Pounce: Secret Kitty

by Scott Landis

Thought we were finished giving you Titan Masters Attack! previews didn’t you? Weren’t satisfied with the plethora of others?! Well, we have two more for you today! As usual, a big thanks for the continued support by the Wizards of the Coast Transformers TCG Team. We continue to really appreciate our relationship with the team and their over the top support of this TCG community! Without further ado, let me introduce you to the clone of Wingspan: Pounce!


Before I get into the lore or the card itself, I need to put aside some speculation: NO, this is not an error, Titan Masters Attack! actually has SEVEN Super Rares (SRTs), not the six previously reported! Again, there are actually SEVEN SRTs in the set, not SIX, so the chances of pulling one in a pack are greater, but you will need to purchase slightly more product to get an entire set from packs alone. It is virtually the equivalent of previous sets, unsurpringly when you do the math to account for 4-5 per case now. 

I don’t remember Pounce at all from Generation One, but I guess he along with Wingspan showed up in the first part of the final three episodes of the series: The Rebirth. Per TFWiki: “Pounce is the Decepticon equivalent of Repugnus (though the difference between the two is fairly microscopic). He does the dirty jobs that even the other Decepticons find repugnant. And as far as he's concerned, the dirtier the better. Anti-social, vicious, nasty, wily, silent, deadly and merciless are all appropriate descriptors for Pounce. What few realize is that much of Pounce's success at his job stems from the carefully cultivated reputation he's created for himself. Pounce is the clone brother of Wingspan.”

This series gave life to the precursor of Titan Masters, the Headmasters, and started the continued Generation One continuity with the Japanese sequel series also called “The Headmasters.” 


Pounce? Wingspan?

Pounce and Wingspan appeared in a pretty famous scene with another very popular G1 minor character Punch/Counterpunch per TFWiki: “Pounce and Wingspan sneaked into Autobot City to retrieve the Key to the Plasma Energy Chamber. Counterpunch tried to warn them that his Autobot counterpart was not only nearby, but REAL nearby, but they didn't listen. Despite showing an obliviousness usually reserved for Lois Lane, the Clones beat Punch when he showed up and returned the Key to Scourge so that his unit could infiltrate the Plasma Energy Chamber itself.”

Enough about our lore background on Pounce and let’s look at the card itself for the TCG. Pounce is very powerful. As a 5/12/2 for eight stars his stats are very much in line with other characters at his cost point. When you take into consideration that most of the time you will be a 7/12/2 when attacking, suddenly he shoots way up the curve! 

The benefits of Pounce are multi-layered. He does not need to flip at all to be in his preferred attacking mode, assuming you have a Secret Action to play on the turn he attacks. If for some reason you do not have one, say in your opening hand, you can set yourself up later by flipping him to alt mode a turn or two ahead of time and then flipping back to alt when you attack, but the more efficient way will be to simply play the Secret Action the turn he attacks, then flip to the THREE DEFENSE mode, draw another Secret Action to keep him around longer, rinse/repeat as the game goes on. It is rare to find a character so flip density efficient! 

His ability is a more efficient version of Wave 1 Thundercracker, who “fairly” used to swing for six before factoring in the ability modifiers and upgrades. Pounce, because you need to be playing a Secret Action and not a combat modifier, gives you a larger buff when played fairly, but can still stack the effect if you want to get unfair with cards like Brainstorm, Sergeant Springer, Special Ops Mission, and the like. There’s even a card down below that can let you “cheat the system” once per game on demand! 

The fact is you are still advancing your board state while gaining a combat buff: you are tacking on +2 attack to your defensive ability. This makes your decision points for the turn much easier, as you are frequently deciding between playing the defensive Secret Action, or the offensive combat ability like Leap into Battle or The Bigger they Are.. 


Toto Included!

Hold the Line is the obvious inclusion in this strategy. Being Green means by playing 2-3 in your Pounce builds you have a very good shot of seeing it by the time you want to attack with him. Against wide teams it will act similarly to the aforementioned Hidden Fortifications and Sabotaged Armaments, but the real benefit here is the Green/White battle icons. We have other Green Secret Action in the game, but they tend to be “silver bullets” like Hijack, Reflect Damage, or Speed Trap. Hold the Line has a universally powerful ability against a wide swath of the metagame, so should be a natural fit for Pounce builds. 


