A Balanced Format: What Does That Mean Exactly?

Discussion in 'Pokemon TCG News & Gossip' started by baby_mario, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. baby_mario

    baby_mario Doesn't even care

    It's a phrase you hear a lot in Pokemon, but I'm never quite sure what people mean when they say it or even if they themselves know what it means.

    Sometimes, I think people use it because they think it sounds a bit more intelligent than simply asking for a 'good' format.

    So . . . first a basic question: what does a 'balanced' format mean to you?
    • A format where Basics, Stage 1s and Stage 2s are equally playable
    • A format where rush decks and set up decks are all equally playable
    • A format where every Type is playable
    • A format where multiple strategies are viable (spread, lock, mill etc)
    • An RPS format where every deck counters another
    • A format which favours skill over luck
    • A format with no clear BDIF, but plenty of variety
    • A format where that deck/Pokemon you really like becomes playable because they banned that stupid Catcher that you can't afford
    And next the more important question: why does this matter?

    Is it possible to have a very healthy and skill-based format without any of these things?
    cyndaquil, Adam, Greenpariah and 10 others like this.
  2. KennethXEcker

    KennethXEcker Apparently has no idea how to play the Pokemon TCG

    Well, if we had ALL of those points be true, the game would be very...very stale. :p

    I feel the game needs some imbalance to be balanced (as contradictory as that sounds)

    In our current format (BLW-On), Basic Pokemon are the kings of the meta game in the forms of High HP EX's. Some people find this unhealthy for the game, and should give Stage 2's more playability. However, when you look at the potential combo's that would arise without the EX's and other High HP Basics, we would have an entirely different issue where the combo's from abilities become too powerful.

    Rare Candy and Pokemon Catcher compliment each other so well. As long as they (or something similar enough) stay in the format together. Catcher helps the Basic Pokemon thrive, while Rare Candy aids Stage 2 decks. They need eachother. Either both stay, or both go, in my opinion.

    While I don't think that Type alone should be a factor of playability helping balance a format, it would kinda be nice to see a Tier 1 Fire Deck again. (RIP In Piece Reshiboar)

    These all are very necessary I think. If you have multiple strategies available in the meta, the player needs to be aware of the potential matchups and deal with them accordingly especially in a RPS style format. The skill in the game is created in that player's ability to do so. The more strategies available, the more you need to consider in your deck build to improve your bad matchups (like Mr. Mime in Eel decks to improve Plasma and Darkrai matchups) In a RPS format, we have what Pokemon has always taught us; the separation of powers. Fire will Burn the Grass that Absorbs the Water that Dowses the Fire.

    Why Does This Matter?

    Without the right balance of imbalances, the game would be very dull, and would lose player base rapidly. When a set comes out, yeah, there should be cards better than others. because if there was no distinction of what was a good card or not, the question of playability is irrelevant. It'd be like comparing and contrasting 2 poker cards of the same suit. They aren't really that much better than the other. Strategies will form, and if Pokemon notices a Power Creep in their format, they will correct it with future cards to keep it in check.

    Is it possible to have a very healthy and skill-based format without any of these things?

    Oh God, no. At that point, it would be utter chaos with 1 BDIF that autowins all matchups.
  3. baby_mario

    baby_mario Doesn't even care

    Thank you for a very thoughtful answer.

    I must disagree with you about the RPS format, as I think that is the very worst thing that can happen. I realise that being able to metagame and counter are very important, but I really dislike a format where the outcome of matches is almost certainly going to be decided by the whim of the pairings. If your Grass deck autowins the popular Water deck, yet autoloses to the equally popular Fire deck, then your success in a tournament is not decided by in-game skill, or deck building ability, but by whether or not you are lucky enough to dodge the Fire decks and that just isn't fun or rewarding.

    The only way they can make that work is by building inconsistency into the game, so that a deck with an autoloss can win simply because the deck it is weak to is prone to set up failure. This is not a very good solution either. However, that is very close to what we have experienced in the post HGSS-on era.

    Personally, I would like to see a return to +10/20/30 Weaknesses, instead of the x2 that we have now.[DOUBLEPOST=1374659144][/DOUBLEPOST]One thing that is certain: whatever the format is, people will whinge about it.

    Look at MD-on for example:
    • You had tier 1 decks that were Basics (SP), Stage 1 (Gyarados) and Stage 2 (Gengar variants)
    • You had counters and techs (Machamp SF, various SP options)
    • You had consistency cards (Uxie, Azelf)
    • You had slow, complex decks (Dialgachomp, Gigas), and rush decks (Luxchomp, Donphan).
    • You had support for evolutions (old Candy rule, BTS)
    • You had great starters (Spiritomb, Chatot, Call Energy)
    And were players happy? Nope. We got months of moaning about SP and the price of Uxie.
  4. tonenkyra

    tonenkyra Squirtle Squad!

