After a long work week and finally getting my two crazy children to bed, I was finally able to get the Transformers Deck-Building Game by Renegade Game Studios to the table. If you’re looking to get your hands on it, you can preorder with an estimated shipping date of November (and if you preorder directly from them, you get a promo pack with some bonus cards). https://renegadegamestudios.com/transformers-deck-building-game/ They had a limited early release at GenCon, and I was lucky to find someone to buy it and ship it to me.
In the solo/co-op version of game, your win condition is to defeat 3 Decepticon Bosses before the main deck runs out OR before you have 5 damage cards. You can also play the game competitively (more like semi-cooperatively), where your goal is still to beat 3 Bosses, but you want to score more Victory Points (by defeating Adversaries and their Schemes) than the other players do.
I decided to play my first game (pure solo) as Wheeljack, since I always liked his tendency to create inventions that blew up in his face and his ears would glow when he talked.
Unlike a lot of other deck-building games, where you typically just interact with a market, in this game you’ll be exploring a grid of facedown cards (the Matrix). As you flip cards face up, you’ll try to improve your deck by gaining technology, maneuvers, allies, and fellow Autobots, while defeating any Decepticons or their schemes that pop up.
This game began a bit rough, with a Scheme that made all Autobots in the Matrix into hostile adversaries. In order to thwart that scheme, I needed to pay 4 Energon cubes (one of a few different kinds of resources used during gameplay). Sadly, my very first encounter with a Decepticon resulted in an ambush where I had to destroy (remove from game) the starting card that allows me to gain Energon.
I recovered and continued exploring the Matrix, when the first boss popped out (Soundwave). Soundwave is especially nasty early, as he causes you to take a damage card at the start of each turn. I didn’t feel confident confronting him yet, as I felt as if I needed to get some more powerful cards into my deck. Unfortunately, I ended up revealing a few regular Decepticons in the Matrix. In solo/co-op mode, you can’t battle bosses if regular Decepticons are on the field. I tried to continue developing my deck while getting rid of those low-level Decepticons, and was doing a pretty good job of keeping the incoming damage from Soundwave under control. To make matters worse, I also revealed Starscream, my second boss.
Starscream compounded my problems, as I now needed to discard a card in my hand at the beginning of my turn. Despite this, I was able to hang on for a few rounds while getting my deck to a point where I thought I could eliminate Soundwave. Unfortunately, when I began the boss confrontation, I didn’t have any way of blocking the attack and didn’t have a 3+ cost card in play to destroy, so I took an unexpected spike of 2 damage cards, which took me to 6 damage total, leading to my defeat.
I had a lot of fun with this. There are definitely some additional complexities compared to a typical deck-builder, but those complexities add interesting choices AND make me feel like I’m actually playing a character (unlike some other DBGs, where it just feels like you’re trying to build a better engine).
Keep an eye on our YouTube channel for gameplay and how-to-play videos coming very soon!