Hello SixPrizes community,
pokemon-paradijs.comMy name is Mark and, to begin, I have a few questions for you guys. Have you ever experienced a stale game in the Modified format? Have you ever been frustrated seeing the same deck being spammed at every tournament? Do you take pride in your deck-building skills? Have you ever thought about card combinations that just missed out because of rotations (i.e. Gyarados SF with Ultra Ball would be more efficient)?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, I encourage you to try what the Pokémon community dares not speak of: Alternative Format. From my experiences at Leagues and tournaments, simply asking others how they feel about alternative formats has left me scoffed at and labeled as an outcast for having such different views.
For those readers who are unaware, alternative format, in its simplest terms, refers to any manner in which you play Pokémon TCG that is not the Modified Constructed format that you know from tournaments. To name a few popular examples, there’s Sealed (which is what you played if you’ve ever participated in a pre-release event), Booster Draft (similar to Sealed except for the drafting element), and Unlimited Constructed (same rules as Modified Constructed except you may use cards from rotated sets). There are many more and I have a specific kind of alternative format in mind that I will reveal shortly.
I have yet to fully comprehend why alternative format is so feared and detested. I would agree, without hesitation, that there can be some major differences between Modified Constructed and alternative formats, but many alternative formats share similar qualities that players find enjoyable. I expect that some readers will not be convinced to try alternative formats, but I encourage those readers to post/comment why after reading this article as I will cover the reasons I have heard before.
en.wikipedia.orgThe alternative format I would like to present is the Cube. You may be familiar with the Cube from other articles or if you play Magic. The Cube is a format designed to incorporate a few hundred of your most favorite or strongest cards ever printed and construct a deck based on those cards using a draft. Typically, Cube drafts utilize a feature called “singleton,” meaning there is only one single copy of a card in the draft, except for basic Energy. Pokémon are also an exception to the rule in a way; the draft may contain two different cards with the same Pokémon name (i.e. Shaymin from Unleashed and Shaymin from Platinum).
The rules for my personal Cube are quite similar to Modified’s structure. I did not want to abandon the foundation that other players are already familiar with; trying to fill a new Cube player’s head with new rules in a new format is not very inviting. The rules that are different are as follows:
Owner’s names on Pokémon are ignored only for the purposes of evolution (i.e. Scizor may evolve from Rocket’s Scyther. Dragonite may evolve from Dark Dragonair. If need be noted, Gabite cannot evolve into Garchomp C).
All cards are played as their text reads, ignoring any errata. The purpose for this is to exploit a card’s strength. An example: Base Set Bill remains to be a Trainer even though it was reprinted as a Supporter.
pokemon-paradijs.comPokémon Powers and Poké-Powers are treated as being synonymous as the two titles are both labeled “Powers.” (This means that if a card refers to any Pokémon with a Poké-Power, this will also refer to any Pokémon with a Pokémon Power and vice versa). Essentially, the mechanics are separated by Powers, Bodies, and Abilities. *Note: I’m aware of the differences between Powers, Bodies, Abilities, and static versus activated, but that deserves its own article.
Aside from those three rules, the rest are the same that you are already familiar with; you still use a sixty card deck, 6 Prizes, seven card hand, and BW rules for Trainers/Supporters on first turn. Another note that may perk your curiosity, there are no banned cards/combos nor power errata (errata that causes Prime cards to be treated like Pokémon-EX, etc.). If you are in any way discouraged from the Cube because of these rules, I insist that you adapt the rules you dislike to your own preference; after all, this is just a game for fun, so you are allowed to change things.
The previously noted rules are rarely the determining factors for not wanting to play the Cube; instead, the reasons are, typically, the singleton and drafting aspects. There’s no need to be frightened or deterred by these features.
Singleton is the most popular reason I hear for Cube-hating because the (ill-conceived) perception is that the feature abandons consistency. I roll my eyes at this judgement every time and explain the following: the format does not forsake consistency, but rather changes the way you look at consistency which is a fantastic way to improve your deck building skills.
Some players hold the misconception that consistency lies in maximizing the amount of cards such that you should have four Oddish, four Rare Candy, and four Vileplume in your deck. This thought process is wrong. The numbers are merely a result of your deck’s strategy based on your intentions for each turn. In other words, the deck should have specific goals for each turn and you should adjust the total for each card to maximize the probability of those goals. Let’s look at an example from the Cube:
pokemon-paradijs.comLet’s say one goal of the deck we want to build is to play Vileplume on turn 2, so let’s look at our options considering the so-called “limitations” of singleton. We could draft Spiritomb AR and use its Darkness Grace attack. We could use Chatot G SV or Farfetch’d SF to search out your Rare Candy or Pokémon Breeder on your first turn and evolve on the second turn. You could use Dark Dragonair or a Ball/Supporter engine to find your Evolutions. You could even use a combination of all of these techniques. The “limitations” are no more (if not less) existent than that of Modified format.
Drafting is another common excuse for passing on the Cube. I am empathetic with this justification because drafting does require patience, strategy, and some prior knowledge of the cards in the draft. However, if you are already playing Pokémon TCG, you must enjoy strategy, so learning drafting techniques will not be difficult. Learning the cards in the Cube is not difficult either, but may take a few drafts until you are well acquainted with the specific cards. As for patience, you may not have it and decide that the only fun is in the card battling, not the drafting.
Some players (those who copy decklists from the internet) may be frustrated by deck building and, thus, do not want to draft. If you want to improve your deck building skills, this is great practice and practice is the method for improvement. Every time you draft you will be presented with a new combination of cards and you will have to create a strategy with the right balance of those cards.
The Cube is a fun and progressive alternative format. I would love to talk more about the Cube and offer my card list for my Cube if there is enough interest among the SixPrizes community. I’m also interested in creating a small blog with a less formal presentation provided the same circumstances. Let me know what you think.