Master Faster: Why You May Be Losing

Hello everyone. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few weeks, then you should know everyone is focusing on Worlds. What cards are good, what decks are good, what deck should I play, what deck is going to win? This article is not as much about Worlds preparation (hopefully the people playing in Worlds don’t have too many of these issues), but it’s about self-reflection and self-improvement.

I am a firm believer that EVERYONE can improve somehow and it’s always good to watch someone else play or listen to what they think of ideas.

Everything that I will talk about things EVERYONE else and I have had problems with and it’s normal. I cannot guarantee that this will make you better, it is you and you alone that will tell if you have any of the problems that I mention and it is you that will fix them.

This format is fairly “stale”, Many parts that I will show in this article can be better explained if I use scenarios from the past, I will have examples with present cards but to really explain and give good examples of the how to improve playing I will talk about situations during the SP era because like it or not it was the best era in terms of skill required to win.

1. Looking at the Game as a Whole

Now when I say this I am not talking about looking at the whole board, well kind of. When I say the game as a whole I mean look at both the board right now (physical) and the board that will develop (mental). Knowing the physical part is easy, just look at the board! Now the mental part is a lot harder to know, but is VERY important (bummer).

This is knowing what is going to happen in the future, a turn from now, 3 turns from now, 10 turns from now! (Ok not really.) I’m not saying that you need to know everything that is going to happen from here to when the game end, but you must be able to look at what is happening right now and what should happen in the next few turns.

When I say “should happen” I don’t mean best case scenario for you, I actually mean the exact opposite.

You should almost always play the game assuming that your opponent will be able to set up whatever is best for him, because it will happen more often than not. Think about it, if you play assuming your opponent will set up his Pokémon and you prepare for that, you will hopefully be able to try to set it up so that you can return Knock it Out or at least not just get blown out by that Pokémon.

While on the other hand if you are not prepared for their Pokémon you will most likely be scrambling to get something out. If you do prepare for him to have something and he doesn’t, then most of the time you have not lost too much.

Let’s look at an example of a scenario and see if you guys can think what they might have and what you should do to put you in the best position to win.

You’re playing Yanmega/Magnezone; your opponent is playing Yanmega/Kingdra/Jirachi.

You have a Yanmega with 40 damage, Yanma and a Magnemite, and your opponent has Yanmega, Horsea, and Yanma. Your hand consists of Magneton, Magnezone, Rare Candy and 3 useless cards, and your opponent’s hand is 5. What will happen in the next 2 turns and what should do you do?

pokebeach.comWorst case scenario: You Rare Candy to get Magnezone Prime, draw some cards and attack Yanmega for 70. The opponent Rare Candies to Kingdra Prime does 10 to your Magnezone, benches Jirachi, attaches Psychic and does 40 to your Magnezone.

You do 70, Knocking Out their Yanmega Prime, they send up Jirachi attach another Psychic, do 10 to Yanmega, and then de-evolve your Yanmega and Magnezone, KOing both. You know how no draw engine and attacker, say you get another Yanmega up next turn and KO his Jirachi, they can send up another Yanmega or just attack with Kingdra and they will win that exchange.

You took at best 2 Prizes and lost a draw engine and 2 attackers and they took 3, lost only one attacker and Jirachi that doesn’t really matter. That didn’t work out for you that much did it?

Let’s look at doing it a little differently, still assuming they do all the above. You evolve Magnemite to Magneton so that it cannot die to Kingdra and Jirachi. (That’s one of the major things the deck does so it’s not too hard to see.)

If the only thing you changed was that, they will not be able to de-evolve your Magnezone and it would take them a lot longer to kill it. You may miss 1 turn of drawing but overall your Magnezone will last a lot longer so it is a better more for the long term.

This may not be the perfect scenario. but it shows the fact that if you are thinking about what will happen it can change your decisions and make a difference.

2. Think Like the Enemy

When playing a game of Pokémon believe it or not there is someone else other than you who is trying to win. They for the most part will be making logical decisions that they hope will allow them to take 6 Prizes before you. This also means that their actions will reflect what they are thinking and may point to future plans.

In the example above I talked about what I saw that what I though was going to happen a few turns ahead. If you look closer at that when the opponent did 40 with Yanmega to Magnezone instead of Knocking Out Yanmega, it looked suspicious.

If you knew the deck then it was fairly obvious that he was going to set up a Jirachi double KO next turn. Now in the example I said they played down the Jirachi a turn ahead but in real life they may just play it the turn they are going to do it and use Jirachi’s power to get an energy and “surprise” you.

