Beginning today, several new rule changes and text changes in the Pokemon trading card game go into effect. These changes will apply in both league play and tournament play from this point on. This will be an attempt to give you the short and sweet version.
The biggest change that will affect all games is what happens on the opening turn. Before, whoever went first had the advantage of attacking first, but this was offset by that player not being allowed to player “trainer” and “supporter” cards. The new Black and White rules allow both players to play “trainer” and “supporter”, giving an added advantage to the player going first.
While on that subject, “trainer” and “supporter” have quotations for a reason. The way these cards are named also changes with Black and White. “Trainer” cards will now be called “Trainer – Item” cards. “Supporter” cards are now “Trainer – Supporter” cards. “Stadium” cards are now called “Trainer – Stadium” cards. The new cards still fall under the old game play rules (only 1 “Trainer – Supporter” and “Trainer – Stadium” per turn, as many “Trainer – Item” cards as you like). Cards that block the playing of “Trainer” cards (like Spiritomb from Arceus and Vileplume from Undaunted), only block “Trainer – Item” cards, not the other 2, even though they now have the word “Trainer” in their title. “Trainer – Supporter / Supporter” cards are now discarded immediately after playing them, rather than staying by the active Pokemon until the end of the turn. Cards that reference “Supporters” in play (like Jirachi from Rising Rivals‘s “Detour” attack) will still work as they did before. Only now, you have to remember whether you and your opponent played one this turn.
Pokemon powers, or the “Poke-Power” and “Poke-Body” distinction that began in Diamond and Pearl, in the new cards have been combined into what will now be called an “Ability”. Depending on the text under the “Ability”, you will have to announce some “Abilities” when you use them (like Poke-Powers), while some will always be in effect (like Poke-Bodies). Current cards that reference “Powers” and “Bodies” (like “Power Spray” or Gengar from Stormfront‘s “Shadow Room” attack) will have no effect on the new “Abilities”. Confused yet?
Wording on many of the cards about healing, additional damage and searching for Pokemon are different in the new set but the changes are self explanatory. However, new cards in this set (and in future sets) have different “official” text. These cards, for now, are “Rare Candy”, “Potion”, “Great Ball” and “Plus Power”. Here are the new definitions:
“Rare Candy” – cannot be played on a basic pokemon that was put into play on that turn. It also can only be used to go from a basic to a Stage 2 pokemon (no longer basic to Stage 1 or Stage 1 to Stage 2). This means that it cannot be used on either player’s first turn.
“Potion” – heals 30 damage instead of 20. Simple enough. Older potions that say “20” damage on them may still be used but with the new definition.
“Great Ball” – now does what the old “Master Ball” did…. look at the top 7 cards from your deck and choose 1 pokemon you find and put it in your hand, shuffle the rest back in. There must have been a gas leak in the room the day they decided to do this. Older “Great Ball” cards are now useless, as are still “Master Ball” cards (because they don’t have the same name). Instead of trying to keep that straight, we recommend removing the older versions from your deck.
“Plus Power” – no longer “attaches” to the active. The all powerful Shuppet deck in now dead. Oh well.
Why did Pokemon International do all of this? Short answer… because they can. Once sets up through Rising Rivals (or perhaps all the way to Heartgold Soulsilver) are eventually rotated out, these changes will slow the game down and hopefully increase the variety of competitive decks. Japan is already in a HGSS and newer format, but they also receive new sets months before we do. I don’t know if the game creators realized the monster that they created with the SP pokemon and support cards and the extent to which SP would dominate the game. It seems to us that this is an attempt to return the game to its origins somewhat. Unfortunately, for the time being, they’ve created a little bit of a mess (at least between now and the next rotation) for both competitive players and league leaders who are teaching the game to new players. Thankfully, it will all sort itself out in the long run and will soon be habit for regular players. The adjustment period may be a little confusing for all involved and some questions may take a little research.
Come by the Gym and we’ll work through the changes together. Any questions that we don’t know, we will find out for you. See you at the Gym!