Before we get into our next series of articles featuring ideas we’ve put together in the PTCGO that we hope you will find interesting, let us first make this reserved exclamation about a new card issued in the Fates Collide set, which is going on sale today. That card being Marowak (37/124). Ahem…. Hallelujah! Hal-le-lu-jah, Hal-le-lu-jah! Hallelujah! Hal-le-lu-jah, Hal-le-lu-jah!
Up until now, the only decent counter to Seismitoad/Giratina has been the promo Jirachi, which often gets trapped in your deck by the senseless item lock provided by Seismitoad. The new Marowak’s ability, “Bodyguard”, prevents the item lock from happening and, what’s better, frees you from it once Marowak comes into play. This card enters the format at just the right time, as we recently saw images of a reprint set in Japan that looks like it will include a reprint of Seismitoad EX, news that had us, at least, ready to empty our binders into our online store stock and stop playing a format that looks to be plagued by Seismitoad EX for several more years.
The Fincastle Gym Leaders don’t, and probably will never understand, the thought process behind keeping a card in the format that flat-out sucks the enjoyment out of any game it enters. We at the Gym don’t like to lose, but prefer to do so by getting out-played, not by never getting to play after an opponent attaches an energy and says, “Quaking Punch”. We hope that what we think we’ve observed is not the case in other areas and will not endure in our area, but we feel we’ve seen a decline in attendance in the 2 younger age divisions. Can you imagine why?
Okay, imagine this scenario. You (a Junior aged player), start learning how to play the TCG with the cards in your collection. You put together your 1st really good deck and beg your parents to put down their IPhone and take you to a local tournament. They finish “Liking” the last 20 witty memes posted on Facebook, check their fantasy team and begrudgingly drive you there. You enter the event and pair up in the opening round with little “Johnny”, who already has 780 Championship Points, and is armed with Seismitoad/Giratina, which his parents built with the aid of a website they subscribe to, because they believe it to be a “great play”. You try to play an “Ultra Ball”, but are told, “you can’t do that cause I used Quaking Punch”. You try to play a “Trainers’ Mail” and then a “Rare Candy”, not understanding that these cards that you traded for, or spent your allowance to buy, are useless, thanks to that “great play”. After an excruciating, long match, in which every energy card you attached was “hammered” off, you lose, 6 prizes to O.
Being optimistic in your youth, you roll on to your next game, thinking maybe the next game won’t be as bad. In round 2, you play little “Jimmy”, “Johnny’s” best buddy, playing Seismitoad/Garbodor (who lost in round 1 to some girl from Fincastle playing a deck they had not seen online and didn’t know how to play against). “Jimmy”, who only has 779 Championship Points, proceeds to lock you down, just like in the last game, as you draw and pass, over and over, losing again 6-0. In round 3, TOM gives you a “bye”. Finally, the last round begins, you get to go 1st, flip over your active Pokemon, the only EX that you own, attach an energy and pass. Your opponent takes a 15 minute 1st turn, attaches a DCE to their Joltik and hit you for 180 damage, “donking” you and ending the game.
Your dad comes and picks you up and asked the inevitable… “Did you have fun?”
What do think the answer to that question is? That is what Seismitoad EX has done to the game.
Why reprint it? I’d love to hear that explanation. We know that those who oversee things have been tailoring the TCG to follow the model of the “Magic” card game, as it is a profitable one, with a loyal adult following. We hope that Pokemon will keep things balanced, as they have through most of our time playing and organizing the game.
Does Marowak single-handedly balance the format? Unfortunately, not absolutely. However, it does at least present a solid counter to “Toad”, that can be played in any list where items are important. It also gains a little help from a pair of Carbinks, one with the old “Safeguard” ability, and the other with an ability the negates the effect of “Crushing Hammer” and “Team Flare Grunt”. We’ve played this game long enough to see how it cycles from a wide open format to a very narrow one (i.e., Durant, Plasma TDK, SF Gyarados). It seems very narrow as of today (“Night March” or item lock), but the new “Fates” set will hopefully start to open it back up a bit. We feel that begins with driving “Toad” from the format, no matter how many reprints it receives.
Play!Pokemon has the most direct influence in balancing the format. They can achieve this through the yearly rotation. It is their duty to take the “pulse” of the game and rotate at the set that will let the game progress and expand, not narrow to the point where you either play one deck or its counter. That decision is probably not too far off, if it has not already been made. We at the Gym hope they do the right thing. Now, this rant ran on a little longer than intended, so check back this evening, as we will post our 1st PTCGO deck spotlight, “Forest For The Trees”. Until then, see you at the Gym!