Hey guys, here’s another article for you, completely devoid of deck lists or card ratings. Today, we will be discussing the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. It’s been a while since there’s been an article focused on it; the last one I recall reading was an UG one by J-Wittz.
I believe PTCGO deserves (even requires) discussion because it embodies the rocky road that all of Organized Play is going through. You could outline its hype in a graph that would describe a series of enormous waves. At first, it created a huge buzz when it was announced. Then it actually came out, and it was really really bad.
Since then, the program describes a full circle between updates: it builds up to be better and better as more and more problems are fixed, only for a new set or function to introduce several new ones. It reminds me of a Hydra from the old Greek/Roman mythology, where every time one head is sliced off, several new ones pop up.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love playing PTCGO and I love watching people play it. It has come a long way since the first installments, especially in the speed department. But the whole PTCGO ride feels like a lot of trial and error, often unnecessarily. Granted, it’s still in beta…but sometimes it just looks like they do no testing whatsoever.
Until they learn how to make things perfect off the start, we’re going to have to live with the fact that we’ll encounter some annoying, disruptive, frustrating, but also hilarious, entertaining, and interesting glitches on the way. To save these little easter eggs from being forgotten, I’ve decided to document a few of my favourites in this article. My top ten, in fact.
Disclaimer: I did not play a whole lot of PTCGO when many of these glitches occurred. This top10 was constructed with the help from other people talking about these glitches, and it’s possible some of them weren’t retold 100% exactly how they worked (for example, sometimes I’m not sure whether two glitches were in the system at the same time). But hey, why let the truth get in the way of a good story?
10. Too Many Heap Sections
Coming in at number 10 is not an error related to any particular card, but simply a crash message PTCGO gives you when it just feels like giving up. The closest thing to a tie to any specific card is Twist Mountain apparently causing this. I think Pooka said it the best on stream with his Aerodactyl deck: this game had so many twists in it that it couldn’t handle it.
“Too many heap sections” symbolizes PTCGO glitches at its finest, where most people just go “what just happened there?” when they see it. It deserves memetic status, and it has become my go-to catchphrase when something goes wrong during a game of playtesting. This glitch is a great way to get some losses on your record for absolutely no good reason.
Other than its symbolic meaning, it is actually a very frustrating one, since there’s no way to resume the game again once you close the program, and that’s why it’s at the bottom of this list. Regardless of the annoyance factor, I felt it needed to be here so we can look back from better days of PTCGO and say “yeah, times were bad back then,” kind of like a war memorial.
9. The Fast Pass to Stage 2s
For a short time, through some way or another, it was possible to relive the old days where you could use a Rare Candy to evolve your Basic into a Stage 2 on the very first turn of the game.
People who tried the program for the first time since long might’ve thought they had reversed that controversial rule change where Rare Candy basically became the good old Pokémon Breeder, only to find out later that it was more like a cruel joke, pulled by accident.
Apparently the ability to do this had something to do with First Ticket (either the Stage 2 player or his opponent would have to play First Ticket for this to work, I forget which it was). This is a funny coincidence, because the first turn rules matter the most for the Evolution decks.
8. GG for Gardevoir
It seems there is just something about Gardevoir that made them skip her almost completely during testing stage. The weirdest things occur when you tried to use Gardevoir when it was just out.
First off, Psychic Mirage was all kinds of screwed up. I’ve seen reports of it not working, reports of it working after Gardevoir was KO’d, and reports of it working on non-Psychic Pokémon to boot! Just what exactly did they write for that code that let this Ability work?
Second, it was pretty tough to get Gardevoir into play. Why? Because you couldn’t Rare Candy into it. I suspect they simply forgot to mark it up as a Stage 2, and all the program knew was that you could put it on top of a Kirlia (but not that you could play Gardevoir + Rare Candy if you have a Ralts on the field).
If you wanted to play this, you had to make it like a good ol’ fashioned Trainer Lock deck with as many Kirlias as you wanted Gardevoirs. I guess being a female Pokémon, Gardevoir was too self conscious about her weight to eat candy.
7. Scarves to the Rescue
This is quite possibly the most abusive glitch that’s been in the program. When your Pokémon is wearing a fancy scarf and your opponent knocks them out, they… don’t get a prize. I bet that’s what they based that new ACE SPEC card from a future set on. This glitch made so many people quit playing PTCGO, because it warps the game an absurd amount.
