Thanksgiving and Christmas Cheer

I like to see myself as part of this wonderful community of this game we love. I get myself around to many tournaments, I go to league every week, I help new players with deck lists and help them to build decks (especially when they need commons and uncommons that I have buckets of cluttering up my room!) and I have even started to become involved in the online community, not least by regularly writing for this fine website.

I also like to see myself as a very happy person. Anyone who has seen me at tournaments can confirm this fact. Even when someone at States last week felt the need to hold court about how annoying I am (damn my perennial enthusiasm!) and make disparaging remarks about my relationship with my girlfriend (not pleasant but I suppose that person didn’t know any better) I went home beaming like Robbie Williams when he finds what’s waiting in his dressing room after a gig.

Now why I am telling you this you ask? Well, quite simply, it’s making me sad to see the sheer amount of people moaning and the sheer amount of topics that are being debased. A quick look on some popular websites reveals the following things we feel strongly enough to make a thread complaining about:

– Shuffling our decks (and when / if / how our opponent can shuffle)

pokemon-paradijs.com

– Declumping a deck and how this is effectively cheating

– The Championship Points system not being fair (between tournaments)

– This format being overrun with Zekrom and having too many donks

– Overpowered Basics

– Giving prize penalties not being a sufficient penalty

– The first turn rules being unfair

– Durant not being “in the spirit of the game”

– Stage 2 Pokémon not being good any more

– A certain printing or Rare Candy not being released in English

– Player Rewards shipping out late

– I could go on (a LOT), but I don’t want to

Now, this is not me moaning about the moaning. No, that would be far too ironic. In fact, I want to be positive. My lack of forward thinking has meant this will not be posted on Thanksgiving, but I sit here on Thanksgiving and what I want to do is talk about what is awesome about this game. So, I give thanks for the following things:

[Note: And when I say not posted on Thanksgiving I mean not even close!]

[Edit: And that’s how I shoehorned in a Christmas theme!!]

1. The Game as a Whole

This deck building picture will never get old.

I think a nice place to start is just to appreciate how awesome this game really is. I have little basis for comparison, having never played Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh (I have neither the time nor money to fund a second TCG), but this really is a fantastic game.

I love the deck-building aspect, trying to find new ideas or perfect existing ideas and all within the limit of 60 cards. Trying to find a balance between consistency and teching your bad match-ups is a challenge I have relished since I began.

Then there’s the playing; trying to outthink your opponent, planning several turns ahead, second guessing your rival’s plays and having to react to their plays as they make them. I never thought a card game could produce such a level of stress, fear and anxiety, in a good way. Watching my opponent Juniper and draw his entire deck looking for a game-winning Catcher is one of the most nerve-wracking moments in my recent memory.

I have rarely felt more of an achievement than when I won my fifth game at Nationals to go 5-0 and know I had guaranteed top cut.

It’s a heck of a lot of fun playing this game, be it building and testing a new deck at league or taking the deck you’ve spent months perfecting and testing it against the best players in the country at Nationals.

2. Victory Cups

pokemon-paradijs.comOn a much smaller scale, I am a big fan of the new Victory Cups we had for Battle Roads this year. For Autumn Battle Roads last year I played Umbreon UD and though I did ok, even getting a top 3 finish and 2 tournaments where my only loss was to the eventual winner, I never held out much hope of going home with one of those Victory Medals that was reserved only for the winner, they seemed too exclusive (well, and I wasn’t good enough but let’s not dwell on that!).

This year however we have Victory Cups for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. This means that both Battle Roads I went to and got 3rd garnered me a lovely shiny piece of cardboard. I didn’t get any Championship Points, but I played well, won a lot of matches, lost only one, and was rewarded with a nice, exclusive prize.

It’s also nice the way the art is done to reflect your placing. Third place nets you a Victini, second adds the starters and first brings Reshiram and Zekrom in to join the party. Wonderful!

I could complain that I got two 3rd places and one 1st without getting a second. But I won’t!

