INT. UNNUMBERED CYBERTRONIAN MOONBASE – NIGHT
I wish they wouldn’t always send just the two of us out on missions!
Why!? You got a problem riding with me!?
No, it’s just that…
…because I think I’VE got a problem riding with YOU now!
...always changing plans, telling me I did something stupid…
I was just saying I feel like we were meant to be a part of something bigger...
Oh, sorry, yeah, me too.
Fellas, we’re getting the band back together!
Hey Transformers fans. Hope you had an awesome summer and that you’ve had a chance to visit your friendly local game store for a fun event with your local community.
We’ve been having a blast seeing all of the deck innovations coming out of War for Cybertron: Siege I and watching as players earn invites to the Energon Invitational from local Energon Invitational Qualifying (EIQ) events.
We’ve shared a few tidbits from War for Cybertron: Siege II in the past couple of weeks, but this week we’re kicking off preview season full blast. Which reminds me, I feel like there was a new card about a half page ago. Let’s check it out.
Private Powertrain is what old-school TCG players might call a “Lord” (for reasons that date back to the early days of Magic: the Gathering). In design parlance, we might call him a “linear tribal reward”, but in the Transformers TCG he is definitively a leader. He makes the team better early and avenges them late.
His card itself is quite simple in concept, and I’m not going to commit the cardinal sin of simply describing in the article what you can read on the card. Instead, I’m going to share a couple of little design snippets that are nicely illustrated by this card.
1) Anticipation – As I wrote back in May, an important component of long-term TCG design is setting up expectations and then delivering on them. If you know the lore, then you know that War for Cybertron: Siege I only had half of the Off-Road Patrol, setting you up to look forward to more, possibly anticipating what their cards would look like. On the other hand, if you were not versed in the lore, you might assume the first two were the full team, making the reveal of a new one a pleasant surprise.
2) Team Shakeups – One of the goals have for each new release is to shake up the teams that people are playing. We want you to be constantly reexamining old cards to see if they can work with the new ones and taking apart old decks to take advantage of new technology. At a higher level, we want to create new archetypes for how decks are constructed. Private Powertrain is a perfect example of a tool that we use. The Siege I Micromasters were positioned so that you might consider adding one to your deck if you had a couple spare stars lying around and they lined up with your deck’s strategy, but you would be unlikely to play multiples on the same team. We reserved Private Powertrain for Siege II so that when he showed up, a new archetype would become potentially viable: go-wide Off-Road Patrol. With three characters currently available, you can start to get some sweet scaling benefits off of Powertrain’s abilities.
3) Guideposts – As Ken, Matt, and I have all written about in the past, complexity is something that we’re always thinking about here. In particular, we are hyper-aware of the fact that every set adds complexity to the game and every set is somebody’s first set. We want to make sure that there is depth and subtlety in play, but we also occasionally need some handholds for players who are still coming up to speed. For them, a card that loudly says “Just play me and all the things that are like me together” is a godsend for players who are in danger of being overwhelmed.
4) Progression – As a general rule, games play the best when there is an in-game progression from low power to high power. This is more satisfying to player as it feels like “leveling up”, and it creates better gameplay by reducing the impact of early mistakes, allowing big comebacks, and keeping players engaged in the game when they’re behind. The Transformers TCG game system doesn’t naturally do this, so we have a number of techniques that we use.. Metroplex, Nemesis Prime, and combiners are all examples of cards that are designed to progress to a higher power level over the course of the game. Powertrain is another entry into this camp. As your other Off-Road patrols are knocked out, he begins to approach some impressive stats.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into War for Cybertron: Siege II, and further into the design process.
Come back next week for another delicious morsel and get ready for Siege II to officially hit shelves on November 8th!