[Guest Article] “Swoop, There It Is” by Blaine Bublitz

Today’s article is from Blaine Bublitz, from Phoenix, Arizona, who has had very strong finishes at multiple large events during the history of organized play for TFTCG. Blaine went Top 4 at GenCon, running Bugs. More recently, Blaine went undefeated in the constructed portion of the Energon Invitational at PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia, ending up in the Top 16. On a personal level, I’m also a big fan of the Mini Deck Techs that he posts in the main TFTCG Facebook group.

In the following article, Blaine writes about the development and execution of the deck that he used at the Energon Invitational, a Daring Escape deck using Sergeant Springer, Dinobot Swoop, and Firedrive.

[Editor’s Note: Some of the links above and below will lead you to posts in the Facebook group. If they don’t work, it’s likely because you’re not a member. Make sure you join here.]


The Making of Swoop, There It Is

At this point, you’ve probably seen something about my undefeated deck at the Energon Invitational, “Swoop, There It Is”—whether that’s from Nagle’s Notes or the Wreck ‘N Rule gameplay video. However, I wanted to write about how I actually built this deck to give better insights into the thought process of iterative deck building and refinement.

[Editor’s Note: Look for more on Blaine’s deck soon.]

Final Deck

If you haven’t seen it elsewhere, here is the final list I played at the Energon Invitational and I will explain how many of the decisions were made below.

Characters

  • Private Firedrive – Ground Command * Artillery (7 stars)
  • Sergeant Springer – Special Ops * Aerial Defense (12 stars)
  • Dinobot Swoop – Fearsome Flyer (6 stars)

Upgrades (19)

  • 3x Multi-Tool
  • 3x Drill Arms
  • 3x Scrapper Gauntlets
  • 2x Defensive Driving
  • 2x Crushing Size
  • 1x Field Communicator
  • 3x Kinetic Converter
  • 2x Conversion Engine

Actions (21)

  • 3x Pep Talk
  • 2x Peace Through Tyranny
  • 2x Reclaim
  • 3x Brainstorm
  • 2x Daring Escape
  • 3x Showing Off
  • 3x Confidence
  • 3x Equipment Enthusiast

Sideboard

  • Arcee – Skilled Fighter (5 stars)
  • 2x Quartermaster
  • 2x Security Checkpoint
  • 3x Handheld Blaster
  • 3x Extra Padding

The Daring Escape Nerfs

Before the Multi-Mission Gear banning, there were many versions of Daring Escape decks. My playgroup tested a few different iterations, including 4-wide Specialists, Springer/Elita-1, Shockwave/Red Heat/Skydive. The fastest of these relied on chaining Leap of Faith, usually starting with three in deck and using Ancient Wisdom & Unleash Potential to pull in another two or three.

There was a “stealth” nerf to this strategy before the Mulit-Mission Gear banning because you could no longer pull in more than 3 copies of Leap of Faith, which reduced the effectiveness of running Unleash Potential.

Further complications came to some strategies when the “latest trigger first” timing rule was announced—before that ruling, we would have 20+ Caliburst triggers queued up when Daring Escape was played to win the game.

Then, of course, we saw the Multi-Mission Gear banning occur. Which gave me about a week to explore and determine if Daring Escape was still viable.

The Starting Point

I’ve mentioned in other places that my starting point was Carl Endres’ “Specialist Escape” deck posted here on Wreck ‘N Rule. I swapped out Multi-Mission Gear for Scrapper Gauntlets and added Defensive Driving (and mistakenly replaced Diagnosis with Secret Dealings, which actually turned out well).

I started playing this deck and the more I tested, I found that I never wanted to flip Red Heat. If I wasted a turn flipping him, I’d likely lose. So my first flip was always spent on Chromia, as the article suggested, then I’d flip Springer for the remainder of the game. Red Heat just ended up being a character that took a hit before Springer had to attack. Following this strategy, I felt like my turn 3 win percentage was about 70%, and there was a strong correlation between drawing with Chromia and winning the game that early.

I made a post about this deck after testing against others in Phoenix, but before I started iterating on the design. You can check out the post on Facebook, but I’ll post the starting list below. This seems to have angered some community members because they believe I misled them. To set the record straight, I’ve done everything in the spirit of sharing my knowledge—even to the point of playing the final version against a bunch of people at PAX prior to the Invitational in an attempt to help them prepare.

