"Four tiny planes? Four feeble gnats - they won't be pleased to meet me, yes?"
Micromasters (Part 3)
In Part 1 of this article series we covered the Transformers TCG (TTCG) Wave 3 and Wave 4 Micromasters in general, along with a short sprint with the Sports Car Patrol; in Part 2 we went off the beaten track for a long cross-country journey with the Off-Road Patrol. Let’s continue by looking at another patrol.
Air Strike (Green) Patrol
The Decepticon Air Strike Patrol builds itself around the green pip. As a reminder, the green ‘swap’ pip was introduced in Wave 2 and allows the player to swap one card in their hand with one battle card flipped during a battle (attacking or defending), as long as that battle card has a green pip. This mechanism allows green pip cards to be drawn quicker than a typical card, with the rule of thumb being that you only need two of a green pip card in your deck to be as likely as drawing a regular card (assuming you have the three card maximum).
In Wave 4, existing patrol members Raider Storm Cloud and Raider Visper are joined by Raider Nightflight and effective patrol leader Raider Tailwind. All are Planes and Ranged.
- Raider Tailwind [5-star]: The effective leader of the team. In alt-mode he provides a patrol feature, flipping a green pip in battle gives 2-attack and 1-defence to each member.
- Raider Nightflight [4-star]: Scrap 3 green pips; your opponent applies 3 damage to one of their characters; if the green pips were the same card, heal 3 to one of your characters.
- Raider Visper [5-star]: Technically the Leader of the team. Scrap 3 green pips; your opponent scraps 3 cards from their hand; if the green pips were the same card, draw 3 cards.
- Raider Storm Cloud [4-star]: Scrap 3 green pips; one of your characters gets Bold-3; if the green pips were the same card, they get Bold-6.
Tailwind provides a very nice feature for the patrol. The patrol are very low in defence, so the +1 to defence will be appreciated, while the +2 to attack turns them each from a 3-attack to a 5-attack. Four bots with 5-attack is not to be sneezed at. As with any other effective patrol leader, Tailwind gets 8-health and has a bot-mode vengeance attack that raises him to an impressive 6-attack/4-defence. Tailwind’s feature means that this only really becomes attractive when all three of his patrol are K.O.’d, and just adds a +1-defence in a 4-wide deck.
Four-star Nightflight is the direct damage member of the team, providing a simple 3-damage to an opponent’s choice of bot. In terms of raw numbers, this is only an okay amount of damage. Nightflight will be attacking for 5-attack, plus whatever orange pips are turned over, so 3-damage is not beyond Nightflight’s normal attack; the target of this damage is the choice of your opponent. Nightflight also has one more defence than Visper or Storm Cloud, so it’s probably the first patrol member you’ll choose to expose.
Before we look at partners and try to identify the patrol’s runt, let’s do the research on green pips to see what a green-saturated deck might look like. Note that this isn’t to say you must saturate the deck, but the spirit of the Micromasters encourages such a thing.
Green pip statistics
Wave 2+3 (ignoring the Combiner Enigmas) provided the following breakdown of green pips:
- Green pips (including Green/Black): 7
- Blue/Green pips: 10
- Orange/Green pips: 7
- White/Green pips: 9
That’s a healthy number of cards, even if it includes a few cards unlikely to make an Air Strike Patrol deck (Noble’s Blaster for example).
Thus far Wave 4 provides an additional:
- Green pips (including Green/Black): 5
- Blue/Green pips: 2
- Orange/Green pips: 2
- White/Green pips: 0
That’s not a lot more, and it includes some more cards that the Air Strike Patrol won’t be playing (for example a Trypticon-related card). However, one of the greens announced thus far feels like it’s a perfect fit for the Air Strike Patrol.
Card drawing will be important to get the three green cards the Air Strike Patrol want to discard. Fortunately the new Wave 4 Pocket Processor battle card (green pip) is available. By adding three of these to your deck you have a fair chance of getting two down early on and drawing three cards every turn. You will also want Treasure Hunt as many green pipped cards are Upgrades.
