Pokemon Replay

Bug Bite

The Pokemon bug bit me again. Yeah, must have been a Bug-type Pokemon. Of course. Actually, it was Heatran, a Fire-type. I had re-tweaked my Darkness deck for a while. But now I’m building a new battle deck based on Fire. There will be many burned Pokemon. Just sayin’.


New Moves

So the Cosmic Eclipse expansion was released in November; my family and I had some great pulls! It is the last expansion before the new base series for TCG comes out: Sword and Shield. And speaking of, the newest mainline Pokemon video games already hit stores in November too, which really stirred the Pokemon pot!

There are brand new never-before-seen-or-caught Pokemon in the new Galar region! So even if you had caught’em all, well, now you’ve got more work to do. Get crackin’! And since my family had our Christmas early this year, we are!

I have been playing Pokemon Sword, my first ever Pokemon video game. It’s fun! And it’s helping me learn more about the Pokemon and Trainers in the card game, in which I’m enjoying a resurgence.

I’ve had fun learning and trying things with my first major battle deck based on Dark Pokemon. It had good mechanics with my main strategy (Weavile GX Ability). I guess I got tired of it though. But I recently had a jolt of the fun of finding new cards and putting together a new strategy with a new battle deck. So I’ve been eyeing several fiery Pokemon.

I started looking at Fire abilities and was stoked! But things took a twist. As I was building up ideas for a Fire deck, I crossed paths with my Zygarde Fighting Pokemon and a fellow TCG player on Facebook. One thing led to another, and now, for the first time, I have an Expanded battle deck! I had been locked in my mind to play only Standard cards in rotation, but now I have…expanded.

The cool thing about my new deck, which utilizes all my Zygarde Pokemon, is that besides being Expanded, it is for fun! And it’s easier to play against young kids who sometimes have weak decks. It’s really about having fun and trying new things with Pokemon TCG. Meanwhile, I continue to build my new no-holds-barred Fire deck to bring the heat to battle!


Fighting With Fire

So what’s next? For my Fighting deck, I must start practicing it, finding its weaknesses, and tweaking it. I played in the recent League Challenge tournament and did okay. My new Zygarde deck took some beating, but I got a few lucky first wins. It was fun and I learned stuff, so either way!

Also, I’ve ordered some cards for my Fire deck, but I have more to order at a later date. So I’ll play my Fighting deck more while working on the Fire one. And starting in February, the brand new base set of Sword and Shield Pokemon will go on sale, and oh boy! There are all new types of cards, so there will be new strategies to try!


Do you play Pokemon? Or any other card game? Are you strategy challenged like me? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Cost And Craze Of Pokemon

During the past holiday weekend, my family enjoyed lots of Pokemon trading card game action, among other things. We attended the weekly League meet-up for card trading and lots of head-to-head battles with everybody’s current decks. And as usual, I learned a few more things, had fun, and embraced challenges. But this Pokemon thing is a craze that sometimes has me a little concerned.


Pokecraze

I don’t know how long my family’s Pokecraze will last. There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, especially from my five sons. My wife and I also have some serious fun with it. The makers of Pokemon release new cards over time, at a pace that reinvigorates the craze just when it might be dwindling. Well played!

Amidst all the card trading and playing buzz, I have two concerns: addiction and expense.

Addicting

No doubt you’ve heard the slogan of Pokemon, “Gotta catch’em all!” It’s that “gotta” part that’ll get’ya. But it’s not just about trying to collect all the Pokemon as I once thought. There are so many Pokemon cards, with new ones coming out all the time, I don’t think it’s feasible to catch them all.

It’s about playing the cards more than collecting them. With so many Pokemon cards and a plethora of abilities, the strategic possibilities are vast. There are several general types of play stratagem. Let’s say, for example, there are ten basic ways to win battles, and you definitely must think about both offense and defense.

Ten ways does not sound like too many, but the numerous cards and abilities combine in so many various ways that the possibilities are endless! So many angles of attack! You can’t help being drawn into the stratagem.

