Meta Talk | The Mustang
Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Hello everyone, it's Azyrine aka Tim here and I have a meta article for everyone today. As of drafting this, it's been a couple of weeks since the Corona Cup 4 (Organised by Jason Crutchfield - big shoutout to him for running this series of events virtually via OCTGN during this global pandemic) ended, and I'm proud to say with my deck emerging victorious after a series of gruelling matches.
I was really happy to win a tournament and be able to put the South East Asia (SEA) community in a spotlight of sorts. The finals of Corona Cup 4 was an all-SEA finals between myself from Singapore, and Marcus Romeo Javier from Philippines. It was exciting for us to have competed against top players in the tournament (granted not everyone played in it like an EI-level scale event, but still a good number of players participated) and make it that far. We have really good players here on our side of the world, and it's nice to be able to show what we can do in this game. We definitely would like to have more physical tournaments held over on this side of the world (pending the global pandemic of course) if at all possible.
Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, The Mustang. This deck runs on 6-stars bull power and 1-star kreb fuel, racing through opponents at high speeds across parsec units, with a fangry driver at the wheel and trusty pet at his side. Were those puns too Horri-Bull for your liking? Hope they weren't too Kreb-by. Please don't get Fangry at me. Puns aside, let's take a look at the deck list!
Link to the deck on Fortress Maximus: https://fortressmaximus.io/user/deck/the-mustang-corona-cup-4-winner-f8c9a-0V4gj
Horri-Bull, Ground Trooper
Fangry, Sky Tracker
3x Escape Capsule
2x Nitro Booster
3x Combat Dagger
3x Fusion Borer
2x Sturdy Javelin
1x Paralyzo Box
3x Power Punch
2x Camien Crash
2x Designated Target
2x Even The Score
3x Fight For Position
2x Heat of Battle
3x Magnetic Dysfunction Ray
3x Peach Through Tyranny
2x Precision Fire
2x Rock Toss
2x Wedge Formation
Sergeant Soundblaster, Weapons Arms Dealer
1x Holomatter Projector
2x Increased Durability
3x RR Disruptor Blade
With the release of Titan Masters Attack, aggro decks take centre stage as with all other waves in the past. The surge of Orange and Black pip cards forces the meta into a direction of dealing guaranteed damage during an attack, regardless of the amount of Blue pips flipped by an opponent.
Decepticons have started invading the fields once again with the emergence of Magnetic Dysfunction Ray.
Top decks that have emerged are combinations and variations of 3 key characters:
Perceptor may be an Autobot, but his ability to net you cards and give your opponents a huge headache in the process is amazing. And throughout all this, he only gets bigger and bigger, ready to smash down on your unsuspecting board. On a side note, congratulations once again to Dan Arnold for his win at the Energon Invitational, and being able to create this bot with the game's design team. They've done an amazing job with the character.
A very popular deck archetype is Sky Shadow paired with Horri-Bull and Grax for a pseudo 6-wide played in an Orange/Black setting.
Going into a tournament meant that I would inevitably face a Sky Shadow deck, and any potential defensive toolbox deck that may arise from players trying to go against Sky Shadow. The solution was to be able to go wider, yet hit decently hard. The only way I could do that was to find low cost characters that had inbuilt abilities meant for aggression, so that my battle cards could be used to maximise my damage output. Enter my deck tech:
For those of you who prefer a video description of this deck, you can check it out at this link instead:
Let's start things off with the star of Titans Masters Attack, Horri-Bull. Whether you love him, hate him, love to hate him, or hate to love him, he's there front and centre in the wave 5 meta.
Being able to deal 1 damage each time a Black card is played by you is insane! I admit I didn't think much of this ability in the initial teaser stages, but once the entire set of battle cards were released, this bot just proved to be a force to wreck havoc all over your opponent's board. It definitely requires proper planning of targets, and you can't just treat him like the proverbial bull in the china shop.
With his flip back to alt mode, you will be able to move a damage away from him to an enemy as well. Note that moving a damage is not counted as non-attack damage, so cards like Defensive Driving and Holomatter Projector will not block this. The only card in the game (at this time) that blocks moving of damage is Bumpers. Most players have at least 1 copy of Holomatter Projector in their mainboard to counter against Horri-Bull, but what's annoying is that they can only save one character at a time. Horri-Bull can easily burn another character instead of the one hiding behind the projector.
With only 9 health, we are looking to keep him alive longer with all the self-harm he's inflicting, but yet I want to keep him at a low star cost overall since I wanted to go with a wide deck.
