Where is Optimus Prime BattleField Legend?
Here we are almost a month into the Rise of the Combiners and we here at Vectorsigma.info were able to play in two larger “Case of Rise of the Combiners” prized events already. In those two events we saw many different decks in the Top Four, highlighted by entirely new casts of characters: StarScream Deceptions King made his way there, Dinobots, Aerialbots, Grimlock/Wheeljack, Sentinels, and of course Insecticons. However, none of those top decks these past few weeks locally, and judging by other tangential information from other events through the Facebook group, included the most powerful character of the last metagame: Optimus Prime, Battlefield Legend. My question is: “why do we think that is the case?”
Prime had seen so much play over the last few months, it is hard to explain his recent disappearance in the early meta. I for one still think he is the strongest single character in the game, but is that good enough? Is his thirteen star cost finally a handicap when Combiners at five wide teams can survive long enough to combine to become this “Super-Bot”? In other words, has the thought of starting with your win condition in play, technically vulnerable since turn one, become a hindrance compared to the eventual win condition that is the combined form? Have the one-star cards created a friction for him where running lower cost characters instead of OPBL becomes the better option?
I believe the answers are multi-faceted. First, no one is really playing OPBL currently because everyone wants to play with the newest shiniest thing on the character side. In any character based game, it is the characters that garner the most attention early on, even though there are many more combinations of battle cards that can change the metagame just as much or more than new characters.
Is it simply that people are tired of playing OPBL? As Wave One came to a close, I think most people were very sick of seeing Optimus across the table. His power level was widely known, but most players felt he was simply too powerful to overcome given the current card pool. So maybe players are not looking to recreate that situation, even though the plethora of new battle cards change the dynamic of OPBL in many ways. For example, there are numerous actions that cost you a Star to play now. Well, having the ability to play them without costing your action for the turn, and then returning them from the Scrap Pile later to be played again, will give you extra reasons to consider their use. If only a certain character could help us here..
The last answer is not really even fully understood: maybe Optimus is just simply “not good enough” right now. See playing extra actions or using your scrap pile as an extension of your hand are clearly insanely powerful abilities, but they require the player to make optimal decisions in both deck building and playing out the games. That requires knowledge of a metagame that is still being defined.
Let’s take a stroll back to Wave One. When the game was first released, deck building at major local tournaments was similar to now: not many OP:BL showed up to events. Maybe the 13 stars may have scared them players at first? Maybe the thought of playing a blue shell pip deck over orange seemed incorrect initially? Maybe just maybe was it because it was the Primes time to shine just yet?
It took almost a full two months of events leading up to Pax Unplugged for Optimus to finally, truly stand tall in 2 Tall Primes (“The Touch”). Now that deck could have been made on day one, but it wasn’t dominant until well into the metagame. After the success of The Touch, Optimus: BL found yet another home in the deck that finished very strong in the remaining months leading up to RotC, which was Three Wide Primes (All Hail Optimus). Although wave one felt like it was “Dominated by the Prime,” there were months early on where he was very hard to find, and I want to determine if we are simply in that doldrum again.
RotC has arrived and here we are weeks into happily combining our Bots and Cons into what we had all hoped and dreamed would be a wonderful set. I was one of the many who had concerns for the Combiners, but after weeks of playing against them, they have proven to be doing quite well for themselves! However certain staple character from wave one have become lost in limbo with all the new decks arriving in the new metagame: Where has Bumblebee Legendary Warrior gone? What about Nemesis Prime? But most importantly what about the number one gunner from Wave 1 Optimus Prime Battle Field Legend?
I personally don’t think it is any of those things. I believe just like in Wave One, Optimus simply needs to see what the meta will look like before we can correctly see what tools we need in his tool box. The power of “The Touch” version of two tall Primes was not simply that OP: BL allows you to play an extra action out of the deck instead of your hand, but that it was built with a singular purpose in mind: maximize the ability to kill Kickback going first. From that singular goal with extra options available compared to past lists without the plethora of direct damage, the flexible nature of the deck continued to grow to its final Super Saiyan form (to be further refined later in the three wide versions). The point is, you needed a “Rock” before creating a better “Paper.”
While we are speaking of new tools lets take a look at where I started with Optimus in RotC.
My first build brought some of the old team back and added and some fun new toys, most importantly a new seven drop character Hot Rod. He is from the Sentinels, but he feels like a strong side kick for Prime with his built in Tough 1. So when going first you can simply Flip Flamewar and send Hotrod in with his now Tough 2 and basically have a guy with an invisible Reinforced Plating on turn one! (Editor’s Note: Flip Density in action!)
