“The hardest choices require the strongest wills” - Thanos
Even though at the Origins Energon Open, the finals consisted of two Optimus Prime: Battlefield Legend based decks in blue shells, the top four still had two orange based decks: Insecticons and Firewheels. Insecticons has been a main stay in the game, dating all the way back to Wave One. Brian’s newest creation, that was an Optimus Prime:BL killing machine, was a new onsite creation.
Aside from those, many other orange decks found ways to succeed on the weekend. There were multiple Preliminary Top Eight finishes with Cars, Sentinels, and Double Grimlock just to name a few. As Gencon Approaches I start to wonder if Siege has anything new to offer these Aggressive decks. There are not any Reckless Charges in Wave Three to give the Aggro decks more power, but maybe what the aggressive decks received was a bit more of a Side-grade, while creating some new decks to explore with certain Characters.
Let’s start with the obvious: Private Lionizer. This is the Character that just about everyone has been talking about since he was spoiled. 0/8/2 with Bold 4 in an all-orange deck he represents a damage output of six on a seven star character right away (which after playing games with him he reminds me a mini Kickback). Now a Lionizer already sounds decent with those numbers but that is only the surface of what his true power is. He’s a Battlemaster and turn into the RS Firesteel Saber that grants a character Bold 4 and Plan 1. With that text box it could be the best weapon in the game currently to date, in pure Orange decks, rivaling the power level of an every turn Grenade Launcher. However, being a Battlemaster complicates things a bit since you actively want him to be KO’d so you can use this incredible Weapon. There is the obvious Peace Through Tyranny play but there is also some other additions that we have access too from Siege.
Callous Leadership is a white Pip that lets you move up to five damage from one of your 8*or higher Decepticon Leaders to another character. Now finding a good pair for Lionzer could be a challenge for deckbuilding restraints, but King Starscream seems like a fine suitor to start. Giving King Starscream Bold 4 to look for additional Crown of Decepticons can’t be a bad thing. The seemingly innocuous Plan 1 for other decks, usually used to get the double orange Improvised Shield out of hand, has obvious synergy with the King, giving you an outlet to use any collected Crown on offense.
Another card that can divert damage to Private Lionzer is Hiding Spot. On your first turn, you attack with Lionzer they have to attack him. Then the next turn your play Hiding Spot face down and attack with your next character and when they go to attack that second character, since no logical person will actually TRY to kill Lionizer, you reveal your secret action granting that second character Stealth. Thus you are forcing them to attack Lionzer again, in hope that they kill him so you can set-up your best attacker for your third attack whomever that may be.
As for possible pairing with Lionzer you could see him in just about any of the Origins Orange based decks. He can easily be paired with Wheeljack, Grimlock, Skrapnel, Barrage, or Bumblebee Trusted Lieutenant. All are possible characters to team up Private Lionzer to make the best use of him, although some clearly lean into Bold more than others as an “all-in” strategy. Leading up to Gencon this guy should 100% be on your radar as I believe he will see a ton of play in these early months where control players are trying to figure out their lists. The aggressive player simply needs to play Peace Through Tyranny on their Lionzer, and the opposition is about to take a ton of damage.
“I got some blasters, unless you guys want to use knives.” – Rocket Raccoon
Autobot Cars was one of the better “orange” decks of the meta at Origins. There were all sorts of different Cars lists that made top eights of the Preliminary events so the builds to start with are very varied. Cars is a very fluid deck that has to rely on internal synergy to succeed, so while there may not be anything like Start your Engines or Turbo Boosters in the set that specifically combo with the characters, the deck is already streamlined enough where you can simply replace few cards here and there and rely on the card sifting abilities of the characters to find your deck improvements.
Again, Hiding Spot for me is a solid possibility for this strategy. The problem is unlike with Lionizer builds, you actually do not want to see this as early, but instead as a mid-game attack deflection technique. You want to force your opponents to overcommit to an attack in the soon to be “wrong direction.” So unless a certain Dinobot Leader is attacking, you should be setting up a massive overkill situation by your opponent. Hiding Spot is much better for the wheel turns to help protect your Wheeljack against other aggressive decks.
Another possible addition could be Scavenge The Battlefield. The ability to “Protect” your weapon gives you options to play other things such as a Turbo Boosters to untap a character (car in this case) to attack again.
The last card that comes to mind is more of a sideboard options then anything: Heat Of Battle. With the amount of untaps you can put out in early turns, there may be games that on the wheel turn you can attack with up to all three characters. Being able to play Heat of Battle and a Turbo Boosters against another orange deck out of the sideboard could just straight win you the games, as a multi-use Supercharge that does not benefit your opponents. However, let’s talk move on to the true pest of the RotC metagame, those pesky Bugs.
Insecticons was the orange deck of choice at Origins. Day one they run a muk (see what did there?) with the event, with four in the top eight. In the days that followed, they continued to see top eights. The deck is an absolute force to be reckoned with, and remains so…and this deck may be one that didn’t even get a main deck upgrade! It is possible that you try some new stuff out that I’ve already mentioned in this article, but honestly it may just be correct to keep the list as is and toy around with the sideboard options. Hiding Spot may be the one card above I would consider, as being able to funnel an extra attack into Skrapnel is very strong and can be punishing if your opponent is caught off guard.
The other possible Secret Action would be Scavenge the Battlefield. The role of the Insecticons is to do damage and then be squished, so shifting a weapon over to a second one after the first dies after dealing damage saves you the play later. The base stats on the Insecticons are so strong that oftentimes playing a different action would put you in an easy overkill situation, so the easy play of Scavenge would double up on the more important part of your turn: the weapon play. This could somewhat do the same thing as Hiding Spot by fueling your next attacker and opening up a better I Still Function wheel turn. I don’t think Bugs are going anywhere quite yet in the metagame. They are still very much the premier four-wide aggressive deck that can punish most strategies mid-range aggressive strategies by forcing attacks where they want.
“We’re in the endgame now” – Dr Strange
Gencon is just a few short weeks away and time will tell which of the orange decks will truly see the most play at the tables. Maybe Dinobots will return to fame? Possibly a new orange deck we have not even considered will rise to the occasion? Lionizer may just make Peace through Tyranny the whole event? Insecticons may just continue to run the tables?
We will have our answers all in good time for sure, as plenty more play testing will be done in the next few weeks. We need to dot all our I’s and cross all our T’s because there has not been an event quite like Gencon before: this major of an event with a new set on our plates, before any metagame is established. Let alone still trying to decide the best way to utilize a sideboard for an unknown meta! So much to cover in so little time, but I guess that just leads to the excitement!
Until next time “Auto-Bots Roll-Out!”
Dan Arnold – YouTube content Creator for VectorSigma.info, one of 16 Qualified for the Energon Invitational, Runner-Up of the First Transformers TCG Open Championship.
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