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Exclusive Preview: recon system

by Scott Landis

 Thank s you to Wizards of the Coast for this opportunity to again introduce a Wave 2: Rise of the Combiners preview card for our loyal audience.  This time it is a very amazing Battle Card!


Do you like having Bold when you attack? Do you like having Tough when you defend? Would you like to have Bold 1 and Tough 1 on the same upgrade saving you space on each character? If you answered “Yes’ to any of these questions, and you are able to build teams with less than 25 stars, then I present to you: Recon System.


Logic Dictates All

So, when I was shown Recon System as one of the preview cards, the Star in the bottom left had not yet been explained by WOTC, so I was super excited to see them use Team Star Cost as a way of making more powerful Battle Cards, or just changing up team composition in general. Now at first, I only had access to Recon System, so my only frame of reference was “is this card worth a Star.” Now of course, as of the time of this writing, three other One-Star battle cards have been previewed: Vandalize and Mounted Missiles by Wossy ( ) and Bolt of Lightning at the flagship Facebook page ( ) . It is obvious that Mounted Missiles is universally the most powerful, with Bolt of Lightning and Vandalize having niche roles in other builds, but I believe that Recon System is up there with Mounted Missiles for very similar reasons: a more effective combat step. First let’s talk about Recon System itself as a card, then I will cover how I feel about “1 Star Battle Cards” in general and where and how you should look to use them.

So why is Recon System so powerful? Well, let’s start with the fact that is has the coveted Orange/Blue Pip. While this reason alone is not enough to simply include it. Decks like Autobot Cars or Dinobots already make effective use of both Roll Out and Matrix of Leadership in their builds, so finding a way of adding a third dual pip card (for nine total if possible) will be a great boon to the builds, especially with two or more defense. It will also greatly help out decks based around Slipstream and Windblade, as they both thrive off of double pip cards. They key I believe to utilizing the double pips is a base two defense and solid attack, with the focus being on either to begin with, because that way you will not be hurting your main focus (being Orange or Blue exclusively) while having up to a 17-22% chance of helping you on attack as well.


The Original Dual Pips

So to that end, the fact that Recon System has both combat influencing pips is huge for its actual ability of giving the character a pseudo “Bold 1” and “Tough 1” all rolled into one convenient UTILITY slot (not taking the spot of where you want you other Bold or Tough enablers to reside). In a completely one-sided deck that uses no-blank/white/green pips, Recon System is “worse” than a pure instance of Bold 1 or Tough 1 on your character, with the assumption being that the “off color keyword” does not help you at all regardless, but this is a poor approach to winning deckbuilding as well as oftentimes something that would take up a more powerful upgrade slot in your deck.

Wave 1 has clearly taught us that while you have to take the total of a card into consideration, both its pips and abilities, sometimes the ability on the card still takes precedence over its simple pips in most situations. There is also the rare situation where you would flip double whites (and you are not Metroplex) which is the equivalent of a blank to start, which Recon System will help you would with. Finally, having this pseudo Bold 1 or Tough 1 will smooth out your combat draws as it is. Say you are running the full complement of double icons for your deck (double blue for defensive decks, double orange for aggro) Recon System gives you an extra chance at turning a single or blank icon into the double. 




Let’s look at an example based off a defensive deck with the following icons built into it, based off an upgrade of my “The Touch” ( ) shell:

3 Orange/Blue (Some number of Recon Systems of course)

6 Double Blue/5 Orange/6 Blanks/20 Blue (cutting any white from now to avoid mathematical complications) can assume an opposite approach for an orange-centric deck for example also:

After 250 combat trials, the average amount of the defensive flip was 1.773. 44.40% of the time the third card flipped was greater than either the first or second flip, making the final combat amount with “sifting through the lowest card” at 2.287, an improvement of .514 through use of Recon System (If you want to know how I did this, email me, I wont bore with Microsoft Excel skills lol). The key here is understanding that this only improves the more powerful side of the equation. Clearly having only 8 “oranges” in this example, you will improve your offensive production massively as well (though it is low to begin with of course, typically going from 0 to +1) 

Now this was a giant improvement of sifting one card of your combat flips in a deck slanted to one side or another, but what about using Recon System in a more balanced deck (think Dinos, Cars, etc) with a set up like:

