Troublemaker Solutions: An Examination

Hello friends, I’m Niko’s sister Charlotte, but I generally go by Chash on the internets, so we’ll go with that. Today, I wanted to talk about different ways to deal with Troublemakers, their pros and cons, and how happy you are to have them in a deck if your opponent isn’t playing Troublemakers. Of course, with new cards coming out in a few weeks, this will soon be obsolete, but isn’t that true of my entire life? It sure is.

So, I’ve categorized TM solutions into four categories: Insta-Fight, Move Tricks, Temporary Removal, and Permanent Removal. All of these allow you to deal with TMs in some way other than just putting characters at a Troublemaker during your Main Phase and waiting for your TM Phase. You’re most likely to need these vs. control, but it’s also useful vs. Villain farming decks and, sometimes, when you’re playing your own Villain farming deck. Let’s check them out!

INSTA-FIGHT

These are the cards that allow you to fight TMs outside of your own TM phase. They can only be used against your opponent’s Troublemakers, so their utility is minimized if your opponent is not playing Troublemakers, but not always completely canceled out. They require you to win a Faceoff, but do allow you to get VP off the TMs if you do, which is a plus.

You tried so hard and got so far but in the end it didn't even matter
Pipsqueak: Scrappy Squirt

PROS: I’m not going to front, I’ve never seen Pipsqueak played in a deck, and I can’t imagine I ever will. He lets you fight during your opponent’s turn, which is nice, I guess? And you fight with everyone, that’s a plus! You can just have him and Maud at a problem and you’re probably happy, I guess? I dunno.

CONS: The problem is, he’s useless vs. Villains (with the way priority works, he’s frightened before he can use his reaction), and if your opponent isn’t playing a villain, they’d be kind of stupid to play into your Pipsqueak. So he maybe has some utility as a deterrent, but I just don’t know.  Again, I’ve never seen anyone play Pipsqueak. Sorry, bro.

NO TM: Pipsqueak is an efficient 1-cost body who can confront problems, which is not nothing! He does a thing. It is not a very good thing, but he does it, and he does it hard. Good job, Pipsqueak. You got there.

I thought that was the name of a song in the Superman musical, but it's
Biff! Pow!

PROS: Instantly fight during your Main Phase, when it’s often hardest for your opponent to screw with you. Character can be anywhere. It can also be a mane, unlike other showdown cards, so nice for Maud again. If you’re playing “Princess Mi Amore Cadenza” you can use her ability and then Biff! Pow! her when she’s in your opponent’s home, but you still have to beat her. Still, it’s a thing you can do, if that’s what you’re into.

CONS: Only one character means if you don’t have something pretty big or some combat tricks, you’re going to have trouble with anything big that flips well. You’ll also exhaust anything fighting, say, Queen Chrysalis, so unless you’ve got something that’s stubborn, it’s pretty useless. And it gets kinda blown out by Mane-Raising Experience. Also, reminder that you have to fulfill any requirements the TM has for challenging it, so if you’re fighting Jet Set & Upper Crust (for example), you still have to have three friends to start the Faceoff.

NO TM: It flips for five?

I'm running out of things to say, but I'm watching Jane the Virgin, it's pretty good. You should check it out.
The Hard Way

PROS: Instantly fight during your Main Phase! You have to have everyone there, but you’re in Blue, so you probably have some movement tricks. It’s not free, but it’s pretty cheap. Better against stuff like Chrysalis and Jet Set than Biff! Pow!

CONS: As long as your opponent is playing Troublemakers, this is a pretty solid card!

NO TM: Again, if your opponent isn’t playing TMs, it’s just always a dead card in your hand. It flips okay, but you’ll just discard it. You can’t even combo it with Fake Cadence.

Look, it's a yellow card!
Princess Celestia: Protector of Equestria

PROS: Five power to instantly fight a Troublemaker! This puts Celestia on at least even with most non-Villain TMs and not too far down on other stuff. Plus you’re on color for Critter Cavalry and you might have a Forest Owl or two at her problem.

