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Welcome back to the Source. You clicked on this link from somewhere, ergo you are looking for the conclusion to this discussion on the Transformers TCG metagame defining theory. So let’s jump into it (hang on, it’s about to get dense..):
This complicated model (and yes, it can be cleaned up in other programs such as Tableau with real data behind it to prove it out, hence a Theory not a Law) shows the relationship between decks in the current metagame. Note that the decks inside the Spheres are in random order as I thought about what belonged in, but that may change going forward (see below).
The north-south axis is Control to Aggro, so the further north a deck is positioned, the more traditionally aggro it is. This is in terms of its Characters and Battle Deck aggressive makeup, and is not dependent on the number of characters. Again, see Caveat Two.
The east-west axis is the Number of Characters, from one to four-plus. The main factor besides deck slant became the number of characters you ran. Imagine there are “lanes” for the numbers to operate.Because, for example, all of the three wide decks should align vertically, but for space reasons they may not.
The final variables graphically explained is the distance and directional arrows between the spheres. The length of the arrows tend to indicate the strength of the matchup and point to the favored sphere in the matchup. . Any overlap of the Spheres (removed from the graphic for ease of reading) allows play/deckbuilding skill to be accounted for, as no matchup can be absolute, or even really adhere to its proposed strengths and weaknesses without strong play (Yes, I keep harping on this point because it is vital…)
The basic theory of the model is that any deck operating within the Sphere will perform generally the same against the other Spheres, with the strength of the matchup type being in favor of the Sphere where the arrow is pointing. Thus, the following “RPS-LS” can be loosely thought of as (ignoring Metroplex, who I only have on here for illustrative purposes):
-Two Wide Control is at a disadvantage against a three wide variant, but favored against Wider Control archetypes, heavily draw/play/deck makeup. But, favored against three wide and wider aggro or aggro-control (the matchup against wider control is normally dependent on the first player)
-Three Wide Aggro decks are heavy underdogs to wider aggro decks, but favored against three wide or larger Control decks.
-Three Wide Control decks are favored against smaller control decks, underdogs to larger ones. Against wider aggro decks they are heavily favored, but an underdog to three wide aggro/aggro control.
-Three Wide Aggro Control is positioned in the middle because none of its matchups are very one sided, being very draw and play dependent (and a “new strategy”) but it was built to handle Wide decks in general. However, it can struggle with similarly positioned pure aggro strategies.
-Wider Aggro crushes three wide aggro, but struggles with three wide or above control strategies.
-Wide Control crushes both wide aggro and Three Wide Control, but struggles with three wide aggro.
Note: Metroplex is mostly on there for illustrative purposes and honestly I do not know his matchups well enough to comment, my teammates who play him more often tend to say “the biggest matchup issue with Metroplex is himself.”
If all that was hard to interpret some basic rules you can take are:
-If you are looking at Control Decks, as the starting characters rise, the larger team is favored to decks one below it (five vs. three also), but two is favored to four or five. Any three wide or above control deck is favored vs. wide aggro, but an underdog to condensed aggro
-On the aggro side, the wider the deck the better off the matchup, but the worse you are against equal or one lower control variants.
-Aggro Control (in how I am defining it as truly mixed pip decks) is largely undefined, but “can” have strong matchups and weak ones vs. certain archetypes depending on build. The example I gave is for a build teched against wide aggro which leaves the equal sized aggro at an advantage over them. Another example like the VS Sentinels list (with Security Checkpoint) is unfavored against Wide Aggro, but favored versus smaller.
Now, I know what you are thinking: why do you feel X beats Y. Each of the above statements can be articles or long podcasts on their own that I plan to tackle at a later date, so for now I can just say “ Trust me, I play this game and theorize about it a lot and this is where all that testing landed me. Why my opinions are the way they are is based on this experience.” So assuming this is “correct” what does this leave us when making a deck playing or building choice?