Keep in mind that this glitch was out before Tool Scrapper was, and Tropical Tidal Wave (like Tropical Beach) was and still is not available on PTCGO, so there was nothing you could do about it other than Catcher around the scarf. Try taking down an army of Durants that keep Junk Arming for Rescue Scarf as it Devours your whole deck.
As ridiculous as this glitch was, there is not much else to say about it. It was fixed fairly quickly, and it was the first time that the team behind PTCGO showed just how much easier the program was to work with on their end when it came to patching up errors.
6. Pokémon EX EX and the four Ace Specs
To someone who knows nothing about Pokémon TCG, it might sound like a title to a fairy tale. The Boundaries Crossed update for PTCGO came paired with a couple of funny glitches that in my eyes deserve to be in one spot.
One of them didn’t really do anything except bring a smile to my face when I saw images of it: the Pokémon EX EX. Apparently, the “EX” part of a Pokémon’s name was already automatically added if a Pokémon was labeled as an EX Pokémon (this is probably the label the program checks whenever it’s KO’d to see how many prizes are to be taken, as well as whether the Pokémon can hurt the Safeguard Sigilyph and whether the Pokémon should take 60 extra damage from Bouffalant’s Gold Breaker).
However, whoever was in charge of inputting the actual Pokémon names also added “EX” at the end, and so the “do I get three prizes for KOing this” jokes were born.
The other glitch was also kind of harmless, and it made a lot more people smile: it accidentally let you get multiple ACE Specs from a single pack. Have you ever opened a pack of Pokémon cards that you couldn’t legally put into your deck as a whole? Well, except for the part where the program also let you put multiple ACE Specs in your deck for a bit…
5. Flygon, Not So Fly
Flygon BCR was released a pre-release promo, and for a brief while a lot of people tried to make it work even though in the end it was never good at beating anything to begin with. Taking this new reality pretty hard, Flygon lost all focus and as a result of his newfound depression, reached a level of incompetence never thought possible.
While he still Slammed Sand like nobody’s business (not that hard, considering he doesn’t actually have to do anything for that Ability to work), Flying Beatdown was a different story. If you managed to power up your Flygon with that awful GFCC cost and tried to paralyze your opponent, the dragonfly tripped up and ends up paralyzing itself.
This is where I could make some kind of insensitive, politically incorrect joke about physical paralyzation of real life people, but instead I’m only going to mention that possibility in passing, thereby reaping the rewards of making the joke, but without the backlash. Score.
4. Junk Arm
When you make an online game that has to mirror the competitive scene as closely as possible, you better double-check the cards that are played the most! Junk Arm, a 4-of in every single non-Vileplume deck out there, somehow went under the radar and became even godlier than the recently released Dowsing Machine, even though it isn’t an ACE SPEC!
That’s right, you could Junk Arm for Supporters if you wanted to. This provided some extra frustration when combined with the ability to use HGSS-on Supporters when most people were trying to get some BLW-on testing done.
Need any 2 cards from your deck? Junk Arm for Twins. But even just Junk Arm for Juniper by itself was obviously ridiculous. At least you could get a taste of what it was like to play in the Base Set days, with Item Finder and Professor Oak and all that.
The other problem with Junk Arm was that you could use it even if you had one other card in your hand, which has very obvious gameplay advantages. Thankfully, they fixed that really quickly… by making the game stop you from doing anything if you had Junk Arm and one other card in your hand. Including attacking, retreating, using powers, and all that kind of essential stuff. That’s one way to discourage exploiting a glitch, I suppose.
3. Flipped Flip Mechanics
I’m sure you remember when Noble Victories was about to come out, a lot of people were hyping Victini NVI 14 and how he would make a lot of interesting decks that involved coin flips more viable. Cards like Sharpedo TM that would otherwise be outrageously ridiculous gambles became slightly less ridiculous simply because Victory Star could make them almost (but never quite) reliable.
What people didn’t count on was on its PTCGO implementation, which did pretty much the opposite. Whenever you had Victini on the field and you used an attack that required some flipping, the client asks your opponent whether to reflip. This turned Victini from a consistency boost into a self-induced Hard Mode for PTCGO.
