Matchup Analysis: Mission Prime vs. Cars

Matchup Analysis: Mission Prime vs. Cars

I’ve spent the last month writing about theory and deck techs.  It’s time to put my money where my mouth is and dive into the nitty-gritty of actual gameplay.  I’ll be picking up a particular deck and running it against the gauntlet of top performing decks in the metagame.  Each session will feature ten games against one deck, and a brief overview of the games.  While I will be including a final record of each ten game set, the actual match results aren’t necessarily as important as the overall sense of how the matchup plays out, which deck is strategically favored, and the crucial plays and cards that matter in that particular matchup.

To kick things off, I’m putting my Mission Prime deck to the test.  I’ve made a few changes to the deck since the last time I did a deck tech on it here.

TRANSFORMERS:

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

UPGRADES:

3x Ion Blaster of Optimus Prime
3x Reinforced Plating
3x Handheld Blaster
3x Energon Axe
2x Force Field

ACTIONS:

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

The changes are minor, but still important.  The biggest one is maxing out on Energon Axe.  While Optimus Prime is hands down the lynchpin of this deck, the saavy opponent will focus him down as much as they can, and when the dust settles you will sometimes be left with Kup and Flamewar against whatever your opponent has left.  I found that these games are always decided by the Axe and whether I had one or not, so I added the third.  I also wanted to test out Force Field in this kind of deck, so I added two.  I also went up to three Team-Up Tactics.  While I don’t think Tactics is as important as Axe is, I often found myself flipping Optimus to get one back to top him off and keep him out of range of lethal attacks.  I figured if a card is worth buying back over multiple games, I should just include the third copy.

The Cars list is an exact forty card copy of my original list that I wrote about here.

TRANSFORMERS:

Bumblebee, Legendary Warrior
Prowl, Military Strategist
Wheeljack, Weapons Inventor

UPGRADES:

3x Matrix of Leadership
3x Grenade Launcher
3x Flamethrower
3x Force Field
3x Turbo Boosters
3x Improvised Shield
2x Agility of Bumblebee

ACTIONS:

3x Start Your Engines
3x Incoming Transmission
3x Supercharge
3x Treasure Hunt
3x Ramming Speed
3x Peace Through Tyranny
2x I Still Function!

Game 1 (Mission Prime goes first)

I had a Plasma Burst in my opening hand, so I decided to attack Prowl with Optimus.  With the Burst, if I hit any two damage spell or pump, then I can simply finish Prowl off with the Burst.  Unfortunately I miss, leaving Prowl at six damage.  Bumblebee picks up a Flamethrower on his first turn and smashes in, dealing seven damage to Prime.  I immediately know I’m in a lot of trouble as I don’t have a Swap Missions.  I muddle my way through the next couple of turns, but Prime just took way too much damage and I lose this game.

0-1

Game 2 (Cars goes first)

Bumblebee flips and attacks Prime, and this time I go for the defensive play of flip Flamewar and attack with Kup.  This attack puts two points of damage on ‘Bee.  He attacks Kup with Prowl, dealing zero damage as he doesn’t want to commit any resources to deal damage to Kup.  I equip an Energon Axe to Prime, use a Tactics to get him topped off, flip Prime and rumble in.  He flips one blue, but a flipped Plasma Burst puts ‘Bee at thirteen damage, and I flip Prime next turn to rebuy Burst and finish him off.  He can’t do any significant damage to Prime, and I take this one handily.

1-1

Game 3 (Prime goes first)

I decide to go for the same defensive set up as last game, flipping Flamewar and attacking with Kup.  I get a Force Field on Prime, and slowly work my through his bots with Optimus, taking four or less damage on multiple attacks, leaving him unable to KO Prime with the Force Field still equipped.

2-1

Game 4 (Cars goes first)

‘Bee attacks Prime again on the play.  I try to get set up defensively with a Reinforced Plating and Team-Up Tactics, but a key Ramming Speed+Start your Engines puts him way too far ahead on damage.

2-2

Game 5 (Prime goes first)

Again I set up defensively, flipping Flamewar and attacking with Kup.  A crucial mistake cost me the game though, as he had finished my Prime off and I could KO his Bumblebee with The Bigger they Are… on Kup to KO a ‘Bee with eleven damage on him, leaving him with a Prowl and me with a Flamewar with three damage and Kup with one damage.  My mistake was that I had an Energon Axe in hand, my only upgrade.  I tanked for a moment and equipped it to Kup even though I didn’t need it to KO ‘Bee.  He plays an I Still Function! on Wheeljack and crushes my Kup, leaving me with a Flamewar without an Axe vs his Prowl, and I end up losing in the exchange of attacks.  If I had simply held the Axe, I likely would have been able to win the final bot showdown.

2-3

Game 6 (Cars goes first)

This game showcased a particular vulnerability of Cars: namely the amount of upgrades in the deck.  He attacked my Prime like usual, but I won the game on the spot with a first turn Security Checkpoint as three of his four cards in hand were upgrades.  Winning from here was pretty academic.

