Pauper Deck Tech: Ion Storm

Pauper Deck Tech: Ion Storm

I’ve been away for a very long time, due to work and a new girlfriend. However, I’ve managed to make time to play in every Saturday event for Utah’s local Transformers TCG event series: the Season of Potential, a three month long series of tournaments being hosted by Gamer’s Asylum and organized by the perennially awesome Nick Davis. I’m currently in the top spot for the series, and should be able to close out the season with the 1st place prize.

What sets this series apart is that Nick created unique deck construction rules for every Saturday tournament, helping to keep these events fresh and interesting for players. The first Saturday tournament used Pauper deck construction rules: only commons for your Transformers and your battle deck. This was probably the most exciting event to me, mostly because I have a soft spot for Pauper in Magic: the Gathering and have played a lot of Pauper on Magic Online.

What’s great about Pauper, especially for Transformers, is that it is an extremely accessible format for anyone, yet still retains the deckbuilding depth and tactical play that makes Transformers such an exciting game. The other great thing about the Pauper format is that there are no decklists to be found anywhere online. You have to practice the act of building and customizing your deck by looking at an available card pool and developing your own strategies.

But just because there are no decklists doesn’t mean we have to go in entirely blind. You can take tried and trued strategies in Transformers and extrapolate those overarching templates into a shell using common cards. As soon as I heard about the Pauper tournament, I knew I wanted to build a deck around Raider Ion Storm.

I had gone undefeated at a sealed Energon Invitational Qualifier with Ion Storm as the centerpiece for my otherwise mediocre limited deck, and knew that his monstrous stats for a common Transformer were powerful enough to build a pauper deck around. Once I had decided to use Ion Storm, the next character for my team was an easy inclusion: the ubiquitous Flamewar. This put me at 17 stars of characters and I would have to do a little bit of digging to find a good 8 star character to finish off the team. One that can actually soak attacks quite well in a heavy blue shell is the forgotten Insecticon: Bombshell. A whopping four defense means that if you flip Flamewar and attack with Bombshell in his alt mode, he is likely going to have 7 defense after combat flips. Bombshell can also flip into a reasonable if unexciting attacker at a base value of five attack. With Flamewar and the high base defenses of Ion Storm and Bombshell, I knew this was going to be a blue focused deck.

Here’s the decklist I played at the tournament (the link goes to a complete decklist at to that site for its ease of use and great resource as a deck repository):


Raider Ion Storm, Infantry Rainmaker
Bombshell, Insecticon Mind-Controller
Flamewar, Veteran Decepticon

Raider Road Hugger, Infantry Tactics


3x Handheld Blaster
3x Primary Laser
3x EM24 IR Laser Launcher
3x Reinforced Plating
3x Urban Camo
1x Soldier’s Blaster
1x Enforcement Batons


3x Brainstorm
3x Frag Toss
3x Head-On Collision
3x Inspiring Leadership
3x Leap into Battle
3x Pep Talk
3x Underhanded Tactics
2x Vaporize


3x Piercing Blaster
2x Soldier’s Blaster
2x Bashing Shield
1x Energon Slingshot
1x Enforcement Batons
1x Vaporize

The deck performed well, as the tried and trued strategy of flipping Flamewar and attacking with your “soak” character is just as strong in pauper as it is in standard constructed. It is a bit more difficult to one shot a lot of bots with Ion Storm, but certainly not impossible. My final game of my final match against Nick Davis saw a sideboarded Raider Road Hugger team up with Soldier’s Blaster, Brainstorm+Leap into Battle+Head-On Collision to attack Nick’s Springer for a whopping 19 attack to one shot the combo centric Autobot!

Some cards were pretty underwhelming throughout the day, even in an all common format. I played three Underhanded Tactics, and these never did anything important. I wanted some form of direct damage, and as a blue Zap with a slight upside for Decepticons they seemed like they could be ok. Unfortunately one damage is just too little to make that much of a difference in the majority of games. Urban Camo also disappointed as did Reinforced Plating, mostly because Bashing Shields were everywhere.

Speaking of Bashing Shield, I think it’s completely unneeded in this deck’s sideboard. Since Ion Storm can always bounce any opposing upgrade, armor is virtually useless against his attacks anyways.

The cards that worked well out of the sideboard were Soldier’s Blaster and Raider Road Hugger. Soldier’s Blaster is just a great weapon in the right matchup that you’ll see often due to its green pip. Road Hugger lets you flip the script when you need to and get all out aggressive when the match calls for it. In Game 2 of my last match against Nick, I boarded in Road Hugger, went first and slammed into his Springer for 10 attack. He immediately realized what I was doing, as tapping down two of my characters on the first turn meant that he would only get two turns before we reset the board and I would get another big attack on Springer with Ion Storm.

I ended up 3-0 with this deck, defeating a four wide aggressive mixed character deck, a three wide aggressive cars deck, and Nick’s combo/midrange Springer deck. If you’re a store struggling to get more players invested in Transformers, then I would highly recommend pauper. Or even if you are a veteran player with a robust collection, I’d still recommend pauper as a breath of fresh air over standard constructed.

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