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If you’ve ever read my preview articles in the past, since all the way back in early 2019 and Rise of the Combiners (which seems like a lifetime ago in may ways..) or even YEARS ago in other games, you will know that my job is normally “the hype man” for cards because I am rarely given actual GOOD cards to spoil..ever. Ok, maybe in Titan Masters Attack the exceptions finally occurred, with Pounce and Windcharger, but I think we can all agree that past attempts in the Spinner Rims, Recon Systems, and RotC Bombshells made significantly less impacts on the competitive landscape. Well, I am happy to actually be able to preview a significant upgrade to a oft forgotten card that has created more Rules Roundup interactions than playing time at the top tables: Megatron, Living Weapon.
It is no secret to the Transformers TCG community that no version of the leader of the Decepticons was ever tournament viable, and frankly even that good in general. This was exasperated by the fact that almost every version of his Autobot counterpart was a consistent force at the top tables in every phase of the game’s lifecycle (until the current one it seems, in fairness).
When the team was deciding which characters to focus on to create the Wave One stratagems, Megatron: Living Weapon was the first one to come to mind. I had discussed a possible change to him on a Tech Talk when Stratagems were first announced, and since then ideas kept forming on how to make this iconic version of the “big bad” playable.
For each character, we needed to lay out a lot of reasons “why” they needed an update, beyond simply saying “this is a lore character that everyone likes, and it sucks, let’s fix it.” In fairness, that line of reasoning is almost enough to start the journey, but we wanted a more concrete theory. Here is what I presented, enjoy the conjecture and the peek behind the curtain:
Megatron: Living Weapon never saw competitive play for two main reasons: Optimus Prime: Battlefield Legend was simply superior in every way and his win condition of multiple weapons was too easily countered. The former was easy to address in two ways. First, the fact that “Such Heroic Nonsense” was going to exist meant that part could be handled. Secondly, the metagame is certainly very “anti-Autobot” at the moment, so a power boost to Megatron would meet with less pressure from the opponent.
The idea for Megatron: Living Weapon was that he was a one man weapon based army. When he attacked, enemies were KO’d. The problem is, at various times in the Transformers TCG competitive game life-cycle, this either was not a realistic outcome, or did not matter all that much (versus Combiners or Titan Masters for example). There was also the issue that many of the best weapons in the game “fell off” after you attacked with them (Grenade Launchers/Fusion Borers/Sturdy Javelins) or had a condition that made it difficult to use strategically, such as the damage requirement on Energon Axe. Sure, you could One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall or Camien Crash your own Megatron to upgrade with Axes, but this meant additional conditions on an already difficult to use character for his initial purpose.
Remember, in order for Megatron: Living Weapon to even perform his stated duty, you must be spending three turns worth of upgrade phases solely dedicated to weapons on him, not your other characters. This was a bit unrealistic and unnecessary most of the time for a character who started with seven attack. I could go on about the difficult strategic aspects of being able to use this character with numerous real life scenario examples, but I think you get the gist of it: Megatron: Living Weapon needed assistance to see play.
Oh and also, Sabotaged Armaments was printed in Siege II…
These ideas led to this initial version of the Stratagem:
It was decided during an internal playtesting session (which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hl3vdedKOE8 )that the “for each weapon” clause of the stat boost really was unnecessarily confusing and the boosts to both defensive stats was too much, even when it had a conditional requirement. You also did not need six hit points additionally, three was enough to make Megatron viable in the current format (Note: all initial playtesting was done against top metagame decks, namely Sky Shadow based aggro or Quake lists). Also, the ability to keep your own weapons around, namely Grenade Launchers/Fusion Borers/Sturdy Javelins, was a bit too powerful with no downside when combined with the obvious effect needed in being immune to your OPPONENT’S effects.
So after initial playtesting this was the version it morphed into, which you also saw above, reprinted here:
There was no need to really update the Stratagem additionally, because adding more abilities was becoming an issue of “we can just make a new character that does that” type territory. This Stratagem, while making Megatron: Living Weapon very expensive from a star cost perspective, allows you to dominate a game in one of a few ways.
First, and I hope most obvious is the interaction with Overwhelming Advantage, which I feel is the signature Megatron card in the game after Peace Through Tyranny. While Overwhelming Advantage is powerful, the metagame has many answers to it beyond on demand weapon mitigation. Cards such as Reflect Damage or Take Cover still ruin your day, forcing the deck to run Counterespionage likely to force the OA through. I like Battle cards with big payoffs, and “Such Heroic Nonsense” still allows for a likely single KO even if the OA is dealt with, preserving the initial design of him while giving you additional reach. Reach which frankly is needed for three wide non-Titan Master decks to compete in the current metagame. Titan Masters Attack gave us a perfect weapon for this archetype in Paralyzo Box, doing double duty of being Green/White while also allowing for big hits. It is also a really cool interaction to have more than one in play during an attack and stack the triggers on top of each other, assuring at least one gets in for the plus four!
The other strategy I see “Such Heroic Nonsense” allowing you play is a traditional Blue based control strategies. Here, the issue you faced was mentioned above: the time to play all the weapons easily countered by popular removal options by your opponent. Now, however, you can play to a strategy that is simply “every time I attack, something is getting KO’d” due to the increased survivability on the Megatron himself and his weapons.
I hope players will find other deck archetypes that revolve around Megatron: Living Weapon and Such Heroic Nonsense, because I truly believe the Wave One aspect of him is the iconic one!
If you have any rules questions or thoughts on this Stratagem or any of the other Alpha Trion Protocols 1st release cards (aka ATP1) leave your questions on the Alpha Trion Protocols Facebook group pinned post ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/alphatrionprotocols) or ask them live during our live Q&A on Thursday 9/17/20, starting at 7:30 p.m. EST or 6:30 CST at this YouTube link here.
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“Till All Are One!”
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