We live in a “hot take” society. Sometimes it is not important to form an educated well-thought out opinion, just to get an opinion rapidly out to various social media outlets. If you need an example see this man below:
In the spirit of accepting that first impressions are often proven wrong (maybe not as wrong as saying players on injured reserve will have a key impact in a game, but I digress..), Jon Palmer and I sat down for some hot takes on the Wave 2: Rise of the Combiners cards spoiled. So we are coming at this from a solid foundation, but we are fully prepared to be proven wrong once the set is fully spoiled and played with.
We will continue to drop similar articles throughout Spoiler Season, so make sure you stop back for more info! Also look for deeper dives into certain topics (think Keywords, Combiners, Green Pips, etc.) throughout the next few weeks.
All spoiler pictures can be found at https://vectorsigma.info/wave-2-spoilers if not pictured here as well
For more information see the origin of the spoilers:
Bolt of Lightning:
Bluestreak (thanks Ross for the Hi-Res images!):
Megatron (thanks again Ross):
Mounted Missiles (thanks Ross):
Wreckless Charge (thanks Wreck and Rule):
Field Communicator (thanks Ross):
Focus Fire and Enemy Combat Analysis:
Acid Storm, Thrust, Bad Attitude, Evasive Maneuvers:
Green Pips/Acid Storm/Set info:
Sentinels and few new battle cards:
Leap of Faith:
Scott: I am glad this mechanic exists in the game, it will just come down to the Characters that have it, or the battle cards that utilize it. So far we see it on Headstrong, a cheap high defensive character who has this ability in Alt Mode (which is very key: any character who has this ability but not in alt mode, will be much worse since it will not protect you on turn one). This ability (along with Stealth below) forces each player to change how they approach the game, creating more skill intensive situations. Depending on who else has this keyword, you may see a one Character defensive wall who soaks up many attacks from the opponent. I think this ability will see a lot of play, in and out of tribal teams, protecting key characters like Shockwave, Optimus Prime: Battlefield Legend, Cosmos, Sunstorm, Windblade, etc.
Palmer: I like this a lot for breaking up the preplanning of targeting. In addition to high armor characters, I think this will see a lot of utility if we get Transformers with abilities that trigger on being KO’d. And maybe we’ll see a car with it so Prowl’s bot side can get some use!
Scott: So “Snarl on a stick” basically is a powerful ability. The key to this ability will be how it is used within the context of the cards. For example, with Torox (first card we see with it spoiled) you draw a card first, then you may use the Plan 1 ability. This acts similar to Snarl, except Torox can influence OTHER character’s combat if you wish since the Plan comes with a flip ability, not an on entering attack. If we see things like “Plan 2” and/or “Plan x on defense” this will be one of the best abilities in the game, even if you do not necessarily draw cards before the ability. Even a pure card disadvantage situation will shine with the right number or timing on a Plan ability.
Palmer: They should have just called this ability “Snarl”. I’d like to see my Transformers have Snarl 1. It makes a lot of sense, as controlling flips off the deck was an obvious route for the designers to explore in this game. I give them credit for deciding to name the ability quickly once they saw its utility, rather than waiting years like Magic did for things like Vigilance and Lifelink.
Scott: The key here is that the Green Pip has no combat effect, so it needed to be powerful. Well, this is a powerful effect. Any card with a Green Pip on it will by definition see more actual play, since every combat opens up the possibility to drawing the card. Similar to the way that Characters like Optimus Prime: Battlefield Legend and Meagtron: Living Weapon turn your Scrap Pile into extensions of your hand, any Green Pip card-based strategy turns “combat into any extension of your hand.” I believe we will see multi-pip cards featuring Green as well, so you they will still have some effect on combat as well. I am not sure how many of pure Green Pips you will play given their non-effect on combat and the fact that you will not be able to play the card until a turn later, but it will still smooth out your strategies.
Green will make characters like Slipstream and Windblade more powerful (assuming double pip Green cards exist for Windblade).
Palmer: This is an excellent idea. Given how fast you burn through your deck, putting this on cards like the Enigmas ensure you will get one, but the cost of another card makes it manageable. Whether or not this sees play outside Combiners will likely depend on the cards it’s found on – for instance, a card with green and another pip would be great for Slipstream. I doubt these cards will be too powerful as adding them to your hand with a near-guarantee might prove too good.
Scott: We have not seen any Characters or Battle Cards with this ability, but this keyword will be wholly dependent on the Characters who this keyword are on. I imagine we will see a lot of “Glass Cannon” units using this ability to “hide” behind others. The main issue with this ability will be that the Character will have to attack second at minimum to avoid being the only possible defender and the Stealth to be relevant, so it my be difficult to utilize this keyword effectively outside of the “Turn Zero” in three character teams. If there are upgrades that “give you Stealth” it will be a super powerful ability.
Palmer: If an Upgrade is created that gives this out it might be overpowered. This works really well in Swap Missions decks to attack with the “key” character on turns 2 and 3 without ever exposing them to attack. Outside that it has the potential to be really good, but if it’s highly costed on the Transformers it’s on may prove not worth it.
Scott: It is really too early to tell how good the Combiner mechanic is because generally going “down” in available characters is a negative. For example, you may be improving the base stats of the character whose turn it is to act tremendously, but ultimately you do not want to give your opponent free reign to “All Out Attack” you every other turn (unless you can guarantee you are killing one opposing character per turn in retaliation). I have to imagine there will be Combiner only battle cards that allow for big swings (think Heal huge amounts, enhance survivability, allow you to spread damage or overkill like Grimlock, etc.) to avoid just making “one huge attacker.”
