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Welcome back fans to another reveal for the upcoming Wave Three of the Alpha Trion Protocols. Today I bring you another low cost support character that should assist in revitalizing older and under-powered strategies in the Transformers TCG.
Also make sure you read on to the end for some exciting updates to the Alpha Trion Tournament Series.
I will not make you wait to see the card so here is the new version of Slipstream:
Discard. Since the dawn of Trading Card Games (you know way back in 1993) discard has been a staple strategy to focus around. Why in the Transformers TCG has discard only risen to prominence with one deck throughout its history? Well, the main issue is “Man shall not live by [discard] alone.”
See, in other card games that use “resource systems” that force you to use your hand to somehow play the resources, discard strategies are a proactive way of potentially denying not only your ongoing ability to supply resources, but also the cards that you can play with those resources. For example, say you need 3 of XYZ to play that card in your hand, and you are forced to discard all your XYZ’s, well you also can not play that card in hand, so you gain a virtual advantage as well as the actual one. The problem is there is a short window where this actually matters (if you already have all the XYZ’s you need, does discarding more of them matter?) so it becomes a struggle to find value from the discard in the late game, or even when your opponent’s hand is not really that affected by it.
Enter the Transformers TCG. Since the game has no in-game resource cost structure, the damage dealt by discard is always surface level. Since the game has always been about playing the optimal cards each turn, and not always as many as you can or even both your card plays for the turn, the effects of this discard are already mitigated. This is before you factor in that most of your permanent resources start the game in play.
There is also the “proactive” factor of Discard, whether targeted or untargeted (think Espionage vs. Two-Pronged Attack). Since the discard happens the turn before the battle card can be played, oftentimes it is simply safer and more effective to play a universal answer to the potential threat. This axis changed tremendously after the advent of Secret Actions. For example, if you had a choice of playing an impactful Secret Action like a Hidden Fortification or End Hostilities that would “counter” a myriad of threats, it was often as much or more of an impact than stripping your opponent of that potential option when their turn began. Of course this is not a universal argument, so many targeted discard options still see play, but oftentimes the raw “discard x cards” type effects are left in the binders.
Discard was likely shied away from as a powerful deck option because of the low starting hand size: it is devastating to play a “discard two cards” when you only start with four. The issue with this, however, is that the card DRAW strategies have simply become too powerful in the modern metagames. Having a handful of cards means that games become very deterministic: if you always have what you need each turn, the randomness element is removed. This is compounded by the use of Green pips, but that is a discussion for another day. The need to play the correct cards each turn is no longer a concern, when you have enough time to take off actions to draw cards (through actions, upgrades, character flips, etc.). So mainstays like Confidence, which are great at sifting you to the cards you need as opposed to pure card draw, are set aside for true card draw like Scouting Mission and most powerfully, Mission Briefing.
Card drawing strategies have become extremely prevalent in all three formats at the moment, but the most egregious is in the Junkion (commons only) format, where Crankcase has become a mainstay, if not a powerhouse. Crankcase gives you EXTRA incentive for drawing cards, so now you were left in a situation where not only were you playing the best cards each turn in a deterministic manner, but nothing was stopping you from getting an eight power attacker each time your seven star support character was untapped.
Enter Slipstream, Spy-for-Hire: what began as an opposite for Crankcase for the Junkion format, became a way of allowing discard based strategies to actually have a payoff in a powerful support character.
Slipstream’s design went through a few iterations, but I am very happy with where she landed. The main issue was to give her value at any time, even if your opponent had no valuable targets for the discard you are playing. She gives you true incentive to run discard elements in your deck, examples include Interrogation, Two-Pronged Attack, Rapid Ascent, etc. By adding a discard element into her flip to alt mode, and an incentive even if you “miss”, there is always value in flipping your smaller character. This means plays like Roll-Out when you pair her with Shockwave or [REDACTED AS ANOTHER PREVIEW], give you extra value.
Her real value is on the bot side, where the incentive of running the additional discard outlets really comes into play. It may seem like an inevitable or easy feat to get your opponent to have one or less cards in hand, but remember the points about how much card draw you see in these formats: reiterating, a lot! So is that payoff worth it? Well, not only are you preemptively cutting down your opponents options (the value of discard in general) but you are now left with a six power, Focus 1, ranged character for only six stars. So even if you fear your opponent can draw themselves out of the low hand size you want to put them in, she can still occasionally sneak in and above the curve hit on the opposition!
This feeds into the strategy that once made the most powerful Discard outlet, Major Shockwave, see play in the Wave 3-4 metagames. You are proactively advancing your own strategy while stripping the options from your opponent. You are playing weapons like LV Gamma Disruptor Launcher, flipping to draw as well as discard, getting a giant attacker, etc. without giving up turns to simply play Discard effects. Slipstream continues to play into that axis of the game. She may not even be an ideal partner for Major Shockwave, but the strategy itself moves along the same direction: use the discard elements to advance your board proactively instead of hoping it hits the right cards to slow your opponent down.
What I love about Slipstream is there is a lot here beyond her surface value. The focus on Discard, an element of the game often overshadowed by card draw, really allows you to play the game from a new angle. Will she allow you to bring Shockwave back to prominence? Will she pair with other strategies to make waves in the formats?
But wait..there is more!
Along with today’s preview I wanted to give you some additional information about our upcoming “Lunar Bee Series.” As you can see here, (https://vectorsigma.info/alpha-trion-series ), the Alpha Trion Series has a number of one-day events on the calendar. We are proud to announce that for each event, first place will receive the coveted Lunar Bee Bumblebee as the minimum first place prize. As more players sign up, the prize pool will increase as usual, but we feel adding this exciting prize as a guarantee for the winner is some extra added incentive to get ready to use this ATP-3 cards when they drop on March 1.
Stay tuned for more information on these tournaments as sign ups become available, but remember, not only can these one day events earn you points for your Season Three Ranking (same link above), but now you have a chance to win one of the rarest items in the Transformers TCG!
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Info on the Alpha Trion Protocols and images of the first two sets: https://vectorsigma.info/alpha-trion-protocols
Info on Season Two of the Alpha Trion Tournament series, the premier tournament series in the Transformers TCG!, can be found here: https://vectorsigma.info/alpha-trion-series
Looking to assist in keeping the competitive portion of the Transformers TCG going?
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“Till All Are One!”
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