Friday, October 12, 2018

Transformers Trading Card Game offers Big Boys a New Way to Play with their Favourite Robots in Disguise


Too old to play with Transformers? That may certainly be the case for boys who grew up in the 1980's being served Transformers cartoons during their formative years. Not so much that these Generation One (G1) Transformers fans are shy to still be buying the latest toys from Hasbro, but complex robot transformations requiring proper handling may be a tad taxing on adult minds encumbered with adult life, as well as bothersome middle-aged myopia (nearsightedness) settling in. Indeed the closest these Gen-X G1 fans get to relive their childhood “playing” Transformers toys might be with their kid!

The Transformers Trading Card Game Character Cards shown with their toy counterparts.
Now the newly released Transformers Trading Card Game (TFTCG) offers the Big Boys another way to “play” with their favourite bots enacting battles between heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons. Finally the infamous Robots in Disguise receives a legit trading card game (TCG) from Wizards of the Coast (WotC), publisher of the first and still leading TCG Magic: The Gathering (MtG). Our Outpost Intel Report here intends to comprehensively cover everything you need to know about TFTCG right here.

After 25 years, the "mother" of Trading Card Games Magic: The Gathering is still thriving with millions of players worldwide.
For non-gamers, TCGs is a strategy game using specially designed cards put together by players into customised playing decks to be played against other player(s). The game mechanics determine how cards interact for players to gain advantage over their opponents and win. Cards are typically sold at random in blind packs, i.e. buyers do not know what cards they will receive. Cards are also circulated in differing quantities whereby rare cards are harder to find compared to common cards. This then leads to the “trading” nature of the game whereby players are encourage to trade cards with other players to obtain the cards they need. Major TCGs like MtG are highly competitive with tournaments organised across the world with serious prize money to be won.

Transformers Trading Card Game Autobot Starter Set.
The Transformers Trading Card Game is a battling card game designed for two players. Players build a team of Transformers character cards and power them up with a customizable deck of battle cards. Transformers character cards — such as those in the Autobots Starter Set and Booster Packs — are twice the size of standard playing cards; they can be flipped from bot mode to alt mode and back, and they feature premium printing treatment on one of their sides. The deck of battle cards features Action and Upgrade cards to enhance Transformers character cards.

The four Autobots in the Starter are Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Red Alert, shown here in Bot Mode.
So the transforming element of the franchise is thematically reflected by flipping over a Transformer character card printed with robot mode on one side, and alternate mode on the other. Well that really saves “manhandling” transforming action figures!

Just flip the Character Cards to "transform" your bots into their Alt Mode.
The Starter Set released provides minimum cards for players to start playing this TCG. Contents include four Autobot Character Cards and 40 Battle Cards, plus counters. These cards may be split evenly between two players for a 2-on-2 robot smackdown, or used by a single player as a team of 4 bots against other players. This set comprises Autobots only so it may seem unusual to fans for Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Bumblebee and Red Alert to battle each other, or just think of the bots being mind-controlled by sneaky Decepticons like Bombshell or Mindwipe!

Oversized Character Cards are two-sided representing bot or alt modes with values shown for Attack (yellow box), Health (red) and Defense (blue).
The game objective is to knock-out (KO) your opponent's Transformers represented by the Character Cards. In Basic Rules gameplay, players choose one of their bots to attack their opponent's bot. A bot's Attack value is compared against the target's Defense value. Battle cards are drawn that may affect the respective bots' Attack or Defense. If the Attack is higher than Defense, then the difference is deducted from the target's Health. Once Health reaches zero, that bot is out of the game, i.e. KO'd.

Battle Cards drawn offer a random factor to adjust Attack and Defense values of the bots based on colour of the top right rectangles.
Watch this official How-to-Play video introducing Basic Rules as narrated by Optimus Prime and Megatron:


As a product marked for ages 8+, the Basic Rules is really for younger kids and adults / teenagers will certainly want to use the Advanced Rules for more thematic play. Players would want to customised their decks to take advantage of the strategic abilities inherent in most cards to suit their character bots and playing style.

Part 2 of the official How-to-Play video explains the Advance Rules for Combat:


Battle cards may be utilised to provide an Upgrade to bots or an Action affecting gameplay. Furthermore, “transforming” or flipping the Transformers may provide additional affects. Serious strategic play would be to combine affects between selected cards to trigger significant game advantages.

Battle Cards as an Upgrade - Weapon: Ion Blaster of Optimus Prime increases the Autobot leader's Attack by 2 and Defense by 1. 
As an Action, the Battle Card Incoming Transmission allows its player to draw 2 cards then replace 1 to top of draw deck.
Find out how to effectively utilise Battle Cards as Actions and Upgrades in this Part 3 Hot-to-Play video:


A couple of other instructional videos are available only from the official game website here covering Special Abilities and Basic Rules in more depth.

