solve, throw OPBL at it. At Gen Con I had Cliffjumper listed as my sideboard character. I would have gotten two extra cards for the Dead End flip as opposed to just one. You replace Skydive with Cliffjumper, and the three Bolt of Lightning (since you lose the star cards) with three Start Your Engines. Pierce plus untaps is really nice, plus, again, you’re only really ever flipping Dead End so the card draw mechanic benefits you even more. Here’s where you can side into Energon Axes or even Grenade Launchers if you see fit. I’ve flirted with the idea of Brainstorm, Equipment Enthusiast, and a bunch of other cards as well. Again, this is not my strong point and welcome any and all criticism and help I can get.
At the end of the day I wasn’t able to see how this would have performed at the biggest competitive setting to date, so I’m not sure how it stacks up to the decks out there right now. The first thing I did when I got home from Gen Con that was TF TCG related was disassemble everything I had taken there. I couldn’t wait until our weekly play session to play casually again. I’ll put this together again eventually and run it up against the things that did well at Gen Con, but until then, I leave it to all of you guys to hopefully play with and have fun with. I want to hear what you’ve done to improve on it and take it to the next level!
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