NEW PLAYER’S GUIDE: WAVE 1 CHARACTERS (RARE)

Welcome back! As a reminder, these articles are meant to serve as an overview for new players, and a bit of a nostalgic romp for old-timers. In this article, you’ll find the Rare Characters from Wave 1. For the introduction to the series, links to other rundowns, and some more general info, check out the landing page for this series.

Wave 1 Rare Characters

Arcee (Skilled Fighter) – RT T01

Oh, man. I absolutely love this card. To make her Bot mode ability as clear as possible, no matter what value you can get her ATK to reach, you’ll also have that much Pierce. Yes, you count ATK boosts from Upgrades, Actions, character abilities, and orange pips flipped. For 5 stars, you get a glass cannon that you’ll probably have one opportunity to swing right into the heart of your opponent’s most important character. The trick is to make sure she survives long enough to get that swing, and that you’re able to make it count, preferably with both an Upgrade and an Action to boost her ATK.

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Worth Buying. Arcee is a lot of fun, but you really are paying 5 stars just for a cruise missile that you will probably use once in a given game.

First deck ideas: Try the line-up used by Kevin Allen at GenCon (Arcee/Cliffjumper/Prowl/Red Alert). Alternatively, you can also roll with Optimus Prime (Battlefield Legend) and a 6- or 7-star character of your choice. Focus on big weapons and ATK boosting actions in a mostly orange-based battle deck.

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):


Autobot Cosmos – RT T02

Cosmos is an absolute thematic win. It is really cool that he is essentially “abducting” the character that he attacks if you need to reshuffle your deck while attacking (essentially, your deck runs out of cards and you need to reshuffle your scrap pile to draw more). With that said, you need to definitely pay very close attention to how many cards you have remaining and try to find ways to either accelerate your deck running out, or slow it down to time it correctly. It definitely a “thinking man’s” deck, and even more so, a “counting man’s” deck. Since I’m allergic to math, Cosmos has never really been my jam, but it’s always been neat to play against him (usually Frenchie or RJ). It’s worth noting that he had a 1 star stratagem in Wave 5 that greatly expands his use. If you’re unable to get your hands on it, just proxy it.

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Conditional Buy, if you want to run some jank that focuses heavily on manipulating card draw/card flips.

First deck ideas: Oh, man. I don’t even know. I’d recommend watching any Cosmos videos on our YouTube channel to get some ideas.

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):

(if you like counting)

(if you don’t)


Chromia (Special Ops) – RT T11

Chromia was an early experiment on creating a character that was focused around white pips. Later in the game’s lifespan, we’d see characters and battle cards that would make that strategy a bit more viable, but even then, Chromia didn’t find her way into those decks. On top of that, Motorcycles as an alt mode tribe never had a lot of support or even a coherent identity. In short, in the Wave 1 days, pulling Chromia as one of your Rare characters was always a pretty feels bad moment, unless she was the very last card you needed to complete your collection.

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Avoid, as she doesn’t really fit into any decks and also isn’t really fun to play.

First deck ideas: If you want to run a gimmicky deck that focuses on white pips, consider using her. Perhaps pair her with W1 Mirage, who wants to see white pips to untap himself, or with W1 Shockwave, who wants to see cards like System Reboot to trigger his Bot mode ability.

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):

EDIT: I’ve been told by both Technomagus and Jihen that there was a neat deck that used Chromia’s Wave 5 Stratagem. I don’t have any experience playing it or seeing it played, but it’s worth giving it a shot.


Darkmount (Cruel Overlord) – RT T12

Darkmount (AKA Straxus) was almost there. His flip to Alt mode ability is incredibly useful, and his Bot mode ability often has some traction, since Ranged characters have almost always been powerful and omnipresent. He boasts decent ATK values for a 9 star, and excellent DEF values. His 9 health is what holds him back, though. Even in the days of Wave 1, it wasn’t hard to get high Pierce values or just burn him down through a combination of powerful attack swings and direct damage.

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Conditional Buy, if you want to explore Tanks as a tribal deck.

First deck ideas: Go with the classic Wave 1 Tank line-up (W1 Common Megatron, Demolisher, and Darkmount). Make sure to load up with armor and have 3x Hunker Down in the deck. Frenchie wrote a great primer on them.

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):


Decepticon Shockwave (Cybertron Commander) – RT T14

If you wanted to explore some of the jankier possibilities of gameplay early in the game, Shockwave was your jam. It was a neat puzzle figuring out how to get your opponent to draw a lot of cards, just to subsequently force them to scrap them and take indirect damage (damage where they get to choose the recipient) for each card scrapped. System Reboot was the battle card of choice to ensure that happened. Beyond that, Shockwave has a solid 3 DEF in both modes, and a powerful ATK of 6 in Alt mode, making him one of the relatively few characters in the game who could hit harder in Alt mode than in Bot mode. Much like Darkmount, however, his low health of 11 made him a bit trickier to use, and would later make him obsolete compared to other characters in the 10-11 star range.

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Conditional Buy, if you want to explore discard as a playstyle.

