[Guest Article] Energon Invitational Report – Swoop, There It Is by Blaine Bublitz

This article was planned to be released before my Wreck ‘N Rule gameplay video and “Making Of” article but due to unforeseen circumstances, it is the last in my series to be released. Sorry about that!

At the Energon Invitational, I placed 11th overall, and was one of only a couple undefeated players during the constructed portion. I played a Daring Escape deck that I have named “Swoop, There It Is” which was featured on Nagle’s Notes.

Preparation

Almost all of my preparation for the Energon Invitational was centered around the Daring Escape combo deck. After someone in my play group encountered the Wheeljack version on OCTGN, we quickly began testing variants against everything we could throw at it. The best version we came up with was Red Heat and three other 5-star specialists. That version used 3x Leap of Faith & 2x Universal Network Access in the deck, but the real combo-maker was 3x Involuntary Promotion which gave half of a “Swap Parts” effect and kept the combo going (while also letting you re-use Red Heat on following turns).

With the power and consistency of this deck, I assumed that it would be the primary win condition at the Invitational. However, this version of the deck was extremely weak to Private Turbo Board, so I designed all of my potential tournament decks to be able to sideboard into Turbo Board. Of course, this solution wouldn’t last long because the Daring Escape deck started sideboarding into OPBL and three One Shall Stand to insta-kill Turbo Board at about a 40-50% chance. I determined that I’d need to win game 1 and then luck into winning game 2 or 3 to beat the combo deck.

I was able to build an aggro deck that had Turbo Board in the main deck and could still win normal games, then it could sideboard into a better character if my opponent wasn’t playing the combo deck. I was very happy with this deck and had planned on using it until the Multi-Mission Gear ban happened.

The Banning

I was ecstatic at the Multi-Mission Gear banning! The king was dead!! It was exactly what I was hoping for, so I wouldn’t need to play Turbo Board!!!

I’m not one to be satisfied with my assumptions, so I set out on a mission to build the best Daring Escape deck that was possible after the banning. Carl Endres’ article about his Chromia/Springer/Red Heat deck gave me a lot of insights into a version that I never tried and a good starting point to adjust. I made a couple tiny changes and started playing it against myself & others in our local playgroup. There were many games where I would just win on turn 3 and if given five or six turns, I’d almost always win. I thought this was the best it would get, which was still pretty good, but my aggro deck would still beat it.

Train Grind

I’ve been planning a vacation with my girlfriend around PAX Unplugged and the Invitational. We decided to take the train to Philly and I even took time off work. This gave me 8+ hours per day to test things for the four days leading up to PAX and I started grinding games with my aggro deck. It became pretty apparent that blue Galaxy Prime and Captain Jetfire decks would be very difficult (but possible) to fight through. About two days into the trip, I started testing the Daring Escape deck against Galaxy Prime and Jetfire, and I consistently won with my combo deck.

In an attempt to aid the community in this discovery, I wrote a “mini deck tech” for the facebook group explaining that the Springer-version of Daring Escape didn’t need Multi-Mission Gear. It got a small amount of attention but was mostly dismissed as me just blowing smoke or trying to scare people.

Since it didn’t get much attention, I assumed that the field would consist of a lot of blue Galaxy Prime, Shockwave, Jetfire, and a smattering of aggro decks. And I think I was spot-on. 🙂

If everyone was going to be playing blue decks, I would have plenty of time to Escape and just needed to make my deck a tiny bit more consistent to have an easy day. So I started working on the deck and solitaring it over and over and over. Each time a card felt bad, I adjusted it until the deck was winning (what felt like) 95% of my solitaire games on turn 3. In the future, I’m hoping to write about the process behind this creation.

I knew I had something really interesting! So I decided that I needed to play some real games.

Thursday Night

We actually arrived in Philly on Thursday afternoon, so my girlfriend and I decided to check out a bit of the city. We ended up going to a bar named Tiki and she created wonderful tokens to properly track all my triggers. I wanted to see how well they worked, so I invited anyone around the convention to play some games at the bar. A few people stopped by for some games. We ended up playing games against this deck until almost 2 AM and it only lost when I wasn’t paying enough attention or didn’t know the match-up.

Friday

I realized I only had 1 more day to make up my mind on which deck I would be playing at the Invitational, so I played a handful of games against people in the Transformers area at PAX to see how I was feeling about the deck. I even got to show Carl my updates!

The thing that finally changed my mind is that my playgroup put my aggro deck against this newest combo deck and I won handily. This was a huge eye-opener, so I went back to my hotel room and submitted “Swoop, There It Is” as my EI deck.

Swoop, There It Is

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

Tournament

Like I said previously, I placed 11th overall. My six rounds of constructed were all undefeated but my sealed games didn’t go very well. I’m sorry if I don’t call out who I played specifically, you were all amazing opponents—it was just easier for me to remember teams. And I’m sorry if you had to sit around while I combo’d.

Round 1 – Bugs

While I was testing, Bugs didn’t do very well against Daring Escape because they reduce their power level significantly when sideboarding Turbo Board, but I never tested them against this Springer version. However, my sideboard was specifically for this match-up.

I won game 1 by Escaping very early (turn 3 or 4?). He sideboarded into Turbo Board and I put three Extra Padding & three Handheld Blaster into my deck. He actually won this match because I wasn’t able to accumulate my Extra Paddings before the wheel turn and he PTT right after the wheel to keep Turbo Board protected for another couple turns. In the end, it was Springer vs Skrapnel with a Board on him! I won the last game but I don’t completely remember the ending. I think I PTT’d Firedrive to kill Turbo Board and then took another turn where I Escaped but I might be wrong.