Want to paralyze with Thunder Wave? Your odds of success are now 25%. Trying to Strip someone’s hand Bare? You’ll need to hit those 6.25% odds to get it. If the 2012 US Nationals Finals were held on PTCGO, John Roberts II would’ve had about 56.25% chance to flip at least one heads with Gear Grind if Kevin Nance had gotten the opportunity to make him reflip.
The only flip deck that escaped this fate was the most frustrating one of all: Vanilluxe NVI. Not because Victini magically worked in that deck though, but because Vanilluxe was also glitched. No matter how many heads and tails you flipped, Vanilluxe’s Double Freeze would always paralyze your opponent.
A Victini tech worked really well in that deck because the whole goal of that deck is to frustrate your opponent into submission anyways, so you might as well taunt them and say: “You wanna make me reflip? That’s cool!”
2. Tool Stacker
Before Next Destinies came out, there were only two legal Tools in Modified: Eviolite and Rocky Helmet. Both of them were considered viable options for messing with math, particularly when it involved the two legendary Digimon that started the Basics-uber-alles Power Creep: Zekrom BLW and Reshiram BLW. They were so close but so far to OHKOing each other, even though both sometimes damaged themselves.
Both Eviolite and Rocky Helmet were subject to some of the most outrageous glitches you could think of. For one, you could attach multiples of each to one Pokémon, and they would all work. You could put two Eviolite on a Zekrom, and the thing that comes closest to comparing it to is a slightly more durable Bouffalant DRX with Eviolite and Aspertia City Gym that doesn’t care if it’s hitting an EX or not.
But wait, why would you put two Eviolite on a single Zekrom? For a while, Eviolite worked for every Pokémon you had in play that has an Eviolite attached to it. That means that if you have three Eviolites in play, your Zekrom actually survives Terrakion NVI’s Land Crush.
If you thought this tank Zekrom was frustrating, try dealing with an entire field of Durant with Eviolites and Special Metal Energy. Never was 70 HP so hard to deplete.
Think Eviolite is bad? At least it kind of does what it says on the tin, just a little too much of it. Rocky Helmet’s bug just makes no sense at all: when you use an attack that makes you do damage to yourself (yep, like Zekrom’s Bolt Strike), Rocky Helmet activates and makes you hurt your opponent more. So not only can Zekrom survive anything you throw at him, he also Bolt Strikes for 140. Or more if you got more Rocky Helmets.
After a while, Eviolite was “fixed” (read: it stopped doing anything at all), I’m not sure exactly if Rocky Helmet ever stopped working. Of course at some point they all started working correctly, but man, those were the times. What could possibly be more flawed, more awkward, more twisted, more broken than these?
1. Second Sight is 20/20 (or more like 10/10 would use again)
Slowking has always been about messing with people’s decks, trying to lock them, trying to control the game state. You’ll remember the Neo Genesis Slowking that actually got banned from Organized Play because it was too good (or rather, because they screwed up the translation…).
Slowking HS is a bit like that, letting you control either your or your opponent’s top 3 cards. Normally, he’s perfectly fine, requiring a lot of help to put the game on lock.
But PTCGO Slowking gave the old Neo Slowking a run for his money. When you used Second Sight on your opponent’s deck, you could actually put his cards on the top of your deck. That alone would be completely unfair, letting you use their resources to maybe Catcher stall them, using their Energies, etc.
But it gets better: the cards are still treated as if your opponent plays them. So when you play their Catcher, it’s as if you’re using a Switch. When you play their Juniper, you’re making them discard their hand and draw seven new cards. It’s kind of like an odd mix between Devour, Strip Bare, and N.
So next tournament you play whenever you are just drawing dead, just think: “Oh well, it could be worse. I could be getting my cards stolen during the game then used against me while my opponent laughed maniacally.”
While this is, in my opinion, the most awesome glitch of them all, it’s also the least verified of them. But the fact that it could very well be true, looking at everything else PTCGO has gotten wrong, pretty much speaks for itself.
Aaand that about wraps it up. All there’s left for me to say is that this article is only intended to lightly poke fun at the whole situation. As I said, I love playing PTCGO, it’s a great way to waste time, and it has been getting better and better when you look at the grand picture.
Soon enough, they will have Plasma Storm release, and we’ll be able to tell if they learned from last time or if Lugia EX just lets you take all of your opponent’s prizes at once while flipping their deck upside down.