Built-in special abilities for certain Transformers like Starscream here allows this Decepticon Aerial Commander to play more Battle Cards for Attack or Defense depending on his current mode.

When uncertain over interpretation of rules refer first to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted on the official Transformers Trading Card Game Facebook Page.

Watch a full game demo from this 47-min video.

Our Outpost Commander had the opportunity to playtest the Autobot Starter Set with long-time Gen1 Transformers fan Vincent Wong using the Basic and Advance Rules. Watch this video for their overview and impressions of the game:


As mentioned in the video, the Starter Set provides an initial sampling or "taste" of TFTCG by introducing the game mechanics and visual appeal of the cards. Furthermore all cards contained in Starter Sets are identical. So to fully "savour" the game will require further purchase, or "investment", of more Character and Battle Cards only found in Booster Packs. Indeed these booster contain the Deceptions as well as alternate versions of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee with different stats and abilities. Compare these three versions of Prime:

This Starter Set Optimus with lower Attack and Health may better reflect Orion Pax.

This Optimus with vastly improved stats and abilities offer players easier opportunity to use this card as it is only of Common rarity from boosters.

This Rare version of Optimus as a Battlefield Legend will be highly sought after for its fantastic abilities and very high Attack. Fans for the 1986 Transformers The Movie will also associate the artwork for Bot Mode to a legendary scene.
Deck construction is certainly a large part of playing cards from boosters as powerful versus weaker bots are balanced out by a star cost to each Character Card. A player is allowed maximum team cost of 25 stars, hence, the option of playing only 2 high cost bots, or 3-4 "cheaper" alternatives.The same named character cannot be fielded together, e.g. 2 x Optimus Prime Autobot Leader, although it is possible to use Optimus Prime Freedom Fighter and Optimus Prime Battlefield Legend together (total 25 points)! Just think that the multiverse also exists in the world of Transformers or time paradoxes happen...


This first release of TFTCG comprises 40 Characters Cards found from Booster Packs (excluding those from the Starter Set) and 81 Battle Cards; all cards numbered between 1 to 40 for the former type, and 1 to 81 for the latter. Each Booster Pack contains 1 oversized foil Character Card and 7 Battle Cards, all randomly packed. There are 4 levels of card rarity in this set (abbreviations as): Common (C), Uncommon (U), Rare (R), Super Rare (SR). The official game website quotes "Most Booster Packs contain 1 Rare Battle Card". No specific mention for the Character Cards so it seems logical to expect Commons and Uncommons from boosters most of the time with occasional rares. The same official source does indicate that the chance of scoring a Super Rare is 1:79 booster packs! This has certainly created a rather pricey secondary market for such Super Rare (and promo) cards listed around USD100 (RM400++) on Ebay.

The Super Rare Bumblebee Legendary Warrior Character Card looks to be valued over RM300 from Ebay (before shipping).

Fortunately there are only 2 Super Rares in Wave 1 which comprise Character Rares for Bumblebee Legendary Warrior SRT 09/T40 and Nemesis Prime Dark Clone SRT 28/T40.

SRT 28/T40: The dark mirror image of Optimus Prime, Nemesis Prime is a nightmare foe for the Autobots. Possessing the combat acumen and memories of Optimus, the only thing keeping the universe safe from his menace is the deep instability left behind by the brutal experiments that created him.
Here are the breakdown for number of cards by rarity:
  • Character Cards (total 40): 2 Super Rare, 10 Rare, 16 Uncommon, 12 Common
  • Battle Cards (total 81): 30 Rare, 27 Uncommon, 24 Common
  • Convention Promo Pack (4): 2 Character Cards, 2 Battle Cards
Get the full card list from the official website here.

Alternative lists for Character Cards by ascending number / name and similarly for Battle Cards for TFTCG Wave 1 from Pojo.com. This handy resource also includes visuals of the cards by clicking on the names.

Let's just indulge a bit of G1 fanboy service by looking at Character Cards for a few popular characters:

RT 27/T40 Megatron Living Weapon unfortunately does not become a Walther P38 in Alt Mode. He also has a Common version CT 26/T40 Megatron Decepticon Leader.
RT 14/T40 Decepticon Shockwave rightfully offers more firepower to Attack in Alt Mode plus funky abilities.

