Thank you to Wizards of the Coast for this opportunity to again introduce a Wave 2: Rise of the Combiners preview card for our loyal audience. This time it is a very combo intensive Character card!
Before diving in I need to plug our amazing EXCLUSIVE interview with Drew Nolosco, brand manager of the Transformers TCG. If you havent checked it out, not sure what you are waiting for: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypmfjN4s8xU&t=1224s
Somewhere..it is turn three..“Ok my turn…(do a series of actions)….ok I attack into your Optimus Prime Battlefield Legend, before we flip for battle I (do something)..your Optimus is dead…next turn?”
Yes, this play will now be possible, and while it may be difficult to pull off consistently, it is not as hard as currently existing combo based characters are in the Transformers TCG. Coming in “Rise of the Combiners” is a reissue of a Wave 1 character who deserves more time in the limelight, the Insecticon master of the mind: Bombshell.
Before we get into that crazy bot mode ability I just have to mention how excited I am to see Bombshell get this type of treatment. See, when I was a kid collecting and playing with Transformers I was also so intrigued by the special “abilities” and “weapons” the characters had that were mentioned on the back of the boxes. Like Starscream had his null-ray, Skywarp could teleport, and Bombshell could fire these cool shells that would mind control you. I thought it would always be so cool to have a TCG take advantage of these characters unique characteristics, even if they did not seem to use them all the time in the cartoons to their fullest extent.
Well, recently I have been rereading the “older” IDW comics that Vince (my Tech Talk podcast co-host and Team VectorSigma.info teammate) has been kind enough to lend me. I have now read the “All Hail Megatron” series twice, and Bombshell’s abilities were prominently featured. He was in part the “Dr. Frankenstein” he was always subtly made out to be on the show allowing the Decepticons to learn key Autobot secrets through use of his machinations. So first I want to say that this version of Bombshell, being a Specialist in both modes and having that scary bot mode ability, fit this bill nicely!
Let’s really dive into the exciting part about Bombshell: that killer Bot mode attack ability. Bombshell can KO any bot you face at the hefty cost of pitching your entire or most of your hand. This means if you are playing Bombshell and his hefty 11 star cost, he needs to be the centerpiece of the team, and you need to build your deck accordingly. This makes him the classic “combo deck” of the game, similar in ways to how current Cosmos and Sunstorm builds are today, but with a much bigger payoff. I like to look at him as a perfect amalgam of these two Wave 1 combo machines: You need to have the large hand size of Sunstorm to be effective, and the auto-KO ability like Cosmos. Unlike either of these, however, there are few ways to “accidently mess up the combo.” You are not going to flip too many cards over before he attacks, like Cosmos, and there is no attack phase where even say a 13 attack Sunstorm can be thwarted by a huge defensive flip by your opponent. This “consistency” (and I use the term loosely as I will show below) is offset by Bombshell having worse stats than the other two: way less health than Cosmos (but who doesn’t) and less defense than Sunstorm. I do like to see him as the “combination” of these two:
Since you need to discard a healthy amount of cards to make Bombshell work, and you need to be in a position to even have that many cards in hand to begin with, the combo nature of the deck is obvious. What you need to ask yourself is “is this worth it when it goes off.” The answer should on most occasions be “yes.” See, it may seem like you are pitching THIRTEEN cards to take out an opposing Optimus Prime: Battle Field Legend, or “only” twelve to take out Nemesis Prime, but how much of an investment did it take to get those cards in hand? The way I see it is if you build your deck efficiently, it should really only take you a few action phases, both the upgrade and action for the turn, and some flips to get you there. So if you spent three turns attacking these targets and emptied your hand to do it, is that worth it most of the time? Are you completely spent when this occurs, or can you continue the train rolling to take out the rest of the team? I believe the answer both of these can be “yes” it simply requires a combo deck mindset.
So outside of any amazing pure card drawing we may see in Rise of the Combiners, I believe the tools either already exist or have already been revealed to make this deck work. I am hesitant to put a full 40 card decklist out there since combo decks are normally so difficult to build and each card has to be rigorously tested for space in the list, so I will just give some thoughts on how I would build it. You need to find ways to fill your hand and keep it filled and these strategies current revolve around amassing a huge amount of upgrades in play or in the deck because we want our draw engine action cards to draw us at least 3-4 cards each time, namely Treasure Hunt, and Equipment Enthusiast, with extra fuel from Data Banks and the various Specialist based equipment, especially the new Field Communicator. .
