"Wreckers, eh? A bunch of amateurs, yes?"
Deck Review: Operation Volcano
[tldr; see: Fortress Maximus for a fun deck I've put together].
Issue #82 of the 1980s Marvel UK Transformers comic introduced us to the Wreckers and their Operation Volcano plan. Very roughly, the plan was to lure out Decepticon assassins by having a pretend rally, at which point the Autobot assassins (the Wreckers) would wipe out the opposition in one swift blow.
This Transformers TCG deck is built in the same spirit. Wreck the opponent with one swift blow. Originally the plan was to bring Springer and Impactor back together, but the deck evolved and, like in the comic (Spoilers!) Impactor had to go.
Wave 4's Sergeant Springer is the first part of the deck. Sergeant Springer arguably represents the best character card in Wave 4. He's a Common card, unlike the hard to find Prime/Megatron/Octone, so we can all easily have one or more of him. He's at the core of a bunch of irritating decks (the various Daring Escape decks jump to mind), he has new battle cards that work well with him (Conversion Engine, Showing Off and the Kinetic pair), and he has the stats to support his star cost.
For many decks, Sergeant Springer is so good because he allows you to 'cheat' your card draw constraint. Rather than being stuck with a paltry draw of one card a turn, Springer lets you draw three for the cost of flipping and discarding one. If your deck requires you to hunt for a card, Springer is a huge help. He also helps you cheat on the play an upgrade/play an action constraint if you get yourself to seven cards in hand. A cost of 12-stars does mean he is likely to be the expensive part of your deck, but that cheating means you can revamp some old deck ideas that just couldn't get the cards.
So - Sergeant Springer costs us 12, and we want to be able to pull off Death Star like blows to any opponent. We could put lots of tiny bots out there with lots of pierce, but can we do something else?
How about using Heroic Team-Up? This card effectively allows us to tap two Autobots and combine their attack damage into one big blow. Normally the 1-star card will be tricky to pull out of the deck, but Springer increases that chance. Springer also supplies a lovely 6-attack to add to the team-up, plus any attack stats being added via actions or upgrades.
[BREAKING NEWS: Wave 5's Heroic Spotlight Stratagem means you can boost this deck to have three Heroic Team-Ups!!!]
It's easy to imagine Springer adding 9 attack to our big blow, but who should deliver the blow? We only have 13 stars to work with, minus the star(s) for Heroic Team-Up. We could pick an 11 to 12-star big gun, but how about we go a different direction. How about we pick lil' ol' 5-star Arcee. True she only provides 1-attack damage to the team up before any upgrades are added, but it's all pierce. Who needs to hit like Predaking when your attack can't be stopped?
In hindsight this should be obvious - Arcee is front and center on the Heroic Team-Up battle card!!!
With 12-stars on Springer, 5-stars on Arcee, and 1-3 stars on Heroic-Team Up, this leaves us with 5-7-stars to work with. Ideally we want an Autobot or a Mercenary so we can gain from their synergy. We need someone who can take a hit as they are likely to be our first attack - so they'll need health and defence, however we also want some attack in case we have to use them to supply the extra attack for Heroic Team-Up. Nightbird is the only Mercenary within our star range, and she has a glassjaw with 0-defence, so it's looking like an Autobot. Autobot Hot Rod is a classic choice in this situation, 10-health, 2-defence, Tough-1 and a decent 4-attack. The discarded Captain Impactor is another, and so is Smokescreen with his Safeguard-3. 7-stars means we only get one Heroic Team-Up though. Let's ignore the 7-star heroes and take a look at the 6-star options.
There are nine Autobots at the 6-star level. Two are battlemasters (Lionizer and Pteraxadon), and three of them come from the Wave 1 Starter Pack (Bumblebee/Red Alert/Ironhide). Red Alert is the pick of the Starter Pack characters; 10-health, 2-defence, and a flip to 5-attack option is a nice fit for our needs. Unfortunately for such a beautiful car, he has a look-alike who is simply better. Dinobot Swoop has the same stats, gives us a flip-to-alt option to fling a damage at the enemy, and he's a Specialist (making for an all-Specialist team). The battlemasters would be interesting choices, but too likely to be removed once in upgrade mode, and our other options were Autobot Jazz, W1 Prowl and Warpath. The 6-star range can be a bit of a weak one, so it's nice to find Swoop fitting the team so well. This is reminiscent of Swoop's nice fit on many Major Shockwave decks, along with the infamous Swoop There It Is deck.
Here's our starting line-up:
Two of our battle-cards are already chosen - the 2x Heroic Team-Ups. Thus we have spent our available 25-stars.
Now we get to choose the general pip strategy of our deck. Typically there are four options available:
[Note that there are occasions for different pip strategies than the above. A Metroplex deck might want a Mixed strategy with Heavy White, or a Pteraxadon/Mirage/et al deck might want a bizarrely white-pip heavy deck (let's just christen that White-Weird as they're quite odd)]
Transformers TCG rewards attacking a tad more than defending, so Orange-Aggro decks are often a shade more powerful. We need time to pull off our attack however, so we need some defence. We want Swoop to survive a first hit, we don't want to make it too easy for our opponent to take Arcee out on the first attack, and we probably won't need a sea of orange-pips to get the damage we want. We will also be doing our big shot of damage as pierce thanks to Arcee, so we don't need a heavy black-pip Blue-Pierce deck. Let's go with an Orange/Blue-Mixed deck and see if that works.
