Adventures in a New (Old) World

Hello. I am 23 years old and in graduate school getting my MBA. I was the “Pokémon Master” in my hometown when the craze first hit the United States. I loved the video games as well as the card game. I played the card game through the Neo Genesis sets. I grew up in a small town; therefore, we did not have official leagues close enough for me to play in competitively. However, the local card shop held routine in house tournaments, and I never missed.

I bought this baby when it was brand new

As time passed, my friends all picked up Yu-Gi-Oh when it hit the scenes. Therefore, we switched to that game for a little over a year. Eventually, everyone’s interest in all TCGs died down and life moved on. Sports took on a huge part of my life, along with school related extracurricular activities and Pokémon was not school sanctioned.

Fast-forward to the summer after my first year of college. I went off to work a summer camp, in Texas, with nine to twelve year old kids. They were really into Pokémon. Therefore, I started digging back into the Pokémon world to be able to relate to my campers. I researched everything. A lot changed in all areas of the Pokémon Universe (TCG, VG, and Anime). I went back the summer after my second year of college and the kids were still into Pokémon; so, I learned even more. However, after those two summers, I stopped paying attention to developments in the Pokémon community.

Fast-forward again to fall 2010. I am leading worship at my church, and a member of my church is the local league organizer. We started talking about Pokémon, and he convinced me to come help/play/organize the kids at the league. I went and, so far, have not looked back.

The game is still rich in depth, or so I thought. Understand me, I think the game strategy is very deep, but I soon realized that to seriously compete I needed a better deck, but the options are few.

Deck Selection

I began my research. I am a very Type A/OCD/thorough person. Therefore, I read and read and crunched numbers and read some more. I studied until I felt that I had a good grasp on the current state of the game. I developed the criteria that would be used to build my first semi-competitive deck:

  1. The deck must be affordable without having to rely heavily on trades.
  2. The deck must be a potential candidate for Tier 1 post rotation (assuming a RR-On rotation).
  3. The deck must be fun to play.
  4. The deck must be at least semi-competitive. This means that it must be able to produce at least a 50% win/loss ratio at events in the current rotation.
My main man this time around.

I really wanted to pull together a Top Tier deck that I could top cut with immediately because I am ultra-competitive. However, I found that those decks were going to be out of my price range. That is why I settled for the criteria that I did.

I obviously discovered the power of the SP engine and a trio of tier one decks: LuxChomp, DialgaChomp, and Sablelock. However, with limited resources I was in a tough situation for building one of those three.

Next, I researched the non-SP contenders. I found VilGar and Gyarados. However, with a limited number of league players (and most of them being very young and not having a large pool of cards to trade for), these decks were also out of my price range.

I searched for many options, but after seeing the $5 blister packs at Target, Charizard was the deck for me to get back into the game with. This is my decklist, and I will describe the purpose of the cards non-standard cards after the list.

Pokémon – 24 

4 Charmander AR
3 Charmeleon AR
4 Charizard AR
2 Cyndaquil HS
1 Quilava HS
2 Typhlosion Prime
2 Vulpix HS
2 Ninetales HS
1 Blaziken FB
3 Spiritomb AR

Trainers – 23 

3 Bebe’s Search
1 Broken Time-Space
2 Expert Belt
4 Judge
1 Luxury Ball
3 Pokémon Collector
2 Pokémon Communication
3 Rare Candy
1 Seeker
1 Stark Mountain
2 Twins

Energy – 13 


I have a couple of different cards in the deck that are not standard. I only have the Blaziken FB, no LV.X. I never, ever used the LV.X to attack when I was testing with it. Therefore, I only kept the basic form. It is in the deck to drag out high Retreat Cost Bench-sitters that need to be KO’d. I also run four Judges. Judge has been critical for me. It can single handily keep me in some games. Other than those two, it is a pretty standard and consistent list.

After testing and playing with my deck, I decided that it was time to get my first taste of a premier event with my Charizard deck. Missouri States, here I come.

On a side note, I had been testing Magnezone/Regirock since before it performed well at the ECC and really wanted to play that deck. I had the whole deck built except for two Magnezone Primes going to States. I had assumed that I would be able to purchase a couple Magnezone Primes when I got to the venue, but alas, the Primes were sold out. I tried to trade to get the last two, but I could only get my hands on one. A couple people had some extras, but they were not willing to part with the cards. So, to start my first every premier event I was a little bummed because I was not going to get to play Magnezone/Regirock. Oh well, life goes on.

