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Welcome back everyone! The Titan Masters have finally made their way into players hands and it is certainly exciting. It has felt like decades of waiting to get the real deal into sleeves and run some games with the new toys. Although we here at Vector Sigma have been making every effort to continue to enjoy this amazing game via webcam games (check out the VS youtube page https://www.youtube.com/vectorsigmainfo) as well as running tournaments with proxies, there is something to be said for having the physical card in hand. Little pieces of paper slipped into card sleeves with backwards facing Piercing Blasters don’t quite scratch the itch but let me tell you, cracking the packs and actually holding a Nightracer felt awesome.
Hold up though, while constructed is the natural format to be slide right into there are other ways to play with your Transformers cards. Surely many out there reading this have played sealed at some point whether at a previous release event or even at the Energon Invitational, the largest competitive sealed event to date. There are a lot of other cards in a pack of Transformers TCG, and let’s face it: the fact of the matter is many are destined to sit in a box, reside in a binder, or the chance few fortunate will get sleeved up…but only after they have another card’s name written on them in permanent marker.
But wait! What if I told you there’s more fun to be had with these cards before they are ensconced in the storage solution of choice?
Don’t get me wrong. I have been (and still kind of am) an opponent of sealed play. Allow me this counterargument: what were you going to do with a lot of those cards anyway? It’s extra value from the things you paid for. Additionally, if you are really and truly stuck on the idea that constructed is the way to play then you can take this as a learning experience. You are going to have to run cards that you likely would’ve never considered before just simply due to the rules of the format. Interactions that you otherwise would’ve never seen (until they were staring you down from across the table) will become illuminated and that experience will spur creativity in the constructed space. The fact of the matter is sealed can be both fun and educational, as a competitive player or a casual player both rewards are pretty valuable.
Remember that tournament I referenced earlier well there’s another one coming and it’s sealed. Where do you start though? How do you prepare for an event when you will be handed a literally random stack of cards? Well here we go.
Scott and I discussed this on a recent Tech Talk, but he has also written a few words that ring true throughout sealed formats across many games, including this one. Focus on the commons. It’s a simple but powerful point. Let’s call back to EI and the many complaints about “bomb” super rares such as Lord Megatron and cards at other rarities that were allegedly ruining the format. The facts are that you are unlikely to open (or oppose) a super rare, let alone a specific one. Unsurprisingly, my astute reader, you can apply the same logic to rares both battle and character.
Things are admittedly a little skewed compared to the EI sealed format as we have six packs of the same set as opposed to three and three. However, guess what cards you are going to see the most of? Hint: they are the ones people generally dismiss and throw into boxes. That’s right we are talking about commons. This particular set sports a variety of powerful ones that are obvious such as Camien Crash or Scouting Mission. Go ahead, pull up the Transformers TCG app and sort by set and rarity. You’re going to see a lot of cards that you might have considered for constructed decks but a number that would normally be dismissed but will have a major impact. Consider things like Grav-Inhibitor or Brass Knuckles. Maybe they don’t make you 40 (or 50 counting sideboards) in constructed but they stand to make their presence known in sealed. In a similar vein you are going to land a significant number of uncommons. It is crucial to examine these cards with much more intensity, scrutinize them further than higher rarities because they
1. Make up most of your deck
2. Make up most of your opponent’s deck
Great, we have established that we have a bunch of lower rarity cards saturating every deck, that’s relatively obvious right? Let’s go a step further. The hypothesis at this stage is the format is going to be relatively aggressive. Yes, believe it or not sealed deck isn’t just random, it can lean towards aggro or control just as constructed does. There are a few reasons for why we believe it will shape out this way. Namely there are a lot of cards that don’t just sport black pips in the corner, but also playable black pips from a text box perspective. Magnetic Dysfunction Ray is good here too everyone! In conjunction with less playable blue cards you better be prepared to calculate combat math a few turns in advance. There are defensive options but stacking armor, tough, or other preventative effects is less likely in this environment than it would be elsewhere, as such the KOs should flow.
Speaking of randomness in sealed, let’s talk consistency for a moment. Here we are looking at green pips. While we have discussed in other mediums how green seems to be getting depowered overall, it still has a part to play. To highlight an example , expect to see a lot of Sharpened Talons. Primary Laser has taken on a lot of forms over the five waves of this game. A variety of pips, some had tacked on effects, but here we have a base level weapon, except we can ensure we have it. At least as best we can. Combat calculations need to account not just for damage you put out, but in general how long you anticipate characters to live. Hit points are regarded as the most important stat for a reason. Black pips underline that assertion. Circling back to Sharpened Talons you need to account for the potential of your opponent suiting up with this likely-to-be-in-their-deck-weapon. There are other instances of strong common and uncommon green cards that you are likely to see, so ensure you are aware of what’s likely to be played.
Characters and strategems aren’t left out though. Again, the rarity question comes into play. You’re going to see Bludgeon much more often than Skullsmasher. It’s unlikely you’re going to pair the appropriate strategems with their character and in many cases you may not even want to. Same goes for head/body combos. Let’s talk about “regular” characters first. We are already operating on the assumption that HP is crucial followed by attack, and last defense. This is a function of the quality and quantity of black pips among other factors You’ve got to be on the lookout for the larger healthpools as well as utility offered by a significant number of the common ‘bots and ’cons. The fact that your deck is going to be a little incoherent from a pip or effect perspective (as well as everyone else’s) means that getting more mileage out of character abilities is crucial. This includes characters that may not fit well with the ruthless efficiency of constructed. You may end up having time to flip a character from bot to alt a few times because while the pierce pips guarantee damage, they aren’t necessarily increasing the damage. Randomly taking 17+ is going to be rare, despite the existence of Improvised Shield and its ilk.
Titan Masters are the focus of the set, I mean it’s right in the title. They naturally are going to exert influence on sealed. As mentioned, don’t expect to pair the ideal head with the ideal body, it’s just statistically not likely. However, having access to the additional characters, who are likely to at least push damage for all the reasons previously mentioned, means you can start out ahead (lul) of your opponent potentially. Just keep in mind the commons. I know broken record, but when you swing with Kreb and they Camien Crash to clear a path don’t say I didn’t warn you. While they are small once they deploy the heads are still relevant as both attackers and blockers. Remember Sharpened Talons? Bam, got a target for it. Those black pips? They help heads connect just as well as other bots. Of course maybe most importantly is they allow you to utilize the bodies which become a formidable part of your team as we have already seen in the constructed events. It will come at the cost of really juggling the stars when assembling your team. The limitation of uh…limited is that you have to make due so you won’t have the luxury of just simply reaching for a certain character. You need to make it happen with what you’ve got.
This particular sealed format is very interesting. As compared to the past where you may have struggled to get to the minimum number of cards required, often grimacing as having to include certain cards, I anticipate there will be some sweat from debating what playables have to ride the pine during game one. The higher power level and the higher level of customizability I believe will make for a more interesting format. I’m looking forward to the sealed tournament hosted by Vector Sigma. There are so many things going on in Titan Masters Attack! and I am excited to try them out.
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