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In 2020, finding motivation can be a difficult task. The last nine months were such a blur of emotions, mostly negative, that I truly understand and appreciate the need to find things in life to drive you forward. Fortunately for me, I get to continue to play and design for Transformers TCG, despite the fact that it is not even a fully supported WotC game any longer, and interact with an amazing group of people through this endeavor. It is just so important to find that Drive to succeed in anything you are working with or through right now, and I want to tell you parts of my story over the past couple of years and how this great TCG was that Drive in my life.
A little over a year ago, today I was not sitting home at my desk, I was competing. I was competing in the Top Eight of the largest event that Transformers TCG ever held. For me the year 2019 was about many things. Transformers TCG became a conversation in my everyday life. It rekindled a friendship that had gone astray for a period of time, along with creating new ones that sparked many thoughts of the game itself. It had been many years since I truly dove into a card game, World of Warcraft TCG was canceled in 2013, although I had bounced from game to game, I never found one to really call “home.”
All changed in late 2018, VectorSigma.info was already a mainstay in the community as far as articles and even a podcast for weekly people to engage with. However, I felt I could do more. So, I pushed to start our YouTube Channel. For me, watching is an incredible tool to become better, but watching yourself is even more important. Analyzing your own gameplay (when done correctly) can be an incredible tool to get better at something. It's hard to truly pinpoint every mistake based on memory, but when you can study a tape, you can subconsciously remind yourself of simple mistakes made and not to repeat them. Little did I know that when I started the YouTube channel for Content for a game, I had just discovered that it would truly take a new place in my heart for so many reasons. So my first drive in the game was knowledge sharing.
Throughout 2019 after I dove headfirst into the game following Pax Unplugged 2018, my drive was to compete, first locally and then nationally at the highest level. The goal was to improve my play, through discussions with my teammates after matches, after events, really anytime, and always be striving to improve. I was fortunate to be able to compete in all of the major events for the year, as well as many highly competitive local events. Obviously the end of 2019 was the culmination of a lot of work, both personally and on a team level, but the Drive did not end there, in fact in many ways it had only just begun.
What goal in the game could possibly be greater than winning the biggest event in the game's history? Well, to be honest for a good while I felt I had nothing to prove to myself or my peers, however I had new life in communication with players I hadn't before. The Drive had changed to helping anyone I could, and then, well the world changed, and I was forced to act. Now I say ``forced'' and maybe that's too strong of a term?
Well, when I won the Energon Invitational I felt it necessary to do as much as I could for the game. When the pandemic began, I knew it shackled any hopes of us playing sitting across from one another and we needed a new way to do that. With a month of “testing” the ability of webcam games, I had been playing almost daily online against my own team (or newly made friends) as we streamed our early playtesting of the Titan Masters Attack metagame. We still held out hope that conventions would happen, the game and organized play would live on, even if we simply were in a small lockdown period early on.
There were two other main reasons for all the early streaming and recording we did in the early TMA days. The first was to test the limits and the feel of webcam games and the second was to give incentive to others to do so as well. During the months of March, April, and May, there was very little content being created even though we had an entire set spoiled already. We felt it was necessary to do as much as we could to help the game stay alive as possible. We wanted to keep people excited that this hobby was a great escape, and with the most powerful set eventually dropping, we simply had to proxy up the cards after the set was delayed two months. We gave players an outlet to watch games live, and interact with the players in chat and us. It was something we felt was a perfect distraction from the world's issues at the time. All the while was a great way for me to also escape the constraints of the pandemic as well.
I felt that the best thing we could do, to help the competitive scene continue, was to create an atmosphere and online community people could enjoy and feel welcomed in. We are now 10 events in all via Webcam, with players from all over the world: California, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Minnesota, Philadelphia, London, Canada, Singapore, Australia, and many more. The community we built is just incredible. There are casual games being played at all times throughout the day, and now up to two major events a month being played: one month long, and the other as a one day swiss event. In a year where the game was canceled for months, we were creating potential for players to play and interact with others from all over the world, oftentimes more than their local scene ever provided.
