Building Megatron: Still Functioning, Pt 2

In the first part of this project, I set out an idea for a Megatron Living Weapon deck. This deck would have his upgrades focus on offense, with his actions providing the defense – mostly through secret actions, but also through upgrade removal, Hunker Down grabbing armour, Callous Leadership, card denial like Espionage, etc.

I built a prototype deck, pairing Megatron up with Firedrive and Fireflight, for a deck I jokingly refer to as Megadrive (kind of a play on FireBee). I’ve tried it out against some other jank, and whilst it had some problems, it had a lot of potential too.

I’ve also sat and tested it against my new Blaster deck. It didn’t do great… which isn’t really a surprise, I don’t think anyone would expect it to!

That got me thinking – in the current state it’s in, what does the deck currently do well against and what does it do badly against, at least with the level of practice I have with it now? Rather than the original plan of simply testing and tuning against a three-wide Optimus Prime deck, this week I wanted to simply report back how the deck performs against a series of other decks – ranging from tournament winning decks like Blaster, through to more casual decks I regularly play like Alpha Trion. I think that’ll tell us a lot more about the deck and the kind of shape it is in, so we can look at it more next week.

Assuming the cat let’s me anywhere near my cards.
(This isn’t a joke btw, I have had genuine issues getting testing done due to this critter basically telling me I’m not allowed to play cards and I have to play with him instead.)

I already featured the prototype deck in my last Weekend Casual. This was a deck that I essentially threw together within 15 minutes whilst putting together both the Blaster and General Megatron decks I also played that weekend. Let’s have a look at those cards again:

Megadrive Prototype v0.01

Megadrive Prototype
Megatron Living Weapon
Private Firedrive

Callous Leadership x 3
Disarm x 3
Espionage x 1
Hunker Down x 3
Security Checkpoint x 3

Secret Actions:
Battlefield Report x 3
Dampening Field x 2
Hiding Spot x 3
Infiltrate x 3

Armed Hovercraft x 1

Drill Arms x 1

Energon Axe x 2
Fusion Cannon of Megatron x 3
Handheld Blaster x3

Laser Cutlass x 2
Scoundrel’s Blaster x 2

Superior Plating x 2


Blue = 37
Orange = 0
White = 6
Green = 3

Black = 3
Blank = 0


So here are some issues I have with this build, from looking at the deck on its own and also from various games and playtesting:

  1. There’s not enough Green, and there’s not a good variety of Green. I can’t refine my hand well.
  2. There’s no utility at all (not too much of a problem, as it just means that slot is always for weapons)
  3. Not a good variety of armour. Superior Plating might be less preferable than Extra Padding in a lot of cases.
  4. Fusion Cannon of Megatron felt pointless if I’m not trying to triple stack it. I always wanted a stronger weapon.
  5. Laser Cutlass was just useless. I never got mileage out of it.
  6. Dampening Field is pretty poor when compared to the other secret actions.
  7. No Vaporize (sometimes you’d want to Vaporize instead of Disarm)
  8. Could do with a little more card draw.

Things that did work:

  1. The general idea felt mostly sound.
  2. Whilst I could use some card draw, Firedrive is good card draw on his own. I felt like I always had at least one good card in my hand.
  3. Secret actions were working very well.
  4. Callous Leadership ended up being pretty good if I had it in hand and let Megatron get in a risky spot. It adds to the secret actions for a more devious playstyle.
  5. Hunker Down into Superior Plating is infuriating if you don’t have something to kill the armour straight away.

For my first proper test build then, I’d look to remove the following:

  • Dampening Field x 3
  • Disarm x 1
  • Fusion Cannon of Megatron x 3
  • Laser Cutlass x 2
  • Superior Plating x 2

… and add:

  • Energy Pack x 3
  • Vaporise x 2
  • Quartermaster x 3
  • Extra Padding x 3

I didn’t really want to remove the Superior Plating, but having an armour that’s tricky to get on Megatron but also easily removed was an issue. Extra Padding on the other hand only needs me to collect two of the cards in hand, and then I could use Hunker Down to collect the third (a trick I’ve learned from playing Mondo Spanner’s General Megatron deck).

I added Quartermaster because I felt like it was quite easy to get rid of Firedrive with a Ramming Speed. With Firedrive, Megatron can really clean up a final foe, so I think it’s important I can always get Firedrive on him.. Adding Quartermaster also kept the level of White the same.

From the last build, I’ve only dropped three Blue in exchange for three Orange, we’ll see if lowering the Blue has too much of an impact. There’s a fair bit more Green in this build now, so I have a bit more card filtering options.

