So this has been an incredibly tough idea to get out of my head, but I am going to do my best. A few weeks after Gen Con, Scott and I were discussing “Spheres”(if you haven’t read it, trust me go read the two part piece on it here: https://vectorsigma.info/spheres-1 and https://vectorsigma.info/spheres-2 ). We were not discussing Spheres themselves, but how we use a similar system in other areas of our life and how they parallel one another from time to time. I’m competitive to a fault almost (my wife hates it), but it’s in my genes to be that way. I’m not a sore loser or anything like that, but I like to win. I’m constantly floating with a winning mindset because quite frankly it’s all I truly know.
I’m a Gamer: I’ve completed Hardcore WOW Achievements in my day; topped the leaderboards on Diablo 3 several times; I’m an Athlete (well use to be haha) and won championships; I’ve played in all-star games…Competition is what keeps me going! I’ve been a card player for more then half my life (at the young age of 30) and every new game I dive into with one goal in mind: “To be the very best, like no one ever was.” For the first time in a long time, Transformers is a game that I truly enjoy and I am also able to enjoy it in company of people I love to play with, competitively. This game we call Transformers has brought back that completive edge that I may have lost for a time. However, there is another game that I play that seems quite innocent in passing but fuels my competitiveness as well, and that Game is Pokémon Go.
That’s Right I’m an avid “POGOER” and over the past year they introduced PVP into the game and with that a new life was given to a “dying” game, in most people eyes. For me, similar to Transformers, it as a pure resurrection for my completive side. Something I had realized after Scott and I had that aforementioned phone conversation, is that just like in Transformers, Pokémon Go also has its very own “Spheres”.
Those articles goes over a “Scott Landis way of thinking,” a way to create minor shortcuts of information to give you a faster understanding of what “should be” truths. Now, it’s of course not always that simple outside the example, and there is always room for an error or two, but the ground floor basis of Spheres is that we play a game that has “Archetypes” and inside those are many different versions of those respective “Archetypes” and Pokémon Go lives in that same way. Instead of “Archetypes” they simply have types: each Pokémon is a “Unique” and can have one or even two types, but can always be compared to other Pokémon of the same type. Now how does this compare to battling aggro vs control in Transformers? Well, let’s take a better look at it, with a more visual understanding (See below)
So the key difference to Pokémon Go from Transformers TCG is the names we give things, Control in TF would be a Tank in POGO, Aggro would be a DPS. Now where it gets interesting would be the Mixed Pip decks or the Aggro Control / Midrange Decks: In POGO you might call those Hard Counters, or Off Tanks (among other potential names). So using this simple comparison, let’s really align the Spheres for the games.
In Transformers, we have a metagame that changes from event to event, but what drastically changes the metagame is the introduction of a new set. For POGO it is quite different: the metagame has forced changes every month with a different “Cup” that limits your choices on which types of Pokémon you can use (Editor’s Note: think like different formats in other tcgs). This constantly keeps competitive players on their feet and doesn’t let anyone settle into just the “best” Pokémon all the time because when you create a limited pool of resources it is up to everyone to figure out the new “best’ thing for the specific event. How we determine a new norm?
Just like in Transformers, POGO has “staples” as well: there are Pokemon that do well in every Cup that their given Type is attached to. In Transformers we have staples like the double pipped cards: Security Checkpoint, Handheld Blaster, Improvised Shield, and Peace Through Tyranny. We also have proven deck archetypes that stay consistent regardless of new sets, simply improved upon (think Cars or Insecticons for example). In POGO a oldie but goodie like Charizard for example was an absolute powerhouse in the recent Rainbow Cup and Tempest Cup, and to be honest he will likely be strong in any Cup with Fire or Flying attached to them.
Another comparison is the Sideboard option we have In Transformers. Now I was able to pilot Optimus Prime BFL to the finals at Origins this year, and the reason why was because of the Transformative Sideboard option from three wide to two tall. In POGO it’s all about the “Switch.” For those of you familiar with “normal Pokémon rules” from the video games, where you get a team of six and have the ability to switch in an out freely after each “round,” POGO is slightly different. Here you get a team of six but you chose to use three of them based off your opponent’s team, post reveal. The “Switch” is very different in POGO where after you make a switch you locked into a Pokémon for 60 Seconds before being able to swap again. Now this can used as an important reactive strategy: whole battles can be decided on the “Lead”(the Pokemon you decide to start with). What may end up happening if you’re able to win the lead (gaining Type Advantage forcing a player to Switch first) means you’ll also be able to gain the better Switch.
This is quite similar if you can sideboard against your opponents to gain points in a matchup you’re supposed to be bad against according to Spheres: if you manage to win game one regardless outcome, if you have a powerful sideboard option that puts you ahead in the remaining games, you are likely to take one of the next two easily. You may also simply win games two and three on that sideboard alone! Planning for a Pokémon battle is similar to TFTCG because you know what the defined metagame is, you have the ability to create your own Team how you like, and have your own identity by utilizing “off meta” Pokémon when you so choose. Capitalizing on these opportunities is a key factor for both games.
Time is of the essence in each game as well. You can never buy time, so we have to do our best with the resources we have to get the most out of that time. In Transformers, it is battling it out as often as possible with as many established ides as possible. For POGO I don’t have that time to do so, so I generally go to my closest PVP friends and chatrooms, and to trusted YouTube Content creators so I can learn the most I can with my time. Now those content creators for POGO have their own “Shortcuts” they use as well, whether it be a Battle Simulator, or an Efficiency chart to compare stats etc. More examples of everyone in a different competitive field finding ways to simulate and simplify results. Whether it be a Website, a YouTube channel, a Team, the list goes on, it is vital for all competitive players to find information from trusted sources, because there simply is not always enough time or ability to discover everything alone. Over the years I’ve spent time reading articles of players I’ve respected, watched Twitch streams of players on the top of their respective leaderboards, watched YouTube videos to gain tips and tricks I needed to get better at any game I play. In the end I’ve always done what I deemed important to remain competitive in these arenas.
We’re beginning a dawn of a new era in the Transformers TCG. We have the most competitive event to date upcoming in mere weeks. With a new set coming, a new format to adapt too, and a less forgiving final cut system than in the past, finding ways to apply strategies you hone from experiences outside of the TF TCG will help you prepare. This game is evolving (pun intended), and just like Pokémon Go with each new tournament style, you find new challenges. The Energon Invitational is going to be for the best of the best in this game: six rounds of Constructed, three rounds of Limited (a truly undiscovered meta-game in itself) in one day.
My Competitive spirit is at an all-time high and I can’t wait for that weekend to be here. My suggestion for everyone is think about things in life your good at, and what you put your time into to successfully. Think about how you achieved success with them, and can you find like minded players to help make you better? Can you create your own shortcuts to success? Six weeks until Energon, that’s right six short weeks. I know it feels like a long time, but it isn’t, and life has ways of condensing that time with its complications. By then there are two more, different POGO Cups by then, exploring their own brand new metas with each one. But for TF we will have just four weeks with Siege 2 physically in our hands, and it will be up to you how to use that time to figure out how to position yourself best for the event. I look forward to seeing you all in Philly, this is the first of many articles ill have leading up to Pax Unplugged. Step one for everyone, figure out how you can become the most efficient player you can be.
Until next time! Auto-Bots Roll-Out!
Dan Arnold – Content Creator for VectorSigma.info, Top 16 Gen Con Open, 2nd Place Origins Open.
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