MTG: TransMoremers, Part 1

In my ongoing war on Universes Beyond I Personally Find Tedious, nobody has spoken to me. I have faced no backlash and contend with no enemies of my opinions. I am in no way called upon to defend myself because people, largely, seem to be okay with just, you know, having their own opinions on things and not being particularly bothered if they don’t agree with my opinions. Nonetheless, if I wanted to imagine some kind of straw opposition for this behaviour of mine, this bold and daring take that the huge pile of Dr Who cards make Dr Who look bad, then I might imagine them to say:

Well, what about the Transformers cards? You like those.

It’s true! I do! And I think they also have a real challenge to get made into Universes Within. Not that I don’t really look forward to it – I’m imagining haunted Kaladeshi machinery with a ghost inside them, because wouldn’t they look sick? Or maybe things like ghost trains from Innistrad? I suppose if you were into complete over used hack material, they could be from New Phyrexia, the rebirthing of a new life out of the remnants of a metal world.

The transformers logo

Point is, there’s a lot of interesting ways to make ‘vehicles with personalities that change shape.’ Could be really cool!

Anyway, these cards all excite me and invite me to make things that feel like they’re interesting game entities in the context of Magic: The Gathering and not just evocation of childhood nostalgia. Now part of that is that the cards are complicated and I don’t know if they’re actually good at what they do.  I intended to actually make deck article for each of them that struck me as interesting, but that’s a lot of time spent between articles about each deck. Instead of a full rundown for each one then, I want to provide a sort of first impression for how these cards work and what I think I’d use them for.

There are fifteen of these cards, and I’ve already talked about two – Starscream and Soundwave. Let’s talk about some of the rest, then!

Both sides of the card 'Prowl, Stoic Strategist'

I think that Prowl, Stoic Strategist‘s ability should be used on your own stuff. The actual mechanic, where you can use it to get rid of people’s stuff, is mostly interesting for clearing out commanders (because then you draw a card when they cast it again) but not as a general removal. But if you use it with your own creatures, ideally cheap ones, you can use Prowl to re-cast creatures for value.

What I’d Look For: Ways to keep Prowl attacking, like giving him flying or shadow or protection.  

Examples: Guardian of Faith, Resolute Reinforcements, Abzan Falconer

Both sides of the card 'Ratchet, Field Medic.'

Ratchet, Field Medic transforms when you gain life, bringing back an artefact, and transforms back when you sacrifice a nontoken artefact. This seems a pretty simple engine; two mana to get Ratchet out, then sacrificing an artefact to transform him. He flips back to his robot form, and if you gain life, he returns a card from the bin flipped face up.  This means if, for example, you play a Potion of Healing, and it draws you a card. Then you spend 1 mana and tap-sac it; Ratchet sees an artefact die, and flips up to his robot form. You gain 3 life, as that ability resolves, and he flips back down again, returning the potion to the battlefield, drawing you a card. This means every turn you can gain 3 life and draw a card.

What I’d Look For: Cheap reusable arifacts that sacrifice on command, things that benefit from lifegain, and ways to protect Ratchet.

Examples: Tinker’s Tote, Dungeoneer’s Pack, Candy Trail, Bottle Gnomes and Potion of Healing

Both sides of the card 'Jetfire, Ingenius Scientist'

That ability of Jetfire, Ingenious Scientist’s, to turn +1/+1 counters into mana, feels like it should be able to be something broken. Somehow. It can be spent on mana costs for abilities, it can be spent to pay extra costs like Ward, and it can be spent to cast artefact spells. But also, he is a 6 power flier for a reasonably cheap price, but also… that’s… it?

Honestly, I think the thing that’s most interesting about Jetfire is the way he becomes a non-creature off-turn, so he can enable a deck that does sweepers off-turn. Which uh, blue doesn’t have a lot of.

That ability though, it feels like it’s something so weirdly breakable but I cannot begin to see a way to do it. Like nothing sustains itself. I think it’s because I don’t want to build Jetfire in a way that means he auto-combos or wins the game with a single card combination and therefore, you want to always make that happen. Those kinds of commander decks are boring.

What I’d Look For: Something interesting to do with the munching of counters off Jetfire. Proliferation and Incubation seem the best place to start.

Examples: Corruption of Towashi, Chrome Host Seedshark, Viral Drake? That seems wildly inappropriate for the kind of guy Jetfire is.

Both sides of the card 'Bliztwing, Cruel Tormentor.'

Blitzwing, Cruel Tormentor is cheaper to get out as a vehicle, and then he presents you with a choice. You can use him with instant-speed wrath effects by if he gets indestructible, or he gets through (probably) with flying. That’s neat but it very much makes him feel like a commander who wants to get through for commander damage. On the other hand, he then wants to pull someone’s life down individually, and worse, his robot mode doesn’t have any evasion.

Blitzwing’s weird man? If he did any one of those three things he’d probably make sense, or if he leeched everyone for life, he’d make more sense? But that’s I think, partly, his point: Blitzwing isn’t here to smash everyone, he’s not smooth, he’s not reliable. You can’t build a deck efficiently to do any of the three things, which means he’s going to want to do a little bit of everything.

I think that means that Blitzwing wants to be a stompy deck. Blitzwing is going to play off the top of the deck, and that’s going to be value and good stuff. It seems a place for a deck that’s all about favourite black cards, ways of bleeding your opponents slow and steady.

What I’d Look For: Favourite black cards, value cards, cards that can be flexible.

Examples:  Kokusho the Evening Star, Grey Merchant of Asphodel, Rankle, Master of Pranks, Liliana, Death’s Majesty

Both sides of the card 'Slicer, Hired Muscle'

Uh, so Slicer, Hired Muscle is like, a really well known, competitive CEDH aggressive deck. He works with damage doublers, triplers and all that kind of stuff. I don’t want to go over this because if you just build Slicer in the most obvious way, he’s a super aggressive, quick deck that beats everyone down fast, and usually commander-kills at least one player on the way out the door.

Yeah, just do that if you want to use Slicer.