Looking Past the Fundamentals

Recently I’ve convinced my roommate to start playing the Pokemon TCG. He’s an avid Magic the Gathering player and plays rather seriously and competitively. He attended a couple of Battle Roads with the members of our Pokemon Podcast TCG group, Team Bouffie (formally Team Whimsy Tackle). Being new to the game we’ve had a lot of in-depth discussion about what the Pokemon TCG looks like as a whole. Last night we discussed information poisoning.

Information poisoning dictates a trend. For example, a lot of the decks we play in the US are influenced by what places well in Japan. Dragons Deck for example ranked fairly high Japan but here in the states hasn’t really shown much face. I have no doubt that the deck would have existed without Japan building it but would serious players have played it had it not done well in Japan?

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Expecting and Unexpected Decks

Battle Roads start next week, which means it’s time to stop playing around with Stunfisk and get our game faces on. There are a few decks that, without doubt in my mind, we will see at Battle Roads. There are also a few decks that haven’t gotten nearly as much play testing and may come up to surprise a few players.

Deck 1: Dragons (Fluffy-Chomp)

A no brainer, especially because there is a starter deck based around it, will we see this deck being played. The deck is typically Altaria/Garchomp but I’ve played against some variations.

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Youngster Vinnie Uses Enrage

Vinnie uses Enrage. It’s Super Effective! Please take a second and strap into your chair. I am disappointed by success of the mono build deck. It’s silly and I feel really works against the spirit of the game. There are so many brilliantly built functions in the Pokemon TCG that reflect the VGC. Some examples, you’re ability to have one active Pokemon and five benched Pokemon, just like the game. The loss of a status conditions when retreating, not exactly the same but very close. The number of prizes you take when knocking out a Pokemon reflects your opponent’s Pokemon. A mono-build, a deck with only four of the same pokemon, works against this. 

There are definitely two sides to the mono-build argument. Yes it is successful and I agree it takes skill to pilot any deck. If you’re playing the Pokemon TCG as game where you want to win then perfect, read no further and build decks with only four of the same Pokemon. But if you have a love of Pokemon in you, if you play the card game not to be successful in any game but because you, pardon the cheesiness, want to be the very best then ignore the mono build deck list. Just as you wouldn’t build a VGC team of only four Terrakion or Groudon use some brain power and build a list that is not only successful but uses a variety of different Pokemon and strategy.

We’re in the middle of the battle roads season and straight Groudon EX has made quite the splash. There are other successful options out there. Darkrai powerful and I had a senior at my league take first with an Accelgor build.

Good luck in your Battleroads, I will be playing next weekend so stay tuned.  Let me know in the comments what you’re playing or what you think might be the deck to knock out mono-build Groudon. 

Why I Bother and A Thought From My Brother

Pre-releases have wrapped up and I am proud to say I had the best record I’ve ever had. I played two events going 4-1 and then 5-0. If only there was more prize support for the pre-releases. There are two things that I really would like to address, things I’ve learned from these two prereleases. The first is what benefits do pre-releases provide and the second is “Vinnie, when did you get good at Pokemon?”

After the second pre-release wrapped up the Whimsy Tackle crew was sitting around playing some casual games when the question was raised what’s the point of paying for this? I believe the exact argument was “I could buy two Reggigas EX for what I’m paying to play”.  Granted this is true but lets see what the pre-release experience can give you that those Reggigas EX cannot.

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Comment or I'll One Hit KO

So I’ve got a proposed deck list for the new Noble Victors set. I am most likely going to build this but I want your input. Read though the deck list and my thoughts on how it would match up and play. Then tell me I’m wrong in every way and tell me how you’d fix this list.
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Cleffa Heads to the Retirement Home

Cleffa is a staple or at least a “one-of” card in almost every deck right now. It is a card that works in any deck and is a solid starter, mid game refresh or late game stall. I played a Battle Roads this weekend (I went 1-4, but a fun Battle Roads none the less) where in four different games a prize was taken because I used Cleffa. The way each of these prizes were taken was with Catcher. I had used Cleffa as an early set up, retreated it for a heavy hitter and then late game they caught it up and took the easiest prize possible in the format. Coming back from being a prize down is no exceptional feat and something you should plan on having to do in a deck. Only once did I lose the game because of this play. 

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Working with Pokemon that Aren't Your Type

A Sunday afternoon, the weather outside looks like Wailord cast Rain Dance and you decide to build your new pokemon deck. You sit down to look at your collection. The first question that a lot players ask themeselves is what type of deck do I want to build? Selecting a type of Pokemon can be a good base. Ofter times certain types of pokemon have abilities and attacks that work well together. Grass Pokemon can heal, fire Pokemon use up a lot of energy etc. etc. This mindset, building a deck based around type, can be restrictive.
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Player Etiquette Can Wreck It

I finished a Battle Roads today (went 3/3) where I played with many different players. Of course everyone reacts differently under stressful situations, like meeting new people or confronting them competitively, but how you deal with your opponent on a social level very much contributes to how much you enjoy the game. The overall goal of the TCG and the VGC is simple, have fun. That was the original idea when developing them both and perhaps the idea that we need to focus on the most. 
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Smeargle Wasn't Picaso But He Had Fun

I finished playing at league yesterday and realized I was playing decks that were printed offline. I played two match ups against two different players with almost identical decks. Another player playing the deck that dominated the top 8 at worlds and finally a player who ran a slight variation of a deck list I built after the Emerging Powers release. These players have developed the easily acquired talent of net decking. They use the online power of Google to discover the deck they think most likely to win at a Battleroads. They build it, they play it, and I would imagine they feel great winning as most people would. Anyone can do this. My eight year old cousin could build Beartic/Vileplume not because he has a strategic mind or he is some sort of Pokémon savant but because he is smart enough to use a computer. 

There are two different things that challenge a player in a deck building game, the ability to win and the ability to be creative. Unfortunately winning is more easily acquired and does not frequently match up with a creative mind. For me, the fun of the Pokemon card game doesn’t lie in winning the world championships or having a great record. I would rather lose nine out of ten games and win that one game with a crazed combination of Pokemon no one saw coming. I challenge you to use a net deck list not to build a winning deck but to build a better one. These cards are good for a reason, understand that reason and use it to build a deck that is new and exciting. The world of Pokemon is vast with options that people over look. Find them, exploit them and win with them.

Catcher and the Raichu

If there is a single card in the Emerging Powers set that is making a disruption it is Pokemon Catcher (http://tinyurl.com/4y76m56). This reprint of the old favorite Gust of Wind gives you the ability to disrupt your opponent's field and set up. The simple way to use this card, bring up a Pokemon you can knock out that turn, score an easy prize. This card gives any deck an edge only equal to Quick Claw. It allows for decks with a fast set up the chance for an easy sweep.  What's the best way to shut down a deck running stage 1 or stage 2 Pokemon? Knock out every basic they play to their bench, and Catcher should give you the chance.
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