Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, ‘bots and cons to Junkion Jank! I’ve brought with me a fringe deck from Wave 1 that I think actually may stand a chance of continued high level competitive play with the introduction of Rise of the Combiners. It did have some decent showing at a few events, but the general consensus was that it was probably not a top tier deck. What monstrosity am I talking about? Well that's right the big man himself, Metroplex!
(Editor's Note: Toys are ALL VINCE's!!)
(Editor’s Note: continuing the theme of “if you are old, you get this reference”)
Let’s start with the foundation. I have actually experimented with a variety of Metroplex lists since he released way back when. I’ve tried aggressive orange focused builds that attempted to leverage the starting health pool, fully blue lists which leaned instead on soaking as much damage as possible then slamming an Energon Axe on him, supplementing it with copious amounts of burn. It’s actually pretty fun to run Photon Bomb in Metroplex decks. It also feels appropriate that a transformer the size of a city is flinging Photon Bombs, Plasma Bursts, and happily exchanging 3 health for 3 health with One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall. If you are that big you can certainly pack a lot of heat!
However in the end none of the “weirder” Metroplex builds really ended up amounting to much of anything. They had some decent matchups, but really all of them had a serious glaring issue: “The Touch”. However before we get into predators and prey let’s talk about what makes this particular Metroplex version work.
A while back there was a post in the largest Facebook group explaining the math behind Metroplex’s ‘bot mode ability. Unfortunately since then the post appears to have gone the way of the dodo I need to try it from memory. The key highlights are this (paraphrased of course): If you load out with the 18 “double pips”, so your Improvised Shields, Handheld Blasters, Roll Outs, you get the idea. Then fill out a good number of white pips, say around 15-17, you end up somewhere in the realm of a 75% chance to high the trigger with Bold 4 (aka Height Advantage). Alternatively at Bold 2 you have a 50/50, with obviously other levels of Bold falling in there somewhere.
Clearly the numbers morph as you reveal cards from your deck and despite seeing a big chance at success with 75%, it isn’t a guaranteed hit. You will still whiff once in a while. However maxing out in this fashion gives you the best chance of leaning into what Metroplex wants to do. Reset the board turn after turn and smash for huge amounts. Going this heavy on the white pip slot may seem unorthodox, as they clearly lose value during combat rather quickly. It’s worth it, however, when you can tap down their side in one attack. Sometimes as a deck builder you need to make unfortunate concessions to ensure what you need. The key here is getting every last drop of value out of those necessary white pips, which was actually an issue in the Wave One metagme. More on that momentarily.
So where does that leave us? Well, I’m running a mere 7 cards that don’t sport a white pip or multiple pips for Metroplex's ability. Let’s talk about those 7 cards for a moment as I feel they are incredibly important.
Well that isn't quite true as mentioned earlier, but we are certainly going on try and make things as consistent as possible. That's where the seven spare cards come in. Metroplex doesn't allow you a lot of breathing room for creativity I've found. If you want to smash continents with the city, former certain cards feel necessary. Even in these slots you have very little wiggle room.
Clearly Height Advantage is going to be included. Of the cards that came with Metroplex, this I'd only actually play this one. The big 75% target is clearly fuzzier when in the middle of a game, but Bold 4 should get you there with reasonable reliability. Since Bold 3 is pretty close to Bold 4, one might even say it is a mere one less, but Supercharge was not a common inclusion in Metroplex decks during Wave One. Power Punch, despite appearing to be the same card, has some advantages over Supercharge.
While Flamethrower may seems great I have found a lot of my games are about ensuring Metroplex going H.A.M. on something, and the resulting earthquake disrupting your opponent's plans. In nearly every scenario I don't really care about next turn, if I don't hit a reset right now I'm in trouble. Therefore having the Bold 3 even a single time is more significant than the Bold 2 consistently. Going beyond that perk it is also an Upgrade. This allows you to transform via the now NINE different actions that allow you to do so and drop Power Punch into play on the same turn. While it is an investment of 2 cards you can “build your own Height Advantage” by plopping out say Slammer or Scamper via a transform effect, transform back with your one flip per turn, and then do your best to cause some seismic activity. In the end you only have a couple of turns where the window for crippling your opponent via resets is open. You must capitalize on it or you end up in a bad spot.
Last but not least is the singleton Backup Beam. While I was just singing the praises of Power Punch over Flamethrower, you know what Bold 2 beats? Bold 0 that's what. Given the number of cards you are flipping each attack you are likely to come across the beam at some point. It's a great way for Peace Through Tyranny and other pip-focused cards to find their way back into your deck. I want to include more, but again it is tough to find room.
