Hi all. My name is Mondo Spanner. I ran the Big Daddy Megz deck at the UK Energon Open. I was surprised and deeply honoured to be asked to write a review of my deck by Drew Nolosco.
So... LET’S DO THIS THING!
Big Daddy (General) Megz
3x Security Checkpoint
3x Pep talk
3x Heavy Handed
3x Escape Route
3x Hunker Down
3x Handheld Blaster
3x Armed Hovercraft
3x Extra Padding
3x attack Drone
2x Scoundrel’s Blaster
There are obvious staples in here but hopefully there are a few cards in here that are making you scratch your head and say, “Mondo! Are you playing with a full deck?” However, if you read on I’ll explain why they are in there and some good plays you can make with them.
What’s the Dealy-O?
I love Big Daddy Megz! There, I said it. His back story as Megatronus in the gladiator arenas of Cybertron. His rise up and pleas to the Transformer council for social justice, his subsequent rebellion to overthrow the arrogant aristocracy, and his eventual fall into rabid autocracy. I mean? Really? What’s not to like? In the Transformers: Prime cartoon he is the perfect blend of ego-driven maniacal overlord and rabid fanatic! Just an amazing character.
Whenever I play this guy I see the scene in Prime where he is battling huge Unicron drones made of Earth, on a loop. Megatron swooping in as a plane. Transforming in mid-air to bot form and then shattering a huge clone with a single cray cray haymaker and jetting off again! Hoo-wee!! Who’s got “The Touch” now, eh?
Unfortunately in the first few waves of TFTCG Megatron was less of a wild man and more of a door to door salesman, sans energy drinks!
Wave 1 gave us Decepticon Leader and Living Weapon which were... OK... I suppose. I only saw Decepticon Leader in tank decks because Living weapon was a lot of stars for a meh ability. But no one really used these two that much and no one was building punishing decks around them! I tried for a week or two and said, “Hellooooooo, Bugs!”
Wave 2 gave us Arrogant Ruler. Who, to be fair, was at least an equivalent to LT. BUMBLEBEE!?!?! What’s that about? The most evil-ist, bot slaying-ist protagonist in the universe is the equal of a Vee Dub with a busted radio? LOOK INTO MY EYE!!!
Anyway, moving on.
Wave 3 is announced. Big Dady Megz is revealed. Wossy says Wossooooooooooooon.....
I saw Wossy’s video for this guy and I knew I could make him work.
Well, I was pretty sure.
Unfortunately, at the time I was running mono-orange Insecticon and mono-orange Superion decks. Which in my local two-man meta were pretty filthy because they’d been tuned just right. However, I was lucky enough to meet up with Kev Jowgenetsu (of the City Speakers Podcast) at UKGE in Birmingham. There, I ran both of these decks against his version of the Origins-winning Optimus Prime – Battlefield Legend, Flamewar, and Hot Rod build. Never, ever, have I walked into a place with my head held so high and left with my tail between my legs so low. He just blew me out. I COULD NOT do damage!
This completely changed how I perceived mono-blue decks. I knew I had to get some of the key defence mechanics from that deck into my decks, so I started testing. First up was double blue Primes. OPBL and General Prime (proxied after his reveal). The deck was hard-hitting, but I didn’t like the two-tall build, even with the heavy amounts of damage it could handle and deliver. Another big problem was the other guy in my two-man meta had taken, and further refined, the mono-orange Superion build. So I was regularly testing against 5-wide mono-orange and this really soured me to the team and deck. In response I built a 5-wide blue pierce and ping damage deck from Flamewar, Acid Storm, Raider Storm Cloud, Silverbolt, and Skydive. This deck was actually really good fun and instilled in me a real love of indirect and direct damage, which was a carry-over from the One Shall Stands I had used in the Primes deck. However, after several weeks of so-so results at home and at a local tournament, I shelved that list for a future date. And so... we came... to MEGZ!!!
When I got my Wave 3 boxes, General Megatron was the first Super Rare I pulled. I pulled Cog, too but... you know, Cog. Anyway, with my newfound love of ping damage and mono-blue decks I thought I’d look at what I could do with The Duke himself: General Megatron!!
His stats are pretty beefy. Health of 15 is no joke and better than both the top Primes. By 1 L. But it’s still MORE! His Defence in bot mode is a standard 2 and his Tank mode is a strong 3. However, I figured if I buffed his Defence with extra Tough then in a mono-blue deck he’d be nice and beefy. So who to put with him?
