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!

Nintendo Just Flipped The Switch

This here’s a bit of a reaction to Nintendo’s announcement that revealed a new version of the Switch called Nintendo Switch Lite. Yes, that’s right, new hardware! A new handheld gaming console, just like the Switch, only less!?

I guess it’s good-bye 3DS

My family plays Nintendo, but maybe it’s time to switch to a Switch.

So the Switch Lite is like a Switch (heavy?) only it’s lighter in weight and lighter on your wallet. I don’t own a Switch (yet), so I don’t know if it’s too much to lug around. But a more affordable “Lite” version, for sure, sounds good to my ears. All both of them at the same time.

But if money were no object, would the Switch Lite be worth it? Of course that depends on your wants or needs. If my 5 sons want a Switch, I can now opt for getting each their own Switch Lite. Yeah, that would cost too many dollars. But it’s still compelling to me.

Let’s say I buy myself a Switch, the heavy pro version or whatever, and some great games – like the upcoming Pokémon Sword and Shield, and throw in Mario and Zelda. Because they’re Mario and Zelda! If my kids want to play Pokémon, but I’m playing Mario, they have to maybe wait their turn? What if we head out the door and I take my Switch with me to keep playing Mario?

What I’m getting at is, unlike owning a Wii U and a bunch of 3DS/2DS consoles that have totally separate game libraries, in the future things can be far simpler. I can have the Big Daddy Switch for my wife and I to share – the Parents’ Switch, the kids can have their own Little Kids’ Switches, and we can all share the same game library! This means we can share the fun of Nintendo more.

Switching to Switch sooner than later

I figured I would end up buying a Switch in a few years when the pre-owned price drops and the game library is even bigger. But thanks to Nintendo tempting me with Switch Lite, Pokémon, and the newest Zelda and Animal Crossing games, my wallet might fly away sooner.

Wired asked if a Switch that does not switch is really a Switch. Good question. It does not Switch, but it plays Switch games, and it’s cheaper. Nintendo gaming at affordable prices is the end-game.

Do you play Switch? Comment 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.