SURVEY SAYS: WnR’s Underutilized Characters

Lately, at Wreck ‘n Rule HQ, we’ve been re-examining all the characters from Waves 1-3, hoping to find some diamonds in the rough waiting to be discovered, or at least some old favorites that we could dust off and find new uses for.

Our topic for today is to explore a few characters that we believe are being underutilized.

RJ – Private red alert

Stats-wise, Private Red Alert compares favorably to some of the other 7* characters that see consistent play (ie. Hot Rod). The “problem” with Red Alert is that his other crucial key word leaves a bit to be desired – he’s melee in both modes. With the rise of mixed pip decks, Private Red Alert deserves a second look, even if it’s only for fun! The Bold keyword can be used to pile on damage, dig for cards that you need in the form of green pips, and to help trigger abilities. Here, Bold is perfect to help trigger Red Alert’s bot mode ability.

See, by triggering his ability – which says if you flip a white, orange, and blue pip on attack he gets +3 attack until the end of turn – you are actually getting +4 attack for 3 single pips. You get the +3 for proccing his ability and then the +1 for the orange pip you flip, so you are already at 7 attack and in theory you could still have 3 more cards to flip (if you trigger his ability by flipping a Fuel Cache). Things like Power Sword (Bold 3, melee characters only, blue pip) help in both attack and defense, and something like Mining Pick can really put the character in a good position. While I don’t think Private Red Alert will win you any major tournaments, he can swing for a sizable amount of damage and you can have a lot of fun while doing it!

frenchie – cosmos

The folks who have followed WnR since the beginning will remember that I have a massive crush on Cosmos! This character has been designed by Ken Nagle who has worked on multiple alternative win conditions. Cosmos does not provide a “hard” win condition, but having the ability to one shot any characters costing 12 stars or below is a pretty neat way to the finish line! However, this great ability is only second to the difficulty of pulling this one out: the defender would only be KOed if you can shuffle your deck during Cosmos’ attack. 

This was not an easy feat to accomplish and you can look back to our YouTube videos where Brian and Joe would pointed out where I would do mad calculations to make sure that Cosmos would one shot his target! While trying to make this happen more consistently, I played cards like Treasure Hunt (wave 1) and Pep Talk (wave 2) to go as fast as I can through my deck while building my hand. This actually lead me to play my first mixed color deck, which seems to be one of the major themes for the next incoming set. However, even when Comos fires off his ability, this might not be sufficient enough to bring you victory, as you would burn through a lot of resources to KO only one character… That is why I’m pretty pumped that a new alternate win condition is coming our way! 21 hps in a blue deck can be quite a tough meat to chew through. This will bring you enough time for you to set and pull off any combos! 

I believe Cosmos will only get better as new sets will come out. Any new cards that would improve your hand, dig through your deck or propose an alternative win condition will help this bot to pull this insane ability more consistently. For Wave 4, I am pretty sure that there is something to plow with Cosmos, Demolisher, Lionizer and Power Overwhelming:evillaugh:

Ps: don’t bother to correct me about the card name, that’s how I’m gonna call this card for the rest of the game!  For Aiur, En Taro Adun, En Taro Tassadar!

tom – Captain ironhide

9 Stars is a weird spot in the game currently & not many characters of this star count see play, apart from Wave1 Wheeljack.  To give up 9 build points out of 25, that card better have some good to great abilities so let’s look at Ironhide’s Alt Mode first.  The 2 DEF is always a welcome addition with all the orange flying around out there, but the 4 ATK isn’t that impressive in passing damage, despite him being a minivan with a rocket launcher strapped to the top.  His ability text says that he cannot be the target of non-attack damage. A well-timed Zap or Plasma Burst can really ruin your day, Ironhide cannot be the target of those cards so his safe for you to plan your next moves in advance.  However, you really get to abuse this ability when a card like Nemesis Prime flips to truck mode and you get to pick where the damage goes, choose Ironhide and that flip was wasted by your opponent.

Now once Ironhide drops Private Tote and Private Stakeout off at soccer practice, he can transform into his Bot mode.  Bot mode ability is very interesting to me and was the reason I wanted to build a deck with this card. He gets the ranged keyword with 5 ATK and keeps the 2 DEF from his alt side, and his ability lets you swap a weapon in your hand for another blue one before the attack cards are flipped.  I know I was dumb founded at first too, why wasn’t it swap an orange weapon so I can use his Static Laser? (#sadface) The current blue weapon pool does not work for the most part: Backup Beam you’re probably not using in a blue heavy deck, Energon Slingshot is for Melee characters, & Battering Ram can only be played in Truck mode which doesn’t really help us here.  The blue weapon that can be most useful is the Armed Hovercraft, with ranged on both sides you can play it when needed, you can even swap it out for another one when attacking and deal 2 damage to each enemy, or play one and then swap out for a Energon Axe/Noble’s Blaster for some extra piercing damage.

