Pokémon Fun Reshuffled

This past weekend, I played something besides a video game: Pokémon TCG. My interest was rekindled by last Friday’s release of the new Champion’s Path expansion. The previous one, Darkness Ablaze, helped fuel the flames. And the new Standard Rotation reinvigorated the playing field.

Eternatus
Eternatus

Put Down The Controller

Yeah, I paused Final Fantasy X, docked the Nintendo Switch, and fully diverted my attention to rebuilding an all-new battle deck. With the recent Eternatus cards, how could I avoid revitalizing my Darkness game!?

So I took my Dark-type deck and started swapping out old cards. Thankfully, one of my favorite strategies remained intact with Weavile GX; I love his Shadow Connection ability! But now I can use his Nocturnal Maneuvers to set up my new main attacker, Eternatus VMAX.

I won’t bore my non-Pokémon readers with too many of the details. Yet you might relate.

Eternatus VMAX

Stratagem

Pokémon is very involved; it engages the brain’s problem solving capacity. The numerous cards and abilities are somewhat daunting, but the game boils down to a few basic strategies. And while that translates to costing a lot of time and money, it’s also much fun.

The strategic part captured my brain this weekend. With so many new cards and abilities, I saw time fly by while my mind weighed all the options. You can be imaginative in discovering sneaky tricks or certain knock-outs in the game. But you must always weigh the trade-offs with the benefits. And Pokémon TCG is balanced well; it requires careful planning.

Family Fun

So for the first time in months, my whole family went to the Pokémon League meet-up. My kids and I had fun! I scored great trades for new cards, adding them to my arsenal. Then it was time to start testing my revised Dark deck. It worked, but it has weaknesses; no surprise. So I’ve begun addressing those and will tweak my deck to victory.

And I can’t wait for more! It’s nice to have good family fun, especially during otherwise stressful times. Balancing books, video games, movies, and all forms of escapism is a great problem to have; I’m thankful.

A cool bonus: playing Pokémon with my kids helps me be involved with them more. For example, my oldest son asked me to help him tweak his new Water-type deck. So I’ve started suggesting certain cards and strategies to him – even made a good trade. And my youngest son, still too young to actually play, enjoys trading cards with daddy and his brothers.

Weavile GX

So bring it on. I’m eager for the next expansion, Vivid Voltage. It might electrify the game even better, giving the family more to buzz about.

Lastly, speaking of buzz, The Pokémon Company and Nintendo announced yesterday that the newest expansion, The Crown Tundra, for the video game, Pokémon Sword and Shield, will be released on October 22. The biggest news to me: it includes ALL the legendary Pokémon from previous games! That means I’ll finally be able to catch my favorite, Zygarde!

Gotta catch’em all!


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

A Bunch Of Stuff

Mess Messes With Me

Like you, fellow internet surfers, I’ve been cooped up in the house a lot lately, even working from home for several weeks. You start to look at your surroundings when you’re in one spot for a while. That’s when you notice things. I guess I’m a bit of a neat freak because what I see is killin’ me: clutter. This topic is one I seldom write about, but that may change the more I am stuck in my humble abode.


Simplify Stuff

Although it’s not one of my top three blog subjects, Minimalism is something I’ve posted about before. Not because I’m an expert on it. To the contrary, it’s because I have too much stuff and it bugs me a lot. Clutter, bad. Minimalism, good. I need more of “less.”

Less is more, right? I believe in the virtue of simplicity. Also, scientific studies show that clutter causes stress. Mess = stress! Who wants that?

Here are a couple sources about the stress of mess:

Why Mess Causes Stress

The Unbearable Heaviness Of Clutter

The tendency in my house is for any horizontal plane to accumulate eclectic piles of stuff:

  • Stuff that should be put in its proper place.
  • Stuff that has no proper place yet.
  • Stuff that should be trashed.

Seven people living in a small house is a challenge, and not everybody is organized. Despite my responsibility to manage my household, I don’t have the level of control over all the clutter as much as I wish. So I’ve been trying to focus only on my own accumulation of things. That alone is putting me to the test.

Collecting Clutter

Over the years, I’ve kept and collected quite a number of items. In particular, I’ve held onto two whole cardboard boxes full of “cool stuff” (…Star Wars Lego sets from the 90’s!) that I can’t seem to let go of. None of it is really worth much money at all. The value of these things is not monetary, it is sentimental.

I once read somewhere about how we attach ourselves to things that represent us. So if you were to get rid of it, it’d be like tossing out a part of you. But then I’ve also read that if you bite the bullet and sever that attachment, you will realize at least two things. One, the detachment itself is not as difficult as you felt it would be, like quickly ripping off a band-aid. And two, you become more free.

Once that thing you’ve held onto is gone, it’s not just one less thing taking up space in your closet, it no longer takes up space in you. Even if the thing is mostly “out-of-sight/out-of-mind,” it is a burden hanging onto you, maybe in the back of your mind or deep in your subconscious. And now I get to say it: instead of you possessing things, things are possessing you!


Carefree Conclusion

I’m sorry all that sounds maybe too philosophical or abstract, but I hope it makes sense. If nothing else, I’m sure you can identify with the feeling when it’s hard to let go of stuff that you know has no real value outside of sentimental.

I guess it’s safe to say that the inner tension is between my rational mind and my emotional mind. The latter has been winning for a long time. But the longer I stay cooped up in my house, the more rational I’m trying to think about clearing the clutter. Not only will my closet be clean, my subconscious will be clear and hopefully a bit more carefree.


Do you have a clutter crisis? 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!