3. Championship Points

Fantastic idea. Under the old ELO system we saw am absurd situation where some of the best players in the country wouldn’t play at Nationals. The biggest and most fun tournament of the year and some of our best players were sitting out. This was silly. Problem was that they already had a rating worthy of an invite and they could actually lose this by doing badly. Even one loss would risk ruining this as the gulf between points lost on a loss and points gained on a win was too high when you had a good rating.

Now we have Championship Points. It means that doing well in tournaments gives you points that never go away and enough of these get you into Worlds. It means that the good players who go to tournaments will play until the end and not drop to preserve their ranking. It means Nationals won’t be missing my good friend Tommy Roberts again this year, and that’s something we can all be thankful for.

Proof, if any was needed that, when we have a good point and aren’t just moaning for moaning’s sake about silly little things, Nintendo listen to us.

4. Mamoswine

pokemon-paradijs.comWell, hopefully there’s a picture of him here. What more need I say. When I go to important tournaments I have a Mamoswine shirt, plush, and small model that sits on my dice and surveys the field. This isn’t a coincidence!

5. A Playable Chandeleur

When I got Black and White, I liked the new Pokémon. Sorry, I know that’s not cool. They’re new. They’re not the originals. One of them is an ice-cream. Tough!

Of all the new Pokémon we got the “Trio of Awesome Cuteness” (Tepig, Munna and Ducklett) but we also got a new favourite of mine: Chandeleur.

Now I know the way this works. Usually Pokémon you love aren’t playable and you still spend weeks trying to make a deck that does work with them but it just never happens (damn you Mamoswine!) so when I saw a Chandeleur was coming I was excited to collect the regular and reverse-holo versions while resigning myself to not being able to play. And then I read it!

I have been testing it with Yanmega, with Mew, a super-fast list with basically no Energy and with Vileplume and while I have not completely broken it yet I am VERY excited and have been racking up some nice little wins.

6. Donphan Prime

I love Donphan. I think I may have mentioned that before. Donphan Prime is a like a gift from the gods themselves (cheers Thor). This was the card that allowed me top-cut Nationals in a field of Vilegar, Gyarados, and SP. Especially satisfying as nobody thought me good enough. Cheers Donphan!

Initially I loved this card due to the fact that it abused SP decks almost as well as Machamp with the bonus that nobody was really teching against it properly. It fell out of favour at the start of this format (When it turned out DonChamp wasn’t going to win the format) but Regionals saw an uprising and with Lightning becoming the default best type in format, this little elephant could be seeing his time again.

Sure we have Landorus, Terrakion and, soon, Groudon EX, but I didn’t top-cut Nats with any of them. So I don’t care!

7. Friends Made

pokemon-paradijs.comI consider myself a friendly man. I didn’t really need any more friends. That doesn’t mean I didn’t welcome new ones.

Like pretty much everyone else in this game I have made several very good friends through this game. I don’t mean people I see every few months at tournaments and on whose Facebook statuses I occasionally comment, I mean actual, full-on, proper job friends.

Without Pokémon I would not have my good friend Tommy Roberts. And that’s not a life I like to imagine…

8. Convincing Me to Travel

Now to be perfectly fair I’ve never been particularly shy of jumping in a car / train / bus / tram / boat / etc and popping off to another part of the country, but you know how it is; it’s hard to find the motivation at times.

Well, thank you Pokémon. Thanks to my love of premier tournaments I have been to Nottingham, Derby, Blackpool, Sheffield, Manchester, Exeter, Sutton Coldfield, and several others. I have just booked trains for a weekend in January which start with me leaving Leicester at 6 AM on a train bound for Exeter, then moving on to Bristol that evening and Cardiff the following morning before finishing up in Leicester at around 10 PM on Sunday. Nice! I have also just booked a flight to Amsterdam.

This is all stuff I did before, but now I have a reason and a time limit and that makes it so much easier to justify and get my bad self out of bed for.

