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Dangerous and foolish. That pretty much sums up how it felt to show up to a tournament packing a team centered around Starscream. It was one hell of a shame. There has been a lot of love in the Transformers fandom for the snivelling second in command. The desire to have a solid Starscream card has been high since day one in the game. And, I’m no different. As a kid back in the 80s, I was purely #teampurple. The seekers in particular, were favorites. My first transformer was actually the original G1 blue, grey and red backstabber. Full disclosure, Megatron is still #1 in my heart (I mean, the dude transformed into James Bond’s pistol!), but I loved those F-15s. So sleek, such badass alt modes. How could a bunch of trucks and sports cars compete with a fleet of fully decked out jets!?
Sadly, the TCG equivalent of the planes and, specifically Starscream, pack as much punch as the G1 toy after losing his hands. Sure, King had his moment in the sun, but the plan fell apart quickly to a multitude of counters. Air Commander looked to have potential, but that potential was never met. Wait no more! Thanks to our friends in the design team from the Alpha Trion Protocols we have a new Starscream, one that is sure not to crash and burn. I present to you: Starscream • Covetous Crony.
The name says it, this guy covets cards, and the most powerful of cards at that! Looking at this crony’s alt mode ability we see that a flip to this mode scraps your deck’s top 3 cards and will net us an opportunity to scoop up powerful blank cards among them. Of course, being Starscream, he wants MORE, MORE, MORE! Every card that isn’t blank gives a plane or seeker bold 1 for the turn. It’s never enough with this guy. Flip him to bot mode and you draw a card and have the chance to plan (be it a nice double pip or perhaps one of those blank cards you might use for his 2nd bot mode ability). Now, we know flipping blanks is never fun, and it’s obvious this guy wants those blank cards. Luckily his bot mode has you covered: A blank flipped by a Seeker while attacking hits every non-Seeker on the board for 1 damage. This pairs nicely with Starscream’s ranged tag and the suite of non attack damage options for Ranged characters like him.
This Starscream is no joke. His health of 15 and defense of 2 in both modes means that he will not nosedive anytime soon, even in the most aggressive of orange builds. And, base attacks of 5 and 6 along with potential to give himself or team bold and/or spread non attack damage allow you to ensure that he can put up strong offensive numbers.
Now, the fine folks at the ATP design lab have already graced us with a stellar team of Seekers with Dirge, Thrust and Ramjet in ATP2. The team of coneheads acted with great synergy: Dirge and Thrust received a reduced star cost when the team is all seekers. Ramjet proved to act as a daunting “end boss” due to the ability to protect him until the late game utilizing Brave on his buddies. And both Thrust and Dirge added some extra weight to the Revenge keyword offering us to scavenge the scrap for a free upgrade or blank card.
Speaking of blank battle cards. Let’s talk about another gem from ATP3: Dogfight!
Here we have the first hints of the ATP theme for their 3rd release: Traits Matter. This card gives you options and value, but only if you have the lineup to match. First, a Bombing Run specifically for Seekers. Who hasn’t tried to make Bombing Run work?
Two major issues are corrected here in Dogfight: 1) Seekers have the key trait in both modes, ensuring you do not need to flip to be able to use the card. 2) Dogfight does more than just move damage. As long as you have a Melee character on the battlefield (luckily ¾ of the seekers are Melee) this card pulls double duty by scrapping an enemy weapon. With a team of Seekers you are hardly ever without a good use for Dogfight. It pairs particularly well with Dirge and Starscream, as the blank pip allows you to easily get it into hand (another problem with Bombing Run) and can trigger Starscream’s bot mode effect on attack flips. As a playtester for ATP, I wasn't immediately sold on Dogfight. I’ve been burned too many times by trying Bombing Run, but it quickly became apparent that this is a stellar card in a Seeker build. And, with more Seekers sure to be added in the future the sky’s the limit on Dogfight.
At first glance, Starscream looks to add and expand on the Seeker trait that began in ATP2. Clocking in at 12 stars, the most obvious lineup for Starscream at the outset is alongside Dirge and Thrust. This frees up a star to use for Villainous Spotlight or perhaps your favorite Star card of choice. I really enjoy the synergy with Bolt of Lightning. Dirge likes you to have blanks in the scrap and the whole team doesn’t mind you flipping a blank on offense. So this opens deck building up a little for this batch of Seekers. How many blanks do you want in the build? You could go with a fair amount, ensure you get Starscream’s bot mode strafing run and still get them in hand using Starscream’s flip and Dirge’s Revenge. Or, you could air on the low side and really maximize the bold that Screamer gives any of the team. But, rest assured Starscream isn’t just a stand in for Ramjet. In fact, you’ll find quickly that Starscream and Ramjet play quite differently. I really enjoy the work that the ATP team did to ensure that this version of the Seeker deck feels unique and encourages players to approach deck building from a different angle.
I will finish by saying that the possible uses for Starscream • Covetous Crony do not end with a team of Seekers. There is a lot more to explore with ATP3 Starscream, the playtesting team touched on only a few of the many possibilities this card offers. Just, like any Transformers media, Starscream is sure to pop up eventually to make himself known. I’ll suggest you take a look at his flip abilities and try out various lineups outside of seekers where his bold/blank/damage burst abilities could really lead to some interesting teams. I really look forward to seeing what the community of fellow Starscream cronies come up with!
Quotes from Top Gun...in case that wasn’t obvious. ;P
Wave Three of the Alpha Trion Protocols fully releases for play in our various Tournament Circuits on March 1. Full set bleeds for printing purposes will be available then as well. Stay tuned to this website, our Facebook page, Twitter, and other outlets during February for more reveals from this exciting new set, which will seamlessly integrate in an already thriving tournament metagame!
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Info on the Alpha Trion Protocols and images of the first two sets: https://vectorsigma.info/alpha-trion-protocols
Info on Season Two of the Alpha Trion Tournament series, the premier tournament series in the Transformers TCG!, can be found here: https://vectorsigma.info/alpha-trion-series
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