Since we do not the full extent as to how powerful the Combiners will be, all our character reviews will be in relation to play “outside of the Combiner team.”
Scott: I think his bot mode flip can be very powerful, especially if he survives long enough to get it off multiple times a round, which can happen in 4-5 character teams that can keep him protected. He has obvious synergy with Shockwave, but I feel his ability is one that will allow for incremental advantage over time.
Palmer: Probably won’t see much use outside of Predaking decks, as the ability is of limited use and his stats pale in comparison to Flamewar, or even alt mode Kickback.
Scott: Is he really amazing or is he a Trapt? He will take you on, and take on everyone. I think he is pretty amazing, with a base three defense on a five drop you MUST attack if possible. In a defensive deck (ie. Blue based) he will likely base defend 5-6 damage per attack, which puts him out of “one shot” range for any “non-Battlefield Legends” and against most fair characters will be a great wall. Especially when combined with a Body Armor. I feel you will see Headstrong on non-Predacon teams, he will know if you are wrong.
Palmer: Our first appearance of Brave! In a deck with solid defense he should definitely survive the first attack from anything except Optimus Prime, Battlefield Legend. Unlike Divebomb, who loses 2 armor and only gains one attack when switching to bot mode, Headstrong has a more typical -1 armor +2 attack. I could see utility for him in the second slot of decks that also run Skrapnel to keep alive their big hitter.
Scott: Doubt he will see play outside Predacon dedicated decks, Pierce 2 just is not impactful enough on a five drop, just play Arcee.
Palmer: His alt mode is an interesting cheap source of Pierce, although I think I’d normally prefer Arcee in that slot. Bot mode’s triggered repair is an ability that you will forget to trigger the one time each tournament it happens, leading you to kick yourself postgame.
Scott: SR Bumblebee on the cheap! This is exactly what you want to see on a low drop character: low survivability but high impact. He needs a weapon/ability cards to shine, but realistically so does Bumblebee so I do not see his three attack being that much of a liability. Razorclaw will see play outside the dedicated Predacon team, especially in wide aggressive decks. Combine him with a The Bigger they Are.. and you have an incredible attacker.
Palmer: Baby Bumblebee! The alt mode’s bold 1 is an okay addition if an aggro deck needs a cheap attacker, although to sound like a broken record, I’d rather have Arcee. Having SR Bumblebee’s ability on his bot side leads me to believe we may have some more Transformers down the line with that ability, which is highly skill intensive. His 3 attack limits its utility somewhat but it’s good to have something you can use to hit wounded Transformers being “stashed” by attacking last – although in a five wide deck, you’re likely to have a shot at them at the end anyway.
Scott: He gives you tremendous utility out of five drop, especially if your other characters can attack more effectively in alt mode, since you want to be flipping him back and forth often to help out your attacks. He does not have a very efficient stat line on his own, but as a support character he is just too cheap to NOT see play. He has obvious synergy with Optimus: BL, but even characters like Grimlock will synergize well with Torox.
Palmer: No armor, but the highest health of any of the Predacons. His alt side’s healing prevention leads to speculation that healing will be more of a factor in this set than it was in Wave 1. Having a one-shot Data Pad when he flips to bot mode is a solid if unspectacular ability.
Scott: Too soon to assess the mechanic imho
Palmer: The first big guy we get to see. Metroplex is the obvious comparison, as both are 25 stars – he has +1 attack, +2 health and +1 armor in comparison to Metroplex’s bot side. The ability to have 5 weapons is impressive, but his Melee status means none of them can be Armed Hovercraft, which means you’re really just trying to get him up to one-shotting people. I feel like Headstrong’s ability means this deck will likely play Blue, so you’re looking at Energon Axe, Drill Arms, Primary Laser, Multi-Tool maybe (Divebomb is a Specialist) and then whatever we see come out in the new set. Overall, the utility of Predaking and the other combiners is likely going to come down to how consistently you can combine them.
Updated on 1/29/19:
Scott: I am still not 100% sure how his ability works because it does not say “after the combat is concluded” but instead after he attacks, so I am unsure if you pick up the green before it adds to the combat stats, lets assume it is after combat for now..I think he is awesome in decks using Green and needing specialists, likely as a Windblade partner. I think he will be key for the Green “collection” cards like Focus Fire, since the “green ability” in this case does not cost you a card in hand.
Palmer: the ability to fetch back a green in bot mode can be huge in a deck running, say, nine greens that is likely to flip up multiples. I suspect he'll see more play than the Wave 1 Swoop.
Scott: Losing the attack in Bot mode but adding plan means you need a perfect hand to get +1 attack over the original Snarl ability. Not worth it, Combiner team only..
Palmer: gains an extra Plan in bot mode, at the cost of 1 attack and his alt-mode card draw. Fine for Volcanicus, I like the other one better for normal play.
Scott: easy draw 2s are hard to ignore. Abysmally low attack for an 8 drop, and loses the specialist tag, which hurts given a lot of Specialist cards help you clear you hand for his ability to proc. Assuming you can team him up with other Specialists you could mitigate this, allowing the ability to start proccing as early as your second attack (going first) or right away (going second, should be fine regardless). We will see his dino deck use competing with his wave 1 counterpart, but I think he will see the most universal play in non-dino lists.
