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Pokemon: General Board General discussion about Pokemon in general. If the topic of your thread does not fall into the subjects in the other boards, post it there. In other words, everything else belongs here if it doesn't have a board of its own.


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  #1  
Old 02-28-2006, 03:04 PM
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Default EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

In the early days of Pokemon TCG, it was a game of simple mechanisms and very low learning curve. As the game had evolved in the first three sets (Base, Jungle, Fossil), things became apparent on how the decks should run. The first thing that came up in these deck lists was that they all were packed with trainers. Why did trainers dominate the early TCG gaming market?

In most TCGs, almost all cards come with costs, and Pokemon is no exception to this rule. The stronger and better Pokemon require you to “pay” the cost of evolving from a weaker form, and to be able to attack, the cost of equipping energies once a turn to the Pokemon allowed balance in the attack system, as expensive abilities cost more cards and turns.

However, there was an exception to this rule: trainers. The concept behind trainers was allowing you to break the rules of the game, and allow you to play with effects that should not occur. Cards such as Potion were exciting, as suddenly the tide of battle can swing in the favor of the potion user, and that created exciting matches. This was the problem: trainers were free. Every tournament caliber deck at that time had 4 Professor Oaks and 4 Bills. Both of these cards single handedly broke the entire format, as suddenly the card advantage was ridiculously high.

Let's take a hypothetical situation. You have a deck that runs 4 of the above two trainers, and are playing a rain dance deck. Your opening hand of 7 most likely has a Professor Oak or a Bill or two due to probability (8 out of 60, 7 opening hand from the 54 on deck). Here we can see how you can break the format with these cards. Usually the first 3 turns of rain dance is slow, but it did not matter. You draw from your deck to 8, and then play your cards accordingly, and then suddenly you can play bills to draw deeper into your deck, and then have an even higher chance of hitting either a Bill or a Professor Oak. As you can see, the amount of card advantage (the advantage in the number of cards in hand and on the actual field) is tremendous. As you hit third turn, you burn on all four cylinders: play Blastoise, equip as many water energies and play your Pokemon, draw a lot with Oaks and Bills, repeat until you cannot do anymore, attack to kill, and take you prize.

As you can see, the game ends in turn 8 most of the time with a rain dance deck (6 prizes = 6 turns, and 2 turns of slow start). Bills and Oaks generated so much card advantage in these kinds of decks that it was no feasible not to play four of each in every deck.

There also was an additional problem with the Pokemon system: winning rewards you with more “win”. By defeating a Pokemon, you draw a prize, and that exact prize adds one more to your card advantage. This means that card advantage is important to the game itself, and therefore all cards that give card advantage are automatically good.

Let's go back to our raindance deck for a second. It played 4 copies of energy search. Why did it do that? The answer had to deal with the fact that bills and oaks were so amazing, that any additional chances at hitting these guys made the card feasible. Not only do I thin out my deck by 1, I can do this for free.

Energy Removals became rampant. It was the most efficient way of setting your opponent back one turn, as you have nothing to lose (you pay 1 card to destroy 1 card). It was free.

Gust of Wind became a deck staple. It allowed you to switch an opponent's Pokemon that they worked hard to build up on the bench and you blast it away one turn before it could be completed, generating you massive card advantage (you pay 1 card, but you potentially take out 4 or five cards on your opponent's side PLUS the gust of wind replaced itself with a prize).

The problem with trainers was simple: it was free. Almost all of the staples in the early environment were free trainers. It was the idea that playing free cards that allow you to do things that would have cost a fortune to do that made trainers too good. To end this rather short article, I would conclude by putting out some statistics of cards that are equivalent (or close equivalents) of the above trainers from the popular card game magic: the gathering (note that mana is used to pay for these cards, and mana is a similar concept to that of energies in Pokemon, except it's to pretty much everything in magic).