RT 21/T40 Grimlock Dinobot Commander is able to lead his team of dino-warriors Sludge, Snarl, Slag and Swoop, although it would not be possible to field all 5 of them together within 25 star cost.
The line-up of characters in Wave 1 seems to mainly comprise Prime and his car-bots, Seekers, Insecticons and Dinobots of G1 vintage. They are supplemented with notable mentions like Nemesis Prime, Darkmount and she-bots Arcee & Chromia. Browse photo album of all characters on the official TFTCG Facebook Page Photo Album.

For serious gaming, consider these top 5 Transformers to deploy in battle.

The Character Cards also offer display opportunities for Transformers collectors, such as matching action figures in either bot or alt mode with their namesake card.

Fan fav cute Bumblebee posing like his TFTCG Character Card.

Our Autobot Leader strikes a pose with his TFTCG card.
The Battles Cards looks to have adapted comic book artwork from IDW over the years, which may also have been inspiration for the card affects. Browse all 81 cards from the photo album at the official TFTCG Facebook Page.

Locally in Malaysia, the Transformers Trading Card Game has yet to be widely available and may only be found at selected hobby and gaming shops. The recommended retail price (RRP) for the two Wave 1 products are:
  • Autobot Starter Set, RM54.72
  • Booster Packs, RM14.62 each / box of 30 packs, RM438.60

For Transformers and/or gaming fans who want to get started right NOW on the TFTCG, Outpost has made special arrangements through our online retail channel with the following deals for a limited time only:

Autobot Starter Set price: RM 50/-

Gaming Bundle price: RM380/- for Booster box of 30 packs plus FREE folder for 48 oversize character cards, oversize card hard sleeve protectors x3, battle card sleeves x100 (while stocks last).

Pack of 80 coloured sleeves price: RM18/- when purchased together with any TFTCG product; otherwise RM20/-

Products are only available for shipping to addresses in Malaysia. Now enjoy FREE SHIPPING for orders above RM100; ends Sunday 14 October, 11.59pm.

BONUS: Customers will be invited to our TFTCG Malaysia Whatsapp chat group for opportunity to trade cards with other members.

Submit your Order through this online Form below:



Sales Confirmation will be emailed thereafter with payment instructions. Happy Gaming!


Autobots... Transform and Roll Out!

Or in this case, "flip" yourselves over!

LOL!

Teaser for next month... TFTCG gets BIGGER with the Titan Transformers Metroplex Deck. The Autobot Titan will be presented as a giant 20cm tall Character Card supported by his component bots Scamper, Slammer and Six-Gun.



#TFTCG

Disclaimer: Transformers and other trademarks are copyright to Hasbro, referenced here for fan service announcements.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Venom Unleashes Marvel Universe of Symbiotes


This week spawns another Marvel comic-book movie in the form of Venom from Sony Pictures, the same film studio that brought us the Spider-man franchise (as portrayed by Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland). However, the film universe that Venom exists is removed from the one presently occupied by the latest Spider-man incarnation, which shares the Marvel Cinematic Universe (M.C.U.) as seen by Holland's Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War (2016), Spider-man Homecoming (2017) and Avengers Infinity War (2018). As Sony holds the rights to approximately 900 Marvel characters, the film studio has since announced that Venom will begin Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters (SUMC, an internal label of convenience).


Venom's comic book origins date back three decades to 1998 as a major super-villain of the Spider-man saga. Created by David Michelinie and legendary artist Todd McFarlane, Venom first appeared in the pages of The Amazing Spider-man issue #300 with his first comic book cover in issue #316. Prior to this, Peter Parker donned a black version of his costume which was later revealed to be a living sentient alien.

Before delving further, it may benefit non-Marvel fans to explain what is a Symbiote to set the proper context. By the English dictionary, a symbiont is defined as:
An organism in a symbiotic relationship. In cases in which a distinction is made between two interacting organisms, the symbiont is the smaller of the two and is always a beneficiary in the relationship, while the larger organism is the host and may or may not derive a benefit. 
In terms of biology, the symbiotic relationship, or symbiosis, involves two dissimilar organisms living together. In the fictional world of Marvel, a Symbiote (intentionally with an "e') refers to the aliens that bond with (human) hosts in a such a symbiotic relationship to grant extraordinary abilities as a symbiont entity. Geddit?

Anyway, Parker rejected permanently bonding with the Symbiote and forcibly repelled it. This unwittingly lead to the Symbiote bonding to disgruntled reporter Eddie Brock who nursed a strong hatred of Spider-man. Hence began lengthy clashes between the two foes over the years, including a number of team-ups against greater threats.


Venom's first appearance in live-action actually took place in 2007's Spider-man 3 where the Symbiote adopted a similar origin as the comics. Eddie Brock played by Topher Grace is bonded to the Symbiote immediately after Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) expels it from his body using the sonic frequency of a church bell to weaken the alien lifeform; see the scene above. Unfortunately this only happens far into the movie so audiences and especially Marvel fans were not treated to much character development of Venom, which was further diluted with shared screen time with other major villains of the Sandman and new "Green Goblin".

