Tag Archives: pokemon tcg

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

Congratulations Chris, v3.0!

far3Let’s see if we can frame this one in terms of the timeline of the Fincastle Pokemon Gym.  Gym Leader Logan had not yet qualified for his 1st World Championships.  Gym Leader Georgia, well, was not a Gym Leader.  She played of few games here and there, but had not become powerful female World Championship level player that little boys all over the country dreaded facing (because they knew they were getting ready to have the butts handed to them… BY A GIRL!!!).  Gym Leader Marthe was not an organizer.  In fact, she had just become a judge and had only helped out in a few small events.  Speaking of events, the 1st Battle Roads to be held in our area had not come yet and we were still campaigning to get our 1st Roanoke area pre-release.  Our Gym Leader Challenge was a brand new concept and our days at league usually consisted of multiple leaders fielding challenges all day at league, sometimes to the tune of 5 or 6 challenges in a single league meeting.  That is what was going on in Fincastle the last time that Chris L won a gym badge. Continue reading

Congratulations Eddie, v1.0!

As promised, the Fincastle Gym hit another milestone at our league.  Sunday, Gym Leader Joel battled the youngest player to ever take on one of our Gym Leader Challenges.  Eddie R, maybe standing all of 3 1/2′ tall, is about as full of himself as any 5-year-old that we have met.  To be good at this game, you need to able to read and comprehend ideas that are pretty foreign to the average pluff15-year-old mind.  You need to be able to perform basic math and at times, math that goes way beyond the definition of “basic”.  You need to be able to grasp the strategy of a themed deck, whether it is a creation of the best cards you have or a deck based off of the top decks played by Masters and Seniors.  Pokemon rates this game for ages 6 and up, but from what we seen on average, most kids aren’t ready until that 7-8 range.  The average 5-year-old (in our country, anyway) does not read and is not expected to be able to.  If their parents are active with them, many 5-year-olds are counting, but that’s a far cry from doing math.  The most complex strategy in most 5-year-old brains is how get something they want or how to not do something their parents want them to do.  We have absolutely zero qualms in labeling any 5 year that can play this TCG as “exceptional”. Continue reading

A Plethora Of October Events Remain At The Gym!

guapo1Would we say we have a plethora of events?  Oh yes, we have a plethora of events still remaining in October at the Gym.  And don’t worry, we would not tell someone that we have a plethora, if we did not have any idea what a plethora is.  We definitely know what it means to have a plethora.  Sorry to say, there will not be any pinatas involved, but we hope each event will be filled with little surprises.  We are sorry that we have not made the time to post here in the last week or so, but October has already been a very busy month for the Gym.  Gym Leaders Georgia and Logan got their feet wet in their 1st major event of the year, the Orlando Regional.  Gym Leader Marthe is knee-deep in the planning stages of the Blue Ridge Regional coming to Roanoke next May.  All of the leaders have been busy welcoming and teaching new players at both our Fincastle and Lexington leagues.  At times it feels like events are falling from the sky like gringos.  We try to handle them with a little more grace than El Guapo. Continue reading

Gym Leader Georgia Claims 11th Place At Nationals!

DSCN6516We’re working on a nickname… something that fits nicely with someone who continually breaks new grounds… maybe something do with earthquakes… I dunno, the “Quaker” sounds too 1600’s.  Like we said, we’re working on it.  Whatever it ends up being, it will be a name that Gym Leader Georgia has earned… and then some.  Not only is she the first player from the Fincastle Pokemon Gym to earn World Championship invitations to both the TCG and VG competitions, Georgia now holds the claim of earning the highest finish at the National Championships by a player from the Gym.  Georgia battled her way out of a deep hole, twice, this weekend and narrowly missed the Top 8 finals (which were locked quickly as all 8 players used “intentional draws” over the last 2 rounds to get in).  For her efforts, Georgia picks up another 100 Championship Points, $1000 more in prize money and 2 booster boxes of cards.  Not a bad weekend’s work. Continue reading

