If middle name wasn't already Freelance, it would be Impatience by now, yes?
Grappling By The Numbers
Choosing Our Pip Strategy
Now that you know how to filter on pips, let's jump to an already prepared list of how many double-pipped battle cards there are in Waves 1-4 with different coloured pips and no star cost:
- WG: 9
- WK: 1
- OG: 8
- OK: 8
- OB: 2
- BG: 12
- BK: 5
- GK: 5
Here I'm introducing a notation of two letters representing the colours of battle icons on a card. So a 'WG' is a card with a white-pip and a green-pip; while an 'OK' is a card with an orange-pip and a black-pip. I will also sometimes refer to a single pipped card by its letter. So a 'B' is a card with one blue-pip. Later, I will also add a number after the notation to indicate the number of the cards. So WG26 means 26 cards with a white-pip and a green-pip.
[Note that this list includes a little duplication as the three-icon'd Wedge Formation (OGK) appears in both the OK and OG lines]
If we make the hypothesis that WG is better than plain W, we are pushed towards one of three possibilites to complete our 4 battle icon colours.
- WG and OK cards
- WG and BK cards
- WG and OB cards
If we want to ensure we maximise hitting Grapple's effect every time via standard 2 card flips, we peak at a 74% chance of achieving the effect with 23 white-green-pips (WG23) in our deck. With a max of WG27 cards available, there are just about enough in Waves 1-4 to achieve this. We will also need 17 other cards, which there are enough of in the OK set, and almost enough in the BK sets. The OB set is out of the equation. If we have Bold 1 or Tough 1, our WG23 remains our peak and sees us hitting the effect 88% of the time, while Bold 2/Tough 2 gets the effect 95% of the time. It's worth noting that the BK set offers us a Bold 2 weapon and a Tough 1 defence; while the OK set only offers us a Bold 1 weapon and a Bold 2 action.
Let's say we ignore the WG guess earlier and just use W cards with OB, OG, and BG. Our best is a 30% chance with W16+OG12+BG12 or a 37% chance with W16+OB6+OG9+BG9. That's shamefully worse than the 74% chance above.
Looking at another approach, if we split the rest of the deck between OK and BK, we get a 54% chance of hitting Grapple's effect at WG26+OK7+BK6. A 20 percentage point improvement on the OBG approach, but going with 5 colours means we are still another 20 percentage points short of our 4-color deck.
This feels like a direction, but there are some issues here:
- We have a very limited selection of cards.
- With 8 attack each time, Grapple is never using those pierce flips. Additionally, the high number of WG cards means each character is typically flipping 1-2 O/B each turn.
Before we decide between our options, let's look at our Waves 1-4 card candidates:
- Combat Dagger (Weapon: Bold 1)
- Rock Toss (Action: 1 Damage Tapped)
- Composite Armor (Armor: Tank only)
- Fight for Position (Action: Bold 2)
- Immersed in Shadow (Utility: Untapped Stealth)
- Opportune Repairs (Action: Autobot Healing w/ Mercenary)
- Terrifying Resilience (Armor: Decepticon Tough 2)
- Wedge Formation (Action: Heal/Draw/Plan). Grapple, being Melee, would get a Heal.
[W5 Mentions: Escape Capsule, Lose The Initiative, Magnetic Dysfunction Ray, Master of Metallikato and Precision Fire are all good adds]
- Smoke Cloak (Armor: Tough 1)
- Steady Shot (Action: +2 Attack)
- Opportune Offensive (Action: +3 Decepticon Attack/Pierce w/ Mercenary)
- Point Position (Utility: Tapped Bravery)
- Unflinching Courage (Weapon: Autobot Bold 2)
[W5 Mentions: Master of Metallikato, Scout Armor, Scouting Mission are great adds]
- Attack Drone (Weapon: +1 Attack)
- Decepticon Crown (Utility: Plan 1)
- Escape Route (Action: Bot->Alt). Great card for Grapple.
- Espionage (Action: Scrap)
- Inverted! (Utility: Flip O->B, B->O)
- Secret Dealings (Action: Draw. Plan)
- Spare Parts (Utility: Protect Scrapping)
- Backup Bag (Utility: Protect Scrapping)
- Personal Targeting Drone (Utility: Pierce. Scrapping on scrap).
[W5 Mentions: Hold The Line, Mission Briefing, Paralyzo Box and Speed Trap are all great]
Before we pick a battle icon strategy, let's think about partners again. We know that we are generally going to be flipping two white and two green battle icons on most flips (in fact the average will be 2.33 for the extreme WG+BK deck, and 2.56 for the WG+OK deck). So let's go back to the list of characters who like whites and greens.
