Earlier this week we showcased both the ‘bot artwork of Timelines: Shattered Glass’ Optimus Prime; today we’re going to show off the alt mode art, answer some new Decisive questions, and show off the Alt Mode art and playtest cards!
What is Decisive?
Decisive, the new ability keyword revealed earlier and slated for use in the Timelines: Shattered Glass box set and Kaleb Adams’ Shattered Glass release, reads “Whenever you could play an Action, you may activate a Decisive ability instead. This counts as playing an Action.”
What does this mean?
At any time that you could legally play an Action card, you can instead choose to use a Decisive ability. This is most often referred to in design as a “replacement effect,” as it replaces normal behaviors with something new. It converts the ability to play cards into a type of currency or slot; you automatically get one Action and one Upgrade “slot” each turn while other effects and abilities (such as Brainstorm) can increase the number of slots you get in a given turn. You can use Action slots to activate Decisive abilities.
You have to have the ability to legally play an Action card and can then choose to forgo that and INSTEAD activate a Decisive ability. If you do not have an Action “slot,” either because of the turn (1st turn you cannot play anything) or because you already used your Action play for the turn, you cannot play a Decisive ability.
What are the implications?
As written, the idea is that the Decisive ability counts as playing an Action.
Since its utilizing an Action “slot,” our consideration is that it is an Action play for the purposes of cards like Thundercracker which count when Actions are played.
As its not a battle card, it has no battle icons; a little more than that, since its not a battle card it can’t even have battle icons in the first place so its not even “blank.” Any card that would ask about an Action with particular icon configurations won’t respond to Decisive actions being used.
Early chatter suggests that some players would prefer NOT to treat this ability as playing an Action. This can remove some considerations, both beneficial and confusing. A big concern is the impact of synergy; this makes Decisive abilities’ strength waver a bit, as not counting the activation as an Action in a sense “increases” the cost of using the ability by denying you perks you would otherwise get from other effects. This could, with wider testing, be the right call as it could be overly generous to grant those boons, or it could be too restrictive and deny Decisive users valuable interactions. We are happy to see how it plays out however as each case has valid benefits and concerns, and playtest data can expose holes in the philosophy!
Charge Into Battle!
As to our promised spoiler today, well…here we are!
SG Prime wants a body count as we discussed earlier; the alt mode, our starting face, bumps his starting points to give him that! By tweaking his total allotment, we achieve a sense of unfavorable odds and can craft a support team of cars that are usable elsewhere without opening up too much power outside the Timelines SG team or making Prime’s crew too weak here!
Check out our Google Drive for playtestable copies of the Timelines: Shattered Glass team! https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1EZvd23KXhNdgnxOUUJdppThhmBAQLfH7?usp=sharing
Additional Decisive Q&A
For the original reveal and first Q&A, please click here.
Q: Can I activate a Decisive action off Optimus Prime, Battlefield Legend?
A: No, OP Battlefield Legend instructs you to choose an Action revealed by Prime while flipping battle cards. You cannot play a random Action from your hand using that, so you cannot activate a Decisive ability on the field. If the Action you chose was “Brainstorm,” however, that would be possible as the Decisive ability would use one of the Brainstorm Action slots.
Q: Can I activate a Decisive action on an opponent’s turn?
A: If an effect would allow you to play an Action on an opponent’s turn, yes. Activating the Decisive ability would replace that Action.
If the effect has additional restrictions (such as playing an Action from a specific zone like your hand or scrap pile, from a pool of revealed cards as with OP Battlefield Legend, etc), then that specific effect would not allow you to use a Decisive ability as it would not meet the criteria of coming from the specific zone. Like with the answer above, if the card Brainstorm were a legal play in this instance and was the played Action, then you could uses one of Brainstorm’s Action slots to activate the Decisive ability.
Q: Do Decisive abilities have battle icons, are they “blank” battle cards, or do they simply not have battle icons?
A: Decisive abilities are not battle cards, so they not only have no icons they do not have the capacity for icons. They simply do not register for something that looks for an Action of a particular battle icon configuration.
Q: I play Brainstorm and then use an Action to activate a Decisive ability; my opponent reveals Speed Trap. What happens?
A: Decisive as it stands now treats its use as an Action; Speed Trap would be allowed to reveal (Reveal: When your opponent plays an Action and its the second Action they played this turn) and in doing so it would cancel the effect of the Decisive ability (When Revealed: Scrap that Action and it has no effect. Your opponent can’t play Actions this turn.) Since the Decisive ability is not a battle card there is nothing to scrap and the character would not be scrapped so its not a free KO for the opponent. The ability would simply not resolve and you would be prohibited from playing any other Actions for the remainder of the turn. As you could not legally play an Action, you would not be able to activate Decisive abilities for the remainder of the turn either.