This is the question that has people have been pondering since the dawn of time (ok, maybe only a couple years). Since the beginning of Base Set up until the release of Ruby/Sapphire, there were no restrictions placed on the player going first. He could do anything that the player going second could do.
Fast forward to the Ruby/Sapphire set. Pokémon in Japan decides that the player going first has too much of an advantage. So now that player can’t draw a card at the beginning of his first turn. Anyone can deal with that. It’s not like getting an extra random card at the beginning of the game would help that much anyway. It’s still much better to go first.
Now it’s a few weeks before the 2004 Pokémon World Championships. PUI announces that the player going first can no longer play Supporters on the first turn. That hurts. After this, people start discussing whether it’s better to go first or second. Most people agree it’s still slightly better to go first.
A few years later, with the release of the Diamond/Pearl set, Pokémon announces a new set of rules. Now the player going first can’t play any Supporters, Stadiums, OR trainers during his first turn. But in an attempt to compensate, they can once again draw a card at the beginning of their turn. Now I’d estimate to be about 50/50, half of people being pro-first and half being pro-second. Let’s take a look at the pros of both.
Pros of going first
- You can play the first energy. Every energy attachment in this game makes a huge difference, so playing the first energy can keep you a step ahead of the opponent.
- You have the first opportunity to evolve normally. When I say normally, I mean evolution not done by trainer cards like Rare Candy.
- You can attack first. This can get you setup before the opponent with 1 energy attacks like Pachirisu’s Call for Family or Call Energy.
Pros of going second
- Well, there’s really only one pro to going second, but it’s pretty major. The player going second can play Trainers, Supporters, and Stadiums on his first turn, which increases the chance he can do the dreaded FTKO for the win. Sometimes the player going first will only have 1 Pokémon in play on his first turn since he can’t play Roseanne’s Research or some other Basic Pokémon fetching card. Then on the second player’s first turn, he can play something like Machop/Rare Candy/Machamp all in one turn to KO the opponent’s only Basic Pokémon in play to win the game. This kind of cheap win has generated a lot of complaints in the Pokémon community and is known as a donk.
Do I think it’s better to go first or second? First. I consider being able to play the first energy, do the first attack, and evolving first much better than the slim chance that my opponent only has 1 Pokémon in play and I might draw the right cards to pull off a first turn donk. I wouldn’t mind if even more restrictions were placed upon the player going first.
So, what do you think? Is it better to go first or second? Let us know by commenting below!