I told the rest of the crew that there would be no White Claws (Editor’s Note: gross, drink a real drink) until they typed up their initial impressions of Wave 4 now that we’ve had a week to play with it. I promptly had all homework turned in within 24 hours. I have roughly matched up each of them with what I feel is the appropriate character match from the IDW Wreckers series.
Right off the bat the characters feel “better” than Siege 1. Not to detract from the work the team has put into earlier sets, but when I sit down and start rummaging through Siege 2 characters, I feel lost. There are so many options to choose from and the abilities just keep getting better and better. Trying to figure out where to plug this character and that character has me spiraling into too many different teams and ideas at once and I lose focus.
Overwhelming Advantage has a high risk-high reward fun factor of 10. Being able to basically wipe a character off the map seems so….fun. Playing against this type of deck and recognizing that you need to disrupt your opponent’s upgrades is key.
Daring Escape is something to touch on. Although I like the small branch off of a new victory condition, I’m not really a big fan of solitaire. I hope the design team doesn’t go down this path too many times or create too many ignore-the-person-across-from-me win conditions.
Power creep is painfully obvious. HP and attack buffs everywhere. This is required to keep a game fresh to cycle out the same old characters with beefier versions at the user’s discretion rather than a forced rotation.
The triple changers in this set are just menacing. Astrotrain effortlessly morphs into a monster while Sandstorm and Springer play tricks.
This new meta is going to be difficult to figure out, in my opinion, because of how many amazing new secret actions we have at our disposal. Disrupting an opponent’s weapons, or cancelling their pierce, and even having to deal with an unavoidable Tough 3 is going to be game changing.
So I missed out on our local weekly event this past week, so I’m slightly behind on games; but I was able to make the sealed event and get some practice games in with some friends and fellow Wreckers; and my biggest takeaway so far has been that black pips are here. I’m not sure if it’s just an over correction from what we had last wave, but I do know that the designers have stated previously that they over-weighted the value of it; and now it seems like they’ve put black pips on just about everything. In our sealed event I wound up with 3 orange, 7 blue and like 19 black pips on the cards in my deck.
While it feels like there’s a lot of black pipped cards in this set, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of upgrade removal. There were a number of times during our event, it seemed like someone would either play a weapon or battle master and I just didn’t have a way of really dealing with it. While that’s not an issue in constructed (wave 2 is full of wonderful toys for that), it’s something to consider in sealed.
While I didn’t find any upgrade removal, the sealed event did help me find a new battlecard to like. I immensely enjoyed using Wedge Formation there, and I’m definitely going to be adding it to a lot of future and previously constructed decks. One of the new triple pip cards, it’s a great card to flip on attack that you can then pick up and immediately take advantage of and doesn’t cost you a star to use.
Finally, I had an opportunity to get some games in with Trypticon (decklist not finalized yet, so not attached). I have to say he’s really going to be interesting to use. The different deployment method that he uses from other characters like Metroplex and Soundwave, can be a blessing and a curse. Not being forced to flip means you can deploy the little guys and then have the opportunity to flip and use them immediately; but being stuck relying on the card to deploy them can land you in tricky spots too. Sometimes it’s fine, and you’re able to get the whole team out easily, but other times it can lead you to situations where you just can’t find the cards and you’re stuck with everyone in the base. Relying on the card to deploy, also forces you to use something like Brainstorm if you want to do more than just play the deployment card that turn. And because he’s going to be compared to Metroplex, the biggest difference between the 2 is that beyond the little guys, he doesn’t have a way to mitigate attacks. Metroplex has his tap down ability, which can help slow down the number of attacks he’ll take in a round; Trypticon doesn’t have that. He’s going to get attacked by everyone, so plan accordingly.