Let’s look at another scenario:

You’re playing a Luxchomp mirror match; they have a Garchomp C with nothing on it. You have an active Garchomp LV .X with energy and no damage on it. They play Crobat G and use Flash Bite, you have 3 SP’s in play a Power Spray, Ambipom G, and Double Colorless energy in hand; do you Spray the Flash Bite?

In this case I would absolutely Power Spray it; it may look like it will not make any difference but it could be a game changer. He will most likely set up a Garchomp LV.X and want to be able to KO your Garchomp so that he will have energies to attack next turn and he does not want to be open to being 1HKO’d by Ambipom.

pokebeach.comIf you Spray it, they level up, attach DCE, Dragon Rush you and allow you to use Ambipom to kill it next turn. Or they retreat and attacks with something else like Luxray LV.X. Let’s say they level up and retreat and attack with Luxray LV.X

Now what are they signaling?

They are probably light on resources and they know that you have an Ambipom because you wanted them to have to use Dragon Rush so they would have no energies on Garchomp. They don’t want to lose their Garchomp because they don’t have much backup so they will wait a turn to get energy on Garchomp.

A good thing to do now if possible would be to Bright Look their Garchomp and KO it because as they have shown it will put them further behind.

As you saw in this example BOTH players were able to understand why the opponent did specific moves and they adjusted their plays so that could try to stop the opponent. The key to being able to properly predict the opponent is to understand their deck.

Knowing the kind of plays they can make, I’m not saying that you should always think your opponent will have everything. You have to take in variables like how many card in hand, have they already used all of a specific card, and how many of something do they play. The best way to understand a decks capability is to play it yourself for a while.

3. Knowing What’s Important


Knowing what important means that you understand what is will happen and you know what you should protect and or get rid of to help you win.

In the Luxchomp example both players knew that keeping their Garchomp and killing their opponents Garchomp were very important to the match because it its power and ability to snipe a lot of Pokémon. In the Yanmega example if you had a Pokémon Reversal would you reversal up the Jirachi or still KO the Yanmega?

You would probably want to get rid of Jirachi because it will kill 2 of your Pokémon and there Yanmega Prime will not kill 2 Pokémon for at least 3 turns.

The trick to knowing what is important is to know what card your opponent cannot win without. Some decks focus on one good attacker and without that they are a sitting duck; others need multiple Pokémon to get their “combo” working.

If you’re playing against a Reshiphlosion deck should you KO there Reshirams or Typhlosion and Ninetales? I would suggest Typhlosion and Ninetales, Reshirams are the main attacker but they usually will not have a problem getting more of them out, while Typhlosion and Ninetales are very important to make sure that Reshiram can keep on attacking. If you take out the set up cards then Reshiram becomes a lot worse and then you can KO them.

A lot of knowing what is important is just knowing the matchup, playing games over and over again until you understand what are important to each deck winning.

4. The Little things

This is usually less important things but every little bit adds up. Things like always bringing up a Pokémon with free retreat when your Pokémon dies or checking to see if anything crucial is prizes when you search your library the first time.

One that most people usually miss is in any situation where you are trying to draw a specific card and say you have something like Pokémon Collector in hand, if you have no other Supporter to use and the amount of card in hand will not affect your odds of drawing what you need then use Collector to get up to 3 basic Pokémon.

Doing this will reduce the amount of cards in your deck and will increase the odds of drawing the card you want. It may only add 1 or 2%, but if you do that every time then it will eventually add up and maybe it will be what wins you a game every once in a while.

5. Deck Building

This is a BIG one, even if you are the master everything else I have talked about if you have a problem creating the proper deck then you can say goodbye to winning a major event.

I’m not here to teach you how to build a deck (that could be many articles by itself) but I will try to give some good tips one specific parts of deck building.

The first thing is you need a decklist, most of the time I will just go on the internet for a skeleton list and then fill it with what I think is appropriate from there. The problem though is if the skeletons list I use turns out to be bad then I may make the base of the deck wrong and keep on trying to fix things when it’s just the base of the deck that is bad.

pokebeach.comThat is why I would suggest looking at multiple base lists of a deck before deciding where to start. Also don’t assume a list is really good if it won or did well at 1 event. One time results can be deceiving, they might have just played there good matchups or they just got good luck.