As for some of the new Battle Cards we turn to Security Console, and this card is an absolute gamechanger for blue decks (and Starscream). It brings everything you wanted from Wave One defensive strategies, but it does come at a small cost: the utility slot. During Wave One, we had Matrix of Leadership to give our team a +1 attack and Pierce 1, and then cards like The Bigger the Are would buff them to Pierce 5. This was a major selling point of the three wide OP:BL deck that is no longer here (and maybe that’s wrong), but we need to be able to have room for new cards to see how they can compete and stand up against older ones. Another new addition is Sparing Gear over Body Armor. Yes, it’s one less Tough but the green pip means we can always have it when we need it.
We also add new actions such as Marksmanship , Vaporize, and Espionage. All bring very different tools to the table. A blue pip direct damage seems too good to be true at such a low “cost” (it honestly is) and Vaporize gives a Blue Pip to Ramming Speed, a card we were forced to play before “off-color” for its universal use. Lastly Espionage is a new force to be reckoned with. The White pip gives it play during combat and the Green allows us to get it virtually on command. It enables us to prolong Combiner’s from being combined, or to get rid of opposing Bashing Shields, or quite simply be able to remove whatever card we fear at a given moment.
So we simply made some cosmetic surface changes and sleeved this up for some playtesting sessions, but the deck performed poorly. Why? The question was “well this deck doesn’t look to much different form its Wave one counterpart, why isn’t it performing well?”
The answers were varied, but a lot of it was that having one single character do so much of the heavy lifting was a weaker strategy against the wide teams that were popping up. Also a lot of Optimus’ enemies, namely mid-range type aggressive decks in the style of Dinobots, had new builds such as Sentinels. Thus, it was not going to be as simple as upgrading one seven star character for another and changing some battle cards. We had to adapt further.
Let’s take another quick look at what we could do with 3 Wide Optimus.
Now with this team composition, we come in at only 23 stars and get to play two of the new one star cost cards in Energized Field. This card is sweet on its own but what it truly does it give us 8 double blue cards in our deck for some very effective defense, even when blindly defending. This deck is still very much a 1.0 version that I haven’t had much time for yet, but whether your playing Leap of Faith or Energized Field (or one of each), they both can be very strong cards for a deck like this. Most of the rest of the deck stays the same as the above list and even the character health pool is on par. With Skydive you get 3/8/1 but your going to have an invisible Body Armor once you flip Flamewar, having built in Tough 3 is pretty strong in a blue shell. It is going to enable your to find your Greens and put cards in your scrap pile to easily bring back with Optimus. You’ll also see this list is playing a 1 of Copy of Mining Pick, as I wanted to see how good we can make Pick in a blue shell with Optimus. This allows you to simply chose which action you want on top get off the top, and a free +1 attack, when you swing in. It is orange, the opposite of the deck, but allows you to get to giant attack numbers synergistically.
There are some cards that could also easily be looked at for this version such as Field Communicator because Skydive and Flamewar are both Specialist. Also, this version lacks Sparing Gear since we are so reliant on in-born tough, which could be incorrect as well. (Editor's Note: Yes you should!)
My latest and newest idea is a “2 Tall” variant with Optimus and Bumblebee: Trust Lieutenant. The fun thing about this deck is once again its 23 Stars so you have more play with Leap Of Faith. You have two characters that absolutely abuse action cheating, and flipping a Start Your Engines off of either Optimus’ attack or a Leap of Fath becomes a Ready For Action + you get to play an additional Action off of the Bumblebee flip again! This deck provides us with some very insane turns, that are not that hard to set up, if it is running correctly on all cylinders. (be on the look-out for a deck tech and gameplay footage later this week on our YouTube channel)
These decks are just a few of the many options you can have with the Optimus Prime Battlefield Legend. He was an absolute force to be reckoned with throughout the entire second half of the Wave One metagame and he is just sitting and waiting on the sideline currently until it will be his time to rise again. He most certainly can “Still Function” and he will be ready to Roll-Out When called upon! What makes him so powerful is his ability to abuse Action cards both during combat and through his flip, but you need to know which ones will help you to victory. It is not his ability’s that make him strong, it is the knowledge of a strong player using them to their potential against a known field that put him over the top.
I would love to hear all your opinions on Optimus currently whether your happy or upset about his whereabouts in the current meta. What deck brews you have been working on yourself using him (if any), and any suggestions on the lists I presented you that I’ve started with?
Until next time Autobots, Roll-Out!
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“Till All Are One!”
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