MSE Template 1.01 Released

As the title says!~

Version 1.01 of the MSE Template is uploaded; the documentation will be updated shortly as well to reflect some new elements as well.

Included in the update:

Updates to the “card_fields,” “set_fields,” “keywords,” and “scripts” files to:

  • Bot 1 Mode, Bot 2 Mode, Character Mode and Unit Mode are added as acceptable modes
  • “Stratagem” reminder text has been generisized to “name card or trait” and added
  • “Mode” is now a keyword group and can be disabled, eliminating automatic text for Battle Masters, Minicons, Weaponizers, Stratagems and battle cards with stars.
  • Cleaner blending script for card backgrounds
  • Quintesson and Junkion now factions in the trait drop down and symbol fonts
  • Adjustments for later features and functions (IE Custom card factions)

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed a missing mask for the “character-head” style.
  • Adjusted the Normal Character trait placement
  • Adjusted the Traits so that “Titan Master” will properly select

Go to the Downloads page to redownload the installers or the complete ZIP file!

Format – Drones, or “Are We Alone In The Universe?”

Transformers TCG has been a fantastic vehicle for bringing people together, bringing people to the trading card game world, for introducing people to Transformers who may have never picked up a toy before. In the “before times,” while it was difficult there were valient efforts to bring groups together in local game stores to play and support the game that were largely successful!

Alas, thanks to COVID-19 first and then the cancellation of the game second, this is becoming harder and harder. Online game play via OCTGN has some steam, but even there’s not always an opponent and sometimes you don’t want to hop online. So what’s a lonely Cybertronian to do?

Plenty of modern board games have acknowledged this problem and have worked hard to develop solutions which include single-player modes. And today, we’re going to take a stab at one for Transformers TCG!

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MSE Transformers…Create And Roll Out!

On July 20th, Unicron came for the Transformers CCG (…

Within the week, however, the fan community rallied. Survivors vowed to fight on. Factions arose, content creators banded together to devise their own material. “We shall carry on!”

By the end of the week, handfuls of members were drafting original content. New cards, ideas, characters, concepts. Some were gleaned from conversations with WotC official members and what they previously said they looked forward to; others were born of fevered dreams of madmen. And; on the fringes of Iacon, a lone programmer embarked on a quest to open the databanks to everyone.

Today, after a month and change of work…the gates are open wide.

Head on over to the Downloads page and grab the packages and install MSE and the Transformers TCG template for yourself and embark on your own adventures!

What does the future hold? Have a sneak peek!

Design – Selecting Artwork

While any resulting cards will of course be fan productions and in no way legal or official, I still encourage everyone to source their artwork responsibly; acquire art from as close to an official source as possible so the artist’s intentions and design remain intact, connect with the artist in some way to ask permission or alert them of your use, and credit the artist on the card featuring their work (that is why the artist credit line was added!) as well as any accompanying documentation or showcase efforts.

Beyond that. some norms have arisen in the five sets WotC gave us which are worth exploring for consistency with released product and general coherence as well. The links toward the end of the article are artists, collections, and some official channels for spoiler/preview/concept art related to Transformers properties that are good sources.

Transformers ’84: Secrets and Lies mini-series from IDW!
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MSE – Using Icons (UPDATED!)

Hello everyone! Today we’re going to cover some questions about using the MSE software and the Transformers template so that once it hits, everyone is already off to the races! Lets begin, shall we?

The Transformers TCG template tries to take a lot of the workload out of your hands and automate it. To that end, we’ve done a lot of work to build in all of the symbols and icons the game uses and identify those automatically.

UPDATED: So, I jump the gun occasionally 🙂 I’ve added/updated some of the options since the OP. Ahead are the new additions as well as the original article.

Two fields, the primary text box and the stars box, will accept input in a way that produces icons relevant to the game.

Text Box:

Pips: Enter any of WOBUG (White, Orange, Black, Blue, Green) between brackets [] to produce pips of those colors, and in official order. Use any pair separated by a slash / to produce a hybrid colored pip. T produces the “Tap” icon when entered between brackets. All characters must be upper case to be recognized.

Traits/Factions: Traits and factions such as Specialist or Dinobot are recognized immediately; simply type the name and the system will bold the term and pair it with the appropriate icon. Plurals are recognized.

