THEM! A look at updating INsecticons with Rise of the Combiners

by Mark Kinney

  

When we last left our heroes, they were drowning amidst a sea of blue pips and a one-shotting Goliath. Armor was too tough to break through consistently. Direct damage was burning everything, leaving a path littered with bugs in its wake. It will fall to the release of Rise of the Combiners, to save our many legged heroes with excellent options that increase damage as well as provide consistency.


A new Hero has entered the Arena

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A Wave One bench warmer finally has his time in the Sun

Ladies and Gentleman! Bots and Cons! Let us welcome Chop Shop to the starting lineup! Why the new starter? Stats. Plain and simple. Chop Shop has both an additional point of attack and health over his predecessor, Ransack. He is still normally going to be your 2nd attacker, which means he should still be in Alt mode. There is a slight chance that you get to live the dream and transfer a weapon to him when you attack, but that isn't what we are trying to do. While Chop Shop is the weakest character to target with I Still Function!, that should not matter much after we get into the upgraded deck list. While Ransack was arguably the strongest Function target, coming back in with 7 attack in bot mode, Barrage and Kickback are fairly close in power level and will service just as well. Yes, for those who are followers of my posts I was very “anti-Chop Shop” in Wave One, but the adjustments to the deck with RotC gives him more play.

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Damage Reigns Supreme

The only new action to make the cut is Reckless Charge because it's better than Supercharge, despite taking damage. Supercharge was generally between 3 or 4 additional damage, but Reckless Charge is always 4. Never less, no questions asked. That consistency comes with a price tag of 3 damage to your attacker, but they are just expandable so why dwell? The damage notably occurs after the attack and your damage has already been dished out, so in situations where it is down to one on one, the attacker is the victor (unlike One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall that would create a Draw).


Treasure Hunt is now being maxed out because of all the amazing upgrades we will have access to. Now, we actively want to find Improvised Shield and extra upgrades even if we cannot play them because of all the Plan effects (and pseudo-Plan effects like Incoming Transmission). 


Feast your eyes on this magnificent piece of hardware: Mining Pick

Mining Pick

Megatron: Dust Bowl Era Edition

This weapon is deceptively stronger than it may appear. It has a meager +1 attack, but anything more would be too much. It has built in Plan 2, which may seem like card disadvantage to the untrained eye. You are getting to transfer unusable cards into extra damage, much the same way that Incoming Transmission would make use out of any Improvised Shields that were drawn during Wave One. Now we get to the real power: any time you put a card on top on your deck, your attack is increased by one per card. 


See the average combat flip in this build will result in an average added damage of 2.14 with all the oranges present. At an average of over one per CARD flipped, that means that putting any double orange on top will result in more damage than expected (a little over three) with the increased benefit of getting an extra attack on the Pick itself. Therefore, every double orange you stack results in +2 damage, and even stacking a simple orange is +1 (from the Pick ability) compared to a normal flip.


This not only guarantees damage by stacking useless cards, it also gains attack for each card stacked. That is not just from Mining Pick, but every effect throughout the turn. Incoming Transmission also buffs the Pick even before you Plan any cards when attacking. Also remember than Plan is “up to” and you can just stack a single card if you desire. This weapon should easily average 4 to 5 damage per attack. Those are Grenade Launcher levels of ridiculousness without scrapping it after use! 

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I feel everything! I know... I know everything! I am everything!

Erratic Lightning is the next new addition, and boy is it electrifying! This is a straight upgrade from Static Laser of Ironhide. The 3 attack is the same, but instead of taking 2 damage, you lose 1 defense. Who cares about defense? Only the guy on the receiving end of the attack, that's who. There is also no downside if the upgraded character is not attacked, unlike Static Laser. While Static Laser did help to power up Ransack last season, there were times where it would be a detriment on anyone else. Lightning also has zero drawback on a character with zero defense to begin with: Skrapnel. That combo is not as absurd as it may seem, however. You still want to attack with Skrapnel first and you will not be able to upgrade him. And if you go second, your attacker will change based on your opponents choices. So while it seems overpowered, it most likely will not happen often within the first round of attacks, but the three attack with little downside still has a lot of value on any character at various times throughout the game.

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Fight as a single, impenetrable unit. That is the source of our strength.

  

Bashing Shield is the new Ramming Speed. Now we can guarantee a way to mitigate tough armors. Not only can you Treasure Hunt for it, but any battle where it is flipped it's yours if you need it thanks to its Green pip goodness. Being an armor is slightly upsetting since we don't care about the wellness of our buggy friends. That's not to say the additional defense won't matter at some point. This is the Ramming Speed we deserve. With Wave 1, Drill Arms was the default armor breaker but it is blue and not synergistic with Swarm and general attacks. The disruption this upgrade provides is guaranteed if you want it, and simply “another Orange” if you do not (during combat). A welcome addition to the arsenal.


Decepticon Crown is the one I'm not completely sold on. Its effectiveness does not come from playing it. It helps push additional damage because of the white pip. It's just a redundant source of Plan based additional damage, with Mining Pick and Incoming Transmission. Time will tell if this is strong enough to run the full amount, or if a single copy is good enough. Finding it should be simple with the large flips from Kickback, and even Barrage Bold based combat flips, or from Treasure Hunt. 

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Fundamentally Sound

  

Some general points to go over:


- If you transfer a Mining Pick to ChopShop you cannot use Plan.


- Since all Decepticons gain the ability from Decepticon Crown, you can still get value from upgrading a tapped character. This alleviates pressure on always playing an attack based upgrade every turn. 


- If you move a Bashing Shield to ChopShop you can scrap another armor


- Static buffs mitigate variance..and variance is not your friend


With the release of Wave 2 on the horizon, I am extremely excited to infest my local events with an upgraded version of the orange menace. The weakness that Insecticons had during its Wave One tenure was not being able to consistently break opposing armor littered about the blue decks. Bashing Shield guarantees that you will see a way to break through their defenses early and often. On top of smashing defenses, the average attack is now slightly higher for each weapon we have. Join me in my quest to make the metagame orange again!

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'Till all are one

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).  


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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!”