My Weekend at the Pokemon Sydney Regionals

Let me preface this article by noting that I am not a competitive pokémon player by any stretch of the imagination. I played my first game of the TCG a few months ago online, played paper for the first time a month ago, bought my first booster a week ago, and learned how to play a competitive deck for the first time on Saturday. My background in competitive Magic: the Gathering playing and judging was truly my only saving grace this weekend!

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I made my way out to Burwood Good Games on Sunday for the Pokémon Sydney Regionals, and coincidentally my first ever Pokémon tournament. As such, I went into this weekend not expecting to win a game let alone a match, and therefore don’t really want to bore you with a match report (because what would you learn, right?) That said, I do have a story about my weekend which could teach you something I think is pretty important for any card game.

I chose to tackle this tournament with the only deck I have any experience with whatsoever (and I’m basing that off the only other time I’ve touched a real life paper Pokémon deck), good ol’ FluffyChomp. This is what I sleeved up and registered:

Energy:
4 Blend Energy
6 Fighting Energy

Pokémon:
4 Gible
4 Gabite
4 Garchomp
3 Swablu
3 Altaria
1 Mr Mime

Trainers:
4 N
4 Professor Juniper
3 Skyla
3 Colress
4 Level Ball
3 Rare Candy
2 Escape Rope
2 Super Rod
2 Switch
2 Silver Bangle
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Computer Search

_GarchompAltaria

I did say I won’t be doing a match report, so it may seem weird for me to be listing my entire deck; but I’d like to you to go back and have a good look over it – it’ll become apparent why in a moment.

Done? Good. As I mentioned in the preface, my experience with competitive card games is in Magic: the Gathering, not Pokémon, so I didn’t have the first clue about squat. But playing with the deck, something was bugging me all weekend. Even with my very limited knowledge of the game, I knew something was off.

I found myself in a frustrating position in the first game of the tournament. I had a bench full of Altarias and Gabites, a Garchomp active with a Silver Bangle and 130 damaged marked on it, two prizes left, and I was facing down an active Thundurus EX. Mach Cut wouldn’t cut it, so I started digging through my deck by drawing cards. Only one more energy and I can take this knock out and win the game! It was something I would tell myself several times over the course of the tournament. Literally at least once per match. But there was no energy to be found.

_GarchompMach Cut wouldn’t cut it against an EX.

I tend to argue that in Magic, my strength is in deck building above all else. And as anyone who has played the game can tell you, lands/mana sources are the most important part of a deck, because without them you can’t play your spells. In Pokémon, I see energies in the same light since they fuel your attacks. The only other time I’d played FluffyChomp, I’d had plenty of access to energy. But I also never wrote down a definitive deck list. When I saw the list this time around, actually written down, I was blown away. Only ten energies!? I mean, as a Magic deck builder, I know the rules. The more searching and fetching and drawing and shuffling you can do, the less lands you need. And there is a LOT of that in Pokémon (A LOT – like, wow.) So surely that rule also transfers over to Pokémon? It didn’t seem overly odd, like I mentioned earlier – but it did seem pretty amazing. Plus the owner of the deck is pretty competent, so there was no reason to question anything in my mind. It made sense, so I ignored it. But try as I might, I just ran into so many situations where I was starving for energy.

Note: Some of you may not agree with what I am saying here. Ten Energies may be perfectly fine for a competent player. I am not, however, a competent player 🙂

_EnergyHey look! It’s that thing I could never find!

I’d been complaining about energies all day, much to the confusion of the owner who argued that it was the same count he always played, that others in the group had played, and that there’s a chance that I may just need more practice with the deck. Again, that made a lot of sense. At the end of the day, I laid out the deck again for its owner:

“So, ten energies, right?”
“What? No, should be twelve.”
“There’s only ten here.”
“Check the deck again.”
“No, I mean, that’s all I registered. Ten was what was on the list.”
“…Huh, interesting.”

The reason the deck felt fine to me last time was because it had more energies. And I taught myself the play style with that abundance of energy at my disposal. It may seem like a small thing, but for someone completely new at Pokémon like I am, messing with the energy count can be confusing.

So what’s the lesson to take away from this? If you borrow a deck, lay it out in front of the person you’re borrowing it from and have them look over it. Everyone makes mistakes at some point, so a double check is always good. Also, it’s probably not a good idea to write your deck list at 4am the day of the tournament. Again, I didn’t expect to be winning very many games, and I’m also super thankful for being able to borrow an entire deck to play. This experience just wouldn’t have happened without the generosity of my friends, and I won’t forget this. Plus, I can’t complain too much – I DID choose to lay the deck out at 4am to write the deck list.

As for the deck – it seems powerful enough to me to hold its stead. It’s a little slow considering other decks have EX spam that can knock you out while you’re trying to set up, so it’s important to go first. But the upside of course is that since you don’t run any Exes, you’re not giving up two prizes for a knock out, meaning they’re working much harder to take the win. Also, the fact that my only win was against a pretty well set up Darkrai/Yveltal deck, which I somehow managed to pull off with both of my Silver Bangles and my Computer Search prized, tells me that this deck has enough raw power that even a beginner can put up some numbers (the only deck I played against all weekend that I legitimately felt like I had no hope against was a VirGen deck.) And Dragon Call is nothing to sniff at – that’s one incredibly powerful ability.

_GabiteI get to do WHAT once a turn!?

Of course, I’m not telling you to play the deck yourself if you already have something more competitive built – but if you happen to have a friend looking to get into the game and the ability to build this as a second deck, then do it. It’s a great one for a beginner.

As for the rest of the event, Darkrai/Yveltal took out the title. I’m still waiting for confirmation on the top 8 deck lists, so as soon as I get them, I’ll post them so that you can see how your favourite archetypes did!

Until next time,
Matt.

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