Kenny’s Wisdom #2: Do Right And Kill Everything Part 2

Welcome to part two of my series about game etiquette. Last week we discussed the “Do Right” portion of this series, in which I gave etiquette tips, and essentially gave advice on how to get people to like you, and appropriate behavior you should display while at an event.

In this portion we’ll be covering things you can do in-game to improve your skills (Kill Everything). I’m sure some of you will be well-aware of these tips and if you are, bravo, this article was aimed at those who aren’t as well-versed as you, and please know that I meant to offend no one’s playing skill with this article. There are certainly better players than me who read and contribute to this site. I just thought I would do what I could.

Never Give Too Much Information

One mistake I’ve seen even the strongest of players make is to give their opponent too much information. A common occurrence goes a little like this:

“I’ll Uxie for 7”
“What? Power Spray

The problem here is that there’s no reason to tell your opponent how many cards you’re going to draw, without him/her asking. Now, your opponent is completely entitled to know your hand size (we’ll go over this later), but there’s no reason to give them that information before they ask. A simple “Set-Up” is all you need.

One situation I’ve seen this come up in is when you tutor for an Azelf and a Uxie, and you’d like to be able to use the Azelf, but you know your opponent has a Power Spray in hand. If you declare “Set-Up for 1” your opponent is obviously (or at least, in most situations) going to save his Power Spray for the Time Walk.

There are also other situations in which giving too much information can be a bad thing. Here’s two examples along the same lines:

Bright Look Regice.”
“Flash Bite Dialga”

The problem here is, again, you don’t need to declare who you’re going to target. It’s plausible that your opponent would let you get off the Flash Bite or the Bright Look if he thought you were going to select a subpar target. Again, after you declare the power and your opponent chooses NOT to spray, you obviously have to reveal the target, but there’s no need to give that information early.

In short: Within the rules, make your opponent work for absolutely everything.

Keep Track of Match Slips

This is a very minor one, but I’ve heard complaints from gamer friends in other communities about this. Luckily I’ve never heard of this situation coming up in a Pokémon tournament, but I’m sure it has or will happen:

When you’re involved in a game, especially an important/high-level one, and particularly one that you’ve won, always make sure the match slip gets back to the judge. Obviously if you’re playing at a Pre-Release with your best friend he’s not going to mess with you, but at a higher level event against someone you don’t know, it’s quite easy for them to circle “PX dropped” and totally wreck your day.

Calling a Judge

Along the same line as the previous topic, knowing when to call a judge is very important. Never let your opponent talk you into not calling a judge. That isn’t to say that you should call a judge when it’s inappropriate, but whenever there is a rules dispute, or you’re unsure of a ruling or how something in the game works, it’s totally within your rights to call a judge.

Luckily I’ve never had too much trouble with this kind of thing, but I’ve seen a number of heated disputes that could’ve been solved faster, simpler, and in a manner easier for everyone if one player had just chosen to raise their hand and call for a judge. I tend to try and default to calling a judge in most situations as I never want to become involved in any sort of heated dispute or argument while at a table, particularly when there is no need to. I also do this so that no one can ever say I pressured them, or cheated them in any way.

There’s also been talk lately in some circles of calling a judge even when you know a ruling, just to waste time. In my mind this is completely unacceptable, never mind the facts that a judge will typically give a time extension for a ruling that eats up a particularly large portion of time, and that the new rules (30+3, which I’ll be writing a short article about sometime in the future) hinder this tactic. Just…don’t do this.


This goes along with my last topic a bit, but every player should know that they have the ability to appeal any ruling to the head judge. Again, you shouldn’t abuse this privilege, but you should always have the confidence, particularly when you’re sure of a ruling, to appeal. That’s what the head judges are for, and that’s what the appeals process is for. I’ve been through a few situations where outcomes of games would’ve been drastically different if only I would’ve thought to appeal.