Pokemon Announces 2015 Rotation – XY-On!

xyThe set rotation and format for the 2015-16 Pokemon TCG season has been announced.  The Standard Format for the upcoming season will be XY-on, meaning that the remaining Black & White sets; Boundaries Crossed, Plasma Storm, Plasma Freeze, Plasma Blast and the reprint set, Legendary Treasures will all rotate out of the format, in addition to the remaining BW Promo cards.  Black star promo cards will rotate to XY01 and higher cards.  Also included in the Standard format will be all cards in the XY Kalos Starter Set and the XY Trainer Kit.  As we’ve pointed out before,  Play!Pokemon traditionally rotates the oldest 3 sets each year.  This rotation lets 5 sets go, which seems like a lot of cards (which it is).  However, it is what we expected and what makes sense, as a cut in the middle of the Plasma sets would have left too many pieces of card “engines”, or basically too may dead cards in play.

While last year’s rotation was a lot to sort out and was a bit confusing for those new to the game, this rotation should be more cut and dry and easy to follow.  Last season’s rotation was convoluted by various reprinted cards from earlier sets.  The only cards that will survive this rotation by way of reprints are some of the staple Trainer cards that have received printings in XY and newer sets.

For those of you that are not familiar or are new to the game and have not experienced a rotation before, here’s a quick explanation of “reprints” in the pokemon TCG.  Any card, when reprinted in another set that is still legal for play, also stays legal (even if the set it is in is rotated) as long as its name and text are reprinted the same, even if the artwork/picture changes.  For example, take a look at the item card “Switch”.  All printings are still legal for use, because the only thing that is different on each of the cards is the artwork.

sw2sw3sw1

Keep in mind that this rotation does not go into effect until September 1, 2015.  Those of you planning on attending the 2015 World Championships in Boston will still play Boundaries Crossed-Roaring Skies through that event.

The 1st set to go with this rotation is Boundaries Crossed.  The Gym has found that the following way of cataloging these cards is the easiest reference for everyone.  For each set, we’ll list “Trainer”  cards that are rotated out, “Trainer” cards that remain in the format, then do the same for Pokemon.  Instead of listing all pokemon from each set, we will focus on those that see regular use in competitive play.  If any special energy are lost in these sets, then we will list them with the Trainer cards.  Here we go.

Boundaries Crossed – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:

  • Aspertia City Gym (Stadium)
  • Bianca
  • Cheren
  • Computer Search (ACESPEC)
  • Energy Search
  • Gold Potion (ACESPEC)
  • Hugh
  • Rocky Helmet
  • Skyla
  • Town Map

Boundaries Crossed – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:

  • Great Ball (reprinted in XY)
  • Poke Ball (reprinted in TK5)
  • Potion (reprinted in TK5)
  • Switch (multiple reprints)

Boundaries Crossed – Pokemon That Are Rotated:

  • Blastoise (“Deluge”)
  • Ditto (“Transform”)
  • Dusknoir (“Sinister Hand”)
  • Keldeo EX (“Rush In”, regular and full art)
  • Landorus EX (regular and full art)
  • Terrakion (“Retaliate”, secret rare)

Boundaries Crossed – Pokemon That Remain In Format:

  • N/A

While the list of pokemon that are lost from this set’s rotation does not seem very long, this list contains some very big hitters.  Keldeo EX has transitioned from its introduction from one of the best attackers in the game, to one of the kexbest and most versatile “techs” in the game.  Blastoise/Keldeo/Black Kyurem  was (and still is) an amazing deck.  After Seismitoad EX ruined the Blastoise half of the deck, Keldeo has still found its way into everything from Steel-type to Fairy-type and even Darkness-type decks, thanks to its “Rush In” ability.  The most heavily played pokemon from this set at the moment is Landorus EX (a card many used to be scared to play because of Keldeo EX).  Landorus EX leads the way in the heavily played Landorus/Crobat lists circulating at the moment.  Landorus also saw a lot of play at last year’s Nats and Worlds in a combo deck with Mewtwo EX and Garbodor.  Terrakion has not seen much play lately, but has also proven to be a versatile “tech” in any deck looking to counter pokemon with Fighting-type weaknesses.  Ditto and Dusknoir, while not staples of the format by any means, still see limited play.