I’m happy with the action / upgrade balance. Seems crazy to have such a lean towards actions, but Megatron can normally retrieve weapons if I’m low on upgrades in hand, and can’t do the same with actions. I feel like less upgrades is fine.

Finally, so far I’ve been running Fireflight as the third member of the team. However, I feel I neither need his Brave, nor an extra turn of flipping Megatron, so I’ve decided to swap him out for the new Ravage. Ravage has a bit of extra damage with Pierce 2 and can give Megatron Tough 1. This is similar to Flamewar, but without giving himself or Firedrive the Tough. Instead of Brave, I already have Stealth from Hiding Spot which has served me quite well in testing.

“Okay, you’re all suited up Megs, let’s go get those Autobots!”

Test Gauntlet
I’ve picked out four different opponents for our test gauntlet:

Alpha Trion (Flip Flip Bang Bang build)
Blaster (Ben Saunders UK Energon Open build)
General Megatron (Mondo Spanner build)
Optimus Prime (Daniel Arnold Origins build)

For each test I’ll run through a game about five times each, and give myself an idea of how the test build does against each one.

These four decks are definitely different power levels. The Blaster deck I find to be upsettingly powerful; comparatively Alpha Trion will be a much more tame four-wide test. Similarly, the Optimus Prime deck, whilst a tournament winner, should feel dated since it has no Wave 3 cards. I’ve picked the General Megatron deck because I think it’d be interesting to compare how the two 13-star Megatrons perform (even if one of them has a well-honed deck behind it, and the other is a test build).

For Optimus Prime, I had a ton of lists to use from the Origins tournament, but I went with runner-up Daniel Arnold’s list over tournament champion Steffon Pinckney’s. The reason for this is that Steffon had three hand-removal cards (Disruptive Entrance and Espionage), and Daniel had none – excluding the three Security Checkpoints they all had, of course. This was mostly to make testing easier, since there’s less secret information that’s not actually secret.

Okay, shall we see how this goes?

Fireflight being Brave, whilst Arcee goes in for the Surprise Attack

Alpha Trion
Deck list
Flip Flip Bang Bang section on Alpha Trion

This deck is probably the easiest opponent to start with. My Mission Trion deck has done alright in local-level matches, but it’s hardly a major competition-worthy deck. It’s an alternative, mid-tier aggro deck. It’s good for a warm up before having to deal with Blaster.

Honestly, testing Megadrive into Mission Trion is a fun testing experience. Both decks require a bit of finesse and tricks – Alpha Trion working out the chances of hitting a Blue action, Megatron trying to divert attacks and reallocate damage.

Much to my surprise, Megatron seems to do really well here. There’s definitely a risk of being hit by Arcee for crazy amounts of damage, but good use of secret actions does tend to hinder her when played correctly. There were some risky moments in testing (There was an Arcee swing for about 12 points of Pierce into Megatron at one point), but mostly I think this one comes down to practice.

So long as Arcee is forced to divert attacks away from Megatron, and there is enough pressure on Alpha Trion, this ends up being a pretty good matchup for Megatron.

Deck seems to be working well; Ravage was excellent. Mat Armstrong suggested a good play which is flipping Ravage to alt-mode (thus in Stealth, which applies always, not just when untapped like micromasters) whilst also putting Hiding Spot on Megatron – so the opponent has to swing into Firedrive. I can confirm this play works very well.

Extra Paddings seem to work okay, probably would want to try them some more before deciding if they should replace Superior Plating permanently; Energy Pack provided a nice obstacle, Quartermaster was also excellent and can salvage matches near the end. Callous Leadership is still doing immense work – when in hand it seems to be a winning card for Megatron, especially if I can play it twice in a game.

Shall we see if this winning streak continues into another four-wide aggro deck?

“Misfire, I don’t think this is Blaster. I think this is just a stereo.”

Deck list
Original Vector Sigma Gencon Report

Alpha Trion is an interesting, powerful but mostly mid-tier aggro deck. In comparison, Blaster is a top-tier list that very few other four-wide aggro lists can top. The Vector Sigma deck has simply so much going for it. Ben Saunders’ version changed by exactly one card in the main deck. It’s a very hard list to play against, and a fairly easy deck to get to grips with and play. Nearly every card in that list does it’s job perfectly.

The Megatron Living Weapon deck can’t even get close.