Let’s start with build choice, as this decision occurs before the final decision on the day of the event (presumably). Knowing these factors when you sit down to create a new deck, or likely modify existing ones, should be paramount in your mind. You can create new decks and play test games against the other Spheres, but to shortcut time you may want to think about where your deck is positioned in this diagram before you even sit down to test matchups that are already likely to be dominated one way or another. Then, you can tweak a decklist or character lineup to see if you can move the Sphere around to a more favorable position. I want to give a quick personal example of this that I did heading into Gen Con:
These concepts are how I came to invent the Ranged General Optimus deck I played to the Top Four of Gen Con, qualifying with this build in the first 78 man qualifier. You can see the full deck tech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8SZmJcdHXo and at the beginning I go over the genesis of the build. I will summarize it by saying “it evolved from a typical three wide Aggro deck that was getting stomped by four wide and larger, so I had to find a way to change it for those matchups.” The Ranged package (Armed Hovercraft, Marksmanship, Reflex Circuits, etc.) and the Blue slant, anchored by the Bold/Tough bonuses across the board, allowed the deck to improve that matchup. Its nature as a three wide aggro deck (mostly) to begin with allowed an advantage against the Three Wide Control strategies that dominated Origins.
So I took a deck from one Sphere and adapted it to adjust for its worst matchup. Instead of leaning in more to further dominate the already favorable matchups/Spheres the deck had , I tried to adjust the Character lineup and Battle Deck to suit its weaknesses. I am not saying I turned the archetype into some world beater, but I tried to apply these theories in actionable ways.
For the question of which deck to choose, you can see that no one deck can “solve the metagame.” Play skill can allow the spheres to overlap but you are “fighting against nature” by attempting to win a matchup that you are an underdog in. Thus, you need to decide what percentage of the metagame will be made up of each Sphere and attempt to make the best choice possible given the strengths and weaknesses between them.
The other thing to consider is WITHIN the Spheres themselves. This was the other major breakthrough to change the theory to begin with. If the decks within the Sphere have the same strengths and weaknesses, then you should be playing the deck within that Sphere that gives you the best chance of beating the other decks WITHIN your Sphere of choice, if given the option. The reason is simple: If you believe in the concept presented of the Spheres, you already understand where you are favored and unfavored against. All that is unknown is your matchup WITHIN the Sphere, so you need to make that as favorable as possible.
Thus is it possible to cut down the overall options of what decks are available to play to a manageable level. This quick and dirty diagram I created has more than TWENTY individual deck choices available to it. So if you know the style you are looking to play, given your own strengths and weaknesses as a player/deck builder or knowledge of your local metagame, you can make an informed decision of where to start your efforts. You can then simply test the matchups available WITHIN the Sphere to make a decision.
Let’s try another example: Say you know your metagame heavily features various Three Wide Aggro builds. You should be looking to run Wider Aggro decks or your own version of Three Wide Aggro that is best position against these “virtual mirror matches.” There is certainly room within the Spheres to “tech” your deck or play against these similar styles, or even your bad matchups, but make sure to not do this at the detriment of an already favorable matchup.
The Transformers TCG is currently in a state of flux where access to certain Battle cards and Characters can help you smooth out your draws or plays that you may be able to adjust your deck or play style to meet a weakness. Simply be aware of what styles of decks you are already weak to, test out that assumption (my assumptions?), and see if you can adjust accordingly. Sideboarding goes a long way in addressing this, especially Transformational Sideboards, but that is a conversation for another day (I am already sensing that this Magnum Opus of mine is becoming a series…)
Phew..that was a lot, and I hope it at least made SOME sense..I know it is a lot to take in so I plan to discuss it in other media and expand upon it at later dates. I hope it will help players shortcut some of the seemingly daunting task of tackling the current metagame with some rules to save some valuable playtesting time. I look forward to discussing my Spherical Metagame theories in more detail, and please feel free to reach out to me with any thoughts!
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