Our battle-card strategy is going to be three-fold. Firstly, we are going to shove pips in like there is no tomorrow. We want those double-pip cards. Secondly, we are going to look for our single-pip cards to be blue. Lastly, we are going to look for upgrades and actions that provide real numbers, not Bold/Tough card flippers. We will also begin with a standard useful Wave 4 card, despite its lack of pip value, namely 2x Reprocess. Reprocess is an excellently versatile card, giving you both healing and enemy-upgrade scrapping. While the green pips lose you value in battle flipping, they let you get rid of some of the double-pipped cards that might otherwise get stuck in your hand. It's not critical in this deck because Sergeant Springer also lets you do this, but it's still nice to have. Another Wave 4 standard to consider in most decks would be Pocket Processor; but Springer has the card draw well in hand.
Next let's go double-pip. We already have the lovely blue/orange pipped Heroic Team-Up. Let's add three each of the non-starred Orange/Blue cards, along with three each of the two non-starred double Orange cards, and three each of the two non-starred double Blue cards. It's pure pip greed and there are some rare cards here, but your battle flips will thank you. It's a bit riskier than focusing on the blue pips, so testing will be important to see if the double-pipped Orange cards are asking for too much.
Let's look at some weaponry. Arcee is going to want to boost her attacks, and a mix of Grenade Launchers and Energon Axes will help there. Grenade Launcher typically has a down-side of being scrapped after use, but if you put it on the Autobot contributing their attack to Arcee, it will not be scrapped. Energon Axe can only be played on a damaged character, but it's very likely that one of your bots contributing to the team-up attack will be damaged. It's also a nice one for Swoop to use, and it comes with a blue-pip. To fit the 40-card target, we're going to include three Grenade Launchers, but only two Energon Axes.
Lastly let's add a little armor and utlity love to the deck. On the armor side, let's pick a couple of Bashing Shields. These cards provide a nice +1 to our defence, but more importantly they act as disruption cards to our opponent, removing one of their armors. These are the classic anti-Force Field card. We will also add three Field Communicators. As our team are Specialists, these excellent cheat cards give us a +1 to our attack, and they let us play a random card. Sometimes this can be dangerous if there are cards in our deck that could backfire, but generally we will be happy playing any card. Roll Out! may not always fit and we can choose not to enact Peace Through Tyranny if we get one of these, so even they won't hurt. Field Communicator also gives us our first white-pip cards; adding around six white-pip cards will help our double-pip laden deck travel a bit further on card flips.
Now for our actions. We want to add real damage to our attacks, so the excellent Leap into Battle springs straight to mind. We will also add Head-On Collision. It's not as useful for our big attack as Arcee will attack in bot mode and it doesn't boost the buddy the same way Leap into Battle does; however Springer and Swoop will both typically be in alt-mode and a +3 for them without having to use a Leap into Battle will be appreciated. It also gives us some more white pips. Lastly we will add three Confidence cards. These cards are a must add for an Autobot team as they are free to use and effectively reduce your deck to size 37. You get to rotate a couple of cards out of your hand, and then play another action.
There we go. We have a little disruption (Reprocess, Bashing Shield), some attack (Grenade Launcher, Energon Axe, Leap into Battle, Head-On Collission), and some card-draw cheating (Field Communicator, Confidence).
While it depends which cards you get when, typically you'll want to, when going first, play the first wheel of turns in the following manner:
- Your Turn 1: Flip Springer to draw 2 cards, attack with Swoop.
- Your Turn 2: Flip Springer for more cards, play weapon on Springer, attack with Springer.
- Your Turn 3: Flip Springer for more cards, attack with Arcee.
This should line you up, after everyone has untapped, to play a weapon on Arcee, flip Arcee, and play Heroic Team-Up (tapping Springer). Arcee will hit your opponent's best character for somewhere in the region of 15p15 (15 attack, 15 pierce). Note that any time you get a Field Communicator or Confidence, think about playing it.
If you are going second, then your opponent will either try to damage Springer or take Arcee out in one go. Assuming Arcee survives, you will have to be more tactical as they are more likely to be able to protect their most important character. Note that an early Heroic Team-Up can flip the turn order and give you a chance to line Springer up on the second wheel of turns for a nice 13 or so attack. If Arcee is KO'd, it may be time to move to the sideboard. On Facebook or Twitter I'd love to hear who you would use as the sideboard for this deck - I lean to two-wide by adding someone (OPBL? Nemesis Prime?) to Springer.
If you're so inclined, you can see this deck (and download it in OCTGN format) from Fortress Maximus. Adding some of Springer's classic tools (mentioned earlier) like Conversion Engine would be an interesting adaptation. Would that boost the speed to get to Arcee's smash?