The list of Trainer cards lost from Boundaries Crossed also contains a pair of true format staples, as well as several cards that still make their way into some lists.  The biggest loss from the set surely is the ACESPEC, “Computer Search”.  “Computer Search” is the ACESPEC of choice in at least 80% of deck lists, as itcsrc allows you to search for anything, whether it be an energy card or that much-needed opening Supporter card.  As far as ACESPEC cards go, this rotation eliminates all of them.  We will list the relevant ones by set as we go.  Joining “Computer Search” is a Supporter card that has declined in usage lately, but has been one of the most used Supporter card of the last few years.  That card is “Skyla”.  When “Tropical Beach” was still in the format, most lists played 4 copies of “Skyla”.  The remainder of the Trainer cards in this set have their places in many decklists, but none as much as these 2 cards.

The 2nd set on the chopping block, Plasma Storm, is the introductory set of the only real theme engine of the current format.  Plasma Storm provided the groundwork (which was expanded over the 2 sets that followed its release) for an “engine” similar to that which we saw in Dark Explorers.  By “engine”, we mean a set of both pokemon, Trainer cards and energy cards that all worked together to make combinations that are both fast and powerful.  Plasma decks would not fully hit their stride until the set after this one, at which point they dominated the format for some time.  Here’s what goes with this set.

Plasma Storm – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:

  • Bicycle
  • Colress (regular and full art)
  • Colress Machine
  • Dowsing Machine (ACESPEC)
  • Eviolte
  • Hypnotoxic Laser
  • Plasma Energy (special energy)
  • Plasma Frigate (stadium)
  • Random Receiver (secret rare)
  • Scramble Switch (ACESPEC)
  • Victory Piece (ACESPEC)
  • Virbank City Gym (stadium)

Plasma Storm – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:

  • Escape Rope (reprinted in PRC)

Plasma Storm – Pokemon That Are Rotated:

  • Articuno EX
  • Black Kyurem EX (“Black Ballista”)
  • Blastoise (“Deluge”, secret rare)
  • Cobalion EX (regular and full art)
  • Donphan (“Spinning Turn”)
  • Klinklang (“Plasma Steel”)
  • Lugia EX (regular and full art)
  • Moltres EX
  • Snorlax (“Block”)
  • Trubbish (“Tool Drop”)
  • Victini EX
  • Zapdos EX

Plasma Storm – Pokemon That Remain In Format:

  • N/A

As far as pokemon go, the loss of Donphan probably has the biggest effect on the format.  Donphan received huge attack boosts in Furious Fists, making it a far more powerful attacker than was likely ever intended.  Being able to hit and run behind various “shields” (like “Safeguard” pokemon and Aegislash EX) allowed Donphan to emerge as one of the only pokemon from this set to survive the cobexreleases of basic blocking Pyroar and the item blocking Toad.  The only other viable pokemon from this set at them moment is the reliable Cobalion EX, who has doubled as a counter to both special energy heavy decks and “Safeguard” pokemon, as Cobalion EX‘s “Steel Bullet” can hit through any wall.  Black Kyurem EX also saw some success recently in Mega Manectric decks as a clean up attacker.

The core of Plasma Storm, which is mostly Item cards, pretty much died with the release of Seismitoad EX because of the ease with which it blocks Item vbgymcards.  However, the removal of this set takes away a powerful weapon from those who play Seismitoad EX decks.  The “Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym” combo has added firepower to any deck that can make room for it.laser  While “Laser/Bank” is a luxury to some decks, dedicated Seismitoad EX decks depend on it for damage.  Storm is the only set that the Supporter card “Colress” was printed in.  Its use has steadily increased over the last 2 seasons.  While not used as often, this set’s ACESPEC cards, “Dowsing Machine” and “Scramble Switch” were cards that we at the Gym have enjoyed using in several decks.