Know what your deck is trying to do and make all the cards work together to accomplish that. Say that you’re playing a deck with Yanmega, you will need cards that can help make your hand size match your opponents, so you will want card like judge, copycat and or Magnezone Prime. You should also understand if your deck is aggro, mid-range or control.

Knowing what a deck is weak to is also a key part to deck building and deck choosing. If your deck is weak to only one specific type of deck then that could be very good for you, unless that deck is the most popular deck in the format. Even if you have a problem with one popular deck you should find a tech that can win you that matchup.

Finally just knowing the deck can be a key factor when it comes to tournaments. If you have played a deck all year and you know every matchup inside out then it’s a good idea to continue playing that deck for big events. I’m not saying that you should stay with the same deck for the entire year.

If your deck becomes completely unplayable or the other deck are just way better, then it may be a good time to switch it up. Knowing the matchups and having a deck finely tuned seems to be underrated now days and come worlds it will be a difference maker.

6. Testing

The only way you can achieve a proper deck is through testing it and seeing how its matchups are. You may already be testing a lot with friends or at your local league but unless your friends and or league are filled with superstars you are probably not getting the most out of it.

To test correctly you must be playing against a good decklist and piloted by a good player. Say that your friend isreally likes playing Magneboar, he’s played it since the beginning of the format and he don’t play anything else. You may test against that deck a lot but it’s not even that popular so you’re not testing against the decks you need to.

Also if he is playing a bad list of Magneboar you will get better results in your favor but it may not be true. Come tournament time you will think you can beat the matchup easy but then you play against someone with a good list and you get crushed.

Another scenario is that you want to test against a really popular deck so you copy a good list from the internet, then get one of your friends to play it. He will most likely have little experience with the deck so even if it’s a good list, he may not understand how to play it properly and once again you will get wrong results and will tune your deck wrongly.

The way that I like to test is whenever the format for a big event comes out my friends and I will each take a deck. We will make the deck and play with it a lot, tune it and see how it works. Then we decide if we should continue testing it or to stop because it is bad. We do this until about a week before the event and then we all decide what the best one is and build it and test it some more.

Now some times we all think different decks are the best and that is ok too. As long as you feel like everyone has looked through all the decks and that the deck you’re playing was the best you could come up with. For this to work correctly you must trust the people who you are working with to be able to make the best lists for the decks they are playing.


I hope that I have inspired some of you if not all to think about how you play and ways to fix it. The areas I talked about are not the only parts of the game that you need to know.

For example right now you need to know how to rig a coin flip… JK… no, actually learning how to rig a coin flip will win you a lot of games now. Many of the things that I talked about are linked and the end goal it to get everything to work together.

I did not go into the greatest detail about every area, but this is a good starting point and I would like to make more articles going into greater detail about these topics.

Until my next article,


P.S. My YouTube!

Hey everyone, check out my YouTube channel where my friends and I make tons of Pokémon TCG videos on sets, deck techs, pack opening, trade binders, tournament coverage, and just general strategy.

Right now we are hosting a “What deck will win Worlds?” contest and our new video about the Worlds format is out!

Reader Interactions

12 replies

  1. Anonymous

    Nice article, and I’m glad you brought up “the little things” like deck thinning. From my experience with Ninetales, deck thinning can greatly improve your odds.

  2. David Griggs

    Good article… Though from the title and overall content it sounds surprisingly like another article that was posted recently. ;)

    The content itself is definitely different though. Great points.

    • Kevin Gomez  → David

      I have not seen that article but now that I look at it, it dose kinda look like I copied it lol. Sorry if you thought I was plagiarizing or something.

      • David Griggs  → Kevin

        You’re good… Like I said, the concept is similar but the content is different and definitely a good read.

  3. J Humphrey

    I can’t believe I traded my Jirachi for a Reshiram…………

  4. chris frontiero

    I can tell you’re a magic player, you call the deck the library lol. Great article.

  5. stephen shirley

    yeh i do deck thinning with my zekrom thats why i run a juniper sages engine you thin  your deck way more

  6. Franco L III

    very nice article! btw…

     Things like always bringing up a Pokémon with free retreat when your Pokémon dies or checking to see if anything crucial is prizes when you search your library the first time. Library? Thinking of MTG? 

  7. AndrewV

    Another thing I would add to this article is to know the weaknesses of your and your opponents’ . I don’t know how many times I’ve been burned by sending up a jirachi, crobat, etc and giving them a free prize or reversaled a bad tech/baby because i didn’t realize the weakness of their tech was weird. 

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