You would want to play Ironhide with other ranged characters, one I am trying right now is Raider Triggerhappy.  Throwing cards in the deck like Roll Out or Escape Route can help flip Triggerhappy to dig for those precious Hovercrafts.  The key play in this deck is to have 2 in your hand and a Quartermaster, play Hovercraft on Triggerhappy, move to Ironhide and then swap when you attack dealing 3 damage to all your enemies before you even get to attack.  Here’s hoping that Wave 4 brings us some new and exciting blue weapons!

Brian – Razorclaw

Hah!  I bet you thought I was going to say Fireflight, didn’t you? 

Towards the end of the Wave 2 era, I was trying various dartboard-style teams of four character line-ups.  Eventually, this led to Rogue Squadron (Fireflight, Alpha Bravo, Arcee, Jetfire). Rogue Squadron did REALLY well against the heavy blue decks that were dominating at the time (ie. OPBL/Flamewar/Hot Rod), but had a roughly 50% match-up against Bugs, and a very bad match-up against Cars.  I liked the template of 3x 5-star characters and a big 10 star character, so obviously I tried to swap Grimlock in place of Jetfire, but it never quite operated in the way I was hoping it would.

One reason it struggled was that the initial version of that line-up HEAVILY focused on RANGED and SPECIALIST keyword battle cards, so it didn’t match up with Grimlock’s melee keyword.  Moreover, I was married to an all-Autobot team, partially because of the prevalence of Press the Advantage, but also because I was having a brief, passionate affair with Confidence. The sifting potential of Confidence is incredible, but it also kills your hand, which eventually caused me to somewhat sour on the card unless you also have some ability to reliably draw extra cards (like Wave 2 Bee’s bot-mode ability).

Recently, I tried the Grimlock 4-wide again, this time going with Fireflight, Arcee, Steeljaw, and Grimlock.  Steeljaw is great, since it gives Grimlock the Bold 1 boost, but the downside was that he’s typically the first character I’d want to send out, which often meant he was dead before being able to buff up Grimlock.  I liked the Grimlock/Fireflight/Arcee core, since Fireflight was able to protect my two heavy hitters. I skimmed through the various other 5-star characters available to Autobots and wasn’t super enthused by any of the other Aerialbots or the MicromastersRamhorn was a possibility, but I wanted something a bit punchier, especially because I was trying to find a list that could out-orange Frenchie’s disgusting Bold Factory 3.0 (Lionizer, Demolisher, Arcee, Shrapnel). While skimming through the Decepticon 5-stars, I was reminded of how powerful Razorclaw can be.

At the beginning of Wave 2, I was having a ton of fun with a very heavy orange Predacon build.  The main downside with it was that the best orange weapons fall off after attacking, so I was having trouble getting Predaking to smack hard enough into the heavy blue Aerialbot lists running around at the time. 

With that said, Razorclaw was my favorite Predacon to play.  His native Bold 1 in alt mode means you can save your flips for other important characters.  On top of that, if you can give him a weapon and an attack boost, he can swing out for a surprisingly heavy hit for a 5 cost, especially against other orange line-ups (or a blue team that hasn’t been able to equip armor yet).  On top of that, I liked his ability to flip into bot mode to attack an untapped character. It meant that I could be reasonably sure to kill Frenchie’s Arcee before he was able to swing her into my Grimlock (especially if he was saving her for the wheel-turn to use PTT to get a double attack with weapon-mode Lionizer). 

With about a dozen games with this list under my belt, I’m tempted to now try an orange Predacon build that can switch gears to become Grimlock + 3 Predacons if I need to mow over multiple opposing characters at once.  In this case, we’d probably roll with Grimlock, Headstrong, Razorclaw, and Torox. Stay tuned!


As always, keep your eyes on the Wreck ‘n Rule YouTube channel for our usual shenanigans. Also consider supporting us on Patreon, since the proceeds go toward helping us upgrade our recording set-up AND toward throwing some sweet custom swag your way! Plus, we now have merch available too!

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