The Fincastle Pokemon Gym opened its doors during the summer of 2010. Our first meetings were classroom style instructional sessions for the TCG. By the Fall of 2010, we were already looking for ways to challenge the players that took to the TCG and make them better. The Gym Leaders decided to follow the format laid out by the video games and create single type decks for our trainers to battle. And so the Gym Leader Challenge was born at the Gym. We now have completed well over 300 TCG challenges, giving away collections of promo cards, EX cards and a fully built competitive deck along the way. Type-specific gym badges, custom-made and designed by one of our trainers, await anyone who defeats a Gym Leader in a card challenge. The challenge has become the hallmark of the Fincastle Pokemon Gym. Now it is time for the “hall” to get a little bigger.
Gym Leaders Logan and Georgia have dabbled in the video game over the last few years. Gym Leader Logan surprised us and himself by taking 4th at the 2012 Madison, WI Regional VG Championship. Outside of that, the video game has generally been a sideline for the Gym. For Gym Leaders Joel and Marthe, it has generally served as something to occupy down time at TCG events. However, over the last year, our interest in the VG has grown, especially as Gym Leader Marthe has been able to organize Premier events for the VG in addition to what she has been doing in the TCG. Interest in the VG has also grown at our league, as several very knowledgeable VG players have joined us recently. After a little planning and discussion, the Fincastle Gym is now ready to expand our unique league to include Video Game Gym Leader Challenges!
The biggest issue that the Gym Leaders had during the development of the VG Gym Challenge is the variety of pokemon types. With the addition of the Fairy-types, there are now 18 different types in the video game. That is significantly more than the 10 types in the TCG. The TCG has narrowed the number of types to simplify the type advantages, weaknesses and energy requirements of pokemon cards, surely in an effort to make the game easier for younger players to learn. Almost all VG characters sport multiple weaknesses and resistances and in many cases, immunity from certain types. Imagine trying to print an Empoleon card, for example, with his 3 weaknesses, 11 resistances and 1 immunity. It would take 5 minutes and in some cases, a calculator, to determine how much damage was taken in one attack. The over-simplification is a good thing in cases like Empoleon. However, in other cases, it creates cards that are completely wrong, like Lucario and Lucario EX. Both Lucario cards are printed with a Psychic weakness, when the VG version is actually weak to Fighting, Fire and Ground-types. There are hundreds of examples of similar conflicts between the VG and the TCG.
When we held our design contest for new league gym badges, there were 9 types in the TCG. These types are Grass, Fire, Water, Lighting, Psychic, Fighting, Steel, Darkness and Dragon. Kelli B submitted an excellent design that was turned into the 9 badges that we have currently. The Fairy-types were introduced after our design contest and as of now, we have not added that type to our Gym Leader line-up (we may one day). The 9 types listed above, those available for TCG challenges, will serve as the 9 types available for VG Gym Leader Challenges. However, we will not limit ourselves exclusively to these 9 types, as doing so would not allow some really cool VG characters to be used. All of the VG Gym Leaders met and laid out the guidelines for all pokemon types to fit into the above 9 categories. This is what we came up with.
Lightning, Steel, Fire, Darkness and Dragon will all be in their own categories. However, keep in mind that there are many dual type pokemon in the VG, so any dual type that shares 1 of these types may be included on that Gym Leader’s team. There are several pokemon that mega-evolve into a different type pokemon or into a dual type that its regular form does not include. For example, Gyarados is normally a Water and Flying type. However, when it mega-evolves, its type changes to Water and Darkness. So, the Darkness Gym Leader may use Gyarados on his team, but it must mega-evolve upon entry into the battle. The same applies to all other mega-evolutions that change types.
The remaining 4 gym badges will be a little broader, so that types that do not exist in the card game can be included in VG gym challenges. The Psychic Gym Badge will include both Psychic and Ghost types. The Grass Gym Badge will include all Grass, Bug and Poison types. The TCG lumps most poison types into the Psychic category. However, we feel that the majority of the Poison types have better synergy with the Grass and Bug types, as several of these are already dual type Grass/Poison or Bug/Poison. The Water Gym Badge will include both Water and Ice types (which is basically what the TCG already does). The Fighting Gym Badge will also follow suit with the TCG by including Fighting, Rock and Ground types under one badge. Now that you see how the types lay out, it’s time to see who will be fielding which challenge.