You’ve gotta try one more thing, one more card or combo of cards that lets you tweak your battle deck. And you then get to play it several times against multiple opponents with their decks to find your own strengths and weaknesses. The cycle repeats itself afterwards when you learn once again where you need to adjust your cards.

Next, as your brain tries to strategize, you think of what you want to accomplish and how you might achieve it. There must be a card somewhere that gives a specific ability you could use. So you go on the hunt to find such a card. And you might not notice that you’re being further drawn into the Pokecraze.

Expensive

Addiction comes with a cost. With various new cards, new abilities, and endless possibilities, you have more to buy, more to catch, and more money to spend. A few dollars here and there add up to a lot! In my household, with 7 people enjoying Pokemon, it doesn’t just add up, it multiplies.

There is the gambling type of addiction in buying single packs of cards off the store shelf. Called Booster packs, each one contains 10 random cards. You pay money for the chance to pull an extra rare and powerful card out. It’s like a slot machine, pulling the handle in hopes the three cherries line up and you score the big prize. And you do it over and over until you win or you’re almost broke.

Another way to throw cash at the cards is to buy in bulk. There are many types of boxes and promo sets of cards, each with their own special offerings. They typically contain several Booster packs inside along with a powerful rare card, a collector’s pin or coin, specially marked dice, card sleeves, or a pre-built battle deck – always something to entice. And the price per card in the bigger sets is a little less than individual packs, so you justify the spending.

Finally, there’s the number one place to go and buy cards, TCGPlayer. It’s a great website where you can buy any Pokemon card you want! If you want to collect certain cards or you’re on the hunt for the next few cards needed to tweak your battle deck strategy, then you simply type them in and Add to Cart! Days later, your cards are waiting in the mailbox.

TCGPlayer has all the cards, offered from different sellers across the country, so you can try to find the lowest priced card in the best condition. And instead of spending a lot of money on Booster packs, hoping to pull a good card, you spend a little money on the specific good card you need. But it adds up over time.


Craze Conclusion

I wonder when, like any fad, our Pokemon craze will conclude. Or is it here to stay; are we playing the long-game? Part of me wouldn’t mind if it dissipated because we’d be less inclined to throw cash at cards here and there. It tests our self-control and restraint. But it’s not all bad.

My whole family is sharing the enjoyment of Pokemon together, playing and trading and collecting with one another. There’s much value in that. “Family Game Night” happens a lot these days! And it is helping us to go out to the League and meet new people in our community, socializing face to face with others, geeking out on a common interest. Overall, we’re having a lot of fun!

The makers of Pokemon have been going at it for over 20 years now. They routinely put out new Expansions in each series of cards, so we’ll likely continue the Pokecraze for a while. In fact, there’s an entire new Series coming soon! It has teased new special card types.

Here’s my money; gimme the stuff.


What’s your expensive addiction? Ever try Pokemon? Leave feedback below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

My Dark Deck Got Whooped

Today I played in my first Pokemon League Tournament. It was fun even though I got knocked out every round – well one was a draw. In a first, I had two of my Pokemon killed in their sleep! They never saw what hit them. Yep, out of 12 players, I almost made it into the top 10, coming in dead last at number twelve. But like I said, it was fun.


Prep and battle

On Saturday, I spent time practicing and tweaking my Dark Deck: 100% Darkness Pokemon. It’s the new rotation, so Ultra Prism to Unified Minds. After playing a couple times, I poured over my Trainers and optimized for my strategy, utilizing my favored fighters. I was excited for the coming tourney.

So I showed up with my family. Six of us entered to play. At one point I was matched against my wife who, as usual, defeated me. But it was close! Also, 4 of my sons who played ranked higher than I did. But it’s ok. They got more money from me to buy more cards, so they’re happy.

We donated some prize funds, so even though I lost, I scored a Booster Pack and a League Card! Better still, I got a good pull from the pack: Celesteela GX – Ultra Beast! There were a lot of good cards and trades going around, both from what players already had and also from some on-fire pulls outta new Booster Packs.