CONS: Useless against Chrysalis. Really blown out by Mane-Raising Experience. Your Yellow deck might not flip that well.

NO TM: She’s a perfectly efficient Yellow friend! There are better friends at three cost, three requirement, three power, but she’s a decent warm body with decent power.

MOVE TRICKS

These cards allow you to move your ponies around outside of your main phase, which is great for coming back against your opponent’s movement tricks. They also tend to have high utility even when your opponent isn’t playing Troublemakers, and can help you beat up your own if that’s the plan you’re on. They’re all weak to Stand Still, I’m just saying that now. Assume it’s in there in the cons for all of them.

I think I listed this as my favorite card on an Enterplay survey. I also said I collected regrets.
Fears Must Be Faced

PROS: Man, I love Fears Must Be Faced, so I might gush a bit. At worst, Fears lets you move two ponies for the cost of one during your Troublemaker Phase. With Blue, you can often get a few more chained in, giving you a real fighting chance. Plus, you play it at the start of your turn, so unless you’re getting savagely Fluttergui’d, you will have enough AP to play it. It also lets you get guys in to fight your own villains.

CONS: If you don’t have something like Holly Dash or Rainbow Dash 2/Scootaloo 2 going, you may not be able to get too much power in with this. And, as with others, Chrysalis/Jet Set remain difficult assuming this is your only way of getting friends in for the fight.

NO TM: Again, the worst case scenario for FMBF is that you move two characters for the price of one. If you have a chain going, this is a pretty powerful card even if you aren’t doing anything special during the TM Phase.

The cavalry, such that it is.
Gotta Go Fast

PROS: So, you have to be able to start a Faceoff for this to work, which may be tough if you’re getting aggressively Vanquished or something.  But since you can start a Faceoff with nothing but Frightened friends, you can bring someone else in after you start the Faceoff and get some actual power, and many opponents don’t bother getting rid of frightened friends. It’s also a nice workaround vs. Chrysalis, because if you have one random friend there, her exhaustion effect will take place before you use GGF, and whatever you bring in will contribute power. You also don’t have to move to the problem where the Faceoff is happening, so if your opponent starts a Faceoff at a problem without a TM, you can still use GGF to move someone in and set up for your next turn.

CONS: Again, you have to be able to start a Faceoff. And, again, without a big friend or movement tricks, you can’t get that much power in.

NO TM: Still works to give you some extra power in Faceoffs! Or to move someone to a problem more cheaply when a Faceoff is happening. Nothing here is TM specific.

I had a playset of these before pre-release weekend was over. Rainbow Dash knows she's my favorite.
Rainbow Dash: Element of Loyalty

PROS: So, Niko discovered this was really good against original Tower when he was playtesting with Quick Dash. We hadn’t realized it before! What makes this a strong card vs. Purple control is that it can move around during your opponent’s Main Phase. It can be at home and dodge something like Monstrous Manual on your opponent’s TMs, and then move in when the opponent does anything. You have to have the AP to use it, but it’s really very strong against your opponent moving your stuff around. And it’s big enough to have a decent chance against a lot of TMs.

CONS: It’s real expensive to play, and then you need more AP to move it. Also high requirement, and you can only have one. There’s also some amount of skill involved in figuring out when to move her, especially if you don’t have much AP to spare. And it’s sad about Mane-Raising Experience.

NO TM: Still pretty great, actually! You can use it fight your own villains, or to force your opponent to Faceoff into you, which is lots of fun. I really enjoy that. It’s the little things.

I thought I forgot the name of this card because I couldn't find it on Ponyhead, but it turns out I just didn't put in periods.
Ten. Seconds. Flat.

PROS: This is pretty similar to Element of Loyalty, except that it always happens during the opponent’s score phase, and your opponent can’t really do much about it (aside from Stand Still. Reminder that all of these are still weak to Stand Still). Your character(s) will be in place for a confrontation during your TM phase. Worth noting is that if you have a Scootaloo 2 chain going, they’ll all unexhaust by the time you’re fighting, which is handy.