Palmer: onboard card draw to allow you to try to get the Ready for Actions and I Still Functions you need to make this Grimlock work. Likely starter for Volcanicus decks.
Scott: 3 defense in both modes, minor combat ability in bot mode, 10 health, only an 8 cost. As a generic 8 drop I like the new Slag.
Palmer: the bot mode ability is minor, but having 3 armor in both modes is important for keeping Volcanicus as damage-free as possible when he combines.
Grimlock, Powerful Commander :
Scott: I think we need 1-2 more KO pile interaction cards, outside of the dinobot combiner mechanic, to assess Grimlock’s capabilities as that type of enabler. Right now we only have ISF and Emergency Maintenance which leaves him fringe playable currently outside the combiner team, with future potential depending on what else arrives in Wave 2. I just "WISH" he had more survivability
Palmer: incredibly interesting that they've chosen to use the Wish mechanic here to allow the combiner Dinobots to be more powerful than typical five-stars. Grimlock only needs to attack twice to allow Volcanicus to form, but I assume that anyone attempting to do so competitively will be building their deck to swing with him a third time prior to combining to put the Wave 1 Sludge into the KO'd pile as well, allowing an I Still Function to fully heal Volcanicus.
Scott: odd place here. I feel unless you can pull off the ISF/Sludge 1 combo this guy is not playable given the massive amount of health loss minimum once he gets into play, but is that combo “too good?” I think we need to see the Combiner only cards first.
Palmer: massive health pool, not much else going on. He does some extra damage the turn he combines, but what does this deck really want to be? I suppose it'll end up being some mix of orange and blue, but mostly you want blue to stay alive and leverage your insane health pool - that said, his zero armor and low base attack mean it's going to take a while for him to do damage against defensive decks. Make sure he has that Energon Axe ready to go. And nothing is preventing you from doing the Sludge trick multiple times.
Decepticon Drag Strip:
Scott: Big fan of this guy in non-Stunticon and team decks alike. I never really thought about how much value a 5 drop needs to break even, but I would say attacking 1-2 times, drawing you 2-4 cards and soaking up 1-2 hits is value. Given he is a car, if you combine with Wheeljack’s alt ability you should be able to always have “the perfect hand” each turn.
Palmer: in a mixed pip deck, his card draw is really good and not very difficult to trigger. I think he'll see a lot of play even outside of Stunticons, especially as there are now multiple car combinations you can make where you want a 5-star car, and cars will almost always play mixed-pip simply due to Roll Out being good and Start Your Engines/Turbo Boosters being opposite pips.
Scott: Fine, not great, likely will not see play off the team
Palmer: tough 1/draw a card? Okay. Doesn't measure up to the Wave 1 5-stars.
Scott: In blue based decks, you want Flamewar as your first ive star character, then there are better options below, team only.
Palmer: fine if you're playing an all blue deck and never want to transform him - there's literally no reason to EVER transform him unless you're about to form Menasor.
Scott: I like a ten star combo of him and Motormaster, for Motormaster to continuously shift attacks to the 3 defense character. If you can stick a tough armor on him and have him live for a bit, I see big things in his future.
Palmer: the typical truck curse of "high armor low health" which isn't great in an environment with a good amount of direct damage. Having the onboard heal is nice, though. An anti-car ability is fun although it likely won't do too much in the long run.
Scott: I do not think he is playable without a second Stunticon to deflect attacks to, but that being said I think for 10 you can get a lot of value from a Motormaster/Offroad pairing as a defensive shell.
Palmer: the most disappointing toy I ever owned as in the cartoon he was portrayed as Prime's equal and his toy was about 1/3 the size of Prime. Both of his sides have neat abilities that change the way decks are able to damage your transformers and leaving him in truck mode might be a good way to run multiple small bots - but would you ever rather have Motormaster + Slammer than, say, Wheeljack or Thundercracker? Probably not.
Scott: The best Combiner we have seen bar none. Powerful ability, especially if Combiner only action cards exist. Just the ability to play more than one action a turn in an already defensive focused team will be huge.
Palmer: Hands down the best of the three combiners we've seen so far, although Volcanicus's Sludge trick may make him more competitive. Playing two actions a turn is big, the tough 1 is big (the bold less so) card draw is nice, and he has the most powerful of all the combiner team cards we've seen so far. Granted, it's also the only one we've seen so far.
Scott: So starting with the first one, I just want to say I feel the Sentinel characters/deck can play out three ways: to combine quickly, as a team using the KO Pile flips to get incremental advantage throughout the game but not specifically trying to combine, or as just good additions to other lineups that will have extra use once they are KO’d. Ironhide has a lot of use on the team, with each of his abilities being relevant, and he may see play outside of the team simply because of how good his Blaster currently is as what will be a “no downside” 3 attack weapon.
Palmer: Very solid in Truck mode, much better than his wave 1 starter deck version. A likely choice to begin in play for the Optimus Maximus deck. Probably the worst flip of the Sentinels.
Scott: For either Sentinel team, Mirage belongs right in the KO pile and likely using his Flip on turn one to strip an action away, potentially crippling your opponent. Outside the Sentinel team, I am not sure he will soak enough early hits for the later game flip to matter, so I see him only as a team player.
Palmer: I'm rarely impressed by Pierce, and his alt mode is no exception. A solid flip on the other side though, so Optimus will likely be putting him right into the bin.
