Preview | The Return of Lord Straxus
It is a new age of Cybertronian freedom. An age where the grand overlord has ceased to be. An age of uncertainty. An age where the creativity of many run free. The time is now for the Alpha Trion Protocols to come into effect. The time has come for the return of Lord Straxus!
Greetings one and all to our very first preview article! I am Azyrine and I will be taking you on this journey to welcome back Lord Straxus. It is a great priviledge to have been reached out to, and offered this card to preview for the folks in charge of the Alpha Trion Protocols. The card we have today was previously teased and had its initial stages discussed by Henri "Jihen" Yandell in his article: https://www.freelancepeacekeeping.com/alpha-trion-fanbrew/week-1.html.
I know what all of you are here for so before we dive into the technicalities, here's the stratagem you want to see:
Now that you've had your fill, let's have a quick refresher of Darkmount, Cruel Overlord since he's been gone from most minds and decks.
Let's talk about his health first. Back in wave one, having 9 health on a 9 star character was fine. Black pips were not a thing and the only non-attack damage cards you really had to worry about were One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall, Zap, and Plasma Burst. With the introduction of wave five, everyone is playing Horri-Bull and the sheer number of pierce coming through from aggro pierce decks would wipe Darkmount off the board in one hit.
The stratagem provides an additional 4 health for a star cost amongst other effects. At 13 health for a 10-star cost character, it may seem a little on the low side, but Darkmount makes up for it with sheer printed defensive power at 4 armor value in alt mode, and 3 armor value in bot mode with a potential to go up to 5 against Ranged characters. These base values force your opponents to commit cards to guarantee either piercing through the armor, or non-attack damage onto Darkmount.
The stratagem also provides an additional ability, where we get to repair 1 damage from him by putting an armor on him. Now this is where it gets interesting in terms of play styles and options. Choosing to run a tanks deck would give you access to Hunker Down. Hunker Down would allow you to put any armor on him, bypassing "Play" effects on cards like Ghost Shield.
The real downside to going with Hunker Down is trying to net the value on other tanks by playing them. With Darkmount on essentially 10-stars, he is competing with Megatron in that position, and players will find it hard to match up the balance 15 stars with suitable tank partners.
There are many armor options available to be paired with him. Extra Padding offers the potential to repair for 3 damage. Reflex Circuits offer great stats. Point Defense System is great to reduce pierce over his high armor values. Medic's Protective Field would allow you to repair 2 damage, and keep a Safeguard 3 on him.
Playing a Holomatter Projector onto Darkmount would repair him for 1 damage and make him immune to non-attack damage. Composite Armor would really beef him up, repair him and potentially deal a damage back to the
attacker (depending on your build). The classic Bashing Shield nets you even more value.
There are many other options of armors available for both aggressive and defensive builds. You could even go for a heavy heal build by having Toolbox on Darkmount and constantly cycling through Armors to heal him.
If you want to get really janky, you could even consider Defensive Configuration to grant him another armor slot for more repairs and defensive stats. Perhaps revisiting Crushing Treads to grant him Pierce 4 in alt mode, before any combat flips, could prove to be very deadly.
Let your creativity run wild with the variations of upgrades you can pair up with Darkmount.
Finally let's discuss him having a Leader trait. Lord Straxus is a leader in the lore, but how does that translate to game mechanics? At the moment, only Callous Leadership affects Decepticon Leaders to the player's benefit, while Trithyllium Shield if played by the opponent would greatly reduce the pierce dealt by Darkmount.
Having the Leader trait will only scale further depending on new cards being created that have effects with this trait, otherwise it is only to be in-line with the lore. We can only wait to see what develops further from the Alpha Trion Protocols, or any other fan groups out there. As a Decepticon lover, I am excited at the prospects of more Decepticon leader support.
Overall, the stratagem makes a currently non-competitive character more palatable, but ultimately it is up to the players to determine if it will be a worthy top-tier competitor. After all, every deck is a jank deck until it wins a tournament. I personally look forward to the other stratagems released, and using them to compete in other Alpha Trion tournaments hosted by the Vector Sigma team. Catch you guys on the battlefield! Till All Are One, Azyrine out!