Category Archives: Tips and Strategy

Advice for players new to Pokemon

Pokemon 2018 TCG Rotation – Sun & Moon-on!

The Pokemon Company and Play!Pokemon announced its 2018 TCG rotation… back in May.  Why?  “Why” is an often asked and rarely answered question for a lot actions taken by the corporation.  Our speculation as to this “why” is similar to the scenario of the “Top Cut” website (remember the original online site with “Pooka”, where all net-deckers went to get their lists).   The Top Cut was taking too much internet traffic away from Pokemon.com.  So, Pokemon hired Pooka (the site’s creator) to write and commentate for them, thus improving their service and eliminating a competitor.  Of course, dozens of other sites popped up in his absence and the entire community had to embrace net-decking just to keep up, thus turning to many other internet sources.  Mission not accomplished.  Our annual rotation article is our site’s biggest draw, and the subject in general draws lots of traffic to various YouTube channels and other sites.  So, Pokemon’s response is… just throw it out there in May.  Solid plan.  The discussion of “why’s” is not why we’re here today, so let’s move on to the reason we are here, the rotation. Continue reading

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Get Ready For Expanded – ACESPEC’s

The Fincastle Gym Leaders have been around.  We think that we pretty safe in our self-assessment in saying that we are pretty knowledgeable when it comes to all things Pokemon.  Knowledge is a many-pronged entity that is both sought out and accumulated.  A lot of what we know are things that we have both studied and practiced.  Some of it is information that we’ve gathered by just being around for a while.  What we’re saying is, we’re old.  And we are okay with that.  Our regional on Memorial Day weekend is in the Expanded format, which includes almost all cards dating back to the base Black & White set.  If you pay attention to the tournament circuit and TCG discussions on multiple platforms (podcasts, web pages, YouTube, etc), then you likely know a good bit of what this entails.  However, if you have played primarily at the Gym or are a new player to the TCG, there are a whole bunch of cards that you likely do not have and may have never seen that are used heavily in the format.  What we are planning to do over the next few articles is introduce you to (or remind you of) some of these powerful older cards that may benefit you when building an Expanded deck. Continue reading

Gym Deck Retired: Solgaleo GX

Today we are going to look at the recently retired Steel-type gym leader deck.  Traditionally, Steel-types in the TCG have been designed to be more defensive, offering larger HP numbers or defensive abilities in exchange for heavier attack costs.  In the sets released prior to Sun & Moon, one had to wonder if Pokemon forgot that they were a thing at all.  When Bronzong (PHF 61) rotated out of the format, taking Aegislash EX with it, it became very difficult to construct a functional Steel deck.  Gym Leader Joel rode a Mega Scizor EX deck about as long as anyone could stand (because M-Scizor really was not that interesting to play), patiently waiting for something else to come along.  Luckily for him, gym leader challenges were not taking place very often during that time, so he did not have to take too many losses with the deck.  Sun & Moon came along and gave Joel a gift in the form of the most offensive Steel pokemon that he had ever seen (and no, we’re not talking Hollywood-offensive, we mean capable of offense-offensive).  Joel immediately turned this gift into a successful deck. Continue reading

Gym Deck Retired: Golisopod GX/Lurantis GX

As we detailed in a few of our latest posts, Gym Leader Joel has been taking a beating in recent Gym Leader challenges.  Despite two recent losses, his Steel-type deck still stands as a tough deck to beat.  On the other hand, Joel’s Grass-type deck has been burned down by several gym trainers recently, losing six times in the last eight challenges.  All six losses were not by the same deck.  The earlier version was a straight Lurantis GX/Tapu Bulu GX deck, which in its own right is a solid deck and did not really need to be retired, as it had a strong record in challenges.  Joel changed from that one simply because he wanted to try something else.  The current version is an all Grass-type Golisopod GX deck.  The strength of Fire-type decks at the moment makes any Grass-type deck vulnerable to defeat.  Building an unbeatable deck is not our goal.  We want our gym decks to help players learn how to focus a deck build towards a specific goal, like focusing on a central attacker or line of attackers, and supporting it with the correct line of Items, Supporters and Stadiums.  Recent challengers have definitely been on point as far as that goal goes.  Like we promised earlier, when a few trainers take down the same deck, we will retire it (if possible) and share it here with you. Continue reading

Operation Eddie Part 2 – Ramses

Today we are going to look at the 2nd deck that spawned from the mind of Eddie R.  As Gym Leader Joel rolled around some ideas for this article, he tried to think of some different options.  Whether it falls into the “fortunately” or “unfortunately” category is for you to decide, but Joel’s mind could not escape this line of thinking.  The combination of Eddie’s last name and the set of new comedy material Eddie brought to league a few weeks ago led Joel to the movie villain, Ramses, from “Nacho Libre”.  While he may not be remembering the details of Eddie’s story exactly, this is pretty close.  The story gave Joel no eagle powers or nutrients, but it has had him laughing since he heard it. Continue reading

