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Prime's Thoughts

Why I am falling out of love with the Pokemon TCG

Rating: 10 votes, 4.60 average.
I was watching the newest episode of Prof-It, a show that I never miss an episode of and praise J-Wittz for doing, when a bunch of negative feelings towards the game started to flood my thinking.

1) All the different types are cool but it really just turns the game into a Rock/Paper/Scissors game. I've gone back and forth on the idea of weakness, but I feel it does more to hurt the game than to better it. I think it is because:
a) There arenít even opportunities for all types. Right now, we have 2 ways to energy accelerate for Fire decks; Emboar and Typhlosion Prime. Because of this, fire decks have a huge advantage and did the best at Worlds/Nationals. J-Wittz was talking about Gothitelle and how one of its downsides is that it takes a while to setup. The same was said about Beartic perhaps having to look to Feraligatr Prime for the needed energy acceleration.
i) J-Wittz goes on to say that Beartic has a good weakness because, "nobody plays metal (pokemon)". It just left a bad taste in my mouth, not because of J-Wittz, but because of the implications for the game. I've heard plenty of discussions online about cards and having a good or bad weakness can make a big difference in how playable the card is. Each type isnít equal, heck some types donít get shown much love at all. I should be able to play whatever type I want to play and have adequate support for it.
(1) Is the modified format just too small of a collection of sets? Is the limited card pool making it harder or easier for certain types to be played? Is this how the game should be played? Iíd sure love to see each of the types have other resources.
b) I guess that someone could argue that each type is supposed to have advantages and disadvantages, but when the game comes down to Ďwho can setup firstí, energy acceleration as an option is HUGE and status condition options arenít as useful, and will often result in complete types not seeing any play, like the metal example above.

A huge percentage of each Pokemon TCG set is taken up by evo-filler cards. What do I mean? I mean, that for each important stage 2 pokemon card, there is 2-4 lower stages that have very little affect, at least not as much as the final evolution stage, on the actual game. For example, out of Black and White, we have 91 different Pokemon cards, and out of those, we have 43 actual final stages, and 48 lower stage Pokemon cards. That means that more than half the Pokemon in the set play a very small role in each game. That limits the playersí choices so much and it means that we donít get as much interesting new useful cards out of each set.
a) Call of Legends and now Emerging Powers go down as being lackbuster, borderline horrible sets. Why is that? One might say because there arenít a lot of useful choices in these sets. One reason for this may be because half the Pokemon in the set are just pre-evolution filler cards. Nobody can argue that the trainers/supporters in both sets arenít half-way decent, so they canít be the issue.

I guess you could tie this into the last idea, but I just hate that so few actual cards see play at the big events. I think it is partially because of the lack of options created by the pre-evolution filler cards but it is also because certain cards are designed to be much better than others. Because of this, each year at Nationals and Worlds, we see a very small percentage of the cards actually being played. Even in the current format, with 6 sets, on average being around 100 cards, with 90-ish of each being Pokemon cards, thatís 540 cards to choose from. If we cut it in half, per my 50% pre-evolution filler thought, that still leaves us with around 270 different final-staged Pokemon to choose from. Why, with 270 Pokemon to choose from do we only see roughly 1% of them seeing playing? Would that be an accurate guess? 27 different pokemon? I think so, especially when so many decks run the same helpers (Cleffa, Pachirisu, Shaymin, Manaphy, Tyrogue, etc). A deck may have around 2-3 main pokemon. That means that 9 completely different decks would see play. I think this is still more than normal. Iíd almost go to say that 0.5% of all the choices see actual play, around 13.5 different Pokemon, or 4-5 completely different decks. I want to be able to play all my cards, not have 95% of them sit in the binder.
a) I know some cards are perfectly fine for less competitive events, but it doesnít send a good message through the game if the best players in the world are only utilizing a half of a percent of all the available choices of cards.

I guess part of me is envious of Magic: The Gathering. The monsters donít need to evolve from lower stuff, and it seems that a much larger percentage of cards from each set see competitive play. Each type (Plains, Forest, etc) donít physically counter each other, although it seems certain types may have a slight advantage over any other type, it is nothing written in black and white, unlike the Weakness/Resistance specifically written on Pokemon cards. And it seems that each type is more fleshed out, with more options at their dispoal.
a) I wonder, why am I playing this game when there could be a much better designed game out there. Why canít Pokemon be more like Magic?
i) It kind of was, with SP Pokemon all being basic Pokemon. Honestly, I thought it was so cool during the SP days that a player could easily tech a random SP pokemon into their deck. It didnít need 3 basics, 1-2 middle stages, and 2 tops. The player could just put in 2 basics, thatís it.

5) What is up with The Pokemon Company (japan) designing all these poor cards? Should I even blame them, though? There has to be good and bad cards, but with half the Pokemon cards being lower evolution filler cards, the lack of options just stands out. When a set like Emerging Powers is released and there are less than a handful of decent final stages, it just makes the set look horrible. Does TPC not understand this? Perhaps they see the game in a different light than us. Perhaps they donít see the game so seriously and actually play more of the cards.
a) I donít like the feeling when I look at a brand new set and go, ďokay, I just need this handful of cards and nothing else.Ē That doesnít spell well for my interest in the game and it doesnít spell well for The Pokemon Company: International making money off the selling of product. Arguably, a more competitive set will lead to more interest, which will lead to more sells.