Given this, there are already enough battle cards for you to go Blue/Control, Orange/Aggro or sit somewhere in the middle. You’ll also want to consider some of those non-green Plane/Ranged specific cards — like Bombing Run or Armed Hovercraft. I’d encourage you to start with a balanced deck, then through play-testing decide if you want more Orange or more Blue; at least that’s how I’ll approach it.
If we focus on pip color, there’s only one candidate for the role of Air Strike Patrol partner, simply because there is only one bot who mentions a green pip directly and is 7-stars or less.
Wave 2’s Dinobot Combiner Swoop is a 7-star who, when in bot-mode, can pull a flipped green battle card directly into your hand after he attacks. Given the need for the Air Strike Patrol to scrap cards from the hand, Swoop, and a 1-star battle card, can only help.
If you want to go all Planes, Wave 1’s Skywarp Sneaky Prankster is a fair option. He can choose to move damage to others when he sees a white pip, and having 4 “others” to move that damage to will allow you to better control the flow of damage to your team.
Wave 3 offers another option. Raider Blowpipe‘s weapon mode gains +1-attack for each color of pip flipped during an attack. A high green pip deck is likely to get one more than Blowpipe usually would, and Storm Cloud’s Bold-3 tap ability would allow you to feel confident you can push to a +4 or +5-attack, leading to one of your patrol members reaching the realms of a 10-attack without too much effort.
All this said, at the end of the day, Insecticon Skrapnel may be the best partner for both this and the Sports Cars Patrol. His ability to take three attacks from your opponent probably exceeds any other option.
Before we look at 4-wide partners, I should acknowledge an error in my thinking in the previous articles. When reviewing the patrols on paper I had doubts that your opponent would let your effective leader be the last one standing, thus they wouldn’t get the full +3/+3 of their vengeance mode. Playing through decks where all bar one have stealth, I realize it’s far easier to control the flow than I had thought and it’s pretty likely the effective leader will be the last standing. With my better understanding of this, the 4-wide becomes more about how compelling the patrol feature is, versus the value of the 11-star/12-star character.
A 4-wide Air Strike Patrol is not a clear path. First you have to choose a runt to remove from the patrol. Do you sacrifice Nightflight’s direct damage, relying on War of Attrition instead? Or Visper’s card drawing assistance for the steady stream of green you’ll need? Or does Storm Cloud’s Bold-3/6 promise more than it will deliver?
And who would join them? The only other character who focuses on green pips is Wave 4’s Private Greenlight, an 8-star Autobot. She gains a +1-attack when you play a green card, but an 8-star is a difficult cost to mix with Micromasters and she doesn’t add a lot to this patrol (cool a character as she is with her Safeguard and no-upgrade-removal).
You could look to the Planes, and while there’s a scarcity of 6/7-star Planes, there’s a lot of choice in the 11/12-star range. There are solid Planes like Raider Ion Storm, Ramjet or even Starscream Air Commander with a potential 4-damage to the opponent early in the game. There are fun approaches with Mr. Armor Jetfire and triple-changing Blitzwing. There’s also Sunstorm, who enables card drawing.
The non-stealth partner is likely to be the first to be K.O.’d, so the primary value they provide is how many hits they can take. Sunstorm sets the 11-star bar with an alt-mode 3-defence and 14-health. Their flip-to-alt-mode effect helps you draw cards, and in bot mode their attack is equal to the number of cards you have in hand. You’re going to want a lot of cards in hand, so Sunstorm will happily charge into your enemy for you the turn before you start shedding all those cards. For a 12-star partner, in which you ditch Visper, Raider Ion Storm is a great choice.
A Team of Bruisers
The Air Strike Patrol are a strong Micromaster team. That +2/+1 patrol feature from Tailwind lets them punch way above their weight, and when paired with someone like Insecticon Skrapnel they can get a lot of attacks in. Tailwind’s base 6-attack/4-defence in vengeance mode makes for a tough end to the battle. Lastly — the heavy green deck, with all the swapping and discarding, will make for a lot of fun.
So what do you think of the Air Strike Patrol?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, be it via comments or on twitter/discord/elsewhere.
[Continue reading in Part 4]