Anyways, those are my quick thoughts on early wave 4 stuff. Now to get that Assault Base to leave that poor Autobot City alone. He’s done nothing wrong…
To begin, I’ll echo Kevin’s thoughts on the black pip domination in the first two weeks, and more specifically our release event. My pulls in our sealed release event was just as skewed as Kev’s – I think I had four (playable) orange cards, 7 (playable) blue cards, and around 17 black cards (I remember running more than the minimum 25 cards, there were two Lord Megatrons pulled and I wasn’t going to give them any more help than they needed). I wasn’t able to build my deck as successfully as Kev, and if you were to take a look at the picture floating around from the King of Sealed (™) you’ll see I came in dead last. I focused too much on trying to synergize the black pips with the characters and chose Thundercracker and Nova Storm supplemented with Frenzy (I refuse to call him Rumble) and 3 star cards. I was able to utilize the characters’ abilities with the black pips a few times, but I often left my opponent with one health remaining and they were able to finish me off before I got the chance to retaliate. Again, I opted to choose synergy instead of the best possible characters and that really ended up hurting me on the day.
The interesting thing in this set, as Kev touched on above, is the lack of hard removal options. Now, as Frenchie once told me: “the best removal is removal of the characters themselves” it’s a little harder to be able to consistently plan for that in sealed as your deck is completely randomized. There is Reprocess, but it heals your opponent for two. Is that juice worth the squeeze? In sealed, with the need for removal of Battlemasters, the answer that I found out the hard way is “absolutely it is.” From Siege I the only hard removal card is Dismantle, and that can’t target a utility – everything else forces you to wait until one of your own upgrades is scrapped to remove one of your opponents. Likewise, in Siege II, the only hard removal is Reprocess, at the cost of healing your opponent for 2 – but on the plus-side, it is grab-able. The other removal cards in the set force you to wait for one of your own characters to die with a specific upgrade on it in order to possibly scrap something from one of your opponents characters. All this to say: if you are playing sealed, and you have the option to take a Reprocess or three, I highly recommend taking it, especially in a set where Battlemasters are running somewhat rampant.
In terms of constructed, I have been enjoying this set more than any other set that I can remember. This set really hit a sweet spot for me, and I find it hard to put into words why that is. I think it’s because I’ve had better than usual success putting together my own decks with no outside help. Even though the decks I built pretty much create themselves, it’s still a confidence booster knowing that did it on my own as deckbuilding is admittedly my weakest point (or is it counting stars?). To start, Jetfire looks to be as good as advertised. He’s a huge body with an incredible ability on both sides of him, and he’s ranged to boot. I don’t think his partners really matter, as I’ve switched them around a lot and still have had success – they are essentially there to allow you to dictate when you swing Jetfire and into whom. Not only that, but with a smattering of blue in the deck your little guys are able to tank some damage and not get one shot, much to your opponents surprise and dismay. The deck still needs a lot of tweaking, but so far I can say I was right on Jetfire in that he’s going to be a huge problem.
Where I was wrong was Lord Megatron. I pulled two SRT’s from my boxes in Lord Megatron and Galaxy Prime. I was pumped to pull Prime, even if I haven’t gotten a chance to use him yet, but was visibly upset when I pulled Megatron as he was my least anticipated card, SRT or otherwise. I built the obvious deck with him in aggro tanks and I instantly fell in love with him. He’s big, he’s beefy, he’s tanky, and he hits hard. There’s surprisingly a lot of thought that goes into the orange deck as you need to know when to flip him to his other mode in order for him to be able to ping out damage, there were a few games against Joe off camera where I was in the wrong mode and missed the damage and it cost me the game. The deck is stupid fun, and like the Jetfire deck there is still a bunch of tweaking I want to do to it but I honestly believe it will be a contender as well.
I think the one thing that we all agree on is that this set is pretty much black pip focused, forcing you to make a decision on adding in pierce at the price of reducing your offensive or defensive capabilities. The orange/black cards are especially interesting as flipping them is guaranteed damage vs having to have your attack value line up with your pierce value.
I started out release night with a game of turbo and let me tell you how bad my pulls were. All of my cards were either blank or black, which lead to me being run over pretty fast. I would recommend that if you want to play turbo with this set, use one pack of each Siege 1 & 2 or mix in a Wave 1 pack if you really like living on the edge.