Scott: The fact that he is a car specialist with Tough 1 is what draws me to him. What pushes me away is that Hot Rod is better in every way.
Palmer: A solid enough alt side, and another quality flip in the card draw. I could see him getting constructed play except that Hot Rod is significantly better in the same slot. I assume this is due to worry about card draw being powerful but it seems odd to me.
Autobot Hot Rod:
Scott: Will see play in all facets of the game, on the team and off the team. 4/10/2 Tough 1 are amazing. Similar to starter Bee, but without needing to flip to that mode, and having a more relevant late game ability. Any control deck that can extend the number of turns to get multi use of his KO pile ability and if we get additional ways to flip from the KO pile outside the Sentinel utility (since that means you would have to play a second Sentinel outside the team based decks) he will be even better.
Palmer: Absolutely great, almost certainly the other start in play for Optimus Maximus with the 2 armor and Tough 1. His flip to Zap is also really good and he'll almost certainly see play in constructed, especially given the dearth of cars at seven stars.
Scott: This is almost Barrage level stats without needing to flip, with a relevant alt mode as a car, without a flip, which means Turbo Boosters is amazing on him whereas Start Your Engines is a little less relevant than his six star version. Since he is melee you are getting some redundancy to use Power Sword with him, since Wheeljack is melee in bot mode, even if the team skews away from SR Bee.
Palmer: Also a really good card, one of the best attackers while staying in Car mode, whose main downside may be that the “leftover star guy” is normally his six star equivalent, so you may not have room for “just another attacker.” If a deck that's already flip-heavy comes down to having the ability to use either Prowl, not needing to flip this one could be a tiebreaker over using the other plus a star card.
Scott: Clearly will only see play in versions of the Sentinel team, but also clearly the most important cog. He starts the incremental advantage engine that the deck has, which needs an entire article on its own around how I would build it. Annoying he is not a truck, but I guess that is what Ironhide is for? Unfortunately his stats are pretty abysmal for an 11 drop, but his cost is kinda irrelevant for what you are getting from him starting on turn one, access to powerful effects outside the game. I am not sure how often you will get his bot ability off, but if you can it is just extra value, though I hate the one defense in that mode.
Palmer: First, I just have to say, this art is terrible. Not the first card in the set that I've felt this about, the robots just look like they were drawn by an eight year old (looking at you, Breakdown). Also, not a Truck in alt mode. Frustrating as Team Up Tactics looks like a great card for this combiner team, but doesn't work on the one character you're always playing. I would much rather have seen Truck on his alt mode than Leader. As for his abilities, another good way to break the game, more reliable than Grimlock for getting what you need available to you. Triggering his bot side ability isn't difficult and will likely speed up transforming your dead Sentinels so you can focus on flipping the live ones to combine.
Scott: So the Sentinels have enough incremental advantage that combining will likely be an afterthought, especially since they mostly want to attack in alt mode anyway. So you have a backwards flip timing, where you want to flip them AFTER attacking, the ones outside the KO pile anyway. If you can combine as an “oh by the way” effect (with Enigma being Green this is easier to pull off) and you can come in with more than one bot’s worth of health, the “both turn Data Pad” ability along with wearing a likely Body Armor on all the melee characters, should keep him alive. Having a nine base attack is nothing to sneeze at, likely starting as an 11-13 after a weapon and upgrade comes with him (Turbo Boosters, Matrix, etc.) with an awesome combat ability. He does not need much to be playable from there, as long as the armor sticks.
Palmer: I'm kind of torn on this card. He's probably going to come in with only 20 health or so by the time you can combine him, and he doesn't have a heal trick like Volcanicus does. But his base stats are excellent, and the built-in Data Pad is really solid as well. I think he's going to see play, unlike say Predaking, but unless we get some sort of combiner heal card in this set I don't think he's going to be able to finish the job a lot of the time.
Scott: I talk/talked about her at length on the podcast, so check that out. I will stay reiterate that I feel she is utterly amazing. Her bot mode is not even that relevant in my analysis, though it is not only dripping with flavor (see Combiner Wars Episode One) but will crush Combiners if you use her in a wide deck setup. Her flip to alt mode ability is completely amazing, and that is with only a couple of currently known multi-pipped cards that exist. We have to assume that additional multi-pip cards will be in the set that will only improve her flip ability, but she already has amazing synergy with both the “Plan” mechanic and with Incoming Transmission. Her flip essentially allows you to draw an extra card AND gain an action in the turn, which is like having an additional flip ability. The fact that her ability to gain you such tremendous advantage is related to a flip ability, which means you can do it without exposing her to attacks, means that over the course of the game you will gain TREMENDOUS advantage from this ability. Obviously we need to see the other multi-pip cards in the set, but assuming they are solid, she has amazing synergy with other bots such as Slipstream or Bluestreak. 14 health with 2 defense is “premium character” level stats, even if her attack is a bit light. I am only scratching the surface with how powerful I feel she is, so look for more on her in future articles.
Palmer: Our first SR of the set, and I’m not sure how I feel about her. 12 stars feels like a lot for someone whose stats are only slightly better than 10 star SR Bumblebee. Her alt side is a good twist on Optimus Prime, Battlefield Legend’s ability, but it’ll depend on how the deck construction players out to see how consistently she can use it. The better-statted bot side has a solid ability that I’m curious to see the plans for leveraging – right now only Cars can consistently take a turn where 2-3 of them attack with the same bonus (Prowl’s) so a Windblade-focused deck will need some ability to do the same.
