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From the moment Dan laid out the Dinobot stratagems early in the testing for ATP-1, I was immediately drawn to them. On the surface they’re fairly straightforward and appear simple, however, after brushing the dust off of these fossils from Wave 1, a quite powerful and dynamic deck is once again positioned beautifully in the current metagame.
Anybody that has hung out in the VS/ATP discord knows how much I loathe Quake. So when deciding on a deck to play for the LCQ, that matchup was my focus when choosing what deck I wanted to play. With the addition “We Fix!,” Dinobots have arguably the best matchup into the three Titan Headed monster. In my testing leading up to the event, playing league games on the server, I ran into at least four people running the deck or a variation of it. Thus making it an easy choice for me to roll out the Jurassic Trio..only to later to find out nobody played Quake in the end!
As far as the list itself, I drew most of my inspiration from Richard Wyatt’s Season One mixed pip color Dinobot invitational list. I wanted to defend better than most aggro decks could overcome, yet still be able to leverage the strongest cards in the format to win games. It effectively plays 18 double pip cards (thanks to the Rampage strat) and makes the most of both Belligerence and End Hostilities while relying on Grimlock’s Steamroll effect.
Round 1: Darkmount Skyshadow (Ogar)
I got thrown into the deep end right out of the gate into probably my most feared matchup in the meta against the “grindlord” himself (Ogar Currently has over 150 games played in the TFTCG League). My deck has a few tricks in the main and a few more in the sideboard to tip the scales in my favor though, and it was just a matter of finding them in a timely fashion.
I won the roll and chose to go first. Game 1 was just a sludge-fest (pun Intended) back and forth with Grimlock sealing the deal on a late big swing into Ominus trampling a wounded Darkmount to secure the victory. Game 2 I sided in my tools to help negate some damage, and try to steal the big Sky Shadow swing (2x Survive, 2x OSSOSF, 1xReflect Damage). Another slugfest that Ogar clutched with a big Sky Shadow swing for 17, one-shotting Grimlock, after a turn in which I came 1 damage short and forcing the combine on 16 damage with the Reflect set. Game 3 I was able to see the Reflect early, and this time force the combine with it set, and was able to “steal” the big attack sealing the victory. 1-0 let’s go!
Round 2: Perceptor ASP (Gary)
Another matchup I fear, 4/5 wide aggro with Perceptor to see all the gas he should need to overpower me with brute force. In game 1, a clutch power card most woudn’t expect in the list, End Hostilities, on his Bold 5 swing with his best attacker sealed the deal. Grimlock secured two double KOs using his low health guys against him. Game 2 went almost the same way, but instead of a secret action, I flipped Handheld Blasters on a clutch defense allowing my guys to endure the assault long enough to allow Grimlock to do his thing. 2-0 , playing crisp and feeling good.
Round 3: Metroplex (Christian)
Here we go, it wouldn’t be a tournament if I didn’t have to play my buddy and arch rival. Christian handed me defeat in two finals appearances in 2020 while also becoming a great friend along the way. This matchup I don’t fear very much at all. My deck plays three of each of the cards he fears the most (Belligerence and End Hostilities). It was just a matter of drawing them. Game 1 I did exactly that! Making him go first with a Belligerence in my hand for the return swing out putting 18 damage on him early. His next turn he got the deploy but again I had “the nuts”. A Grenade Launcher on Grimlock, setting an End Hostilities (both almost negating his attack and preventing his ability to proc the effect) while trampling poor little Scamper to put more hurt on Metroplex secured the game 1 victory.
Game 2, more of the same, except this time Christian naturally missed his proc and I had the Belligerence again but this time it wasn’t a swing out, but I was able to put a weapon on Sludge and with Grimlocks flip, swing for 19 into Metroplex. I flipped almost all doubles, including all 3 HHBs on attack, which thanks to our friend Belligerence sealed the deal.
3-0, deck firing on all cylinders and with enough time to eat my ramen.
Round 4: Darkmount Sky Shadow (Scott)
Here we go again to my most feared matchup in what was effectively the finals. Here's where the wheels come off and we crash and burn. Game 1 was super close, I ended up missing my 1 on the last turn, but before that I fumbled the biggest comeback weapon and my best tool in the deck pre-board to give me a game against Scott.
I Still Function onto Sludge to heal ALL of your Dinos from the KO pile is the biggest play this deck can make sometimes if you do it right and I did not. Having fumbled at the goal line, we went to game two. Once again I sided in my help, but it didn’t matter as I didn’t see any of them. But what did I see? Our familiar friend ISF. This time I needed it to revive Grimlock and get a 2 for 1 trample. I punted again, playing it a turn too early so Scott still had a choice of who to attack instead of forcing his attacks into the same direction twice in a row, and coming up short again. I have nobody to blame here but myself here for the loss. 3-1.
In the end I took the event with the best tiebreakers as nobody went undefeated (Scott, Christian Ogar, and I were all 3-1). Although the last match left a sour taste in my mouth in the end, I think that’s for the best. I had a blast playing both against some of the best friends I've made in these dark pandemic days and with some fossils from wave 1 that refuse to go extinct.
Going forward some things I would change would be to use a third I Still Function in the sideboard, change one Energon Axe in the main deck to an Energon Mace. My main takeaway, is that it is important to focus on the high impact turns that can sway the game in your favor. You cant afford attack a wrong target with Grimlock and misuse the spillover damage and ISF turns. They are similar to Peace Through Tyranny turns, they can steal a win when played correctly but is also easy to misexecute as well.
Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting changes to the one-day event structure..the upcoming Lunar Festival events for the Alpha Trion Tournament series season three are coming soon! ~ Scott
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