Jon Palmer has been playing TCGs for 25 years (with his high school friend Scott Landis). His top finishes include 2nd place at Game of Thrones Nationals, 3rd place at Legend of the Five Rings Worlds, and winning the Amethyst Championship at L5R. He also loosely inspired the villain in the movie Gamers 3: Hands of Fate
“Fortune may favor the Bold, but as far as I’m concerned, luck is just a quarterback with a bum shoulder.”
Over the past few weeks you’ve been treated to Scott’s three-part series on the Bold keyword and how in the right circumstances, it can be significantly more effective than simple combat bonuses (particularly true in the case of the Dinobots). I’m here to write a counterpoint, and show you a way to win with consistency, not statistically advantageous randomness, and as an additional bonus it doesn’t involve any $50 rare Transformers.
The deck we’re going to look at today goes 4-wide, a combination you can only do in certain ways given the card pool. You could play two 5 star cards, an 8 and a 7, but this will leave you with two low-power transformers. You can play with three 6 star cards and a 7, which is essentially the deck that comes in the Autobot starter. You can run four 6 star cards, which actually allows you to play a car theme, albeit having one car with mostly non-functioning abilities (Jazz) and, um, Red Alert, who we like to pretend doesn’t exist while in polite company. Or you can do what we’re doing here, running a 5, a 6 and two 7’s.
In doing so, we won’t be playing with a theme. Our theme is simply “the best available Transformer in each slot”, and we get pretty lucky there.
5 stars: Flamewar
Flamewar gets the nod here over Arcee due to higher health (we’re trying to avoid being 1-shotted) and the fact that flipping and sitting in bot mode to give everyone Tough 1, in particular, is probably going to be worth it.
6 stars: Bumblebee, Brave Warrior
Another character with some Tough going on, and randomly the best target for both Utilities we’re playing.
7 stars: Dinobot Snarl, Barrage
Barrage is the best Transformer in this deck, and the best generic Transformer in the 7 slot. His 5 attack with Bold 2 will be great and may allow you to KO with your final attack of the first cycle. His flip to alt mode will be less used, but on occasion there will be decks where Pierce can come into play.
Snarl has good overall stats, card draw for when we need it, and a way to place Improvised Armor on top of your deck when it’s in your hand. I had considered running 1x Jaws of Steel simply for him, but since Bold is not what this deck is trying to do, I went with a persistent +1 instead.
You may notice that I’m talking up Bold despite this being the anti-Bold deck. That’s okay! Bold is still a good ability when you’re in the neighborhood of 50% orange, the equivalent of a +1. We’re just not looking to take advantage constantly like Scott’s initial decks did.
Okay, let’s talk about the battle deck. We’re looking for about a 50/50 mix of upgrades and actions, and about a 50/50 mix of orange and blue cards. Given our somewhat lower health, we want to flip enough defense to avoid being frequently one-shotted by decks that do in the neighborhood of 10-11 damage per average attack (Dinobots, rare Optimus, later Nemesis, etc.) and to avoid being two-shotted by decks playing a more balanced them
Weapons: 3x Energon Axe (B), 3x Grenade Launcher (O), 3x Primary Laser (B)
This is the easiest choice in the entire deck. Each of these provides an excellent permanent boost to the attack. If you have cards to untap, or your opponent goes first, you may be able to attack with Energon Axe attack cycle (or “round” as we normally call it) 1 and round 2. Otherwise it’s rounds 2 and 3.
Armor: 3x Force Field (W), 3x Improvised Shield (OO)
Force Field is great because of the way the field skews towards huge attacks. In this deck you’ll generally use it to protect whoever you’ve put weapons on – in order, Barrage, Bumblebee (as the Utility target), Snarl, Flamewar. Improvised Shield should almost never be attached, it’s just an Upgrade with double orange pips.
Utilities: 3x Matrix of Leadership (OB), 2x Agility of Bumblebee (O)
Ignore the “of Bumblebee” part of Agility, unless you see it and no Matrix. It’s just a generic +1 that goes in the Utility slot and has an orange pip. Putting the Matrix on Bumblebee is great, however, as its bonus is not restricted to Autobots. (“Til All Are One” right?!). The Matrix having both pips makes it that much more incredible.me.
Actions: 3x Roll Out (OB), 3x Incoming Transmission (O), 2x Treasure Hunt (O), 3x Rapid Conversion (W), 3x I Still Function (Blank), 3x Leap Into Battle (B), 3x The Bigger They Are (B)
Leap Into Battle and The Bigger They Are are the most obvious includes here, as both give a static attack bonus.
Incoming Transmission is an orange pip and solid to set up your draw. I Still Function basically gives you an extra attack during a cycle, always good.
Rapid Conversion is a free transform; Roll Out is a free mass transform AND has both pips. Treasure Hunt will give you the draw this deck needs (most turns you should be playing an Upgrade and an Action).
As you’ve seen from Scott’s decks, you can do significant damage by building your deck to take advantage of Bold, especially if you’re running multiple of the double orange cards, or effects that allow you extra Bold as compared to normal decks. What we’re looking to do here is instead mostly standardize the flip at a +1, +2 if you flip a white, and do the damage from what’s on-board. As such, the breakdown of pips is: 22 orange (19 cards), 6 white, 18 blue, 3 blank. So generally you’re going to see a +1 on either offense or defense. This allows you to plan your turns/attacks well and should allow for enough survivability in the early game to be getting off 7-8 attacks over the first two cycles where many decks are only getting 4 or 5.
So if you believe in the heart of the cards (or the inevitable nature of probability), Bold might be best for you. But I’m going with cost certainty and the ability to overwhelm though simple efficiency and ensuring I act more often than my opponent.
“Till All Are One!”
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