After qualifying in the first qualifier at Gen Con, I was in a unique and somewhat unexpected opportunity to “free play” on Friday – once or twice, depending on how well I did in the first event. I’d already determined that given the chance, I was going to play a more casual and fun deck in a later qualifier if I was already qualified. So with no pressure on, I was able to look at a few decks that work, but maybe not at an elite level, and try them against the higher level competition of a major tournament.
My first instinct was to play Menasor. The Stunticons are my favorite combiner team and I’ve had the deck together since Rise of the Combiners, but I know its power isn’t quite there at the tournament level (I will be continuing to follow the deck, however, as Menasor’s ability is incredibly powerful and may at some point become game-breaking, plus Motormaster is a built-in counter to anti-combiner tech in the form of Photon Bomb).What clinched this being a “no” was that somebody had already played Menasor on Thursday! I felt very outflanked. I also thought about Dreadwing, but I’ve gotten very few reps in with the deck as we moved into the Siege 1 environment. Plus GenCon definitely seemed to slant Orange as compared to say Origins, and Dreadwing does better in a more neutral or blue environment.
During the qualifiers Thursday I noticed that one player who was ahead of me for most of the day (I took my loss in round 2) was running Metroplex. I’m our team’s resident City player despite actually being a United supporter, and so I had the deck on me. Metroplex didn’t get a ton from the most recent set and sideboarding was probably a net negative for him, but there were two cards, both White pips, that seemed tailor-made for the Autobot Titan.
One of them did not make the cut. I tested Spinner Rims and unfortunately the effect wasn’t good enough to replace one of the other options in the Utility slot. But Heat of Battle was exactly what Metroplex needed to become significantly more consistent at triggering his ability.
Heat of Battle gives all Transformers Bold 3 and Tough 3 until the end of the turn. Sometimes, this is pure gravy – if your opponent is playing an Orange deck, Tough doesn’t help him and Bold helps you. But even if they’re playing a Blue deck, it’s three more card flips, both to flip more Orange pips and to increase the chances of triggering your ability.
Given the prevalence of 3- and 4-wide Orange decks, I knew that triggering Metroplex’s ability was going to frequently be key. So my deck was constructed to maximize the chances. The Metroplex math is up on previous articles on this site, but the key at the beginning is to run the 18 double-pip cards that don’t require a star. Then you play 12-14 White pips, and the rest an even spread of Blue and Orange.
An underrated addition from the prior set was Backup Beam. Grabbing that weapon on-demand is an excellent use of the two Blue-pip slots outside the obvious Height Advantage. On the Orange side, I slotted in the normal 3 Supercharges, plus a pair of Confidence to allow me to dig for my Bold providers.
In the White slots, from observing others I determined that running the full nine “transform” cards was unnecessary. The ability to grab Escape Route from your flips meant you usually had one when you needed it. So three Escape Route, three Heat of Battle, three Data Pad (card draw and putting a White pip on top) and three Backup Plan looked to be the finishing touches.
I did make one minor tweak, though. Our testing had shown that the Blue/Green armors from Siege 1 were really powerful cards. So I put one Reflex Circuits in, in place of one of the Backup Plans. It slightly reduced my odds of hitting the Metroplex ability but when it stuck, could greatly increase my defense (or force my opponent to play a Bashing Shield instead of a weapon, which had a similar effect for me).
On the Sideboard side, the main card I was worried about was W-5 Gyro Blaster. So I added a pair of Ramming Speed and a pair of Vaporize to board as necessary. In retrospect, I probably should have gone with Crushing Size, even to the point of having one maindeck (in place of a Data Pad). I put in Energy Packs, a third Backup Plan, and then Grenade Launchers for any game where I thought my mini bots were going to have to do extra damage (specifically against 2-tall Blue).
So how did it go? Pretty darn well. My first game, I matched against Jamie Madison of Powered by Primus fame. He had W-5 Gyro Blaster maindeck, and it enabled him to eke out a close win in game one. Game two I didn’t see any answers and he had the Gyro Blaster early, and rode it to a pretty easy victory. I was worried I’d made the wrong call.
However, from this point out, things went really well. I defeated Insecticons, Shockwave, General Optimus, and King Starscream, with my only other loss coming to my teammate Dan. It was clear that Metroplex does, in fact, still have game in this environment. He’s still a high variance deck, and you need to be able to plan for that and stay off tilt, but as long as you don’t get too unfortunately with flips there aren’t really any decks he has no shot against.
One thing that did seem very different in this event is that I deployed Slammer first a lot more often than I had previously. Getting that one damage out at various points would often kill someone or set someone up for a kill, and was worth the risk of Slammer dying to a One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall. The times when he survived my opponent’s attack back into him were just gravy.
So what’s on the table for Metroplex going forward? I’m eagerly awaiting the Trypticon deck to see if there are any other Titan-based cards that will be good for Autobot City as well. And it’s always possible something else will be printed to better utilize the small robots. But even if he gets no support, it’ll still be fun to slam a gigantic city into people.
(Oh, and when the stats for GenCon come out and you wonder who played Autobot Springer? That was my sideboard)
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