Freelance Peacekeeping

Inferno Stratagem Reveal

Alpha Trion Protocols


Inferno Alt Mode Image Inferno Bot Mode Image
Inferno - Fearless Firefighter
Alt: 6 ATK / 11 HP / 3 DEF
Bot: 8 ATK / 11 HP / 3 DEF

When my family and I first started playing Transformers TCG, Inferno was the king of our early Turbo matches. Big attacks, big defense, he was a titan amongst mechanoids. As our collection developed more, he fell by the wayside. This put him high on my list for a Stratagem.

In addition to a powerful attack and defense, Inferno flips to alt mode to return all Upgrades on a character to their owner's hand. This is a solid disruption play; it removes the value of a Battlemaster or Weaponizer, and it can make a player who relies on Upgrades seriously unhappy. But all is not good for Inferno though. Let's look at my early design notes.

What is Inferno’s problem?
Inferno has great attack and defense, and his alt-flip is a solid effect, however his health is low and his star cost is expensive. Perhaps more importantly, Optimus Prime Battlefield Legend (OPBL) is simply better for just 1 star more cost, with a better alt/bot ability, 3 health more, and the only negative being OPBL having one defense less in bot mode.
Can we improve him without modifying/replacing character text?
Yes. His alt-mode is fine, and his bot-mode is vanilla (no text) giving us options.
What is the effect of the Stratagem having a star cost?
Looking at, two wide decks with OPBL, Nemesis Prime, and Grapple seem the most common setups for Inferno. Pushing Inferno to 13 would cost him OPBL as a partner, and put him up against 13-star OPBL as a choice for players.
What is the Canon?
Inferno’s card fits the canon well. Fearless, strong fighter, rescuer of others. He has a strong relationship with Red Alert, where he’s the cautious one.

So Inferno is a protector, a defender of others. My earliest ideas were for Inferno to be a white battle-icon inverse of OPBL, playing Upgrades on defense, but in our early discussions it was pointed out that playing cards on defense can cause a lot of rule and timing complexity. That was good feedback. I went back to the drawing board.

One of my principles for retro stratagems is to respect what came before. WotC had a design for each of their cards, so instead of adding something new, I like to ask myself "How can we build on the original idea?". Sometimes that might mean fixing a stat that they were tentative about, and other times it might mean speeding up the character. With Inferno, we have an entire blank bot mode to work with.

Returning to the drawing board, the first thing that sprung to mind with Inferno was to use that bot mode to speed him up. When he defends, let's flip him back to his alt mode. He doesn't lose anything defensively, moving from 3 Defense to 3 Defense, but it halves the number of times you need to flip cards to pull off the Upgrade disruption, and acts as a powerful Sabotaged Armaments. Making it happen every time is too easy however, players should usually need to do some work to achieve a free flip. As is often the case with a character, let's make his ability connect to flipped battle cards. My original thoughts were to connect things to two flipped White battle icons, tying Inferno to rescue vehicles like the Rescue Patrol. However, the aim with the Alpha Trion Protocols is for these cards to be played in tournaments, and I didn't want Inferno to become an oddball White-deck. Flipping a White and a Blue battle icon felt like a better fit.

Inferno is a protector. With the change above he's a better defender, but it doesn't help if folk don't attack him. My next thought was to give him Brave, tying very much into the canon. I want him to be the wall that protects his team, an early game slowdown to your opponent's plans. He's not going to last until the end of the match, but that's Inferno's way. I opted to make Inferno Brave when he's in bot mode. I was tempted to go Brave in both modes, but, with feedback from others, I agreed that was too much.

Lastly, despite his high defense, Inferno's lack of health is, and will continue to be, a big problem for him. He needs more. I went back and forth between three health, to match OPBL, and giving him more. Given we're making him Brave, we can't be too eager to add health, otherwise that protection becomes more of a lockout. I ended up going with gaining four health for the Stratagem. This was a balance with also deciding to make it a one-star stratagem. Unlike some characters, Inferno doesn't belong to a classically themed deck, so there was no need to push for some form of zero-star stratagem.

Each Stratagem needs a name. The short names have the best feel, and with Inferno the name stood out for me early on. Inferno is the first into a rescue, and the first to stand in the way of the Decepticon's plans. He guards over his compatriots when they are fallen, and strides into a blaze to rescue a child. I give you:

Inferno Stratagem Image

With Protection, Inferno is faster, healthier, and a pain to your opponent. He will cost 13 stars, so the question is what you can do with those remaining 12 stars. Which characters can Inferno protect? Would you go two-wide by adding a 12-star character, or three-wide? As with most Blue decks, building with Inferno will be a challenge, but a Brave, disruptive bot with 15 health and the ability to smash an opponent has a lot of potential. I look forward to seeing what folk do.

Head over to the Alpha Trion Protocols Facebook page to discover more stratagems and tune in on Thursday for a Q&A stream to hear more about the development process for this first batch of releases from the Alpha Trion Protocols.

As always, thank you for reading.