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Good day (or evening, depending on when you are reading this!) My name is Ansel J. Cox, but you probably know me better by my handle name “Kathoga” on both Discord and OCTGN. I am here today because the great guys at VectorSigma.info have not only lent me some of their webspace for this article, but also have honored me with a spoiler character for the upcoming Alpha Trion Protocols Wave 3 (ATP-3), set to release on 01 March. This is a character that I have had a ton of fun playtesting and will be anxious to play him properly once the set officially drops. And, being a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, it is great to finally have a helicopter Transformer that will be playable. Without further delay, I present to you: Whirl – Lunatic Aerialist.
Right out the gate, you can see that this is the version of Whirl that should’ve come out in the official Wave 5 release for many, many reasons. First off, his cost. While still not cheap, at 10 stars, he is much more flexible than his 12 star predecessor and therefore will be able to slide into a more variety of teams in the formats currently available (whether you want to have a 4 Wide team that doesn’t rely on having to play Nightflight, or having another option to pair with Sky Shadow, as examples.)
Secondly, the stats actually fit for his cost. One of the (many) problems with Wave 5’s Autobot Whirl was that for his cost, you didn’t really get a lot. 7 or 6 attack/15 health/ 0 or 1 defense is a bit of a mismatch of stats a bot that was supposed to be the centerpiece of the deck (i.e., you are going to attack hard once and then die from a lack of survivability.) To put this in context: you could just play any of the other Titan Master Wreckers w/Grax for the same cost (or less) and you would just be better off. With this latest Whirl, his stats are comparable with the other 10 star bots in the format for his rarity (more on that in a bit.) While he does suffer in bot mode with the drop of defense by 1, the 14 health and bump up in attack by 1 is more than enough compensation for it.
Which brings me to my third point: his abilities. Old Whirl’s abilities were very…conditional. The Alt Mode quasi Armed Hovercraft (but only on a blue pip flipped on attack) meant you were locked into playing in a defensive shell if you wanted to ensure procking his ability the 1 or 2 times you were able to attack with him. His bot mode wasn’t much better, as I have personally seen that the game’s best characters are not all ranged, in addition to the fact that there is a plethora of non-attack damage cards and abilities available that the 5 attack damage cap on defense was rendered relatively moot. ATP-3 Whirl has some new spice that I think will greatly affect the meta game moving forward. Having Pierce 3 to go along with his 5 attack in alt mode is borderline gross (and I love it!), as there are no other characters in the game that start off this pierce heavy. To be fair, there is precedent with Wave 1’s Megatron (the common version), however he (like every other character that has inborne pierce) has to flip or otherwise convert to another mode first to get it (looking at you Sky Shadow.) But with the resurgence of Blue decks in the current meta, it may just be needed to help keep them in check. As for his bot mode, while there are going to be times when it is going to whiff and either get nothing or get something less than ideal (looking at you Handheld Blaster and Improvised Shield), the ability to just get a free upgrade without having to play a card, especially on turn one, can be a huge advantage.
Lastly, the playability. Autobot Whirl’s final nail in the coffin as to his unplayability was that he was just too expensive to play, not just because of his star cost, but also for his rarity. He was one of seven SRT characters in Wave 5, which in and of itself meant he would be not only hard to find but also expensive to buy in the after-market. This, coupled with the points I have already gone over (along with the other six SRT’s were/are just better to play with), meant that his playing days were limited to “fun/janky” decks back when we could still sit across from each other.
Whirl 2.0 brings with him a lot of deck/playstyle possibilities that are too numerous for me list here so I will just go over a few that I could see him going with:
A: He’s a Common, which means he’s legal for Junkion. At ten stars (and thanks to ATP-2), you will be able to play a four wide team and still have three other good five star characters.
B: He’s still a Wrecker, which while a three wide Wrecker team isn’t available (yet), you can pair him up with almost any other Wrecker and still have a decent three wide team (Kup with a health head pairs really well with him.)
C: He has both the Ranged and Specialist traits, which is a rarity in this game (not counting Combiners, there have been only 4 prior that had other than Specialist traits in their other modes: Wave 1 Wheeljack, Wave 1 Prowl, Specialist Sandstorm, and Perceptor.) This can make for some interesting play combos that before now couldn’t be done (hint: Junkion combo involving Wedge .Formation, Field Communicator, and Hit and Run/Escape Route...You’re welcome.)
In closing, I just want to say that I am thoroughly looking forward to March 1st when the ATP-3 set becomes officially available so that I can start using Whirl – Lunatic Aerialist and make him a household name. He’s not going to be for everyone, but he will definitely be worth toploading up and trying out. I also want to thank the crew from VectorSigma.info and Alpha Trion Protocols for not only letting me spoil this new addition to the game, but also for allowing me to be a small part in getting him to where he is now. Thank you for your time, and I hope you have a great day!
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