When Trading Card Games are released, they usually start out with a player being able to use any card that has been released so far. This works for a while and makes it easy for new players to quickly pick up the game, because all a pair of players would need to get started is two Starter Decks (which usually come with rule books).
When a new TCG or CCG is launched, the company(s) backing it (meaning the people who are paying for it and are in charge of promotional material) will often buy Commercial time, Magazine ads, Fliers, etc. in hopes of exposing the game to the largest number of people possible. The more people that know about it, the more potential players (and costumers) their are.
To keep the game interesting and fun, new cards are released every 3-5 months in the form of Booster Packs or Sets. Each Set is usually accompanied with some sort of promotional device, such as Starter Decks or promo packs. In addition, specialty items such as Tins, Championship Decks, limited edition sets, etc. can be released as well.
As a TCG is around for a longer period of time, new rules are slowly introduced. This is important because when a game is released, they usually have very basic rules to be as beginner-friendly as possible. New rules, mechanics and card types are often introduced to increase the complexity in which the game is played. This has been a success for the likes of Magic: The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Naruto and Pokémon, as well as many others.
Eventually, there comes a time when the game starts to become a bit stale, which can be caused by a number of things; a single card of deck is hands-down the best, a few staples are so powerful, no deck can win without them, Power Creep is becoming too high, the list goes on for a while, but those are a few of the most common causes. Some games reach this situation before the year one anniversary, while some take years before this becomes an issue.
No matter the cause, it is usually clear that, in order to keep play fun and balanced, something has to be done. One fix that was incorporated in Yu-Gi-Oh! was a Banned/Restricted/Semi-Restricted list that was used to control the most powerful cards and decks in the format. While this worked to some extent, many players believe that this didn’t fully solve the problem.
The most common solution to this problem is to implement a Rotation or format change. The way this usually works is you’re allowed to use a few of the most current sets, but the oldest ones are banned from tournament play. Pokémon makes one rotation each year, but some games rotate out the oldest set each time a new one is released. The usual number of sets in any current Format is 7-10, but it can vary.
In a game that uses Rotations, it will often reprint cards, which basically brings a card that was rotated out of the format back into the game, sometimes with a different name (IE Item Finder was brought back in Triumphant as Junk Arm). In most cases, reprints are good for the game and they’re fun for older players who were around when they were originally released.
For this article, I would like to go over some cards that I believe would be good reprints. I’ll discuss what they do, how they affected their respective formats and finally, what I think they would do to help the current format. Let’s get started!
Note: Throughout this article, I reference many cards or decks that were popular in past formats, so for very new players, you may need some sort of external information source (Bulbapedia works well).
Claydol GE (Sorta)
Before anyone gets too excited, I would first like to point out that I don’t mean to reprint Claydol. Instead, I’m suggesting that a draw engine more powerful than Uxie LV.X be printed (Ninetales works great in Fire decks, but the other types need it, too).
When Claydol was in the format, it allowed for some awesome combos that normally wouldn’t be viable to be used in tournament play and actually do well. I think that having a draw engine as powerful as Claydol in the format was slightly hurtful to the game because it made the format too fast.
When I think of Pokémon decks, I usually separate them into the three stages of evolution. Decks that revolve around Basic Pokémon are supposed to be fast and disruptive, but they’re the weakest and most fragile Pokémon. A great example of this was LunaSol, which revolved around swarming the field with Lunatone and Solrock to increase damage output. This, primed with heavy disruption made the deck very powerful.
pokebeach.comStage 2 decks are supposed to be the tankers, the heavy hitters. They have the biggest HP and the most powerful attacks, but in turn, they’re also the slowest to set up. In addition, they are usually run along side a draw/search engine to help you set them up more quickly. Once a Stage 2 deck get’s set up, it is very difficult for anything but another Evolution deck to beat them. A good example of this would be a Garchomp SV or BLS deck.
The final deck type revolved around Stage 1 Pokémon. Some, such as Donphan Prime, act as mini-stage 2 Pokémon, who’s goal is to be as powerful as a Stage 2 deck, but faster. The other route is to be a slightly slower, but more powerful deck that relies on disrupting your opponent to win. A good example of this is a MewTric deck.
Claydol made it so Stage 2 Decks were just as fast as Basic or Stage 1 decks, but could often hit harder. In the 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 formats, I can certainly understand how this was necessary to have a chance against disruptive SP decks, but this only suggests that both Pokémon SP and Claydol were bad for the game.
To get back on topic, Claydo greatly sped up even the slowest of decks. In the current format, unless if you’re running a Fire deck, you don’t have access to that powerful of an engine. Uxie LV.X, along with a few other cards such as Smeargle or Spiritomb, are enough for most decks. However, for slower decks such as Nidoking, a draw/search engine at least in the same ballpark as Claydol would help to further increase the variety and possible complexity of decks in the format, which is a good thing.
