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Freedom Lies in Being Bold: Part III: Control

Bold Control? What are you smoking?!

by Scott Landis

Welcome back to VectorSigma.info for our third and final part of our BOLD trilogy. I will try and post some updates to my other decks as time goes on, especially the aggro-BOLD Dinobot strategy since the entire set has come out since the design of that deck. The version of BOLD I am going to cover today is going to seem odd, since it is not really using BOLD as its intended use to add to your offense, but instead to simply get cards into your scrap pile to power up your heavy hitter: Nemesis Prime.


Now I know what you are thinking: why would a blue icon based deck want to focus on BOLD and not focus on Tough? Well, first of all there is some Tough in the deck because it simply makes sense to include it (and you will see later that based on the math of the deck that Tough is very good). Second, the main issue you run into with Tough is that it competes in the Armor slot with Forcefield which is generally superior to it in most situations (see below). Third, as the active player, the attacker, YOU chose who attacks, when, and how (with your choice of Upgrades and Action Cards) so you have control over BOLD flipping more cards. Compare this to Tough, where either your opponent can chose to ignore the Character with Tough on it, or you need to upgrade/attack with a character you may not want to early simply to force them to attack the Tough one. I just think BOLD offers more control over when and how many cards you are flipping each turn, and ultimately that is the goal of this build.


So let’s start with the decklist:

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Decklist

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Transformers: Nemesis Prime, Demolisher, Barrage

The Focus: Nemesis Prime

  

Nemesis Prime is rather obvious focal point: he is the “win condition” of the deck and the reason the entire strategy exists. The idea is to get him up to ten attack before his attack and then from his first attack on he has a solid chance of KOing any opposing character. Here is how the math breaks down, in ideal turns:



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 Now, I know you may be thinking that some of these scenarios are “Cybertronian Christmas Land” types, but I am not so sure. “Cybertronian Christmas Land” is a term adapted from other TCGs which basically means you get the ideal hands/draw/flips/etc. when you need them and glean all information from only the best possible angle of anything. I do not want to go into the individual card choices of the Battle Deck until later, but since the entire basis of the deck is getting Nemesis Prime to 10 attack before he attacks, the deck concept falls apart without proof that his idea will work. 


You can see from a glance at the decklist there is a lot of redundant ways of drawing 2-3 cards through an Action card, and flipping and additional 2-3 cards per attack/defense from BOLD or TOUGH. The individual scenario above also NEVER has Barrage attacking with his BOLD 2 active (as oftentimes Demolisher will not damage the opponent) but that may change the situation. Here is a small chart that shows some common scenarios that may play out and the amount flipped: 

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EV stands for Expected Value, which takes the percentages to Flip X cards and multiplies by the amount of cards flipped. So if you look at a “Normal” scenario, you have a 42% chance of getting a White Combat Icon which flips you four cards and a 58% chance of not getting a White Battle Icon, netting you only two cards. So we take .42(4) + .58(2) and that gets us an Expected Value of any normal attack netting us 2.84 cards off the top. This logic follows through for different scenarios as above.  I will come back to this chart later, but know that this is ONLY combat calculations and does not count the card drawing OUTSIDE of combat. 


The point of all this is that you can see it is not very difficult to get Nemesis Prime to 10 attack before he attacks, giving him the largest base attack in the game. Now, he may not be swinging for a lot given that 10 attack, since so much of your deck is defensive, but his massive health pool combined with the different defensive options should keep him alive long enough to continuously build up this attack each round cycle, especially if your other characters can stay alive, or you get a Body Armor into play on your opponents attack target.


His Transform to Alt mode ability is not irrelevant, but should only be used when you have a Rapid Conversion in hand, as he loses the attack bonuses. This is why the deck cannot run any “Truck dependent” cards. On a turn where he can get a “free flip” off of Rapid Conversion, it may set up a larger Barrage attack or simply a “free two damage” in the late game.

