Solo Players vs. Team Players: A Look at Pokémon TCG Teams

With Nationals over and the start of a new year of Pokémon training, a lot of newer players just getting into the game are curious about the world of Team Play.

There are a couple of pretty good “How To” articles on joining and starting a team here on this site alone. While they were posted a while back they are still very valid. I will post links at the end of this article for those interested so that they can read up on those.

Teams are nothing new, but some will ask, “How is a team even possible”? The answer is actually a myriad of smaller answers that combine to paint a bigger picture. While some of us want to believe it’s not possible, it really is.

What makes a team? Well Websters defines a team as this:

“A number of persons associated together in work or activity: as
a : a group on one side (as in football or a debate)
b : crew, gang”

Websters also says something about animals, but it seemed to technical and of little consequence to the material at hand, unless your one of those that want to argue we are animals. That fact is not in question here so lets move on, shall we?

What effect does a team have on an individual?

pokebeach.comWell there are several effects that team mates can have. Overall its the feeling of unity. Like-minded persons getting together for a common goal. Being part of a team drives a person to push themselves to be better, stronger because they are surrounded by the strength of others.

It’s not always roses though. There are some downsides to being part of a team. Some will want nothing but wins and push others to work harder than they possibly can. Other times there is a sense that the team aspect is all about wins and if you cannot perform as well as your peers than your out of luck.

The Goals of Team Play

Well I kind of covered this one already, but the basic goal of team play is to better and strengthen others around you as well as your self. When one has a bad day, they all have a bad day – At least the mentality should be that way.

You may be wondering how team player affects Pokémon Players. Well its as simple as this. One player will come to the group’s meeting place, present a deck and get work on it.

As opposed to a forum or other online setting, the team will discuss points of interest in a particular strategy, focus on a way to improve that deck and try to come up with a general solution as to why the particular strategy failed to start with or even come up with a new deck all together.

The Group Mentality

Many believe that a TCG team (Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: The Gathering) are just a group of bullies and hardcore enthusiasts who are out for blood and nothing less. In my Yu-Gi-Oh! days, I saw an overwhelming change after being out of the competitive circuit for only a few short months which ultimately spoiled my fun at events thanks to “Teams”. Having put that aside, I saw some team players were just trying to have a good time.

Individual Improvement: Solo Vs Teams

pokebeach.comGenerally speaking, it seems that individuals are not as likely to succeed in their first year of Pokémon unlike some of the other TCGs I have played, and I have played quite a few. TrainerDerek, one of our other Front Pagers here, told me that thanks to participating in a Pokémon Team, he was able to net a pretty decent record at Nationals Blue, just this year, of 5-4.

Granted that’s not much to look at by say a champ or some of the really hard-core players, it’s still decent when you consider 1) he made drastic improvements and 2) his win ratio was over 50%. Again for some that might not be enough, but for others, like me, doing more wining than loosing and having a good time should be more than plenty unless you plan on become a champ and defending your titles year after year.

On the other side of the coin is the solo player. I started playing with HeartGold SoulSilver with virtually no access to any of the top-level cards other than what my girlfriend had extras of and what I could get in trades from some of my lesser cards (bulk commons any one?).

This was really due to the fact that my interest in Pokémon was not as piqued as others around me. Needless to say my first event was the following Battle Roads and I had an impressive 1-7 record that year. I put off events for a whole other year.

This last year in the tournament circuit I was about 1 game from top cut each time. Speaking from experience it took me much longer to even get that far than our friend TrainerDerek did on my own, even with reading forums, decklists, Underground snippets, ect.

What are the Differences?

pokebeach.comI mentioned limited access to cards. Well most teams have a pool of extra cards to use, and some even have a trade pool. This is where it gets tricky. Some team players will force others to give up something in order to help another succeed.

This is not always the case, but team play becomes something of a double-edged sword when involved in a team like this, as some one may not always be willing to or be able to afford such costly means of play.

And it stings more when said teammates have 8 Magnezone extra, with 2 decked and no willingness to compromise because the card is valued at $50 a pop. If you find yourself in this situation, drop from the team, and go your separate ways.

However if you are able to find a team that will freely share, conditioning you do not trade out said shared cards, your on easy street, knowing that you will probably make top cut in at least one event in a few months or so.

I’d like to thank TrainerDerek for his experience, and Adam for the info on joining and starting a team. I’d also like to add that the Forums here on 6P are a great way to learn something new and add your creative input so that contributors like myself and others, can bring you guys top quality at all times.

Please feel free to post comments, polite criticisms, and other constructive remarks below.

Reader Interactions

15 replies

  1. Frank

    Thanks for the pics adam! Didnt even realize that those older scans from the E-Reader set were even in the database.

  2. Joshua Pikka

    Teams are great for testing.  But, where Im from the #1 purpose of a team is to pool together money to get to tournaments, since I come from a rural area.  So there are a lot of differences in teams out there. 

    • Frank  → Joshua

      I really wanted to cover this, but I don’t feel like I got a whole lot of feedback on the subject. Thanks for the perspective I was looking for :).

  3. Julian Silva

    A little repetitive for those who read Adam’s original articles but writing another article about teams is a good idea for brand new players who haven’t.

    Good read, I enjoyed it.

    • Frank  → Julian

      I was trying to really capture what it ment to be part of a TCG Team, where as Adam’s posts are more so  “How-Tos” so to speak. Granted teams are not for every one, and every one should do what is best for them.

      Thanks for your support!

  4. Jacob AG

    Glad to see you’re still writing articles after the flame you got from your previous post. I don’t want to bring back any bad memories, I’m just happy to see that you’re still have the initiative to keep on posting.

    But back to the article, it was a good read. Never really thought about joining a team, and due to recent events joining a stable team would be a good idea. Keep it up kiddo.

    • Frank  → Jacob

      Thanks for the support. Sometimes you gotta fall off the horse a few times before you can figure out it’s rhythm.

      As for the flaming i got, I don’t let people get to me. Some one wants to be out right mean, let them – the bigger person always turns the other cheek.

  5. Egbert Levenstone

    Interesting article. But it didn’t really explain how team play works in detail. It’s something I’ve always wondered for a while.

    • Frank  → Egbert

      Team play is just like regular play. The whole team aspect (from what I can tell) is based on play testing and support for team mates. A team can be something as simple as a group of friends, to a massive group of people, going to the same events and encouraging each other.

      Hope that helped!

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