Welcome back True Believers to another exciting Siege II: War for Cybertron preview; this time with double the creamy goodness! Without further ado let me show you the new cards that share a mechanic I am very excited to show you: Kinetic.
Now, I know that “Kinetic” is not a keyword, but I am going to go out on a limb and assume sometime we will see an armor with “Kinetic X” in the title that will key off of flipping a character to another mode and providing a single turn effect (the armor likely mentioning “until start of your next turn” or something like that, assuming it helps you defensively). Instead of further speculation on the missing child of the Kinetic family, I want to talk about the great cards (that also happen to be common!) we have in front of us.
First of all, let’s return to our old friend and seemingly staple game concept: Flip Density. This concept, which you can read out in my initial article on the subject here ( https://vectorsigma.info/flip-density-1) states:
Flip Density is a term I use to describe how often a particular character lineup wants to flip its characters compared to how able they are to flip its characters, without the use of action cards, throughout the turn cycle. In other words, how many flips do they need to spend getting them into the right modes to attack in, and does that hurt the decks ability to use its active flips, oftentimes when “flip into alt mode” abilities. While many characters have very powerful “when flipped into alt mode” triggered abilities, during the Wave One metagame you typically had to sacrifice another characters ability to attack in the correct mode if you wanted to use this ability throughout the turn cycle (I will refer to this as “round” from now on).
In other words, the ability to flip a character is another hidden cost of the game. A powerful flip to alt mode ability like Optimus Prime: Battlefield Legend or Triggerhappy meant you were sacrificing two turns worth of free flips. This leads to decks being built with typically one major character who actually wants to flip back and forth for an ability and a supporting cast of characters that either do not flip at all (think Combiner pieces like Sentinels or some Aerialbots like Fireflight or Skydive) or have to flip once all game to put them in the right mode (think most aggressive cards like Wheeljack, Barrage, or Kickback and characters like Flamewar or Arcee). What I love is that every deck type mentioned above will see tremendous value from these two Kinetic cards, immediately.
Aside: what I find really interesting about these cards is that they exist in a set that carries forward the themes from Siege I, mostly Battlemasters and Micromasters. In the case of the Battlemasters, who have seen the largest impact on the competitive scene, they never flip. I find it awesome that WotC decided to include a powerful new set of upgrades that are difficult to pair with Battlemasters, giving decks that do not use them power in this set as well!
There is also another subtlety many players are ignoring about Siege II: the focus on White pips. At the time of this writing (9/17 in the AM) we have seen sixteen Character and Four Battle cards. Already in that small sample set the following cards benefit greatly from upping the White count in your Battle Deck: Tyrpticon (finding Battlefield Incursions), Hot Rod (going through your deck faster), Private Vanguard (built in Forcefield ability), General Optimus Prime (to flip OB), Raider Kickback (get a Blue), Raider Sights (Focus likes Whites), and Acute Reflexes (flip White for ability). Assuming this trend continues, having powerful White upgrades will help the cause.
Note: As I was editing, Smokescreen was revealed who obviously loves these cards for his Bot mode
Note 2: Yes about 15 cards came out since then that white pips may also help..
These two upgrades may share this Kinetic flavor, but in reality should be used in different ways. Let’s start with the Kinetic Intesifier Whip. First we need to look at this cards power level. The static one attack plus Bold 2 is essentially a +3 weapon in an aggressive, or even multi-pip deck under the right conditions. The fact that it is white will also help you chances of flipping additional cards, but of course you will want to limit the total number of them in the deck as to lessen the chances of flipping more than one in a combat for no additional value. It is very hard to find an “on-color” (since again White pips in low quantities will not really hurt the color slant of your deck, and in fact can help) +3 weapon with no downside or difficult attachment conditions. For example, The Static Laser of Ironhide does two damage on an non-Ironhide attacker. Energon Axe requires your character to be damaged before attaching it. Power Punch goes away after the attack. There are blank or Black pip versions that also do not see play, due to their specific non-color nature.
So what is Kinetic Intensifier Whip’s downside? Well, in most decks the answer is “nothing for the first attack.” The reason for this is because most aggressive decks, with the exception of those built around Combiner pieces, typically want to attack in Bot mode instead of Alt mode. Here’s your list of Characters in the current metagame that fit this condition:
-Barrage -Skrapnel -Kickback
-General Optimus Prime -Wheeljack -Bumblebee: Trusted Lieutenant
-Major Shockwave -Arcee -Flamewar
-Blaster -Ramhorn -Steeljaw
-Prowl (W1) -Ion Storm -Metroplex
Those are just off of the top of my head, but it is quite an extensive list, and most importantly you can see that all of the key aggressive decks have characters on that list. The only difficulty in using the Whip in these builds are whether you have time to flip a character BACK into its preferred attack mode to attack the second time. For some decks the answer is a resounding YES, for others it may be more difficult, but they typically have assistance in the Battle deck already.
