Titan Masters Attack releases this Friday. GET HYPED, NERDS.
DISCLAIMER #1: These impressions are solely based upon proxied games online prior to the release of Wave 5. Nearly all of my decks were jank. My opponents were playing various mixes of jank, updated Wave 4 decks, or “good stuff” from Wave 5.
DISCLAIMER #2: You will notice a conspicuous lack of Horri-Bull, Fangry, Perceptor, and Sky Shadow in this article. You’ve heard about them enough lately, and will continue to hear about them a lot.
DISCLAIMER #3: I’m not going to pretend to present myself as a competitive player. I play TFTCG because I love Transformers, I love the mechanics, I love the design team, and I love lamp. If you want up-to-date, hard hitting Wave 5 competitive impressions, you’re in the wrong spot, as the title indicates.
#1 – Tough (mostly) doesn’t matter anymore.
Towards the end of Siege I and for most of Siege II, the decks that were intriguing me the most were heavily blue focused, while also finding room for select orange-pip cards that could both spike damage and still be useful if drawn. They also typically featured direct damage, Pierce, and/or black pips to ensure the supporting characters could sneak in damage as well.
One of these involved General Optimus (Siege I) flanked by two other characters with native Tough. The other involved Astrotrain, Sights, and Nightbird. In each deck, the goal was the same. Stall using the smaller guys as much as possible, while getting the centerpiece character fully suited and essentially invincible for the late game. Astrotrain with an Energon Axe, 3x Extra Padding, and Sights in the utility slot is hitting for 13 base ATK (with the potential to fish for orange pips by using Focus 2) and defending with 5 base DEF backed up by Tough 3 (and Focus 2 to fish for additional blue pips). As Galaxy Optimus increased in popularity, the increased use of Disarm was a major downer, but the deck was ton of fun to play.
My initial forays into Wave 5 gameplay began with similar concepts. This time, my hope was that I could soak up enough damage with tough while hitting for medium amounts (4-6) of Pierce damage, occasionally spiking into higher numbers with various tricks.
It quickly became apparent that against many decks, it didn’t matter if I was blocking with 2 DEF or 6 DEF when your opponent is hitting for 6 ATK Pierce 6. Trying to stall by building up Tough doesn’t help when you opponent can naturally get to equal ATK/Pierce values, or can do it in quick bursts via strong upgrades like Fusion Borer.
#2 – Damage Mitigation is the name of the game now, not damage avoidance
Building off of that, you’re no longer going to cancel out attacks by vomiting out blue. Direct damage effects also see quite a boost this wave. The goal is now to limit how much damage you’re going to end up taking. Luckily, Wave 5 is also coming with some answers to this new world that we’re find ourselves in (at least for the time being).
Perhaps most intriguingly from a defensive standpoint, Spymaster’s Ruse has the potential to bring back a lot of the Secret Actions from Siege I and II that either never really made a splash, or were too easy to play around when telegraphed.
Beyond that, this may also be Force Field‘s time to return to the spotlight. With attacks able to reliably get above Pierce 5, this is another way to mitigate incoming damage.
#3 – There’s a lot of space for creative deck building
If you can outplay the Timmy’s and dodge the Spike’s, this is Johnny’s time to shine. At a surface level, we’ll now have more characters and battle cards to choose from when it comes to deck building, especially when you factor in mixing and matching Titan Master heads and bodies. We’ve also reached a critical point where it’s truly difficult to narrow a deck down to 40 cards because there are multiple strong/fun cards competing for slots.
Even while playing in a relatively limited capacity, I’ve played against folks running some really intriguing decks. I’m excited to see just a few of the following wacky cards in action.
I know someone is going to come up with some insane carpet bombing plays using Quake.
I’m excited to see how high people can get Wingspan‘s DEF value up to (before he just gets Pierced to death anyway).
Surely, we’re going to see some insane healing deck using TR Optimus as it’s spotlight.
Beyond that, I’ve already seen some wacky moments using Swap Heads. At some point, this card is going to kick your ass and you’ll be so delighted by the shenanigans involved that you won’t even care.
#4 – (Some? MANY?) People are going to hate Belligerence and end hostilities
I’m telling you right now that the first time you get Belligerence‘d, it’s going to suck. The tenth time you get Belligerence’d it’s still going to suck. Sure, you can try to play around it when you think it’s coming. You can try to get it out of your opponent’s hand with Espionage or Counterespionage. You can try to counter it with Infiltration.
It’s still going to happen, and it’s still going to suck. Tying back to Point #1, it’s another mark against trying to focus on Tough as a defensive strategy.
End Hostilities isn’t quite as table-flip-inducing (it feels a lot like getting Sabotaged Armaments-ed).
Will that feeling start sucking less? Maybe. In the meantime, I’m forecasting a lot of complaint threads about it, and once we’re able to return to regularly filming gameplay, many instances of censoring myself when I want to curse up a storm when it’s played against me. I’m fairly sure Joe is planning to install an acrylic shield at his kitchen table to lower health risks due to COVID when we attempt in-person games again. But will it be enough to protect him from my fists of fury as I crash through it and fly across the table Raiden-style after he plays Belligerence against me?
#5 – Titan Masters are going to be game-changing
Remember that first time you used Peace Through Tyranny to KO your own Battle Master, equipped it as a weapon, changed the upcoming sequence of activations, and swung into your opponent’s characters twice in a row? Or throwing out a Battle Master as a sacrificial lamb to get it KOed to power up your next character’s attack? Or maybe you got clever a time or two with Micromasters to use their tap ability to change who would go first after everyone untapped?
Titan Masters are like that, but on steroids.
The first couple times you use them, you’re going to surprise yourself by having your plans change because you forgot that the Titan Master will pop off and you (or your opponent) will have another character that can be activated that turn. You’re going to realize that you can keep an important untapped character protected by self-KOing your own Titan Master Body, then using the Head as your activation that turn.
You will feel the sheer horror/thrill/excitement at a critical moment as your entire game hinges upon whether or not your opponent has a direct damage card in hand that can KO your low health Titan Master outside of attacking it.
You will somehow get your lowly Kreb up to 7 ATK Pierce 7 and utterly demolish your opponent’s centerpiece character out of nowhere when they think they have the game in the bag.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get over your hang-up about playing non-canonical heads onto bodies and be able to play like a normal, functioning human being. Okay, that’s more of an inwardly directed self-affirmation than a point I’m trying to make, but putting it into print might help it come true.
Titan Masters Attack, Wave 5 of the Transformers Trading Card Game, releases this Friday. I wish you good pulls, the opportunity to somehow play games with your new cards, and good physical/mental/emotional health during this age of gaming in the time of COVID.
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!