Kreb fits this slot perfectly being 1-star and providing 2 health to Horri-Bull. Being a 2 health character himself once he pops out ensures that he isn't killed by Armed Hovercraft, and that opponents would need to commit a Marksmanship, Camien Crash or even 2 damage from Horri-Bull's ability.
Coming to Horri-Bull's aid is fellow Beast bot, Fangry! Fangry has massive stats for his star cost. Comparing him to Barrage whom people used in the 7-star slot for aggression, Fangry wins outright. 4 attack with 11 health and 2 defense, this is just 1 attack lower than Barrage in alt mode and I won't have to flip him to get Bold.
Being a Titan Master also meant that I would have one additional character that pops out that can push damage against my opponent when Fangry is KO'ed.
With a built-in ability to have Bold 2 when attacking any enemy with more stars than him, I definitely wanted to keep him at a low cost. Now that I've used Kreb on Horri-Bull, my remaining options at 1-star Heads are Vorath and Parsec.
I am going aggressive so Vorath with Tough 1 definitely is out of theme, but Parsec is a disgusting Autobot. Wait, what? Parsec gives a Bold 1? As much as I dislike having an Autobot on my team, the Bold is much appreciated. So, welcome aboard you Autobot scum!
The unfortunate thing about Parsec is his 1 health which makes him extremely susceptible to the slightest bit of non-attack damage. With an in-built Bold 1 however, he is able to push out a good amount of damage for a 1-star character, and what makes Parsec better is that he is ranged which may benefit me from playing certain battle cards (discussed later).
So with Horri-Bull/Kreb and Fangry/Parsec each being 7 stars, I'm left with 11 stars. As previously stated, I want to go wider than a Sky Shadow deck, so I need to find 2 bots that fit within 11 stars.
Nightracer is the largest, beefiest 5-star character in the game as of the release of Titans Masters Attack. She has the stats of a 7-star character (Goodbye, Barrage), with relevant abilities when you have a Secret Action in play.
Her bot mode ability isn't used much but is good to have. Sending her to attack first in matches would be ideal as she is able to block 2 attacks, unless my opponent fully commits attack pumps which also works in my favour.
Nightracer comes with a Stratagem, Stealth Mission, that allows me to play 2 stars worth of Secret Actions. This may help the deck, so let's put this in and explore the options later on.
With that, I'm down to 5 stars. What 5-star character fits into my theme of being aggressive with piercing damage...
Ravage, one of if not the most loyal Decepticon. Having Stealth at the start of the game means he is untouchable unless your opponent flings non-attack damage his way. With an in-built Pierce 2 and 3 attack, it doesn't take much more for me to guarantee at least 4 pierce on the attack without any combat boosts. If I were to drop a Fusion Borer on him, with a Fight For Position, he could easily hit 7 pierce or more.
And when he's low on health, to prevent him from being KO'ed in your opponent's next attack, I can always flip him back to alt mode to give him Stealth once more, and to give one of my other characters Pierce 2. How many times have you lost a game just by one damage? The Pierce 2 from flipping Ravage may have just allowed you to pierce past the threshold to KO your opponent's bot.
Pierce 2 is also an even number, so it doesn't interfere with your flips if you're praying to avoid that Lucky Dodge (shoutout to Kye Hyunh for tormenting me with this card). Ravage has proven to be a hidden gem amidst the Orange and Black pips. He has done amazingly well for me in all my games, being able to consistenly push 4-5 damage at minimum per attack.
Now that we've covered the characters, let's move on to the Battle Cards.
Escape Capsule is great in this deck. The Orange and Black pips work wonders. Horri-Bull would love to see the Black pip to burn someone. Being a utility also means I get to play an upgrade that yields 1 attack, yet avoiding that potential Sabotaged Armaments on my opponent's side of the table. And with 2 Titan Masters on the team, this benefits both Kreb and Parsec by allowing them to take over the upgrades from their KO'ed bodies.
Combat Dagger is simply an Orange and Black pipped weapon that gives my character Bold 1. It works great on the flips and giving my characters the chance to flip into one more pierce damage is good enough.
Nitro Booster is a hidden gem. With 3 of my characters having 3 printed attack (5 if you count the Heads) this card is amazing. Being able to send Nightracer in and flip this means it's an immediate 2 pierce granted to her. Having Nightracer out and tapped, I'm able to equip Nitro Booster on Ravage to send him out, get some cheap shots in, and ready him again to prepare for a bigger attack on a more crucial bot.
The reason it's only 2 copies instead of 3 is because I would usually prefer to have a big swing, meaning my upgrade for the turn is preferred to be a Power Punch or Fusion Borer.
