In a few short weeks Top Deck Games will be host its monthly Grand tournament, with the Siege II metagame coming to a close, we asked players if they wanted to play a new format to shake things up a bit before Titan Masters Attack! is released. We’ve called the format Siege Block which includes the Siege I and II sets, the Blaster vs. Soundwave product (not the older set reprints in it), and promos like Nightbird from these sets.
Vin already introduced you to it a bit last week, and you can check his article here (https://vectorsigma.info/mental-blocks). I was fortunate enough to be able to play some games with Cameron of Arbitrary Hero recently, and even with just a few hours of playing the format quickly got the me excited!
This format looks basic (and that’s ok!) despite the number of powerful characters in the format! The truth is we don’t have enough time to truly explore it yet, but I wanted to go over some of my initial takeaways from it and give you a few things to look out for if you are planning to attend or want to adopt it for your own play group/area.
If we go back a few months, you may remember the Energon invitational was made up of three rounds of Siege limited, which is really a true taste of what this meta will look like. Admittedly limited is much less consistent, but is a good sample. If you can recall, most good limited decks were made up of 9-12 black pip cards, which in a 25 card decks basically consisted of nearly half your deck. Block format should honestly look about the same, not only are there just a plethora of black pip cards in the format, they are also just some of the best cards as well! RR Disruptor Blade, Crowbar, Calculated Strike and Steady Shot all fit this category and were A+ players in the limited format. it stands to reason they remain as such with Siege Block.
One of the big changes of Block from Limited is the playability of Mercenaries and their bounties. I’m sure people were able to capitalize on key moments in Limited to activate Bounty effects, but the somewhat neutral faction was not all that likely to make an appearance in your sealed pool. Characters like Lockdown and Octone (even Mudflap) were very much powerhouses when they were available to Limited players and they should translate well to the Block constructed. Having the mercenaries on your team grant you access to what I believe could be hands down some of the best cards in Block as a whole: Opportune Offense and Opportune Repair). It’s just a matter of fitting them in with Autobots or Deceptions but either a heal 3 or a +3 attack/pierce can be game changing, and I expect to see a fair number of mercenaries showing up for this event.
The only way you’re getting double orange or blue in this format is at the cost of a star. Now it wasn’t uncommon to have star cards in your Limited deck but the difference there was that you were building with a smaller pool for your characters. Adding a star became a way of getting you to the star cap and not leaving space wasted. However, I could see a few 23/24-star lineups in Block pick up a star card here and there as well.
Jetfire two-tall is a deck that Top 8’d the Energon invitational (played by Richard Wyatt) and while the deck would look very different in this Block format, Jetfire is one of the few ways to reliably draw extra cards in the format. Other tournament staples like Springer and Shockwave are here as well. Jetfire no longer has access to Energized Field, you could however play Heroic Resolve to keep your Jetfire alive for an extra swing, but you lose access to any double-blue upgrades to abuse his combat ability. Each of these decks traditionally had access to full complements of double blue cards, so they will have to make some adjustments to get anywhere near the defensive capabilities they were used to.
Now in Siege Limited Blue was not very good. You generally did not see enough of them in your packs to run a cohesive control strategy. Outside of Steady Shot the cards simply did not synergize well or supported a universal use. Given how small the deck size was and how efficient/ubiquitous black pips were by your opponents (assuming they built correctly), you were not able to block much damage anyway. Repeating my previous point, Black pips are still going to be the most effective way to get through guaranteed damage. This is good because the format is promising to be slower compared to the normal Orange onslaught.
If you want to be defensive though, you can still play sets of the best Blue cards in the format. Hidden Fortification will still be strong for when a big character attacks: they may get Pierce 5, but they also may have 11 Attack, so we are back to the common situation of blocking a high attack with blues and just accepting the pierce damage. It could be the difference in your character surviving or being KOd. Sabotage Armaments may not be as effective as we are used to, but will still be a solid answer to Shockwave weapons, Laser Cutlass, RR Disruptor Blades, and even Sturdy Javelins on melee characters.
They may not be Blue, but other cards that sport Black pips will provide answers so that Blue decks can keep their characters healthy. Stable Cover and Point-Defense System lead the pack and present notable responses to an opposing deck leaning on the Pierce plan. Stable Cover will likely just buy a turn back completely, and there really aren’t a lot of effective ways to remove armor for Point-Defense System (no Bashing Shields here my friend).
Shockwave looks poised to conquer the Metagame. He has all his disruption in the format, a ton of playable and versatile Secret Actions, built in draw and discard, and a healthy body. Only thing he’s missing is a Flamewar (which honestly may not be all that good regardless in this format for many reasons above) but what do we get?
We still have Raider Sights and Tailwind though (the same line up VectorSigmas own DefTF Steffon took to a top 5 at EI) so you can easily just take that list and make some edits to replace the other cards that are not legal. Yes, you are missing all of the double blues, some that are irreplaceable in power level like Security Checkpoint, but every deck loses a lot of power anyway. It’s all a matter of looking at the relative power levels. You need to take a step away from what you are used to in normal constructed.
Let’s assume we don’t want Tailwind for some reason, well how about Private Vanguard? This would enable you to just have a free suited up character and not to mention a way to negate anything more than 5 damage if he’s left unchecked on the battlefield.
There are plenty of other big game players in the format as well. I’ve already mentioned Jetfire and Octone, but what about Galaxy Prime? Surely his 21 health and ability to just gain “free” cards throughout the game can’t be overlooked, either right? This may be true, and time will tell but replacing his partners seem to be much harder at first glance. The deck list would need a lot more work also since you are missing key pieces like Matrix of Leadership and various staple Greens the deck runs.
The Off-road patrol and General Optimus are other characters that seem great for the format. Built in Bold is a strong advantage when Black pips are around and giving all your characters Bold two is nothing to shy away from.
The truth is there is a ton to explore in the format and simply not enough time to do so. However, when and if we rotation starts (possibly 2021), Siege block is a good starting point for the game. No doubles, no Enigmas, all current pips represented, etc. Black pips will move games forward pretty much every turn, keeping the game from degenerating into characters just bouncing off one another like we see happen sometimes now in Blue mirrors. It creates a new internal clock in the game of inevitability which can be important in this smaller card pool format. I believe WOTC is setting us up for a smooth transition when they are ready to remove Security Checkpoint and Peace Through Tyranny’s from our hearts..but that is a story for another time..
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