Record: 1-0

Round 2 – Firedrive/Dead End/Road Hugger/Cliffjumper

I went into this round very scared because “Twisted Metal” was created in Phoenix and actually had a really good match-up against the previous version of this deck if I didn’t win on turn 3.

I don’t remember a ton from this match as it was overshadowed by the looming sealed portion, but one thing I remember was discarding my hand to Firedrive and swinging into Cliffjumper for 20 and leaving only Road Hugger against my Springer.

Record: 2-0

Lunch

My amazing girlfriend brought me lunch after the second round, so I would be nourished throughout the day. This turned out to be immensely important because I went to time in almost all of my sealed rounds and a couple of constructed rounds—it was an exhausting day.

Sealed

My sealed pool was quite mediocre and I didn’t pull any cards that I found to be “bombs” (Soldier’s Blaster, Reprocess) in testing. I played Lockdown/Chromia/Needler. Nothing I could have run would have equaled 25-stars so I ran 24-stars and one star card (plunder), this came to haunt me in round 3.

Round 3 (Sealed) – Lockdown/Sandstorm/Nightflight

He went first and smacked Lockdown for ~8 damage, but I won game 1 due to cycling lots of cards with Lockdown flips and getting a couple bounties.

Our game 2 went to time, and it ended with my opponent KO’ing my last character. This meant we went into tiebreakers for game 3, where we had the same HP and he had 25-stars on his character cards.

Of course, my matchups would have been different if we had tied, but I can’t help being a little salty that there are no draws in Swiss. 😦

Record: 2-1

Round 4 (Sealed) – Triggerhappy/Red Alert/Deadlock

This was actually a lineup that I was very scared of due to my own testing. I had found that stealth was very powerful—especially with a Battle Master, but Red Alert chump-blocking worked too. Triggerhappy is my favorite character from Wave 3 and probably my favorite in sealed too because he can pick up your EM Launchers and Crowbars so everyone can hit hard consistently.

I managed to win the first game, but my opponent stuck a Bravery during the second. I had no utility removal, so I had to waste too many attacks and couldn’t get a bounty on Lockdown. Game 3 went to time and Triggerhappy was the last to attack with 5 Attack & Pierce 5 which reduced my health well below my opponent’s for the tiebreaker loss.

Record: 2-2

Round 5 (Sealed) – Chromia/Mirage/Hot Rod

I took this one 2-0 because my opponent’s characters didn’t have enough defense, nor attack, so after the first bounty, Lockdown could usually KO anything else while being unchallenged.

Record: 3-2

Round 6 – Shockwave/Caliburst/Flamewar

Back to constructed! This deck was an amazing build of Shockwave and gave me a tough time. At one point, I made it to ~6 cards in hand and he used Fog of War + flipping Shockwave + playing the weapon to reduce me to 0 cards.

In the first game, I drew into a Defensive Driving on turn 1, so Caliburst did no damage the whole game. In the 2nd game, I had to dig a lot to find it, but at one point I had a Springer upgrade pending and I dug with 3 Confidence to find Defensive Driving and then played it with the upgrade play before Caliburst triggers applied and they fizzled.

I forgot the order of our games but I Escaped in only one of the games. In the other game, I discarded a massive hand to kill Shockwave, leaving Caliburst to fight on his own.

Record: 4-2

Round 7 – Octone/Barrage/Flamewar

(I might have swapped round 7 & 8)

This deck was very cool and I plan to give it a shot at my locals! Octone hits very hard so I needed to be very careful at protecting my characters, even sideboarding into my anti-aggressive sideboard.

I lost game 1 because I miscounted my combo by 1 card and should have killed Octone instead of attempting to Escape.

I won the next two games by Escaping. Time was called while I was in the middle of the combo on game 3 so I got time to complete it.

Record: 5-2

Round 8 – Smokescreen/Cliffjumper/Lockdown

I really like this deck and was testing it for the EI. Smokescreen allows the deck to sideboard directly into Turbo Board, which is why I was exploring it.

Unfortunately, my opponent didn’t have any counter cards in his deck or sideboard, so I just performed the combo twice in a row. This win made me feel really bad. 😦

Record: 6-2

Round 9 – Aerialbots

Against Aerialbots, I don’t stress about how many turns it takes me to combo since they just poke me with a thousand needles.

I Escaped in game 1. He sideboarded into Turbo Board and I knew my game plan was just to spend my turns on playing upgrades (Multi-Tool into something or 2 Extra Padding, etc) and then use Showing Off and Equipment Enthusiast in the late game to draw tons—you can even use Springer just to play 2 actions for huge draw. I had as many turns as I wanted since he could no longer combine and didn’t even kill Turbo Board before I Escaped.

Record: 7-2

Overall Thoughts

I know a lot of people have widely varying thoughts on how the EI went but I am generally happy overall. It was very much like the other bigger TCG events I’ve gone to. I’m disappointed with my performance in sealed but I also don’t feel like I was “blown out” by my opponent’s pulls. I’d like to see draws in Swiss returned because the tiebreaker stuff caused a ton of confusion and actually harms people in sealed if they can’t build a 25-star team—and you probably shouldn’t be rewarded for building towards tie breakers.

I also would have loved to have a top 16 cut like other tournaments I’ve participated in, but I understand it was probably a time issue.

I don’t think anyone was truly prepared for the deck that I brought, even when given ample warning, and I would have done great if I would have been in a top cut.

Also, I wanted to give a huge shout-out to the community for being awesome; I had a ton of awesome conversations about my deck throughout the weekend. And the Phoenix playgroup for practicing with me and persuading me to play this deck! Y’all rock!!

See you next year!

-Blaine

One thought on “[Guest Article] Energon Invitational Report – Swoop, There It Is by Blaine Bublitz

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