ATM [Rock] was a very popular card in the 2005 and 2006 formats. While this card was an instant staple in decks such as Rock Lock, many other decks played it as a 1-of tech, which was easy to do because Pidgeot RG was in the format.
Obviously, this card was very powerful in spread decks, which put focus on putting heavy damage on as many of your opponent’s Pokémon as possible. Then, you would use ATM [Rock] to reduce each of your opponent’s Pokémon’s HP by 30-100 (if they used Rare Candy to evolve to a Stage 2 ex Pokémon), which could effectively take 2-4 Prize cards in a single turn.
In our current format, we have Technical Machine TS-2, which is essentially a mini-ATM [Rock], Devolving one Pokémon instead of potentially 2-4. Between SP dominating the format and TM TS-2 only having a fraction of the power that ATM [Rock] had, it’s no wonder why it doesn’t see heavy play.
If this card were to be reprinted, I don’t think that it would be played much this format because of SP’s firm grasp of the format. In the future, however, I believe this card would see massive play if the next format becomes RR(or anything after that)-On because not only would SP receive a massive blow, but Broken Time-Space would be out of the format as well.
Ancient Technical Machine [Rock], when played in a non-Spread deck, was used almost solely as a counter to Rare Candy. Imagine using ATM [Rock] when your opponent has 2-3 Stage 2 Pokémon that were put in play via Rare Candy. They wasted 1-3 Rare Candy and can’t use BTS to get them back in play, which could easily leave you with 1-2 turns with no opposition on your opponent’s field. I don’t have to tell you how big of an advantage that is.
pokebeach.comMy opinion to reprint Cursed Stone is bound to receive quite a bit of opposition because it had such a large impact on it’s format. 2005-2007 were the years of the Stadiums. Almost every deck in the format ran 3+ Stadiums, which is because of cards such as Cursed Stone, Battle Frontier, Desert Ruins were in the format.
So, you may be wondering what those cards have in common. They’re all offensive Stadiums. All of the Stadiums in the format are all consistency or defensive stadiums such as Broken Time-Space, Pokémon Contest Hall, Sunyshore City Gym, etc.
If you were to ask 100 skilled players who have been playing the game for a long time what their favorite format was, I can guarantee you that at minimum, 60 of the answers would be the 2005-2006 format (I agree with that as well). Why was this format so good? There are a lot of reasons.
However, if you were to compare that format with the one we’re in now, I think the biggest difference (almost as big as Power Creep that has since occurred) is the importance of Stadiums. All those years back, it was essential that you be running at minimum of 3 Stadiums, with many running as many as 5 or 6.
pokebeach.comEither you ran offensive Stadiums or you ran counter-Stadiums. In today’s format, many of the most popular decks (LuxChomp, DialgaChomp, Sablelock) often don’t run a single Stadium. In today’s format, the battle is between Pokémon, Trainers (includes Supporters and Tools) and Energy, but not Stadiums. I think it would be a great thing if Stadiums were made a factor when preparing your decks once again.
Cursed Stone would affect the entire format (apart from Scizor/Cherrim, there isn’t a single deck in the format that doesn’t run some Poké-Powers) whereas Crystal Beach would leave decks such as VileGar, Gyarados, Scizor and others unaffected, which could be a great way to give other decks a shot (LuxChomp, DialgaChomp, Sablelock, Tyranitar, Machamp and many others are at least somewhat affected).
Whatever PUSA decides to do with the game in the future, I think it’s in the best interests of the game to at least make the Stadium exchange existent in the format once again.
Scramble Energy is a card that whoever decides which cards get reprinted should definitely consider. In today’s format where SP rules, it has been very difficult for slower decks to compete, mainly because catching up in prizes is a very difficult thing to do against them.
Even if you finally get your “ultimate combo” (whatever it may be) set up, if you put things such as Uxies, Azelfs, Smeargles or Spiritomb’s on your bench, your opponent can forget about trying to KO your attacker and instead Knock Out those fragile Bench-sitters. Because of this, slower “set up” decks have been mostly abandoned, (with the exception of a few that have some means to be fast, such as Steelix with Skarmory). I have all but forgotten about come-from-behind decks which most new players have only heard rumors about.
pokebeach.comI can remember the days when you would behind by 2-3 Prizes, but with the use of cards such as Rocket’s Admin., Pow! Hand Extension, Electrode ex, Scramble Energy, etc., these type of decks were very competitive. Also, a good thing these types of cards is that luck doesn’t play such a huge part in the game. With hyper-fast decks running amok, many matches (especially the SP mirror) are heavily reliant on starts.