9. Awesome Merchandise

Now maybe I am a little childish but, let’s face it, we’re playing a children’s card game so I don’t think anyone here is going to judge me too much. We all have our plushies (Mamoswine FTW) and our playmats and ort lovely Japanese sleeves.

clipartmojo.com

It might not be “cool” but it puts a smile on our faces. Anyway, the less money we have the less money we have for drugs. Say no to drugs. Say yes to lovely plush Mamoswine toys!

10. Laughter!

I laugh lots when I’m playing Pokémon. If you don’t then you’re taking it too seriously!

I play a game I enjoy with friends I’ve made, often in different locales and I enjoy myself. And I make jokes. And I generally just have fun. We all have games where we have to get a little serious, but as the pros say “What happens at the table stays at the table.”

Conclusion

I put a list of negative things at the top of this to illustrate the range of topics people are upset about. I do not wish to re-open any of these debates. This is supposed to be a happy, positive article about something which I truly love, so I would ask please that you don’t clutter the comments with anything negative or opinions on the topics I mentioned above.

What I would absolutely love is to see a bunch of comments from people proclaiming how much they love this game and why. So, what are you thankful for?

Reader Interactions

15 replies

  1. Taylor Pagani

    This article made me happy. It’s a nice break from the normal bitching and moaning I keep hearing in the community

  2. Caleb Mullins

    Finally someone who realizes people need to not be to serious about a card game. its for FUN. if you aren’t having fun at a tourney, then likely that will spread to your opponent and then they will spread it etc etc.

    just have fun! i mean its P0KEMON!!! how can you NOT have fun? :p

    • Ross Gilbert  → Caleb

      Oh there’s time for serious ;) I just want to advocate having fun as well :D

      It’s all about the balance!

  3. beyblade1410

    Great job! A good amount of important information, and good humor. This is one of the best articles we’ve had here in a LONG time. Now it’s just people writing about Zekrom and complaining about the format, thank you :)

  4. Dave Enzo

    This article was awesome! im new to tournament play but ive been a fan of the game since it was brand new i remember opening packs hoping to find that base set charizard lol..now i love the originals but i agree with your opinion here i love the new black and white pokemon it re-kindled my love for the game..my new fav is Hydriegon tho..love chandelure too …but i love this game and i cant wait to keep playing for years… but what is this about no rare candy lol??? no complaining tho im just curious

    • Ross Gilbert  → Dave

      Thank you very much :)

      The rare candy thing: Basically, Rare Candy is one of these staple cards that keeps getting reprinted so that it’s always legal for tournaments. At the moment we have one legal version, from Unleashed. A little while back Japan got a printing of Rare Candy with awesome artwork that never got printed for us (link below).

      Sometime over the next 2 sets it looks like we’ll be getting the newest printing of Rare Candy (as it was again reprinted very recently in Japan) meaning the printing we never got may well never make it over to us.

      Don’t get me wrong, i’d LOVE to see it make its way over here. We have Rare Candy though so i don’t think it’s worth worrying about. Now if it was an alternate art Mamoswine……..

      Here the one we may never get:

      http://cdn.bulbagarden.net/media/upload/e/e0/025709_T_FUSHIGINAAME.jpg

      • Dave Enzo  → Ross

        Ohhhh thanx for the reply… that is some nice art .. i thought we were going to have no candy which would have been a game changer lol either way tho its still a fun game to play and it is all about fun ..winning is nice but if i lose i take what ive learned and keep going with it lol

  5. Anonymous

    I always have fun at tournaments and I tend to do well.
    I never take them seriously but I’ll admit I get angry when I lose a game because of something stupid.
    But hey, that’s just my semi-competitive side.

    My goal is never to win the tournament, but rather, just make top cut.
    Then I collect my points and packs and go home happy. ;/

  6. Marthe Honts

    My favorite part is playing with the kids that come to our local League. It’s great to see folks (young and old alike, for that matter) enjoying a game that gives your brain a little bit of exercise. Plus, there’s nothing like the smile on the face of a 7 year old who just won a blow-up Poke Ball! Truly.

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