CONS: You need to save 2 AP and, as usual, you need to have the right friends to bring in.

NO TM: Like Element of Loyalty, tons of fun for “Haha, now we’re having a Faceoff and I’m getting a new problem, what up.”

Ask me how hard I screwed up the first time I played this card at US Champs!
Princess Luna: Mare in the Moon

PROS: I feel like we’ve already covered a lot of why Mare in the Moon is great in our Charlotte’s Tower articles. But, to summarize, she just goes to the moon whenever you feel like it, so your opponent can’t screw with her during their turn. Then she comes back, free-rolls vs. a Troublemaker, and goes home and doesn’t care, because she’ll just go back to the moon for free. Also, not vulnerable to Stand Still! Mazel tov, Princess Luna.

CONS: She’s low power, so one Luna on her own will not do you much good. But, again, it’s free to fight with her, so she might as well do it. YOLO. Sometimes you forget to send her the the moon and you’re sad about it.

NO TM: Good vs. your villains, good vs. One Pace, fun to play with. She’s not that efficient to play, but she makes up for it by moving for free.

Another Yellow card! I still think it should be a Blue card but you know. No one listens to me.
Eagle: Soaring Raptor

PROS: Moves as a reaction, so you can get it in whenever you feel like it. As long as it can get in a Faceoff, it will pump itself again, so even if it loses, it can Little Engine That Could until it wins.

CONS: You have to get that first pump. Eep! is in color, which is great for that, but if you’re in serious lockout and don’t have Eep, you might have trouble with the initial pump. As with most pumped cards, it’s a very desirable target for Mane-Raising Experience and other Frighten stuff.

NO TM: Eagle is so annoying, man. Always play Eagle.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Cookie Crumbles does a thing wrt to Purple movement tricks, which is keep your mane from being moved. It’s not really enough of a trick to include, but it can be good, and White doesn’t have a lot going for it here. Sorry, White.

TEMPORARY REMOVAL

These cards will get rid of a TM for a turn or two. You’ll get through and get some points off the problem, but whatever was there will be back to annoy you again. Still, sometimes a turn is all you need.

I feel like Pinky Pie would fight her for that title, and I would never bet against Pinky in a fight.
Surprise: Party Pegasus

PROS: Well, it sure IS a surprise when someone plays this card! Haha, I kid (I do not). Up until last week I had never seen anyone playing Surprise either, but shout-out to Team Pandeponium player Greg, who has Surprise in his Applejack Gravedigger deck. We are going to get him more cards so he can remove her. The pro of this card is that you can pay three to get rid of a Troublemaker for a turn. If that’s a thing you want to do, this card will do it. And it works on your own Troublemakers, if that’s something you’re into! There could be games where this is the difference between winning and losing, so yeah. Do what you gotta do.

CONS: You have Surprise in your deck.

NO TM: You cry about having this card in your deck if no one is playing Troublemakers. You cry about having this card in your deck if someone IS playing Troublemakers. I also cry about it. We’ll all cry together. I’m here for you. Just let it out.

Niko wants us to do a cosplay where he's Twilight Sparkle and I'm Shining Armor. Let this mental image haunt your nightmares.
Shining Armor: Captain of the Guard

PROS: Is Shining Armor worse than Surprise? Probably not. He has two power instead of one! You might play him to help fix your Purple if you have a Blue Moon out! Yeah! His pro is that he can help fix your colors. It is not about getting rid of Troublemakers. But Surprise doesn’t even fix your colors, because she requires three Pink.

CONS:  If you want to play him just to turn a Troublemaker face down for a turn, it will cost you five AP, because you have to play him somewhere else, and then move him. Then he’s exhausted, so he doesn’t even help you confront the problem you’ve freed up. Unless he’s wearing a Hard Hat. Then it’s ON for just SIX AP. Get some.

NO TM: Well, he still fixes your Purple. And he’s really better if he’s not doing his thing. You’re probably happier.