Bill – Counsel of the Soratomi (3 mana), Inspiration (4 mana)
Professor Oak – Memory Jar (5 mana, and it was BANNED at 5 mana for being too good)
Energy Removal – Stone Rain (3 mana), Caustic Rain (4 mana), Molten Rain (3 mana)
Gust of Wind – no equivalent (I guess you can say point removal. But those costs vary too much due to life payments and other aspects of magic not in Pokemon)
Energy Search – Rampant Growth (2 mana), sprouting vines (3 mana)

As you can see, cards like Bill couldn't be played until third turn AND it would set the magic player back one turn of development, as they spent all of their mana for that turn to play it. Putting that into perspective, being able to play all of that the turn you start off without going behind at all on the turns made trainers the dominant force in the early Pokemon TCG.

Last edited by PokemonElite2000; 03-08-2006 at 04:41 AM.
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  #2  
Old 02-28-2006, 03:08 PM
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Default Re: EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

Criticisms and the like welcome. Also, I'm too lazy to check spelling and what not, just check that out, too. lol
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  #3  
Old 02-28-2006, 11:27 PM
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Default Re: EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

I do like the article, but I also have a question.

How have Trainer's been toned down so as to not completely determine the outcome of the card game?
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Old 03-01-2006, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

I haven't been monitoring the actual TCG front since Neo Genesis, but the fixes they tried on it up until then were:

Supporters: This, while it doesn't add to the costing of the cards, does go around the problem of sliding 8 to 9 trainers that are considered "strong" but not "strong enough". Generally speaking supporters' costing is the "once per turn". I don't find it too significant on the playing side, but it does limit you a bit on your deck building, as you still want to maximize the trainer count usually.

Effects that happen to everyone instead of just you also sprang up, with cards such as double gust that require a bit more strategy to employ than the regular gust of wind. The symmetry of the cards help balance them, but generally speaking symmetry is NOT a good method of getting around the broken problem, as cards such as professor oak will still be inherently broken even if your opponent can also do it when you do it. And generally you can get around symmetry to a certain point. This also included the use of field cards, which sometimes aren't really the best at giving both sides a "fair fight", if you know what I mean.

A cost of being unable to play trainers right after playing a particular trainer popped up on cards such as professor elms (apparently a "fix" to oaks, but really it's just as broken, even if its ability is weaker AND has the drawback). These are usually reserved for cards that are too strong even for supporters, but sadly speaking they generally are just plain ban material anyway. The inherent problem is that you can play trainers before playing elm to minimize that drawback.

Equipments also show up on the scene as a method to create more balance. The idea behind it is to make it so the some of the more powerful effects cannot be triggered until a clause is acheived and also the fact that it can only be used on a single pokemon, and once you commit the equipment to the pokemon, it's stuck there, which generally makes them significantly weaker than their normal trainer counterparts (i.e. berries to potions). However, I have to mention that they did mess up on the gold berry business, as it's slightly better than that of the super potion.

And speaking of super potion, an easy way to cost cards was just to force you to sacrifice energies or force you to discard. Make you lose card advantage while doing it. Earlier days these were reserved for more powerful effects of a particular trainer (i.e. super potion, super energy removal, etc.), and quite frankly can also be used to cost just whatever that is inherently broken to make it less broken.

Also, they can force different undesirable side effects. For example, the bill fix is mary, which forced you to shuffle two cards back to your deck after drawing two. Of course, this made mary horrible and generated a -1 card advantage, but it was an attempt to fix bill.

The best way to do things, is probably to mix them all up. Something like oak, if it were to be fixed, would probably be taxed on many ends to make it less broken.

The question now is whether or not these methods worked. That question I cannot answer, as I have no grasp of the current metagame at all.