Symbols: ATK, DEF, and HEL produce the Attack, Defense, and Health icons respectively. AUT, DEC, MER, UNI, MAX, and PRE produce the faction symbols for Autobots, Decepticons, Mercenaries, Unicron, Maximals, and Predacons.

Stars: STR, ST5, S10 will produce the Star icons for 1, 5, and 10 star valuations in the text box. This is UNIQUE from the star bar.

Card Name: The card’s name can be made a special entry; type the tilde (~) or CARDNAME (all caps) into the text box and the entry becomes an “atom,” an unbreakable line of text which is automatically filled. As you update the card name, the atom will similarly update the text displayed in the card box.

Manual Insertion: Symbols can be manually inserted via “Format > Insert Symbols” into the text box. Additionally, all of the Faction pips can be selected from the Manual bar.

You can turn symbols OFF in the text box as well; put your cursor beside the symbol element you want to turn “off” and you can click the “Star” button beside the B (Bold) and I (Italic) buttons up-top, like you might in Office or Word, or you can click through Format > Symbols. The keyboard shortcut is CTRL + M to trigger the symbol.

Star Box:

STR, ST5, and S10 will produce the star icons for 1, 5, and 10 star valuations, just like the text box.

1, 5, and 0 will produce the star icons for 1, 5, and 10 star valuations, only in the star box.

The astrisk (*) will produce the star icon for single stars, only in the text box.

Typing any string of five single-star icons (11111, *, STR STR STR STR STR, 1 1 1 1 1, * * * * *) will produce a separator between each group. Each group must be of the same five variations.

Design – Average Bot Stats

Designing cards for any game will always be a matter of art more than science (or math), but the basic maths do help a lot.

Dinobot Slash – Bot Mode

I’ve crunched the printed Character cards (so this excludes the combiner forms) and produced a look at the general specs of the bot cards in the game. I hope to expand the data crunch to include some more intel on number of keywords/traits, be able to bust things down by those (What’s the average Dinbobot hit points? What’s the average Car-mode offense?) but this should give some idea on how bots can be designed and balanced.

One element factored into the spreadsheet is Rarity; while I realize with custom designs there’s no production to be concerned about, a designer working on a proper set will want to balance the whole set out and that includes the rarities; there will be far more commons than rares, so designing every card as a rare hurts some of the variety the game can showcase.

Caveat; the numbers here are guidelines and give a picture of what a bot looks like, they’re not hard-and-fast “plug me in” numbers precisely. Always balance what you want out of the character against and be wary of pushing the card’s values to the upper limits on all stats. If you have a beefy character, go light on the offense and heavier on hit points or defense. If you have a bruiser, lean on the attack, if you have a speedster go light on hit points (fragile) but give them a bit of a defense boost (they’re fast!!).

LOW value characters are typically “Heads” and are much weaker by comparison; 4-5 star characters are often the drones or “allied” cards for Metroplex and Tyrpticon though there are some in the wild.

As an example for everyone, lets walk through one of our earliest spoiled cards; “Dinobot Slash.”

I started with an idea that I wanted a smaller bot, both as a reflection of the character and the toy (who is much smaller than her compatriots) as well as to round out the Dinobot team; most of the other bots are BIG, star count wise and every other metric that matters.

As a raptor, small and fast, we wanted a lower star count as well, and a chassis to go with it. While we need to finalize specs, I pegged her around 5 stars then. We wanted her moderately powerful for her bracket, so tagging her as Uncommon gives us a bit more “oomph” to work with than a common bot.

For her overall Hit Points, I wanted to push her to the upper limit; it gives her a little more life on the board and makes decent synergy with Sludge, who’ll soak up damage counters for her as well. On Offense, we don’t want a powerhouse; she’s intended to be small, fast, utility, so we hewed closer to average for her bot stats: 2 Offense, 1 Defense. On the flip side, her sneaky raptor form we went a little heavier on the Offense, 3, for the “quick sharp attack.” Otherwise, Dinobot Slash is a fairly middle-of-the-road bot; we have moderate offense, average defense, and heavier hit points. This doesn’t ultimately account for abilities, such as keywords, activated abilities, and the traits/factions, however, all of which can shape how effective a character is.

Format – Space Bridge

Welcome back! As a second round of posts, we’re transcribing and expanding on a post from the original Facebook page regarding a possible new format should we lean into a new card type…Locations!

Kaon, Decepticon Capital

Many channels have floated the possibilities of Locations, and word is that WotC themselves were considering a Location card as a potential item that never manifested. Ideas have flown about how they would work, what they might do, etc.

