[gal=55324]Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes...[/gal]There are always a number of changes to deal with every new tournament season, but this year there are a lot more than usual! Changes that affect what cards you can use. Changes that affect how cards work. Changes that affect when tournaments are and how much they cost. Changes that affect how games end. Heck, even changes about how games start! There have been so many changes that many player, and even judges and TOs, are losing track of them. Here is a handy summary of those changes that everyone involved in Pokemon Organized Play needs to be aware of. What Cards You Can Use Almost every year, the Pokemon TCG rotates what sets are legal to use in the Modified Format. This year, even the name of the format has changed. It is now called the "Standard Format". Aside from that, we have had the regular rotation of three sets moving out of the format. These sets are Black and White, Emerging Powers, and Nobel Victories. What is unusual is the relatively large amount of cards from these sets that have stayed in the format (having already been reprinted) or re-entered the format after a short timeout by being reprinted in the new Legendary Treasures collection. So many cards have been reprinted that it is not reasonable for Tournament staff to expect to remember them all when checking decks. Luckily, we have a handy dandy resource available for event staff to use to check if an old card counts as a legal Standard card. It can be accessed from PokeGym's Front Page: http://pokegym.net/forums/showthread.php?41415-2013-2014-Standard-Format-Legal-Card-List A few cards of note that played the Hokey Pokey are: Energy Switch Crushing Hammer Victini (Fliptini) Gothitelle (Magic Room) Cobalion (Energy Breaker) How Cards Work There have been a couple of cards that have seen changes to their game play. First Ticket: While there has been no change to this card, in and of itself, the game has changed around it. We'll go into those game changes later, but the important thing to know about First Ticket is that it is now a "dead" card. You can play it in your deck, but the only use it can see is as discard fodder for cards like Ultra Ball. It can no longer be played to give you the first turn of the game. Pokemon Catcher: This staple card has taken a major power hit with an errata and reprinting that gave it a text change to require a successful coin flip in order to use its effect. This card has gone from must play to just musty. Tournament Structure Changes This is a transition year for the Pokemon Organized Play tournament structure. The changes this year affect Tournament Organizer and Player alike. Pay to Play: While Juniors and Seniors still get free entry to City Championships and above, Masters now have to pay for entry. Entry fees are set by the individual Tournament Organizer and have been seen to range from $10 per event to $30 per event. In compensation for this, Masters will find that their prize pool has been increased, and TOs are allowed to increase that prize pool even further. Players will need to check the details of each event to find out how each organizer is handling this. PokeGym's losjackal has put together an interactive compilation of upcoming Premiere events that is easily accessed from our Front Page: http://pokegym.net/forums/view.php?pg=tourneyscrape Regionals, Regionals, When are the Regionals: While the number of Regionals has stayed the same, instead of holding multiple Regionals all on the same date, Pokemon has made a range of dates available for Regionals. The main purpose of this was to allow some flexibility for Organizers in finding and negotiating with venues. Having to schedule on one specific date caused problems as many venues had prior commitments on those dates, causing a lack of venues and/or higher expenses. The side effect of this flexibility is that Regionals are more spread out and players can attend more of them, if they desire. Again, different TOs will have different entry fees and prize packages, so check event details. Hit the Road, Battles: The tournaments that had been the entry level of Premiere Events, Battle Roads, are now gone. In their place, Pokemon has introduced League Challenges as the introductory tournaments. While these two events looks similar, there are some major differences. Battle Roads happened in groups twice a year, in a Spring Season and a Fall Season. Also, they were run mostly by PTOs with a few TOs also allowed to run a limited number. Prizes were limited as these were meant to be smaller events with less competition. But, with Championship Points on the line, competitive players flocked to each event, turning them into virtual City Championships. In contrast, every Pokemon League in good standing will be able to run 8 League Challenges throughout the year. This will have two major impacts. First, the sheer number of League Challenges will greatly surpass the number of Battle Roads that had been held. There will be many, many, many more League Challenges than there were Battle Roads. Second, aside from the promo cards for 1st-4th place and the Championship Points, entry fees and prizes will be totally at the discretion of the Organizer. Some will run free events where the only prizes are the promos and points. Others will run events with fees and prizes. Some will be run by Organizers who have little to no experience and others will be run by very experienced PTOs and Judges. Players need to be educated consumers and reward organizers who give them a good value in terms of both the play experience as well as prize value. How Games End Single Game Swiss or Best of Three Swiss: This year sees the introduction of Best of Three Match Play to Pokemon Swiss Rounds. Best of Three is mandatory for Regionals and above. It will be optional for all other Premiere events. Make sure to check the tournament details or ask your TO to find out if any specific event will be played with Single Game Swiss rounds or as Best of Three. Ties, Ties, and more Ties: In all Pokemon Premiere events, ALL incomplete Swiss Games either do not count, or count as a tie. ALL SWISS GAMES. This includes Single Game Swiss. The only time that a winner is determined in an incomplete game by counting who is ahead on Prize Cards is during Top Cut Single Elimination. Otherwise, an incomplete 1st or 3rd game will result in the Match being recorded as a tie. Again, This includes Single Game Swiss. Intentional Draws: As a side effect of ties becoming a legal match result, Intentional Draws are also legal. Players are allowed to discuss whether they should draw their match, but coercion and bribery are strictly forbidden. Coercion is applying ANY pressure to a player to agree to the tie. This includes peer pressure. Bribery is ANY discussion of "if you do X, I'll give you Y." X can be anything, and Y can be anything. It doesn't have to be just money or packs of cards. Both of these can result in Disqualification from an event and possibly higher penalties from Pokemon up to and including banning from organized play. This is not meant to scare players from using the Intentional Draw. But be certain to not go over the line from discussing benefits of using the ID to coercion and bribery. If you're not sure if something falls over the line, it probably does. How Games Start With the release of the X/Y Starter theme decks, the new X/Y rules have taken effect. Deciding Who Goes First: Players now need to determine who goes first before they have shuffled and set up. The coin is flipped or the die rolled and whoever wins that event will get to choose whether they will go first or second. Got that? That is two changes. When the flip is done AND the winner gets a choice. Mulligan Draws: When the opponent Mulligans, they announce their mulligan, but do not show their hand until the opponent has placed their starting Basic. This protects the player from revealing information that might affect which Basic their opponent plays. Then, the opponent does not draw their extra cards until all Mulligans have been resolved. No First Turn Attack: Here is why the winner of the coin flip might decide to go second: The player that goes first in the game does not get to attack on their first turn. This is to compensate for the many benefits of going first, such as getting a head start on energy placement and being able to evolve sooner. These are a huge amount of changes for the player base to absorb, so players and staff are encouraged to treat these first few months as a learning experience and help fellow Pokemon players to play correctly through friendly reminders.