A literally huge surprise arrived for players of the Transformers TCG in its Wave 2 release: Combiners! These lumbering colossi are some of the biggest ‘bots ever fielded – only rivaled at the time of Wave 2 by the enormous Metroplex. In the beginning, the new Combiners generated a lot of player interest, even as the rest of the Wave proved to be something of a dud in the player community. Even the new shine of the Combiners began to dull quickly, as their general power level with established teams of Wave 1 characters didn’t match up. The only long-term exceptions for meta viability from the Wave 2 Combiners ended being Superion and Optimus Maximus alone. Regardless, the Combiners saw a lot of jank-level play, and players generally enjoyed the concept… even if they didn’t quite fulfill the fantasy of a towering, powerful robot Combiner.
Regrettably, Hasbro / WotC gave very little support to combiners after Wave 2. Individual cards like Scout Armor occasionally reminded players that, yes, Constructicons existed. But as time went on, their relevance in the greater game slowly dwindled.
Fast forward to 2020, and the cancellation of the Transformers TCG. After a relatively short mourning period, new custom card groups sprang up to continue the game! Some of the groups were interested in giving the long-languishing Combiners some much-needed support and meta-level viability. Alpha Trion Protocols started giving support to Combiners with their ATP-2 set, which is currently being revealed. Eddie’s Reformatted set has a heavy focus towards Combiner support, and offers them multiple options for play.
The Ark of the Combat-venant
But the sole major group at this writing that has produced a new Combiner for play is The Ark, with the release of their Ark Wave 1 set and the gargantuan Bruticus, Unstoppable Giant. Finally, the Combaticons had arrived onto the Transformers TCG scene – and what an entrance! With the abilities of the individual ‘bots combined with the oppression of Bruticus, the Unstoppable Giant is bound to be a meta-level presence in any format that supports Ark Wave 1 cards.
We would, of course, be remiss if we didn’t mention our own support for Combiners in Wave BFA World|Strike. Autobot Powerglide, Haughty Show-Off and one of his Stratagems, In the Name of Slingshot, provide an ample boost to the Aerialbots. In fact, Wave BFA World|Strike is the first major community set to not only directly support Combiners in the official Hasbro / WotC waves, but also – drum roll, please – the Ark’s Combaticons. But how, you may ask? This guy, for starters.
News Blast: The Shockwave Clone is Here
For those of you that were not introduced to Shockblast, Galactic Man during the first phase of the Wave BFA World|Strike Public Beta (0.3.1), he’s a busy Combaticon pulling double-duty in the reference department. For starters, he represents Combiner Wars Shockwave, the oft-forgotten sidearm of Combiner Wars Bruticus. Secondly, his color scheme might tip you off that he’s also an homage to the relatively obscure “Shackwave”: the gray, budget-priced, recolored Shockwave clone available by the names “Galactic Man” and “Astro Magnum” in retail outlets such as Radio Shack in the early 80’s. Clearly, Shockblast is a worldly fellow.
In formats that support cards from both The Ark and Bayformers (such as our upcoming IDW Unicron format – more on that later), the utility of Shockblast’s Combaticon trait may not be immediately obvious. Sure, in a team that includes a Mercenary (the Ark Combaticons notwithstanding), Shockblast’s general utility is clear, especially in his Astro Magnum Upgrade mode when the Mercenary is in a non-Bounty mode. Additionally, flipping to alt mode, Shockblast’s draw power can assist Onslaught, Combaticon Leader in his ability to give Plan 1 to any other Combaticons on the field. But where Shockblast’s specific value as a Combaticon first begins to become apparent is in decks that include the Ark Stratagem Starscream’s Brigade.
Suddenly, a method to get all 6 Combaticons on the field presents itself. Granted, Shockblast has the lowest Health total of all the Combaticons, so he’s likely not going to be your first choice for deploying on the battlefield. Unless of course, you’ve done your homework and you’re playing Shockblast with the Stratagem This Gun For Hire.
Now, Shockblast is a 7-star Combaticon with 9 Health and 2/3 Armor, and likely the best Combaticon at taking a hit or two. The fact that upon KO he’ll turn into a +3 Attack Upgrade is a very nice bonus. Additionally, given the refactored Upgrade ability that This Gun For Hire grants, now you can even give Starscream, Scheming Second-in-Command a Bounty ability if you Upgrade him with the Astro Magnum! Given you’re able to use Starscream’s Tap power an additional 3 times, the Astro Magnum might even end up in the hand of Bruticus, Unstoppable Giant.
A Brigade You’ll Heart
But that’s not the only way to have all six Combaticons on the field. Let’s say you’ve lost patience with Starscream’s antics, and you want to earn Bruticus the old fashioned way – with a wide lineup! The designers at the Ark were wise enough to ensure that the primary 5 Combaticons’ star count totaled 24. This gives just enough room for a star card to be included in your Unstoppable deck. But what star card to use? Certainly, a Wave BFA Stratagem like Enterprising Spotlight could buff your 5-wide Combaticon deck. The ability to draw a Plunder (or two!) during your initial Bruticus attack might annihilate the opposing player.
But the goal here is to get Shockblast on the field as well to become a 6-wide terror, and this is where Team Bayformers comes through once again. Behold the final unrevealed card of Wave BFA World|Strike, the Stratagem Third Party Brigade.
But with the power of a 6-wide team come… penalties. Poor Onslaught is used to only managing a 5-man team, and team cohesion takes a hit as Shockblast’s presence makes the Combaticons’ attacks more inefficient. With Third Party Brigade in play, one of your black pip cards you flip during an attack (your choice) is scrapped. This means other pips on the scrapped card don’t fire as well – a white pip in the scrap doesn’t grant bonus flips, and a green card in the scrap can’t be traded for.
The cost of playing the Stratagem can be naturally mitigated by Onslaught’s Plan 1 ability and Shockblast’s draw flip into alt mode. Plan a Smoke Cloak or Smokethrower, and you’ll have the choice to scrap that instead of a more valuable flip like Wedge Formation. However, for some players the cost of Third Party Brigade will be too much offense lost, and that will make this card not an automatic inclusion for every Bruticus deck.
Blasting Off into Crossplay Formats
Our team has a saying that is often repeated:
“Cards are best when played together.”Team Bayformers
We believe wholeheartedly in a future Transformers TCG environment where multiple community sets can coexist – and even be played together. As a first step to encourage this crossplay, we’ve created cards that directly support the work of other community groups. We hope these cards will be received in the crossplay spirit that they were intended for. We also hope this catches on, as different groups create well-tested cards that boost the gameplay of other groups’ cards.
Our upcoming tournament circuit will also explore different crossplay scenarios, first with cards from Alpha Trion Protocols, followed by the Ark. We’re looking forward to the chaos and mayhem, but also the interesting dynamics that may emerge in a tournament format. The possibilities that lie ahead are too good to ignore!
0.3.5 – The Final Public Beta Phase of World|Strike
All 130 cards of Wave BFA World|Strike will be available for download and testing in the next 24 hours. We’re pleased to begin the final drive to 0.3.6 Release Candidate 1, and onward to the 1.0 official release. Stay tuned to our social media channels for notifications on when 0.3.5 becomes available.
Don’t want to wait? Check out our Downloads Page for the 0.3.4 Public Beta!