A Beginners’ Guide to Transformers Legends

Transformers Legends banner

Transformers Legends is a collectable card battler game produced by DeNa / ngmoco and run through the Mobage portal. It’s currently ranked by Think Gaming as #97 on the list of top grossing apps worldwide. It’s safe to say that it’s pretty successful, and has been since launching early in 2013.

Transformers fans will recognise the game’s subject matter in a heartbeat: it draws on the old Transformers TV show and comics (known as ‘Generation 1’ by aficionados) to populate its game with various Autobots and Decepticons.

You remember the TV show, right? That wonderful old cartoon, from an era when writers and animators really cared about their craft, and which featured so many memorable moments. Who can forget Powerglide using a magic pond to turn into Fabio and fall in love with a gondola, or Optimus Prime’s right arm being mounted on top of the Empire State Building? (Most of the rest of Prime was built into a robot alligator and dumped in the sewers. Of course!)

Did you know there was even an episode featuring a planet of people who sang badly? No shit! That episode was also an early triumph for gay rights on the small screen, as evidenced by Decepticons Galvatron and Soundwave rejecting martial machismo and holding hands.

Two Best Friends!

Two Best Friends!

But that’s enough with the wonderful nostalgia trip. Ha ha! Old stuff was great.

Transformers Legends is a card battler much like Dino Dominion, about which I wrote last year. Legends is a more polished affair and is less stingy with its goodies. Because I think it is so utterly brilliant, I thought I’d write a guide to playing the game. I hope prospective players find it useful!

Getting Around

Like many mobile games, freemium titles and card battlers, Transformers Legends has an interface that is as cluttered as it is shiny. The game does feature a helpful tutorial that will walk you through the basics then abandon you in a dinghy at sea, assuming you’ll either figure the rest out yourself or give up and be eaten by sharks.

The basics are essentially that Missions are where you go to click on a button and receive junk, Battle is where you go to engage in utterly meaningless combat with other players, the Space Bridge is where you go to use junk to get stuff, and Upgrade / the nine inexplicable dots in the top left are where you should go to use junk to improve stuff. More on all of these later.

Stats

Like all good video games, Transformers Legends involves stats. This no doubt comes as a relief to many of you who had misgivings around how you could quantify your relationship to fictional robots, or how you know by what factor a sword that is on fire will improve health.

XP: used to gain levels. Fortunately Transformers Legends has opted not to buck tradition here by making XP do something else entirely, such as randomly delete files from your phone, or apply random Instagram filters to your Facebook photos.

Player Level: this goes up as you get more XP. That’s more or less all it does, really: you get a shit prize every level you go up, and you can have more allies, which basically equates to less friends as you pester people on Facebook to become your ally.

Energon: here’s your traditional free to play cooldown timer. It recharges pretty quickly, to be honest, and you get so many free instant recharges that after three months with the game I have 250 that I’ve not even bothered to use yet. The real limit on how much you play is how much you care.

Battle Cubes: like energon, but there’s less of them and they’re used specifically for the pointless battling. They play a much more important role in Episodes, however, about which more later.

Credits: the in-game currency that’s spent on upgrading your cards and earned via doing… just about anything, really. Like all in-game currencies, you will never have enough of this for the things you actually want to do.

Ally Points: see above re. allies. As far as I can tell you gain more ally points by tapping a button on your ally list. That’s it.

Battle Points: see above re. battles. Once you’ve got enough Battle or Ally points, you can swap them for a single, probably rubbish card.

Cards (or: Transformers)

This is what you’re really here for, right? Transformers Legends features an absolute shitload of Transformers. There are loads. I would estimate that there’s around 450 character cards in the game, with some repetition of characters as they re-appear at different levels of rarity and strength.

So yes, you have Optimus Prime and Megatron alongside minor characters like Silverstreak and Overkill, right through to the amazingly obscure like Chromia (an Arcee clone who crops up every ten years or so in Transformers stories) and Hotlink (one of the Decepticon planes who are identical in all but colour – Hotlink first appeared in 1984 but wasn’t given a name until 29 years later, so you can imagine how much of a fan favourite he is). There are even some horrific-looking Beast Wars characters for people whose nostalgia meter points at a different entirely awful cultural entity.

Cards have their own stats: attack, health, and defence. These figures are of the utmost important and simultaneously have no bearing on anything whatsoever. You just want to have as many cards with as high figures as possible. This is important gameplay advice, so don’t forget it: high numbers are good!

Transformers Legends Sludge

The names of these classic Transformers are unforgettable.

Weapons

Weapon cards apply percentage modifiers on the character cards that are equipped with them, with extra bonuses for matching a character’s weapon to them. Transformers do not have fingerprints and so biometrics are out of the question; presumably they just don’t like holding one anothers’ weapons (see above remark re. martial machismo).

Weapons are really boring because they don’t turn into other stuff and you don’t actually see them during fights (except where their special abilities occasionally trigger), but it’s important not to ignore them becauzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Card Rarity

As elsewhere in the game, high numbers are good! Higher rarity levels mean higher attack, health and defence. Not that you’ll see most actually rare cards, because they are rare.

Rarity 1 is common, and from there you run through uncommon (2), rare (although rarity 3 cards are actually common as muck), super rare (4), ultra rare (5), epic rare (6) and legendary (7). I think there were only 4 rarity levels when the game launched; as soon as we get Super Legendary cards I think it is safe to say the game will be twice as good.