I want to buff Tough? Oh! That was easy. Flamewar. 5 stars of supreme Decepticon Tough buff. I always thought blanket tough 1 wasn’t that great. But reflecting on my experience with Kev I soon came to the realisation that a blanket Tough 1 is really good.
OK, so I’m up to 18 stars. Who’s next? I looked at Demolisher, from afar, and wept at his health of 7. Pierce was becoming prevalent in decks and 7 health just was not cutting it. So who? Who else is stupidly tough?
Eh? What’s that you say? Battle Masters are the new hotness? Let’s have a look at those boys then.
Firedrive? Niet. He’s an Autobot and I want to be swapping cards for green pips, not buffing an easily destroyed weapon.
Lionizer? This guy’s an Autobot, too. And he gives out bold. I’m blue-heavy with no OPBL ability so he’s useless.
Smashdown? You mess with the bull. You get the chopped liver.
Autobot Battle Masters, adieu! Let’s look at the Decepticon Battle Masters.
Nightstick? No black pips in this deck! +2 +2 is kind of interesting, but essentially redundant.
Blowpipe? What does this guy do again?
Raider Aimless? Tough 3, you say? 7 stars, you say? I can use Flamewar to buff this guy to Tough 4? Plus, he plays into my direct damage theme in Weapon mode. This guy maybe Aimless but he is certainly not pointless. In fact, he was to become one of the key members of my team.
So that’s the team. Here are their duties:
Big Daddy Megz – Ping damage for days. Get loads of upgrades on him and make 3, 4 and 5-wide teams start crying as soon as possible. Also, get his flip ability off so many times it wears out my toploader!
Flamewar – Tough buff for life! Plus Bold 1 makes proc-ing the “Aimless Gun” easier.
Raider Aimless – This guy’s purpose is to absorb attacks and fish! Get him attacking first and fish like you’ve never fished before! Tough 4 (with Flamewar buff) means you’re flipping a minimum of 6 cards every time this guy defends, which, when you’re fishing for green pips, is absolutely MASSIVE.
The main concept. To put 3 or more upgrades on a card that only has 3 slots. Without the plethora of upgrade hate out there stopping it. I also want to proc Megatron’s ability every turn until either he—or the opponent’s entire team—dies. Hmmm...
Attack Drones and Extra Padding can have 3 in each slot and are green. Did someone say redundancy? Did someone say consistency?
Attack Drones in the vacuum of Wave 1 and 2 were so-so. You might put them in a deck to utilise their green pip or to make your opponent do a double take and reread the card. But theirs and Extra Padding’s key abilities are their green pips and the ability to drop more than one in a turn and this last ability is very useful in my deck.
Once you have 4 of these upgrades, in any combination, on General Megatron he is either going to give out, or absorb, high quantities of damage. If your opponent does want to stop his ability proc-ing then they are going to have to use all of their Battle Cards, for a single turn, to get rid of 2 of these upgrades. 2! All the while, you’re hopefully pulling extras on your defence flips. Your opponent is also going to have to make a choice. Do they get rid of the weapons which will diminish Megatron’s flip ability and attack characteristic OR do they go for the Padding? Which is making him an absolute pain to KO. The answer is not clear. Time for a trip into The Matrix, Padawan Prime.
Next; How can I give Megatron some extra time to build up a healthy supply of upgrades and how can I make him less susceptible to overspill attacks from teams that are wider than mine. This is where Bravery comes in. Somewhere down the line my two-man meta buddy started using Dreadwind supported by Headstrong and Raider Storm Cloud. Now Headstrong is a 1 Attack, 5 Health, 3 Defence character in Alt mode. In a heavy blue deck he can be a seriously annoying speed bump. Speed bump eh? My team has the leading contender for world’s most annoying speed bump.
And lo, he did say, “I shall take the form of… Raider Aimless!”
You get bravery on Raider Aimless and a lot of the opposing team’s attacks go out of the window.
“I hit you for 12 with my heaviest overspill attack!” they say.
“I defend 8-10 and take 2,” I say.
Once your opponent realises they aren’t going to be doing any more damage with their extra bots they are a sad, sad panda, indeed.
At one of the trials that lead up to the European Energon Open, my opponent decided he wanted to kill one of my guys because he had failed to do so in the previous game. So, because I lead out with Aimless, he went all out to destroy him. In that game, my opponent lost all 4 of his bugs and Raider Aimless lost 4 Health. Now, maybe his deck wasn’t highly tuned (I’m sure I saw a Data Pad in there!) but even so. He just could not kill Aimless. We shook hands and I felt bad.... a bit.....
You Spin Me Right Round Baby, Right Round....