Characters

  • Sergeant Springer (12-star)
  • Private Red Heat (5-star)
  • Sergeant Chromia (7-star)

Upgrades (19)

  • 3x Handheld Blaster
  • 3x Multi-Tool
  • 3x Extra Padding
  • 2x Scrapper Gauntlets (was 3x Multi-Mission Gear)
  • 3x Field Communicator
  • 3x Kinetic Converter
  • 2x Defensive Driving (new)

Actions (21)

  • 2x Hidden Fortification
  • 3x Brainstorm
  • 2x Confidence
  • 2x Daring Escape
  • 2x Secret Dealings (was 3x Diagnosis)
  • 3x Equipment Enthusiast
  • 1x Leap of Faith
  • 3x Pep Talk
  • 3x Showing Off

Firedrive

I started thinking about characters that could guarantee me a draw on my first turn, since Chromia was pretty inconsistent. Luckily for me, we have a player in Phoenix that uses Firedrive a lot, so he quickly popped into my head. And it just so happened that he has the exact same star cost as Chromia. 😉

Now that I have a guaranteed extra draw on my first turn, I looked to another Springer deck for guidance—the Aggro Springer/Firedrive deck from PPG Dallas! This deck used Firedrive and Springer to draw tons before playing Peace Through Tyranny on Firedrive and attacking the opponent for 20+ damage. I loved the idea of this and quickly slotted in 2 PTT. Little did I know, this would be a great tech against Private Turbo Board, as well as give the deck a secondary win condition.

Extra Padding/Handheld Blaster

I loved the Extra Padding and Handheld Blaster concept present in Carl’s original deck because they made Springer survive forever, but I found that if I had an Extra Padding (or 2 or 3) in hand in the beginning of the game, I often wouldn’t build up to the 7 cards in hand Springer needs to trigger his Bot mode ability. About this time, the “explanation” post about the Multi-Mission Gear banning came out and mentioned that they wanted a Daring Escape deck to exist that used Drill Arms. I realized that I had already added Scrapper Gauntlets to my deck and I’d heard of another Daring Escape deck running Crushing Size previously. I decided to switch the Extra Padding and Handheld Blaster for a full set of these Wave 1 upgrades. Not only do they replace themselves in the early game to build to your 7 card hand, they also provide attached upgrades for bigger Equipment Enthusiast draws.

I still respected the power of this combination with Springer and decided I would add it to my sideboard, so I could survive longer against a very aggressive deck. This choice helped me quite a few times at the Invitational.

Field Communicator

As this deck started coming together, it became very consistent. Most of the inconsistency came when I played a Field Communicator into a card at the wrong time (for example, Peace Through Tyranny when you don’t want to KO someone or Equipment Enthusiast with no other upgrades in play). This made me realize that I’d rather play a Drill Arms, Scrapper Gauntlet, or Crushing Size every time, so I cut the Field Communicators completely.

I actually swapped a Crushing Size for a Field Communicator the night before the Invitational because I played some test games and found that it could result in a win in a rare edge-case. However, in the actual tournament, it caused me to miscalculate by one card, and I lost that game. I’ll likely be returning it to the last copy of Crushing Size.

Conversion Engine

With Field Communicator removed, I went back to the Aggro Springer deck to see other good cards to consider adding. I had remembered from watching PPG Dallas that it used Conversion Engine to flip between Alt 1 and Alt 2 modes and get extra draws. Since I needed more upgrades in the deck, I decided to add 2 copies to see how they’d perform.

I honestly didn’t expect the scenarios and results I found. While testing, if I was about to fizzle the combo, I could use my final Springer upgrade play to attach the Conversion Engine then attack and flip to Bot mode to finish the combo before the board is cleared (including the flipped battle cards). You can also end your Springer action play on a big Equipment Enthusiast to draw into other combo pieces, play Conversion Engine, and continue the combo before your turn ends. In essence, it’s a one-time-use Multi-Mission Gear in this deck!

Reclaim

Before the banning, my favorite Daring Escape deck was Shockwave with Red Heat and Skydive because he could control the game while setting up a slightly delayed Escape. He also had a secondary win condition once he was fully loaded with his weapons and other upgrades.

Since it was a Shockwave deck, it had 3 copies of Reclaim. When I realized that Springer needs some critical upgrades and has a ton of built in draw, I immediately decided to slot in two Reclaim in order to get key pieces back.

This card worked wonders at the Invitational. Your opponent usually can’t disrupt upgrades in play, upgrades in hand, and actions in hand at the same time, so you are always able to get back the upgrades you need!

Swoop

As this deck evolved, it became more and more focused on Springer—to the point where Red Heat was just a shield for him. I looked into a bunch of 5-star specialists but wasn’t really happy with any of them. While thinking over my character options, I realized that the single Leap of Faith wasn’t really doing much for me anymore and I decided to take a look at 6-star characters.

There he was, my buddy Swoop, with 10 health and 2 defense. He even had a flip trigger that could be used with Showing Off if Springer is KO’d. His 5 attack in Bot mode even makes him a formidable attacker with the Firedrive weapon! Oh, and the kicker was that he is also a Peace Through Tyranny target if you really need it.

I don’t think this deck would be nearly as powerful without Swoop, so there it is. I hope you enjoyed this exploration into my iterative deck building process and see how you can pull inspiration from other decks into your creations!

An Aside: Swap Parts

While this deck doesn’t use any “Swap Parts”-style effects, I believe that the card Swap Parts needs to stay banned, otherwise this deck can move a full set of Drill Arms/Scrapper Gauntlets/Crushing Size between characters to draw six cards—which is essentially like adding three more copies of Equipment Enthusiast to the deck. Adding this additional layer of consistency to the deck would take it too far, in my opinion.

-Blaine

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