Speaking of Fusion Borer, this card is another amazing addition to aggressive decks in this set.
It's a Grenade Launcher but for Pierce. Guaranteed 3 attack with 3 pierce, this weapon is a wrecking machine.
Next we have 2 copies of Sturdy Javelin and 1 copy of Paralyzo Box. As most of my bots are Melee, I take Paralyzo Box as just a White pip card. If it happens to be flipped by Nightracer or Parsec, that's a bonus for me.
With Nightracer and Parsec being the only ranged bots, Sturdy Javelin is my option of dealing even more non-attack damage. Otherwise it'll be a 2 attack fixture for my other bots. Sturdy Javelin on Fangry with an Escape Capsule means the weapon gets even more value when Parsec comes out.
Paralyzo Box is more situational, but if called correctly, it's a Grenade Launcher that stays on.
Power Punch is a staple in aggro decks. Being able to Bold 3 and dig for more Black pips is what this deck needs.
Camien Crash is another amazing card to come from this set. Playing this with Horri-Bull, I get to do 3 damage to my opponent from just this one card, and I still get to play an upgrade and flip Horri-Bull. My opponent could potentially take 5 damage just like that before any attacks are made. Only 2 copies are played as I rather have more Orange Black pips on my cards to ensure that I can still push damage if my opponent isn't a defensive deck.
Designated Target is a situational card to play. I really love it having double Black pips, and with my board being wider than most opponents, the Pierce 2 across may be the tipping point of the match.
Even The Score. This is the Secret Action I've chosen from Nightracer's Stratagem, Stealth Mission. As I am running optimally in terms of card utility, I have chosen to remove Improvised Shield from the list. Having 2 copies of Even The Score brings my double Orange pips total to 5. The card's effect is also situationally useful. Most of my characters are Decepticons (I'm looking at you, Parsec, you Autobot scum!), so an untimely attack from my opponent could result in him taking back excess attack damage. This is considered as attack damage, so it would not be blocked by Holomatter Projector.
Fight For Position is the Supercharge of an Orange and Black pips deck. I would gladly sacrifice one Bold for the Black pip.
Heat of Battle is another hidden gem. With my board usually having 2-3 characters still around to beat my opponent, this does amazing. If you stack it with Nitro Booster, that character is going to be doing so much damage that turn. Note that Black pips' pierce effect stays for the turn, so the flips can be extremely brutal.
Magnetic Dysfunction Ray is such a powerful card against Autobots, and it has both Orange and Black pips. Yes, you may be taking damage too, but pushing more damage onto your opponent in a damage race can be crucial. Note that with the latest ruling, Fangry with Parsec is considered both a Decepticon and an Autobot, hence will take 2 damage from this card.
Peace Through Tyranny. The staple card in all aggressive decks. This is not a dead card as there could be some potential plays to KO Horri-Bull or Fangry to get more attacks with your heads and an additional turn. The real skill test comes with identifying the crucial turn to use a PTT in your favour.
Precision Fire is a more precise version of Magnetic Dysfunction Ray. It targets a specific mode, but also a chance to inflict self harm from it. It provides more options for non-attack damage, yet with the Orange and Black pips, also provides damage during the flips.
Rock Toss is another card to push for non-attack damage and yet provide optimal damage on flips. As I already have many options for non-attack damage, 2 copies is sufficient for space for more options.
Wedge Formation is great in this deck. Being able to heal one from a bot close to death to put it beyond the range of Armed Hovercraft or Camien Crash can prove to be the turning point in the game. If Nightracer is still around, I get to draw a card as well. Having a Green pip in addition to the Orange and Black pips is just icing on the cake. 2 copies is sufficient as I usually want to churn out damage and not be healing one damage.
So that's the breakdown of my entire deck. It is meant to go wider than most of the current meta options, and have multiple damage options instead of just swinging blind turn after turn. If an opponent goes defensive, the non-attack damage would help push the extra damage in needed for a KO. If an opponent blocks non-attack damage on a character, then the game plan changes to piercing through that character while pinging others.
You will notice that I have zero upgrade removals in this deck. During tests, it never felt like I wanted to remove any particular upgrade. Yes, I could have packed in a Disassembled to take away a Holomatter Projector to carry on with the pings, but it never felt like a necessity. If my opponent played a defensive Blue deck and had Energon Axe, it never felt like I desperately needed to remove it. There are zero Blue pips in my deck, so either way I'm taking damage beyond my printed armor values. If it was an Enhanced Power Cell or Pocket Processor, I just race to pierce down the bot with it. I'm already doing so much damage each attack that the Enhance Power Cell never really makes a difference most of the time.