    Going off of personal opinion and what I have seen, this will be my take on it.

    So . . . first a basic question: what does a 'balanced' format mean to you?

    It means all of the following
    • A format where Basics, Stage 1s and Stage 2s are equally playable
      They at one point were dominating and actually were used for attacks not just abilities and made it fun.
    • A format where rush decks and set up decks are all equally playable​
    • Yes, its unfair and unfun to be donked just because the deck you made has a deep strategy and can not contend with a rush deck.​
    • A format where every Type is playable
    • Yes, I think that all the types should be playable, it makes it fun and it incorporate all the types, with and without abilities, to actually do something instead of collect dust.
    • A format where multiple strategies are viable (spread, lock, mill etc)
    • Having many strategies I think is healthy and helpful, doesn't rely so much on luck but rather more on skill.
    • An RPS format where every deck counters another
    • don't know what RPS stands for, so cannot elaborate here. (not too familiar with all the poke-jargon)
    • A format which favours skill over luck
    • Yes, in today's metagame this is obsolete and it sucks! I wish there was more skill involved than luck
    • A format with no clear BDIF, but plenty of variety
    • Agreed. We should not have 1 king reign supreme above all others. Every type is weak to something and in that sense, nothing can be absolute due to this
    • A format where that deck/Pokemon you really like becomes playable because they banned that stupid Catcher that you can't afford
    • Yes, the stupid catcher has put a real hurting on the metagame. And I feel its abused now more than it ever has been in the base/base2 days in gust of wind.
    And next the more important question: why does this matter?
    Personally, it matters because its nothing worse than getting donked or man handled when you know you could have and should have one that game. It also makes it stale. How often does one want to get beat down before they say eff, it im done.

    Is it possible to have a very healthy and skill-based format without any of these things?
    Its possible, will it happen no. would it be nice, yes. we didn't have catcher since the gust of wind days and the game was healthy.

    and just a side note, I play blasdeo in the master division. and only started playing competitively this past season along with attending league this past season for the first time. I have collected since base and have always loved playing pokemon. moreso the tcg as oppose to the vg
  5. baby_mario

    baby_mario Doesn't even care


    RPS = Rock, Paper, Scissors

    Deck A beats Deck B beats Deck C beats Deck A.

    A lot of players dislike it because it means that performance just comes down to pairings.
  6. ThatCJKid

    ThatCJKid Active Member

    I've actually been wondering this as well. I always hear people say they want a balanced format but I never know what they mean by that.

    I truly don't believe it's an RPS format. Because that's not balanced. It all depends on luck. If you're running a Fire deck and every deck you play is Grass that's not balanced. That's luck. We have no control of pairings other than the amount of times we win or lose.

    For me I think it's a format where multiple strategies are playable. Where fast decks work but so do decks that start out slow but are a force to be reckoned with once they get set up. Where no one will look at a deck and say "well it's not fast enough for this format" and not even try to make it work.
    I also think it's balanced when Basics and Evolution Pokemon see the same amount of play.
    I also believe it's a format where there's no definite BDIF.

    As for the skill/luck factor. You can't control that. No matter how skill based your deck is it will come down to luck. Those 7 cards you draw on your 1st turn is all luck. (Unless you stack) So I don't think that can quite be balanced. Somedays you are luckier than others. But I guess you mean like where decks have more skill to use rather than just using a coin flip or something. I just still don't think that will be balanced.

    However at the end of the day no matter how "balanced" the format is, people are going to say its unbalanced. Either because they still can't play with Emboar or they had bad luck all day. The format could be as balanced as possible and people would still complain and say something like "well we should be able to choose our first 7 cards. or at least choose our starting basics." Players are almost never satisfied with the format. Especially if they're not doing well.
    tonenkyra likes this.
  7. StormFront

    StormFront Active Member

    RPS is good for the game, as long as match ups aren't lopsided like 80-20/70-30. If they're 55-45/60-40, and can be easily teched against, then all is good.
  8. HighShroomish

    HighShroomish Wreck-It Ralts

    But would you want to have three decks that, unless you play those decks, it's impossible to win a torunament unless you don't face a single one of those decks?
    Serperior likes this.
  9. StormFront

    StormFront Active Member

    RPS doesn't mean only 3 decks are viable. It can mean 7 decks are, but each has a strong/bad matchup with the other. What I hate is when each has an autowin/autoloss against the other, which makes meta call and pairings an overriding factor in terms of who wins most of the time. If its slightly favourable/unfavourable then its much less of an issue.
  10. HighShroomish

    HighShroomish Wreck-It Ralts

    What you're saying is Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock which is a much fairer format, because each pf those 7 decks would have to have multiple good/bad matchups against the other six, where in RPS, you have one good, one bad, and because nothing else can compete, those are the only mathcups you'll face.

