The Transformers Trading Card Game is gearing up for its third wave, and for the first time in the game's history, the TCG is aligned with the main Transformers story from Hasbro's line of toys. That means fans of the property can double-dip in terms of collecting their favorites, but it also offers a unique opportunity for the design team behind the TCG to really emphasize what's happening in the story through the TCG, with mechanics and artwork that reflect it.
For those unfamiliar with the Transformers TCG, it's a card game that's meant to be fast-paced for two players. From a design standpoint, it's something like a cross between the Magic: The Gathering tabletop experience that has captured the imaginations of millions and Hearthstone, the latter in the sense that the game is a bit more streamlined and easier to pick-up for those looking for a new card game to try. Make no mistake, though: there is a depth to the game that rewards players who really want to explore its mechanics.
In any expansion, the most exciting cards are typically the flashiest, the ones that represent characters fans love or hate. In Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege 1, the game's third set, those two cards are General Optimus Prime and General Megatron. These two rivals have been fighting with each other in different iterations for decades, and things haven't changed in that sense, although the battlefield is quite a bit more two-dimensional than in the films or Hasbro's line of toys. Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast were kind enough to let us preview not one, but both of the stars of the next set, and here they are in all their glory:
First, we have General Optimus Prime. Not only is the artwork on the card gorgeous, but it's a powerful General in its own right, with an emphasis on being active on the battlefield. Players will want to position themselves in a way that sees them making exchanges profitably and building resources through action, grinding an opponent out. Creative Lead Matt Smith had this to say about the card:
"This iteration of Optimus takes his position as leader of the Autobots especially serious. While in his starting Truck (alt) mode Optimus Prime's ability grants both Bold and Tough to his allies, allowing them to attack and defend more profitably. After you've used your allies to attack, flip Optimus to bot mode, granting bold and tough to himself, along with the new Focus ability. Optimus plays best in a deck evenly split between Orange and Blue battle icons."
The new Focus ability is an exciting one that should have fans of deep, methodical TCG play excited. Anything that allows players to manipulate the more random elements of a game enables them to get an edge on their opponent, and Focus does just that, allowing the process of flipping battle cards to be a more profitable exchange more often. That seems to be the main theme with Optimus in Wave 3, gritting it out through multiple exchanges just like the Autobot leader typically does in any of the many heroic narratives that feature him.
What if players want to be a bit more...evil?
General Megatron is not the selfless leader that Optimus is, and it shows in his card design. Megatron wants players to slowly amass a stockpile of Weapon cards on the battlefield to best take advantage of his Alt Mode, and in his Bot Mode, he wants all of the cards to revolve around him. His selfishness won't leave players unrewarded, though — he will gradually wear down opponents through his passive ability that sees him deal one damage to all enemies at the start of his controller's turn. That leaves them more susceptible to other cheap damage effects, which is what Matt Smith believes will come to define the card's play:
"Megatron is all about gradually building an advantage in this War for Cybertron. Your main focus over time is to build up the upgrades on Megatron, the more you amass, the more direct damage you can do to your enemies. Use cards like New Designs and Attack Drones to quickly build up your arsenal and trigger Megatron's abilities. Get 3 or more upgrades onto Megatron, flip to bot mode then attack. At the start of your next turn Megatron will scattershot 1 damage to each enemy. Play a Weapon onto another character, flip Megatron back to tank mode and use his ability to pick off anyone low in health."
Megatron plays almost like the polar opposite of Optimus Prime, which makes sense. Whereas Optimus wants to gain an edge during battle, through attacking and defending, Megatron is all about guile and chipping away at an opponent with direct damage before exploiting that advantage. It's a battle of the bold and the cunning, and both playstyles seem equally appealing.
Transformers War for Cybertron Siege I will release on June 28, 2019 in the United States and certain other regions. The set will feature 48 Character Cards and 64 Battle Cards, including several instances of brand-new art and the addition of a few fan-favorite characters that have been asked for since Wave 1. There's a lot of excitement surrounding this next wave, and now that it's synced up with Hasbro's Transformers line, there might not be a better time to jump into the TCG for fans.