The 2nd plasma set, Plasma Freeze, completed the plasma engine and gave the format the heavily played “TDK” deck (Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem).  Again, the releases of Pyroar and Seismitoad EX  drove variants of this deck from competitive play.  However, some of the small HP pokemon from this set would rise up into the competitive ranks and provide solid counters to decks that seemed to be taking over what was looking to be a very narrow format.  Let’s look at what goes with the rotation of Plasma Freeze.

Plasma Freeze – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:

  • Float Stone
  • Frozen City (stadium)
  • Ghetsis (regular and full art)
  • Life Dew (ACESPEC)
  • Max Potion (secret rare)
  • Plasma Energy (special energy)
  • Professor Juniper (full art)
  • Rock Guard (ACESPEC)
  • Shadow Triad
  • Superior Energy Retrieval
  • Team Plasma Badge
  • Team Plasma Ball

Plasma Freeze – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:

  • Ultra Ball (secret rare, reprinted in FLF & ROS)

Plasma Freeze – Pokemon That Are Rotated:

  • Absol
  • Deoxys EX (regular and full art)
  • Electrode (“Magnetic Draw”)
  • Empoleon (“Diving Draw” secret rare)
  • Exeggcute (“Propagation”)
  • Flareon (“Vengeance”)
  • Garbodor (“Garbotoxin” secret rare)
  • Garchomp (“Mach Cut” secret rare)
  • Kingdra (“Dragon Vortex”)
  • Kyurem (“Frost Spear”)
  • Latias EX (regular and full art)
  • Latios EX (regular and full art)
  • Leafeon (“Energy Crush”)
  • Mr Mime (“Bench Barrier”)
  • Sigilyph (“Safeguard” secret rare)
  • Thundurus EX (regular and full art)
  • Tornadus EX (regular and full art)
  • Weavile (“Vilify”)

Plasma Freeze – Pokemon That Remain In Format:

  • N/A

There’s not a pokemon listed above that does not make it into at least a semi-competitive deck.  While the core plasma pokemon have faded from play, the plasma “Eeveelutions”, mainly Flareon and Leafeon increased their value.  Flareon has doubled as both the center of a speedy deck and as an alternate leafeonattacker in “Night March” lists.  Leafeon proves to be the best counter to both “Primals” (Groudon and Kyogre) as well as Seismitoad EX.  When we play online and grow tired of the endless stream of Seismitoad decks, we simply switch over to our Leafeon/Virizion EX deck and drive opponents into game concessions, as they never seem to stick around to watch this 100HP cat wreck their deck.  The other pair of low HP pokemon cycled out with this set are very dear to Gym Leader Joel, namely, Weavile & Exeggcute.  Weavile took a nose-dive like all of the other item-dependent plasma pokemon, but Exeggcute still seems to find its way into many lists.  The loss of Mr Mime mostly seems to hurt “Night March” decks, which may or may not prove to be viable after this rotation, as that deck loses a few other key components as well.

fltThe items that depart with Plasma Freeze, combined with the pokemon mentioned above, make this set’s rotation seem like the biggest blow to the current format.  The card that sticks out to us the most is the Item card, “Float Stone”.  At a glance it may seem like just another Tool card, but to us its versatility is unrivaled.  Whether placed on a Keldeo EX to provide that free “Rush In/Retreat” combo, on a Garbodor to lock up abilities or on a bench-sitter to protect it from being caught & stalled, we are always trying to fit copies of this card into lists.  Our prized full art “Juniper” cards are lost with this set, drastically reducing our ability to “bling” out our decks.  2 more ACESPEC cards rockydepart with this set.  To us, the most notable is “Rock Guard”.  To date we have not seen it (thankfully), but even as much as we loathe the existence of Seismitoad EX, we often wonder why those who pilot those decks don’t play “Rock Guard” on their Toad.  The tool would be un-removable after a “Quaking Punch” and could often force someone to KO their own pokemon as they attack.  Who knows.  We don’t play it and are done for this season, so its an idea that is there to be taken or left.

