This Sunday, in the first ever attempt to defeat the “Final Four” at the Fincastle Pokemon Gym, our league’s top trainer left the Gym halfway towards his goal. The challenge, available only to those who have defeated all 9 Gym Leader decks, is a once-per season battle where the trainer must defeat 4 decks in a row. Each deck fits within the themes that we feel fit the major styles of playing the pokemon TCG, Speed, Defense, Power and Skill. Hunter H began his challenge on Sunday and played through the first 2 decks like a true league champion.
Hunter first came up against the Speed themed deck, piloted by Gym Leader Joel. Hunter may have gotten off a little easy in this one, as the deck that is designed to put pressure immediately on the opponent, often resulting in the fabled “donk”, sputtered out of the gate and struggled to ever get anything going, missing each turn on the needed combinations of energy, trainer items and stadiums. Hunter played patiently, as the 2 exchanged KO’s on Mewtwo’s. Hunter pretty much sealed the game when hit a “heads” on “Super Scoop Up” on a damaged Keldeo EX, allowing him to re-collect the energy and load it, plus a whole lot more onto a fresh Keldeo and sweep the game with it, as it was hitting for 170 damage per turn.
If Hunter got a little lucky in the first game by not getting the full brunt of the Speed deck, that advantage was definitely not present when he faced the Defense deck. Hunter probably needed a nap and a Tylenol after trying to think his way through this game. The Defense deck set up quickly and locked Hunter from using his main attackers. However, the Defense deck produced very little offense in the early going. Hunter saved a KO by hitting a “heads” on a SSU and keeping the stale mate against this deck, again piloted by Gym Leader Joel, who matched the saves by using “Max Potions” to save KO’s as well. As the remaining card counts of each player’s deck neared single digits, Hunter put all of his “eggs” in one basket, as he piled 12 energies onto a single Blastoise, allowing it to one-hit a Cobalion EX. After Joel damaged the Blastoise, Hunter returned it to the bench where it was safe, as 2 of Joel’s “Catchers” were prized. Joel dug one out of the discard pile with a “Dowsing Machine” and finally KO’d the Blastoise and all of Hunter’s energy. However, at this point he had 2 cards left in his deck, while Hunter still had 4. Hunter used Keldeo EX’s “Rush In” ability to send in a fresh Keldeo each turn and absorb the final 2 hits before Joel decked out. I don’t like to coin overused pop culture phrases like “epic” to describe things that aren’t so, but in this case, “epic” is probably the best way to accurately describe that game. Hunter literally exhausted every resource and option in his deck to squeak the win out, leaving both players mentally exhausted.
That was quite an interesting first half of the Final Four Challenge for Hunter. The good news is that he made it through 2 very tough decks, especially the Defense deck, which is a very bad match up for Hunter’s deck. The bad news is that there are still 2 more to go and they don’t get much easier. If Hunter continues to play the way he has so far, the last 2 games should be as interesting as the first 2. If he wins, he get the prizes. If he loses, he still will get a nice collection of league “extras”, plenty of marks on the league scorecard and will get to try it again on the next season. Our goal is to use all the challenges at the Gym to improve our trainers critical thinking skills, especially under pressure. I don’t think we need to look any further than Hunter to see that it has worked.
Stay tuned and see you at the Gym!