Whenever large events happen in the Transformers TCG we try and swarm as a group and address them..so you are in for a treat of various opinions on the recent banning of Press the Advantage.
See the Wizards of the Coast article for full explanation here:
Break ups are never easy, but some are simply best for all involved…Press the Advantage, sorry, not sorry, you’ve stunted growth long enough. I am going to attempt to keep from simply echoing Ken’s amazing thoughts on this difficult decision and give you some hot takes, sure to be echoed in other media.
I have seen players attempt to defend PTA, saying there were “ways around it” or “allow the format to adapt to it” but what they are not understanding is that the Orange-Green nature of a basic +2 attack at worst, and at best a Reckless Charge with no downside (actually better than Reckless Charge if you are attacking the same Decepticon multiple times in a turn) is not a balanced card.
It was doing more than simply “keeping the Decepticon decks down,” you are actively hurting the playability of other very fine cards. How many Heavy Handeds do you see nowadays? How many off-color Leap into Battles? How many Steady Shots? The Transformers TCG is a game of limited action phases, and every Green card that exists needs to have a downside to it because you are shortcutting the need to actually draw into something to play during that action step: Press specifically had NO downside as a ubiquitous +2 (with an Orange Icon tagged onto the problem Green), but had tremendous upside as well. That is simply too much consistency in a card for a game intentionally built on the nature of managing inconsistency.
I guess a lot of players against the banning and putting up a cry wanting a Decepticon equivalent did not ever watch “The Day After” or “Red Dawn” because an arms race such as this can only result in mutually assured destruction. I for one prefer to TEAR THIS WALL DOWN and have a solution that removes the problems instead of escalating them, with the help of Rocky defeating Drago of course. Again, PTA was keeping down its own brethren as much as the opposition.
There’s an old adage in TCGs, “There are no wrong questions only wrong answers” seems to be the case when trying to address PTA. Do games have powerful cards? Of course. Do those powerful cards oftentimes close off competitive access to an entire factions worth of starting characters? No.
I am far from some Decepticon loyalist from an outside the game perspective, but the undercurrent reason why a lot of new fun Decepticon strategies are non-existent is PTA. Decepticon combiners? Shockwave? General Megatron? Skywarp? Soundwave (either version)? Trypicon? All arguably competitively unplayable simply due to PTA.
Banning was the only prudent option, one I applaud.
Most of my articles are written quite honestly as a gigantic stream of consciousness in about 45 minutes to an hour. That’s not a #humbleBrag it’s more just a general boon in situations like this. At the time of writing this we had one of the larger bombshells dropped on the competitive community in the history of the game. The idea here is a relatively quick “hot take”, given the short time frame of course I’d like to reserve the right to change my opinion.
Allow that to percolate for a moment. Press the Advantage, which has been one of the premier battle cards since its release is going to be officially banned from competitive play when Siege 2 releases. As I sit here and contemplate it is a little strange. I actually had an article sent over to Scott back in September talking about this exact topic. Coming out of GenCon and looking forward to the EIQ season I anticipated that we would be seeing a ton of Press the Advantage (PtA). As we now have concluded the store qualifiers and having born witness to the decks that thrived in the Siege 1 meta, I am kind of anticipating that if I open a window and listen intently that I can hear the faint sounds of the entire Transformers TCG community collectively cheering DING DONG THE PRESS IS DEAD! As WotC dropped a proverbial house on the wicked with of the Autobots. My feelings are mostly the same then as they are now.
I’m honestly not sure.
I will openly state my own affection for the Decepticons. They were my favorite when I sat in front of the TV in my pj’s as a kid, they were my favorite as I collected toys, when I played the video games, when I read the comics, when I watched the movies, and when I played the card game. As you might imagine, when Wave 2 introduced PtA and Bad Attitude I truly thought they were NOT part of the same “cycle”. There was just no comparing the power level of the 2 cards. I was convinced that the “Decepticon Press” was coming in a later set, even if it was a wildly different effect. Just something that was a comparable power level. Based on the article today from the Wizards team I was incorrect and Bad Attitude was in fact intended to be the counterpart to PtA.