Missouri State Tournament Report: The Perspective of a First TimerMissouri State: Here I Come

I drove to the tournament by myself. I did not know anyone there, or so I thought. First, I met a really cool guy from Kentucky, and we played a friendly warm up game. He used his LostGar deck (I love playing against LostGar. Charizard actually matches up pretty nicely), and I won on prizes and he had only taken 2 Prizes and sent one to the Lost Zone (the prizes were from Spiritombs that I sacrificed).

As we were playing, my cousin-in-law walks up to say hi. He is several years older than I am and he had two kids competing at the tournament. So after a win in warm ups and seeing my cousin-in-law, I was ready to go.

Round 1: Zack Krekeler with LostGar

This game opened up with me going first. I had a lone starter and could not do anything. He draws, plays a couple of things down and has Mime Jr. active. He attacks with Sleepy Lost (without doing anything to rearrange my top deck) and sends a Charizard into the Lost Zone turn one. What a bad start to my first premier game.

I recovered from the poor start and took three fairly quick prizes. However, it was speed that ended up killing me. He ran a TM Devoluter in his deck and played a spread damage type of game against me. I had used Rare Candy to get my stage 2’s out. So, he would spread damage then devolve to my base form. That often resulted in a Knock Out, and my Pokémon being sent to the LZ due to Catastrophe.

To be completely honest, I really thought that I had that game. I could have easily played through my evolution lines and not been faced with the problems I did, but ultimately going for the speed, killed me. I should have taken my time and fully set up against his deck. I easily controlled my hand throughout the game, but his devolver system was the death of me. In the end, I am sure Zack would disagree, but I cannot help but feel that I gave this game away with some bad misplays. I also could not for the life of me draw into the energy I needed. I had literally every Pokémon of his in play within 1HKO range, but I could not get any more energy flowing in the mid game.

This game also went long. I might have had a chance at dragging it out until time with a prize lead, but I do not like doing stuff like that. The play stayed crisp and fast. It might have cost me the win, but my hat goes off to Zack he played really well and to my knowledge, he is a pretty good player (Turns out he is ranked 10th in Missouri in the Master’s Division).


Round 2: Mike Taphorn with VileGar

This is my favorite deck to matchup against. This guy was extremely nice. He had a better background in Yu-Gi-Oh, but he was playing Pokémon with his kids. This game was extremely relaxed, and that was good for me. I really thought that being nervous/tight contributed to my first misplays.

I mulliganed my first draw. Then I got the ultimate Charizard hand the second time. I started with Spiritomb active and Charmander, Vulpix, and Cyndaquil on the bench. This game was played entirely under trainer lock, but that did not really affect me. Good game.


Round 3: Daniel Fromling with Skuntank/Seviper

This was a really cool deck that he put together. Our actual game was fairly boring though. I opened with Spiritomb and began setting up. He started with a lone Skunktank and KO’d two of my Spiritombs. On something around turn six, I got Charizard active with a full bench. He had not drawn another basic or any search cards. I attacked with Fire Winga and ended up donking him.

We played a second game. His deck worked much better the second time.

2-1 and feeling pretty good.

Round 4: Brendon Burrus with LuxChomp

Most people with say that Charizard cannot hang with LuxChomp. Well that is 50% truth. If I get a Spiritomb start and get to go second, its game on. I have tested this matchup a lot and am right around 50/50. The deciding factor is always whether or not I can get the one or two turn trainer lock early. Typically, if I can get to around turn 4 down only 2 Prizes, the game is right where I want it.

Well I opened with a lone Charmander and had to go first. I attacked with Call for Friends and it was his turn. He unleashed the toolbox on me, and it was game over. I just could not get a second Charizard set up after he had that massive head start.

2-2 Now, my wife had just got off work back home (two hours away), and I was sure that I was out of top cut. I told myself that if I lost the next round I would drop.

Round 5: Steve Scheen with Magnezone/Regirock
What I wouldn't give for two more of these. Next time maybe.

I was jealous. He had the deck that I wanted to run. Like I said earlier, oh well. We both opened Spiritomb AR and began setting up. He took off fast and took an early 3-0 prize lead. However, I had a plan. Every Pokémon that I sent out to die early took at least two energy to Knock Out. I eventually took a prize and he took another one. He had two left and I had five. Then the game changed.

I had been counting the number of fighting energy he had been sending to the LZ. It was getting to be a lot and he had no more fighting energy in the discard to bring back to the field with Regirock. This severely limted his damage output because he also could not get a Stormfront Magnezone out. It was my turn to go on the attack. I took the next 4 Prizes to make it 2-2 Prizes left.