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Nemesis' Assistants: Demolisher and Barrage

  

Demolisher does exactly what this deck is looking to accomplish: Flip more cards while attacking and keep characters on the board. His Bot mode defense of four is the highest base in the game, and his built in “Bold 4” without adding any armor is only bested by characters such as Kickback in an all Insecticon build. The amount of cards flipped will be assisted as the chart above, but since this deck has an average defensive buff of 1.86 without the benefit of Tough (and a massive 4.228 when you are wearing Body Armor for Tough 3), Demolisher should shrug off the first SIX incoming damage immediately and potentially an average of EIGHT?! For a six cost Transformer who is furthering your main strategy this is hard to pass up.

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Choose, but choose wisely!

The choice of the third character was a difficult decision between four choices: the starter deck Optimus Prime: Autobot Leader, Dinobot Snarl, Insecticon Skrapnel, and Barrage. Each has their own set of positives and negatives. Snarl gives you access to Dino Chomp! which is clearly insane in the deck, but has a limited window when you can play it. His Bot ability actually HURTS you to use unless you put a White on top of your deck, but even then you are only netting three cards. Skrapnel is obviously a defensive specialist, but cards like Body Armor and Blast Shield are dead cards to play on him. He will eat three attacks from your opponent, but has no chance of furthering your plans through innate BOLD. Optimus Prime: Autobot Leader brings some potential Truck synergy to the deck, along with card draw in the alt mode and Bold 1 in the bot mode. This guaranteed Bold 1 is more reliable in the early game to Barrage’s pseudo Bold 2, but the issue with this version of Optimus is that he is not Melee in any mode, meaning he cannot wield Power Sword OR Body Armor. This is an issue for the build, but I feel he may warrant more testing as a viable partner that opens up the possibility of playing Team Up Tactics to heal both he and Nemesis, and would change some of the build to prioritize more Transform effects.


This leaves us with Barrage. He is normally found in aggressive decks, because he has the highest damage to star ratio of any character if his Bold 2 is active (easy to do in said aggressive strategies) but has a home here as well. His 11 health is the largest of the options, though he will not survive as long as Skrapnel in isolation. He has a melee mode that you can easily attach the upgrades to early and if your opponent allows him to attack a damaged character early, he opens up a lot of “easy options” to get the Nemesis Prime deck recycling online faster. Overall at first glance, Barrage seems to have the most going for him given the synergistic needs for the deck and his inborn Bold ability. 

If any of you try and different character above, or even a 5/6 cost I did not mention that you found works well as a third teammate, let me know!

Demolsiher 
Transformers

Battle Deck

Defense Wins Championships!

Ray Lewis
Transformers Trading Card Game
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As you can see from the Defense chart above, this deck is a defensive monstrosity! Without adding any tough to your characters you are getting almost a two defensive boost per defense, drastically reducing the amount of damage you take each turn. I know most people tend to focus on offense, since you have more control over it with current turn Actions and Upgrades, but a defensive buff will “trigger” more often. This is why defensive buffs tend to seem “less powerful” on the surface compared to attack ones.


So let’s start with the other defensive battle cards. I believe the discussion of “Flamethrower vs. Power Sword” that I wrote in the Dinobot Aggressive Bold deck would hold true here as well, comparing Body Armor to Reinforced Plating, but this deck actively WANTS to flip more cards at all times, regardless of the outcome. I believe the desire to get Nemesis online as fast as possible and the redundancy that Body Armor adds to Power Sword in the world of “Flip 3 extra” cards is more desired. With Tough 3 you will be blocking over 4.2 damage on average. A Body Armor on Nemesis will thus block over six damage per attack, that is massive! On Demolisher you are looking at turning away over EIGHT damage..that is huge!


There are also two Blast Shields in the deck, to combo with Demolisher’s Bot mode, but this could be the slot you have a more permanent armor like Reinforced Plating. Tough 2 in this build adds an average of 3.4 damage reduction, much higher than the “+2” that Blast Shield gives, but as I said Blast Shield can do double duty with Demolisher. Time will tell which is more important, but to start I want to continue to push the Nemesis ability theme.


Force Field is an auto-inclusion with its White combat icon, which you want to see every single combat, and its ability to keep your guys alive longer. I believe in this build that Body Armor is actually the better long term play, but in certain matchups that will try in put one huge attack on you, Forcefield will be a lifesaver. As the game is mostly “shades of aggro” instead of a traditional aggro-control-aggro/control type of rock-paper-scissors setting, I cannot see starting any decklist currently without three Forcefields.

