Hello 6P.com community. Today I will be trying out a different kind of article, I’ll be honest it’s geared more toward the beginner player, but I think it will be a good read for you.
I will be explaining how to get better at this game, or at least how I did it. I will be, basically sharing you the knowledge that I’ve learned from friends, enemies, and of course just playing the game in general.
The reasons I wrote this article were:
- I didn’t really leave much to cover after my last article, although I might do another Emerging Powers review since we got a fair amount of exclusive cards, and I have some more deck ideas.
- Worlds articles, covering the event, reports, standings, etc. are going to be a dime a dozen.
- Well, I thought of the idea for the article while I was sleeping, and it seemed really cool to write about.
So, without further ado, I think it’s time to get this article rolling.
- The Beginnings
- The 2008-2009 Season
- So, I played for a couple of league sessions and then Autumn Battle Roads (BRs) came right around us, since there was in the game store, Gamer’s Haven, which was right by my house I go to go to it. I was playing a Glaceon deck, the only LV.X that I was able to conjure up, along with a tin Darkrai LV.X.
- Eventually City Championships (CCs) hit and I built a DuskGar/Cresselia LV.X tech deck, which I had no clue that it was hyped, I just go lucky in my packs, and this was where I learned the value of a tech. I got into a mirror match, and being a n00b, had no clue what Unown G did, and that decided the match. He played it, and I didn’t.
- The 2009-2010 Season
- BRs came around and I had decided to just play LuxApe for all of them.
- The first CC I went to, I really didn’t feel like playing SPs that day, so I just played a Stallgon deck and ended up going 2-1 and finishing in 3rd. I lost to a turbo Shuppet deck, but that was fine; it was a short, quick tournament.
- So, right before States I didn’t even have the cards for it either, I ended up scrambling to get the cards, and then I built it. It was a pretty bad day, I started lone Duskull three times, and did horribly. Heck, my little brother did better than I did playing my Gyarados list, losing only to double Mr. Mime MT twice.
- The 2010-2011 Season
- Parting Words
yugioh.wikia.comSince I was about ten I had played Pokémon, not competitively or anything like that, but as a “for fun” game, at the time Yu-Gi-Oh! was the main game I was playing, and on the verge of quitting because of stolen cards and consistently bad luck )I was one win away from a free trip to Nats three years in a row at Gen Con).
But, I wasn’t strictly a TCG player, which has really helped me out in general. I got into to gaming through Miniature War games, basically games where you command an army and try to “break” your opponent’s units, for those of you who want to look, google DBA, and that’s what I was playing.
I also played Destroy All Monsters and got into the Pirates game; you built your ships out of cards and then made your army. I still play these types of games to this day and also have qualified and won major tournaments for DBA, Killer Bunnies, and qualified for the Gen Con Final for Ticket to Ride.
They put up a league for that at a local game store, and I knew the owner and he mentioned how there was going to be a Pokémon League there. I decided to go, I always loved playing the World Championship decks, and I decided it would be a good time, I had no idea I would actually start playing the game competitively back in 2008.
My dad, brother, and I ended up going together and we had a good time, but the part that astounds me the most about that first week or two at league was the people I met, and that I’m still excellent friends with three of them (one of them quit playing and I don’t see them much). But, I did a lesson there:
Always just go up and ask people, and try to get them to help you, and the first person to say “hi” to, at your first league should be the guy running it. They’ll help you out along the way, and make sure you aren’t doing anything too disastrous for yourself.
The first four people I met where Michael Z, John L, Brandon D, and Matt N. Three of them still play, and I’m still great friends with them, I also felt that this was a great time for thanking them for letting me into this great community.
You also want to make sure that you are just nice to people and for me, at least, I stuck out, I knew the owner of the store well, and my personality wasn’t really atypical, and I believe that helped me make some friends.