9 Orange/Blue (Three Recon Systems)

6 Double Orange/13 Orange/6 Blanks/6 Blue (cutting any white from now to avoid mathematical complications) (think typical aggro-controlish setup)

After 250 combat trials, the average amount of the flip was 1.737. 45.60% of the time the third card flipped was greater than either the first or second flip, making the final combat amount with “sifting through the lowest card” at 2.267, an improvement of .529 through use of Recon System. Here, with more double pipped cards it is important to understand you will have this level of improvement on both sides of combat, this time likely going from say +1 to +2 more often (as opposed to 0 to +1 with a slanted deck)

Obviously if this card simply “gave you” Bold 1 and Tough 1 it would be more powerful, but that would be TOO powerful, but I will take a 45% improvement on my combat math for one star!


If you play it, you need to find it!

So clearly Recon System is worth the star cost, but how are you going to find room for two or three of them, especially in the “aggro control” type shells? Well, the one star battle cards force you to prioritize the most important team members instead of the redundancy of the targets. In other words, you are not simply running a team of Dinobots, you are prioritizing using Grimlock (potentially as your only Dino) and then filling out the rest. So your team goes from Grimlock/Sludge/Snarl to Grimlock/Snarl/5 drop for example if you want to keep two Dinobots. Cars goes from Wheeljack/SR Bumblebee/Prowl to Wheeljack/Cliffjumper/Prowl (with 2 Recon Systems). There are other options as well but these are just examples. 

The key here is that the one-star battle cards, preferably in multiples must make up for the perceived decreased efficiency of the characters. Likely the lower star costs You trade an on-board advantage in the characters to an in-deck advantage of improved battle cards. You will need to make sure you include several card sifting cards (Incoming Transmission, Inspiring Leadership, Confidence/Swindled, etc.) because if you are going to use Stars for Battle Cards, you better Draw them!


The Best gets Better!

There is another obvious use for this Recon System: combining it with Optimus Prime: Battlefield Legend. I made sure to ask WOTC how this card interacts with Optimus, and let me start by explaining an important “ruling”: You must complete flipping over the extra card and scrapping one BEFORE choosing which action you wish to play using Optimus’ ability; you CANNOT chose to play an ability and then scrap it away. For example, you attack with Optimus with Recon System flipping over Plasma Burst, Recon System, Body cannot play the Plasma Burst and then scrap it before adding the other two “Oranges” to your attack, you must chose to keep the Plasma Burst as part of the combat pile in order to use it with Optimus’ ability. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief for that one..

That being said, this card is still insane with Optimus Prime: Battlefield Legend because it gives you essentially “Bold 1” for his ability, without costing your weapon slot, and Tough 1 on defense (where you really want to be) without taking up your defensive slot. So which lower cost partner allows you to take advantage of the one-star cost on Recon System? Well, he is right on the card new with Wave 2: Megatron, Arrogant Ruler (ok maybe a different version of Megs is on the card..) I am on record saying I would replace Nemesis Prime with this new Megatron in “The Touch” right now (without seeing the whole set of course) and Recon System is the perfect Utility to fill out your two remaining stars. The hardest part of playing “The Touch” was choosing which of the many powerful Upgrades to play each turn, normally prioritizing Armor over the Weapons and Upgrades to improve survivability. Well, this version of Megatron with his powerful alt-mode flip allows you to play an additional upgrade, fixing a lot of these decisions. Here is a potential decklist: 


The Best gets Better!


Cleary this list needs some testing and the singleton’s need to be worked out, but this list seems to be an amazing place to find a home for Recon System.

The other character I am looking forward to running Recon System with is the new SR Windblade, as her flip to alt ability will allow you to play it for free on her or another character. This is another “free” way to play the Recon System, this time from the top of the deck setting it up through things like Incoming Transmission or other Plan abilities we have yet to see previewed yet (but I anticipate coming). She also gives you access to Field Communicator to mirror this effect and dig deeper to get the Recon System into play. Should be pretty consistently gaining 45% more combat efficiency by shaving some stars off the Combiner Hunter’s team. I do not have a full list for Windblade yet because I am sure we have more multi-colored pip cards to come.

Recon System is a great use of one-star battle cards, arguably as powerful or more powerful than Mounted Missiles, especially in conjunction with a few specific characters. I look forward to improving my combat math with the powerful utility and maximizing its potential.

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'Till all are one

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“Till All Are One!”