Any time you’re going to add something to a game, you want to make sure it brings with it its own realm of design space and isn’t just eating up space from elsewhere. To that end, as a personal preference, I dislike the idea of making Locations battle cards. This was floated a few times in conversations I’ve seen, where folks refer back to Pokemon’s “Stadium” cards.

That said, one area of interesting impact in Transformers is you do not often get to see or do universal effects. There’s a few; tap all characters, deal 2 damage to all characters, etc. but nothing really generates any sense of…upheaval.

With that in mind, looking to other games as examples for how the handled similar concepts, I decided to tap into the Magic: the Gathering format “Planechase,” itself a formalized version of a casual game format called “Chaos Magic.” The idea behind both is there is a second deck of wild effects; in Chaos, the top card of the “Chaos Deck” is flipped at the start of each player’s turn and the reveal sets new rules basically for the turn. This deck is made up of existing cards, so the effects vary from benign to random to painful to hilarious depending on which deck list is used. With Planechase, there is a little more structure and the concept a little more clear: players are “exploring” the multiverse which makes up MtG’s setting. Each plane is a new place, on a new world, with relevance to the story, characters, and such. The effects are less wild than Chaos Magic in that there are very few of these “planes” cards.

“Space Bridge” would be an answer to this idea for Transformers TCG. Borrowing from the Chaos/Planechase concept, players would construct a deck of special Location cards, shuffle up, and get ready to play.

At the start of the game, the top card of the deck would be flipped and its text followed; cards would ideally have a “When Revealed” trigger, something big and splashy that should impact both players, and a static effect that is true while the Location is revealed.

The Ark; home after 4 million years of dormancy

Any time a player could play an Action card, they can choose instead to reveal a new Location. The current Location would go to the bottom of the Location deck, and the new Location flipped, its “When Revealed” triggers followed, and its static effects…messing with the table!

This is a simple outline of the idea; there’s a lot of room to explore. One such option is a “storybook” mode, where the order of the Locations is not randomized but fixed, with triggers that advance the players to the next Location. Such a “deck” could replicate the planet hopping of The Animated Movie, leading from Moon Base 1 to Earth & Autobot City, then on to Quintessa, Junkion, and finally back to Cybertron and Unicron for a final showdown for the ages!

Till all are one! ~Nate

Exploring Design Space – Titan Frames

In a first article for the site we’ll start talking about exploring unique design spaces, starting with tools we already have!

The above image was released last night as an announcement regarding the completion of the “Titan” card frame for the Magic Set Editor (MSE) template. In the game, Titans are reserved for the likes of Metroplex, Trypticon, and Fortress Maximus, though you can bet lots of folks are chomping at the bit to make even more. Even Omega Supreme got his first release on a super-sized Titan frame card.

For grins and giggles, I threw a Superion image into the frame…and it looked good. But more than that, the idea of making Superion not just a combiner but a stand-alone bot has some fun and interesting design possibilities.

Combiners are typically eschewed for their difficulty to assemble. They’re potentially a lot of fun, but it becomes a time-consuming affair and by the time the titanic monstrosity is assembled one or more of its components have been KO’d at least once and it becomes a slog as the combiner attacks, and then the opposing team gets 2-3 attacks in, and it keeps on going.

Conceptually, using the “Titan” frame and idea first floated by Omega Supreme we could remedy some of this by making a dedicated combiner-form card, with sane stats, that allows it to be a part of a team with a couple of smaller bots as backup/support. Doing it this way, we don’t have to worry terribly about super-weak support pieces or incorrectly costed parts being able to slot in elsewhere, and we can make some interesting adjustments with the combiners themselves.

Mind, this is a half-formed idea; there’s still a lot of ground to cover in terms of making this work. But, the basic idea isn’t too far fetched and could open a lot of possibilities!

Superion, Combiner Team Go!

Till all are one ~ Nate

Edge of Iacon – Online!

Welcome to “Edge of Iacon”‘s brand new domain and online home! With the growing assortment of cards, features, and plans, it made sense to help establish the identity of EoI and develop more of a hub-presence where materials, news, downloads, and everything related to this could be kept in one place.

Over the next few days placeholder images and galleries will be updated, further news posts regarding EoI, the development of the Magic Set Editor (MSE) templates will be made, and some exciting stuff will be revealed, all in due time!