Blaster is able to play plentiful amounts of cards, he has access to anti-Decepticon tech like Press the Advantage, if Firedrive isn’t dealt with he can be hit with Peace Through Tyranny giving Blaster way too much of an advantage, and he has a ton of Bold. Even if anti-Bold was in play, most of the cards are giving Blaster and friends static bonuses so they’d still hit hard even without the Bold. Finally, the whole list provides an absolute mountain of health to chew through.

In order for Megatron to win in this matchup, the cards need to not only be in his favour, but not in Blaster‘s favour as well, and even then it’s a hard tactical matchup for him. Testing into Blaster is demoralising. I genuinely don’t think there’s anything I can do here, I’d have to prove Megatron works in other environments before I could even consider this match up.

So with that being said, let’s go for some Blue.

“No, YOU are clearly Player 2. Just look at you, with your additional purple bits.”

General Megatron
Bleeped-up Productions Profile

This is an interesting matchup conceptually – two versions of Megatron, both wielding battlemasters, both with sidekicks that grant Tough to Megatron. Same amount of combined health, but definitely a lot more Tough going on in the General Megatron list. Since I’ve stolen a few of the General Megatron tricks for my own list, there’s a lot of things that both lists are doing like using Hunker Down for Extra Padding.

However, General Megatron definitely has the upper hand here. With both lists deploying as much Tough as possible, it ultimately comes down to who has the most ways of breaking through the armour. Living Weapon has some Pierce in the deck, but it’s nothing compared to the amount of direct damage General Megatron can whip out by having Attack Drones and other weapons, and simply flipping back and forth.

Putting the Fusion Cannon of Megatron cards back into the list is probably an option for Living Weapon if we want to tech for this particular matchup, as it might be the case for hard Blue matches in general. Certainly at the moment General Megatron has a major tactical advantage; I definitely would need to change the deck to make it work.

“Sigh. This again? Yes yes, I know, One Shall Stand…”

Optimus Prime
Deck Lists
Daniel Arnold Vector Sigma Report

You just wince when you think about him, don’t you? Fair enough, the guy is starting to feel like yesterday’s model, ready for the scrap heap, but you still have to remember the guy packs a mean punch. A base attack of 8 that is very easily boosted to 10+ makes him fearsome to anyone. Maybe he hasn’t won a major tournament since Wave 2, but still… guy is scary.

I get why someone might think Megatron Living Weapon was meant to be comparable though – stacking weapons on Megatron means he’s hitting for roughly the same amount as Optimus Prime each turn, despite slightly lower stats.

The problem is, Optimus Prime feels better at dealing with Megatron‘s support than Megatron is in return. More so than the other decks, I was feeling like Optimus Prime was able to take care of Firedrive and Ravage very quickly, very easily. So many of the tricks we’ve put in Megatron‘s deck (the secret actions, Callous Leadership, etc.) end up becoming quite ineffective quite quickly.

After Megatron is on his own, he’s normally able to hold his ground – he should have the Extra Padding on, and if Firedrive is knocked off, access to Quartermaster make things alright. Megatron is fighting from a weaker position, though – normally his support is gone, and he still has to deal with Optimus Prime‘s support, so it’s a long climb back up.

If Megatron is going to crack through a 3-wide Optimus Prime list, then it’s going to require some changes to the current list.

“Guess this didn’t go well for him, eh Spinister?”
“Guess not.”
“Gratz on finally getting a card though. They won’t give me a card. Even though my gun got one.”

The list is definitely not up to scratch, although to be fair I’ve thrown it at one list that it did well at, and three other lists that have had long periods of tuning and refining. I can’t really beat myself up about these results – it’d be arrogant to expect a list developed in a week would instantly do well against lists that have taken much longer to perfect.

I must admit though I’m enjoying playing Megatron. Whilst he is not entirely powerful, the list is providing me more fun and nuance than I was expecting. I think it is worth playing in its current form some more.

My next step is to go over these results and see what I can do, possibly building a sideboard so I have options for dealing with Orange and Blue builds equally. In all honesty, as I’ve said from the start, I don’t think I’ll make strong progress with this build because I know better players than I have tried and failed. However, it’s a line-up I’m enjoying, so I’m going to make the most of it and try and have fun. A week of thinking over the deck should hopefully give me new insights. I’ll certainly be testing it specifically into the Optimus Prime build, since that’s the one I want to see it excel against (even though I don’t think it will).

Next week is a local tournament in Brighton, so the third and final part of this project will be about how I refine this build, and how it performs in a local tournament environment.

Until next time!

Cover art by Emily Stewart, social medias: Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, as well as her Etsy store.

Follow Flip Flip Bang Bang on Facebook and Twitter for more talk about the Transformers TCG.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s