Minion - I hope you are going somewhere with this, yes?
Grappling with the OCTGN Deck Editor
Earlier we learned a little about Grapple. Now let's do some deck research.
Grappling with deck building in OCTGN's Deck Editor
My favourite way to build decks is via OCTGN. Its powerful filtering options allow me the confidence that I won't easily forget about an obscure card that would be ideal for my situation, and having my decks on my computer allows me to file them away in case I want to come back to them someday.
Let's build a Grapple deck with OCTGN.
We'll assume you've installed OCTGN, if not, check out tftcg.info's Installing OCTGN section. Let's start it up, logging in if you wish, and open the Deck Editor. If Transformers is the only game you've installed then you will already see a spreadsheet view of all of the Transformers TCG cards to date. If not, then you'll need to use File->New to select Transformers.
Step 1: No Wave 5
Wave 5 is out for the Grapple challenge. So let's filter that out so we're not tempted; at least until later in the article.
Click on the Filter:Set menu. Select Wave 5 from the dropdown and click the Exclude checkbox. All the Wave 5 card are now removed from the available cards in our search.
Step 2: His Lordship, Grapple
Let's go get Grapple. We're going to ponder the rest of the team too, so let's filter to only bots.
Click on the Filter:Type option. Leave the drop down as Contains and enter 'char' into the entry box. Click outside the box and the list of cards will filter down to only Character cards.
Click on the Name column to sort by Name, then scroll down to Grapple and double click on Grapple to add him to the characters section of the deck on the left hand side.
Let's review Grapple again. Grapple costs 12 stars, so we only have 13 stars left to play with. In Bot Mode he has a powerful ability of getting +4 in battle when you flip _exactly_ 4 pip colors. Flipping back to Alt-mode you can discard your hand. If it contains exactly 4 pip colors, you can do 4 damage to an enemy, also very powerful at the right moment. You'll see this both in the top left, where Grapple's Alt-mode is showing and can be flipped by clicking on an arrow on the image. You'll also see Grapple and this information in the solitary data row in the spreadsheet section.
As we're building a deck around a particular character, it's important to think about their Flip requirements. If you have someone who wants to flip every turn, you ideally want partners who don't need to flip. Alternatively, if you have someone who rarely flips, then finding folk who do flip may give your deck a boost. With Grapple we will want to flip him as soon as he attacks, not only for that potential base attack of 8, but also to get him out there with his 4 defence. After that though, we will only want to flip Grapple back to Alt-mode if it's a game changer, or if he's well protected. Grapple isn't the healthiest bot.
I can already hear the cries of "Libel" emerge from Grapple's lawyers, so let's use OCTGN to politely disagree.
Click the red X on the Name filter (but leave the Type and Set filters). Then click on Filter:Star and enter '12'.
Next, click on Hide Alternates to hide the other sides of each character, and then click on HP to sort by the HP column.
As you will see, our lad Grapple is 4th from bottom for 12-Star characters when it comes down to their Health. If we ignore the Combiner Skytread, Grapple ranks 15th out of the 18 for Health. Additionally, Novastar and Ion Storm, two characters with higher Health, also have higher Defence than Grapple. Unless his deck is built right, he's the Transformer equivalent of a couch potato. Case proved Grapple Legal team.
Step 3: Ponder Traits
Grapple has both Melee and Truck traits. Before we go hunting for partners, let's look at the cards that relate to the Melee and Truck traits.
Open up a new Filter tab by clicking on the green plus sign next to "Search #1".
Click on the Filter:Text option and type 'truck' into the entry field.
You'll note that there are three Wave 5 cards showing - this is because a new Search tab opens as a completely vanilla search, it doesn't copy what you've previously searched for. Let's consider the non-Wave 5 cards:
- 4-Wheel Drive. Blue action. Sets base attack to 7. This is a +3 Attack option in Bot-mode and a +2 Attack option in Alt-mode. For Grapple it's a worse Leap into Battle.
- Battering Ram. This is a +2 Blue weapon. It's a Primary Laser which flips the enemy to another mode; which may or may not be desirable.
- Cargo Trailer. A blue-pip Utility that can boost an attack by 1, 4, or 9; if you can get them all played. As you can only one each turn, it may be too slow.
- Team-Up Tactics. A blue-pip 2 heal for Grapple (with value for Cars if you have those in the deck).
Remember, all of those cards can only be played while Grapple is in Alt-mode. There's not a huge amount there that speaks to Grapple; and having cards with only 1 pip color will get in the way of Grapple's bot effect. When we look for partners, let's remember that we're not focusing on the Truck trait.
How about Melee?
Click on the "Text contains 'truck'" filter and change the entry to 'melee'.
This gives us 10 results, 2 of which are Characters whom we can ignore:
- Wedge Formation mentions Melee, but it mentions the other two traits too (Ranged and Specialist). It's an Orange/Black/Green pipped card, which may be useful.
- Tackle, Energon Slingshot, and Sturdy Javelin are two single-color pip cards with little special value for Grapple.
- Body Armor (orange-pip, Tough 3) and Power Sword (blue-pip, Bold 3) are of interest. They are single pipped, but they would help Grapple in his hunt for pippage.
- Covert Armor and Reflex Circuits are both Blue/Green; though only Covert Armor is actually for Melee. Reflex Circuits is used against Melee characters.