The last of the plasma sets to go, Plasma Blast, provided the parts for the powerful, multi-tournament winning Virizion/Genesect deck that has been one of the most dominant decks in recent history.  Lets jump in and look at what goes with this one.

Plasma Blast – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:

  • G Booster (ACESPEC)
  • G Scope (ACESPEC)
  • Iris (regular and full art)
  • Master Ball (ACESPEC)
  • Plasma Energy (special energy)
  • Professor Juniper (regular)
  • Scoop Up Cyclone (ACESPEC)
  • Silver Bangle
  • Silver Mirror

Plasma Blast – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:

  • Energy Retrieval (reprinted in PRC)
  • Pokemon Catcher (reprinted in TK5)
  • Rare Candy (regular and secret rare, reprinted in PRC)
  • Ultra Ball (reprinted in FLF & ROS)

Plasma Blast – Pokemon That Are Rotated:

  • Blastoise (“Deluge”, alternate art)
  • Dialga EX (“Team Plasma” regular and full art)
  • Dusknoir (“Sinister Hand” secret rare)
  • Exeggcute (“Propagation” secret rare)
  • Genesect EX (regular and full art)
  • Jirachi EX (regular and full art)
  • Kyurem EX (“Outrage”)
  • Masquerain (“Tool Reversal”)
  • Palkia EX (regular and full art)
  • Sigilyph (“Toolbox”)
  • Tropius (“Energy Press”)
  • Virizion EX (regular and full art)
  • Tornadus EX (regular and full art)
  • Weavile (“Vilify”)

Plasma Blast – Pokemon That Remain In Format:

  • N/A

gnsect The loss of Virizion/Genesect is pretty self-explanatory.  The deck provided a very easy to follow strategy, allowing new players to be instantly competitive without having to be one of the great minds in the game.  For skilled players, V/G was open to tweak and tech to adjust to changes in the format (and still is for that matter).  Look at the 2 hideously boring decks that just faced off in the Master’s finals at Nats (Seismitoad EX vs Wailord EX).  V/G is the counter/answer to both decks.

redThe Trainer cards lost with the rotation of Plasma Blast don’t have a huge impact to much outside of Virizion/Genesect decks.  Blast contains the last batch of ACEPEC cards, presumably that we will every see.  “Scoop Up Cyclone” will surely be mourned by Crobat players.  “Silver Bangle” is the only other notable trainer card from the set, which will easily give way to “Muscle Band” in most lists.  Plasma Blast contained the last printing of “Professor Juniper”, so it will officially be gone from the format with this rotation.  However, perhaps in an effort to reach some sort of gender equality among the Supporter red1lines, “Juniper” is replaced by “Professor Sycamore” in the XY sets, which does exactly the same thing.  If gender equality was the goal, perhaps the hot, redhead female professor should have been supplanted by something other than a long-haired french dude (just saying….).

The last of the 5 sets to exit the format with this year’s rotation is the set that made last year’s rotation so convoluted.  Legendary Treasures is the set that kept a random mix of both regular and EX pokemon from sets all the way back to the original Black & White set mixed into this last year’s format.  Its rotation from the Standard format cleans up the format a bit by eliminating some combos that are perhaps a little bit too good.