Better strategy next time

I would say better luck next time, but what I like about Pokemon TCG is that it’s not so much about luck as it is about strategy, picking the right Pokemon and Trainers to have a good offense and defense. Whenever I play, even in losing, I enjoy thinking through the many options and really working the deck and abilities to eek out knock-outs!

So that was some family fun for the weekend; I look forward to next time. I need much practice. And I gotta catch me some more Pokemon. Of course!


How was your weekend? Play any indoor games to beat the Summer heat? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

Catching All The Pokémon

About that thing called Pokémon, yeah, it’s all kinda new to me. So far I like it. Specifically, I’m talking about the trading card game (TCG). Have you played it? It’s kind of a big bite to chew on if you’re new to it. I bet you’ve heard the slogan, “Gotta catch’em all!” Well, there’s now over 800 Pokémon to catch! And that’s just for starters.


Getting Into The Game

Pokémon has been around for over two decades, and I’m just now learning about the Trading Card Game. I’m late to it. But that’s probably a good thing because it’s kind of expensive. Other than the cost, it’s pretty cool.

I started buying and collecting some cards, then began learning the rules to play. So much strategy! And that, I think, is the funnest part, exploring the endless strategies you can come up with to win at games. It can be overwhelming, but it kinda sucks you in. So it’s been an interesting experience, sharing the enjoyment with my wife and kids.

We all play the TCG online against the computer, and we all play each other. I’ve even won a few games against my wife, mostly because her battle deck happened to be weak against mine. At this stage, though, even when losing, I learn a lot about how to play and gain insight from my opponent’s strategy.

It’s common for a player to gravitate towards certain Pokémon and end up with a favorite. I didn’t think I would follow that trend. But somehow it happened. My kids have the Super Deluxe Pokémon Encyclopedia, and at the very back is a dude called Zygarde!

This Zygarde creature in complete form doesn’t look like your typical animal type of Pokémon. To me he/it looks like a Decepticon Transformer! So of course I think it’s awesome, the best Pokémon. And it’s the one I started collecting.


Collecting Versus Trading

In the big picture, Pokémon is two things: cards for collecting and trading, and cards for playing a card game. While that’s obvious, I find the two aspects intriguing.

Growing up, I collected Baseball cards. As an adult, I’ve collected Star Wars cards. And of course I’ve played card games: UNO, Skip-Bo, Rummy, 52 card pick-up… But those things have always been separate to me. Until Pokémon.

With Pokémon TCG, you can be only a collector and buy or trade cards if you want. Or you can be in it just to play the game, but really it’s a combo of both. You kind of need to collect cards to get the best ones to create a winning strategy in a 60 card battle deck. There’s much more to it; I’ll spare you.

One interesting effect of cards that you collect to play in the game is that it makes the card have more purpose, meaning, and value. The Baseball and Star Wars cards I collected are cool, but they don’t do anything.

On the other hand, Pokémon cards are cool plus they do lots of stuff! They have abilities and attacks! It’s like the cards become the creatures in the artwork, having individual names and skills for fighting other Pokémon. It’s hard for me to describe what this is like, but compared to plain old collector’s cards, they’re much more engaging.


Enter The League

If you really want to learn how to play Pokémon and also have a chance to trade good cards, you should find a local League in which to officially play. Thankfully, we found one in our town and started going.

In my first battle, I could hardly even shuffle the cards. I was afraid to bend them. How do you play with collector cards that are supposed to stay in mint condition?! There are ways.

You won’t be surprised, I got my, um, Pokémon handed to me. The League leader I played taught me good strategy while obliterating my puny theme deck featuring purple psychic power and lots of red fire. When I say I “played,” I mean participate in a getting schooled in how to lose like a champ!

The League has been great for us as a family to get out of the house and socialize in real life with other real humans! My five sons are learning more this way a little at a time. There’s a Facebook Group for the League, but I don’t and won’t do Facebook, so it’s real life only for me!