There are also some other numbers that appear on cards that seem to be linked to how powerful they are within their rarity level, but I don’t understand them. Going by everything else I have read about this game anywhere on the internet, nor does anyone else. It’s possible the developers don’t understand them either, and they’ve just crept in as the game slowly achieves dreadful sentience.

Improving Cards

You can improve your cards by ‘feeding’ other cards to them – usually any duplicates you’ve collected – and increasing their level (that’s card level, not player level – pay attention at the back of the class!). This applies to both characters and weaponzzzzzz

Cards get an additional bonus once they reach their maximum level. So that’s nice.

You can also ‘Trans-Scan’ cards by collecting a character’s robot mode and alternate mode; doing this after max-levelling your cards not only gives you a substantial percentage boost on the maximum numbers for your card (remember, high = good!) but also gives you the opportunity to reflect on how long it took you to max out two cards, Trans-Scan them, and max the resulting card out again; just imagine what else you could have been doing with that time!

Another way in which the game has gotten much better and almost certainly 3% less confusing is that a new kind of character card has appeared called Evolve cards. These don’t Trans-Scan but you can fuse them with each other to make a more evolved card, and you can do this up to three times (i.e. once a card has evolved to the fourth level). This requires four cards in total. Okay? Got that? Good. Don’t forget it, because it’s probably important even though every evolve card I’ve seen is worse than any ultra rare (which are not that hard to acquire, since they’re only ultra rare).

Selling Cards

This is helpful for getting credits. I just flog off all the new weapons I get after a while, as you’ll only be using a dozen or so at any given time. Just keep the good ones (yeah, I bet you didn’t think of that did you – that’s why I’m here writing this guide and you’re there reading it).

Missions

Various things happen during missions. It is good that there is some variety because Missions are the core gameplay of Transformers Legends, and it is good when gameplay involves things happening that are sometimes different.

The first thing that happens is you tap the ‘Scan’ button. This prompts a repetitive animation to happen, after which one of the following occurs:

  1. A barely animated robot flies to the middle of the screen and fires 1 to 3 rockets, which you can tap on to earn money.
  2. You find a rubbish card (useful only for selling or feeding).
  3. You play a sort of shell game with no ability to track the possible wins, from which you acquire a rubbish card or a slightly less rubbish card.
  4. You fight a single other card and have a small chance to claim their weapon if you win.

In other words, Missions are where you farm the materials to improve your team. You then use your team in Battles or Episodes.

Battles

Battles are really goddamn boring. Do I have to write this?

Okay, fine. In a Battle your team of robots lines up against an opponents’ team and they attack each other. If you’ve been making sure you have high numbers you might do okay, but there’s no way of telling what you’re up against even during a match, so it’s a complete crapshoot.

The player exercises no control over this component whatsoever. You can’t even tap to prioritise targets, or make your robots do a little dance. Nothing at all.

If you win, you get meagre prizes. If you lose you get squat. Are we done now?

Episodes

Episodes are special events that crop up every so often, and by every so often I mean near constantly. There’s usually an episode running every 5 or 6 days out of 7. They take various different forms – well, three or four – and figuring them out is moderately interesting, so I’ll leave that for you to enjoy. What I will say is that they are excellent opportunities to get lots of everything for ‘free’, and if you invest the time you can get some great cards.

I’m not sure of the exact exchange rate, but let’s say that over the five days an event runs you play Transformers Legends for approximately two hours a day. That might net you a reasonable position by the end of it – if your team is up to scratch – and you’ll then get at least one pretty strong card as a result. So yes: you only need sacrifice ten hours of your life in exchange for a Transformer you’ve never heard of with some numbers that are pretty high!

I usually play Transformers Legends whilst watching the Great British Bake-off or some such. It’s a wonderful way to waste your life in two different ways simultaneously.

Transformers Legends Heavy Metal War

If this episode title rings any bells, you may have a nostalgia problem.

The Community

No sarcasm here: I’ve actually found the community elements of the game its most laudable aspect, and I normally ignore other human germs whilst playing games.

During team episodes chatting with other players can foster a sense of camaraderie as you work together to make your numbers bigger, and where I’ve occasionally had to turn to Facebook pages to ask questions, the responses from fellow players have been quick and friendly.

It seems improbable in the wake of #gamergate to be praising a game’s players as its finest point, as opposed to the residents of a slag heap riddled with blisters and invisible pitfalls, and yet where we are.

Conclusion

I hope that you have found this guide helpful, and it has not led you to question which part of your psyche has sufficiently crumbled beneath the pressures of life that you’re actually considering playing Transformers Legends.

If any of this highly sarcastic guide has provoked upset or anger, I ask you to take a deep breath, step away from the keyboard, and re-evaluate your priorities. If you’re still upset I’ll send you a photo of my Soundwave and Laserbeak toys, so you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that I am an actual life-long fan of these ridiculous robots.

[Shaun has been playing Transformers Legends for about three or four months and still isn’t really sure why. Its meaningless simplicity and unendingly deep maw probably represents a similar retreat from existence that habitual heroin users derive from diamorphine. Not that videogames are addictive; they involve wasting your time, money and mind in entirely different ways.]