Shocking as that revelation may be, the purple badge wearing part of me is rejoicing alongside everyone else in the community. It’s stated in the announcement but ultimately every single blue focused Decepticon deck had to content with twice as many copies of “Reckless Charge”, 3 of which had green pips so they will pretty much always have it. Orange based Decepticons always were playing with a disadvantage not really because of PtA played against them, although that isn’t irrelevant, but instead they didn’t get a comparable battle card to help climb the aggro vs. control mountain.
When viewed under that microscope the verdict seems obvious. Press the Advantage had to go! It heavily skewed the meta towards a “red” focus rather than a red/purple balance. It presented unreasonable hurdles for half the character cast and trivialized a significant portion of games. I won’t rehash the explanations from the WotC article but I have always agreed that banning and not the various alternatives is the healthiest option. If it weren’t for the fact that this won’t go into effect until November 8thyou’d probably be seeing a whole lot of fringe Decepticon lists swarming into local events right now. Granted many of them would still struggle due to other issues, but the mere fact that they wouldn’t need to contend with as many threats would provide them a much-needed breath of life.
Not So Fast
Remember how I said earlier I wasn’t sure? I wasn’t joking and I am of two minds about this ban. Now before anyone breaks out torches and pitchforks allow me to elaborate. For those who have been around card games for a while this won’t be anything earthshattering, but for those who haven’t: sets are designed in advance, way in advance. How far in advance we obviously aren’t precisely sure of, but decisions are made based on information that the WotC team has had for much longer than the general populace has.
One needs only to look at the ever-growing stat pool on characters. We have seen Decepticon health totals grow over time to where we now have multiple characters sporting 16+ health! You may be seeing where I am going with this. Press was likely created with the Shockwaves, Megatrons, Soundblasters, and other characters already in the pipeline. We’ve seen that despite PtA being omnipresent Shockwave has made uh…waves in a number of high profile events. Think back to a time where you played an aggressive deck into say ranged Shockwave and didn’t see a Press the Advantage. I’m going to venture a guess and say that it didn’t end well for the aggro deck. In conjunction with the additional tools that the next wave is presenting for control decks, we may be in for a very blue winter, but that’s just hypothesizing when we don’t even have the entire 4th set available to us just yet. Point is if the characters were designed with PtA in mind, and the threat of PtA is now gone it could have just as much of a negative effect in the other direction.
If we go a step further and remove the earlier emotional argument from the equation we encounter another hurdle. I mentioned that I am a Decepticon fan, which in the context of actually playing the game competitively is meaningless. If we are talking “kitchen table” games then problems like Press get solved with a social contract. Basically: “Hey, mind not playing that #&^$#^& card?” In competitive play that isn’t really a reasonable ask hence the ban. Instead for competitive play we need to look at the meta as a whole. Were there competitive wide aggro decks? Tall aggro? Wide control? Tall Control? Etc etc. While the official statement called out that we did have a distinct lack of variety in competitive Decepticon decks, if the spectrum of archtypes is accounted for from hellscreaming aggro to watching-paint-dry control then does it actually matter whether the team wears a red or purple badge?
No Crystal Ball
I’ve said it on many occasions before that the WotC team has earned my trust. At this point in time I am not entirely sure whether this will end up being a positive change for me as a player or the general playerbase for that matter. I am sure that I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt with this change. The justifications have been clearly outlined and I can get behind the reasoning. One other thing is for certain this changes the entire battlefield going into the Energon Invitational. Time to get to work!
Yowie wowie to my fellow wrestling fans out there,
Press the Advantage simply pressed one to many buttons apparently in the design team and most certainly in the meta game since the time it was spoiled. The numbers are in the article and I’m sure they went over them internally even deeper over the course of the six months it’s been legal. Yes, decks like Shockwave found creative ways to fend off PTA (mostly through the discard that does not allow you to use the “Green”) but the one glaring truth was simple, the answers had to be cleanly drawn and shaped together. You needed to draw your Infiltrate, you needed to remove all of your opponent’s cards from their hand, and hope they didn’t draw PTA anyway, or you had to pray to draw the bolster and the Forcefield. Press the Advantage being green was easily picked up when needed by players who didn’t over-extend their hand, which was not even an issue outside of Shockwave to begin with. The card was completely over the top and “Bad Attitude” being the mirror to PTA is incredibly mistaken, even in the best-case scenario of Aerialbots VS Prediconsits still incredibly laughable.