The Organized Play seems to keep growing. God love TPCi for doing a fantastic job. My interest in the game just seems to keep dropping. I should need to keep taking breaks from the game to keep the spark of interest alive. I want to keep giving Pokemon a chance and my time, but why should I when there are better designed games out there?


  1. djjoe227's Avatar
    One thing that Magic The Gathering does is balance out it's colors properly in terms of card design. If you take a single Magic The Gathering Card, flip it over, and look at the five colors, you see this balance. Start on any single color. The two dots to the immediate right and left are ALWAYS allied with the color you suggested, in that cards blend and mesh well, and will generally be more synergistic together. The two dots across the pentagon shape will be enemy-colors, have less synergy.

    Pokemon doesn't have this balance.

    Psychic is weak to Psychic and sometimes Dark.

    Colorless is Weak to Fighting and sometimes Thunder (birds) and resistant to Fighting (birds)

    Grass is weak to Fire and Psychic, and sometimes resistant to Water.

    Fire is weak to Water.

    Steel/Metal is weak to Fire and resistant to Psychic.

    Water is weak to Grass, Thunder, and sometimes Steel.

    Thunder is weak to Fighting, and sometimes resists Steel.

    Dark is weak to Fighting, and resists Psychic.

    Fighting is weak to Grass, Water, and Psychic and sometimes resists Thunder.

    There's no balance. If you're playing Fire, you a completely balanced against everything and have advantages. Fighting, Water, Thunder, and Psychic can sometimes hit a resistance.

    The other thing that helps balance Magic is their concept of a Sideboard. Since Pokemon is only one game long, a sideboard is impossible.

    Magic does have it's faults, such as color favor, mechanic/ability favor, and flavor favor, but overall it's balanced in Theory.
  2. Cyrus's Avatar
    Great read, Prime. While I think Emerging Powers should be forgiven for its lack of good evolutions (it's not much of a real Japanese set, after all), I agree that TPC is not thinking about the health of its game. At all. Between power creep, lack of unique ways to win, and over-dumbification of the game, PCL is going in the wrong direction.
  3. Poke Trainer J's Avatar
    I got to give it to you Prime, you hit the nail right on the head. I have been noticing players around me just like you that have been falling out of love for the Pokemon TCG (not all but several) and it's a shame really cause the game itself has so much potential and it seemed like it was off to making an amazing comeback when Diamond & Pearl first entered the scene as well. I got into the Pokemon TCG around 2008 when DP Majestic Dawn was the latest Modified expansion so yeah.

    It seemed like the franchise as a whole hit it's 2nd peak with Gen 4 then it sort of dropped with Gen 5 sadly. The Video Game franchise is doing fine to some extent, sadly I can't say the same for the Anime/Manga series and the TCG. I was hoping they would do much better but sadly they're not. As for the TCG I will admit that Noble Victories did have more playable cards but as you pointed out earlier didn't solve much of the overall problems you described. The Rock/Paper/Scissors nature of HGSS-On is making it hard for other decks to shine, and the new Dragon Type sort of fixes that but it still doesn't do anything.

    In terms of the TCG it's been said that this format has an overabundance of Basic Pokemon that hits for high damage for low attack costs by doing 120 damage for 3 or less energy instead of like as vaporeon pointed out a Basic doing just 70 damage with an attack cost of 4. The Dragons are ruining the format, Catcher is mainly contributing to the problem due to the 1st Turn Rules from Black/White and the recent Rare Candy errata, regardless of how diverse this format is it still seems like a huge mess when you look hard into it and the power creep keeps getting worse.

    Another thing is that we don't need EX Pokemon in this format, it wasn't necessary to bring them back when we could fix the rules and bring back more Stage 2's being competitive decks instead of just being limited to like 10 Stage 2's in this format which isn't a bad thing but it could be better than mostly seeing just Vileplume, Reuniclus, Emboar, and Magnezone being used more than other Stage 2's because of the nerf on Rare Candy. Sure people will say that The Truth would be BDIF If Rare Candy never got errated, that could very well be true but for other decks especially with the possibility of Catcher never seeing the light of day this format would have been so much better IMO. Don't get me wrong, HGSS-On has proven to me to be a very fun format so far despite it's flaws.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Updated 12/15/2011 at 12:04 AM by Poke Trainer J
  4. chrataxe's Avatar
    I think the powers that be really had no "good" choice when it came to the basics. Last format was ruined by crappy donk decks. The easiest way to solve the problem was to make high HP basics. It only seems natural that high HP basics should be powerful. I think the real shame about the first two dragons was the fact that they didn't have a 2 prize draw back, however, I think it is totally awesome that you can drop a Reshi active to start and feel confident you won't get donked.
  5. chrataxe's Avatar
    I think the powers that be really had no "good" choice when it came to the basics. Last format was ruined by crappy donk decks. The easiest way to solve the problem was to make high HP basics. It only seems natural that high HP basics should be powerful. I think the real shame about the first two dragons was the fact that they didn't have a 2 prize draw back, however, I think it is totally awesome that you can drop a Reshi active to start and feel confident you won't get donked.
  6. Assassin_Thief's Avatar
    I agree with your points on the pokemon lines being exactly the same in all the decks. I was playing VVV and then switched to Chandelure. Literally The only differance so the main attacker and then Victini for Dodrio. Even the energies stayed the same. It went from 4 Rescue and 8 water to 4 Rescue and 8 Psychic.