So you need to build the deck in a way where you maximize your card drawing options and everything else needs to fuel to that goal. You need every Treasure Hunt to hit 3-4 cards, and maintain 3-5 upgrades in play to fuel Equipment Enthusiast. The Wave 1 “multi gear” for Specialists will also be mainstays in the deck which will thus have to be close to a 30/10 split of upgrades/action cards.
Which team should you put around Bombshell? Well, at 11 stars you do not have a lot of options to maximize your goals, but luckily a couple seem to fit the bill. The first is obvious in Wheeljack. In car mode he is a Specialist and his ability where you draw and discard a card each time you upgrade a car will be key in helping you find the various combo pieces (Enthusiast, Treasure Hunt, Upgrades). Since you do not really care about his attacking mode he can chill in car mode most of the match. He exists as a card sifting engine, Specialist to play various upgrades on, and a 13 health/2 defense diversion for your opponent. That leaves us with 5 stars. You could go the Specialist route, and Flamewar would fit nicely adding tough to the team, but I wanted to find a card advantage car to fuel both the hand size and the Wheeljack ability. Enter: Drag Strip.
Drag Strip never has to leave car mode and allows you to draw two cards when he attacks, assuming you can get an Orange and Blue icon during the combat flip. You will already want to have access to more cards during the action phase, so Incoming Transmission is an easy include, but you likely want to find room for some number of Secret Dealings and maybe even Mining Picks to put the Matrix of Leadership on top of the deck when Drag Strip Attacks.
So how do you get to the needed 13 in case you are facing down the barrel of Optimus’ Ion Cannon? Well here is a potential scenario that I really do not feel is all that hard to pull off:
You are not asking for “that much” of a burden on what you draw considering how much deck sifting Wheeljack allows you to do. The key is getting an early Matrix for when Drag Strip attacks and set up the Bombshell attacking turn to have a multiple Specialist gear engine going in so you have the ability to play at least two abilities that turn while adding to your overall upgrade in play count. Remember, the more Upgrades in play, the bigger your Enthusiast will be.
Is this consistent? Well, I do not have an exact forty card Battle deck, but the tools are all there to make it work. Since your engine if fueled by a sifting bot in Wheeljack and your Treasure Hunts get your double duty of finding all the key pieces, I do not think it will be that hard to pull off consistently. The longer you can wait to kill your target the better off you will be, but unlike existing combos, when you want the opposing character dead, Bombshell will do it if you feed him. In the end to kill even the current best character in the game, you only used two turns worth of action phases and one attack, which is less than some decks take now to kill the high valued target anyway. The Bombshelll attack does not care how many upgrades the opposing character has, how much damage they prevent, how much attack they can dish out. If you have the hand size to pitch, the target just dies.
This combo is even easier to pull off if the target is less than 13 stars of course. Bombshell will take less action phases to take out other high valued targets like Grimlock (10), Nemesis (12), Wheeljack (9), various Insecticons (5-7), etc. With his 15 health, chances are Bombshell will survive any opposing attack when he is exposed in the mid game to get this combo off again, though his companion characters are likely not long for this world, but their defensive stats are not paper thin.
What other options are available for Bombshell? Well, I think you could build around Leap of Faith as well, but it would likely cost you the looting power of Wheeljack. Leap of Faith allows you the engine to reach further into the deck and would lead to very explosive turns with all the various Specialist equipment. A different card advantage Specialist you could focus on would be the new Swoop, you would simply have to add a bit more Green to the deck (not hard to accommodate) and you could still run Drag Strip, leaving room for two Leap of Faiths. I would like to run an all Decepticon team, since Swindled seems like a natural fit for this deck, but the current Specialist options on that side under 11 stars are non-existent outside of Flamewar and Combiner Specialists and those options simply leave you too thin compared to other options.
So what do you think of Bombshell? Can his ability be consistent enough to make a meta splash? The payoff is certainly worth it (and yeah, Metroplex is clearly going to be a problem..) and I am not one to normally extol the virtues of Power over Consistency, but Bombshell has peaked my interest and was sparingly not as hard to make work out as I originally envisioned. Maybe some more inventive deck builder will come along and improve upon these lineups or this battle card shell, and maybe more card drawing battle cards have yet to be revealed in Rise of the Combiners, but I can tell you, get out your thinking caps. I have not run a combo deck since the days of Time Spiral and Memory Jar, but I may be ready to take up the mantle once again.
Keep your eyes on the fan Facebook groups and/or our Facebook Page and Reddit when our next content goes live, and please hit me up with any comments on Facebook, email, Discord (AUStarwars#1576), or Line (austarwars).
Reach out with any questions on the event or anything to do with VectorSigma..and look for more exciting content this week and beyond!
“Till All Are One!”
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