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DjJoe's Rants

So Much for a Tournament of Skills

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A few blogs ago, I wrote about how I'd rather be donked.

Well, I got my wish.


Sunday afternoon we began our tournament at 1:30. We usually start sign-ups at 12, and close them close to 1:30 to accomodate everyone who says they'll show up either from League the day prior, or who say so on the Facebook page.

Then it happened, and I was one of the unfortunate games. That day I was running my Roserade/Yanmega build. Our TO shouts to the 6 matches in the room "Ok, everyone's set-up, flip over!".


I don't think the "r" in "over" was done being pronounced by the time two rounds (mine included) responded with "I win" or "I lose".

One match was a Cleffa (going second) against a Tyrogue, the other was a Cleffa (going first) against Magby (mine). The tyrogue player got the Donk, and in my game my opponent revealed the Pokemon Collector.

There were four rounds today, for a total of 24 matches. 7 were Donk matches. 8 were complaints of "He went first, and I can't recover from that", and 2 were "He didn't Donk me, but he KO'ed my active right after judging me". more than 25% of the day was over in one turn. More than HALF of the matches ended in the first 2-3 turns. Almost 75% of the day relied heavily on luck of the draw and who went first.


Many people say that the baby pokemon just shouldn't be played to prevent this altogether. Others argue that it's luck and just because you can doesn't mean you will.

I want to tackle a few points and then I'm done.


1) Donking in the last format consisted of playing many cards to defeat your opponent before their turn began. Donking in this format consists almost entirely of 3 separate cards- Tyrogue, Pluspower (optional), and Pokemon Collector (to get Tyrogue). In the last format the player going second had to sit back and say "Can they do it?". This led to the first turn player playing many cards, including draw cards, Poketurns, Crobat G's, Uxies, Sableyes, Unown DARK, Special Dark Energy, Expertbelt- by the time the game was over the first turn had been the only turn but the total time taken was usually 3-5 minutes. One can argue that there is no skill in a donk, but when you play several cards, many of which rely on luck of draw and dealing with what you draw, I argue that skill is involved. In this format, the objective is clear- Powerup and Attack. The extent of a 1st turn in this format last closer to 30 seconds. It consists almost entirely of 1 Supporter (Collector or Seeker), a Low-cost Attacker (Tyrogue mostly, or a Dragon), a few Pluspowers (To hit those pesky Yanmas sometimes), and that's it. Maybe an energy to retreat an unfavorable start, maybe a Pokemon Communication to get what you need, but really you could get through the first turn in under 30 seconds.

2) The first turn player has absolutely no reason to EVER want to go second. The first turn player can attack first, draw first, play supporters (Judge is particularly nasty) first, play pokemon first, evolve first, activate Pokepowers first, activate abilities first....and the second player gets.....to do all that second. Is there a solution to this problem? Well many say that there is no problem- that going first is a privelege you get to winning a coin flip. But wit the privelege you get all of the above- which ALOT of the time can put you at a clear advantage over the opponent. There were many solutions being discussed on the board that I saw, including first turn no attack, first turn no damage, first turn can't draw- all are solutions to hinder the first turn player. But it's a small price to pay, to me at least, when they can get an advantage over a defenseless player and get to take an advantage on their second turn of the game as well.

There is no clear solution, but to have a tournament's first round end in under 5 minutes collectively, something has to change somewhere..

Updated 07/28/2011 at 08:01 AM by djjoe227 (Fixed Quote: "He went first, and I can't recover from that)

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  1. chrataxe's Avatar
    I've read both of your "luck" blogs and I have been a big advocate of saying that luck is only big in the format because people chose to play the "luck" cards. But, a big point I think you are missing is that drawing is not mostly luck, well built, consistent decks rarely rely on "luck," but more on tried and true techniques in deck building. As an example, if I run 4 Plus Power and 4 Junk Arm and I start 1 PP and a supporter like PONT or Juniper, its relatively easy to hit 2 PP that first turn. So, I don't think you give deck building enough credit. And, to kick a dead horse some more, its hard to make a valid complaint about being donked when you are playing Cleffa. There is no luck in being Cleffa donked...there is no skill either. Of those 7 donks, I bet most (probably all 7) were lone cleffa starts, thus making the point of being donked not valid. And, of the 8 complaining they couldn't recover because they went second, I but everyone were playing some rush deck that had little late game anyway. The problem isn't that they lost because they went second, its that they built a deck that guarantees them a win if they go first, and is always one play behind when going second, which again, is you not counting deck building into the "skill" portion of the game. Now, I'm not saying going first isn't a blatant, horrible disadvantage for the person going second, but I'm saying that 1/2 of the time, you will go second, your deck should account for that.
  2. djjoe227's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by chrataxe
    I've read both of your "luck" blogs and I have been a big advocate of saying that luck is only big in the format because people chose to play the "luck" cards. But, a big point I think you are missing is that drawing is not mostly luck, well built, consistent decks rarely rely on "luck," but more on tried and true techniques in deck building. As an example, if I run 4 Plus Power and 4 Junk Arm and I start 1 PP and a supporter like PONT or Juniper, its relatively easy to hit 2 PP that first turn. So, I don't think you give deck building enough credit. And, to kick a dead horse some more, its hard to make a valid complaint about being donked when you are playing Cleffa. There is no luck in being Cleffa donked...there is no skill either. Of those 7 donks, I bet most (probably all 7) were lone cleffa starts, thus making the point of being donked not valid. And, of the 8 complaining they couldn't recover because they went second, I but everyone were playing some rush deck that had little late game anyway. The problem isn't that they lost because they went second, its that they built a deck that guarantees them a win if they go first, and is always one play behind when going second, which again, is you not counting deck building into the "skill" portion of the game. Now, I'm not saying going first isn't a blatant, horrible disadvantage for the person going second, but I'm saying that 1/2 of the time, you will go second, your deck should account for that.

    On the contrary- it's the exact opposite.

    Of the donked matches, Cleffa was involved in 2. The others involved Tyrogue, and most of them met their end with an opposing Tyrogue, pluspowers, and Seeker.

    Mine met it's end with a lone Magby against a Cleffa with my opponent going first into a Pokemon Collector into Tyrogue.

    Consistency can't be seen on the FIRST turn. Later turns is where consistency comes into play, especially in relation to being donked. I have 13 basics in my deck, 2 of which are Magby (2 Magby, 3 Yanma, 2 Oddish, 2 Sunkern, 3 Roselia, 1 Eevee). It's luck that my opening hand had 1 of the 2 cards in my deck that are an unfortunate start. In my opening hand I also had 2 collectors, Roserade, Yanmega Prime, Rare candy and Vileplume.

    Luck comes into play on recovery when you don't hit that consistency. Even with 4 Pokemon Collectors, Ponts, and what have you on drawing, it's luck of the draw. Recovery can't happen to a randomly shuffled deck that yield 3-4 turns of combination Stage 1's (that don't match in play basics), Energy cards, and other non-draw-style effects.


    Consistency may "rarely" rely on luck, but that's only because there is an engine to keep the deck going and minimize luck. Once a consistent deck gets past that initial bump in the road, it's smooth sailing. But if it can't, like any other deck, it'll fall apart.

    EDIT: I wrote another blog on Luck vs Skill after this. In there I try to at least define the line between the two. Using the definitions there, Luck would be drawing a decent opening hand, but consistency and deckbuilding would be the skill used to minimize bad hands based on luck of the draw.
    Updated 08/05/2011 at 08:14 AM by djjoe227