Another obstacle to maximising Megatron’s ping damage output is the fact that he needs to continually be changing between Bot mode and Alt mode. Now your flip for the turn solves half of that riddle but how do we make sure Megatron is in Bot mode at the start of the next turn? The answer came in the guise of Escape Route. Another lesser-seen card from Wave 2 that seemed out of place in that Wave, somehow. In this deck, the effect is very useful for Megatron. It flips him from Bot mode to Alt mode and so allows you to get his direct damage ability off and be set up for the following turn.
It’s green so Aimless can be fishing for it and also white, which is super useful in defence. You may sacrifice a blue pip for the white but there’s a chance of getting 2-3 back from the extra flips. Plus due to the all the Tough the characters have, it means you can be flipping 8 (Aimless), 5 (Flamewar), 4-8 (General Megatron depending on Padding uptake) per defence. Allowing you to draw into more green cards.
Hunker Down. This card... is... Insane-O-tron! Turned up to 11! It’s good anyway, and a mainstay in all serious blue tank decks. For General Megatron decks this card is an absolute MUST. In my deck it is a key driver of the build because it allows you to pull off Megatron’s direct damage ability and set up for the next turn from a seemingly harmless start. The card allows you to flip your tanks from Bot mode to Alt mode and then place an armour from your scrap pile onto each of your tanks. Now admittedly, General Megatron is your only tank in the team but the play you can get from this card is so strong there has to be 3 in the deck.
Here is the play:
- You will usually draw into or already have a Hunker Down in hand.
- Get Megatron in bot mode (easy to do as Aimless doesn’t flip so you can be setting this up from your turn 2)
- Fish for Attack Drones and Extra Padding until you have a couple of Attack Drones in hand, a single Padding in the scrap pile and, preferably, at least one Padding in hand. (This is helped by the fact that you will have flipped between 9 and 13 defence cards by the time Megatron comes out to play)
- You start your turn by putting all available Attack Drones on Megatron.
- You play Hunker Down.
- Flip Megatron and do damage to a character equal to the number of weapons you have on the battlefield.
- Place the Extra Padding from the scrap pile onto Megatron.
- Now put EVERY OTHER Padding from your hand onto Megatron.
This play is devastating for 2 reasons. Firstly, you have just put a minimum of 3 upgrades on Megatron meaning he is fully kitted out to do ping damage forever and you should now have so many upgrades on him that upgrade hate becomes negligible. Secondly, Megatron now hits like a truck or defends like a... very well-armoured tank.
The impact of watching a full health Megatron go from a single Attack Drone to 3 Attack Drones and 3 Extra Paddings can be confidence-crippling for an opponent. I played Lee McAlpin (Bleeped Up Productions) at a friendly tournament and managed to pop a Hunker Down for max impact (i.e. from 1 Attack Drone, 0 Extra Paddings to 3 of each) and he just looked at Megatron and flat out told me the game was mine. The play had completely eroded his confidence in his deck. It was a totally devastating “shock and awe” moment. What is even more amazing about this story is that Lee’s Metroplex had only taken 5-10 damage at the time and he still considered the game over!
Finally, the best part about Hunker Down is that it allows you to direct your fishing. If you have a Hunker Down in-hand and you flip both an Extra Padding and an Attack Drone, then that’s fine. Ignore the Padding and take the Drone. The Hunker Down means that you can get that Padding later, anyway. I have used this to great effect in matches because it means I have been able to ramp up Megatron’s ping damage quickly by focusing on Drones when taking green cards.
Big Daddy Megz Goes to War!
In the run up to the Energon Open I played in two smaller trials, a couple of friendly tournaments, and I practiced with the deck for about 10 hours a week at home in sunny Melton Mowbray with a couple of friends (Kaz and Dan). Kaz was running mainly blue Dreadwing or orange Superion and Dan was running an ever more tuned up Bugs deck.
At my first trial I only lost to the winner (John Pritchard) who was running Cliffjumper cars. I think I got caught in the headlights there and I froze. The cars just put out too much damage and it severely hampered my plays and left Megz on his own too much of the time. Taking too much damage. This was magnified in game 2 when John sideboarded in Private Firedrive. This trial taught me to fear Firedrive. On paper, he’s pretty mean but when you couple him to a high-draw deck, he is absolutely brutal! Espionages don’t cut the mustard against him so I started sideboarding Fog of War specifically to manipulate my opponent’s hand size and hopefully diminish Firedrive’s impact.