Scott: 10 health, no defense, 6 cost..yup sounds like a Seeker..
Palmer: A meta card for playing against high-aggro decks, but with a bad statline that probably isn’t worth it. The comparison to Skywarp only matters because Skywarp also doesn’t have enough health for the rest of his statline. Shutting down bold is super powerful (especially against Metroplex and Insecticons) so there’s a reasonable chance Acid Storm will see play in Planes. I’m hoping for some better ones still though.
Scott: So I have to math out the Cars deck that will want to use him, but it is certainly a good ability. Assuming you can set up the deck correctly, he is a 5/9/4 for eight stars, which is amazing. Car decks already run a Bold based shell (which he will need) and a plethora of Blue and Blue-Orange cards, and some whites, so some slight adjustments to the Battle Deck to maximize this ability (and cards like Incoming Transmission and potential future Plan based cards) will maximize this ability. Need to explore it further, but on the surface he opens up the Bluestreak/Wheeljack/Cliffjumper team which will be amazing.
Palmer: A very interesting piece of design. Wants a mixed deck of which getting enough white cards is likely to be the issue, though Data Pad helps out. Worthless on the attack in alt mode, worthless on defense in bot mode. Mostly this will be an issue if you miss on the ability. Being an 8-star car slots him into a potentially aggressive deck with Wheeljack and Cliffjumper, especially if you play Roll Out and/or Matrix to take care of 2/3 of the ability’s trigger.
Scott: I love Megatron, the character in media and this version of him in the TCG. Any flip ability that copies a powerful battle card (this time in New Designs) is extermely powerful, especially in combination with Roll Out and especially Hunker Down. I already said privately and want to say publicly that this Megatron is so powerful I would run him OVER Nemesis Prime in concert with Optimus BL in "The Touch", gaining you 3 one-star battle cards as well. The things he allows you to do, between drawing cards in Bot mode and essentially gaining an action in Alt mode (with a 3/13/3 insane stat line) are huge. This is a character I will be writing more about I assure you.
Palmer: So much better than the old common Megatron, just for his statline to start with. In combination with Hunker Down he allows you to get an incredible amount of things done over the course of one turn, especially in an attachment-heavy deck - which could make him a natural pair with Megatron, Living Weapon plus a couple of one-star cards. I'm a big fan and looking forward to see if we get any other Tank cards to put them into the competitive category, but even if not, you can pair him with a good 9-10 star character (Wheeljack, Grimlock, maybe Jetfire) and a support character and build the deck from there.
Scott: The main things to understand with Thrust is that he costs you more than just an attack. The nature of even taking a turn being dependent on having untapped bots means you are likely losing a draw phase and action phase as well. I think he has a real place in Defensive (BLUE) based decks to “go big” against mirror type matches, and the 9 cost/3 defense will help in those lists. I feel he is a new Character that needs deeper exploration than I can give it justice to in a hot take.
Palmer: I love the design direction of this card. Adding to another attack (get through walls of defense) at the somewhat cost of opening two guys up to attack immediately. I can only ever see him transforming into bot mode to finish someone off. The fact that he can use weapons like Grenade Launcher and Static Laser of Ironhide without their drawbacks applying to him is incredible. His 9 cost also enables you to play him with the two best other planes currently in print - Slipstream and Thundercracker - in a deck where you can maximize Thundercracker's flipping as you'll basically never want to flip the other two.
Scott: I am on the record saying “I cannot imagine the fair Battle Card that allows for cars and trucks in play for this card to ever see play at 12 stars compared to just playing a combination of cars and trucks that make her playable,” Then someone said “what about an upgrade that gives something like “+2 attack to a Car, +2 defense to a truck”..sure..then she MAY be playable..
Palmer: The CatDog of Transformers. She looks like she has potential, and perhaps as more cards are printed like Team-Up Tactics that trigger twice for her, she will become usable. But at present she's a bad version of Inferno that costs one more star. He's about the same as her on statline (one higher attack, one higher armor in bot mode, with two less health) but also has a very powerful ability. If she's just going to be a wall of stats she should have cost 11, or maybe 10.
Updated on 1/29/31:
Scott: He’s soooo expensive for a bot that has to have a weapon on him, cant really attack first if you are going first, and has a fragile frame. I get the Car synergy with untapping and attacking again, hopefully twice, but that is going to be close to impossible to pull off against a 3 wide list consistently and impossible against a two tall list. He is too meta dependent to cost 12.
Palmer: I want so much to like him - with the amount of untap available to cars, he should probably be attacking four times each turn cycle unless you're playing against Primes or Plex. The fact that most attack boosts last until end of turn also really helps him. The downside here is the 12 star cost - he BEGS to be 11, At 12 he can't pair with Wheeljack unless a useful 4 star is printed, so you'll most likely see him with Cliffjumper and Drag Strip, or Prowl (whose bonus will apply to both attacks), starter Bee and a star card.
Scott: See Predaking, too soon to assess
Palmer: What the green dot does will go a long way toward determining the value of this card. As is, it’s the only way to get Predaking, and its other ability works better once you have him (use your action slot to draw a card and play a second weapon) than it does with the split team. Although you’ll likely only be using it with the split team if you draw multiples. Having to have five Predacons in bot mode is a big limiting factor – you’ll need to transform whoever you attack with each action, and with the current card pool you may need to I Still Function simply to transform a bot. But I assume we’ll see cards to make it work more consistently within this set.
