Much like last time, we’re taking a look at a few cards that we feel are being underutilized or underloved, this time focusing specifically on upgrade cards!
RJ – Piercing Blaster and Rapid Ascent
I could not just narrow down my list to just one, so I am going with two cards here. Let’s start with Piercing Blaster. I don’t think it’s to anyone’s surprise that Piercing Blaster is a favorite here at WnR – a white pip upgrade that gives the upgraded character Pierce 3. I ran it a ton at the end of Wave 1 in my Metroplex deck, as the meta was heavy blue at the time, and the ability for Slammer and crew to push damage through was just too spicy to pass up! A certain WotC employee professed his love for this card to me at GenCon as well…
This card is such a natural fit with some of the more popular run characters – Flamewar, Starter Red Alert, Demolisher, Wave 1 Prowl, Swoop, Skydive, etc. What you’ll notice about all those characters is that in at least one of their modes their attack value is 3. Plop a Piercing Blaster down on any of these guys and go to town; pair it with some direct damage and you have the potential for a sizable turn! Piercing Blaster is a little less viable in the current metagame with so much orange running around, but if it ever shades back to a heavier blue then this card deserves major consideration.
Rapid Ascent is something I didn’t truly appreciate until this wave. It’s “off-color,” meaning the pip is the opposite color you want it to be in the deck you want to run it in… usually. Rapid Ascent is an orange pip armor that gives +1 Defense, but it really shines when you use it on a ranged character. When equipped to a ranged character, your opponent chooses a card from their hand and scraps it. Playing it on your turn is okay, there are worse things you could play where you’d be further behind. However, when paired with, say, Hunker Down, the card becomes bonkers.
Our buddy Jake plays this with General Megatron, Demolisher, and Warpath and as Brian will attest to, it’s absolutely no fun to sit across from.
Editors Note: Can confirm. I still have nightmares about Jake asking, “How many cards do you have in hand?”
Hunker Down with this team allows you to, if playing Rapid Ascent, strip your opponent’s hand and then potentially draw back up with Demolisher and ping damage out with both Warpath and General Megatron. The dream, for me, would be to combo Rapid Ascent with Two-Pronged Attack and really ruin your opponent’s day.
Rapid Ascent could also be a lot of run in a Ranged version of a Major Shockwave deck, since Shockwave allows you to always know what’s coming next and also gives you the ability to strip your opponent’s hand. Like many other things this wave, this card works in mixed pip decks as well!
tom – crash landing, drill arms, and rr disruptor blade
Crash Landing doesn’t see much play mainly because planes don’t see much play except for your Aerialbot teams. Right off the bat it looks like it could help your team of flyboys, as it lets you do damage of your total attack including your upgrades, and this being a utility leaves you room for a weapon to add some added damage. Then you realize that you must play it on the Plane side, and the attack values on those alt sides don’t hit as hard as you would like to them to. So, you need to be able to work out a way to flip to alt mode play on a plane and then flip back for that extra Bot Mode damage… or do you?
The way I have been attempting to play this card is to find a plane you don’t have to flip out of alt mode. Wave 1 gave us the hard hitting Ramjet, with 7 attack but 0 Defense. Wave 3 brought us Raider Ion Storm who boasts 7 attack and 3 Defense with 14 Health. The 3 Defense can keep him alive long enough to fish for that Crash Landing in your deck whereas Ramjet might be wiped out before you draw. And when Ion Storm is down to 2-3 health left and you play that crash landing on him, your opponent will have to think about burning a removal card on that utility, otherwise they might just take 7+ damage and hand the game over to you.
At first glance Drill Arms might not look to appealing as a weapon given it only adds +1 attack. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to pass damage to an opposing character, especially when your opponent is playing a heavy blue deck and they are loaded up with Reinforced Plating or you see the dreaded Force Field on the only tapped character your opponent has available for you to attack and that +1 just isn’t going to get the job done. However, playing Drill Arms gives you the ability to scrap one of those armors, it can be really satisfying when you can remove another armor with your action play as well and go in for the kill. It also has another bonus in that if you can’t scrap an opposing armor, you get to draw a card, this can be useful in a bind when your hand is full of uselessness, like mine usually is.
At this point your probably all like “Bashing Shield is better”, I know it’s orange/green so you can pick it up when needed and the effect is the same, but to that I have to say why not both? Let’s face it, you’re mostly going to be playing Drill Arms in a blue-centric deck, you can still leave room for a few orange cards like Bashing Shield and they can both be on the same character one being a weapon and one being an armor giving you net bonuses of +1A/+1D. Final thought, don’t sleep on overwriting another weapon you have on one of your characters with drill arms to scrap an opposing armor, you might lose some attack power but scrapping that armor might shift the balance in your favor depending on the board state.
In a game where currently the only win condition is to send your opponent’s character cards back to their deck box, attack power is going to be paramount to your success. RR Disruptor Blade is a black pip card that adds +3 attack, but it needs to be scrapped if you don’t flip another black card during your attack phase. Let’s take a look at the other cards that give you more than +2 damage: Grenade Launcher +4 but also is scrapped after use; Static Laser +3 but hits you for 2 damage before you attack; Erratic Lightning +3 but comes with the price of -1 Defense; and finally EM24 IR Laser Launcher is +3 with the drawback of no pip bonuses.