First deck ideas: Internet personality Vangelus first championed the use of Shockwave and Optimus Prime (Battlefield Legend) as a two-tall team, dubbing it “Shadowplay” after an arc from IDW 1.0’s More Than Meets the Eye comic book. You can also consider one of my favorite Wave 1 lineups (Shockwave, Thundercracker, Flamewar). It came out to 24 stars, so you can try to sneak in Villainous Spotlight or a star card to fill it out.

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):


Grimlock (Dinobot Leader) – RT T21

There was a time period where Grimlock was selling for more money online than the two Super Rares, Nemesis Prime and Bumblebee. Early on in the game, players were eager to rock the OG Dinobot line-up (Grimlock, Snarl, Sludge) and were willing to pay big money. With good reason, as that lineup is just a ton of face-smashing fun. You’ll be hooked after the first time you get an opposing character to near-death, then attack with Grimlock in Bot mode to defeat it AND trample the extra damage onto another character, also killing it. The key is obviously to load up your deck with big weapons and ATK/Bold boosting actions and just go to town.

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Must Buy, as Dinobots are a blast to play, and Grimlock can also find his way into other aggressive decks.

First deck ideas: Grimlock, Sludge, Snarl. Accept no substitutes.

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):


Insecticon Skrapnel (Insecticon Leader) – RT T23

Wave 1 Bug decks (Skrapnel, Kickback, Barrage, and either Ransack or Chop Shop). It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Load up your deck with orange pips, weapons, ATK boosts, I Still Functions. Memorize the order to flip your bugs and attack with them. Go on auto-pilot. Rinse. Repeat. Skrapnel is a vital component of the deck, as he helps with survivability (it’ll take 3 swings by your opponent to kill Skrapnel in Bot mode, unless they supplement those attacks with direct damage). His tap down ability when flipping to Alt can also be extremely effective and allow you to win the game if used at the right moment.

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Must Buy, as Bugs are one of the most well-known deck archetypes, plus Skrapnel can also find his way into other decks.

First deck ideas: Definitely team him up with his fellow Bugs (Kickback, Barrage, and either Ransack or Chop Shop).

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):


Megatron (Living Weapon) – RT T27

Meant to serve as a counterpart to Optimus Prime (Battlefield Legend), this version of Megatron didn’t quite ever get there. Don’t get me wrong; it can be a ton of fun to load him up with 3x Energon Axes and just start swinging, but it can take a lot of work to get to that point, and you have to carefully balance loading him up with ensuring that his teammates are also doing something useful. He was probably a bit overcosted (he might have seen a little bit more play if he was 1-2 stars cheaper).

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Conditional Buy, if you really like Megatron or want to chase the dream of equipping as many weapons as possible onto a single character.

First deck ideas: Consider teaming him up with Flamewar and Skrapnel, using them as blockers to keep the heat off of Megs while you get him loaded up.

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):


Optimus Prime (Battlefield Legend) – RT T29

Optimus Prime (Battlefield Legend) started the trend of Optimus generally seeing really strong character cards as the game progressed. OPBL has a ton of value in both modes. In Bot mode, you get to play a free action off of his attack flip (although it should be noted that Bold values are finalized prior to cards being flipped, so Supercharge won’t kick in to add additional cards). Early on, you were generally hoping to flip Leap into Battle for the +3 ATK, but you could also pull other shenanigans as well. In addition to that, you could also use his flip to Alt ability to recall an action to hand that you needed in that moment. OPBL dominated much of the Wave 1 meta and remained a strong pick up through the end of Wave 4, and for good reason.

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Must Buy. OPBL is extremely powerful and a lot of fun to play. If you want to relieve the iconic scene from the ’86 movie where Prime drives into Autobot City, mowing down Decepticons left and right, this is your card.

First deck ideas: The classic line-up is OPBL and Nemesis, but I’d also encourage you to try OPBL with Skrapnel and Arcee, which was an early favorite deck for Joe.

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):


Sunstorm (Fusion Flyer) – RT T38

Similar to Shockwave, Sunstorm encouraged players to embark on a little mini-game while trying to eliminate opposing characters. In this case, you were trying to draw as many cards as possible to pump Sunstorm’s ATK value. Unfortunately, Security Checkpoint and System Reboot have been options available since day 1 to partially wipe out an opponent’s hand of cards. Beyond that, it’s usually been possible to just play high ATK value weapons and actions on typical characters to bump their ATK to equivalent values of a “powered up” Sunstorm, without having to put in the work to focus on card draw.

Must Buy, Worth Buying, Conditional Buy, or Avoid?: Conditional Buy (if you really want to try out the maximum card draw strategy).

First deck ideas: Crankcase from Wave 5 also wants to have a lot of cards in hand, and his 1 star stratagem prevents your opponent from forcing you to scrap cards from your hand. You have 6 stars left to play around with (I like Sights from Wave 4 to get another Ranged Decepticon character on the team).

Fun Factor (out of 5 Kups):


If you’re new to the game, make sure to go through our old articles (especially this one about building your first decks) and check out our library of videos. The next article in this series will run through some of the highlights for Common and Uncommon character cards from Wave 1. See you then!

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