Play!Pokemon has traditionally been a little slow to make any changes, especially to the TCG. Since we became involved, over 5 years ago now, changes that we’ve seen have usually come after being talked to death, often much later than when they were needed. That does not seem to be the case this year. Whether it can be credited to the over 7 years of our current government’s relentless war on corporations (and yes, The Pokemon Company, The Pokemon Company International, Nintendo Co. Ltd and Gamefreak are all corporations) and the economic pressure that it has put on them all, or it is simply a rise in the espresso intake by those who make the calls, lots of changes are rolling out this year. While most of these changes concern organizers and store owners (and hopefully not the players), the most immediate change that everyone will see will be at your local league.
League scorecards, promo cards, code cards, patches, zipper pulls, badges… these are all items that most of you that have played for any length of time should be familiar with. Our supply of promo cards should remain about the same. We will keep getting code cards and a season promo card. Play!Pokemon is replacing the score cards and the scorecard reward (badge decals this last go-round, badge pins and patches in the past). In their place, leagues for the rest of this season (and perhaps beyond), will receive a series of Poke ball type charms (4 to be exact, a Master Ball, Luxury Ball, Premier Ball and a Poke ball) that can be divvied up in 1 of 2 formats suggested by Play!Pokemon.
The first format (the one that the Gym has opted not to do) is the Casual Format. Under Casual play, the Master Ball is to go to the player who plays the most games at league. The Luxury Ball is to go to the player that has the shiniest deck (really???), meaning the most foil cards or Shiny pokemon, as voted on by fellow league players. The Premier Ball is to go to the player who brings the most new players to league. The Poke ball is to go to the player that best exhibits the “Spirit of the Game”, as determined by the League owner. The Gym, since its inception, has always tried to foster the competitive aspect of the TCG and VG. We are not and have never been fans of the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality that unfortunately seems to grow year by year in everything that was once competitive. Needless to say, the vote taken by Gym Leaders Joel, Marthe, Logan and Georgia was quickly and unanimously arrived at against Casual play.
After we all threw up a little in our mouths at the idea of casual play, we discussed the other choice, Competitive play, and were intrigued with the possibilities. With the Competitive format, league will shift to offering sign-ups for 8 person pick-up tournaments in both the TCG and VG. The format of the tournament can be decided on by its participants (Expanded or Standard). However, what we at the Gym suggest is that the format be in whatever format the next series of Premier events is in. For example, with City Championships approaching (most of which will be in the Standard Format), we recommend that league players practice that format. When the next round of Regionals rolls around, we will shift to Expanded, which of course, you can still play your Standard deck in. As time goes on, we may offer some special tournaments as well, like mono Grass-type decks, TCG double battles or no EX’s allowed type decks, if players are interested.
The player that has the most tournament wins in the season will earn the Master ball (we just like the word “earn” better than “receive”). The 2nd place player will earn the Luxury ball, 3rd place the Premier Ball and 4th, the Poke ball. There is no difference between a win in the VG and the TCG. Anyone who wins a tournament in either the VG or TCG will earn a mark on the inconveniently large leader-board poster, which we will display… somehow.
If attendance is low, we may offer 4 man pods so that everyone can get some games in. The format does also include the VG. Last week, however, we sat at 7 players signed up for over half of the league time, awaiting 1 more player who was tied up helping a trainer with a side adventure in the VG. If that situation repeats, then we will allow either 4 man events or 6 man tournaments so that VG players are not punished by attendance. One thing that Gym Leaders Joel and Marthe excel at is keeping league interesting, so we will adjust pick-up tournaments to try to give everyone as many chances to play as we can.
Why these changes? Play!Pokemon is trying to cut expenses, it is a simple as that. Don’t get us wrong, that is completely understandable. The same can be said about every other company that is trying to keep their head above water in this sea of taxes and regulations. The other changes they have made and that are coming with organizers demonstrate their need to cut costs on a much larger scale. Those details do not concern the average player (although they may affect them), so they will no be discussed here. Here’s something to consider that we predict that most of you have not thought about (those of you 18 years and older, of course). Can the actions you take next time you walk into a voting booth (or choose not to) affect something as far-reaching as the card game you play for fun? You bet your booty it can. We are not here to sway you one way or the other. We just suggest that you educate yourself a little. See you at the Gym!