The 2008-2009 Season
Autumn Battle Roads
So, I played for a couple of league sessions and then Autumn Battle Roads (BRs) came right around us, since there was in the game store, Gamer’s Haven, which was right by my house I go to go to it. I was playing a Glaceon deck, the only LV.X that I was able to conjure up, along with a tin Darkrai LV.X.
I didn’t do too badly; I went 3-1 and finished in 3rd this definitely gave me a boost of confidence, and I was happy. I couldn’t go to anymore, but that actually ended up getting me hooked.
Eventually City Championships (CCs) hit and I built a DuskGar/Cresselia LV.X tech deck, which I had no clue that it was hyped, I just go lucky in my packs, and this was where I learned the value of a tech. I got into a mirror match, and being a n00b, had no clue what Unown G did, and that decided the match. He played it, and I didn’t.
Techs are important in decks, you don’t always need them but you’ll probably want something in your list that isn’t just your attackers, I didn’t realize this, but I learned from it, and just in time for States.
So, I kept going to the league, and when Platinum came out, my random goal was to get an reverse holo (RH) SP engine, again that would prove to be very fruitful. I also stumbled across the ToxiTank combo, and I ended up getting 9th at States. I teched in Dialga G LV.X, and lost to two very good players in AMT and Anthony O. I was sad that I finished in 9th, but that just continued the tradition of finishing one away from top cut.
Lesson: Sometimes you really do learn more from losing than winning, don’t let that hurt you, make that your driving force to get better at something.
Another lesson: Prerelease (PR) trading is a lot different than regular trading; decide what you want and just aim to get that, and there’s also a great chance that you’ll score great deals. I ended up trading away all my Blast-A-Catty stuff and AmpTric that I pulled for the RH Cyrus Engine, and while it was a lucky guess, it certainly worked.
My next guess, well, not so much…
The next set was Rising Rivals, and I since I couldn’t go to Nats I decided to just build a Rotom Deck, which well I was trading Flygon LV.X’s and other stuff for Rotoms. I lost a ton of value at that PR, but I really didn’t care, I got to make a fun deck, and well, it was fun. :)
Spring Battle Roads
pokebeach.comSo, I made it out to one BR and immediately I watched Masters top cut, and LuxApe got top two, and with me being new, I had no clue how good it actually was. I already had the Cyrus engine, so I was able to trade away a Flygon LV.X and a Palkia G LV.X for the Luxray X and Ape 4 X.
That was the first time I actually looked at someone else’s list, and then tried to make the same deck. It turned out to be Autumn BRs deck, and was really fun to play, and to this day I miss playing that deck…
During the summer, while everyone else was at Nationals and Worlds, I was bit by bit acquiring some new cards for myself, namely Claydol, Uxie and Azelf. My first season was spent using awkward engines because I couldn’t afford those; luckily I was able to trade my RH SP Engine for those and a regular SP Engine. It was heartbreaking to do, but I finally learned another lesson:
RH Cards are cool, but often times they are too expensive and the money is better spent getting cards you need, especially when you are a beginner.
After getting some draw power, I was able to complete my LuxApe build, topped off by trading for Ninetales MT.
During the summer I was able to do my first “play testing”. I was testing my LuxApe against Brandon’s Blazeray, and even though we only played about 5-10 games total, it was definitely valuable, I knew more about my deck and I did decent with the deck, I also learned that a little testing, as long as it’s against someone who is better than you or about your skill level, is always valuable.
At this point I had also started going to more leagues, for various reasons, and was getting to know more people in the community.
The 2009-2010 Season
The first two went very well for me, I went 3-1 losing only to Jake H, who would go on to qualify for Worlds that year, and finished in the top 4. The next weekend I went 3-2, losing in top 2 to Austin H, twice, and I didn’t know it at the time but he had got top 4 or top 2 (I can’t remember now) at Nats the previous year.
But, then I learned a pretty hard lesson. My last BR was by far my worst. Since, I had been doing somewhat well, the last weekend literally everybody was playing FlyChamp, and I pretty much had no chance since I had refused to change decks, which I would start to do often later in the year.
