Deck Tech: Mission Prime

Deck Tech: Mission Prime

Most of the decks I’ve included so far on the site have been bouncing around in the community and are considered the obvious decks to play. I finally managed to develop a powerful blue based list about two weeks ago that doesn’t play any sort of conventional line up.  In fact, I am playing a bot that is considered by most to be one of the absolute worst characters in the entire game: Sergeant Kup. Kup certainly isn’t the lynchpin to this particular deck, but rather the perfect roleplayer for the deck.

The seeds for this deck came from trying to make three character line ups work with Optimus Prime, Battlefield Legend.  The first list featured Insecticon Skrapnel and Arcee, and was trying to use Heroism to divert damage from Prime over to Skrapnel.  This deck sucked. It could melt one bot very quickly with Optimus, but Optimus would end up dead more often than not, and then you were stuck trying to win with Skrapnel and Arcee.  I shelved the deck and continued working on our already established lists. At one point in our evolution of decks, I had found that all the bold based orange decks were absolutely destroying any defensive decks we could come up with.  That is until I played Cars against a Shockwave based deck. What impressed me the most about this deck wasn’t the damage from Shockwave’s ability, but rather just how hard it was to actually damage the characters. After losing multiple times that night, I immediately began brainstorming.  Here’s the thing. Shockwave isn’t very good. His HP is too low for his cost, and you’re forced to play things like System Reboot (which I don’t think is a very good card) to trigger his damage.

So I returned to the idea of a three bot Optimus deck.  Where Shockwave sucks, Optimus is absolutely insane. He does a ton of damage with his very high attack values, has a solid 14 hp and good defense, and fundamentally cheats on card plays in a turn with his bot mode attack.  I then asked myself: What if I could one shot a bot on turn one on the play? Consider that Insecticons have two characters with an effective health of ten. Optimus has eight attack, meaning if you can flip any action that effectively does two damage, you will kill their character on turn one having played zero cards. I began brewing.

I really wanted to pair Optimus with Flamewar.  The free passive tough 1 for all your characters had impressed me the most out of the defensive Shockwave deck.  The problem is once you have Flamewar and Optimus, you don’t have too many options to fill out the team. I flipped through my binder, and stumbled on none other than Sergeant Kup.  At seven stars and with a high defense in his alt mode, I thought Kup could be exactly what I was looking for.

I finished the deck and began jamming it against Insecticons, Cars and Dinobots.  And I was winning. A lot. While I lost a fair share of games, the ones I were losing were more often to attacking with the wrong character in the wrong matchup.  But once I began to figure out all the nuances for the deck, I was cruising through the aggressive decks with ease. They had a very hard time punching through the high defense of Kup and Optimus, and Optimus was usually one shotting their characters.

The one matchup I found wasn’t very good was the double Prime lists.  You’re both high defense decks, but this deck has only one heavy hitter, while double Prime has two.  So even if you finally manage to KO their Optimus, you’re stuck staring down a Nemesis with a card under him that will easily crunch past your defense.

So the question is why play this list than over the double Prime deck?  The answer is that you are significantly better against all the aggressive decks.  Flamewar’s tough 1 is very, very good. Couple that with the extra defense Kup has on Nemesis, and you soak far more damage than the double Prime deck.  I think the double Prime deck is very dependent on getting early armor on their characters, while Flamewar+Kup by itself is often more than resilient enough to allow Optimus to finish the game out.


Optimus Prime, Battlefield Legend
Sergeant Kup, Veteran Strategist
Flamewar, Veteran Decepticon


3x Ion Blaster of Optimus Prime
3x Reinforced Plating
3x Data Bank
3x Handheld Blaster
2x Energon Axe
1x Blast Shield


3x Swap Missions
3x Leap into Battle
3x Security Checkpoint
3x The Bigger They are…
3x Inspiring Leadership
3x Brainstorm
3x Plasma Burst
2x Team-Up Tactics
1x Disarm
1x Backup Plan

The other card that really makes this deck tick is Swap Missions.  Optimus Prime is clearly your most powerful attacker, so you want to attack as many times with him as you can.  Not only that, flipping a Swap Missions off his attack and then tapping your Kup to untap Optimus so your opponent can only attack Kup is a very strong play.