However, when the format is slowed down and comebacks are much more feasible, the game shifts from being one of luck and instead becomes a game that relies on skill, deck building and mastery of the metagame, which is how I think Pokémon should be.
To help bring this back into the format, I looked at all the possible cards: Rocket’s Admin. wouldn’t be much different from Judge (I know a little bit, but not a whole lot); With Gust of wind being reprinted, Pow! Hand Extension wouldn’t be that great; and I doubt Pokémon will be bringing ex back any time soon. I finally came to the conclusion that Scramble would be a good way to do this. When you’re ahead (or tied) on Prize cards, it provides C Energy. However, when you’re behind, it provides three Energy of any type.
There are two things that would help to keep Scramble Energy balanced. First of all, it doesn’t work when you’re winning or tied, meaning that you can’t just fall behind by 1 Prize, then make a remarkable comeback for the game based on this card alone. Instead, it goes a long way toward correcting bad starts and shifting the game away from being start- or luck-based.
The other reason is Scizor Prime’s Poké-Body, “Red Armor” (which shouldn’t have to worry about Dialga G LV.X shutting it off next format), will provide Scizor with full immunity from any Pokémon that has Scramble Energy attached. Scizor will be a good way to keep Scramble Energy from being too powerful and yet not making it useless either.
pokebeach.comSteven’s was first released in Hidden Legends, then reprinted in Power Keepers, so it has been in quite a few formats, in all of which it was a heavily played card. If it were printed in Call of Legends (which I doubt it is), I would be willing to bet that it would still see a lot of play. Steven’s Advice is one of the few cards that the power creep has done little to nothing to affect its usability.
If Claydol (or another draw/search engine of similar power) isn’t (re)printed, Steven’s Advice would be the next best thing. Next format, when Uxie leaves us and if no other Engine is printed, no deck (apart from Fire decks or perhaps Colorless, which could use R Energy and Ninetales. It sounds bad, but it works great in a lot of cases) will have a reliable way to draw cards.
However, with Steven’s Advice, you can easily be drawing 3-6 cards, so it would be a good way to help make up for no good Engine. Even if one is printed along with Steven’s, I would still suggest running a few copies of it, it’s that good.
pokemon-paradijs.comMy final suggestion on this article and also one that I strongly urge the Pokémon creators to consider reprinting. This last rotation, we lost both Claydol and Roseanne’s Research, which delivered a devastating blow to Stage 2 decks in an already SP-dominated format.
It wasn’t just the ability to get massive draw power with “Cosmic Power” that gave a lot of decks the ability to stay alive, but it was also Roseanne’s ability to get the precise Energy you needed. This allowed players to “Splash In” a lot of techs that you normally couldn’t as well as create a lot of combinations of decks that normally couldn’t be made (because getting the Energy was too difficult).
Many players believe Pokémon Collector along with slightly raising your Energy counts was able to make up for this loss, but to be honest, I don’t know what they were thinking. I do agree that on turn 1 or two, Pokémon Collector is generally more useful, but after that, Roseanne’s Research is by far the better card. I would choose to run Roseanne’s of Collector any day in almost any deck (apart from Gyarados, of coarse).
Roseanne’s Research offered a great deal of flexibility on both the deck builder’s part as well as during the game. It allowed players to really push their creativity to what techs and decks truly worked best.
Don’t Reprint It
Now, I would just like to make a note on card that I strongly suggest NOT being reprinted in 2011 and that card is Giant Stump. Ever since Giant Stump was released, it seems there’s always been some way to reduce or control the size of your opponent’s bench, whether it be Giant Stump, Palkia G LV.X, Dusknoir DP or even Ditto TM.
While reducing the opponent’s bench was often just a side-affect of these cards true reasons for being played (Giant Stump to kill of damaged Pokémon-ex on your bench and Palkia G LV.X to keep your bench cleared for more Mesprit/Uxie), some of these cards are used solely to restrict your opponent’s bench space.
I agree that control is a very important aspect of the Pokémon TCG and that controlling the size of your opponent’s bench is a part of that, but I feel that it could be a good thing to have a format where you don’t have to worry about how much you fill up your bench. Perhaps in the 2012 or 2013 format, some bench-restricting card could come back and it would probably be a good idea, but I believe this format should be left without any bench-restricting card more powerful that Ditto TM.
Thanks for sticking around to hear about a few cards that should (or shouldn’t) be reprinted. I’m sure there’s a lot more that I didn’t include, but I felt that I hit a few of the important ones. Another thing that I’m sure of is that every single person reading this doesn’t agree with each card I included, and that’s a good thing, each person should have their own opinion. I’d be happy to explain further as to why I did/did not include a card.
Until next time,