For more intimate facts about Venom, check out this article by Says.com.

Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock / Venom in the upcoming 2018 movie.
This week a new incarnation of Venom will be unleashed as portrayed by British actor Tom Hardy, known for this role as Batman's nemesis Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Max the lead star of Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and Shinzon in Star Trek Nemesis (2002).

Movie Synopsis:
Journalist Eddie Brock is trying to take down Carlton Drake, the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake's experiments, Eddie's body merges with the alien Venom -- leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating.


This new Eddie Brock / Venom will not a be sequel from the aforementioned Spider-man 3 or the two subsequent Amazing Spider-man reboots, therefore wiping the previous slate clean. Hardy has been reported to have signed on for 3 Venom movies, hinting that the Symbiote saga may be here to stay, obviously depending on the box office of this inaugural outing. And fans seem to be reacting well to Hardy's casting of this much beloved Anti-Hero compared to his predecessor Topher Grace, who himself admits not know why he was cast.

This new Venom with articulated tongue and nasty fangs looks seriously ready to eat some heads, although with a PG-13 rating we are unlikely to see serious bloody gorging.
The events of Venom take place in the city of San Francisco, which Marvel fans may be more familiar as also the home grounds of Ant-man (and The Wasp). As can be seen from the trailer Venom's origin story will be much changed from the comic books and previous outing as there seems to be no Spider-man in this universe to inherit the Symbiote. Instead the Symbiotes seem linked to  the Life Foundation headed by Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed, Star Wars Rogue One), a genius technologist paving his own vision for the future of humanity. His research includes reaching out to the stars, literally going where no man has gone before, and bringing back new discoveries no matter the cost. The latter of course brings Drake into conflict with Eddie Brock as an investigative journalist.

Behind-the-scenes from the set of Venom with Tom Hardy.

Softening the male cast and Symbiotes is Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman, Oz The Great & Powerful) as Anne Weying, Brock's romantic interest. Hardcare Spidey fans may also recognise this name from comic books as the human alter-ego of She-Venom. Other supporting characters do not stand out as star billing, but do look out for Woody Harrelson and a gratuitous cameo by the master, Stan Lee. Followers of Marvel's Luke Cage on Netflix may also recognise the familiar face of Ron Cephas Jones who played Bobby Fish, Luke's friend and often times conscience, although in a different role in this movie (it's oklah since SUMC is separate from MCU).

Don't annoy Venom or he will literally bite your head off.
As what has become staple for Marvel movies, expect 2 post-credit scenes to wet your geekiness. Plus minor SPOILER... Malaysia lands a surprise mark in the SUMC.


Venom opens in cinemas nationwide 4 October 2018.

Locally our top cinemas looks hyped for Venom and are offering a slew of promotions. Starting first with TGV Cinemas, they will be hosting Special Screenings of Venom for fans in IMAX on Saturday 6 October 2018 at multiple cinema locations in Klang Valley, Penang, Johor Bahru and Kuching. A specially priced movie ticket of RM40 per pax includes IMAX 2D screening, a Venom t-shirt & poster, preceded by dinner with fan activities. At time of this writing there is limited availability for purchase direct from TGV's website.

Screenings take place at Sunway Pyramid, Sunway Velocity, 1 Utama, Tebrau City Johor Bahru, Gurney Paragon Penang, and Vivacity Megamall Kuching.
Check out this micro-site for other Venom promotions by TGV. There is also a public Facebook contest offering the chance to win movie premiums; closing 4 October.


Over at GSC Cinemas, a whole load of gift with purchase items are being offered for customers as follows:




Redemption starts 4 October onwards while stocks last. Check GSC's website for availability by location.

Furthermore, GSC also has Play & Win Roadshows for Venom at multiple locations where presumably patrons are tasked to "play" assorted games for the chance to win Venom movie merchandise. See the roadshow schedule below:


Meanwhile MBO Cinemas is offering a Venom edition card for their AllStar members as well as a Watch & Win Contest putting up a Sony Dolby Atmos sound bar up for grabs plus Venom movie premiums.




For further details head to their micro-site.

Venom is rated P13, so do not expect to see gory entrails on screen... the producers will leave that to overactive imaginations. Head over to cinemas now to experience the latest Venom and let us know what you think if Marvel's latest anti-hero.

#WeAreVenom

Disclaimer: Venom and associated trademarks are copyright to Marvel under license to Sony Pictures, referenced here for fan service announcements without intent to infringe.