Effective Health

I wanted to take a moment to talk about a term that actually originated from older MMORPGS: Effective Health.  This concept has carried on even into modern day video game giants such as League of Legends. For a simple definition of effective health, it is simply how much total damage you can take without being healed before your character will die.  You total your health pool along with your damage mitigation to determine your character’s effective health. In the context of the Transformers TCG, we can consider a character’s effective health to be their hit points plus defense.  For example, Bumblebee, Legendary Warrior has 15 hp and one defense. This means (assuming Bumblebee doesn’t flip any blue battle icons on defense), you will have to do sixteen damage in one attack in order to KO Bumblebee. The reason it is important to always keep a character’s effective health in mind is that it provides you with a number you will likely need on your attack to KO that particular bot.  Keeping this number in mind throughout every game will allow you to make more effective attacks and set yourself up with better defensive plays as well.

Card Highlights

Ion Blaster of Optimus Prime: How good is one defense?  Consider it in the context of other cards in the game.  Armor Plating is the baseline, a simple +1 defense for one card.  Granted Armor Plating is not a good card, but from a design space it is worth a card.  In many ways I think we can compare Ion Blaster to a very popular card from Magic: the Gathering: Lightning Helix.  Helix is an incredibly elegant card, simply melding the classics Lightning Bolt and Healing Salve in both cost and effect: a 3 damage spell that gains you 3 life.  While Lightning Bolt has been an iconic Magic classic, Healing Salve has always been nothing more than chaff. But once you tack on life gain to an effect you already want, such as damage from a spell, than the value of that life gain makes the card much better.  So it is with Ion Blaster. Sure, we would never reasonably play Armor Plating in any deck. But adding that additional armor to a card we would consider playing (+2 attack on a weapon), then we have a powerful card at our disposal.

Data Bank: I think you have two options when it comes to your utility slot for this deck.  The first is Data Bank, allowing you to keep the cards flowing throughout the game when played early.  The second is Debilitating Crystal, which will allow you to keep opposing armors such as Reinforced Plating and Force Field off the character you are attacking.  I have tried both, and am currently running the Data Banks to provide the extra card advantage throughout the game. However I do still think Crystal is quite good, as it can effectively lock your opponent’s armor out of the game, and provides more answers to opposing upgrades than the single Disarm.

Disarm: You need a way to answer your opponent’s upgrades in some fashion.  Disarm has a couple things going for it: It’s an action, so you can easily get it back with an Optimus flip to alt mode.  It’s a blue pip, continuing the focus on high defense in the deck. It also can actually hamper a character like Grimlock trying to build up multiple upgrades over the course of several turns.  It’s also more flexible in its targeting than Debilitating Crystal, allowing you to return upgrades on a character you can’t attack.

Plasma Burst: As I said before, when I first started brewing this deck, my initial goal was to do ten damage with Optimus attacking as early as turn one on the play.  Plasma Burst is one option to do this. There are other direct damage cards available, such as Photon Bomb and One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall. Plasma Burst gets the nod over these for a couple of reasons.  The biggest one is that you don’t want to be putting any extra damage on any of your characters, as part of what makes this deck work so well is that you just make it difficult for your opponent to kill your bots.  The other reason we want Plasma Burst is that sometimes you can put a lot of damage on one of your opponent’s bots without quite finishing the job.  Plasma Burst can clean up any low health bots still standing after a big Optimus attack.

Team-Up Tactics: I’ve been impressed with Team-Up Tactics every time I’ve played it in this deck.  It only ever heals two damage since we have no cars, but this can often completely undo an attack from your opponent, considering how often you will only be taking a few points of damage.  The one problem with Tactics is that it can never heal Optimus when he’s attacking in bot mode. Fortunately you can heal Kup, and you’ll often be flipping Optimus to get Tactics back to keep him topped off.

Blast Shield: This is basically Reinforced Plating #4.  It’s nowhere near as good as Plating, but you use it to buy more turns with Optimus to dig through your deck to find Plating.

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