Speaking of green pips let's jump to one of the other new inclusions, Escape Route. This card jumped out at me when it was spoiled. It feels like an auto include in Metroplex. I said it numerous times at a recent event where I played this deck, but now you have 9 flip effects. Nearly one in four cards says “play a minibot”. Who cares? Well you will care dear Metroplex for a number of reasons:
1. Previously it was actually kind of awkward to get multiple minibots out at the sametime. They are fragile and you rarely had time to get it done. I've actually gotten three into play at the same time now! Having the extra bodies in the board influences the game in a number of ways.
2. Armor is weaker. Why does that matter? Well the minibots are “Forcefields”. Sure they give you Bold when you need it, occasionally will let you ping your opponent’s board, or in the rarest of circumstances flip themselves to provide Utility, but they most common purpose is to get in the way of large attacks. They are blockers first and foremost. Since Bashing Shield is showing up everywhere having bodies like this to soak hits is crucial. The additional flips help make sure you can get in and out of city mode in the appropriate time frame. The biggest one is setting up future turns. You want to be in both mode so you can play a flip action card and then get back to benefit from the Bold or other benefits your little bots provide. This takes more foresight than you might think.
3. Sometimes you can actually utilize the minibot flips. In reality it is just Scamper since Slammer can't flip and Six-Gun is tougher to concoct a scenario for. The idea here is you are in both modes and your opponent just played something you must clear. You can transform with Escape Route then use your transform on Scamper. Not something that happens all the time, but it can come in handy.
This is of course all in addition to the fact that Escape Route comes along with a green pip. Say goodbye to useless cards stuck in your hand, say hello to free minibots! Since it's also a white pip it slots in nicely. Hopefully you can see why the card jumped out to me for this deck.
As mentioned earlier I played this at an event recently and it performed pretty well. There were some unfortunate swing-and-a-miss scenarios but overall it worked out in the end (Top 4’d the event, first in Swiss). Moving forward I think Metroplex may actually be in a good spot as the RotC metagame shapes up.
First of all combiners exist. This city is fueled by stealing attack steps. Pre-combination you can steal a lot of momentum by resetting the board. Additionally the gestalt parts often aren't pushing much damage, so your 35 health can feel like a million.
Also the major predators for Metroplex (decks like “The Touch”) seem to have fallen out of favor. Of course part of it is people wanting to play with the new toys but if you are seeing really wider teams, Metroplex does pretty decently there. “Squash that bot oh and tap down the remainder” is pretty solid against teams with lots of little Transformers. If you see a rise of larger star cost characters with really mean looking attack values, Metroplex may not hold the same value. Let's look at the now classic Optimus Prime Battlefield Legend/Nemesis Prime pairing to elaborate since they essentially get 2 Metroplexes, Metroplexi?
Point is they get at the very least an equal amount of damage output per character and multiple characters to get it done with. Sure you sometimes get multiple resets back-to-back-to-back. Sure sometimes you'll not only trigger Metroplex but also flip multiple double oranges and crush one of the primes for a gazillion. However they are more consistent and in general will do a strong enough wrecking ball impression together the job done.
Dinobots also can't be left out as they also are masters of making a mess. Funny story about Grimlock and minibots...it's only funny on one side of that equation...Medium to large characters in multiples who can pressure effectively, are a problem for Metroplex.
Metroplex is a lot of fun to play but now you really need to map out your turns. The deck definitely takes getting used to as it is the only one (currently) where your available character count grows over the course of the game as opposed to only contracting. Just some quick tips when picking the deck up.
● Try to avoid walking into scenarios where Slammer just gets nailed to the wall by One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall. It’s a good card, and good players play it. You're gonna feel bad when it ruins your day.
● Ensure you get immediate value from the minibots. It is tempting to play Slammer just to get a free Armed Hovercraft. It is way more enjoyable, and more importantly effective, if you can setup a time where you Plasma Burst their entire board and force a reset. Effectively utilizing your flip cards to get minibots out at opportune times is crucial.
● By the same token remember that Metroplex IS the deck. You will with games without him but he should be protected. Don't try to save minibots. They are Forcefields.
● I'm still wrestling with this one but I think it is most effective to just flip and get in there on turn one even if it means eating a bunch of return damage. If you go first and attack in city mode it makes your next turn really awkward when you draw Roll Out and can't setup anything interesting for that turn or possibly your third turn. Being in city mode only prevents an additional 3-4 damage which may not be relevant in the long run. This depends on the matchup and something I'm still debating it myself but seems better than just tapping to attack.
● You are on the clock. 35 health may seem like a lot but it goes faster than you'd think since on any given defend you could be flipping all white and orange pips. That's why I chose to go more all-in with my Bold enablers. You have to hit his ability from the mid-game on each turn, and if you don't you're in trouble.
If you like wombo-combos or imagining Metroplex elbow dropping some poor poor 'bot from off the top rope so hard that their friends feel it then this may be the deck for you. Feel free to chime in with your own Metroplex stories as the entire mechanic is ripe for “this one time….” .
That's all for this time folks, check in next time for more Junkion Junk.
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