To put it better the only chance this card has at seeing play would have been as a blank. That’s the type of power level it truly had. For a long while I thought maybe if it were just Green it would have been fine, but that’s just not true. The Green pip is the most powerful pip in the game, as being able to always have access to a card with any type of power level is very strong. Enigmas, Espionage, Enforcement Baton, Bashing Shield all see play in all sorts of decks and are all good cards, however none of those cards come close to the power level of even just a green pip Press the Advantage.
Finally, characters that have been hindered due to the accessibility of PTA will be able to shine, so many new Deceptions in Siege 2 will not have to worry about just being one PTA away from death. Lord Megatron, Sargant Barricade, Sargant Soundwave, all are very happy to live in a world where Press the Advantage wont be around to shred them to pieces. Saying goodbye to Press the Advantage is saying hello to a brand new light of deck building. And I for one couldn’t be more existed to take advantage of that!
I’ve been saying since the card came out that Press the Advantage was extremely good, if not too good. It was a 2 to 4 damage buff that also had a Green pip. What could go wrong? It literally made Autobots the playable faction while pushing comparable Decepticons out of the meta. The fact that you could find it because it was green meant dead cards in your hand became PTA. Useless Improvised shield? You mean a pitchable card for you next PTA. It started as a 1 or 2 of main board and I knew it quickly would just be a 3 of in every aggressive Autobot deck.
Am I glad it’s gone? Yes and no. I think they just should have had an equivalent Decepticon PTA from the beginning. No not you bad attitude or whatever secret action was proposed in the banning article. I get wanting diversity among cards so its not like nobles and scoundrels blaster where they just swap the faction text. But when you have a powerhouse card that you can regularly get its best to balance it with an equally powerful card for the other faction. Even it forces you to make basically the same card. So in that regard if they do not want to do that then I believe they should remove the card from play.
When it comes to Press the Advantage, one quote stands out in my mind - "Every [card] dies, but not every card really lives." Press the Advantage certainly made the most of its short life.
Design's explanation of how the card came to be (and how its partner, Bad Attitude, came to be terrible) makes sense. I think they may have underestimated the power of on-color green pipped cards in general when testing Wave 2. Press was intended to be a sideboard card, but simply being an orange/green with a +2 attack was good enough - the rest was gravy. And we can see from the GenCon results that for the most part, Decepticon decks simply weren't able to overcome the power it gave Autobots, even in decks that may have been mixed faction.
So the question is, where does that leave the metagame? In Siege 1, Major Shockwave was the only Decepticon blue deck that was able to thrive, but we also saw Autobot blue mainstays like Optimus Prime, Battlefield Legend fall off in power and popularity. So is the issue simply Press, or a combination of Press and a weakness of blue decks? It's likely a bit of both, as again, Press was a power engine even when it didn't get the defense adjustment against Decepticons.
I love the change as I think it's going to open more options in deckbuilding. Decepticon decks built around one large character no longer have to worry about being hit with Press every wheel turn by wide Autobot decks. Tanks, a deck I keep wanting to be good, will be able to defend that much better, especially in concert with the new Reactive Armor. Major Shockwave, who was already "good enough", may get even more of a boost. And Insecticons, who were good even without Press, now have a leg up in an environment where essentially every competitive aggro deck other than them lost at least a great sideboard card, and often a maindeck card. Plus now you can splash Barrage again without worrying about him being an easy target.
This change was great for the game, and in conjunction with Siege 2's release should allow a full exploration of deckbuilding options. Kudos to the design team for seeing a problem and fixing it.
Remember, decisions like these are never easy. At VectorSigma.info we are always ready to admit mistakes we make in our thought process..and it is refreshing to support a game run by professionals that occasionally have to admit their own as well..thank you for that bravery ~ Scott
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