Now would be a great time for the Air Strike Patrol; but the nasty little nippers are out of this competition. On the Green side this leaves us Combiner Swoop, Private Greenlight, or Raider Chop Shop. They can be interesting, but none of them force their way into the role. The white-pip world is a different affair however:
- Vanguard [5-Star]. Whenever anyone else flips 1 [W], damage is limited to 5.
- Seawatch and the Rescue Patrol will get to flip 7 cards when they hit 2 whites. That gives them 3 of the Orange or Blue on each battle. At 12 stars, Grapple is leaving space for a Rescue Patrol team up, or maybe only Seawatch makes the team.
- Combiner Slug [8-Star] gets an extra flip when he hits a white in battling. That gets him an extra 1 Orange or Blue.
- Wave 1 Chromia [8-Star] can draw 2 cards when she flips two white-pip in an attack.
- Wave 1's Skywarp [6-Star] can shift damage off of himself.
- Autobot Mirage [9-Star] gets to untap when he gets 3 hits in. 9-Stars is probably too expensive however.
- Autobot Jazz [6-Star] gets additional Pierce when attacking, and can't take more than 2 damage when defending if the opponent doesn't have Pierce.
- Autobot Hound [8-Star] becomes a 5/3 when he flips a white in Bot-mode, and can scrap 1/draw 2 when flipping back to alt.
- Private Pteraxadon [6-Star] who turns into a +3 weapon that removes the defender's base defence on two whites.
There is a lot to consider there. For their cost Vanguard and Seawatch are great, but both together leaves us 3 stars short. We don't have the greatest options no star cards, so let's assume only one of them makes the team.
Let's rule out some of these characters.
- Hound (5/3 in Bot Mode, 12 Health) has better stats in this deck than Slug (3/3 with 10 Health). Sorry Slug.
- Chromia's 4/2 with 11 Health is weaker than Autobot Hound, especially as it becomes 4/0 in her card drawing Bot-mode.
- Autobot Jazz can be good in ideal circumstances, however pierce is prominent enough now that he is more likely to be a weakness.
- Skywarp's damage shifting would be easy to pull off, and we could include somebody like 5-Star Motormaster so the damage on Skywarp gets shifted over to Grapple and go nowhere, or it could be sent into 6-Star Pteraxadon. With Point Position in the deck we could even get Skywarp feeling a little Brave. This would leave us 2 stars short, but there may be a concept there.
This leaves us with 3 interesting white-pip based decks for Grapple:
- Seawatch, Stakeout, and Fixit
- Autobot Hound and Vanguard or Seawatch
- Skywarp and Motormaster or Pteraxadon
In thinking of a sideboard with the above, the most transformative sideboarding would be to move to a 2-wide deck. Looking at the 13-Star options, Optimus Prime - Battlefield Legend's attack ability to play a flipped Action would be poor as our choice of Actions is fairly limited. There are few weapons for Megatron - Living Weapon, and limited playable upgrades for General Megatron. Octone is a strong possibility as we have the Autobot healing card as a potential, with, bizarrely, Starscream - Decepticon King challenging him strongly (feel free to take a short pause to recover from reading that statement). The three Decepticon Crown's could be in the deck, and there's also Secret Dealings with Plan.
The above is all very pip focused. Let's say we don't care about our partners getting value from the deck, and instead just focus on support for Grapple. In that case we might consider a Brave character like Fireflight or Headstrong to take first hits, and a solid 8-Star partner. Autobot Hound would still be an option, as would Mudflap (if going OK, allowing for Opportune Repairs). The excellently vanilla Wave 1 Bombshell is a potent partner, or, for kicks, you could choose Slipstream or Private Sideswipe from the previous Back to the Binder challenges.
Let's make the decision on OK or BK. The extra 2 OK-pips will be additional damage for Grapple, as it's unlikely an enemy will defend for 8, however they will be of much less value for Grapple's partners who will do the same damage with them that they would do with 2 BK-pips. The extra 2 BK-pips however would be of value for everyone when defending when not up against pierce decks. On the BK side, 3 of the 5 BK cards are playable, with Point Position being a fairly playable 4th card. Of the OK cards, 4 are very playable, with Immersed in Shadow being a less useful alternative to Point position at #5.
Grapple is low Health wise, so we need to protect him. This sends us to a WG+BK strategy. This was born out in testing, you need Grapple to stick around.
Now that we've decided on our overall pip strategy, and by extension having 25 WG cards and 15 BK cards; it's time for to move on to our last page. We'll find out about a new tool and reach our conclusion - the Super Grapple deck!
[Continue reading Grappling - Page 4 - Grapple's Flipping Pippalizer - And the Deck]