Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, ‘bots and ‘cons! We’re diving back into something a little more strategic than my last few articles. The Energon Invitational Qualifier metagame has taken shape and it is mostly Orange. It is generally wall-to-wall aggro with a sprinkling of Blue pips here and there. For the most part though if you show up to a qualifier you should expect that the opposing decks in the room are out for each others Orange blood, but there are some tools that can be used to great effect if you want to stay on the Blue end of the spectrum.
I’d like to highlight a few of these as they may or may not be on your radar. They don’t all necessarily go into the same deck and it will obviously take some work to get the build right, but each of these can allow you to setup scenarios where you’re opponent is put into a tight spot that may not be prepared for. First up is Hiding Spot:
This particular card was one of the first Secret Actions that we really latched onto. Many thought it was weak because of only sporting a Black pip, but in my opinion it is the Secret Action that can have the strongest effect throughout the course of the game. Remember, this game is about maximizing your attack steps, and anything that has a significant effect on controlling that on your opponent’s turn is going to be very powerful. The poorly kept secret about this card is that it may actually be better than any armor you can choose to run!
Here’s the deal, you can load up on Sparring Gear, or Reflex Circuits. Maybe you go as far as Body Armor, or possibly even Superior Plating, that doesn’t matter though. Your opponent is just a single Bashing Shield away from crushing your armor and then your dreams. Not only that, but let’s assume for the moment your armor sticks. How well does that armor hold up to damage reaching something like 19? Even in a Blue deck that can be a killing blow. Sure that specific number may require a little bit of luck and the correct cards but it isn’t impossible and damage like it is consistently being poured out from the variety of aggro decks.
Enter Hiding Spot.
It’s been mentioned many times from pretty much every VectorSigma team member that overkill is a thing. Your opponent playing “Grenade Launcher – Reckless Charge – smash with Wheeljack for a billion”..sure sounds disheartening. But what if I told you there was ONE WEIRD TRICK THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT?! Well it’s as mentioned earlier a really poorly kept secret, but Hiding Spot allows you to redirect that crushing attack to your Battlemaster, your 5 star ‘bot, your better defender, the non-target of Press the Advantage, or maybe the poor unfortunate soul who happened to take a lot of early damage. Doesn’t matter as long as it isn’t flattening your important character(s). Now your opponent is down a bunch of resources and not just the cards out of hand. Losing out on an important attack can be just as crippling as it could set them back a turn and we have all been just one attack away from closing a game out before.
Moving from there let’s bring up another set of cards that I am going to pair together. Those cards are Heroism and Bravery. Both serve a similar purpose and on the surface may seem to basically be the same card. However, they do provide different advantages depending on the route you want to go.
Similar to Hiding Spot, these options allow you to dodge the “attack for a million” scenario to some extent. Sure, someone is going to become pavement pizza. It will be whoever youchoose though, not who your opponent chooses. The key here is whether you want the new target to actually croak. What do I mean?
Well let’s look at Aimless. It would make sense that your Battlemaster is generally going to become a weapon and you build your deck to its strengths accordingly. What if he never dies though? That’s the difference between Bravery and Heroism. Both get attacks onto your target of choice but one will allow them to use their own defensive effects. One consistent issue we have had with Aimless is that he doesn’t get KO’d, well here you go. If you want that “+6” from his weapon then great go with Heroism, you also are a little more free to attack as you wish since he can be untapped and still soak up hits. If you’d rather get a sturdy wall, then he can get an infusion of Bravery and stand in front all day. In either case you are ensuring a more valuable target is living another round (or more). They also happen to be Blue pips which is likely relevant to your interests in this scenario. These cards tended to live around the periphery before but may get their chance in the limelight now.
Let’s look at a popular Wave One upgrade next that osculates from time in and out of the spotlight: Forcefield. Forcefield has been springing back into a number of decklists out of necessity, however it doesn’t come alone. I have actually been looking at Espionage more and more. It provides a proactive solution to those Press the Advantages, Reckless Charges, Grenade Launchers, or more pertinent to this discussion – Bashing Shield. Forcefield is much more effective when it actually stays in play.
It may seem strange to run Forcefield in a deck that runs a lot of Blue pips, however as we have seen demonstrated there are plenty of decks that can really swing for the fences. The big haymaker is a bit telegraphed though. You punch their Battlemaster and blunt their counterattack with Forcefield, or even if they just are holding back to buff their big bruiser you probably know when the attempted knock-out punch is coming. Finding the defensive options also is surprisingly simple as Forcefield (and Bravery/Heroism that were mentioned earlier) can all be discovered with Treasure Hunt, or even the Blue cousin Inspiring Leadership, for those crucial turns so you can ensure, at least as best as is possible, that you are prepared.
Ramhorn out of the Blaster/Soundwave decks has also allowed Forcefield to shine. His ability, along with Bolster, adds the surprise factor to the powerful armor, effectively blunting a large attack from the other side. It may not be as much of a surprise factor as the early days of the Gen Con metagame, but there is still very little an opponent can do to play around a Forcefield entering play during their attack. Sure, they may be able to hold back an upgrade and/or action play (assuming they can still get over the defense to do the four damage to break the Forcefield at that point to begin with), but have they really gained anything in that situation? Not to mention, especially in Ramhorn’s case, you can simply either do the same play next turn, or then put the Forcefield on another target if the Rhino is not in imminent danger. What a fine pet!
Espionage can’t be uncovered in that way, but you can at least get it when flipped due to it sporting a Green pip. This consistency is important. If someone is about to punch you in the teeth, you probably want to dodge or at least get your hands up. Here it is much of the same, but due to the inherent variance in card games we need to give ourselves the best chance to keep our choppers where they belong.
Now Infiltrate may have been what you were expecting I would open the article with and it isn’t any less effective despite being listed toward the end. Even if you “only” steal half a turn that means Reckless Charge or Press the Advantage are not just demolishing your large Decepticon on their own. You may not be getting your big ‘bot to sustain 15 attacks, but you can probably keep them from being one-shot which as mentioned earlier could be enough to ensure that the tide turns. The way the game is shaping up currently is that you need to sustain long enough to continue your gameplan, but that gameplan can’t be to wall up and live forever. Even if you have a suboptimal turn by not investing an action into advancing damage output, keeping your team’s anchor alive may be more important and Infiltrate can give you the opportunity to get multiple uses out of that character.
It’s a dangerous world out there right now. That kinda happens when you’re locked into a battle for survival as the Autobots and Decepticons are. Hopefully these suggestions spark some ideas into your mind and help you as the qualifier season begins to wrap up!
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“Till All Are One!”
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