Operation Eddie Part 1- Jack The Gripper

As our kids have grown older and their responsibilities have increased, we have trimmed the fat, in the parlance of our times, as to the amount of extracurricular activity they stay involved in.  Rec league sports were fun when they were little, but the charm wore off as the routine of oversized teams, nowhere to practice and saturation of opposing coaches, parents and officials in need of therapy increased each year.  We don’t have delusions of our kids becoming pro athletes and have never filled their heads with that nonsense.  Robotics, despite the program being abandoned by Botetourt County, still proves to be a valuable endeavor as you don’t have to look far to see the demands from the growth of the tech industries in our area and nationwide, so they both are immersed in the new 4H backed team.  Both kids still enjoy the pursuit of individual goals in golf (Logan) and dance (Georgia).  The longest running activity in both of their lives (and ours) is Pokemon.  While the format does change frequently, the game overall has not.  They can easily drift in and out of the game competitively as their interest and time allows.  The thing that keeps us involved, in this Gym Leader’s opinion at least, is character.  Continue reading

Regionals Deck That Won’t Be – Dumpster Fire

Gym Leader Joel has always enjoyed the late-season tournaments in Pokemon organized play, in both the TCG and VGC.  On top of enjoying playing in them, he has enjoyed considerable success in tournaments this time of year.  Why is that?  Gym Leader Joel does not devote much time to deck sites that spout about “The 3 Tops Plays” for the next event, as those seem to be efforts to dictate the format, rather than aid players with helpful info.  This often leaves Joel a step behind in terms of what to expect early on in a season.  However, by this time of the year, he has had time to step back and absorb what has been going on and build decks that handle most, if not all, of the format.  Joel regrets not being able to play this year’s Roanoke event, but as the Fincastle Gym has too strong of an obligation to helping the Regional weekend go as planned, playing is just not a possibility this time.  So, in this environment where secret decks or strong lists kept close to the vest are virtually impossible, here’s a look at what he was heavily considering playing. Continue reading

The Bargain Bin #5 – Eon the Terrible

Today we are going to look at our last deck in our Bargain Bin series.  One reason it fell to our final spot was due to some price checking.  We were afraid that because it features a “promo” card, that it might slip out-of-bounds in terms of pricing.  The other reason we waited was because it was a concept deck up until about 2 weeks ago.  By that, we mean that it only existed to us in theory, and there were no online version to peek at.  Our 1st attempt at the deck was not worthy to post, as it was very inconsistent.  Gym Leaders Logan and Joel took turns tweaking the list, trying to get this potentially deadly combo to  work (without Shaymin EX, which is a stumbling block that every player is going to have to face in about 5 months).  What we have here is the best that we could do and frankly, it’s pretty interesting.  Two nights ago in the PTCGO, I watched Logan fall behind to a Darkrai/Giratina list only to flip the game on his opponent, taking his last 4 prizes in one attack, as the opposing player was locked, watching this one wreck the powerful meta deck. Continue reading

The Bargain Bin #4 – Spaceballs (x2)

Today the Gym Leaders are going to look at 2 decks that Gym Leader Joel cooked up while making a new Steel-type gym leader deck.  The past deck was a Mega Scizor EX deck that simply was not that good and was not very interesting to play.  Mega Scizor has carried a little weight this season when paired with Garbodor.  However, its damage output is not enough, especially as we expect to face trainers playing our weakness (Fire-types in this case).  Today’s 2 decks feature 2 pokemon that sport some big ol’ helmet-shaped heads.  Both decks are pretty ridiculous, but we could not keep these hidden away, as when we’ve played them on the PTCGO, we’ve beaten every version of popular decks that we’ve played with the exception of Volcanion.  These are Steel-types after all, so they do die pretty violent deaths to Volcanion. Continue reading

The Bargain Bin #3 – Furious George

The Fincastle Gym is back with another look at an interesting budget-friendly deck.  Much like the Golduck deck featured here, today’s deck is an iteration of a deck that many players were “hyping” when Sun & Moon was still in the pre-release stage.  Much like Golduck, a quick internet search reveals several similar lists for today’s deck.  While we view those lists as handy guides, we never borrow a list without testing it.  And more often than not, when we test a list, we find other ways that we prefer to play it.  The Gym leaders like our decklists to be as smooth and streamlined as possible.  We think that you will find what we’ve done to this deck is an improvement over the lists we’ve seen floating around.  Our gym leaders believe that the structure of today’s deck will open up some options to other variations (which should make a little more sense later in this article). Continue reading