As Gym Leaders Joel, Marthe, Logan and Georgia typically have their hands full with TCG challenges, the Gym Leaders looked for a little help on this new VG frontier. The Fincastle Gym is proud to add to the cast of Gym Leaders, Dean E and Noah H. Gym Leader Dean will field VG challenges for the Psychic type badge and the Grass type badge. Gym Leader Noah will take on VG challenges for the Fire type badge and the Dragon type badge. Gym Leader Joel will handle Water type and Fighting type challenges. Gym Leader Marthe will handle challenges for the Lightning type badge. Gym Leader Logan will be in charge of both the Darkness and Steel type badges. Gym Leader Georgia will continue to learn about the VG and practice will all of the Gym Leaders. Georgia may step in from time to time to field challenges for any of the above types.
As in the TCG, the Fincastle Gym’s goal in implementing these challenges is to help our trainers learn how to become better. The VG is very complex compared to the TCG and developing strong pokemon and teams is very time-consuming, as how you breed and train each pokemon depends on how good/competitive that pokemon is. Imagine if you had to create each card in the TCG by hand, then color and add text to each one before you could use it. Then imagine that poorly created EX cards were not as strong as those that were made with care and precision. That is pretty much how the VG works. Using the proper “natures”, IV breeding and EV training are essential parts of the VG. To briefly illustrate the point, look at Gym Leader Joel’s VG experiences. In his 1st 2 attempts at playing competitively at Regional Championships, Joel went win-less, dropping from both events before their completion, as he could not eek out a win at all. At this year’s Virginia Regional VG Championships, Joel went 5-4 over 9 rounds. He was not in contention for the top spots by any means, but all but 1 of his matches were competitive. The difference came from learning about training and learning how different combos work together.
Signing up for VG challenges will fall under the same criteria as TCG challenges. Once you complete 2 rows on your league card, you may sign up for either a TCG challenge or VG challenge. VG challenges must take place on Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire. VG challenges will be conducted in the same format as top cut battles at Premier VG events. All challenges are Double Battles, set to the Flat Battle setting (leveled down to level 50). Challengers will place 6 pokemon of their choice into their “Battle Box”, which will be reviewed by a Gym Leader not participating in the challenge. Each pokemon may hold an item. No duplicate items may be used. The only banned item is the “Soul Dew, an item intended for Latios or Latias.
None of the following Legendary Pokemon may be used: Mewtwo, Mew, Lugia, Ho-Oh, Celebi, Kyogre, Groudon, Rayquaza, Jirachi, Deoxys, Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, Phione, Manaphy, Darkrai, Shaymin, Arceus, Victini, Reshiram, Zekrom, Kyurem, Keldeo, Meloetta, Genesect, Xerneas, Yveltal, Zygarde, and Diancie. However, the legendary birds Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres, the “swordsman” Cobalion, Terrakion and Virizion and the “genies” Thundurus, Tornadus and Landorus all may be used. Additional legendary pokemon that are eligible are Cresselia, Heatran, Latios, Latias, all of the “Regi’s” and the trio of pixies, Azelf, Uxie and Mespirit. All pokemon must have the blue pentagon in their summary screen and be either caught or hatched in X/Y or in Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire. All challenges are the best 2 out of 3 with the Gym Leader.
Anyone who defeats a leader will receive the gym badge for that type of challenge and claim their place on the VG “Wall of Fame”. If anyone defeats all 9 gym leaders, then they will become eligible for a “Final Four” challenge. The “Final Four” will be 4 consecutive, single game battles against Gym Leader teams that are not bound by types, but may still be themed teams (ie: “trick room”, “Rain”, “Sun”, “Sand”, etc). The challenger must defeat all 4 teams in a row and may not change their team once the challenge begins. If anyone defeats all four, they will receive promo items and prizes from the Gym that will vary, depending on what we have available at that time.
Weather permitting, of course, the Gym Leaders have their teams ready and will be ready for challenges beginning next Sunday, 3/1/15. If you are signed up for a TCG challenge, you may change your request to a VG challenge if you wish. We’ll have new lists out at league. If you have any questions about signing up or getting your team together, ask a Gym Leader at league. We will have some hand-outs with current VG rules available at our next meeting. We are excited about this new venture for the Gym. We hope that you all are, too. Until then, see you at the Gym!
VG Gym Badges Earned (aka, The Wall of Fame v2.0):