Pre-game Rights

For whatever reason, quite a few people in the Pokémon community aren’t aware that you’re completely within your rights to shuffle your opponents deck before a game. Most of the time a simple cut will suffice, but if you ever feel that your opponent may have malicious intent, or just that there deck isn’t sufficiently randomized, never hesitate to shuffle it.

Here are the current rules of pre-game shuffling:

– You may cut your opponents deck after he shuffles it. Nothing else can be done.
– You may shuffle your opponents deck. In this case, he gets a final cut. Nothing else can be done.
– You may have a judge shuffle your deck. Nothing else can be done.

You also should keep in mind that the cards you’re handling aren’t yours, and you should treat them better than you would treat your own. I’ve had to ask a few people to please not “riffle shuffle” my deck, and although I know it’s completely within their rights to shuffle, I feel that defaulting to a riffle shuffle without asking is exceptionally rude.

Use Every Bit of Information You’re Given

All too often I’ve seen players miss crucial plays, or make crucial misplays all because they didn’t ask the right questions. Maybe you wouldn’t have declared that Bright Look if you knew your opponent had only used 1 Power Spray, or maybe you wouldn’t have Judged if you had realized your opponent only had 2 cards in hand. These are all bits of information that you’re allowed to know, and in my opinion should be encouraged to ask.

Along with handsize and contents of discard, the number of cards in your opponent’s deck is also common knowledge. Although that last bit isn’t always that important, both handsize and discard contents, as noted in the previous example, can be absolutely crucial. Never be afraid to ask your opponent how many cards are in their hand, nor request to take a look at their discard pile (as long as it’s done in a timely manner, of course.)


pokebeach.comThis may brew up a little controversy, but I for one would never allow a player to take something back in a tournament game. Whether it’s something as important as a Set-Up or as (seemingly) menial as an Energy Gain attachment, whenever a card hits the table, it stays there. Likewise, I very rarely if ever request for “take backs”, and neither should you.

That’s not to say that you may, out of the kindness of your heart, allow something to be taken back, but you are under no obligation to, and I generally don’t recommend it. Oh, and when your opponent tells you he’ll let you take something back if you do the same for him? That’s probably untrue. ;)

Once, at a Spring Battle Road this past season, I was playing against 2010 Washington State Champion Andrew Foley (FREE ANDREW) in the top four. I can’t remember the exact situation or what game we were on, but earlier in the game, I had mis-attached an energy (or something, as I said, I can’t remember), and he wouldn’t allow me to take it back.

Later in the game he attacked me with a Dragonite FB and announced “Giant Tail” instead of Mach Blow, and I made him stick to it. He flipped tails and we both had a good laugh about it. That situation proves that there’s nothing wrong with disallowing take backs, and that there should be no bitterness about such things, especially among friends (luh you Andrew).

Know Your List

If I had a nickle for every time I asked a player if they ran X or Y number of Z in their States/Regionals list and they replied “I don’t know.” I’d have…at least a handful of nickels.

Memorizing every card on your list, particularly a list that you plan to take to a tournament that’s semi-important to you, is a trait every player should have. It can get difficult, particularly if you’ve been through testing sessions and are constantly updating lists and playing with different decks, but in the end it’s one of the most important skills you could have. It could mean the difference between wasting a search supporter on a card that’s not there because you only play 1 and oh god it’s on your bench WHAT DO YOU DO.

Check For Prizes

There’s a player in my area who, whenever he searches his deck for the first time in a game, he declares “This search will take longer than any other, because I need to determine prizes.”. This goes along with my last topic, in that knowing your list by heart is really the only way you can determine which cards are prized. I’m guilty of not always doing this, but I always wish that I would’ve.

An important tip to remember: Don’t take a long time. You have the right to search your deck and you should do your best to determine what your prizes are as early as possible, but you DON’T have the right to eat up 10 minutes of the clock just searching your deck. If you’re unable to determine prizes in a timely manner, well then….

