WheN to N?

Und zis is vhen you “N

Hey there SixPrizes! Today’s subject is going to be somewhat short and sweet. It’s also going to be reminiscent of my UG probabilities article.

In the current BLW-on format, we have a wonderf… we have 4 draw Supporters. These 4 draw Supporters are all prett… 2 of these draw Supporters are good. And pretty much all decks want a diversity of draw options. Unfortunately they don’t get much diversity out of Juniper, N, Cheren, and Bianca. As a result, people have been maxing out the use of their playset of N’s. When you get to writing out your Trainers, most every list starts out with 4 N’s.

So with N being as staple a part of the game as “Pokémon Catcher,” I figured the topic was worth some discussion. Both of these cards serve both an offensive and defensive/disruptive purpose. With Pokémon Catcher you can either pick off ideal targets, or catcher up stall targets. With N, you can refresh your hand or disrupt your opponent’s hand. However, N is unique in that the card is not just two-dimensional. It doesn’t just serve to refresh your hand or disrupt your opponent’s. It also serves to buff your opponent’s hand and disrupt your own!

Man I hope (s)he N’s me. Man I hope…

Naturally, this outcome of playing N is not as commonplace in your standard game of TCG. This is because people have the general grasp of “Don’t play N when I have 1 Prize card left, and my opponent has 4” (author’s note: N is such a complex card that no such generalization can be entirely correct). However, the subtleties of playing N allow for such a situation as “buffing your opponent’s hand and/or disrupting your own” to occur quite frequently. Oftentime, you may not even realize it’s occurred if your opponent has a great poker face.

So how can we tease apart playing N in the more difficult situations? Even I don’t have an absolute answer to this. But hopefully I can provide some relevant discussion.

Start of the Game

First turn. Juniper + 2 Eels, no Tynamos. FML.

Here’s a tough one. You have an opening hand and one Basic. Your hand consists of a few cards to play down and then an N and another draw Supporter like Cheren or Juniper. i.e. You have the choice to conserve a draw Supporter and use N, or to use an alternate draw Supporter for less, or to discard your hand and lose that N for slightly more efficient draw.

Obviously, the choice largely depends on what is in your hand. If you’re an Eels player or Darkrai player, and you have an out to discarding “N”ergy, then you want to Juniper. And similarly, if you’re an Empoleon player or other Stage 2 player, you don’t want to discard your Stage 2s.

However, unlike in my probabilities article, we’re not talking about a simple PONT. When considering your options, it’s important to also look at your opponent’s hand and determine whether or not it would help them (it likely won’t harm them on the first turn). Assuming they’ve got their poker face, what other tools can we use to determine if an N would help your opponent?

The only ones we can! There are two scenarios to look at here.

A) You’re going first

B) Your opponent went first

So to begin with…

Scenario A – You Go First

Let’s do ‘dis.

You’re going first. There’s not much to work with. You have at least one Basic down and so does your opponent. Wait… SO DOES YOUR OPPONENT! This is pretty much all we can work with. Your opponent has Pokémon on the field. So… how many? How many Basics does your opponent have? More importantly… why is this important and why can we use this as a tool to determine whether or not we should N?

Well… how does the game of Pokémon start? You both draw 7 cards, and play Basics down from the start of your hand. Thus, the number of cards left in your starting hand is equal to 7 minus the number of Basics played. We also have a fixed probability of drawing a Supporter or Random Receiver from your deck, which depends on the number of Supporters + Random Receivers you run.

Thus, we can look at the number of cards remaining in your opponent’s hand, assume the number of Supporters in your opponent’s deck, and estimate the probability that your opponent has a Supporter in their hand. Additionally, the number of Basics your opponent plays obviously also reduces your opponent’s hand size, which means that your opponent likely has less “playable” cards like Items, which they can burn immediately with or without a Supporter to follow it up with.

So why not take the probability approach and actually look at the probabilities of your opponent having a Supporter in hand and/or topdeck depending on how many basics they’ve played? For this table, I assumed our opponent had 13 Supporters and/or Random Receivers in their deck.

# of Basics played Size of remaining hand + Top Deck Probability of a Supporter in hand + Top Deck
1 7 84.3%
2 6 76.9%
3 5 67.3%
4 4 55.6%
5 3 42.1%
6 2 27.7%

Oh snap! Numbers!

Don’t forget crackle and pop!

Yeah, this is actually kind of interesting. Look at those numbers there. If your opponent has 3 Basics down on the first turn, there’s a 1/3 chance that they don’t have a Supporter in their hand + top deck. And as they play more Basics down, you can become more and more sure that they’re starting dead.

Unfortunately, they’d have to play down 5 Basics before their turn to have less than a 50% chance of starting without a Supporter. That pretty much never happens. So it’s reasonable to assume that your opponent has a Supporter on their first turn no matter what. And as I showed in my last UG article, the odds of starting with a Supporter are always pretty good.

Thus, the next question to ask yourself is how much NOT playing “N” will hurt you. There are two different options here. Either you can play an alternate Supporter (which is likely somewhat equivalent, though it might lose you some resources), or you can not play your Supporter at all. Well, everything is situational, so you have to look at your setup and your opponent’s setup and judge whether or not you’d be ok without a first turn Supporter. And then you’d have to judge, based on the probability that your opponent starts without a Supporter, whether it’s worth the risk of falling behind.

To give an in-game example, if you start Mewtwo EX but lack a DCE, even if you get the DCE for a first turn X Ball by using N, you might want to hold on and just wait until the second turn, depending on your opponent’s field. If first turn X Ball doesn’t immediately net you a KO, it may not be worth it to bother fishing for the DCE. Instead, think about the situation almost like they balanced the first turn rule. You get to play Items and Energy, but not a Supporter. And you get to go first.

