I’ve got another sweet preview card for you from War for Cybertron: Siege II, so let’s dig in for an epic journey through the history of the Transformers TCG and how it inevitably led to this card.
Just kidding. Here you go!!
One of the keys to a healthy play environment is having a diversity of answer cards available to players. A suite of options means that when one deck becomes too dominant, players can tweak their decks to be stronger against it, allowing the metagame to self-balance. This is true from the highest levels of play like the Energon Invitational or an Energon Open down to your local group or even your kitchen table. Maybe your Raider Caliburst never quite made the cut in of your decks before, but when your best friend is crushing you with their “Draw-everything-Sunstorm” deck, you know where to turn. You have options. You have agency.
When we design answer cards, we like a spectrum of effectiveness. Some are hard hosers that can completely shut down a strategy. Take Acid Storm, for example:
Acid Storm can be very strong against bold decks, really shutting down their game plan until they deal with him. To keep him reasonable, he needs to be relatively narrow and fragile. He should be well below the curve if your opponent isn’t playing a lot of Bold, meaning that there are stronger options at his star cost most of the time. It’s only when an environment gets really aggressive, with a lot of high-bold mono-orange decks that players will start to turn to cards like Acid Storm. When that happens, the Orange decks get weaker and the mixed and Blue decks get a lot stronger.
Caliburst, on the other hand, is a soft hoser.
He doesn’t keep your opponent from drawing cards, he just makes it hurt a little bit. If your opponent is running a “fair” deck, with just a couple of card draw effects to keep the cards flowing, Raider Caliburst may be worth a couple points of damage, or might encourage your opponent to sequence their plays a little differently. It’s only when your opponent plays an “unfair” deck – one that might aim to accumulate double-digit hand sizes – that Caliburst really puts the hurt on.
Because of this, Caliburst is able to have much more baseline power. His stats are in the normal range for a 6-star Battlemaster…What’s that? … Oh yeah, he’s a Battle Master to boot.
Let’s check out his other mode:
We’ve got an entirely new flavor of card-draw counterplay, now you punish your opponent for having a larger hand size from you, giving you constant card flow while taxing your opponent’s hand. The only downside is that the number of times you get to draw off of Oxidation Cannon will be limited since the +3 Attack bonus will having you KO’ing your opponent’s bots left and right.
Raider Caliburst/Oxidation Cannon is the first step in a spectrum of answers to card draw. It’s strong enough without the hoser text that it’s close to playable just for its stats, and there’s enough incidental card draw in most environments that it will usually be worth at least a couple points of damage.
By being strong enough to play against the fair decks, the card can live in enough different decks that players who want to go all-in on card draw will need to think again, and if card draw ever becomes a serious problem despite Caliburst, then you can supplement him with other cards like Hijack, which is much closer towards the extreme end of the answer spectrum.
Even though Caliburst changes its abilities from bot mode to upgrade mode, he still is penalizing your opponent for drawing extra cards. This resiliency is a key part of his strength. Your opponent will have to deal with him twice before they’re completely safe.
I hope you will enjoy the last few weeks of preview season for Siege II. I’m looking forward to the subtle and resigned sigh of the opponents of Caliburst, as they flick the card draw spells in their hands, trying to decide if it’s worth it to play them.