Apart from a couple of possibilities, the world of Melee cards also fails to give us any Aha moments in building for Grapple. Let's add the interesting ones to our deck so we don't forget them. Click on the Deck section on the left hand side; typically I would click on it twice as the first click on the Deck title bar will roll up the contents. Then let's double click on Wedge Formation, Body Armor, Power Sword, and Covert Armor. Let's only put the 1 of each in for now to remind ourselves that we weren't committing to these cards.
Step 4: Looking for more synergy
Grapple likes his battle icons. Before we go any further, let's see if we can find any other characters that also like their battle icons. Perhaps there will be some synergy.
Click on the "Text contains 'melee'" filter and change that to 'color'.
Ignoring Wave 5, our results are Espionage, Windblade - Combiner Hunter, Airquake Hammerclaw, Raider Ratbat, and Lucky Vest. Some of these look interesting:
- Espionage - The least interesting as it has to do with the color of pips in your opponent's deck.
- Windblade - 12-Star Windblade can flip to play the top card of the deck if it has 2 different battle icon colors.
- Airquake Hammerclaw - You're forgiven if this card is causing a little befuddlement. This is the Upgrade-mode of Private Smashdown, where our desire for flipping 4-colors gives us a fair chance of turning Private Smashdown's Upgrade-mode into a +4 weapon.
- Raider Ratbat - In Bot-mode, 6-Star Ratbat can tap to repair his team for the number of battle icons shown. Jumping ahead on battle icons a little, we're likely to be running a lot of multi-color cards, so Ratbat becomes a reliable heal-2 for each character.
- Lucky Vest - This battle card contains no battle icons, which will be a negative for our deck, however its effect is a perfect fit. Whenever at least four battle icons are shown, the character can't take more than 4 attack damage in the battle. Unlikely most protections like this (Force Field, Emergency Defense Field, and Blast Suit jumping to mind), Lucky Vest isn't scrapped after the battle.
So we don't forget them, let's double click on Lucky Vest to add it to the deck, then click on Sideboard on the left hand side (a couple of times to stop it hiding), and click on Airquake Hammerclaw and Raider Ratbat. Let's avoid Windblade; for the feature her 12 stars are a hefty cost.
Searching for 'color' was easy. What about a card which talks specifically about battle icons? We don't have battle icon color keys on our keyboards, so searching for these is harder. The OCTGN data uses '[x]' to represent battle icon colors. For example, '[W]' represents a White battle icon. Let's reuse the Text filter and modify it to say '[W]'. Then, let's click on the Text filter-menu item again and type in '[O]'. We now have two filters on the same column, allowing us to see any card that mentions a White or an Orange battle icon. Mostly you'll see character cards; all of whom require sets of White/Orange/Blue, along with the battle cards Fuel Cache [1-Star] and Overwhelming Advantage. The characters listed are Metroplex [25-Star], Bluestreak, Optimus Prime - Gleaming Commander, Silverbolt, Private Red Alert, and (Wave 5) Cerebros. Metroplex and Cerebros are out, Optimus is focused on being a Combiner, but the others may be an optional should we decide on a deck that has White, Orange, Blue icons. Red Alert and Bluestreak are both mini-versions of Grapple and may enjoy a deck with high battle icon count flips.
If you do searches for Green ([G]) and Black ([Bl] or [K] currently due to bad data entry on my part), you'll see that outside of Overwhelming Advantage, there aren't any cards that have effects relying on the mix of those pips with something else. There are still items to consider here. Combiner Swoop and Private Greenlight both like green-pips, while Nova Storm and Nightstick are affordable black battle icon characters. Feel free to add them to your shopping basket; I mean sideboard.
Step 4: Ponder the Battle Icons
We now have a sideboard full of possible synergies, but we haven't decided what our battle icon strategy will be. This deck is about Grapple, and having Grapple as an 8 Attack/4 Defense character will be huge. We will want to ensure we have a high chance of getting his Bot-mode effect every time. This raises two questions:
- Do we include 4 pip colors, or do we have 5 and risk getting a color too many?
- If we only do 4 pip colors, which color do we drop?
It seems pretty obvious that we won't want to ignore white-pip cards. An Orange/Black/Green/Blue deck seems like punishment. I look forward, by the way, to seeing Blues on Attack do this at some time in the future. It also seems obvious that we're going to want to think about 2-mixed-pip cards instead of building a deck of single-battle-icon cards and hoping the stars align.
Let's take a look at the battle cards that have a White battle icon.
Open up a new tab. Filter out the Wave 5 cards as above, then filter out Characters by using a Filter: Type option, typing 'char' but setting the drop down to "Does Not Contain".
Click on Filter: White Pips and type 1 (you could look for Greater or Equal, but you probably know as well as I do that there are no cards with two white-pips).
- If you sort by Orange Pip, you will see that there are two cards with Orange and White (and Blue). These are both star cards. Of these, Fuel Cache is one to consider if we need a star card and have chosen to include white, orange and blue in our deck.
- Sorting by Blue Pip you will see the same two cards are shown.
- Sorting by Black Pips, you will see that Swerve is the only white/black battle card. It's a secret action that flips you to alt when you defend; which isn't in Grapple's interest.
- Lastly, you'll notice a lot of Green Pips. Let's focus on those.
Set Filter: Green Pip to 1.
That's nine White/Green battle cards in Wave 1-4. White/Green looks very interesting for Grapple.
We've spent some time using OCTGN, finding some interesting ideas. Grapple's still the superstar in this deck, so let's start thinking about the numbers involved in using White/Green battle icon cards to turn Puny 4/11/0 Grapple into Super 8/11/4 Grapple as often as possible.
[Continue reading Grappling - Page 3 - Grappling By The Numbers]