The fine folks at Hasbro were kind enough to send us the new 2 player starter set for Transformers TCG, ‘Bumblebee vs Megatron’, which releases on Friday, and so here’s a first look at the contents.
The set covers all the core game mechanics from both Wave 1 and 2, and showcases how the game is going from strength to strength. It contains:
Bumblebee – Least Likely, Most Dangerous
Windblade – Defender of Truth
Megatron – Cybertronian Tyrant
Starscream – Decepticon Lieutenant
These are pretty straight-forward, cheap versions of the (mostly) iconic characters. I like that we don’t get (yet) another Optimus, and instead Windblade isn’t just available as a crazy chase super rare. They’re simple and easily playable, perhaps not as strong as some existing low-cost characters from W1 & 2, but certainly comparable to the starter characters (Optimus, Bumblebee, Ironhide and Red Alert) found in the Autobot starter (you can read our review HERE).
I think that giving us ‘Cons from the outset it is very wise, and whilst they won’t find their way into many “regular” decks, there’s always a place for more Tanks and Planes; likewise, Windblade really opens up the possibility of Autobot Seeker decks. In fact, if anything it’s good ol’ Bee that’s a bit underwhelming here, particularly when Wave 2 brought us the simply stunning Common deck-crunching machine that he is. Nevertheless, for an intro game, the choices are well-matched, introducing numerous mechanics in the process.
The 40 battle cards provided cover a wide range of uses, focusing, again, on introducing the full range of game mechanics, including all 4 colours of dot (granted, Wave 3 will be introducing another, but still).
The Battle Cards included are:
2 Armored Plating
2 Backup Beam
2 Enforcement Batons
2 Equipment Enthusiast
2 Grenade Launcher
2 Handheld Blaster
2 Improvised Shield
2 Inferno Breath
1 Leap of Faith
2 New Designs
2 Pep Talk
2 Primary Laser
2 Reckless Charge
2 Rest and Relaxation
2 Security Console
2 Sparring Gear
1 Strafing Run
2 Surprise Attack
A few cards jump out here. From Wave 1, Grenade Launchers are, as an attack buff, the mainstay of innumerable decks, and arguably one can never have too many, whilst Improvised Shield serves a similar defensive function. Primary Laser and Armored Plating, as the generic buffs, are included with every set, so this is unsurprising. It is however good to see some of the stand-out cards from W2 making an appearance: 2 copies of Pep Talk, as the card draw action of the moment, and 2 copies of Inferno Breath, a rare that’s proving really top-end for direct damage.
There’s plenty of Green Cards, for introducing the flip/return mechanic from the outset, whilst Leap of Faith introduces Star-Cards (Battle Cards that count towards your 25* limit) – as well as being the Star-Card most often seen used (fight me). The inclusion of a Star-Card does in theory mean that, when you split the starter into 2 decks one has an unfair advantage but (1) it’s not a huge advantage and (2) you always want the new player to have a bit of an advantage anyway, don’t you?
Because that’s where this set excels: demoing. This is a gateway drug set. This is, “Hey, let me show you this neat game. It’s got Transformers and stuff!” It’s very quick and easy to play, and enables the novice to pick up and run with it in no time. My kids really enjoy the TCG (my older one, 11, can now be found off trawling the internet for Wave 3 spoilers and keeping me up to date) though the younger one (8) can find it tricky at times – this set acts as an ideal refresher, consolidating all the understanding of the rules and getting them playing for the sheer fun of it. Beat his big brother first game, too.
The fact that there’s now 3 other starter sets you can add on to this is a huge bonus, also. It combines really well with the Autobot starter, whilst the Metroplex and Devastator starters both act as solid, but not unassailable, opponents. I’m not saying you won’t want to add on some boosters – you will, of course you will – but this is a great stand-alone product that gets you right into the game.
Problems? Well, it’s slightly upgrade heavy, which favours Megatron, and can slow down play at times. Not having a clear 20/20 spilt can lead to an uneven play experience at times also – I’d’ve really liked 2 clear decklists.
A word about the art: it’s just lovely. It perfectly melds G1 and IDW stylings; its retro appeal cannot be underestimated. It just adds to the whole vibe of the game, which will have you declaiming Starscream for failing you once again, declaring “Roll Out!” exultantly in a poor Peter Cullen impression, and making crunchy transformation noises in no time. So overall, a great intro product, an ideal way for the newcomer into the Transformers TCG.