Adequate performance. Minion allowed to get on my nerves some more, yes?
End of Phase 1 Deck Challenge
Here we are for another Turbo Revvin' Old Punks (TROP) deck challenge. This month, our options are TROP's Hardhead, Grave Mistakes, or Bayformers' Axor, Opportunistic Fencer; along with at least one of the battle cards Contemplation and Cloaking Screen.
Both Hardhead and Axor are upgrade focused. Hardhead (11 stars) stops your opponent regaining cards from their scrap pile in bot mode, and flipping back to alt mode moves a Weapon from another character to Hardhead. A bonus to this move is that it does 2 damage to an enemy if that weapon had two or more battle icons. Axor (8 stars) on the other hand is a one-sided Decepticon who can move Weapons or Armors to it after an ally battles, and, if they were a Mercenary, invoke any Bounty effect they may have.
Much as an Axor and Nightbird deck is a temptation, we're going to build a deck around Hardhead today. At first, the weapon moving ability felt very synergetic with Buzzsaw and Captain Ironhide, both of whom let you play Blue weapons for free. Unfortunately, while they add up to 25 stars, the flip strategy doesn't work out, with more flips needed than you really have available. Some other options of interest are the Ark's Sideswipe, who in bot mode gets additional attack if has a Weapon with 2 or more battle icons, and Bayformers' Powerglide, who let's you swap a Blue Weapon in your battle flips (similar to Green battle icons). Sideswipe's bot mode however likes weapons with attack stats, and typically double battle icon'd Weapons are light on attack stats. Powerglide is an interesting Weapon hunt, but you really want his 3 star Strategem so he can become an Upgrade when KO'd, which is more stars than I want to spend.
We're going to go a little simpler. We're going to partner Hardhead with the Omnibot, Private Downshift. Downshift also has a Weapon cheat ability, allowing you to play a Weapon from your starting hand onto him before the start of your first turn. This lets you get going early, and in bot mode Downshift gets an extra attack and an extra Bold 1. Furthermore, we're going to also play the TROP Road Warriors strategem on Downshift. This gives Downshift an extra health and an extra defence, and when you Upgrade Downshift in Car more (usually on that early turn), you can draw a card and then scrap a card. That can be a nice bit of card cycle early in the game, or late in the game if you're ready to roll the dice.
The Weapons are going to be a key part of this deck, and, ignoring star cards, Orange based Weapons with two more battle icons are limited to Enforcement Batons, Combat Dagger, and two Quintesson cards. Blue on the other hand provides Autobots with the trusty Handheld Blaster, Unflinching Courage, Backup Beam, Noble's Blaster, and Dismantling Claw. In addition, our Ranged characters will enjoy Paralyzo Bolt, and won't say no to an Attack Drone or three. Lastly, it may not have two icons, but Armed Hovercraft is a big player in this deck, with Hardhead allowing you to get that enemy-wide damage a second time.
We're going to need a way to do damage other than having Hardhead fling a couple of direct damage every other turn. We've a lot of Blue-Bold in our weapon set, so we're going to lean into that and build the rest of the deck as a Blue-Pierce deck. Firstly that means adding a few blue/black staples in Scouting Mission, Steady Shot, and Smoke Cloak. Scouting Mission is the pick there, Smoke Cloak won't hurt, but you'll want to have a fair bit of Bold for that Steady Shot to do much. With lots of blue thus far, we need to balance it out with some black staples.
Let's start by exploring the black icon'd secret actions. Concealing Contrails is a classic; letting us hunker down by adding some extra defense to our already blue deck. The blue/black/green BFA Loading the Cannon secret is something we can swap for, and finally Swerve will be a sweet play on Hardhead, especially if your opponent's attacker only has 2 remaining health. Utility wise, let's add Minor Medic Kit for its double black icons. To spice things up, we'll balance two Medic Kits with two Laser Scalpels. That extra Pierce 1 will typically go through each time.
Let's finish off our pierce with a couple more black icon'd cards. The first is an easy choice; Camien Crash is a walk-on to many decks. The difference between doing 1 damage, and doing 2 damage is a country mile; and your opponent will be much more averse to carrying a bot on 1 health than 2 - at least until they see Camien in your flips. The second, because some extra flips won't hurt on Hardhead, is Hit and Run. That white/black iconnage will be appreciated in your attacks too.
At this point, with the various 2s and 3s of each card, the deck is at 38 cards. We have room for our signature Deck Challenge upgrade. Our choices were Contemplation, a card cycling action, and Cloaking Screen, an untapped stealthing +1 armor that leans Ranged. We'll opt for the Cloaking Screen - it's a blue/green for our Ranged characters, and that Stealth option will be a nice option when we want it.
Let's take a look at our deck in the Pippalizer. On a basic battle, we're likely to average a couple of blue, a couple of black, a green, and a white. That's good stuff, and what you'd expect from playing 10 whites. For each extra card we flip (Tough 1, Bold 2 etc) the averages say we'll increase by another blue and black icon each time. That's simple to remember for game math.
But why are we playing 10 whites? That's a little egregious isn't it?
The reason for leaning high on the whites is because of the final member of our team. With 5 stars left, and a generally defensive deck, we're going to armor up with Private Vanguard. Vanguard fits our Ranged team, ties in nicely with our whites, and either gives Hardhead some additional turtle power, or annoys big hitting opponents by limiting to 5 damage.
For our sideboard, we'll include some of the cards that almost made the deck. Quartermaster is a temptation with a battlemaster on the team, Dismantling Claw allows for some scrapping combos when you move a Weapon over, Hiding Spot lets you change up your secrets, and the Ark's Cloud Cover brings in some on color (black/blue/green) defense against damage moving. Finally, we add in a couple of sideboard staples, Reprocess and Espionage. Don't leave home without them.
So which character do we add to our sideboard? Let's plan for a switch to a 2-wide deck - this is typically the simplest way to adjust the style of your deck and slow your opponent down. The TROP team's Monster Menagerie set included Bludgeon, Metallikato Monster - a card whose alternate art you can win by entering this month's Deck Challenge!! Bludgeon comes in at 13 stars, leaving us room for a Mounted Missiles star card in the side (come on TROP, let's have a stratagem for Bludgeon! Or Tanks!). In alt mode he's a defensive beast, doing a damage back to the opponent, but in bot mode he lets us cycle cards and get a +2 for attack if it has two or more battle icons; which has Hardhead tipping his hat in respect.
Please check out the Stubborn is as Stubborn Does deck on Teletraan.net, and read more about Hardhead at TFWiki. Thank you for reading my words - keep playing TFTCG, this game has better things to do tonight than die!. Oh, and enter the Deck Challenge already!!!