Greetings! I’m Ken Nagle, design lead for Transformers TCG. Today I have a character reveal for War for Cyberton: Siege II, which is Wave 4 of our releases.
My character is an old favorite with a new coat of paint in a new setting. Introducing Sergeant Thundercracker!
Sergeant Thundercracker is a Sergeant because this is his War for Cybertron version. The plane is also its Cybertron look because in the story the characters are not mimicking Earth vehicles during the war.
Behind the Design Scenes
Since we knew we were going to design a new Thundercracker, we looked back at the previous Thundercracker back in Wave 1.
What I saw is that Thundercracker is a medium-sized Plane that’s its own archetype – heavy Actions. In particular, tons of Actions during a single turn to pump his attack huge. He can also shoot Melee characters for 2 damage so he’s got a hoser part to him, even if it’s at times demoralizing.
If you tuned in to our creative lead’s article yesterday, you can see we went overboard on adding extra black icons to Wave 4 battle cards:
While black icons are nice, they individually have the worst effect of all the current battle icons. This is actually a good thing to a game designer – it means we can make more combinations of icons when each icon individually isn’t adding as much. I’ve been feeling like I haven’t been doing the graphic designer any justice because there’s 3 slots for battle icons but we almost never use all 3 slots. Are we just covering up pretty artwork for no reason?
In truth, we don’t have to try very hard to get players to play lots of orange icons or lots of blue icons since the only way to win the game (at the moment) is to do more damage to the opponent than they do to you. Bold and Tough are the orange and blue keywords respectively, but the black icon’s Pierce is more of a defense-breaker mechanic that guarantees at least some damage gets through and games eventually conclude. Trust me, you don’t want to play the version of the game that has zero Pierce in it. We played tons of it, some games never ended, and we lost sleep at night thinking we can’t make a never-ending “fast play” trading card game.
All that considered, we added black as the Pierce 1 icon in Wave 3 and waited until Wave 4 turn it up. Since I knew black icons needed help beyond their battle effect, we can make “scaling rewards” like Sergeant Thundercracker’s Bot mode ability. The more black icons you flip, the better it is (within reason). You’ll want a decent amount of black, but don’t go overboard. The first black icon does a lot! The sixth black icon does very little. Kind of like Pierce itself. Having a hand disruption effect can be swingy but we’ve decided that hand disruption should be a black mechanic. You can really demoralize a Combiner deck by knocking out its Enigma with hand disruption.
2 Archetypes in 1
What’s more, we went even deeper on archetype. Back in Wave 1, we knew the most numerous characters would be Cars for Autobots and Planes for Decepticons. Now that we’re in Wave 4, the Autobot Cars has seen far more success than the Decepticon Planes. Since we know there are plenty of Decepticon AND Planes AND Thundercracker lovers out there, we threw them all some more love.
Sergeant Thundercracker’s Alt mode again asks you to play black icons, but now you really want to play double (or perhaps triple?! Is it possible?!) black icon battle cards and you get to move extra damage. This “moving damage” mechanic is something I like for Planes since it “feels” like my Plane is dropping a bomb onto the enemy character. At least, it does to me since I also provide my own sound effects. We’ve also decided to give black the “move damage” ability when possible since it’s a kind of piercing damage but in an evil way because usually your opponent must help you by damaging your characters first. You can use self-damaging effects to enable your damage moving, which is now also a black mechanic.
One of the last changes to the set was to allow Sergeant Thundercracker to move damage from any of your planes, not just himself. I’m sympathetic to the plight of Decepticon Planes, even though moving damage feels at times very powerful since it’s both direct damage and repairing at the same time. If both players are just moving damage back and forth, nothing is actually happening to move the game forward, and we’re in danger of a “games never end” scenario, but we went ahead with it since Sergeant Thundercracker’s Alt mode flip ability is not guaranteed.
Once both sides were in place, Sergeant Thundercracker became complete. When he’s on my team, my opponent’s hand is never safe and I can drop bombs with good planning. It’s a very “Wave 4” kind of battle deck, but the choice of other Planes we left open-ended for you to play your favorites.
Sergeant Thundercracker is a new archetype all by himself. He does a great job of highlighting the places in the game we want to push like Decepticons, Planes, and black icons that haven’t been in the spotlight enough.
Thanks for reading this preview. I hope you’re gearing up for Wave 4 – we worked hard on it and hope you enjoy War for Cybertron: Siege Part II when it arrives on November 8th.
Until next time, may the darkness be illuminating.