Pokémon TCG Is Ever Expanding

It’s also ever expensive.

A little over two years ago, I started playing Pokémon TCG with my family. During that time, numerous expansions were released, featuring new cards, new Pokémon, new abilities…you get the idea. Sometimes it only takes a single new ability to trigger an idea to create a new battle deck. A lot of money later, I’d take my fresh fighting strategy to the league and mostly get slaughtered by the veteran players.

Recently, the Evolving Skies expansion reinvigorated my Pokémon TCG habit. Before that, it was my Eternatus Dark Deck. It’s a signature new Pokémon from Sword & Shield, an awesome looking dragon. I bought two of the latest versions of its cards and added new Trainer cards to my deck, making it stronger than ever. It was a lot of fun to play for a while. Eventually, better players defeated me more and more.

Eternatus VMAX

It’s fun for a while. It’s also expensive. And now with so many Pokémon cards stored up in my bedroom, among other things, the space is very constrained. Besides limited space, I have limited time and money to invest in Pokemon. It competes for attention amidst my other interests, like video gaming. While hobbies are a healthy outlet for fun and creativity, I can only do so much.

I’ve been pondering the possibility of getting out of Pokémon TCG altogether, except for maybe some focused card collecting only. It would be a form of minimalism, wherein I eliminate one good thing in order to focus on — prioritize — the better things. No matter how trite, it’s still true: less is more.

With less Pokémon TCG, I’d have more time and money — plus physical and mental space — for video gaming, blogging, writing, and another bourgeoning idea I’m planning… Of course, I’m still interested in playing new Pokémon video games, just less so the trading card game.

I feel like I don’t have enough interest and availability to continue Pokémon TCG. It takes considerable overhead to organize the cards I have accumulated in just two years. On the upside, I have so many good ones now that, if I decide to liquidate some, I’d have a chunky wad of cash to spend on more interesting pursuits.

One sticky point to bailing out of pocket monster card playing is that my wife and kids are still into it. But if I decide to continue by only collecting a few certain Pokémon, then I’d still have my big toe dipped into the Pokémon pool, which would be enough to stir the pot and trade cards amongst my kids.

This is a thing that I think I should do, but it seems hard to do. It’s not the only hobby I had to quit in recent memory. I practiced Kyokushin Karate with my whole family for a few years and got pretty good at it. But two things transpired to end it: Covid-19 and my physical condition… The point is, I already know what it’s like to step back from a shared family hobby when necessary, and if I do it for the right reasons, then it’s for the best. At the very least, I’m sure I can downsize, which seems more reasonable than quitting altogether cold-turkey.

I’ll be thinking it over.

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!

Looking Back At 2019

Pause

Here we are at the end of the year and even a decade. As always, it’s a good time to pause our games and shows and look back to reflect on things. It’s also time to do the other side of that coin by looking forward. And I hope I don’t overstuff it with the links!


Rewind

With the dust still settling from the Christmas rush, I thought I’d skim the past 12 months from a geeky or nerdy perspective. How did 2019 shape up with respect to movies, shows, games, and what about sci-fi and tech stuff? I admit I’m not the most qualified for this; it’s just my two cents. I’ll also throw in a few of my own personal highlights and lowlights.

January

With an eye towards fitness and fun, I re-joined my Karate class and quickly tested up to my next belt. I tried to attend classes twice a week all year long. Overall, I’ve benefited greatly from it. I’m no Bruce Lee, but I can touch my toes, and I feel less guilty when I eat extra calories, so not too shabby! Also, I broke a board using a knife-hand technique and got punched in the ribs so well that I had to get X-rays to make sure they were not cracked!

February

Cal Newport launched his new book on Digital Minimalism, just as the angst or weariness towards Facebook and social media reached its zenith in our culture.

Also, we played a lot of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 2DS.

March

We had the surprising 20 year anniversary of The Matrix movie being released. It still shocks me that it’s been so long since that ground-breaking film debuted! Time has flown! Whoa!

April

I deleted my Facebook account. Again!

Avengers End Game hit the big screen, closing the first Marvel epic mega saga thing-a-ma-bobber. Did I mention it was epic?

May

This month, I finally watched Captain Marvel. I liked it! My fave stuff was the 90’s nostalgia: dial-up internet, Nirvana, Blockbuster Video, stuff like that. For the record, I really miss video stores! Having it all on my phone is just not the same.

June

Apple held their annual developer’s conference where the keynote showcased all the new and cool stuff they plan to put on the market. iOS13 and iPadOS looked promising. So far, though, they’ve turned out lackluster and buggy. But the iPhone 11, especially the new camera system, looks fantastic. I’m thinking I’ll stick with iPhone and not switch to Android.

July

Space! Sci-Fi for real! It was the big 50th anniversary of mankind’s first landing on the moon! On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander touched down, and on July 21, mankind first set foot upon the lunar surface. It is still amazing today!

August

I switched from using an iPad as my primary computer to a Chromebook. And I’m still loving it!

September

Nintendo released the new Switch Lite hardware, a handheld-only version of the popular Switch. I think it is doing well in sales and will extend the current generation of Nintendo’s console(s).

October

My wife and I enjoyed 80’s nostalgia and a bunch of weirdness as we discovered Stranger Things on Netflix. Looking forward to more of that next Summer with a new season.

Also, I rejoined Facebook. Again! Good-grief!

November

My blog posting took a big nosedive as I devoted all my writing time to authoring a fiction novella for NaNoWriMo 2019. I didn’t finish, but it was a good try. I learned from the experience. And I’ve been trying to get my blogging back up to speed ever since!

December

The Force was with us (one last time?) in The Rise of Skywalker. NO SPOILERS. I liked it overall. I’d say more, but I shouldn’t do that yet.

I surprised my family at Christmas this year with a Nintendo Switch for all to share! We play Nintendo.

For my annual Reading Challenge on Goodreads, I failed! I aimed for 13 books. I’ve read 9 and two-halves. So far.

Overall

Throughout the past year in my house, there’s been a lot of Nintendo, Pokemon, Lego, and Star Wars. We have five (5) sons, so I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. Also, this year I tried Apple Music and Spotify music subscription services and decided to stick with Spotify. I love having all the songs!


Fast Forward

So what about the coming year? The movies Wonder Woman 1984 and Ghost Busters Afterlife are two on top of my to-watch list. I’m also looking forward to the next season of Stranger Things.

Nintendo could release Breath of the Wild 2, the next Zelda game, but I think that won’t come until 2021. But Animal Crossing: New Horizons debuts in March! So does Final Fantasy VII Remake!!

Starting in February, with pre-release promos as early as this Friday, Pokemon Sword and Shield TCG comes out! A whole new series of cards!

Last December, I was able to upgrade from iPhone 6 to iPhone 7, which is still working great. Maybe at the end of 2020 I can upgrade again.

Anyways, there’s lots of fun stuff to anticipate, more than I can handle! I need the fun stuff to help offset the hard and heavy stuff of life that will always be around. I can overthink things and take things too seriously, so letting the pendulum swing the other way can bring some balance at times.

Lastly, I’ll mention anxiety, which is no fun at all! In 2017, I struggled big-time with major anxiety and panic attacks… Things slowly improved over time. And in 2019, things really changed for the better. I reduced my sugar intake at the end of 2018 and began more fitness in 2019. I think these were major factors contributing to my overall progress out of acute anxiety. Food for thought!


I hope your 2019 was good overall. What are your highlights? Comment below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!

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!