He took one with a poison structure of all things. Then I cleaned up for my last 2 Prizes. He had been holding Magnezone SF Super Connectivity in his hand for a long time, but he could not get to a Magneton to get that Magnezone out to attach discarded lightening energy.

This was an awesome game. I really enjoyed it. We talked for a bit afterward. It seems like Magnezone Prime might be a player in the next rotation with the Parichisu from Call of Legends.

3-2 I had life again. Time to see the next set of pairings.

Round 6: Jack Creager with DiaglaChomp

Of all the people who were at 3-2, I was the one to get paired up to a 4-1 player. I would have much rather been playing another 3-2 player with a non-SP deck. Well basically, just like with LuxChop, if I can get an opening Spiritomb and go second this is a very good match up. Instead, I started with a lone Vulpix and a bunch of trainers. Oh, I also had to go first. I go first, hit Diagla G for 40.

He goes and plays like four or five trainers and sets his whole bench up. He attaches an Energy Gain and energy. He Defens for 10 and lock. That was basically game over.

3-3 I dropped at this point. I wanted to drive back home.

I had the goal of at least breaking even in my first premier event and did that. So, I was happy about the day. I am still a little ticked at myself for letting the first game against LostGar get away. Maybe if that would have been a win I would have avoided the SP decks. A couple of the top players in Swiss were playing rogue (T-Tar, Tangrowth, Regigigas). I would have much rather played any one of those. In all, there were actually a lot of players avoiding the Tier 1 decks. There were a lot of really fun Rogue decks. I think that people are getting tired with LuxChomp/DiaglaChomp/VilGar/G-Dos are are ready to try new things. I also think that a mid season rotation would be awesome. Whenever the rotation comes, I sure hope it is RR-On so almost all of my deck is still playable.

I am hoping to go to Regionals and play again. I had a blast of a time. It was a really cool thing to see how diverse a set of people come to ply Pokémon. Maybe I will have my Magnezone Deck ready by Regionals. I am still looking for one or two Magnezone Primes.


  • Breaking even with Charizard in my first Premier Event
  • Seeing my Cousin
  • Meeting new people from all over the place
  • Vince and B&B Games for putting on a sweet event and running good deals on merchandise


  • Starting with one basic (not Spiritomb) and having to go first against the two SP decks I faced.
  • Making a lot of rookie mistakes in my first game (but great job capitalizing on them Zack :) ).
  • Getting to be the 3-2 that paired up with a 4-1 instead of playing another 3-2.

Tips for New Players from a New Player

  1. Try not to netdeck a Tier 1 deck right when you start playing. I wanted to do that, but I am extremely glad that I did not. I learned so much more about the game through wrestling with a rogue deck choice. It teaches you to think independently about how the game works and what you can do to win. Then after you learn from going rogue, feel free to netdeck your LuxChomp. You will understand what your opponents are trying to accomplish when playing against a rogue deck. Also, this season is running out of time. So, netdecking a SP deck will get your card pool rotated out in August.
  2. Stemming from the rotation idea, if you are starting to play in the middle of the season, use the rest of that season to get acclimated to the competitive scene. Do not go out and play with the intentions of winning your first tournament. Then plan on doing extremely well in your second season. Yes, some people go out, play to win their first tournament, and do win. I contend that you will have a better understanding of the TCG as a whole and be better suited to compete in the future if you learn to play rogue first.
  3. You need to be sure to set attainable goals. My goals were to get acclimated to the competitive scene, be semi-competitive, stay at a 50% win/loss or better, and not spend hundreds of dollars. Because I set reasonable goals, I had met all of my goals already. Now, it is time for me to revaluate my goals for Regionals and decide whether or not I want to make a serious play to at least Top Cut and maybe go Top 8 or better.

Thank your reading my first article. Hopefully there is more to come. Until next time.


Reader Interactions

17 replies

    • Anonymous  → Pade

      Thanks Ronnie.

      How was your drive home?

      Before I left, the little kid that was from KY was using me a shield from this other kid. He has said that Oshwalt was dumb and this other kid was threatening to hit him a very soft case. the little dude was saying, “Hey Ronnie’s new friend, save me, save me.”

      • Pade  → Anonymous

        The drive went really fast. I ended up only going 3 and 4, bad times with those misplays and bad luck (ie, a Uxie start with 4 Poketurn, a lightning energy and a warp energy while going first and top decking an Unown Q…) and the third win was in the final round where my opponent didnt show up…

        Sorry about being attacked and interrupted by kids too :D

        • Anonymous  → Pade

          It’s all good. I wasn’t really attacked so much, but being ran around. No worries though.

