Wreck 'n Rule 2019: A Year in Review

The Transformers Trading Card Game has been out for a little over a year now so we here at Wreck ‘n Rule will take a look back on our time in the game.

RJ

The last year has really been a whirlwind and it’s honestly hard to believe it’s been an entire year since the game was released. I’ve gone through a lot of personal growth in the last year thanks to this game and thanks to the people I’ve met playing this game. I am being completely honest in saying I was probably about 30 seconds away from not meeting any of you as I sat in my car in the lot of All the King’s Men telling Candace that I was going to be sick and think I should just come home. In more words, she told me to suck it up and go and make new friends, and the rest is history.

I am not a people person, I am not outgoing, and I am incredibly shy. I went to a community college for two years and then a commuter school because I was absolutely mortified of meeting new people. I worked the same job from senior year of high school until I was 25 because I was petrified for change. I then worked at the same company for another 7 years, being miserable for probably about 5 of those years because I was absolutely awful at interviewing and speaking about myself to other people. All that has changed thanks to this game and thanks to the people reading this article. So many people came up to us at PAXU and thanked us for what we did and what we do and it was something I wasn’t prepared for and didn’t know how to handle. I am prepared to handle that now by saying please do not thank me, it’s I that need to thank all of you. 

Without you none of this is possible. You gave me confidence in myself that I never knew I had just because you enjoy watching me make a fool of myself on video far too often. And even though I still hate the camera and even though I never started playing this game for any of “this” (whatever “this” may be), I absolutely wouldn’t change any of it for anything. Candace posted a picture of her and I on Christmas and the overwhelming likes and reactions came from you guys. She then asked me who all of these people are that she has never met and I simply said that they are my friends. 

Enough of the emotional stuff (someone is cutting onions around here), even though it has been something that has been on my mind for a while and something that I felt that needed to be said. Let’s get into the nitty gritty!

I have given this a lot of thought over the last few weeks knowing that something like this will come up and I still don’t have definitive favorites picked out – at least for specific cards. I know that my favorite cards and characters are usually the underused ones. I can tell you my very first match ever is actually on camera. Literally my first day of playing the game (after making myself sick with anxiety, as mentioned above) and Joe asked if it’s cool if he films it. I think he stomped me in 10 minutes flat – I have yet to watch it back. I remember my first team that night was Jazz, Prowl and Mirage as I bought like 6 or 7 packs from Target, plus the Starter set, and that’s what I deemed as the best possible team. Stepping into the store, I bought three more packs and some Dragonshields, and as Joe as my one and only witness, proceeded to pull Snarl, Grimlock and Sludge (in that order) and had my team set for the next few months – I even had a Dinobot mat made because of this and because of my love for the Dinobots.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that my favorite deck to play over the last year and change has been Hot Wheels. I think I should revisit it in the near future, and I mean the initial iteration of the team sans Cliffjumper. I haven’t played the deck since GenCon and while it may not be “top tier” in the current meta, it is the deck I know how to play best. My other favorites tend to be decks that I came up with myself. As I’m sure you’re all very well aware of my now, we all like to do things our own way. We all played different decks at PAXU mainly, I think, because we all wanted to be able to say we won (or lost) on our own. That being said, I am really loving Omega Supreme right now and can see myself tweaking him and playing him for quite a bit. I loved playing Major Soundwave and can now safely say I think we let the cat out of the bag a little too early on that one. I really wanted to play him at GenCon but we released the video on him before GenCon and we were confident people were prepared for him. I think Joe played him day 1 and didn’t do too well. Lesson learned.

In terms of what the next year looks like for me? For one it’s to be more confident in myself; I know I’m not the best player in the world, but I am probably a little better than I give myself credit for. Oftentimes (read: all the time) I need to slow down and really think things out before I make a move. Secondly, I need to be less stubborn and be open to advice a little more. Zach and Brad kept badgering me at GenCon to play their version of Hot Wheels with Cliffjumper and Lionizer (I had all the cards I needed with me) but I chose not to because I wanted to do it my way. Finally, I need to constantly remember why I started playing. This is a game, and at the end of the day, I play to have as much fun as possible. I’d be lying to you if I said that I hadn’t gotten a little lost in that thought towards the end of this last year, putting way too much effort and stress in qualifying for PAXU.

I’m at two pages of a Google Doc now and realize I have written way too much and wonder who is taking the time out of their day to read me ramble on. If I didn’t say it before, thank you. If I don’t say it enough, thank you. Thank you all for making this regular guy feel super special on a regular basis. I am greatly looking forward to 2020 and beyond for this game. I can’t wait to see what is in store for us.


Brian

I’ve been wanting a Transformers tabletop game since I was a kid.  As a teenager, I painstakingly reskinned the Wizards of the Coast version of the Star Wars RPG to fit with Transformers.  At various points over the years, I’ve started to put together rules systems to be able to use Micromaster or Legends scaled figures for tabletop miniatures games.  The small handful of “official” tabletop games, like the Armada board game or the Attacktix subline, have been underwhelming.

Disclaimer: I’m going to count the end of 2018 as being part of 2019.

So, when TFTCG was officially announced, I was all in.  Fun fact: immediately after reading the news about the game, Joe and I simultaneously went to work starting communities for the game without knowing about it.  Joe was creating the “main” Facebook group while I was making one for our local area.