Since, I wasn’t making any metagame calls whatsoever I just got creamed, and it sucked, but I did learn that sometimes even when you love a deck, change is necessary to succeed. I did end up playing GeChamp for one though, my last one after my flameout with LuxApe, and went 3-1 but came in 5th.
I had tested the deck a fair amount and I enjoyed how it ran, but unfortunately I ran into a Gyarados and that really ruined my deck as my version focused on Machamp a bit more than more Gengar.
Unfortunately, I took that lesson to heart during CCs and it really cost me.
The first CC I went to, I really didn’t feel like playing SPs that day, so I just played a Stallgon deck and ended up going 2-1 and finishing in 3rd. I lost to a turbo Shuppet deck, but that was fine; it was a short, quick tournament.
The next tournament, I got my Blaziken FB LV.X in the mail, and was able to play BlazeRay, which to this day is my favorite deck; great artwork and just fun to play. I started out 3-0, but as usual, lost to a FlyChamp in the last round, and even though I was the only 3-0, I slipped to 3rd place and didn’t top cut (TC).
pokebeach.comThat really annoyed me, but I at that tournament I was paying particular attention to the Masters, and the hot deck was DialgaChomp. I had all the cards for it and decided I’d try my hand with the deck that was a bad idea. I think my combined record with that deck was like 3-5; my list was about average but I never played “locking” decks. I always had played fast decks.
But, I still had one more CC left, and it was a top 4 cut, which was a rarity. I played Gyarados, and I finished in 5th because somehow FlyChamp lost to BlazeRay in the last round of Swiss, which ruined my resistance.
So, another lesson I learned from CCs: changing your deck can be fun and great, but if you don’t really know what you’re doing it’s probably best to stick with your first deck. For me that would’ve been BlazeRay, but again I didn’t learn that lesson yet, and I get slammed with it at States.
During the downtime between CCs and States I did my first really intense testing, with LuxChomp this time. The entire time I had been saying that it would be by far the BDIF (best deck is the format) because of DCE (Double Colorless Energy) and I wanted to prove it, especially since I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to Nats or Regionals.
I built a pretty solid list with Dialga G LV.X tech in it, as well as Ditto and Ambipom G. With my heavy Crobat G line and 2 Expert Belts, I also donked a fair amount in my testing as well. I really loved the deck, but then I got caught in hype (again).
For whatever reason, I got really worried about my basic energy count being so low (it was 4) and in a format with Roseanne’s Research I knew that would put me at a disadvantage. I began retesting Gyarados, another deck that I had played and done well with, but I just didn’t like its lack of options.
pokebeach.comFrom there I got lured into another semi-hyped Trainer locking deck, CurseGar. I had been able to get a list from a European who top 4’d at one of their events, and I liked it, but I just couldn’t always play it right.
So, right before States I didn’t even have the cards for it either, I ended up scrambling to get the cards, and then I built it. It was a pretty bad day, I started lone Duskull three times, and did horribly. Heck, my little brother did better than I did playing my Gyarados list, losing only to double Mr. Mime MT twice.
That’s when I learned that lesson for good: play the deck you’ve tested the most with it; it will usually give you the best performance.
Luckily, I didn’t look like a complete fool. LuxChomp, as you may recall ended up dominating States, and that somewhat redeemed my performance, but my season was done, I wasn’t able to go to Nationals because of the economy and I was already going to GenCon anyway.
I did continue playing LuxChomp and had a list that included DGX (Dialga G LV.X) and ERL (Entei & Raikou LEGEND), I would’ve liked to have seen how I would’ve done, but oh well. Onto my second summer of Pokémon…
The 2010-2011 Season
That was my last year in Seniors, and it started pretty horribly. One of my friends had already quit and he was a heck of lot better than I was, and our area was just tough. For a while I stopped going to league as I decided whether or not to play and just sell off my cards, and having every good SP card definitely made that seem like a good decision.
