Firstly, let me apologize for this column being a bit late. Socializing, Pokémon, and work have been taking up most of my time, but hopefully this article will reach you before too long. Big ups to Adam and the rest of the editing staff who’ve been getting these articles edited and posted on the site faster than ever before. The editing portion, even just reading over once and adding the photos is such an underrated piece of the puzzle that makes all of this work.
The main focus on this article is going to be how you can play Pokémon on a budget, as suggested by 6P forum member, Racker. Before we get to that though, I wanted to give a quick update on how I did at City Championships this past weekend. I don’t feel my record was good enough, nor were my games interesting enough to devote an entire article to the event, but I thought some might be interested in a condensed version of a report.
I went 3-2 with the same exact Machamp list I had used two weeks prior, beating a Kingdra, a Feraligatr/Legend, and an SP toolbox, and losing to a Gyarados and Nidoqueen/Typhlosion (it was Canadian and better than you think). I believe I ended up in 8th place, and we were 2 people short of a top 8 cut, unfortunately. Ross Cawthon ended up winning the event with Gyarados, beating David Cohen’s Gyarados in the finals. Nothing too interesting happened on my part. I’m disappointed with my deck choice and my performance, but hopefully I’ll bounce back next week and put up a good record.
With that being said, onto our main topic:
Let me first say that I am probably the least frugal Pokémon player ever. I happily go to pre-releases and buy boxes online, and overall I spend entirely too much on this game, and definitely don’t maximize profits. Still, I feel that I’m a frugal enough person in real life to understand the basic concepts and give advice to those who might not have as much disposable income to spend on shiny pieces of cardboard.
The biggest piece of advice I can give is to be involved in your community. I know plenty of people who play this game who own or buy very few cards, and most of them do it through borrowing. Get to be friends with some of the players in your area and you’ll be on the fast track to obtaining the cards you need for little or no cost. This is in addition to the fact that becoming well-known and well-liked in your community is a bonus in a purely social aspect too — who doesn’t like having more friends!? Chances are there’s at least one person like me in your area, who spends way too much on cards and almost always has multiple copies of what you need. Most of these people will let you borrow cards for free, or sometimes in exchange for a small favor, depending on the person.
Support the Local Shop
If your community isn’t large enough though, there are a few others ways to obtain the cards you need. By far the best method of buying cards is to buy singles from reputable websites, sellers on eBay, or your local store. Oftentimes, you’ll find cards at much cheaper prices than you would spend trying to pull them from packs. The downside to this, of course, is that you don’t get the excitement of opening packs, and you also don’t get any trade fodder, but if you’re purely looking for the most efficient way to obtain cards, there’s no better option.
I’d also like to point out here that, although their prices may be a little more expensive at your local store than online (my local comic/gaming shop, Olympic Cards & Comics in Lacey, WA, uses TrollandToad.com prices though, so it’s not something I personally have to worry about), you should definitely consider purchasing from your local gaming shop. I understand this completely goes against the point of an article that’s trying to save you money, but without a gaming shop you’ll have no space to play in the first place, so it’s always good to support them in whatever fashion you can.
Trading is obviously a big part of saving money on cards, but I’m kind of going to assume that someone who is looking for ways to decrease their spending on cards probably doesn’t have too big of a collection. If I’m wrong in this assumption, then go for it! Trading off things you don’t need/aren’t going to play in exchange for cards that you want at the moment is a great way to reduce spending. I’ll actually be doing an article on trading in the near future, so I’ll save most of that information for later.
I know most of what I’ve covered so far is pretty elementary. Everyone knows to trade, to borrow, and that singles are cheaper then packs, right? The next two points are going to be tricks that I feel require a little more work, or are, in general, just a little less known/less commonly used:
The first of which is using eBay’s “Saved Searches” feature. For those of you unaware, you can set a “Saved Searched” on eBay for anything, and then receive an e-mail whenever that item pops up. This allows you to have an instant notification of when the cards you want hit the internet, and you can immediately look at the prices and decide whether or not you want to buy it, right from the e-mail. I’ve been employing this tactic for the last few months and it definitely makes buying cards easier, particularly when you’re after something specific like reverse foils, which is something I’m really into…
…And that leads into my next point, which is that, if you’re purely looking to maximize your card intake, try and get as many good deals on foils as you can, and then immediately trade them away. Most players that I know who are big into foils (myself included) will often give you two copies (sometimes even three, or two copies plus a small throw in) of a card in exchange for a foil version of the same card. This may not seem like much, but turning that one Bebe’s Search into two can be quite a big deal if you’re low on cards. Keep in mind though that the rarity/demand of foils is often matched by their higher price, so only buy foils to trade if you can get them at a pretty sweet deal. Otherwise, you may as well buy two separate copies of card you need and save yourself the trouble.
Lastly, if you can find them, HeartGold & SoulSilver “Trainer Kits” are a very solid investment. For a mere $8.00 on TrollandToad.com, you’re getting 2 Pokémon Communication, 2 Pokémon Collector, and single copies of semi-staples like Copycat and Switch, as well as things like Professor Elm’s Training Method and Poké Ball. Sure, it doesn’t come with a 3-1 line of Luxray GL Lv.X, but, for what you’re getting, you absolutely cannot beat the price.
Big ups to Racker for suggesting this article, and please let me know in the comments if you have any other tips for playing Pokémon on the cheap!