If I had to pick a single concept that was at the core of all Trading Card Games (TCGs), that concept would be “Mix and Match”. From the building of decks to the construction of sets, our genre is a never-ending process of creating things that are greater than the sum of their parts. Today’s preview is a microcosm of that, which illuminates three different ways that we Mix and Match in the Transformers TCG.
Layer 1: Getting Ahead
We begin with Ominus, no foreshadowing necessary.
For those of you who are just arriving at spoiler season, Titan masters are multi-part characters comprised of a body and a head. The heads can be paired with many different bodies, creating a world of opportunities for players and deck builders. In Wave 5 alone (including associated promotional cards) there are more than two hundred different combinations for you to play with. It’s like the joy of assembling the perfect team, but now you can do it for each individual character. I can’t talk about all of the different heads yet, but I can say that they span a range of different abilities that give you the ability to even more closely tune your team and your deck to play well together. Do you choose a defensive head to keep a powerful body in the game longer? Do you lean aggressively to close the game out quicker? What other possibilities await? The beauty of giving you, the players, the freedom to mix and match is that you first get the excitement of discovery, as you explore all the options, and then the joy of refinement, as you craft your team to your specific needs.
Much like the toys themselves, by giving you more agency, we create space for your creativity to thrive.
As for the card Ominus himself, Pierce 4 gives a great deal of inevitability to any mid-sized character or defensive team. I also really appreciate the nuance of his Bot side, having an Attack of 2 with Pierce 4 encourages you to run some Orange battle icons, even if you have a predominantly defensive deck.
Don’t be fooled by his diminutive stats, all of the Titan Master heads bring a lot of power into the game by virtue of their ability to pop back out into the battlefield after their Body is KOd, and Ominus punches hardest of all thanks to his Pierce. In our playtesting, we found that the heads had the best balance of power and fun when you could usually expect them to come back with one good punch, but not stick around for too long after that.
Layer 2: A Body of Work
So, that’s pretty cool and all, but who’s going to keep this guy’s chin out of the mud?
All right, that’s cool. Tanks are neat, and those are some decent stats for a 7-star card, “but,” (you ask) ”where’s the body side”?
Sorry about that, here you go.
OK, we all see what’s going on there. That’s what we call a mirrored pair (we love those) with 4.10.2 stats and Bold 2 on the plane, Tough 2 on the tank. But, why are we being coy about the flip sides? Just show them already.
I’m glad you’re asking for that voice-in-my-head. You see, we’ve done something a little special here. When we do something really cool, we look for ways to do it again, preferably with the newest cool thing. Which means that every time we make a new mechanic, it’s not just being cool on its own, it has the opportunity to be cool in combination with potentially every old mechanic we’ve done. That means that with every new set we make, the possibilities grow exponentially. (The old me, who used to be an aerospace engineer would say that technically it’s a geometric progression, not exponential, but shhhhhhh…)
Old mechanics and new mechanics don’t always work together, and we’ve learned that it’s better to wait for a good fit than to jam a bad one, which is why I’m happy to say that we’ve taken the chocolate of last year, mixed it with the peanut butter of this year, and created…
A TITAN MASTER COMBINER!!!
That’s right. We put them together and made double the fun! Double the attack, double the health, exactly same defense (It turns out that 4 Defense on high health characters just leads to mono-blue wet noodle fights, so we stay away from that). And both abilities. Plus a head.
But that’s not all. If you act now, we’ll also throw in, COMPLETELY free of charge, three beautiful damage for that special Autobot in your life.
How much would you pay for this one-of-a-kind amalgamation of awesomeness?!?
At a normal retail store you might pay as much as 17 stars to take this home, but thanks to new space-age technology, you can make this yours for the low, low price of…
Layer 3: That’s A Bold Strategem, Cotton…
Sometimes the power and excitement of a new design technology is right there for players to see. Other times, its subtle strength lies in what it enables you to eliminate. In Wave 2: Rise of the Combiners, we used the enigmas to initiate combining. This served a gameplay purpose of introducing some variance into when your team could combine and a clarity function by removing a wall of text from one or more character cards, which would have made them much harder to parse.
We did experiment with one non-traditional combiner with Dreadwing, but while the card played well, the text box left a little to be desired.
A two-part Combiner + Titan Master was an exciting variation and Skyshadow and Ominus were characters that we didn’t want to leave on the table, but looking at the text for Dreadwing, we were unwilling to print all that text plus the additional text necessary to combine and then bring them together on a character card. Fortunately, we were already independently working on the Stratagem technology and it was a perfect fit to solve the problem.
With Sky Shadow Sync, we can take all that necessary but ugly rules text and hide it away on a card that is there exactly when you need it, but ignorable the rest of the time, allowing us to have clean, beautiful and easy to understand character cards. If you love Sky Shadow and Ominus, give thanks to Strategems, because they wouldn’t have been printable without them. (And as an added bonus, it only costs you 15 stars).
Mix and Match Point
As you have seen here, mixing and matching is something that players do all the time as they play the game and build teams, and we are always striving to make your sandbox as big as possible, often in unique ways. It’s something that designers love to do to combine nostalgia for the past with excitement for the future. And, it’s something that designers often do to solve otherwise unsolvable problems.
I hope you continue to enjoy preview season. I’ll be back soon with more cards to show off and more design stories behind them.