Take Notes

Along with the 30+3 time limit rule, one of the most important changes to the floor rules this season was the ability to write down what you find in your prizes with a Time Walk. The rule has been expanded to allow any notes to be taken and shared with no one but a judge. This means your opponent has no right to look at your notes, and you’re within your rights to take any kind of notes you’d like (within reason). I’m sure there are other examples where notes would come in handy (such as during a Looker’s Investigation), but the Azelf example is the most important and most relevant one.

Enjoy the Game

We’ve gone into things like disallowing your opponents to take things back, and not giving your opponent unnecessary information, and while all of that is relevant and true, you should also keep in mind that this game is meant to be fun for all players involved. I’m not saying to disregard any of these rules, but remember that you should grant your opponent the type of game that you’d like to them to give back to you. Even in a competitive environment, spirit of the game should matter.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this series, and the beginning of the weekly Kenny’s Wisdom column. Look forward to my next series of articles covering every card in the Triumphant set, over the next few weeks! As always, tell me how you feel in the comments!

Reader Interactions

32 replies

  1. Shining Yue

    barely offtopic:
    when is there an official ruling on taking notes about your prizes? I’ve heard about it but the compendium states that you can’t (though it can be a ruling they forgot to erase).

    • Martin Garcia  → Shining

      Not only prizes, but im pretty sure you CANT write down your opponents hand when you get to look at it. Maybe i missed something, care to show us where that ruling is? There has been quite a discussion in my area over this “writting stuff” ruling, so i really want to know.

      • Anthony Desiata  → Martin

        You CAN take notes on EVERYTHING and i assure you when you declare “certain powers” EX flash bite and bright look your opponent must choose to power spray(if they want to or not) before your choice.

        i love playing against ppl that gives you info (sounds like a jerk move) but its really good to know what there trying to hit cuz it can reveal cards in there hand depending.

      • Garrett Williamson  → Martin

        You actually can take notes when using time walk. I had a player do it at one of my battle roads and the judge allowed it.

  2. Tom Hansen

    “Never Give Too Much Information”,
    C’mon, not worth winning anything on these terms.

    • Anonymous  → Tom

      Not to much information is a good tactic and not disrespectful.

      No takesies backsies really depends on a playstyle, and I don’t think it should be used as advice point. Generally I take Battle Roads events as extremely noncompetitive and allow takebacks, if immediately requested, probably every time. Anything beyond that and I get a little more strict, but there are some players that abide by letting people take their moves back in any tournament.

      In Crema’s Top 8 report from worlds 2 years ago, him and his opponent allow a takeback on game 1, and I think there’s a takeback made in game 7, too. So even some world class players abide by the concept of simple takebacks.

      • Kenny Wisdom  → Anonymous

        Replying both JWittz and Tommy here…

        @Tommy: Not giving too much information is just a smart thing to do. You’re not cheating in any way, nor are you really holding back information, as your opponent has the right to ask for it (in most cases). You’re just forcing your opponent to work hard and do the things he’s supposed to do, rather than cutting corners and giving it to him.

        @JWittz: Yeah, I’m not happy with how that section turned out, honestly. At a Battle Road I don’t think it really matters, and I think my tone was a little too harsh. I still disallow take backs at most events bigger than BRs, but it’s great to see that some players can allow them and still be successful. Thanks for the input, sir!

        • Michael Chin  → Kenny

          The point about the “NO TAKESIES BACKSIES,” if a player makes a misplay and was denied for a take back play, its the player’s fault for making the play in the first place. Depending on the level of the tournament, players may allow take backs if it were a local, pre-release, or Br(4k) tournaments because there is less risk. However, cities and any high level tournaments, players will be really strict on not allowing take backs because the level of competition is much harder and higher stakes are on the line. Therefore every play matters. I have played a lot of opponents in the past at medium and high level tournaments and they make misplays here and there and wanting to take back the play, but I wouldn’t allow it. At the end of the game(s), I get comments from my opponent’s I played saying “he’s a jerk for not taking back that play. If he would allow me, I would have won.” Hey, its there own fault.The bottom line, don’t make misplays in the first place. Tournaments are here to test your knowledge of the game and your level of skill in a competitive playing field. Every decision you make will decide the outcome in the end and the rewards you will get.