But, I had a fair amount of friends, so I decided I’d see how I did at BRs and CCs, and if I did as bad as I thought I was going to. The general goal was to just go .500, then I’d just sell off my SP stuff at States and maybe do decent in school. :p
Autumn Battle Roads
pokebeach.comSo, BRs started and with the increase in Metal types I decided to play BLG (Blaziken FB, Luxray GL, Garchomp C), and that’s all I played for BRs and I did fairly well. All my losses were either donks, bad prizes, or to Chris Fulop.
I went 4-2 at all four I went to, which wasn’t great but was good enough to make me want to keep playing. I also became friends with some alumni from my high school, and in general just got to know the Masters better as well as some of the TOs, so it was good that I had played and I was having fun too. I had tested a fair amount, and felt really comfy with my deck, so I was happy.
Between BRs and CCs, I was testing a GeChamp w/ Vileplume tech that was running surprisingly well, but it tended to run out of steam at the end of games and couldn’t really get those last one or 2 Prizes. I had also wanted to try out Machamp Prime, our whole metagame was really just SP decks, and I felt it would be a solid play. So I made a list and was set on playing that deck for CC’s, but unfortunately Machamp and I just seem to give each other bad luck.
I had arranged to borrow the Machamp Primes from one of my friends in Seniors, but he had said he went to wrong BR. That meant I had to make a hodgepodge LuxChomp list and I did pretty horribly. I think I went 1-4, and to this day it remains the only losing record I’ve had in Masters, and I was doubly annoyed because all my matchups were against SP decks that had no “Machamp” counter, so it was not a good day by any means.
But I did learn a lesson: Always have a backup deck. Sometimes you just need one incase somebody falls through, and I didn’t, so I did poorly. It happens, but it’s just a good idea.
Anyhow the next couple of my CC’s were my usual 4-2 and ninth place/tenth place, not bad but not really exciting either. I was leaning toward quitting at this point, but I did have one last CC to go to, and it was what really got me to continue playing this game.
It was our last CC, Sunday the last weekend and it was in Akron. I had been able to get a ride with a great family that I knew and was playing an updated version of LuxChomp. There were about 60 people there in Masters, so almost enough for a t16 cut at CC, and the whole day we were joking about how Ohio didn’t need a marathon to have great attendance at their tournaments.
pokebeach.comThe tourney started at about 12 or 1 and I got off to my usual fast start, beating out a Charizard decks and donking a Crobat G. But, then my problems began: I had to face FOUR straight VileGar decks, and I wasn’t playing DGX in my list at the time. However, due to a little bit of luck, and some good plays on my part I was able to 3-1 against the deck, and come in as the number three seed, beating a player that had always been the bane of me.
In top cut I then had to face a friend of mine who is a great player and was playing Magnezone. I really didn’t feel comfortable with the matchup, but I was able to get some advice from Mr. Nawal, who basically made the deck popular in our area, and despite losing game one was able to come out on top. I really think I could’ve won the tournament, except there was a guy from California there, who was playing Gyarados.
It was a matchup I typically was very comfortable with, but he was playing the “Cali-Turbo-Gyarados” list that was gaining popularity at the tail end of CCs, and I lost. In games 1 and 3 I had lackluster starts, and in the one game I was able to get setup and not get Psychic Binded I was able to win.
He ended up winning the tourney over another LuxChomp in top 2, and I was happy with my performance that day. I didn’t misplay at all, despite playing a list with about 20 one liners, and I had done it against a deck that I usually struggled against. While I didn’t win, it was a huge confidence booster for me and got me pumped for States season.
I did learn a lesson from it though, and it truly was never give up. In most of games I had fairly bad starts that day, and in top cut I lost game one both times, but I was able to persevere and make the games close. Even against a player who was better than I was, and still is, I kept trying to win, and I did.
That tourney really made me believe that you shouldn’t give up. Heck in one of my games I was down three to nothing in prizes, but came back and won because I kept trying and my opponent became a little lax in their plays, leading me to come back aggressively and score the win.
pokebeach.comSo, that takes me into my States testing or, as I’ll call it: “How do you make LuxChomp better?”
