I must confess; I’m a sucker for flavor. Good food sure, but especially flavor in my game design. My favorite sets in Magic? Pretty much anything steeped in it; Mirage, Tempest, the OG Ravnica sets, OG Innistrad. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the set in the larger context of the game, the Kamigawa block was STOCKED with flavor…unfortunately that was to the detriment of it I think since MtG is heavily rooted in Western fantasy, and the Asian flair they were filling it with just didn’t jive well mechanically. My favorite D&D setting? Ravenloft, or as the cool kids know it today “Curse of Strahd.” And Transformers. Ahhhh Transformers; I LOVED the Devastator and the Blaster vs Soundwave 35th Anniversary decks, especially the convention pack with classic artwork. The Omnibots as a convention (or mail order!) exclusive!
Mechanics are cool and all, but flavor, for me, are where its at!
For my own custom TF TCG projects, I’m aiming to emulate as much as I can. For my first official foray into something, I’m riffing on the darkly awesome “Shattered Glass” universe; the mirror world where good is bad, bad is good, and there are evil mustaches abound! AND, what really kick started my thinking on it all, was…flavor!
Timelines’ Shattered Glass Preview
My first preview/beta release for this is two Stratagems, and a handful of totally vanilla cast members to start the ball rolling. The characters are window dressing; this is a sneak peek at the cast list for the Timelines deck, but not of their final abilities, that will come later. The Stratagems are the REAL spoiler here!
The two spoiled Stratagems here exclusively target a team of Shattered Glass characters, Autobot or Decepticon. All Timelines “Shattered Glass” characters feature their universal designation in their sub-type line. This is some hinted at design space if you watch the Siege releases; their proper names may portray military ranks, but their subtypes are more than descriptors, they’re roles: Demolitions, Infantry, Ranger, and many many more. Tagging in on the idea, Timelines characters will call out universal designations in a similar fashion, using a dot to separate a flavorful or possibly functional subtype line from such a thing. The Shattered Glass characters also feature inverted color schemes and a special shattered glass header, but these have no bearing on the rules of the game, its all flavor.
“Ragtag Rebels” is the Decepticon stratagem; its stolen text really, taking a cue from the Megatron Fallen Hero stratagem and awarding Bold to its recipients based on the amount of damage they have suffered. This is one part just good recycling; using existing mechanics and expressions. For my purposes, it was a great example of the flavor I wanted to evoke.
In the Shattered Glass world, it is the Decepticons who are at a disadvantage, often more so than Prime and his allies ever were in the mainline stories. They are downtrodden, in hiding, and operate more like rebel cells. Several fictions attached to the characters show a higher death toll, and infact in their first appearance several Decepticons are iced right off the bat, coldly and callously.
From my standpoint then, it was fitting that as the pressure on these…Ragtag Rebels…increased, so too would their resolve. The stratagem “Revenge” was just too perfect mechanically, and it was already coded for Decepticons in the first place! We are taking a bit of a risk with this design; the star cost is lower, and it applies to the whole team, but the applied characters are far narrower. As well, this is a “starter” box, and the cast of characters are all lower-power as compared to some of their compatriots in the wider game.
“Shattered War” is the Autobot stratagem. The concept is more stolen than the rules itself, and I suspect we’ll be tinkering with this one a good deal before it reaches a final form.
In the Shattered Glass timeline, Optimus Prime as a power-mad lunatic, as much a threat to his own men as he is to the enemy. In the mainline timelines, Nemesis Prime fills this role and his card in the game is one of the very popular ones at that. Our stolen concept directly increases combat power; in the case of Nemesis, he does this by hiding a battle card each time you shuffle your deck and gaining a +3 boost. In the SG world, Optimus has no qualm about killing friend or foe. Riffing on this idea then, we’re going to borrow Nemesis’ ability, but we’re going to key it to the body count…and not just on their side of the field!
For this reason, you will note, the Autobots outnumber the Decepticons; from a flavor standpoint, this reinforces the desperate struggle of the Decepticons, working underground. From a mechanical standpoint, however, this also gives our insane Autobot leader cannon fodder; an early Peace Through Tyranny (quite apt) can KO a weakened peon like Ricochet or Goldbug, buy an extra turn, AND ramp up Prime’s forces.
…And All The Rest
And what’s the rest of our packet? “Vanilla” versions of our cast list for the Timelines “Shattered Glass” Boxed Set! Each of the characters are relatively low-star values and aren’t intended at this time to be heavies; this is a boxed experience we’re aiming for. The respective leaders clock in at 7 stars each, using my compiled spreadsheet for 7-star Rare characters as the basis of their stats. The rest are 6 and 5 stars, enough to make a pair of 24 star teams and 1 star for their faction Stratagem.
The goal right now is to play around with the Stratagems and see how well the two play with each other. Proposed deck lists will be posted with the teams, and their alt-modes will help unite their play; the Decepticons are all Planes, whereas the Autobots are cars and trucks. The basic Wave 1 starter battlecard list would be an excellent place to start for now, and expand from there.
As folks get some play experience under their belt, I’d love to hear about it! Biggest things I want to know are how well the mechanics reinforce that flavor; as the Decepticons take a beating, can they claw back? As the Autobots mow down friend and foe alike, are they more fearsome? Lets find out!!
Timelines Shattered Glass Previews
- Megatron, Rebel Hero * Shattered Glass (Bot Mode) (Alt Mode)
- Dirge, Morale Officer * Shattered Glass (Bot Mode) (Alt Mode)
- Starscream, Loyal Advisor * Shattered Glass (Bot Mode) (Alt Mode)
- Optimus Prime, Emperor of Destruction * Shattered Glass (Bot Mode) (Alt Mode)
- Goldbug, Espionage * Shattered Glass (Bot Mode) (Alt Mode)
- Ricochet, Bodyguard * Shattered Glass (Bot Mode) (Alt Mode)
- Rodmus, Would-Be Despot * Shattered Glass (Bot Mode) (Alt Mode)
- Ragtag Rebels, Shattered Glass Decepticons (Card Face)
- Shattered War, Shattered Glass Autobots (Card Face)
~Till All Are Gone