Joe and I were both fortunate to have friends at GenCon in 2018, so we were able to get our hands on the Autobot starter very quickly.  On top of that, I went to work messaging anyone and everyone I could reach at GenCon, to start getting our hands on the Common cards that were being given out at the Pastimes booth for doing demos.  Knowing that Joe had a GoPro, I started pitching him on the idea of doing videos for the game. It took some convincing, especially when it came to the name. Joe was originally EXTREMELY against anything related to Autobots, so the original version of the channel was actually going to be named after the Mayhem Attack Squad, which was sort of the Decepticon equivalent to the Wreckers.  Somehow, I was able to talk Joe into reading Last Stand of the Wreckers, where he fell in love with Impactor and finally brought him around to naming the channel “Wreck ‘n Rule.”  It’s a bit humbling to look back at our first video to see how far we’ve come.  Full credit for that needs to go to Joe for his relentless mission to improve our capabilities (with some technical consulting from Frenchie along the way).  

We asked Frenchie to be part of WnR pretty early on.  Joe and I became friends with Frenchie from playing Star Wars: Destiny.  Frenchie brought a new dynamic, particularly with some more complicated janky ideas (check out some of his Cosmos videos from early on).  On top of that, Frenchie has an innate enthusiasm and friendliness that immediately strikes people.

Kevin, Kyle, and RJ were the other regulars at our Wednesday events that were there EVERY week since the game’s release.  They were already part of WnR even before they accepted our invitation this past summer. I’ve known Kevin for years from playing various FFG Star Wars games.  He’s been there to help me in a number of ways over the years, but for the purpose of this article, I’ve always been struck how he’s equally adept at easing new players into the game by offering suggestions and showing potential plays, while also having a strong understanding of the rules and the creativity to bring something unexpected that can stand toe to toe with the established meta.  In some ways, I think Kyle and RJ were brothers who were separated at birth. They’re both great advocates for our local playgroup and for the game itself. Kyle brings a wealth of knowledge from playing a ton of different games previously, while RJ offers a valuable perspective as someone who is relatively new to competitive tabletop gaming.

Also, there is the mystery of Tom.

We’re not a “team” as the term is used by other folks in the TCG world.  We all sort of do our own thing when it comes to deck building, and have our own little pet projects that we’re trying to tweak.  Our fellowship is a lot closer to being a bunch of brothers (you should see the WnR groupchat and its near constant ball-breaking of each other).  Since our usual weekly TFTCG meetup has been disrupted by the holidays (Christmas and New Year’s Day both fell on Wednesdays this year), we held a holiday get-together for our Wednesday night group at a brewery and spent the night playing a bunch of board games.  It struck me that the strength of our local playgroup is that we’re all friends and genuinely enjoy spending a few hours with each other on a weekly basis. TFTCG is the vehicle that drives that community, but the people themselves are what keep our local playgroup strong.

When it comes to my favorite deck of 2019, I have to go with Rogue Squadron, which developed and transformed a bit since the initial article I wrote about it (at a surface level, ditch Silverbolt and add Alpha Bravo). It was the first deck that did well for me that had a true mix of different pip colors. My goal for it was to be able to do well against both blue OPBL decks and orange Bugs decks in the Wave 2 meta, and it accomplished that very well. In terms of my favorite character, I almost have to default to Fireflight, but mostly because he allows me to facilitate all kinds of plays that I personally find fun (ie. keeping heat off other characters in order to facilitate some weird stuff).

In terms of 2019, I’m most proud of our efforts to build the community at both a macro level (the worldwide TFTCG zeitgeist) and at a micro level (the playgroup that started at All the King’s Men in Pitman, NJ then moved to The Comic Book Store in Glassboro, NJ after ATKM closed so the owner could move on to greener pastures).  As far as we know, CBS had the largest Energon Invitational Qualifier with 31 players duking it out. On top of that, all of our release events have had 25+ players. Probably the biggest surprise that we had this year at a local level came from running a Combiner-only event after the release of Wave 2 that managed to pull 20 players on a weeknight.  

The most complimentary feedback we got from meeting people at Origins and PAX Unplugged was that folks took our blueprint at building a local community and implemented it in their area.  I’ve traveled to play other games (mostly X-Wing, Imperial Assault, and Star Wars Destiny) that have had 150+ players competing. None of them even come close to the level of camaraderie that I’ve experienced with TFTCG.  As OP continues to grow and evolve, above all else, I hope that sense of camaraderie remains.

I’d be remiss to not also briefly mention how awesome it is to be able to share spoilers for upcoming sets. It’s a huge honor to be able to work with John Schork and the rest of the crew at Wizards of the Coast to help build hype for new releases.

Thank you to everyone who’s been out there supporting us or interacting with us, in whatever way you’ve done so.  When we first got started, I joked with Joe that it’d only be he and I watching our stuff. It’s deeply humbling to know that there are so many folks out there taking time out of their day to watch or read our stuff, and to reach out to us in one way or another.   


As always, keep your eyes on the Wreck ‘n Rule YouTube channel for our usual shenanigans. Also consider supporting us on Patreon, since the proceeds go toward helping us upgrade our recording set-up AND toward throwing some sweet custom swag your way! Plus, we now have merch available too!

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