Last edited by Kenny_C.002; 03-01-2006 at 12:37 AM.
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  #5  
Old 03-07-2006, 11:30 PM
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Default Re: EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

I'm just posting to say that I agree, seeing as in the tournaments I played in, it wasn't uncommon for me to be laying down 60 damage on the 2nd turn, basically raping my opponent in less than 10 turns. We can all thank Pokemon Breeder, Blastoise, Bill, and Professor Oak for that. I was never a fan of Sneasel, as he required two Energy of which you could only have 4 in the deck, and you were limited to attaching 1 per turn, whereas Blastoise (with deck thinning power) could lay the smack down a lot quicker, and with more dependability (I hate flipping coins for damage, honestly). Sneasel also depended on there being a lot of Pokemon in play, which I found to be rather annoying, whereas Blastoise could pawn off your opponent on his own.

I think the TCG got smart with Trainers by limiting their use, but then completely screwed up the rest of the metagame by increasing the Energy to Damage ratio, and then adding gay crap like Pokemon EX. I also would have loved to see standard Dark and Metal energy that didn't have pros and cons, just regular energy, so that Dark and Metal decks were more easily used.
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  #6  
Old 03-08-2006, 04:51 AM
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Default Re: EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

Well trainers are inherently broken, as I've said in the article. It's not uncommon to rely on trainers, especially when they are free. Even with limiting use, they really haven't fixed anything too much IMO, but I'm not in touch with the metagame to see the NRG/damage ratio change and the like...
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Old 03-15-2006, 01:57 AM
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Default Re: EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironshell Blastoise
by increasing the Energy to Damage ratio, and then adding gay crap like Pokemon EX. I also would have loved to see standard Dark and Metal energy that didn't have pros and cons, just regular energy, so that Dark and Metal decks were more easily used.
was that really necessary? specially coming from a mod, you should have definately considered an alternative word.


anyways, the article is true, players also liked playing strong basics instead of evolutions, we now have two formats though, Unlimited and Modified, unlimited allows every card while modified allows only a certain number of recent expansions (about 2 years worth) and the metagame is very well, yes they indeed increased the damage per energy ratio but not in a bad way, i mean in unlimited old pokemon are still as playable so obviously they still balance out. Adding PokemoN EX was a great move, now you have very strong pokemon but at a prize, they count as 2 regular pokemon, it definately has enough pros and cons. they made pokemon powers divided, pokebodies and pokepowers so now things are made more fair, in modified no regular trainer is too strong, while supporters being limited to one per turn works good, we no longer have cards like Oak.

the game right now has some great Official Play/tournaments/prizes and strategies it is very fun, the player base is growing to Magic:TG levels, everyone should definately check it out.
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  #8  
Old 03-23-2006, 02:57 AM
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Default Re: EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

I tend to disagree that the once per turn penalty is still good enough to take down the worst of offenders on the supporters, but certainly it still helps to balance the game.

The one major mechanic of the pokemon game that worked terribly was the prize system. They should take a page from Duel Masters on how the prize system should work.
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  #9  
Old 05-17-2009, 07:45 AM
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Default Re: EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

TBH they should just drop prizes altogether, since you get nothing for beating one Pokemon in the games anyway. It can potentially nerf if you only have one of your important cards, but every tournament worthy deck carries 4 of such important cards.

Supporters don't really fix the problem IMHO. I have a Mudkip line. I have 4 Celio's and 4 Wally's Training. On the odds, I either pull Celio's and Wally's Training and anyone of the Mudkip line. If things go well, by Turn 3 I have a Swampert EX ready to go (150HP) dishing out 60 damage, then 80 damage the next turn, and 100 for subsequent turns as I attach energy to it. I don't even need Gust of Wind to nip problems in the bud, Swampert has a move that hits one Pokemon for 40 damage. This can finish off something weakened but still threatening sitting on the bench. This is just one of the EXs. Not top-tier, but packs enough of a punch.

Trainers may be less broken, but Pokemon are way more broken now.
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Last edited by Starkipraggy; 05-17-2009 at 07:51 AM.
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  #10  
Old 05-18-2009, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: EPA: Why Trainers Dominated Early Pokemon TCG

Even today its "Holon this" and "Holon that" I tested such a deck and I won in 3 turns.
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