After that I won a local tournament and a second Energon Open Trial. At the local tournament I went up against blue pierce Superion and turned it out. I achieved this because Combiners are an inherently slow deck which plays to the strengths of my deck. If you keep the team wide with well-timed Espionages and reduce the overspill attack threat of Press the Advantage with Infiltrate, you can come away with wins quite a lot of the time.
At the second trial, I had an extremely close first round game against a very well-constructed Runabout, Runamuck, and Flamewar deck. In game 2, my opponent used an early Security Checkpoint to take an Attack Drone and Extra Padding out of my hand. He then proceeded to top deck Vaporize about 4 times! This gave him a long-protracted win that ate up round time. I chalked this second game up to fate and in the third game, I was able to put enough damage onto his characters to come away with a 13-11 tiebreaker win on damage. Still, it was the closest game I’d had in my campaign and it had me sweating!
The Energon Open. Ah, the Energon Open. What a great day that was. I had two byes and started off round two by pulling a King Starscream from my participation Booster. I also played John’s cars again as a friendly warm-up game. I wrecked face with a well-timed Espionage ridding him of his Start your Engines, and then proceeded to take his team apart starting with Bumblebee.
In round 3 I played Lee McAlpin’s Metroplex deck which had been on a very similar campaign to my deck (I beat Lee into second at the trial I had won and also in one of the friendly tournaments). Another very close game which ended with Aimless having 3 Extra Paddings and an Armed Hovercraft on him. Aimless, legendary rude boy that he is, put 12 damage on Metroplex to win me that game. After Megatron got wasted by the Titan with 7 minutes to go in the round!
Next up was a Bugs player who played merry hell with my upgrades by playing Bashing Shield over, and over, and over again. Even though I had been practicing regularly against Bugs, the small nuances in this Bugs build caused me no end of problems. In the first game General Megatron rarely got off either ability due to Drone and Padding starvation! In the second game I managed to get his abilities off more and I focused on Kickback and Barrage a lot more to whittle them down and put them in KO reach with the little guy’s attacks. The 2-0 score line at the end of the round did not fully represent the closeness of the games and I was happy to get a win.
Then, in Round 5, I played a Blaster deck for the first time, piloted by Ben Saunders (who won, by the way). Frankly, I had gone to London to win this deck so there was no way I was going to buy one to test against! That, it would seem, was a mistake!
The first game was really close and I lost it by making a very foolish play. My first of the day (Yeah, right!). The error I made was not realising the situational strength of Infiltrate over Espionage when playing against an orange deck. When you Espionage you only remove a single card from your opponent’s hand. My opponent had 7 in-hand at the time. I removed one, which didn’t really hamper his following turn’s plays and, in the following turn, he clobbered my Megatron with an on-the-money KO. What I should have done was play the Infiltrate and wait for him to play an action that increased his attack, then nobbled it with Infiltrate. That way Megatron would have survived and I would have at least won game 1. In game 2 Ben sideboarded in General Optimus Prime and decided that the best way to show me what his new ringer could do was to hit my Megz for 20! I mean, what’s a girl to do?
Round 6 was against a Shockwave Specialists deck piloted by a very talented player named Rhys Bradley. It was the same team that has been doing well in America but he’d got his own spicy deck recipe and it absolutely, unremorsefully and unremittingly turned... me... out! It ate my hand, which shut down my fishing trips. It drew upgrade hate so that Megz was as naked as the day he fell off the workbench! And it had pierce for days so that Aimless was invariably the first bot down!!
It was as hard a counter as I can imagine for my deck and even though I managed to kill the little guys and put some damage on Shockwave, I came away from those games reeling. At no point in that entire round did I feel as if I was going to win ,and Rhys was good enough to minimise the amount of suffering time I had to endure! However, I cannot lie. Those games were the games I relished the most on reflection as they are the games that have sparked the most deck design and change, post-Energon Open.
I hope you guys have hung in there and enjoyed this read and I hope that it has given you some ideas to use in your own decks. My summer campaign to the Energon Open was an absolute blast and coming away from the Open with 9th felt good.
I’m writing this whilst an avalanche of spoilers are dropping for Wave 4 and all I can say is “WOW!”
This next wave looks like it’s going to be the death knell for a lot of the decks that are considered meta and this man’s dream is that the PAX winner uses a new archetype deck that poses some serious questions to those decks.
Once again I want to thank Drew and The Transformers TCG crew for giving me the opportunity to write this piece and for providing me with a game that has completely revitalised my interest in card games and the Transformers brand.
End on a quote they said. The word count is usually 1000-1500 words they said.
“...Everything I touch is food for my hunger... My hunger for Power!”
-Big Daddy Megz