Scott: I love the idea of Battle Cards supplementing your team, and no one loves Direct Damage abilities more than I do, but I think this card may be a bit short in the power department. I feel this at minimum should have had a pip of some sort, likely a Green or Blue one, because this card just forces you to draw it to have use, albeit a powerful one. I feel this will be a good default use of your extra stars, and will see play, it just comes down to “what do the other star costed Battle cards do?”
Palmer: Conceptually I love the idea of using star battle cards to fill in decks that don’t hit exactly 25 stars worth of Transformers. I’m not sure I’m in love with this one. I hope that there’s a better card that involves a pip among the other six and I can stick with just running One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall.
Scott: Now THIS is worth a Star, in fact I would go so far as to say this card is worth using lesser versions of characters to fit into certain archetypes. Grimlock absolutely LOVES this card, as does Wheeljack. If we do not get a "free" double Orange this will see play simply for those pips in aggressive Bold based decks, but I will need to run some numbers to see how even just having a known "nine" double Orange cards effects cards like Dino Chomp! and Supercharge.
Palmer: Unlike Bolt of Lightning, which for the cost of a star gives you a slightly better One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall, this is amazing, combining the biggest static attack bonus on an orange-pipped weapon without drawbacks with the double orange pip that aggro decks love AND the versatility to put in whatever your best upgrade slot is. I absolutely love this card.
Scott: The keys are that you do not have to play a card from your hand and it is a stat effecting utility, with a combat icon that is never dead (without a plethora of whites in the deck of course). I cant fathom any deck featuring at least one Specialist NOT running this card, since similar to Windblade, it "draws you a card and gives you an action" when you play it, replacing itself in all ways without costing you anything other than a manipulable unknown. I expect this card to see A LOT of play in almost any deck, as many Specialists currently see play without any of their equipment seeing play with them..that will change!
Palmer: Giving you the option to play an extra card a turn is a monster ability, especially since the card doesn't come from hand (the downside of the other two pieces of Specialist gear with similar functions). The Specialist requirement is a bit limiting but many decks run Wheeljack, Flamewar, or Sludge so it's not particularly inaccessible. The White pip means this will likely take the place of Data Pad in decks that want to run it.
Scott: So its not the "orange Leap into Battle," orange already has a Leap into Battle in Supercharge assuming you build your deck correctly! That being said I still really like this card, especially with Grimlock, SR Bee, and Razorclaw, because each of them allow the attacker to control the flow of combat more than the defender does. This will see a lot of play in aggressive decks, maybe not a full playset of three (a three of means you want to play it more than once a game at virtually any point in the game, that may be hard). Look for high health, medium attackers to really love this card (hello Planes!)
Palmer: I'm a little more down on this card than the others. Seems solid for an aggro deck, but it doesn't let you spread the damage around the way One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall does, and for a purely aggro deck the drawback may not be worth running over Supercharge if that's a call you have to make. That said, this plus Grenade Launcher will set up absolutely amazing Grimlock attacks, big chunk attacks are still the best way to get past armor decks. Will definitely see play and is more of a beast in limited, but I'm not ready to slot three into every aggro deck quite yet.
Scott: Outsdie of Thundercracker I just do not see this card as good enough. Needing two of them to just to equal Supercharge is just not good enough, even when the third (Christmas Land) scenario can give a character Bold 6. I see this as a fringe Thundercracker card only.
Palmer: More support for Thundercracker, but not really very good. You have to get them into your hand to try to chain them, and two cards for Bold 3 isn't particularly great. Scrubs will definitely have turns where they play three of these and two Brainstorms and Thundercracker one-shots Optimus or some BS but I can't see fitting this in a deck just to set up that kind of stupidity.
Enemy Combat Analysis:
Scott: I feel as the meta settles down, this card will be seen as a one-of in lists that are aware of mirror matches or at least “Star Mirrors” they may face. +2/+2 is extremely powerful as a permanent boost. The +2 defense alone is worth the card slot.
Palmer: This is not a good card. It makes sense to put it in this set, as Combiner-on-Combiner violence is the most likely time it "works" - assuming most of them are five-star bots. Outside of that it's a wasted slot unless we get a bad environment where 80+% of competitive decks are the same deck.
Scott: This card combines (sort of) two unplayable cards in Repair Bay and Strafing Run, removes any Pip, and limits its use to a side..not a fan..
Palmer: Conceptually, cards that reward a player for playing all-Autobot or all-Decepticon are something I like - it's a way to keep the flavor of the game without forcing it via the rulebook. However, this card's ability (a slightly changed Bombing Run) isn't nearly good enough to warrant it not having a pip. Perhaps we'll see a Decepticon or two that gets pips from cards that lack them, that's the only way I could justify running this - when it's in addition to, instead of in place of, cards like I Still Function or One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall.
Scott: So in a defensive deck that already wanted to cut Forcefield I can see this being a decent substitute because oftentimes a temporary Tough 3 will prevent more damage than the Forcefield, except against multiple attackers in the same phase. So against a large attacker, before you can stick a more permanent armor, I feel this is a solid Forcefield substitute, but that does not mean it has a place given the need for permanent armor in those decks.
Palmer: I can't think of a situation where I'd ever slot this into a deck. At least Blast Shield gives Demolisher more flips.