As I've progressed throughout my time playing this game, I've started cutting cards that provide no playability when in hand, such as Improvised Shield. Yes, it's great on the flips, but it is an absolute dead card when I have it in hand, or even top deck it in a clutch situation. I want to skew my deck composition in a way that allows me to have amazing top decks all the time, especially when I'm playing an aggro deck that uses two cards every turn.
I've considered Pocket Processor to get the card draw engine going, but really didn't like the idea of having a pip that didn't do anything on the offence. If I got Pocket Processor too late into the game, it ends up being a wasted card.
Now that you've read my thoughts on my deck composition, here's the sideboard explanation. Edit: I hope this answers Neil Alhanti from Facebook. I did say that I would explain it here, but you may not like the answer.
So in all my tests, I found that I was fine with any match-up put in front of me so far. It was never something that I felt like I needed to change my line-up for, until I stumbled upon Metroplex. Metroplex has since been given many cards to help with his ability triggers, and honestly when it triggers, it hurts my deck damage output. So I wanted a big bot that I could swap out which won't be one-shot by aggressive Metroplex builds.
Soundblaster fits this position well. In his bot mode, he has 6 printed attack and an ability that allows me to play a Black weapon from my scrap pile, which would trigger Horri-Bull's ability. I needed to rely on as much non-attack damage to get the little bots deployed by Metroplex, so that my main focus can be the Titan himself. Flipping him back to alt mode allows me to move a weapon from him to another of my characters and a bonus +1 attack until end of turn too, which would be great if the Metroplex did not manage to trigger and/or KO Soundblaster.
To bring him in, I have multiple options available as follows:
Fangry, Parsec, Nightracer, Stealth Mission, 1x Even The Score (13 stars total)
Fangry, Parsec, Ravage (12 stars total)
Horri-Bull, Kreb, Ravage (12 stars total)
Horri-Bull, Kreb, Nightracer, Stealth Mission, 1x Even The Score (13 stars total)
Horri-Bull, Parsec, Ravage (12 stars total)
Horri-Bull, Parsec, Nightracer, Stealth Mission, 1x Even The Score (13 stars total)
Chances are I would keep Horri-Bull in the deck for the burn, but if that doesn't work out and I need to go heavy Bold, then Fangry would be the choice to keep in. Their heads could also swap depending on what sort of health pool I require. If I feel I need a bigger body to tank some hits, Nightracer can remain, else Ravage stays for the pierce and possibly Stealth to avoid early hits. It's a lot of versatility available unfortunately just for one bad match-up.
In this match-up, Magnetic Dysfunction Ray becomes my weakest battle card. I sideboard out all copies in exchange for RR Disruptor Blade. With the number of Black pips I have, this shouldn't scrap so easily, yet if I get unfortunate flips, Soundblaster can always bring this back.
Counterespionage and Decipher are both in there as I have had run-ins with a Perceptor, Pounce and Nightracer combination. The amount of Secret Actions that deck can churn out is scary, and I would like some counters for that. Counterespionage is key to call out for that crucial Heroic Resolve, Sabotaged Armament, End Hostilities, or even Reflect Damage depending on game state.
Decipher was just an additional option for me to punish the opponent for all the Secret Actions left on the table with Spymaster's Ruse. Never really needed it, so may take this out in future iterations.
Holomatter Projector is there to protect Horri-Bull against mirror match-ups, but honestly I never really got to siding it in. Did not seem necessary at all.
Increased Durability is another card for the mirror match-up. Many players go with Enhanced Power Cell, but when I already have Escape Capsule and Nitro Booster fighting for Utility slots, it's easier to go with Increased Durability in the Armor slot. It may be easier to remove an armor compared to a utility, but if my opponent is playing something to remove an armor from me, then I'm less subjected to be against combat pumps and should survive the attack.
That concludes my breakdown on The Mustang. Thank you for reading through this lengthy article. I've had a blast with this deck, playing competitive aggro again after the past few months playing janky decks. I hope you guys enjoyed it and are able to get your own variations running. Let me know how your versions fare, what cards you would have played instead of my choices, whether you would have gone over 40 cards etc. I look forward to hearing your own exploits with this deck.
For those in SEA, stay tuned as we will be rolling out some news for the region next week. For those in USA, I hope you stay safe during this tumultuous time.
For everyone in the world, please remain vigilant against the pandemic. Stay safe and healthy. 'Til All are One, Azyrine out!