My pulls from the sealed event weren’t that great, but I did luck out with around 10 orange pips. I decided to use a 30-card deck instead of 25 in an attempt to survive longer against the Lord Megatrons I saw around the tables, spoiler alert I lost to one of them in the first round. Early thoughts from the first few games were that the common triple changers put in some serious work. I had Sandstorm on my team, and I was able to one shot a Melee character with his alt 1 side on two occasions. Astrotrain was really good at avoiding damage and dishing it right back out. As for battle cards in the sealed environment, Soldier’s Blaster worked really well with all the mixed teams and Reprocess may have saved a game for me with the quick heal. I also was fond of Kinetic Intensifier Whip giving +1ATK and then a Bold 2 on a flip, going to have to work that one into some more constructed decks. Sturdy Javelin seems almost like an auto-include in any sealed environment, unless you manage to pull only Specialist Bots, then maybe leave it out. In between rounds I was deep in thought on how to use my new found bro Sandstorm in a constructed deck when Kev reminded me that “he’s a car, I’ve been telling you this for weeks” that’s when the dimly lit light bulb in my head went off……
Final thoughts, I used a blue heavy Octone for the first week’s local constructed event. He’s stupid good. Conversion Engine was made for him, flipping back and forth pinging damage. And Dual Wield is auto include if you’re playing him, more than once I had 2 Soldier’s Blasters attacking for a base of 15 with his ability. I think he is going to be a major player going forward. Mercs are a fun new addition; I hope we get some more as a standalone expansion within this set.
At this point, I feel as if deck-building is finally *difficult*. At the end of the Siege I world, I feel like I could throw a team of bots together, and be able to figure out roughly 34 of the battle cards that I should put into the 40 card deck. I put in some work yesterday into updating my heavy blue General Optimus deck from last wave, but found the new strong options to be almost overwhelming at first. I was already starting to experiment with dropping Handheld Blasters or Improvised Shields in builds that were heavily focused into Tough or Bold strategies, but it feels like those 3 card slots are even more vital now, and that I don’t want “dead” cards clogging my hand, even with the ability to swap them out for green pip cards.
A few other random assorted thoughts:
- ”Big” characters are scary again. We saw a bit of a drop-off during Siege I when it came to people taking 12+ star characters. For the most part, folks were going for General Optimus at 11 stars or Blaster at 10 stars. Exceptions did sneak through from time to time (like Major Shockwave.) I’ve had the opportunity to play with or against Galaxy Optimus, Astrotrain, Lord Megatron, Octone, and Captain Jetfire so far, and they all feel like they can hold their own weight, even if they’re only bringing along two Micromasters as their partners.
- We’ve had a lot of viable options open up at the 6 and 7 star “regular” character ranges. Up until now, the main 7 star standouts have been Barrage, Skrapnel, Sentinel Ironhide, Sentinel Prowl, and Sentinel Hot Rod. Six star character options have also been pretty anemic, outside of characters focused on certain strategies (like Prowl1 or Demolisher) or characters who just have relatively solid stats and a useful keyword (Red Alert1 or Swoop1). Siege II brings us solid 7 star “regular character” options in Barricade, Chop Shop2, Impactor, Mirage3, Nightbird, and Smokescreen.
- Our options for Battlemasters have also opened up. In Wave 3, we primarily saw Firedrive, Lionizer, and Aimless, roughly in that order. Even though folks had some tricks with Pteraxadon, he never saw widespread play; nor did Nightstick. With more focus on white and black pips, both of these characters might find their way into more decks. Blowpipe and Smashdown never saw much play, especially since they weren’t valid PTT targets. With Siege II, Turbo Board, Vanguard, Caliburst, and Sights all seem like they’re useful. On top of that, folks may have been sleeping on just how useful Turbo Board and Caliburst can be in their “living” mode, in order to slow down or disrupt what your opponent can do. Finally, the Weapon slot has almost always proven to be the most “important,” and there were moments where it felt a little bit bad to have to overwrite a powerful weapon with a Battlemaster who was just killed. With Sights especially, the ability to just plug it into the lesser-used Utility slot is a powerful effect, especially since it also comes with a static +1 boost to both ATK and DEF.
- -I don’t have a ton of elaboration for this yet, but it feels like the cards from Siege II will “activate” some of sleeper cards from Siege I. For the most part, I didn’t include many Siege I battle cards in my decks, but I feel like that’s going to change now.
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