Scott: The lack of an initial boost to the wielder like the Matrix does, hurts this card a a lot. I see this as a finisher in Decepticon only decks, and a current play for Slipstream builds, but ultimately unless they give us some serious card draw options, this is too much of a resource investment for too little benefit. Also, why isn’t it called “Crown of Starscream”? Did another ‘con have the crown at other points?
Palmer: I want to like this as it's a double-pip card, but I can't help but think that there are very few situations where this is something I'd rather have than Data Pad, due to the card disadvantage. Maybe a deck (Shockwave?) with inherent draw, if you're playing aggro and more double orange pip cards come out.
Scott: Not worth a star. We spent a long time on this card on the podcast (posted 1/21) where we discuss the use of Ramming Speed normally being reserved for Armor. Now that may change this set, but I cannot see how you are ever in a situation where you need to take out more than one of the same type of upgrade outside of the second being an already used “oh by the way” target. This is no Mounted Missiles.
Palmer: A powerful effect (better than Bolt of Lightning) but with a star cost. With its orange pip, this is basically Ramming Speed on steroids. However, I'm still not sold on it being as good as Mounted Missiles, as most of the time your removal just needs to go towards a single armor and there are already non-star cost options for that. I could see some use for this as the environment evolves, but it's still not giving me enough bang for the buck.
Scott: Palmer reviewed them together, but I want to look at them in isolation. I love both of these cards and have had very in-depth “debates” on their use already. Yes, they are “card disadvantage” but more importantly they are card selection advantage, which imho is the main axis to play the game. Think of Confidence as a “Treasure Hunt for abilities” and you will see how powerful this effect is. Cars and Dinos as the main “all Autobot” lists right now (that also happen to be Orange) will love this card. Prime BL will also love Confidence, assuming he has a better Autobot partner coming out at all (cough:Windblade:cough).
Swindled is great with Thrust (funny since Dirge is on the art) because you can put a weapon on him and his target at the same time. Right now a lot of decks do not necessarily want to play two upgrades in a turn, basically this becomes a search effect tacked onto a New Designs, which does not see much play nowadays. Time will tell on this one.
Palmer: Since Transformers isn't a game that gives us a lot of raw card draw, we're generally left with card filtering. These cards both do a great job of that, and then let you break action economy as well. I can't tell whether Swindled was keyed to upgrades to support Megatron, Living Weapon or to keep it from being even more abusive with Thundercracker. These won't be every-deck cards, but will see play in decks where the pip and the additional action/upgrade matter.
Scoundrel's Blaster/Noble's Blaster:
Scott: I love Green/x pipped cards because they allow you run a lot of silver bullet/one-ofs and improve your chances of drawing them. I love these cards as just “oh I need a weapon on a turn, wow theres one I flipped on defense, I’ll draw it”..the pierce against the opposite faction is just icing on the cake, I see these seeing a lot of play.
Palmer: These are stupid names. Scoundrel's Blaster sounds like it belongs on Han Solo, and Noble's Blaster sounds like it belongs in Game of Thrones. Also I'm sure there's a joke here with the as-yet-unprinted Autobot Blaster. As cards, tho, they're both great. Primary Laser doesn't see a lot of play, but adding the ability to bring it into your hand along with a bonus in certain matchups (this will go on your smaller guys, generally, where the Pierce 2 is more likely to come into play - or combine with The Bigger They Are for Pierce 6) means we will definitely see these getting use.
Scott: This card requires a lot of math, but my initial take is anytime you have zero or one defense bots, you are going to want this card. The key is “how many times is my defense going to matter in combat” instead of just seeing you have minus one total defense. For example, if you are using SR Bee who takes at least 2-3 hits to take down with his 15 health, then realistically this is a “+3/-3” over time, which is more relevant than it seems at first. This card imho requires an entire article to understand because it really depends on what you are playing and what you are playing against. My initial reaction is it will see a lot of play, but it is not completely ubiquitous.
Palmer: The bane of every photographer. Wait, that's erratic lighting. Anyway, this card is amazing. For straight aggro decks like Insecticons that are only expecting to survive 1-2 hits anyway, the negative to armor means nothing, so it's an orange pip, 3 attack without the drawback of Static Laser of Ironhide. It's also going to be an amazing card in limited, where Ramjet and Swoop are very playable in aggressive decks. Mostly I just love this for bugs, right now.
Scott: It’s needed to combine right? Does it draw you two cards and allow you play 2 actions a turn? So it’s just a necessary evil right now then..
Palmer: This is "fine", Bold 2 is an okay thing to give and it seems on par with the others.
Scott: I previewed it, see the article
Palmer: tied with Mounted Missiles for my favorite of the star-cost battle cards. The ability to filter your flips is really powerful. Waiting on a rules confirmation of whether you have to scrap the card before you flip your two for the crit - I'm assuming you do, but if not, it gets even better. Having both pips on this card in addition is what puts it over the top.
Scott: I think this will take the place of Rapid Conversion in non-Combiner lists that will want a Rapid Conversion over or in addition to Roll-Out because it is more on demand for little cost (you always play these cards to get to alt mode anyway). Windblade will also love this card.
Palmer: a one-way Rapid Conversion that you can bring into your hand via its green pip? Almost certainly going into Metroplex decks as getting him transformed to allow him to deploy a bot and swing at the start of turn cycle 2 is vital to that deck. Outside of that I'm not sure it's good enough to see play elsewhere, but there will probably be decks that need extra transform power and will slot it in.
