Trigger Warning

Happiness is a Warm Gun

Guest article by Brian Blair

“Punk rock should mean freedom, liking and accepting anything that you like. Playing whatever you want. As sloppy as you want. As long as it's good and it has passion.”

−Kurt Cobain

First write-up: Mar 6, 2020

I find nothing more thrilling than the crafting of a song. Music has been a large part of my identity since childhood. I’ve been in a handful of groups over the years (some may or may not have had Transformers inspired band names, albums and songs). I’ve enjoyed mostly positive reviews of my work, but It’s not a profession. I don’t have the skill or patience for the music business. Nonetheless, for me, songwriting is a passion, one of exploring the joy and thrill in the discovery of the old and the new.

But, what does this have to do with Transformers TCG? I approach this game in a similar way to music. I’m neither good enough nor do I have the patience to be a top competitor. I enjoy exploring other people’s builds for sure. It’s similar to learning a well crafted song: you’ll gain insights into craft, style and technique you may never stumble upon on your own. At the same time, my biggest thrill lies in discovering and building something to call my own. And, that takes me to this deck tech.

Trigger Warning is basically my signature deck. I’ve played versions of this since Wave 3 was released, and have found moderate success using it: occasional area tournament wins and top 4 finishes, EI qualifier top finish and a winning record at the Energon Invitational. It’s a fun deck that can hold its own with the big boys. If you decide to try it out, I hope you enjoy it and maybe even gain a new perspective that can help inform your own piloting and deck building.

Now, Let’s Rock!

Why Should You Check this Deck out?

With the rise in popularity of the “Orange/Black Bold Pierce” decks (shout out to David Burgos), it’s become more evident that wide pierce has strength versus the 3-wide and 2-wide Blue Control decks that currently occupy much of the top tier in the game. One downfall of the Orange/Black decks is low health totals and minimal defense. Against, wide hard hitting decks, the damage race can be lost quickly.

One archetype that is not often “tapped” into competitively, is the 4+ wide Blue/Control deck. This is primarily due to their lack of consistency in putting out damage each turn. They can defend, but lose the damage race vs taller blue and strong aggro decks. In Waves 2 and 3, the Aerialbots/Superion demonstrated that this type of deck, if able to achieve consistency, does have competitive legs (or wings, as the case may be).

The deck we present here explores the Wide Blue Pierce archetype to find a moderately successful and consistent build. One that is strong versus the 2-3 wide control decks while holding its own against the assault of many orange based builds.

The Concept

The deck combines width, defense and a high health pool to slow down our opponent long enough for the inborn pierce, direct damage and consistent weapon access to overtake the competition.

The Strengths

Wide Blue falls when we are unable to get damage through each and every attack. How many times have we had no option but to attack for 3-5 with a blue deck and see it all too easily blocked? Triggerhappy allows us to always have tools to put out damage. The actions in the deck are designed to boost this damage output on every play. Each character should be putting up 3-8 (nearly) guaranteed pierce damage each attack.

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Not to scale. Magnified to show detail.
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Not to scale. Magnified to show awesomeness!

Characters

Triggerhappy is the engine of the deck. We truly get our stars worth at 8. He’s the key to making the deck efficient and consistent. Flip him as often as possible to grab weapons from the scrap, and load him up for that inborn Pierce 4.

Ravage is the hero of the crew. I will unabashedly say that he rivals Flamewar as the best 5 card for control decks #teamravagers. Ravage has FOUR useful abilities, and three of those are used to the fullest in this build. When attacking, his innate attack of 3 with Pierce 2 can quickly escalate with piercing weapons and actions. An Energon Axe with The Bigger They Are... on him is not uncommon, and is an attack of 8 Pierce 8. Likewise, in a pinch, he can flip to cassette mode and add much needed Pierce to Aimless or Flamewar. Lastly and most importantly, his Stealth is incredibly valuable. More on that ability in the Strategy section.

Raider Aimless has rotated in and out of the various versions of the deck. Like his appearance in many builds he acts as a blocker, soaking up early attacks only to serve double duty as a weapon later. His inclusion in the deck really comes down to his usefulness post-sideboard.

Flamewar, the staple of blue decks is here mostly for her Bold 1 ability. Yes, you heard that right. Her Tough is nice; extremely helpful versus heavy hitters indeed. But, there are many times I haven’t flipped her into bot mode until several turns into the game. Her defense is a big bonus, for sure. But, being flipped into Alt mode to give Bold to the Aimless attacker is her biggest virtue in the deck. I’ve been trying to find a replacement for her for a while, but, the near guaranteed trigger of Aimless’ 3 direct damage makes her a necessity for now.

Battle Cards

Weapons

Weapons are the name of the game here. Triggerhappy allows us to have nearly any weapon available to play every turn. Pierce weapons like Laser Cutlass and Energon Axe shine against blue builds. Grenade Launcher and the axe help get the attack values up when facing orange opponents. The direct damage from Armed Hovercraft and Sturdy Javelin help finish off characters, reach the ones our opponent is hiding or avoid the dreaded Sabotaged Armaments. Scoundrel’s Blaster is versatile: In the early game if he’s undamaged and Energon Axe is not available, Scoundrel’s Blaster gets Triggerhappy up to an easy 4 attack Pierce 4. Later, if Triggerhappy is KOd the green pip allows us to pick it up easily to help close a game out.