        • Garrett Williamson  → Michael

          Ya depending on the play ill let them take it back or not. Like if the play wouldnt win them the game the sure. I dont really like playing a game where I just run through the person. At least if I let them take it back the game could become for fun, interesting and also ill really be able to test my skill. But I have kids at my league that wont let someone take a mis play back during a league match. That’s just stupid.

  3. Joshua Pikka

    Great Article Kenny.

    Ya hit this one out of the park, here.

    That never give TMI, is something Im guilty of, maybe I should be more discreet.

    Also in the no taksies backsies, I usually am pretty good about that. If its early in the game and you take 3 from a collector, and you want to go back and switch one for another, I’ll usually let that go. As long as theres no 1 huge obvious play that can give them the win, and they make another play. An example is this years BR I was playing trainerlock against SP. It was towards the end of the game and he had damage counters on all his SP Pokemon and had an active garchomp c. The obvious play would be to use Bebe’s and get Garchomp C X to “Healing Breath”. But he said “Cyrus Conspiracy” and laid it on the table. Then tried to take it back for a bebes and I said no.

    I try to be as nice as possible, but draw the line when the game is on the line.

    • Martin Garcia  → Joshua

      Actually, as long as they dont give you the deck for you to cut it, replacing searched cards is completely legal. Once you have cut the deck, however, its not.
      Or so the judges have told me.

        • Kenny Wisdom  → Joshua

          The ruling, as long as I’ve known it, has been that once you start shuffling your deck, is when you can no longer take anything back.

          So if a guy Collectors for 2 Garchomps and a Dragonite, and then decided to put back the Dragonite that’s fine, but once he starts shuffling his deck and offers you the cut, it’s up to you to allow him.

        • Joshua Pikka  → Kenny

          I was talking about the other part, where he puts down the cyrus say’s “cyrus” and then takes it back

          What you were talking about, I would allow that, though I didn’t know the official ruling on it.

        • Kenny Wisdom  → Joshua

          Ohh, right. I don’t know the official ruling, but I’ve always assumed once the card hits the table, it’s in play and can’t be taken back. A lot of the people in my area will hover a card over the board and stuff, and it’s kind of our unspoken rule that once it’s snapped against the table, it’s in play.

    • Kenny Wisdom  → Joshua

      Completely agreed. There are a time and place for take backs, but at events that matter against people I don’t know in games that I want to win I typically disallow them.

      Thanks for the positive comments!

    • Kenny Wisdom  → Egbert

      You should appeal to the head judge when you know or think a ruling is incorrect. If a judge tells you something and you are certain, or at least highly suspect that it’s incorrect, it’s fully within your rights to to appeal the ruling to the HJ.

      Once the HJ makes a decision, it’s final.

  4. Brenden Clark

    Great article. I love the “NO TAKESIES BACKSIES” section. I hate when my oppenents do that. I always do that to my oppenent now.

  5. Peter Bae

    this is a great article. It is true that some ppl are accustomed to telling too much info due to intensive playtesting with buddies that they accustom to it and it might cost them the game. Also, there should be a fine line between when to allow your opponents to take back what they played and not to :) great read and enjoyed very much :)

  6. Nui Wong

    Great article.

    lawl, no take backs is a good say. A player at my fall battle roads made a mistake that cost him the game. he asked for a take back and i replied with ” Since this is a higher tournament than league, Im gonna have to say no. ” then he storms off without signing the slip and says he refuses to sign it cause i wouldnt have given him that take back.

    another good input to articles, i dont know if youve already mentioned this but id say “Always read cards your unfamiliar with”

  7. Peter Bae

    do you plan on making part 3? lol, you should prob talking about taking your time when making plays, allthough, taking too much is also a bad/annoying hting to do

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