The Verdict GX

Anyways, I’m afraid I broke the 500 word barrier on this post. But geeking out on stuff means more words than few, right? Humor me.

This Pokephase I’m going through is lots of fun. It’s true that I have no shortage of entertainment in this day and age; none of us do. But it’s new and it’s a whole family thing, which makes it more valuable to me. And with my professional day job being heavy on the serious business, I could always use more fun.


Have you played Pokémon? Would you try it? Leave some remarks below or message me. Thanks for reading!

Pokémon Took Over My House

Over 20 years ago, a sub-cultural hit was born. Either you’ve heard of Pokémon or you’ve seen the cutesy small yellow creature with a lightning tail, a.k.a Pikachu. The trading card game, for the first time, has hit me and my house. And I’m playing like it’s 1999!


Late to the game

In the mid-90’s, two things happened: I graduated high school, and Pokémon began to appear.1 The timing worked out to where I missed being swept up into the popular trading card game. Even though I had heard about it and knew some people who were really into it, Pokémon escaped me…for about 24 years.

Fast forward to 2019. What took so long for the Pokémon bug to bite? Was it really just a matter of time?

The short answer is the recent Pokémon movie, Detective Pikachu, sparked interest in my kids, which led to them wanting and buying plush animal versions of their favorite cinema inspired Pokémon.

I’ve not (yet) watched the movie myself, but its cute-ish creatures seemed to make my 5 boys into new fans. How’s that for marketing the franchise?

Since my sons expressed interest in Pokémon, their Papa surprised them with packs of Pokémon TCG (trading card game) cards. Life hasn’t been quite the same since.

Trading was the game

Now let me back up a few years. My family has collected trading cards before, thanks to Star Wars.

Not long ago in our own galaxy, starting with Episode VII, we bought trading cards based on the movie; it was a lot of fun! But unlike Pokémon, there was no game playing aspect. Star Wars cards were just cool! We enjoyed seeing who got their favorite character, weapon, or vehicle. Then we’d try to find the rare versions of it called, “Parallels.” Plus there were special types of cards with fancy art and graphics!

I remember more than once, while standing in the store aisle browsing all the many card sets for sale next to the Star Wars cards, I looked at the Pokémon section and thought to myself that someday my kids would probably get into that. In fact, I considered buying some to try out with them and see what might come of it.

A family trade-n-game night

Even though I wasn’t the one to end up introducing Pokémon to my kids, it’s not surprising that Pokémon still found their way into my household.

With my memories of the Poke-phenomenon from the past, I wondered, could I now look into it for myself? But I was still reluctant because the TCG just seemed like too big of a bite to chew on; there’s so much to it! This is where my astute (and ever-lovely) wife comes into play. Pun totally intended.

My smarter-half looked into the Pokémon TCG out of her own curiosity but also to help my sons grasp the gargantuan thing that is the trading card game. To give you an idea, there are: series, expansions, element types, Pokémon types, card types, deck types, sub-types, special cards, convoluted card rarity, evolves, promos, collectors’ sets, and more!

Since my wife was drawn into the TCG, like my kids, I was drawn in too. Slowly, my 3 pound brain gnawed on aspects of the Pokémon TCG. My knowledge and understanding of it grew, and now Pokémon is a thing for me. Maybe a fad, but definitely something. Let’s call it a Pokephase. I’ve been so busy with it that I’m finding it hard to carve out time for blogging! This is getting serious.


Just getting started

I’ve got some basic knowledge of Pokémon now. And like the creatures, I’m evolving from Basic to Stage 1 and then 2 as my experience with the TCG grows.

I’d like to write another post soon about the game itself, maybe geek out on my current strategy and favorite Pokémon.


Have you ever caught Pokémon or been caught up in it? What series were you into? Comment below or message me. Thanks for reading!

  1. Me, class of ‘95, and I think the Pokémon Trading Card Game debuted in 1996.