          Bummer on the crappy opening hands

  1. Martin Garcia

    having been paired up with a 4-1 player means you were the best ranked 3-2, so its actually a good thing, since you can get a lot of opponent{s points, if you can win, that is.
    Congrats on your first premier

    • Anonymous  → Martin


      I know getting pair means I was the highest rated 3-2. However, many if the other 3-2 players were playing rouge. So, personally, I would rather been paired with one of them with the hope of beating a rouge to go to 4-2. Then the final game would have been a possible “win and in” situation… Oh well, I had fun.

  2. DrMime

    Great article, especially the tips at the end. I think they especially applied this season, when the outgoing sets were more powerful than the recent sets.

    Makes me wonder what new players next year will think. Will they say to themselves, “Dang, those HGSS cards are so broken, and so expensive! At $50 a pop, how could I ever play Magnezone?”

  3. Ed Mandy

    Nice article. When I read, “The game is still rich in depth, or so I thought.” I figured it was going to be an analysis on how the game has devolved since you were first into it. I figured it would end up being a commentary on our SP-centric metagame. That wouldn’t have been bad, but your article with report was interesting. Thanks

    • Anonymous  → Ed

      Yeah, I should have explained myself more on that point. I did basically mean that to be really good you need to play SP.

      However, I have noticed lately that alternative decks are slowly creeping back in. Possibly by Nationals there may be some challengers. Outside of SP you have Magnezone, VileGar, LostGar, G-Dos, and Regigigas with proven abilities. Then in my opinion you have SkunkViper, Machamp, and Tangrowth showing some potential.

      These might not take the place of the Big 3 SP, but they are certainly making the game much more interesting.

      I heard that Black and White will not be allowed at Regionals, but when they are allowed at Nationals things are going to really get interesting. Trainer lock will be strengthened. Luxray GL Lv.X’s power will be in a trainer, meaning that any deck with a strong attacker will be able to take cheap kills off the bench.

  4. Callylove

    Haha, I never had a intention of winning my first tournament, but I did! (at Battleroads)

  5. Jake Long

    wow! nice article! It seems that you’re playing Charizard with a Spiritomb. I got alot of times when I was screwed with my 2 Spiritombs with my deck so I decided to drop those and then I replaced those with some Rescue energies. Rescue Energies does a lot in the deck because Ninetales wont be BAt drop- snipe combo by Garchomp (some players does not want to prize ninetales when it has a rescue on it so you got more time to Roast Reveal) Seekers i my deck did the job too in recovering Charizard. I ran 2 seeker and 2 scoop up for maximum recovery and 1 BTS it means in a game thhere is a possibility to have 6-8 Charizard appearances at max Well, thats what our meta did to my deck.

  6. Gabriel Brown

    I get so psyched when I see someone playing Charizard lol. Great article dude. I liked how it had a little bit of everything. Great tips for newer players, a quick decklist, and a tournament report. I personally love Charizard, and in my opinion, you’re playing it the best way. Spiritomb+Judge is the way to go in this format. ;D Your list looks just a little messy, but like you said you didn’t want to spend a lot on your deck, and you actually did very well for your first tournament so props to you. :) Keep up the good work and I hope you have a blast at regionals! :D

      • Gabriel Brown  → Anonymous

        I would probably take out some of the single copy cards like Seeker, Blaziken FB or Stark mountain and add in 2 Broken Time-Space. I personally have not been able to test any of those cards due to space issues. Though I do like the idea of Stark Mountain and Seeker in the deck, but like I said I haven’t been able to fit them in, and I also don’t think that they’re a must in the deck. Your list still looks good though. I also noticed that you don’t play any Uxie LA, is that because you don’t like it in the deck or do you just not have any? Just curious.

        • Anonymous  → Gabriel

          I’ve thought long and hard about Uxie. I have three, so that is not a problem. I just have a hard time putting it in the deck. There are already times when I have an unwanted Spiritomb on the bench that reduces the attach power. If you add Uxie, I think that you have to add more SSU or Seeker to get Uxie off the bench. So, I would be looking at having to add about 6-7 cards to facilitate Uxie.

          The deck already has a draw engine in Nintales; so, I decided to go against Uxie.

  7. Davey Garner

    great article, i went to my first premier with Charizard and it didnt work out to well, 1-4 :(

    good to see that Charizard can work well :D

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