On the flip side (get it, cause you flip cards) there are not many blue/black pip cards to fill your deck with that will allow you to keep that blade at the ready & filling your deck with only single black pips will get you run over real fast, hence why it isn’t really used much right now. The Wave 4 spoilers have revealed a lot of new dual pip cards, which are going to make the RR Blade that much valuable so stock up now why you can. In the meantime, try to pair your RR Blade in a deck with some characters that have Bold and/or Plan. General Optimus is a good choice since he gives bold 1 to everyone, and cards like Data Pad and Incoming Transmission help you get that black pip into your attack pool so you can keep slicing away.
brian – extra padding and superior jetpack
First of all, let’s acknowledge how cool the art is on this card.
Even though many of the decks I’ve played on camera have been orange, my heart truly lies with blue. My favorite deck to play in Wave 1 was Flamewar/Shockwave/Thundercracker. Shockwave with 3 DEF, receiving an additional Tough 1 from Flamewar’s bot mode ability, and equipped with Reinforced Plating was a defensive shell that was difficult to crack, especially since armor removal was limited to Ramming Speed, Disarm, and Drill Arms, none of which were easily retrievable. I was often able to hold out long enough to build up a decent hand of Brainstorms, System Reboots, and ATK boosting actions to simultaneously pump Thundercracker’s attack while also using Shockwave’s bot mode ability to throw out indirect damage by forcing my opponent to discard.
Unfortunately, if I didn’t end up seeing Reinforced Plating early on, the game was in dire shape. Sure, there were methods available to fish for it, but that meant your action for the turn was spent playing something like Inspiring Leadership or Treasure Hunt to try to get it into hand.
Wave 2 brought us Sparring Gear, which also granted Tough 2, but allowed you to pull it into your hand since it had a green pip. I had a brief passionate affair with the card, but it always felt bad to see it flip out during a critical defensive turn, since its orange pip made it off-color from what you were primarily running.
Extra Padding’s blue/green pip allows you to pull it into hand, but also allows you to play multiple copies of the card at once. On the most obvious level, if you have 2 or 3 copies in hand, you can get a character up to Tough 2 or Tough 3. Alternatively, if you have multiple copies in hand, you can spread them around on different characters and equip them at the same time. If these characters have built-in Tough (or part of your team includes a character that can grant Tough), you’re getting even more use out of the card. General Optimus is a tough character to take down if you can suit him up with an Ion Blaster and 3x copies of Extra Padding in a mostly blue deck.
In a deck that has built in Tough (or Bold), you’re likely to be able to get at least two copies in hand fairly quickly by flipping them out on attack or defense, then using the green pip to pull them into hand. On top of that, they’re a great way to get rid of those pesky Handheld Blasters that always seem to worm their way into your hand.
The other main benefit to Extra Padding is that Bashing Shield can only remove one of them. Even if one does get knocked off, a deck with some sort of native Tough is likely to allow you to cycle through your deck quickly again, allowing you to pull it back into hand.
Let’s begin by admiring that nu-G1 art of Springer Falcon Punching Ratbat in his stupid ratface.
The Superior-suite of upgrades are incredibly powerful, offering you supercharged versions of the 3 main abilities from the first wave (Bold 4, Tough 4, Pierce 4). For the most part, these cards don’t see play in Constructed, as you’re typically forced to play Tech Research, which feels like a waste of your action for the turn. You do occasionally see blue-based Tank decks running Superior Plating, since they can use Hunker Down to “cheat” them into play. There is, of course, one character than can also make use of Superior Plating:
Toward the tail end of Wave 1 and throughout Wave 2, I was getting really tired of seeing Optimus Prime (Battlefield Legend) across the table from me in a heavily blue-based build, so I went on a crusade to try to burn him down as quickly as possible, which meant I needed to try to maximize Pierce as much as possible. Jetfire always intrigued me in Wave 1, but I had trouble finding a good use for him outside of just recurring Force Fields, which kind of made him into a beefier version of Shrapnel, forcing you to make multiple attacks into him to finish him off. It never quite worked out, though. At the time, the options for useful Utilities were fairly limited, especially since the best best possible choices all had white pips.
The release of Superior Jetpack in Wave 2 changed that, though. Especially in a heavily blue meta, the ability to just flip Jetfire to bot mode and pull on a Pierce 4 upgrade from the scrap was powerful. Combine that with Alpha Bravo’s native Pierce 3 in bot mode, and it meant that if your opponent exposed OPBL, you could sink 7 automatic damage into him, meaning that you only had to get Arcee to 7 ATK in order to finish him off (even less if you had a way to add to Pierce, like The Bigger They Are or direct damage cards before she swings).
Granted, this upgrade really only has value on Jetfire, and even then, only if the meta is slanted toward heavier blue decks. Still, I can’t explain the pure satisfaction that I got from going to a tournament, sitting across from an OPBL player, and seeing the look of pure disbelief on their face when OPBL was burned down in the first round of activations.
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