As the Fincastle Gym helps its 2 qualifiers prepare for the 2016 World Championships, one thing above all else has become crystal clear… testing for 2 players is exhausting! This year’s Championships mark the 4th time since the Gym’s inception in 2011 that we’ve sent competitors to the pinnacle of TCG events. However, this is the 1st time that we have had to help 2 players prepare at the same time. Gym Leader Logan lead the way for the Gym in 2011 and 2012, while Gym Leader Georgia carried the torch in 2014. Helping them prepare for those tournaments consumed virtually every spare minute we had in the time between Nationals and Worlds. Having both players earn invitations in the same year has redefined how we help them prepare.
To say that the last few weeks have been a little stressful would be like saying that a habanero pepper is a little “tangy”. TPCI (The Pokemon Company International) has compounded the situation by the earlier-than-normal release of Steam Siege, making it legal for Worlds. This marks the 2nd time since we began playing the TCG that Pokemon has changed the format prior to a major event (the 1st was in 2012, right before Nationals) and to be frank, we are not fans of this. Here’s my scenario: Imagine playing “March Madness” all the way to the Final 4, then taking the top 4 teams, supplying them with birdies and badminton racquets and watching Duke face off with Michigan St in a heated doubles match.
While the format shift created by Steam Siege may not be that extreme, it still seems to us that Pokemon grabbed the marvelously diverse format that we observed at Nationals and took a giant dookie on it. Supplying the format with “Pokemon Ranger” and no “Karen” has again put some serious handcuffs on player choices. For those not familiar, “Karen” is a Supporter card that requires both players to shuffle all pokemon from their discard pile back into their deck. “Ranger” breaks the effects of attacks on the game-state at the time it’s played (disabling the attacks of pokemon like Seismitoad EX, Giratina EX and Jolteon EX, the cards that balanced the Nationals format).
We’ve heard many players wish for the printing of “Karen”, an argument that we disagree with. Yes, “Karen” drives “Night March” and “Vespiquen” away, but to be fair, they are 2 huge decks that helped many players earn their invitations. The proper move from TPCI would have been to not add the set into the Worlds mix. Why not let the best players in the world fight it out with the decks that comprised the 2015-2016 season? Is that not the point of a World Championship tournament? Locking players into either “Night March” or “Item Lock” is a move that we could have done without (and I don’t think we’re alone on that one).
Nonetheless, the Gym Leaders have been working around that steamy little pile, trying out every deck that looks like a possibility. Our youngest, ground-breaking leader, Georgia “The Jackhammer” Honts (we promised a nickname… you can call her “Hamma” if you’re into the whole brevity thing) is probably a little more settled on deck choices at the moment. Leaders Logan and Joel have run the gambit of decks and are still trying to pin down a choice for him. The cool side effect of this process is that we have built some pretty fun lists along the way. The PTCGO (online game) has proved very valuable, as it allows us to instantly try something we think of, make copies of decks with minor card changes and keep all of our lists in one place. Our play area is still a disaster at the moment, but we can’t imagine what it would look like without the PTCGO. Time permitting, we hope to share a few lists with you this week. We can’t promise how many we can get to, but we hope to post 2 or 3 prior to Worlds.
This Sunday, 8/7, will be our last league day before Worlds. However, you can still catch up with us next Sunday, 8/14, at the “Geek Mob” (we’ll post more details on that in a day or 2). Come by today and play at the Gym and check back here soon for some cool deck articles and details about next weekend. See you at the Gym!