Escape Route

Escape Route is priceless in this deck. It has value for 3 of the 4 characters. We most often will be trading for this card when it is flipped. It represents a free weapon of our choice with Triggerhappy, Pierce 2 to all with Ravage and a near guarantee of triggering Aimless’ weapon ability when used on Flamewar to garner Bold 1 to all.

Damage/Pierce Boosts

The Bigger They Are… is a staple in blue decks, and shines here as our highest star cost is Triggerhappy at 8. Calculated Strike offers 3 more options to boost our reliable damage output. Steady Shot will allow Triggerhappy to reach an attack of 4 Pierce 4 while also allowing us to play weapons on other characters. (As we are wider than many builds, this can be very helpful to maximize damage once the enemy is tapped out and we have more than one character attacking during our turn).

Defense and Card Draw

This deck is designed to be aggressive, it wants to hit as many times and push as much damage through Pierce as possible. The armors in the deck serve as a late game upgrade choice when the remaining team is suited up and needs to stick around long enough to close the game out. There are times versus orange heavy builds where prioritizing defense early might help in the match, but we rarely find ourselves wanting to play an armor over a weapon in most games. Similarly, a well timed Hidden Fortifications or Sabotaged Armaments can make a world of difference against the harder hitting opponents.

Work Overtime and Pocket Processor serve to help us consistently see our actions and replenish our hand when needed. This deck relies less on card draw than many others, since Triggerhappy allows us to always have an upgrade play available.

Sideboard

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Transformational sideboards can be very powerful in this game. This deck’s greatest weakness is against 3-wide orange builds. As such, a transformation into Captain Jetfire with either Aimless or Triggerhappy can turn an unfavorable matchup into an advantageous one.

Energized Field allows for 8 double blue pips, 6 of which can be stacked on top of the deck when Jetfire defends or to trigger Aimless’ Battlemaster ability. At 16 and a Health of 20, Captain Jetfire can make optimal use of Heavy Handed and Energy Pack.

The rest of the sideboard is dependent on your local scene or what you expect to see. W5 Gyro Blaster and Force Field serves well for Captain Jetfire if you are facing a lot of bold decks. Stable Cover can assist when the main deck faces off versus other pierce decks. Our width and total health of 39 means we usually can outlast other pierce based opponents, but Stable Cover may help push the advantage more securely in our favor.

In the past, the sideboard has included Matrix of Leadership, Noble's Blaster or things like Shoulder Holster and Crude Club for extra fun or spice when siding into Jetfire. This is a good place to add your own personal flair.

Strategy

When facing blue decks, we often prefer to go second, allowing us to absorb a hit taking little damage and setting us up to play an action or upgrade to push damage through on our first attack. Against orange decks, we want to set up our defense by going first.

Like many similar builds, we begin most games throwing Aimless out to attack on our first turn. Depending on our hand, and if we have any weapons available we have the option to either flip Flamewar or Triggerhappy to Bot mode at this point. The goal is to ideally set up our second attack with Ravage in cassette mode with weapon and attack/pierce boost action. This keeps Ravage in stealth form, forcing our opponent to send a second attack into Aimless. There is a satisfaction in taking down opponents early to mid game with a hit from a minicassette - rock on little dude!

From here, we continuously want to focus on recurring the right weapon for each attack and boosting those attacks with pierce or damage boosts. It is often possible to set up 2 attacks with large attack/pierce numbers into the highest priority target once the opponent is tapped out.

The longer we can protect Triggerhappy the better, but many times it is actually ideal to protect Lord Ravage in cassette mode until he is suited and we have a strong action in hand. At this point of the late game the savage murder cat does his best work and his value truly shines!

Possible Lineup Options

I’ve been using a variance of this deck on and off since Siege I dropped in June 2019. The lineup has varied quite a lot during that time, and you may find you prefer other partners for Triggerhappy better. These options include:

  • Laserbeak substituted for Flamewar − The innate pierce is great vs a very blue field.
  • Nova Storm for Aimless − 12 health and a 5 attack with the ability to reliably get up to 9 attack with a Grenade Launcher or 6 Pierce 6 with a Metal Detector and a Laser Cutlass.
  • Skydive/Dead End or other 5★ blocker − If removing Aimless for Nova Storm, it’s nice for someone to take the heat.
  • Tailwind and Nightflight − If going for 4 wide planes, Triggerhappy and either Novastorm or Slipstream pair well with these 2 Air Strike Patrol members. The deck can function quite well in this lineup with only a few changes to up the green pip count.

Final Thoughts

4-wide pierce is a fun archetype that I’ve found to offer challenging decision points, epic matches and relative success. Triggerhappy makes the build consistent and reliable - and has been my favorite character of the game. I hope you find the build enjoyable, even if it might “Trigger” strong emotions in your opponents.

Rock n Rollout!

External Links

David Burgos − PPT Orlando 2nd Place Tourney Report (transformyourgame.net)