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DjJoe's Rants

Why I'm Leaving, Part 3

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Part 3- Luck

In any game, there is a luck factor. In card games, especially, there is a luck factor. Most of the luck is based on the random outcomes a deck can yield with the top card.

With Pokemon, luck is in abundance.

In Pokemon, there's luck in what the arrangement of the deck is, luck in what prize cards are there, luck in what the first 7 cards are before a game, luck in what your opponent does, luck in coin flips...

Most cardgames have this quality. I won't call it a problem, as some people enjoy the randomness that comes with it. I, however, do not.

I like being in full control of what I'm doing, at least as much as possible before being openly able to admit my opponent has control otherwise. I like playing with what I have, not throwing ideas into the wind and letting them be carried.

You see this a lot with tabletop games, something like Chess, where the field is there, you know your options, and you're left with what you'll end up doing. You make a wrong move, or your opponent makes the right one, and you aren't left to a hoping the next one counteracts it- you decide that all on your own.

Pokemon has TOO MUCH luck in it. If it was left to just drawing cards, that'd be something. Or, maybe if it was left to a few minor instances of coin flipping or dice rolling. But where we are now? Too much Luck.

To get people to understand, let me ask you this- have you ever been down to Topdecking? Sure it may be your plays to get you to that point, but focus on just the topdecking aspect- you're sitting and hoping the next card is in your favor; you have no control. What if you draw into a pocket of energy? What if you draw into 3 Pokemon Collectors late game? Rare Candies and no target? There's endless numbers of possibilities, and there's nothing you can do about it, you're left to leave it up to chance!

How does this relate to the game itself? Well, if you ever had one of those games where you were stuck facing a Sweet-sleeping-Face baby pokemon, you know what I mean. I remember playing a game against an Elekid, where my active was Zekrom, my bench was a few Lanturn Primes and Pachirisu, and Elekid was dealing 20 damage per turn to my bench every turn. And it wasn't that I was short on energy- had I got a chance to attack, Zekrom could do Bolt Strike. It was he attacks, fell asleep, my turn he's sleeping, my turn ends and he wakes up- this literally happened 15 times IN A ROW. Just on Elekid alone he took 3 prizes. All because luck played it's ever-so-important role.


  1. Alazor's Avatar
    That's generally why I play Magby (CoL) as a Baby counter over Tyrogue, because then they have to flip for sleep and burn. If you have crazy draw power, a few search cards, it should not be an issue.
    They should reprint something like Scott, that would add skill to the game.
  2. chrataxe's Avatar
    Your elekid example is extreme, though proves your point. When luck defies probability, you can chalk it up to luck. When luck falls within probability, you can't really chalk it up to luck. Hitting tails/heads 15 times in a row is ridiculous and only cost you one game in a season, that seems a bit ridiculous to want to quit because of that.

    As for top decking, claiming you "have no control" is ridiculous. If you find yourself with Candies/Collectors and no need for them, your deck is built wrong, its a deck building issue, not luck, 2 Candy/4 Junk Arm go a long way. My prefered builds as of late are 4 Sage/4 Juniper, that pretty much being the extent of my drawing. With deck thinning options like that and that much raw draw, its hard to miss what you need. The only problem that engine has is, when you have both in hand, if you Juniper your Sage's away, you have no draw power late game. If you Sage instead of Juniper, you probably wiff on what you need. But, my point is, relying on that top deck sure becomes less probable when you run Junk Arm/Pokegear and 4 Juniper. Honestly, I have whiffed on the Juniper's late game, but I also have hit way more than I've missed. The greatest feeling in the world is having one prize left and a Juniper in hand with 5 cards left in the deck, knowing I have one more DCE/Catcher/whatever in my deck and there is nothing my opponent can do about it.

    Oh, and don't forget, that luck goes both ways. Both players have to rely drawing those cards and winning those flips. But, it never fails, the same guys keep winning. Are you trying to convince the Pokemon community that, every year at Nationals, Pooka's "luck" sky rockets? I find that hard to believe.

    The game boils down to a few simple concepts:

    Knowing your matchups
    Deck building
    Your ability to access the meta

    If you continually fail where others find success, you are not doing those three things as well as the other person.

    I heard a man say once, "It's easy to find reasons not to excel."

    If you are looking for a game like chess, its already well known, this isn't it. It never was and never will be.
  3. djjoe227's Avatar
    A lot of your post can go both ways as well. My claims are, as are yours, personal. What you have to consider also is motivation- when I play I play for fun. I don't appreciate a game that puts me into a position of topdecking because it doesn't make the game fun for me. I don't care about winning, but it does matter to me that I can't do anything. Rare candies and Collectors are late game Junk Arm fodder, but when you draw Junk Arm after them it makes them just an eyesore.

    What it basically boils down to is which of the random arrangements the deck finished in as you draw your cards. You don't have that problem, I acknowledge that; but I do. I have the problem of drawing multiple energies, not always hitting Juniper/Sage's Training, and hitting cards that have outgrown their usefulness.

    Alot of these blogs also stem from the tail end of a series of cardgames. I have started with Magic The Gathering, moved to Yugioh, back to Magic, onto VS System, back to Magic, and on to Pokemon. These rants are about Pokemon, as it is the last straw, in essence. I don't want to put myself into these positions as a card game player, and I feel that while there is no such thing as a "perfect card game", I have finally decided to stop trying to find one that is at least a hint towards one.

    Lastly, I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. I'm simply voicing my opinions on a Blog, nothing more. Blogs are entirely personal.
  4. Alazor's Avatar
    I have to admit, that is pretty rigged. I lost to an Octillery once in Swiss, even though I had Unown E (Mysterious Treasures) teched in the deck. I am also not into Pokemon as much, but it's fun to play once in a while.
  5. NoPoke's Avatar
    I don't think Luck is the central problem . Rather it is how that luck manifests in a format obsessed with speed. Speed emphasises and exaggerates luck's impact upon game outcome. I'm not a fan of speed, I want games to last long enough for skill to have a chance to shine.
  6. Nintendan's Avatar
    ^ Very good point.
  7. champion 1994's Avatar
    Good decision and a happy retirement.