I ended up with a heavily tested list, that included Roserade, Weavile, among other techs, it had a good mirror match game, Chatot for SableLock, a good Gyarados game, the “Machamp” plan, 3-1 Uxie X, 2 Premier, 2 Junk Arms and was good against VileGar. I had also managed to fit in 4 Call Energies and 1 Chatot.
Unfortunately luck was not on my side at OH States. The first round was a mirror, and I had Power Sprayed him twice on turn one (I went second), to get him to a zero card hand. I went and set up, using Azelf and Uxie, and the only thing I was missing was energy. He then top decked a Luxray GL LV.X, bright looked my Azelf and I didn’t draw into anything to bail me out for about 12 turns, so I lost horribly.
I then beat a n00b with Gyarados, before getting donked by a Machamp. My next round was just annoying as the first, my opponent was playing Machamp and overextended to get zero cards in hand, my Azelf and Uxie X were prized so I had to try to stall out his Regirocks; unfortunately his top decks in order were Warp Point, Warp Energy, and Warp Point…
Luckily, I ended up beating a Magnezone and mirror to end the day with a winning record, which I didn’t think was too bad considering everything that went wrong for me.
I did learn a couple of lessons from my first states in Masters though:
- Sometimes all the testing you do won’t save you from bad luck. Just keep playing through and try to do better next time.
- This one, I learned from a friend of mine: Even if you’re having a bad day, finishing it out and ending up with an okay record is better than dropping at 1-3, and then sitting around doing nothing.
- The best part of the tournament is the after tourney. I had so much fun with Chris, Mike, Nick and another guy, who’s name I can’t remember for the life of me, just laughing and making jokes. :)
So, because I got lucky I was able to catch a ride to Indiana States. I changed my list a little bit, but wasn’t all that confident; the entire week of testing I had misplayed horribly. I seriously considered just switching to Machamp and hoping to hit LuxChomps without a Machamp game plan.
pokebeach.comI stayed on course though, and played LuxChomp. I got off to a hot start, beat a n00b round one, and then barely beat out a Turbo Shuppet and Tyranitar deck (thank god for DGX tech). But, there was a problem I had been paired down round one and round two… I proceed to lose my next game, and then beat a Vileplume/Blossom/Gengar deck as well as a LuxChomp mirror match.
But, my lack of testing hurt; the next round I faced a DialgaChomp that got a T2 Snowpoint Temple. With my Luxray prized and DCEs not coming, I only managed to take 1 Prize, however he only got two, so the game was called on time…It was pretty silly, and because of my bad TOM (tournament software) luck, I bubbled out.
I was pretty depressed, but I had improved, so I wasn’t too mad at myself. My lesson, was relearned, TOM is always my enemy, it’s a lot easier to just go X-1 or X-2 (at Nationals and Regionals) to get into cut, than it is to watch resistance decide your fate. I don’t know if that’s a lesson but if possible, don’t let the computers decided your fate.
This leads me to Regionals now, which again I was able to get a ride to, and again I played LuxChomp.
I had a great time, but my tourney was pretty much decided by coin flips. The first round I got paired against Mondak, and in a tough game I lost. I won my next game, and I proceeded to face a Gyarados deck. We both had God starts, but he went second, which enabled him to get the Mesprit lock on me, as I missed Call Energy, and really establish a great board.
Had I gone second, I had a prize on his Sableye, and a newly made Uxie hand, as well as my Cyrus engine going. This meant I had to X-0 to top cut; I won four games in a row, but then lost to three straight heads on Fainting Spell against VileGar.
I was sad, I bubbled out again, but it was fun going to my first Regionals. Not really any “lessons” to speak of, just a great time!
Well, there was one lesson I learned: Sometimes even if you don’t do well, it’s great to see a friend do well. The day before, one of my friends was finishing up their LuxChomp decklist and asked me for help, I said that he should put in DGX. He ended up adding it in and saying that it won him a couple of games.