What type of deck wants to see Pounce? Clearly control based decks, since the best Secret Actions remain powerful in control strategies. Hidden Fortification and Sabotaged Armaments are already control deck mainstays, but you are going to have to play more than six to make sure you are activating Pounce’s ability each time he attacks, let alone ensure his flip to bot mode is consistent. Mathematically, you need to be playing 13-14 Secret Actions to make sure his ability hits, which is likely a bit too many, so where else can we turn? Hiding Spot seems really spicy with Pounce, as it then can protect him or force your opponent into him, again while gaining the buff. Stable Cover should see more play as the format shifts towards more Pierce. Step Forward and Heroic Resolve are very powerful options if you run Pounce with Autobots by his side. 

Titan Masters Attack! also brings some spicy new Secret Actions to the fold. Concealing Contrails is very interesting if you run a Blue/Black based deck. If you can find some Plane partners for Pounce even better! Hull Down makes for solid additional copies of Hidden Fortification, with the added benefit of being a relevant combat icon if you are attacking with a Tank character for Pounce’s flip ability. 


Helping both sides of Pounce's ability

The in-set main partner for Pounce is Nightracer. Her ability to not need to flip and also combine with Secret Actions make her a natural combination with Pounce. Her Stratagem helps you add two star card Secret Actions, likely Heroic Resolve with an Autobot as your 3rd to 4th characters to get two more “free” double Blue cards in the deck. Taking up thirteen to fourteen stars for two synergistic characters, potentially with extra double Blues, leaving you with so many stars to work with will be a great start to the deck. 


Possible Kitten Partners?

What about team comps? Well unfortunately Pounce’s eight star cost keeps the king of Secret Actions, Major Shockwave, from being a viable partner. Luckily, there are other characters that are fans of Secret Actions. Sergeant Skywarp will keep your hand full, likely with all types of cards if you are playing a Secret each turn. You can always flip back to alt mode to get any two back from the scrap pile, to insure you will have one for Pounce’s attack along with any other time you really want one. Sergeant Skywarp has not really seen competitive play, but maybe he was just missing the right partners since his ability was so flip intensive for a “not great payoff.” Pounce may change that situation.


Style changing Stratagem?

Being a non-Titan Master character in the set, Pounce also has a Stratagem! Infiltration allows you to start the game with a Special Ops Mission in play for the “cost” of flipping Pounce twice. You could even play Showing Off and the like to get it off right away! Flipping Infiltration over will allow Pounce to attack for at least eleven (?!) in one turn, but I think that is on the beginning of where this card allows you to go.


The Living Combo enabler returns..

Infiltration is the combo-enabler, allowing you to start with one multi-action effect “in play” right away. This means you can concoct a combo type turn with one of the pieces always in your opening hand, per se. Think of it this way, say the aforementioned Wave One Thundercracker had a similar Stratagem that was a Brainstorm clone. That would be really powerful for his ability right? Well, Infiltration is the same way. Pairing Pounce with a Sergeant Springer allows for the normal combo-enabler “Springer Shenanigans”(Copyright Pending). It is no longer “any Specialist Shenanigans,” with the banning of Multi-Mission Gear, but the concept remains the same: play a bunch of incremental extra actions, with a lot of them being Secret Actions, as you inflate Pounce’s attack stats to EXTREMELY large levels. Then you attack their best character and KO them in one shot.

That may not be what is literally written on Infiltration, but using it as one of the key cogs in that wheel which results in a similar situation to an Orbital Strike enabled Cosmos, is a similar way to get that effect for less Stars. Will this be too hard to pull off? Maybe..but is a lot more fun and exciting than simply flipping it for an on board one time +2 right? ☺

Pounce is the type of character I love in the Transformers TCG: one that grows in power level as you continue to simply play your game. Build board and card advantage while simultaneously creating a difficult to deal with attacker/defensive blocker. Time will tell if Pounce can compete in this new world of Titan Masters, but I think we will be seeing more of this cloned Kitty..now if we can just get some Beast mode support…


'Till all are one

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