Custom VS Hijinks: Transformers Animated, Part 1

Making up for the writing drought…

I’ve been a fervent enthusiast of the Transformers for about 23 years now, counting back from the time I watched the first G1 Transformers cartoons on video cassette.  There’s just something compelling to a child about a vehicle that changes into a robot, combining two favorite toy concepts into one awe-inspiring figure.  Supplemented by a grandiose storyline about a galaxy-spanning war between the heroic Autobots and the Evil Decepticons, it’s no surprise that fans of the original series and its plentiful follow-ups and incarnations are legion all over the world.  The most recent version of this beloved series, Transformers Animated, pays homage to the original series in many ways, but is an excellent addition to the Transformers saga all its own, due to the brilliant character development and exciting storylines that don’t veer off too far into the cheesy end the way the G1 series did.  (Autobots and Decepticons in King Arthur’s court?  Come on…)

The mechanics of VS are flexible enough to represent practically any cartoon or comic book universe in existence, or at least those that are, like the Transformers, predominantly character-centric.  It only seemed natural to port the Transformers into the game, as laser blasts and hologram projections have been represented before as cards.  The only problem was that VS had no way to simulate what is undoubtedly the most important aspect of the Transformers characters – their ability to transform between their robot and vehicle modes.  While adaptive stats (a la the Birds of Prey) could have been one solution, ultimately it would have resulted in either very lackluster or entirely crowded card representations.

It seemed that a more acceptable mechanic would be to adopt a form of Substitute in which the robot and vehicle modes of character are depicted on separate cards, with the character in play being able to switch between forms at will.  Consequently, the Transformer keyword was formulated.

Transformer is one of those keywords that kind of requires a wall of text to explain what it does.  As concisely as possible, its rules text would go like this:

When a character with Transformer comes into play, you may discard a card.  If you do, you may search your deck for a character card of another version of that character with the same cost and put it into your hand.  Shuffle your deck.

Reveal a character card with the same cost and a different version as this character-> return this character to your hand and put the revealed character card into play in the same position and in the same state as the character you returned.  This effect does not trigger any “comes into play” or “leaves play” effects.  All effects previously played on this character are considered to have been played on the character that came into play for the same duration.

To clarify:

– If a Transformer is exhausted and the player decides to transform it, the new character card comes into play exhausted.  No “comes into play” or “leaves play” effects trigger, so you can’t use a Transform to burn an opponent to death with Zazzala, for example.

– All effects that resolved on a Transformer remain in effect no matter how many transformations occur.  If Flying Kick is played on a Transformer, it has flight and +3 ATK while attacking even after a transformation.  For game purposes, the card in play is the same card as the card that left play.

– A transformation can occur at any time it is legal to play effects.

Whew.  Well, it seems to work decently in theory.  To illustrate further, here’s Bumblebee of TF: Animated:

Bumblebee’s robot mode has a pair of nasty stinger blasters that don’t do much against bigger targets but work fine when dealing with more evenly-sized opposition.  It costs energy (or Energon, if you want to get technical), so it’ll cost you to blast armies away, but the trade-off is that Bumblebee can decimate annoying weenies with impunity.

His car mode is a zippy compact car that is renowned in the series for its speed and maneuverability, not its damage potential.  Thus, while the Bumblebee vehicle is low on ATK, he has a high DEF to reflect the difficulty of opponents catching him, and an activated effect for a temporary speed boost.  The ability can be used on similar-sized drops to lower their ATK temporarily, and then have Bumblebee transform so he can stun the incoming diminished attacker.  In a pinch, if Bumblebee is attacking and it looks like things are not going to go his way, he can transform to raise his DEF in the hopes of avoiding a stunback.

I hope that sufficiently fleshes out the concept.  I’ll try to put the rest of the cast together, along with the prerequisite equipment, locations and plot twists, over the next couple of posts.

Until All Are One.

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