This allowed him to get t32, and it made me feel great that someone asked me for advice, took it, and then had a great tournament run. So, even though I didn’t do great I felt great in helping someone improve their list and have a good tournament run.
Spring Battle Roads
pokebeach.comFor BR season, like most people I was just testing HGSS-on, picking up a Gyarados deck and winning a BR with it and calling it a fun season. But, luckily we had several HGSS-on side events which proved to be ironic for me.
I started by testing a ZPS build. I even wrote an article on the deck, with Chris and Alex. The engine, at the time, was new and cool and soon became universal (the Junk Arm engine), which was cool to see that happen. But, I also tried out Cinccino/Zoroark/Yanmega, as well as Kingdra/Donphan/Zoroark and a Donphan/Zoroark/Lanturn decks.
And to answer your question, yes I’m sad I couldn’t randomly think of swapping Cinccino out for Donphan or Lanturn out for Yanmega and randomly breaking the format. I ended up getting drawn into Magneboar hype, and built it. We had a 16 man HGSS-on side event that I took 3rd in with Magneboar, but that turned out to be pretty funny.
In top four I faced a ReshiPlosion deck with Cinccino in it, and I lost because I misplayed about 20 times. That’s not a joke, and that’s why I started coming up with those random decks I mentioned above. Funnier, I said the only way I’d get over it was winning a BR the next day, and I did. :)
So, despite my issues I continued practicing with the deck, and had a 5-game a day regiment that I stuck to pretty well, until the week before Nationals, in which I was in Florida and didn’t think I’d go. I then watched the metagame change in front of my eyes, and once I randomly got a ride Tuesday, I tried to buy Yanmegas, not being able to afford them, and realizing Zekrom’s late game was non-existent, I was stuck with Magneboar.
The rest of that story, can be found in a previous article of mine, so I’ll sum it up by saying I ended up getting t64 with the deck (which surprisingly was one of the best finishes for the deck) and lost to Kingdra/Yanmega on a misplay, but I might’ve still lost without them anyway.
Now onto my final two lessons before I wrap this up:
- Sometimes, it’s just best to play the deck you know best, and that’s why I feel I did remotely decent at Nationals. A lot of people switched their decks and didn’t do well. I have two friends who did that, who are just as good, if not better than I am, but had sour results, despite playing “better” decks.
- It sucks to misplay, but you have to get over it. For me it was easy: I lost to a friend, and I might’ve still lost that game.
pokebeach.comNow, I’m testing for Autumn BRs, and will try to just get better at the game, which I think should be anyone’s goal. It’s unrealistic to set a goal like win States, win Regionals, etc. or to get a Worlds invite. Just try to improve, and if you do that, that means you’ve done good.
Obviously, this really doesn’t apply to “amazing/great” players as much, but that’s what I’ve set my goal as every year, and so far I’ve met it, while I’ve made it a bit harder on myself for next year, I think I’ll be able to.
The last thing I want to say is thank you to Adam for having a great site, where anybody can make an article.
[Editor’s Note: Sure thing due, thanks for the great article!]
I think it’s a great way to improve. By writing you want to put good stuff out there, so you’ll naturally try to make the article better, which leads to making the deck/report better. It also puts you into an environment of “respect”, you took the time to write it, but it allows other to give you constructive criticism, which I think has helped me out a lot in the past year.
In particular I want to thank the following people for either encouraging me, being great friends, or just being nice to me:
Adam Capriola – Seriously, I don’t know how he manages to have such a great site, and I want to thank him for it. It was so cool having some people come up to me and ask, “Are you one of the guys that writes for 6P.com?”.
“Uncle” Mike Hoolon Collins
Any other OH people I might’ve forgot.
So, thanks to everyone who’s ever criticized me, made be better player, and hopefully I’ll get even better next year and get to party with some people in Hawaii. :)