Legendary Treasures – Trainer Cards That Are Rotated:

  • Cedric Juniper
  • Elesa

Legendary Treasures – Trainer Cards That Remain In Format:

  • Crushing Hammer (reprinted in KSS)
  • Double Colorless Energy (reprinted in XY and PHF)
  • Energy Switch (reprinted in FFI & ROS)

Legendary Treasures – Pokemon That Are Rotated:

  • Chandelure EX
  • Cobalion (“Iron Breaker”)
  • Darkrai EX
  • Emboar (“Inferno Fandango”)
  • Emolga (“Call For Family” regular and radiant)
  • Excadrill EX
  • Garbodor (“Garbotoxin” alternate art)
  • Garchomp (“Mach Cut” alternate art)
  • Keldeo EX
  • Kyurem (“Glaciate”)
  • Kyurem EX (“Frozen Wings”)
  • Lugia EX
  • Meloetta EX (regular and radiant)
  • Mew EX (radiant)
  • Mewtwo EX
  • Rayquaza (“Shred”)
  • Reshiram (alternate art, radiant and gold)
  • Reshiram EX
  • Shaymin EX (“Revenge Blast”)
  • Sigilyph (“Safeguard”, alternate art)
  • Spiritomb (“Sealing Scream”)
  • Terrakion (“Retaliate”, alternate art)
  • Victini EX
  • Zekrom (alternate art and gold)
  • Zekrom EX
  • Zoroark (“Brutal Bash”)

Legendary Treasures – Pokemon That Remain In Format:

  • N/A

This long list of pokemon that finally depart the format are almost all reprints.  For the 1st time in years, we will see a format with no Mewtwo EX, no Darkrai EX and no Garbodor.  We single out these 3 because they have time and time again faded and resurfaced, making appearances in winning decks in far too many major tournaments to note here.  Mew EX will be a huge loss to lovers of “Night March” decks.  The remainder of those listed above may hold some places as fan favorites, but don’t fill many roles outside of “techs” variations of more buhpopular decks. Legendary Treasures was a great set for new players to pick up when it came out, as it had a much higher pull-rate with good rare cards and EX’s than other sets.  However, as a league organizer and writer that has struggled to help people keep up with what is legal for play and what is not, I’m not sad to see the set go buh-bye.

We mentioned at the top of this post that BW Promo cards are all rotating out and just wanted to elaborate on that briefly.  Last season, the rotation made a cut in the middle of the BW Promo cards.  If memory serves, last year numbers BW51 and higher remained legal.  This year all BW number black star promos nnnrotate.  Most of these cards are reprints as well, usually sold as the feature card in a collector tin or blister pack.  The biggest exception to this is the league promo Supporter card “N”.  To keep it in play last year, Play!Pokemon supplied a league promo “N”, numbered BW100 (the only time we’ve seen a league card get a promo number).  This year’s rotation officially removes “N” from the Standard Format.  “N” is probably the most universally played card in the TCG.  Whether used to help you get started at the beginning of a game, or to try and come back against your opponent late in a match, “N” is easily the most powerful card the TCG has seen since the definition change was made to “Pokemon Catcher”.  It will be interesting to see how deck lists adjust to the absence of “N” as we begin the 2015-2016 season.

That should about wrap it up for this rotation.  The Fincastle Gym Leaders hope that posts like this serve as a helpful guide for navigating yearly card rotations.  As we stated earlier, the Standard Format does not rotate until September 1, 2015.  Unless event organizers specify otherwise, Premier events will use the Standard Format (XY-on).  The 2015-16 season will contain some Expanded Format events.  However, we are not permitted to elaborate on that until Play!Pokemon makes their own announcement.  Once they do, we will post some helpful info regarding that announcement.  Until then, all we can do is remind you that you may want to hold on to some of your cards from these sets, as you will be able to use them during the upcoming season.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to email us or seek us out a league.  Thankfully, this rotation is not as hard to sort our as last years.  Until next time, see you at the Gym!

Pokemon Announces 2014 Rotation – Boundaries Crossed-On!

bconThe set rotation and format for the 2014-15 Pokemon TCG season has been announced.  The upcoming season will be Boundaries Crossed-on, meaning the Next Destinies, Dark Explorers and Dragons Exalted will rotate out of the format, in addition to a small group of BW Promo cards.  While not always the case, traditionally Play!Pokemon rotates the oldest 3 sets each year, which is exactly what they did and what we at the Gym were anticipating.