Joker Plan

The Plan

The Joker: I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know... You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan". But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!


So the rest of the deck is set up to get Nemesis’ ability off as soon as possible, so involves a lot of card draw/sifting. 


The Power Sword and Handheld Blaster (yes, it may actually be advantageous to actually play out this little guy at times) both give you BOLD as upgrades. Supercharge gives you BOLD 3 as an ability as well, and there is potential to add in a full playset of this given its natural synergy in the deck. I think more often you are better suited playing an action that draws you more cards given the low amount of Orange battle icons in the deck so it really just here as another Nemesis enabler.


Data Bank draws you more cards each turn from the Utility slot, and as long as you draw two cards off it thoughout the turn cycle it is a better option than Data Pad. Backup Plan is another White Battle Icon card that draws us cards, and I would rather draw one less card than System Reboot than allow my opponent to draw four cards. There are extreme corner cases where drawing that fourth card will allow a Nemesis flip before he attacks to occur where he otherwise would not, but I feel it just helps your opponent too often without comboing with someone like Shockwave. Inspiring Leadership draws three and scraps 2, improving out hand quality while allowing us to remove cards from the deck. Even though we only net drawing one card from the deck with Incoming Transmission it allows us to set up a White battle icon on top of the deck to ensure we have an ideal attack. Treasure Hunt has a similar function to the above two cards but also allows us to smooth out our turns by digging deeper for the Upgrades we need to equip.


There is a lot of redundancy in these Action cards and that is intentional. You need to “draw three cards” (sift, extra through BOLD, etc.) each action phase to get Nemesis flipped in time for his first attack, ideally. This is why you do not see many of the “typical” action cards you may find in normal builds like Grenade Launcher or The Bigger they Are.. The Nemesis ability is the equivalent to getting a “free” Leap into Battle every turn cycle on your highest health character, turning him into a one shot machine. 

  

The last few cards in the deck are pretty basic. Security Checkpoint is in there for its double Blue icons when defending, but since you are a defensive deck you oftentimes do not need to horde upgrades in your hand, so playing an upgrade then playing this should be a net positive against most of the field you will face off against. It is certainly more playable than its double orange action card counterpart. Rapid Conversion allows for a corner case Barrage play as I stated earlier, and can be seen as a “mini Supercharge” because of it. It is likely the first card to be cut, but you will want to replace with cards with White battle icons to keep the deck balanced. I can see running a System Reboot and a third Backup Plan in their place, and could even make a case for a Swap Parts for when you only draw one Power Sword but want to use it on multiple characters in one attack round. It would act like a fourth Treasure Hunt in this case as often on attack you will be digging for another Power Sword, but it requires you to have one initially.


Drill Arms is here for when Nemesis is online, especially once he hits the 13 or more mark for base attack. Opposing Force Fields are your biggest weakness, so you need to make sure you get them off of the table. Nothing else upgrade wise is really a concern, so getting a weapon out, even if you are replacing a Power Sword, and +1 attack is superior than running an Orange card like Ramming Speed.


Leap into Battle is a blue card so does not hurt us defensively and is simply a “good card” that can put us over the top in combat.

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Scripting the First Few Turns

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Scripting the First Few Turns

  

Above is again the all-important turn 0-3 charts to stress the importance in planning out these scripted turns. If you can get Nemesis online during the first turn cycle he is the highest base attacker in the game with increasing potential each turn cycle. 

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Control can work!

  

Can control decks exist in the Transformers TCG? This deck certainly tries to be one with its emphasis on Blue battle icons, card draw, and single focus of character attacking. Unlike other defensive decks, such as Tanks, your characters do not lack in the Hit Point department (Nemesis has the second most in the game after Cosmos) so Pierce should not ruin your day as easily as it does say Darkmount. 


Do other Nemesis builds exist? Sure. His 12 star cost and massive combat stats give him a lot of two character build options, though you will likely not get him online as quickly given one less turn each cycle. He may have other interesting three character parings, but I feel this is the build that will get him online the quickest and most consistent. 


“Till All Are One!”