Now I'm watching Masterchef Junior. I knew it was a fakeout and they wouldn't have to butcher live chickens, but I'm still disappointed.
Monstrous Manual

My friend Vinyl just made a post about Monstrous Manual, so read that for pros and cons.

NO TM: Probably don’t play this if you aren’t playing Troublemakers.

I had one Monster Tamer and one Protector of Equestria in my deck for Regionals at Bronycon, and I got each one exactly when I needed it.
Fluttershy: Monster Tamer

PROS: Okay, this is more like it after the horrors of Surprise and Shining Armor. Fluttershy gets rid of the Troublemaker for as long as she’s at the problem, which is nice, and you get to decide where the Troublemaker returns to play. If it’s a villain, you can always instantly move her and bring the villain back to frighten your opponent’s friend, or you can just confront for a while. And it works on your own Troublemakers!

CONS: It’s pretty expensive, so you might need to work for a couple turns to get up to it. And the Troublemaker does come back. It can buy you a few turns, which might be all you need, but if it’s not, you need another plan to deal with it.

NO TM: You’re unlikely to use this if no one is playing Troublemakers. It’s just too expensive to be very worthwhile, but if you’re somehow stranded on a desert island and need a two-power, four-requirement Yellow friend, like, right now, then you’ve found a very special game state.

PERMANENT REMOVAL

For when you want that Troublemaker GONE FOREVER and don’t care about the points, you’re just so tired of its stupid face.

I came out of the ocean because you need to stop.
Applejack: Element of Honesty

PROS (in Orange decks): AJ is a beast, no lie. If your opponent hits her with discard, she will come in and take a Troublemaker out. She can also do great work against non-discard TMs, especially in the late game; taking out a Chrysalis or a Wild Manticore out of nowhere can be a game changer. Obviously, you won’t get the points on it, but it can break through and let you confront, and that’s pretty important.

PROS (off-color): If your opponent hits her with discard, she will come in and take a Troublemaker out. If you’re playing Pinny Lane, you can sack her for a bunch of AP if she gets into play.

CONS (in Orange decks): She’s very expensive to straight play, and unless she’s in your hand when NMM hits, your odds on getting her hit on discard aren’t great, so she’s difficult to deploy, and will never be an early game card. If she gets hit by NMM, she does take out a Troublemaker, but if she takes out NMM, she’ll get frightened, and it’s on your opponent’s turn, so you won’t get to do anything with her until your next turn. If you’re playing against control, she’s probably just another body for Ursa Vanquisher to kick around.

CONS (off-color): See above, except it is literally impossible for you to play her. If your opponent is not playing discard, or does not hit her with discard, she will do nothing. Anything she does is completely out of your control.

NO TM (in Orange decks): You’re unlikely to ever want to play her if your opponent isn’t playing TMs, but if you’ve got a couple Cloudchasers and a Two Bits and want to confront your opponents’ low-point problem, live that dream.

NO TM (off-color): You have a blank card. Enjoy your blank card.

Alternate subtitle:
Snips & Snails: Problem Solvers

PROS: We all know Snips & Snails is off the hook, right? This isn’t news to anyone. We’re all aware. You get rid of the problem, the Troublemaker goes away, and you get a new problem to first confront for its sweet, sweet bonus points.

CONS: You’re sad if it gets hit with Plum Tuckered Out. Your diamond shoes are too tight.

NO TM: You get rid of the problem and get a new problem to first confront for its sweet, sweet bonus points. Or I guess you just play them as a two-cost, three-power friend, which is such a hardship. It’s rough being you. Your diamond shoes are still too tight.

I hope no one thought to read the alt text on these cards. Why did it give me this option. I shouldn't have this option.
I just wanted to put in a card before I wrapped up.

And that brings us to the end of our examination of cards that let us get around the opponent trying to stop us getting rid of their Troublemakers. I hope you’ve enjoyed this exciting examination of things. I know I have! I think I remembered all of the cards. I made Niko look at my list, and he didn’t add anything. So if I forgot things, he is to blame. Join me next time I take a break from writing Game of Thrones fanfiction to think about ponies instead! I’m sure it will be just as exciting.

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