3-3

Game 7 (Prime goes first)

Flamewar flips and Kup attacks, yada yada.  I play a Checkpoint on turn two, and while it’s nowhere near as devastating as the last game, I’m able to navigate around an annoying top decked Force Field on Wheeljack to take the game

4-3

Game 8 (Cars goes first)

Flamewar flip, Kup attack.  The defensive setup allows Prime to win again.

5-3

Game 9 (Prime goes first)

Again with the same defensive set up as before and a turn two Checkpoint.  This time though, he only has an Improvised Shield, and a hand of Supercharge, Peace Through Tyranny and Start Your Engines.  A scary hand for sure, but I’m able to Inspiring Leadership into a Reinforced Plating on my next turn, and feel pretty good about my chances.  A top decked Ramming Speed though pretty much wins the game for him on the spot, as Start Your Engines+Supercharge absolutely destroy Prime.

5-4

Game 10 (Cars goes first)

He opts for an alternate opening, attacking with Prowl first instead of ‘Bee.  I’m happy to set up defensively with Kup and Flamewar, and proceed to pick him apart with multiple powerful Prime attacks.

6-4

While the final record indicates that the matchup seems only slightly favored for Mission Prime, I actually think I made two big mistakes in two different games that I likely should have won otherwise.  The first was in the first game where I decided to attack with Prime before flipping Flamewar and attacking with Kup to set up defensively.  This allowed the Cars player to put way too much damage on Prime, and ultimately lost me the game.  The other is the Energon Axe I threw away when I needed it to finish off the game.

The key to this matchup is to understand that you likely won’t be one shotting Prowl on the play with an attack from Prime.  It is much more advantageous to set up defensively with a Flamewar flip and Kup attack.  This accomplishes several different things: 1.) It gets your Flamewar flipped into bot mode, giving you Tough 1 for the rest of the game.  2.) Kup soaks at minimum one attack from your opponent, effectively preventing damage to Optimus, increasing the number of turns Optimus is alive to deal damage.  3.) You can get Prime’s attack much higher than a first turn attack with both actions and upgrades.  Both Wheeljack and Bumblebee have much higher health than any of the Insecticons, meaning that you’re going to need a much larger attack to take them out.  While being able to one shot Kickback on the play is often crippling to Insecticons, taking out Prowl isn’t anywhere near as devastating to Cars.

I think Mission Prime has a pretty big advantage in this matchup.  Outside of Wheeljack, Cars’ characters have pretty low base attacks, meaning that it’s difficult for them to deal damage through Flamewar’s Tough 1 and the high defense of Kup and Prime.  The key for this matchup is understanding how important Wheeljack and Optimus are in each respective deck.  ‘Bee matters to a lesser extent, but the real threat is always Wheeljack.  If you have an opportunity in the Prime deck to get a very large attack (twelve plus before flip plays) against Wheeljack, you should take it.  Otherwise you want to make sure when you do commit Prime to an attack that you don’t get punished too much from the attacks back.  Armor is big for this, as is Ion Blaster, Flamewar’s tough one and even having Optimus in Truck mode.  There may be points in the game where you can finish off the defending character while being in Truck mode, and that extra defense can really matter, especially if you suspect an untap and multiple attacks from Cars.  Security Checkpoint is another big card in this matchup since Cars has twenty upgrades.  A Checkpoint for three or more cards out of their hand is absolutely devastating and is effectively a game winner all on its own.

The third Energon Axe was big, allowing me to win games when Prime was KOed.  It’s also still good early as an additional pump for Optimus, allowing me a better chance to KO a high health Wheeljack or Bumblebee.  I’m still not sure on Force Field, as Body Armor just seems like a much better card.  The problem is that Body Armor is orange while Force Field keeps the deck at three white pips.  I’ll likely be testing out a Body Armor list in the future to see if the weaker battle flips are worth having more access to additional tough armors for Optimus.  I also think there’s some merit in going to two Brainstorms.  I still think Brainstorm is good in this deck, and is very strong when you flip it off an Optimus attack.  However, the card is weak in multiples, and without enough true card advantage actions currently available, you don’t want a glut of these in your hand.

Disarm was pretty disappointing in this match.  You really don’t want to use it on a character with a Turbo Boosters equipped, and it’s not like bouncing a Flamethrower is very exciting.  While I initially liked Disarm as a blue icon silver bullet, it may be better to look back into Debilitating Crystal or a single Ramming Speed despite it’s orange pip.  Team-Up Tactics was solid if rather unexciting.  It feels really good when they hit Prime for exactly two damage and then you undo the entire attack with a single action.  I’m still waffling between two and three.  It could be possible that you actually only want one to make more room for higher impact defensive cards like Body Armor.  However I’m wary of putting even two or three cards with orange battle icons, as these make your defenses much worse over time, especially considering you will almost always be flipping three or more cards on every defense thanks to Flamewar.

Updated Mission Prime Decklist

TRANSFORMERS:

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

UPGRADES:

3x Ion Blaster of Optimus Prime
3x Reinforced Plating
3x Handheld Blaster
3x Energon Axe
2x Body Armor
2x Debilitating Crystal

ACTIONS:

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 Backup Plan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *