|11/18/2009, 07:34 AM||#1|
DarthPika's Guide to Becoming a Better Player. Pt.1 Basic Concepts and Strategy
Article: A guide to basic and advanced strategies and game play.
Author: Michael Miles
Hello everyone. I'm writing this article primarily for those in the Masters Division due to the differences between the age groups, but the basic principles presented here apply to both Seniors and Juniors as well.
In this article I will attempt to present several basic and advanced aspects of game play and strategy, with my goal being to make you, the reader, a better player. Before reading this, I suggest having a good understanding for the basic mechanics of the game, and game play. This will not only make it easier for me to explain more advanced ideas, but you will also get a lot more out of this article.
Throughout this article I will be using basic universal terms for various game related items.
BDIF – Best Deck In Format
Metagame- A way to classify what decks are popular in a given area, that can range in size from a state, to a nation.
KO- Knock Out
OHKO – One Hit Knock Out
Tech- A card that helps your deck beat a weakness. -In simple terms: You have a Charizard deck – Charizard is weak to water – a local player uses a Blastoise deck – you put in an Exploud which has a body that removes weakness on all your Pokemon – Charizard no longer loses to Blastoise all the time.
Auto-loss- Pretty much a match-up that your deck will lose almost every time under normal circumstances. For example something a 30-70 or worse win/loss ratio against a given deck would be said to have an auto-loss to that deck.
Here is a summary of most common terms used in Pokemon.
Encyclopedia of Pokemon Terminology
Decisions, decisions, decisions! So many cards, so many decks, which is the best to use? This is a question that even the very best players are often stumped with, and can be one of the hardest aspects of this game. Deck choice is EVERYTHING when it comes down to winning or losing a tournament. While I can not say what the best deck to use at a given event is, I can give you several rules to go by that will make your decision much easier, and your tournament much more enjoyable.
1. Consistency Rules! Consistency, Consistency, CONSISTENCY!!!
The very first thing I always look for in decks is how consistent it is. I can not even begin to describe to you just how vital consistency is to winning. What is consistency? Let me give you an example:
Deck “A” sets up 4/10, but when it sets up it always wins. When it doesn't set up, it always loses.
Deck “B” sets up 9/10, but doesn't always win, even if it sets up. However, it wins 7 out of every 8 battles that it sets up.
From the above example, deck “B” is by far the more consistent deck and therefore, the better option. In the long run, consistency is how often your deck gets it's “ideal” set up. That set up can range from 4 Beedrill in play to something as simple as a fully powered Palkia G lv.x with a few benched Uxie. Whatever your set up is, the only thing that matters is that you can achieve that set up as often as possible.
NOTE #1: NO MATTER HOW STRONG YOUR DECK MAY BE, YOU WILL NEVER WIN A GAME WHERE YOU CAN NOT SET UP!
This should be the golden rule of deck building. Far to often I see decks that just don't get set up, usually due to being badly built and sadly, lacking consistency. These decks are cupcake wins for consistent decks, even if the inconsistent deck may be far more powerful than the consistent one. Power isn't everything, consistency is. The bottom line is that the consistent moderately powered deck will win far more games than the inconsistent powerful deck.
2. Know your Meta-game! This is a topic that really deserves an article of it's own (which will be part of this series), but it does need to be talked about briefly so as the rest of the article can easily be understood.
Thanks to Chariman Kaga for this brief summary of the meta-game!
Some useful information to learn more about localized Meta-game Right here on Pokegym!
3.KISS! (Keep It Simple Stupid!)
Even though this may come as a surprise, the very best lists out there are usually very simple. While it can be hard to keep a deck simple, one of the biggest foes to consistency is to try and stuff to much unneeded junk into your deck. Don't go for some big fancy set up that requires 3 or 4 different Pokemon in play. Even though it may be a very strong set up, it is usually next to impossible to ever achieve this set up in a tournament setting. People will be trying to stop you from getting set up all the time. You only make their job easier when your deck fails to set up due to being inconsistent. Also, keep in mind that you can't tech for everything, and you WILL have a few auto-losses. This is unavoidable. Even the BDIF has bad match-ups. The key here is to go with the deck that has the fewest bad match-ups. Teching for everything will only give you a big mess that never sets up.
4.Go with what YOU know!
No matter how good a deck may be if you are not comfortable/good at playing it, then it's silly to use it. Use what YOU know best. Use what YOU feel comfortable with. You'll probably play much better if you use something that you feel comfortable with rather than going with a deck you don't know very well. Even if the other option may be the “better deck”, if you don't feel like you can use it, then don't. Know what you are best at, don't go with what other people say.
Now that you know how to pick a deck and understand the basic concepts of how it works, it's time to learn some basic and fairly advanced strategies.
Logic – The ultimate key to winning.
From the most basic of decisions to the most complex, ultimately the key to making the right one is logic. Here's a simple example of using some very basic logic to make a decision:
You want to buy Uxies for your new deck to make it more consistent.
Store “A” sells 1 Uxie for $20.
Store “B” sells 2 Uxies for $20.
Which store would you go buy Uxies from?
The obvious answer is store “B”. Why? Because you get 2 Uxies for the same price as store “A” sells only 1 Uxie.
In Pokemon the use of logic is all about weighing the pros and cons of any given action. This could be anything from which supporter to use, to where to attach that energy for the turn.
NOTE #2: ALWAYS GO WITH THE LOGICAL OPTION!
Logic will not fail you often. NEVER EVER go with the “I could hope to get lucky” option unless it is a very last resort! Always go with the best logical decision for the situation you are in. Pokemon is a game of logic and luck. Luck will fail you far more often than logic will. Stick with logic, be a better, smarter player.
Observe, Plan, Adjust, Adapt!
It would be very, very wise to learn this. Being able to observe the current situation, plan accordingly, and also be able to adjust and adapt should either your plan fail or the situation change (which it often will) is critical in high level playing. I will now go into detail on how to observe, plan, adjust, and adapt.
This should be the very first thing you do, even before the game has started.
What's your active Pokemon?
What cards do you have in your hand?
Are you in a good starting position or a bad one?
If you're in a bad starting position, how will you get out of it? If you're in a good starting position, how will you set up?
Even before the active Pokemon are flipped over, you can already start forming a rough plan on how you are going to get set up. Once the game starts-
What is your opponents active Pokemon?
From this Pokemon can you identify what deck your opponent is using? Very often with lone Unown G or Uxie/Baloty/other common basic starts, it's impossible to determine your opponents deck. If you can not identify your opponents deck off the bat, carefully watch during the next few turns. Most likely you will be quickly identify the deck with in a turn or two.
If you can ID the deck, is it a threat to your deck? (potential auto-loss?)
How skilled a player is your opponent? (does he or she misplay often, and make stupid moves?)
How good does the deck seem to be? (it's always safer to overestimate a deck than to underestimate a deck)
Do you see any Pokemon in play that could be a problem for your deck?
Do you see any Pokemon in play that could be potential easy prizes for your deck?
Mid to end game -
How many cards are in your opponents hand?
What is the prize count?
Are there any trainers/stadiums/etc that you can take advantage of?
How much time is left in the game? (Being aware of time is key in close games)
Now that you know some of the basics of how to observe the current game state, you should be able to start making short term and long term plans off of these observations.
Planning can be broken down into 3 main categories: short term, and long term and backup. This aspect of game play can get very complex and confusing as all 3 categories tend to “float around”. By this, I mean that depending on the game there is no “set in stone” way to go about planning. To keep things simple I will try and present this in the most basic way possible. Please just keep in mind that these are only guide lines, and you may have to plan differently depending on your situation.
Long Term Planning
This should be thought of as your “perfect” goal. Of all your planning, long term should be the most “loose” and easy to adjust. For the most part, think of long term planning as a rough idea of how the game should play out based on your observations. The long term plan should be probably the first thing you establish. Ultimately, the long term plan should be winning, and how the best general way to get there is.
Short Term Planning
This is what most of your plans will be. Short term planning is going to be much more in depth than long term planning due to the fact that they will often determine your actions over the next several turns or so. Think of short term planing as being very fluid, and easily changed. An example of a short term plan would be what supporter you want to use on your next turn. Now, this plan could easily change depending on what you draw, or if something happens to the game state that you didn't expect. Another way to think of short term planing is to put it in musical terms. Think of a jazz player, who for all intents and purposes, writing the song as he plays it. He has a “long term plan”, or main melody as the base of the song, and then he has “short term plans” or improvisations that are variations on the main melody. That's what short term plans really should be: variations and tweaks to the long term plan. That being said, short term plans are far more rigid that long term plans in a sense that you often have to chose between one possible "path" or another, and commits to it. Just as an improvising musician can't easily suddenly completely alter the current melody that he has committed to, it is difficult to alter short term plans once you dedicate your self to any one of them. Therefore, short term plans are somewhat like an ever forking road that follows your long term plan. They are many different paths you can take, but once you dedicate your self to any one of them, it may be difficult to reverse that.
Pokemon is a game where you can very easily and quickly find your self in a bad situation from your previous position of total board control. One stupid little card can RUIN turns of careful planning and execution. I have both seen and been the victim of such cards, and it's not fun to be on the receiving end of them. However, with a back up plan, you are far less likely to be unable to recover. Most back up plans involve having a way to answer if they KO your main attacker, or being able to retreat a Pokemon if it gets dragged out to the active position. Simple steps such as good hand management (don't play the warp point until you need to play it), attach energy to backup attackers, carefully watch how your opponent is setting up their side of the field, etc... are all good aspects of game play to become familiar with.
Adjust and Adapt!
If you can not adjust and adapt to new situations within a game, you will lose. It's really that simple. A key part of being a good player is to be able to readily adjust and adapt to situations that you expect, and those that you don't expect. Being able to anticipate your opponents moves by careful observation of their deck, and play style can be a huge advantage to you. However, be warned. I have personally seen absolutely crazy things happen in seemingly very average games, where one player looked perfectly in control. A Dusknoir DP dropped out of nowhere can wreak havoc if you didn't expect it. It is in situations like this where it is critical that you find a way to play with the bench restriction.
Pokemon is a game where you and your opponent are constantly trying to beat the other in any number of ways. This often leads to rapidly changing in game situations, that you will have to adapt to. You will very often be faced with restrictions, cards that can potentially stop your deck, have to play around weakness, and resistance, and figure out alternate ways to attack if your main attacker should be rendered useless, played with a restricted bench, play around special conditions, as well as various trainers, supporters and stadiums. There is no question about it. If you are unable to adapt to these limitations that you WILL face, you will not win. I can't really say how to adapt to any given situation, as the each one is very unique, and directly influenced by what the circumstances are for that given game. What I can say to do, is to work on short term planing, and looking for alternative solutions to a problem. Those two go hand in hand in being able to adapt to a situation. You have to be able to make short term plans, and you have to be able to find alternative short term plans should your original ones not work.
I wanted to make sure I get this out in plenty of time for CC's, so there are some aspects of advanced game play that I wasn't quite able to cover everything, or go into as much detail as I wanted. Due to being very busy with college, I probably won't be able have this as thorough as I would like until a little later in the year. I'm planing on this being a series, with a section on deck building, probably one that is more in depth at looking at strategies and real life in game situations, and one on understanding one of the most complex and difficult aspects that all deck builders face, the meta-game.
I'm not claiming in anyway to be the most knowledgeable person on these topics, but I learned most of these tricks from observing some of the best players out there, and they are proven. I tried to sum up my own personal play style (which has proven very effective for me), and I hope that you can learn something from it. By observing others, I have become a much better player, and I'm still constantly learning from the many great players I know. Observe others! Think logically! I'm sure if you do so, you will find your self becoming a better player.
I highly recommend reading this tournament report by our 2009 world champ, Steven Silvestro. It will give you an even better view of what high level play really is like, and how you may be able to apply it to your own play style.
I I hope you all have a great CC season! I'll try to start working on my next article over Christmas break.
~ Michael Miles
Last edited by MrMeches; 11/24/2009 at 08:33 AM.