Then came July, well we all know what happened right? This really hit me hard to be honest, it was in the midst of our third online event, which I felt like we were really starting to hit our stride with the 35+ player event we were running. The concurrent Octgn event also had a large portion of players, along with the Eye of the Matrix events running their own webcam events. People were playing the game more than ever, potentially, but that hit from the cancelation was a large cloud over all the work we did all year long.
However, the Drive did not get crushed, and in fact it was put into full gear more than ever. How could I do right by the game I love? So, Scott and myself, jumped into action and met up to chat for over six hours (shout out to Miller’s Ale House in Willow Grove) and had Vince on the phone (yes, we basically sat a restaurant for six hours, having a “business meeting” over Discord) discussing what can we do, and how can we do it?
First step was easy, who wants to help us? Immediately after the cancelation we had several members that built up the Alpha Trion Protocols, we began to create a team of players that had been supporting organized play and wanted to see it continue. These were players in the community that had all been doing their part during the worst of times of the pandemic, doing weekly content, supporting online events, engaging and helping however they could even as just a player. These were the people I felt most comfortable with, and six months later we successfully created two sets of impactful cards altering the metagame.
Drive you ask? My drive for the game has altered at every step when needed. It's never been about why should I do that? It's always been “how can I do that better?” A year after winning the biggest event the game ever held, my goal has never been simpler in practice: to continue the life of the game through Organized Play. Our community of players on Discord has easily doubled at this point, since the game was “cancelled,” which is amazing. Having been there for other games ending, I can’t say I ever saw this type of reaction after the fact. It is truly amazing, and unique for the level of competition still going on daily.
The activity of the server is also at an all-time high, along with bringing players together from far and wide to all play a game we love. For me this year has been difficult and life altering like it has for many others. The Transformers TCG has been a constant in my everyday life for two years now, and I have no plan for stopping anytime soon. The team of players around me designing for the game reminds me constantly of the love we each share for it. I will always feel the weight of being the first and only World Champion: it's a weight of pressure I put on myself to create a place for this game to live on, and for anyone that shares the passion that I do for it to have a place to feel safe, wanted, and understood.
Competitive mindset was all I ever had in 2019, and 2020 brought a lot of perspective. I have been enjoying every game I’ve played, with every new member of our community. I’ve enjoyed every night I sat and watched as others played the event matches, and lastly I’ve enjoyed every night of just chatting with the guys about the game, or honestly just life.
Thank you, to anyone that has supported the Alpha Trion Tournament Series or the Alpha Trion Protocols. We are constantly doing whatever we can to create an online community for a game we all love very much, and you guys actually make it really easy to do, cause I see the passion that is still there, I see the hunger for more, and because of those things, it’s easy to continue holding these event and creating these cards. ATP - 2 Development was an insane amount of work, but to see its response and love from the community made all of it completely worthwhile.
Thanks again to all those that supported us this year, we look forward to continuing the event series, and with future sets from the Alpha Trion Protocols. I have never been prouder to play a game and help carry on this community’s love for it. I will continue to do everything I can, to give people a reason to play it. its honestly been an amazing year, and even though it could have been so easy to just give up, I never faltered from the drive to continue the game I love, to play it, and help create for it, with friends I have made from all over the world this year because of an unfortunate pandemic. The year has been many things, and its hard to see the good sometimes. But my experiences with Webcam games helped create new friendships (with to many to name to be honest) and memories of good times even during the worst of times in the world. I truly thank anyone that ive spent time with this year in this community, you are without doubt the reason I will never lose the drive to continue as long as your all here with me, and are along for the ride.
Have a great Holiday Season! Autobots Roll-Out!
Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/alphatrionprotocols and https://www.facebook.com/groups/vectorsigmainfo
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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