As the dust settles on many a ripped open booster of Transfomers TCG Wave 4 War for Cybertron: Siege II, we can now take a look at the set as a whole, and what it means for fans, casual and competitive, new and old (all of one year old, that is).
We’re also going to pull out a few of our favourites from the set, some because of the sheer amount of hurt they can lay down, others for the simple fun of the thing.
This wave contains 52 characters and 64 battle cards, with a Booster Pack including: 1 Large Character Card, 1 Small Character Card, and 6 Battle Cards. Distribution is impressive: from our box of 30 boosters we pulled all but 1 common, 2 uncommon and 3 rare transformers, as well as getting with one Super-Rare (roughly one per 2 boxes), along with a playset (3) of all common and uncommon battlecards, and all bar 3 rare battlecards. With minimal bot duplication (aside from 4 Nova Storms, who’s common), that’s a very decent spread. One concern we had was the multi-part combiners, where multiple rare slots are given over to the “bits” of a bot:
In fact, we needn’t have worried: we pulled both halves of Brunt and Six-Gun, with only one of the 3 parts of Omega Supreme evading us. Again, that’s encouraging internal distribution: it might just have been luck, but it deals with the potential for frustration nonetheless.
Anyway, let’s start properly with the big beast of a box topper himself: Trypticon!
He’s a great big glorious Titan, and coming with his minicons he’s a ready-made deck archetype… sort of. You’ll need to get yourself 3 copies of Battlefield Incursion, an uncommon, to launch them, and a single rare (Relentless Assault, a star card) to run the deck. Unlike Metroplex, which comes ready-built (and is fairly easy to optimise) Trypitcon requires a bit more fine-tuning and takes a while to get going (though there’s an excellent example from the game’s lead designer HERE).
Above all, however, Trypticon is fun. A massive stompy death robot that won’t always win matches but you can guarantee will entertain you and your opponent. As with many deck archetypes, I imagine we’ll see further cards to smooth out the rough edges as the game continues to evolve.
Speaking of the game’s evolution, probably the thing that has excited me most about Wave 4 is the arrival of Mercenaries. I’ve always been a fan, with the comics and TV, of those Cybertronians who don’t fit neatly into the dominant factions – I want a Thundercracker with a puppy, damnit! – or such as is being explored so successfully within the new comic reboot. So the fact that we’re now getting a whole faction made up of shady characters, double-dealers or merciless Energon harvesters really pleases me, and their core mechanic, Bounty (kill someone, trigger an effect) is really interesting.
Now, as with Trypticon, these have yet to reach their full potential, but it’s interesting to explore the design space they create and explore. I particularly like the fact that there are some are better “hires” for Autobots or Decepticons, combining the distinct flavours for specific effects.
One other sign of the game’s evolution is the introduction a new victory conditions, initially for Autobots. This is an inevitable part of a game’s evolution, and always exciting to try out. Autobots going for a Daring Escape feels entirely in-keeping with the fluff, with great art to back it up.
Now I’m not going pretend I’m a competitive player, but I am going to comment on the controversy about this that has arisen, briefly. For context, I used to play CCGs at fairly high level, as well as playtesting, so understand that the tournament environment can be cut-throat and, broadly speaking, deck archetypes that enable insta-win (victory in the first turn or two with no or minimal interaction) lead inevitably to a very negative experience – in fact, doing that myself in order to win was part of the realisation that I didn’t want to compete in that way anymore. The fact that steps have been taken to a ban an Uncommon card in competitive play seems to be the most reasonable response; at the end of the day, not every eventuality can be playtested or anticipated. Just my 2 cubes ;)
That’s not to say Decepticons don’t get some neat tricks:
This is a frankly bonkers card, and I’m ridiculously excited to build a deck around its sheer madness. More generally, the attention to fluff detail in this set is a real asset: it feels more transformers than ever. Nowhere is this truer than in my favourite card in the set:
I just love the idea of harnessing conversion energy; pure and simple, it makes me smile.
Let’s pick out a few other highlights. Last wave’s Pierce mechanic gets a big boost with double, and indeed triple, black pips. These lean towards, but are not necessarily tied to, the Mercenaries.
The fact that we’re getting double-pip cards that aren’t just Rare is particularly encouraging.
There’s a few other personal favourites from this set, and particularly exciting are the Autobot Patrol Leaders
Also, we got a boat! Woo! Patrol Leaders maximise the potential for running 5-wide thematic lists of mini-bots, and it’s great to see these classic teams getting some love, if only from a nostalgic perspective (yes, we all loved the big Transformers toys, but it was the wee cars that you had in your pocket to play with most of the time, after all). I particularly like the way the Leaders all power up as their buddy-bots get killed off.
That’s not to say ‘Cons don’t get some love, with the likes of weapon addict Spinister bringing serious firepower and Rumble continuing to enhance the competitive power of Tape Decks (ahem)
Triple Changers are back, and not just limited to the SRT slot (though Octane, for the Mercs, is)
Apeface and Sandstorm also make an appearance, but it’s these two that really made my little nerd heart sing – of course, Springer would be the one Common I didn’t pull…
Nevertheless, the fact that we see a formerly SRT character getting a new version really appeals to me: much as was done with Windblade, we get a version of the character that doesn’t force fans to pay through the nose(cone) for a particular favourite.
There’s a whole lot of fun in this set, and if there’s one thing I return to time and again with these articles (over 100 of them now over the last 4 years – how the heck did that happen?!), it’s accessibility and enjoyment that reign supreme in my book. TFTCG continues to marry complex tactics and immediate playability with a great aesthetic and nostalgic glory. A year since launch and it’s still the best TCG on the market, for my money.