Greetings! I’m Ken Nagle, design lead for Transformers TCG. Today I have a Battle Card reveal from War for Cyberton: Siege II, which is Wave 4 of our releases. As of September 28, 2019, the Transformers TCG is now 1 year old!
Wow, time flies when you’re battling robots!
Let’s rewind a bit to the beginning. Back in Wave 1, each member of the team helmed parts of the yet-to-be-released game. One of my parts was making Tanks into a coherent team. And for that, let’s rewind even further back, 13 years back…
Before I began my game design career at Wizards of the Coast, I wrote embedded software at DRS Technologies in Huntsville, AL. I wrote my software in the C programming language and installed it onto a diagnostics hardware box. Why is any of that relevant?
That box went into a tank – an Abrams M1A1 on site in a hangar. This isn’t that tank, but it’s the same model:
Something not-so-obvious - when the tank’s engine is running in the hangar, you can’t hear anything else. At all.
About once a month I would crawl into the tank, attach a cable from my laptop to the diagnostic box, and upload the latest stable build of my software. The software’s goal was to keep track of all kinds of fuel, oil, electrical flow, and everything else in the enormously complicated machine.
So, I learned some actual things about actual tanks. For example, the Abrams uses depleted uranium armor. In addition to being harder and denser than lead, “Depleted Uranium Armor” sounds like the best playtest name ever for a new Tank battle card in the Transformers trading card game. That ended up being a little too real-world and not sci-fi enough, so instead here’s the card with its final name – Composite Armor!
I designed this card in multiple stages, roughly like this:
- I wanted another Tank-themed battle card since Tanks have some ground to gain in the metagame.
- I specifically wanted an Armor to call it “Depleted Uranium Armor” since that’s very much a Tank thing, and since Crushing Treads was already a Tank Utility.
- Since Tanks are the only place in the entire game that we actively encourage higher defense numbers, I wanted the defense stat to be grand at +3 defense. After all, a Tank Armor just sounds like a crazy good defensive card. To get to the defensive number I wanted, I had the card scrap away after a battle, which can happen to actual tank armor.
- While Tanks in our game are cool and all, their biggest problem is being too defensive and not actually getting any offense going. To that end, it gained +1 to attack which is abnormal for an Armor, but not unprecedented. It’s also justifiable that a Tank can ram with more power if its armor is sturdier.
- As for the icons, I wanted offense to offset the defensive nature of the card. In general, battle cards have a split on their text and icons either at 100% offense/100% defense, 50% defense/50% defense, or 50% offense/50% offense. This allows more design space for us to make more battle cards with similar effects. Since Tanks can struggle to get damage through, I settled on orange-black to “guarantee” one damage when attacking.
- Finally, the last change was to add another way to do damage on defense. In general, we shy away from “hitting back” on defense since it can create unwinnable games and it’s stronger than it looks at first glance. Tanks are a place I feel we can reward black icons, and black icons are a theme of Wave 3 and 4. You don’t need a lot of black icons, though, just one is enough. The card is a combo with itself. I hope the feeling is if you slam into the tank’s armor the attacker might not escape unscathed.
There are a lot of things going on with Composite Armor that aren’t obvious at first glance.
- You can put Composite Armor on a Tank character, then you can freely flip away from Tank mode and you still keep the Composite Armor. This is true for all our “Trait-stamped” upgrades – the “put” restriction only matters when the upgrade Is about to go onto the character and then it stops mattering. Flavorfully, we just assume the Bot mode has the “tank parts” somewhere amongst its arms, legs, and torso.
- That +1 attack sticks around. If your opponent decides attacking your Composite Armor tank is just not worth the trouble (which is likely), you can freely attack with +1 and the Composite Armor stays on. Composite Armor only scraps on defense Keep this in mind – playing a Composite Armor is both an offensive and defensive play at the same time and forces an attack from your opponent to cancel it.
- You can sometimes force your opponent’s single health character to run into a Composite Armor and you just might flip a black and finish off the attacker. This usually requires a Brave effect or a Secret Action like Hiding Spot; but try it if you can!
- There are some “stacking defense” rewards in the game like Crushing Treads or Demolisher’s Bot mode. Composite Armor will get you the high defense you want.
- Finally, Composite Armor is valid and strong to reuse with effects like Hunker Down. The ultimate Hunker Down would return your 3 Composite Armors onto your 3 Tanks. That’s an incredible amount of stats for just one Action play.
For example, if you play Hunker Down to put a Composite Armor onto your Lord Megatron, Conqueror of Cybertron, your opponent puts six cards from their deck into their scrap pile:
I don’t think they’ll see that coming.
Today we got to see the preview card Composite Armor, where it started from, and where it ended up. It should be a potent new addition, allowing your Tank characters to roll over your competition.
Thanks for reading this preview. I hope you enjoy War for Cybertron: Siege II on sale November 8th!
Until next time, may you find a way to turn defense into offense.