Not so terrible a loss if you think about it like that, is it? But if your opponent started with 2-3 Basics, you can wait and see if that 23.1 – 32.7% chance occurred, which might leave you at an advantage. The same could be said of starting with a Darkrai, but just wondering if you should go for 3 turns of manual attachment vs. Supporting to try and expedite your setup.

Scenario B – Your Opponent Goes First

Like steroids… but for Pokémon

In this scenario, you’re going second. This makes for a much simpler analysis. Take note of whether or not your opponent played a Supporter. If they didn’t, then they either want to hold on to their T2 Hydreigon/Eel, or they don’t have a Supporter! This makes your job easier. If they have a Deino/Tynamo or two, you could be justified in N’ing them anyway, since they were likely to start with a Supporter (and if nothing more topdeck out of it considering the hand size).

However if they don’t have a Deino/Tynamo then you know they don’t have a Supporter (likely) and you’re probably best off holding onto your N. As simple as that. Obviously if you’re also completely dead, you need to assess the field and judge if you’re more likely to win the matchup based on the current gamestate than your opponent.

So, what if they did play a Supporter on their first turn? This complicates matters, but it’s actually just as simple an analysis.

If they played a Supporter on their turn, they’ve refreshed their hand, probably to 6 or 7 cards. Afterward, they may have played cards and reduced their hand size. So what’s the probability that they have a Supporter in their hand if they have 6 cards left, and what’s the probability that they have a Supporter with 2 cards left?

Their effective hand size last turn was 7, not the 3 cards they have left.

The answer: They’re exactly the same. Whether they’ve played cards or not, they’ve selectively reduced their hand. They didn’t have the option of playing that Supporter last turn, so of course it won’t leave their hand until their next turn. It’s fallacious to view their hand as dead just because it’s small.

So your analysis is thus. Since this is the first turn, it’s likely that they have a Supporter. Unless their field is pretty poorly set up, you can probably feel justified in playing your N and refreshing their hand somewhat. The only argument against this is that it gives them cards to play before their Supporter. So if you can choose another Supporter to play, and they only have 2 cards in hand, you might want to prevent giving them more resources to play on their turn by virtue of refreshing their hand before they refresh their hand again.

However, if they have 4-5 cards left, don’t feel too bad about giving them a couple extra from an N. They were likely going to support out of it anyway.

Aditionally, the “dead hand because it’s small” fallacy applies to the mid-game, when your opponent plays down their hand. Speaking of the mid-game…

Mid to eNd of the game

So you’ve been wasteful with your Supporters eh?

So here, I’ll just reference my probabilities article regarding the later-game N’s. You can see the odds of getting what you need off a 4 card N, and you can assume that your opponent also has a decent chance of getting a Supporter off of a 3-4 card N. For those that can’t see that (you guys should support 6P and get UG :P) it’s a bit better than a coin flip for getting at least 1-of 5 cards in a deck of ~30 cards.

With respect to trying to kill your opponent’s hand using N for 3 or 4, it’s not too likely to be honest. It depends entirely on how many Supporters they have left in deck, and how many cards they have left in deck + hand. However, for the most part, they should be able to draw out of a 4 card N, and even a 3 card N (unless they’ve been wasteful with their Supporters).

Therefore, I’ll just say that using an N in the mid-game should be about trying to remove specific resources from your opponent’s hand, or simply to refresh your own when lacking a better alternative. If your opponent used a Junk Hunt last turn and you know they have cards X and Y, and you don’t want them to, N them. Why not? And if you have an inkling that your opponent has a specific card in their hand, then N them to remove it, same deal. You’re not going to prevent them from supporting (most likely), but you will disrupt their flow.

And of course, in the end game, it’s all about disruption. You don’t N yourself to 1-2 cards looking for what you want (unless there are no better alternatives). You save your N’s so you can kill your opponent’s hand when you need to.

Hush my Persia”N


N”ding this article off… the situational N is a very interesting Supporter in the current metagame. If we had PONT instead of N in BLW-on, imagine how luck-based games would be! Without the disruptive power of N, comebacks would be nigh-impossible. And considering the current cardpool, Supporter droughts would be even more game-killing than before (as a result of reducing the opportunity for comebacks).

So though we may have only 4 draw Supporters in the format, at least one of them is Rocket’s Admi”N.”


Crawdaunt out

P.S. Don’t forget to check out our blog: TCG with Hats

Reader Interactions

10 replies

  1. Julia Follan

    AN excelleNt article, contaiNiNg much iNformatioN that should help me wiN more :)
    Seriously, really good. I’ve never calculated it that precisely… Usually I just use it as a slightly underpowered PONT

  2. theo Seeds

    Great article, I’m not doing N puns though.

    For that chart, did you consider how that if they have a basic down, they have a 59 card pool to get a Supporter from?

    • Mark Hanson  → theo

      Yes. And they do Mike.

      For each basic, you have to calculate the hand as being 1 less, and the deck as being one less to draw from.

      • Mark Hanson  → Alex

        You can’t account for prize cards though. So you should treat it as a full 60 from the start. Additionally, the hand is drawn before the prize cards are dealt, so they don’t actually factor in anyways.

  3. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    How do I know this is a crawdaunt article without looking? It contains

    Complicated maths stuff
    Cheesy puns
    Funny captions

    Yes, it is good too, but those three things are all I really need.

  4. Yuna

    I loved both this article and your last one on UG. I’d even say that they are some of the best I’ve ever read on 6P! Keep em coming please :D

Leave a Reply

You are logged out. Register. Log in.