Now, if the rotation was cut and dry, with all cards from those sets gone, then there would not be much else to say.  However, over the last few years, Pokemon has developed a trend of reprinting cards throughout various sets with different artwork or as “secret rares”.  Adding to that, the final Black & White set, Legendary Treasures was a set comprised of many reprintings of various cards that have appeared throughout the Black & White series.  So, what we will try to do for you in the course of this article is to lay out a guide, of sorts, by set, of what goes out and what stays in for the upcoming season.  Keep in mind, however, as you sort your cards out, that Pokemon has announced a special Continue reading

2014 Nationals Wrap Up

2014pokenats2 019The 2014 Pokemon TCG and VG Nationals are now complete.  Yep, as the picture illustrates, today was the end.  As can be seen in more detail on pokemon.com, the finals in the 3 different age groups showcased a nice mix of decks, verifying the health of the game.  By that, we mean that no one deck dominated the tournament.  The decks present at the end really speak more of the strength of the players commanding them than of the decks themselves.  The Fincastle Gym Leaders played against similar decks (if not identical decks) throughout the weekend, losing to some, while dominating others.  In sports this is referred to as “parity”.  Parity is probably the most accurate term to describe what we saw here.  Any deck, in the right hands, is capable of beating another.

2014pokenats2 001Gym Leaders Logan and Georgia both entered the Last Chance Qualifier event on Sunday with some pretty crazy decks of their own.  Their intentions were like Joel’s on Saturday… to collect the promo playmat and just have fun playing.  They picked up a few wins and some bonus booster packs along the way.  Gym Leader Joel shifted into low gear on Sunday, picking up a large latte and kicking back to watch the TCG and VG finals.  As you can hopefully see in the photos, all games were played on center stage while being broadcast on the big screen (and internet) with live play-by-play commentary.  Event organizers did an excellent job of turning a card game and a 3DS video game into a spectator sport.

The hardest working member of the Gym this weekend was Gym Leader Marthe.  Marthe was a runner all 3 days in different divisions in the main event and then in the qualifier events.  It wasn’t all work, though, as Marthe entered the Professor’s Cup.  The Cup is a tournament open only to qualified Pokemon Professors.  Each year, this event presents a different special format.  For this 2014pokenats2 010year, the Cup format was an XY-on tournament where players built 30 card decks and played 3 prize card games.  The other caveat was that decks could only contain “common” and “uncommon” cards… no “rare” cards allowed.  To top off the craziness, a special rule was announced each round that would shake up play a bit (or in some cases, a lot).  For example, one round was a “Simon Says” round, in which, of course, players had to say “Simon says…” for every action they took or their turn ended.  In another round, players swapped decks and played against their own deck.  The highlight of the event was probably the game that was decided by opposing players kicking field goals, paper football style, with pokemon cards.  The Cup finalists took home IPAD Mini’s and promo backpacks.  All competitors picked up booster packs and promo items each round.  Through all the insanity, Marthe went 3-4 and finished in 44th place in a field of over 80 professors.

The Fincastle Gym Leaders are packing up and heading out of here, stopping for a little rafting on the New River on the way back.  We will be back at league next Sunday at our regular time.  Here are a few more photos, including the finals play area, the commentary booth, the convention center and our crazy daughter.  See you next Sunday at the Gym!

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X & Y Rule Changes and A Bit About a Beach

flippThe release of the first X&Y cards on Friday (11/8) brought with it the 2nd  (and hopefully last round) of major changes to the Pokemon TCG.  This set of changes, much like the change to the “2 of 3” format for Regionals is aimed at making the TCG a more complete contest between players as opposed to a game ending in a “donk” or on the 2nd turn.  Whether this will happen or not remains to be seen.  To increase the likelihood of a game developing, Pokemon has also changed the definition of the most powerful card in the game (and no, we’re not talking about Tropical Beach… at least not yet). Continue reading