Transformers TCG Product Review

Hasbro released the Transformers TCG designed by Wizards of the Coast today. I had some interest in this game after checking out the rules and seeing that it would be a pretty intense showdown experience. Naturally I did what any normal adult woman would do and pre-ordered two booster boxes. They’ve arrived and now I have a product review for you all. A foreward: I used to be a TCG player for nearly all my life. As someone who dislikes predatory business models, TCGs have been off my radar for quite some time. The Transformers TCG will be ultimately no different. There are rares, uncommons, and commons. There’s tons of wasteful garbage you throw away after unwrapping them. You’ll pull too many copies of the same common for just yourself. The steep price of the product is ultimately for pretty cardboard. Given that I do not appreciate the TCG model, I will not be giving a review of its full distribution nor as a game. This review will be accepting all of these things as granted, therefore you will not find this to be an anti-TCG rant. This will purely be an opinion article reflecting how I feel about what I opened. In that way, I am biased more toward games that offer as much of a complete playset as possible in a box.

This review is based on the opening of two booster boxes and therefore pull rates will reflect this.

The Good

Good stuff will be listed with ratings: Trivial, Minor, Moderate, Amazing

  • Amazing Full play set (3) of each Uncommon battle card
  • Amazing Card frame is good, solid design. Everything looks like it belongs where it is, has good colors, and all info is easy to read. Minor complaint: some of the pure white name text overlaps the pure white decorations, which looks a bit glitchy.
  • Amazing I can make a competent deck with one or two booster boxes
  • Amazing Character card art is dynamic and a cut above the rest
  • Moderate Two full play sets of every Common battle card
  • Moderate A copy of every Common character card
  • Moderate Character-limited battle cards are Rares, reducing pack waste
  • Moderate Large and all-foil character cards make them feel special and have a unique draw to the game
  • Moderate Battle card art works well and is good overall
  • Minor Received at least one copy of all but 3 specific Rare battle cards (90%)
  • Trivial No battle card foils, therefore no foil-chasing

The Bad

Bat stuff listed by rating: Trivial, Minor, Moderate, Severe

  • Severe Card stock quality is noticeably lower than Magic the Gathering. Not sure why WotC went the route of apparently using ivory core instead of 310gsm black core. May be a turnoff for some players.
  • Moderate Only pulled 50% of the Rare character cards. For comparison, I would likely need 4 booster boxes to get a set. Good by WotC standards, bad by early PanZ standards.
  • Minor With 30 packs, which have 7 battle cards each, you’d expect a similar pattern for character cards, yielding 4 expected rare characters. Two boxes only had 3 character rares each.
  • Minor Super Rare characters appear to be 1/3 boxes. This could be a problem, however there are at least only 2 SRTs total.
  • Minor Card back design could be more inspired. They’re stuck with this now.
  • Trivial Multiple triplicate Common character cards as well as some triplicate Uncommon, which is kind of waste. In two boxes, a single duplicate Rare character.

Minor speculation; we did receive less copies of some of the better Rare battle cards such as Cybertronian Bow, Energon Axe, and Data Bank. I worry that some cards may be short-print in addition to their rarity. I cannot confirm this until I see a sample size of around 7-10 boxes, but it’s something we should be checking as people open boxes.

In slight defense of the box pull rates: From a gameplay perspective, most characters and common battle cards look playable. It doesn’t seem to have the typical problematic “common trash card” trope of TCGs as a widespread design decision.

Overall

This was a good experience. The large cards are a nice 3.5″ x 5″ (40% bigger) and feel good to handle. I do wish WotC had chosen better quality card stock (though I haven’t confirmed by ripping a card yet) but I have suspicions that this may be an instance where Hasbro went behind their backs, as they likely assumed only a younger audience would care about the game. Hasbro is notoriously shitty about their component quality in every board game they make. Thankfully, Transformers TCG are at least a cut above the rest of Hasbro’s chaff. Most of my criticisms relate to the TCG model itself. You’ll find opening a box of Transformers to be something like mid-life PanZ (in-between early PanZ and WotC). Whereas with Magic the Gathering you can kiss your money goodbye and fat chance opening anything good, my complaints with Transformers largely extend from not having enough full sets of certain cards. Comparatively, Transformers is absolutely the better game to open. It could still be better, and probably should have been considering they want players to take a risk on a new TCG and buy enough product to get functioning decks quickly. It’s unlikely that TTCG will have any sort of secondary market value that’s profitable any time soon, therefore there’s nothing to “chase” and primary product sales will stay low to meet with natural (i.e. non-addict) demand. This is both a strength and a weakness: moving away from exploiting addictive behavior by providing a fully satisfying experience, but not enough product integrity to bring that concept all the way across the finish line.

If I didn’t know anything about the gameplay and had no interest in Transformers, I would probably be a fence-sitter on this one. However, I can see that the game itself has promise and the Transformers brand is strong, so if you’re on the fence after that, I can’t help you. Time to go sleeve up some decks and play!

Alice

Alice is the webmaster of VMundi, author, editor, mathematician, and autodidact. She has over 6 years of publishing experience writing articles for various self-run sites. Her interests include game design, economics, Game Theory, graphical design, quantum mechanics and mathematics.

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