    And to answer b_m, I like 1,2,4,6 and 7. All the other ones are just for people who want a format to turn in their favour, and not have to work their butts off during a game to beat the other player. Luck can greatly affect the outcome, but skill should be able to overcome luck most of the time.
  11. tonenkyra

    tonenkyra Squirtle Squad!

    I agree with ThatCJKid complete statement, especially with all decks being able to have everything playable and have a chance. and I also agree with HighShroomish, with luck playing a great outcome but skill should be a huge factor.
    ThatCJKid likes this.
  12. njpokedad

    njpokedad Member

    While this was true in that you could "try" and use Gyarados and Donphan etc. in actuality it just wasn't true. Vilegar was successful and required a lot of skill to be so, but at the end of the day SP (Luxchomp) won virtually everything.

    Machamp was a great counter, but you needed to really use speedchamp and couldn't put any techs in for any other decks. Even when Machamp prime came out you couldn't tech it in, because any space taken away from machamp SF meant a loss to luxchomp and Uxie Lvl X.

    Once rotation came it was nice for all of a minute until catcher came out. Then once again stage 2's were virtually unplayable. I love trying different decks other then meta. However if I try a stage two deck and need to use 12 cards just for that line and an EX tech has a total of 12 pokemon and all that space for just techs, then it's just not fair.

    Especially with nerfed rare candy and no BTS.

    Also rare candy and catcher do not cancel each other out. If I am trying to run a stage two and I start with a solo 60 HP card and my opponent starts with a 180 HP EX that can be powered up in 1-2 turns then you just can't compete.

    I think if we could use rare candy at any time after turn 1 meaning that after turn 1 I can drop my basic and rare candy right to stage two, then it would really make it more balanced. Then I wouldn't need to bench my basic and hope it doesn't get catchered up. Also, I can play a stage two deck with a few big basics to stall until I get set up.
  13. StormFront

    StormFront Active Member

    Vilegar may run 2 Stage 2's, but its one of the least skilled and boring decks I've played. As long as you start Gastly or Spiritomb. You're pretty much guaranteed to Trainer lock your opponent all game. Despite what Baby Mario said, nothing outside of Vilegar and SP is playable. Due to all other decks having a bad matchup against one of them.
  14. baby_mario

    baby_mario Doesn't even care

    Gyarados won multiple high level tournaments. It was definitely up there with SP and Vilegar.

    SP covers both Luxchomp and Dialgachomp - decks with very different strategies that played very differently

    The point about Vilegar being boring is valid and to some extent I agree. it also illustrates that playable Stage 2 decks do not necessarily make a format any more skill-based or interesting . . . yet it is something people often ask for as a fix.
    cyndaquil and HighShroomish like this.
  15. A balanced format is an unpredictable one IMO. A balanced format is one where any type of card can perform well, there is no BDIF and several solid tier 1 decks that consist of Basics, Stage 1s and Stage 2s equally. Where everything has an equal shot at winning, and the game shows no favor towards a certain stage of Pokemon. Where any deck could come out of nowhere and be great. Just my opinion.
    cyndaquil and HighShroomish like this.
  16. eggrolls

    eggrolls The future of this society. Or not.

    In a "Balanced Format," I'd want most of the "balanced" part to refer to players being able to play the game at least minorly successfully. I don't hate Catcher, but the insane power creep is just stupid. For example, when the game started, the average HP for a Stage 1 Pokemon was 80-90. Now, the average HP for BASIC POKEMON is freaking 180. It's retarded. The first thing they should do is lower the power creep down to levels that aren't completely ridiculous. Then, make staples like Pokemon Catcher, Call Energy, Pokemon Collector, etc. easier to obtain, and therefore cheaper in the second-hand market, so newer players can get into the game easier and not suck for their first whole year of playing. That would be much less annoying to a lot of people.
    cyndaquil and HighShroomish like this.
  17. stmlacek1

    stmlacek1 rouge specialist

    i like the idea of lowing the prices and i have you know i did not scuk for my first year of playing jan of 14 will be 2 complete year of me playing
  18. Rainbowgym

    Rainbowgym Member

    How to balance between basics who need to evolve having 60 hp and those having 170 or more hp?
    Removing the double weakness of cards who cn evolve would help. Also rare candy back tohow it was used would bring balance between big baics and evolution decks.
    I dislike catcher and laser so much I have no words for them.

    What might give options would getting back rainbow energy (or multi).
  19. eggrolls

    eggrolls The future of this society. Or not.

    Or Scramble, Double Rainbow, Boost, etc....
  20. weakest

    weakest Bear enthusiast.

    Old Rare Candy rule would be extremely broken right now. T1 Black Ballista? No thanks. Old rare candy rules would be good if Stage 2's were just attackers, but with things like Blastoise or Gothitelle (even if it is out of format) would be OP.