Later this week, Hasbro will officially launch the Transformers trading card game. It’s a pretty straightforward affair: pick a team of bots and bash them against each other until one player is done.
The official Transformers account has been revealing some of the cards and characters over the last week. One of those cards is being revealed right now, but Amanda and I took some time to get hands on with the game as well.
First up: a quick explanation of how all this works. Players start with a team of character cards face up, totalling no more than 25 stars each. Each character has two sides: the bot mode, which is basically the Autobot/Swarm/Decepticon/Insecticons etc. in their full form, and their alt mode.
We’ve got the exclusive reveal for Deadlock below, one of the tankier characters revealed so far with a pretty high HP pool. Here’s both sides of the card:
On the bottom you’ll see three main numbers: the attack in yellow, HP in red, and the defence in blue. Every turn characters will attack, draw cards from your deck and add up any attack/defence symbols, and if the attacker’s number exceeds that of the defender, the difference is dealt in damage. Once a character runs out of HP, they’re knocked out, and when a player loses all their bots the game is over.
A shot of the four main characters from the starter pack, plus one I pulled from a booster.
The starter pack is designed to give you a simplified version of the game, but the full thing gives players a deck of 40 action/upgrade cards to use plus character cards. I played a quick game with Amanda, where we opened one booster each. She pulled a fancier version of Optimus Prime that had more health and attack than the one in the starter pack. But it cost more stars, so she only had three characters to roll out, whereas I rolled out with four.
The turn order is pretty simple: you can flip one of your characters, play an action card and an upgrade card, and then attack. If it’s the first two turns, you’re limited to only one action or card, so as to prevent the first player from having a massive advantage.
There’s a full set of videos over on the official Hasbro site. Characters tap to attack, and if a character is tapped you must attack it (although you can choose from multiple tapped characters. There’s a rule where you can keep attacking if all of a player’s bots are tapped, and you have some characters that are untapped, which brings more action cards and combos into play.
It’s an interesting, pretty fast paced little game. Because we were largely playing with the same deck, there wasn’t much difference between Amanda’s deck and mine. It wasn’t like playing with starter Magic: The Gathering decks, where the two decks are asymmetrical and have wholly different identities.
Transformers TCG is a little more defined by the characters you use. Amanda noted that the size of the cards might be a bit problematic — they won’t fit within normal sleeves.
The damage counter card was also made entirely out of paper, so we couldn’t pop the individual tokens out as if they were set in cardboard. (We ended up using pen and paper, because neither of us wanted to rip cards apart, Pandemic Legacy style.) Another quirk is that every attack round forces players to draw and immediately discard cards from their deck, which adds a touch of RNG that could aggravate players if there’s not enough mechanics to pull cards back from your discard pile.
It’ll be interesting to see what kinds of decks people put together and what different playstyles emerge. The Transformers TCG officially launches on September 29 internationally, with booster packs, boxes and starter decks going on sale in local retailers from October 1.