Scott: At first I really liked this card, but then I realized the only real targets are Skrapnel and Flamewar that you really card about, outside of messing with Combiner Teams..so maybe?
Palmer: an interesting way to mess with your opponent's strategy, but at the risk of being a dead card in certain matchups. Most bots have more armor in alt mode (poor Ramjet) so generally transforming them prior to attack isn't going to get you an advantage in that sense. It is nice for screwing with Flamewar's global Tough 1.
Scott: Necessary evil with upside..score!
Palmer: card draw that actually nets you cards is almost always welcome.
Field Repair –
Scott: Not good enough, since you don’t also draw a card, this is not worth the net disadvantage just to Plan 1..heal 1 is not worth a card, pip or not.
Palmer: Repair 1/Plan 1 with a pip is not good enough to go into decks. Making it only half effective for non-autobots is even worse.
Scott: I think a one of in Stunticon lists for when you turn into Meanasor, but until then the target will likely just die.
Palmer: Wow. This card is absolutely amazing. Shutting down Bold against Metroplex, Bugs, Wheeljack is massive, and shutting down Tough against Primes or any other defensive deck can be just as good. This is something you can play out onto one of your Stunticons early and it will move to Menasor (so you don't lose it to Security Checkpoint) or keep it in your hand against an aggro deck so you know it'll last to go on him. He is going to be truly difficult to beat if he's reasonably healthy and has this attached.
Leap of Faith:
Scott: So this is clearly the best of the one star card from an advantage perspective. Even if you play this card “blind” you are likely getting two free cards out of the deal regardless, unless you have a total equipment redundancy with what you flip off the top. I cant see any downside with this card, and it even has a white pip on top of it, because the cards come from your deck not your hand (if it was a Brainstorm clone)
Palmer: I really like what they're going for here. Mounted Missiles and to a lesser degree Recon System are about using star cards to make better versions of existing cards and powering up your deck within the rules. Leap of Faith, on the other hand, uses it to break those rules. Being able to play additional cards, even off the deck, is very powerful: just watch out for the cards you only have in your deck for the pips.
Scott: The Engima is playable after you combine, but for this team overall I see a lot of synergy that does NOT require combination, so this may only be a 1 of “by the way we now combine” kinda deal.
Palmer: Direct scrap of a weapon (meh) or armor (much better) is a solid card since you need to play this in the deck anyway.
Tooth and Claw:
Scott: Assuming you actually want to combine, I cannot see the use for this card since you likely want to be a mostly defensive deck so you want to utilize that armor slot. I just don’t think changing armor to a weapon and +1 attack is worth the slot
Palmer: I have trouble seeing how I'm ever going to get five weapons on Predaking. Do I really need a sixth? Do I want a second weapon on one of them pre-combine jabronis? Probably not.
Scott: I like this card a lot, time will tell if it makes the 40 card deck. Any orange based deck can look at +1 armor as a positive savings in the long run, and being able to reliably deal the damage back helps the eventual Grimlock trample effect later. For me it is really only an opportunity cost of running other cards over this, but once in play it gives you value in each phase on generally high HP characters.
Palmer: I like what this card is trying to do, but I don't think it does it well enough. Dealing damage back on the attack is neat, and getting +1 armor isn't bad. But since it only triggers when this character is attacked, how much use are you going to get out of it, two damage? I feel like you might be better off just running Scrapper Gauntlets if you want an orange +1 armor.
Scott: So this card is powerful very early, and powerful very late (each time likely you will hit the upgrade you WANT to hit) and extremely powerful versus decks that do not make use of all upgrade slots on their bots and smaller number of character decks (2 tall for example). The fact that it is Green/Blue means you can have it when you need it, specifically if you get it when you defend you can chose if you then want to play it next. Right now I still find myself using a token Ramming Speed or two in my defensive decks, this will replace that.
Palmer: While the blue and green pips make this interesting, I doubt it'll see much play in constructed, as giving your opponents choices is usually bad. I'm surprised this isn't in a common slot as it'd be more usable in limited.
Scott: it’s a worse Incoming Transmission with a white pip, which means that defensive decks will prefer this, even if you see less cards, as it does not affect combat math in a negative way, assuming you are not running a plethora of white cards. I just don’t think the effect is worth your action for the turn. Maybe in hybrid decks that still run the double orange cards but are generally defensive that simply want to maximize the Plan they use?
Palmer: Kind of a one-shot Data Pad with a green pip, but the fact it takes place mid-turn might let you set up some shenanigans with Leap of Faith if you can play multiple actions on your turn.
Scott: So even if you Plan to the top, how is this better than New Designs? You had to put the Upgrade on top and then play this, so you simply moved the card to the top through the plan effect. Because it is Orange Green? I guess? Even if you had a Plan effect off of an upgrade play or a flip, it is just copying New Designs…I think I’d rather find better ways to duplicate that effect (new Megatron, Swindled, etc)
Palmer: Not sure that this is quite good enough looking at just one card, but if you can guarantee that card is an upgrade, this is like an orange Multi Tool that doesn't required a Specialist.
Scott and VInce Discuss additional Wave 2 previews, as of 1/17. We also chat about the exciting future of destination tournaments!
Scott and VInce Discuss Wave 2 extremely early first impressions (note this was recorded on Jan 10, before things like "Green", Flipping in KO Pile, etc. was known
VectorSigma.info team member and host of "Tech Talk" Vince talks about some of his early impressions of Wave 2, focused on how old cards will be improved by what we have seen thus far
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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