Let’s take your typical Autobot Car decks. Nowadays many are centered around Cliffjumper, who wants your Cars to flip from Alt to Bot mode for value (drawing a card). So your first attack with ANY character will give you full power of Kinetic Intensifier Whip. Since Cliffjumper typically does not care if he attacks himself in Bot mode, you can take the turn where you would flip him to flip back the Bumblebee or Wheeljack to Alt mode, saving you a flip later to attack in the preferred Bot mode with a fully powered Whip.
Oh did I mention that Start Your Engines now also gives you Bold 2? Escape Route and Roll-Out also now also read “Give Bold 2 on each Character with a Whip” on them. Oh and you can flip back in the same turn to the preferred attacking mode for a total of Bold 4 from one card effect? Yeah, I think Car decks will really like this weapon..'
Oh you know who else are Cars that derive a lot of value from Kinetic upgrades..Omnibots! If you attach these right away to start the game you will want them immediately flipped to Bot mode, so you will immediately get the bonus of these!
The traditional Insecticon lists are 85-95% Orange based, keying off of the large flip amounts from their characters. Adding whites to a deck like that, complete with having access to double Orange pipped cards already, will assist in getting large attacks.
At the time of writing this the only “new” Insecticon spoiled is Raider Kickback and while his ability seems to be taking Insecticons into the Blue realm, I feel his best use will be as a compliment to his typically Orange starved brethren (including his usual version). Roll-Out is normally a bad play for Insecticons, as you oftentimes want to keep Skrapnel in Bot mode and all of them want to also attack in Bot mode. The truth with the Insecticons is outside of Skrapnel, they actually do not care which mode they defend in, as they normally become windshield food regardless of mode.
Insert new Kickback. His ability essentially is a better “all of your Insecticons get +1 attack if you flip a Blue while attacking” and Kinetic Intensifier Whip will help this cause, especially if you are playing cards like Roll-Out simply for it’s Pips. If you do draw the Roll-Out, upgrade Kickback with a Whip, and play Roll-Out, he will gain Bold 4 and highly likely to flip a Blue, even with a low overall count in the deck. That’s a lot of value from cards you want to be playing in your deck already!
Metroplex LOVES this card. In fact, I believe it is SO powerful in Metroplex it should position him as a Titan in the metagame (see what I did there..). White weapon that gives you Bold? Check. Keys off of flipping which Metroplex loves to do, oftentimes playing Escape Route and Roll-Out? Check. Attacking as Bold 4 often? Check.
Flamethrower is so Wave One..
Is Kinetic Converter simply a “Find-Replace” of the statements above moving the upgrade to the Utility slot? Absolutely not. Well, sort of not, but you can feel free to use it in aggressive decks that want to attack in Bot mode, but you are basically just cycling a card the first time you play it. This is likely not an efficient use of your Upgrade phase for the turn, so we need to turn to our second set of Flip hungry deck styles: ones based around characters who you want to be flipping more often.
The gold standard for these types of list are the “All Hail Optimus” three wide Battlefield Legend builds that allow you take advantage of OP:BL’s insane Bot mode when attacking AND flip to alt recursion mode throughout the game. Paired with a low flip density character like Flamewar/others and a combiner piece/Battlemaster, OPBL has more time to flip on his own. Many other decks centered around recursion based characters (RotC Skywarp, Triggerhappy, Megatron Living Weapon, etc.) attempt to play out similarly.
These types of builds are going to love Kinetic Converter because the character you want it attached to should be flipping to a different mode each turn. Thus turn one you are even on value, and from then on out you are essentially drawing an extra card each turn, opening up your options for your action phases.
Kinetic Converter also adds “draw a card” to flip effects like Roll-Out and Escape Route, increasing their value. Chances are you are playing these cards to assist the character you want to be flipping each turn already, immediately getting them back to the mode they want to combat in, but also taking advantage of an active flip ability. Triggerhappy is a great example of this: flip to alt mode to get back a weapon, attach it, then flip back to the Pierce Four mode for attacking. A turn like that with a Kinetic Converter on him is also going to net you two additional cards.
The new General Optimus Prime is a big fan of Kinetic Converter as similar to his Battlefield Legend counterpart, he wants to be flipping often as well. As stated earlier the White pip helps fuel his need for multi-colored pips when attacking in Bot mode, and his flip to alt mode to play an action should be used any turn you can spare the flip. With three Utility slots, there is no reason in the early game you should not take up one of them with the Converter and set up your hand for the foreseeable future. You can always replace it later on with a more impactful Utility once you draw your FOURTH (?!) anyway.
I love the Kinetic mechanic on these upgrades and I hope this is an aspect of the game further explored through additional cards or even a keyword later on. After all, flipping to another mode is what the Transformers are all about, so anything that pushes that aspect, is great in my book!
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