A Fresh Start

New Year’s Resolutions, Pokémon TCG Edition

Hey nerds! I hope everyone had an excellent holiday or at least a relaxing few days off of work/school. Every year this is the time when most people start thinking about the year ahead: making plans, setting goals, and creating New Year’s resolutions. Sure, you could go with the standard ones. “I won’t drink any soda!” “I’ll go to the gym more!” “I’ll improve my grades!” But what fun is that? Since we are all nerds here, I’ve created a few Pokémon TCG-themed resolutions for you all.

“I will not go on tilt.”

primeape tilt angryp0keflute.tumblr.com
Try to keep your cool this year.

The number one enemy at tournaments, at least for me, is definitely the dreaded tilt. You know the feeling — your opponent topdecks a Juniper off of an N to 1, you flip 8/8 tails on Crushing Hammers and Super Scoop Ups, you get down-paired twice in a row, killing your resistance and hopes of making cut. Whatever the issue is, we’ve all had those matches that just didn’t go our way. Whether it’s making misplays, rude opponents, or unlucky hands that causes you to go on tilt, no matter what, this attitude can easily ruin your day. The next time this happens to you, just take a deep breath and realize that being upset isn’t going to change the outcome.

After all, there is always the next tournament!

“I will misplay less.”

The simple fact is that everyone misplays! If someone says that they don’t, they’re wrong! People are not robots or machines; we are prone to error. It’s what makes us human. However, everyone can always misplay less. Make it your goal this year to minimize your own errors in tournament gameplay, whether this comes from playing more or simply slowing your roll during a game. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming your losses simply on luck. Think about the game after the fact in your head and try to see if there was anything you could have done differently to give yourself a better chance of winning.

This is definitely a large and difficult goal, but any improvement, no matter how small, is a good thing.

“I’m going to test more/better.”

In fact, one obvious way to minimize misplays is to play more often, whether that be on PTCGO, in person with friends, or attending more tournaments like League Challenges. Although practice makes perfect is a cliché, it still rings true. Practice can help you feel more comfortable and confident with your deck and your list. It can help you avoid errors in gameplay as well as errors in deck-building. For example, I recently attended a City Championship where I played a Virizion/Genesect/Manectric deck that I didn’t play enough games with against the popular decks. I ended up with a disappointing 3-3 record, but hopefully I learned my lesson.

Testing more isn’t enough, however, if the testing you do isn’t high quality. I am a proponent of quality over quantity in testing, as I usually don’t have time to play a high number of games. There are a few easy things you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your gameplay. Obviously this does not apply to the tournament atmosphere or PTCGO, but when playing with your friends or teammates these rules can come in handy:

  1. Don’t draw more than two mulligans at the start of a game. Working with a hand that is much larger than normal at the start of a game will not yield accurate results.
  2. Allow take-backs. Although most of the time you wouldn’t do this in tournament play, in play-testing allowing your opponent to take back a move will give you a more accurate game.
  3. Discuss the game. Additionally, during the game, if you or your testing partner are unsure of the optimal play, discuss it with each other, or even play out multiple scenarios to see what the effects of each decision would be. This will not only give you more accurate matchup results, but help you improve as a player as well.

“I will not take the game too seriously.”

I know we all feel very strongly about this game. However, sometimes I think we need to take a step back and realize that it’s just a card game. Hopefully we all have other things in our lives that are important to us. Accomplishments in the TCG are great, but they don’t necessarily make one player better or smarter than any other. On the opposite side, failings in the game are difficult, but they can always be dwarfed by the larger picture. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy playing the TCG because you love Pokémon, the community, or you love winning. All reasons are equally valid and have their own individual goals.

“I will be respectful toward my fellow players in person and online.”

We’ve all been to Virbank City Gym on Facebook. We’ve all seen the deck bashing, witch hunting, and belittling that happens there on a daily basis. Is this really how we want our community to be represented to new players? I think many people have a false sense of security regarding what they say online. Like it or not, online comments, especially on Facebook, do not exist in a vacuum. Things we say online are as much a part of us as things we say in person. There is no such thing as an “online persona,” especially when your own name is attached.

This year, let’s all help make the TCG community more inviting and inclusive, whether that be through spreading good cheer at tournaments or decreasing the amount of negative comments we post online. We are all in this dark tunnel that is the Pokémon TCG (see Dylan Lefavour’s article about the Dunning-Kruger Effect) together, so let’s help each other along, not try to trip each other up.

Happy New Year!

Overall, the new year is all set to be a positive one for the Pokémon TCG. With the changes TPCi is making, it will definitely continue to be an interesting season!

Thank you all once again for reading, and look for my Underground article next month!

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