The Fincastle Pokemon Gym is unique to most (if not all) other leagues as it offers Gym Leader challenges as part of the TCG portion of league play. We offer gym leader badges that are exclusive to our league, in addition to the season badges that Pokemon provides, which are won be defeating league leaders that play single type decks for each of the 9 Pokemon types. At first, awarding a badge to a league trainer was a rarity, so we never put much thought into what would happen if someone won all of them. However, over the last 2 years as the Gym has grown, the level of play from our trainers has skyrocketed. Most recent challenges consist of very well-played games that can usually go either way, often coming down to the final few turns of the games. Hunter H became the 1st league trainer to win all 9 badges and fellow trainer, Brycen F is close behind, needing only 3 more badges to join Hunter. So what’s next? This is what the Gym has come up with.
The Gym Leaders have been “educated” on the whole Pokemon universe over the last few years, especially the various editions of the video game. We have tried to follow the VG storyline with the development of our league. By doing this, the answer to the “what’s next” question was already laid out for us…. The Elite Four and League Champion. The challenge in setting this up for the league was coming up with something that we could stick with from season to season and through card set rotations. With that in mind, we also had to come up with something that we can accomplish during league time without neglecting all of the other parts of the Gym (other challenges, teaching, deck building, trading, etc). So, while our final plan is a watered down version of the VG, it should be fun and will definitely be a challenge. It will definitely be more difficult that taking your team of lv. 80 legendary pokemon and wiping the floor with the Elite 4 like you can in the VG.
All of the 9 Gym Leader decks are single type decks, so if you know the card game, you can gain a significant advantage if you prepare for each leader. The “Final Four”, as we will call them (“Elite” sounds so uppity), will not have those limitations. Gym Leaders Logan and Joel gave serious consideration to making the 4 decks out of the “Unlimited” format, rather than the “Modified” format that we adhere to at the Gym. However, after talking through that for about 20 minutes we already had about 8 decks that would flat-out abuse decks from the current format (which is why they have rotations). Machamp from Stormfront alone would destroy this format’s best, not to mention “Sable-donk”, “Luxchomp”, “Gyarados”, Logan’s State Champion “Mew-perior” or Logan’s own Regional Champion “Spiritomb/Magnezone/Feraligatr” (that were both shot down by the only mid-season rotation in the history of the game, before they had a crack at Nationals and Worlds). Battling these decks with a Modified deck would not be fun for Hunter or anyone else that gets all 9. The Final Four will be Modified format, but will not be restricted by types. They will have categories, or themes, that we will follow from season to season.
The Final Four decks will represent 4 different themes common to the top Pokemon TCG decks. The themes are “Defense”, “Skill”, “Speed” and “Power”. In every format that we have been involved in, there have been top-tier decks that fit into these categories. Whether through “tanking” and “healing” or through “abilities”, there have always been strong defensive decks in the format. That will be the first challenge. Skill decks (#2) have consisted of everything from variations of “lock” decks to decks that discard energies or in some cases, your entire deck. Speed decks (#3) speak for themselves (they’re fast). Power decks (#4) are the big hitters, capable of dealing out massive, sometimes ridiculous and even unnecessary amounts of damage. Any challenge against the Final Four will be against these 4 themes. Over time, perhaps even between attempts, these decks may change, as more cards come out and others rotate out, but they will always adhere to these themes.
The Final Four challenge can take place once per season for anyone that has won all 9 badges. Each match will be a single game, not a best 2 of 3, which should swing the odds in favor of any potential challengers. Challengers will play an un-timed game against each deck in which they must win by taking all prize cards, eliminating the opposing field or their opponent running out of cards in their deck (so no cheap wins for either side by stalling). Like the video game, the challenger must face all 4 decks with the same deck and must defeat all 4 consecutively to become the league champion. We will require a decklist which will not be viewed unless you win the challenge and will be returned, unviewed, if you lose (just make sure your list is legal before starting). Unlike the VG, there is no champion waiting after you defeat the Final 4. If you beat all 4, you will be declared League Champion of the Fincastle Pokemon Gym, take home the prize(s), the glory and the fame (at league anyway). There is no limit to how many trainers may earn the title of champion, meaning anyone who wins all 9 badges and then defeats the Final Four will be added to the “Champion Hall of Fame”.
We cannot outline prizes, as what we have to offer will change from time to time and is supplied from our own personal stash. We think that we’ve always done pretty good on that front for everyone (thanks to the generosity of Gym Leader Logan and Gym Leader Georgia with their winnings), so we’re sure you’ll be happy with what we put together. Any questions about the challenge will be answered before the challenge begins and we will need notice (a new sign up list) for when each trainer is ready so that we make sure we have the decks together and someone available that knows how to play it (meaning you may face the same leader more than once in a challenge). We are pretty good at “winging” the rest once we have an outline in place.
There you have it. I think that definitely should separate the Fincastle Pokemon Gym from all other leagues in terms of what it has to offer. Can Hunter become the first League Champion? Will Brycen sweep in and get there first? Will someone else emerge and become the champion? Why aren’t apartments called “togethers”? When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say? How many questions can I ask in a row? Who exactly am I talking to? Hmmm….. yeah, ok, I’m done.
Stay tuned…… (see you at the Gym!)