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W28 Perfect Shuffle Pokémon TCG

2018-01-07

This is the second version of the “make two balanced decks, add some new cards and change some rules”- challenge. Heres the first one Double Active.

Heres some templates I made to print and fill in the card text: Pokémon and Trainer Proxy Page.pdf

Summary

I tried to make rules that remove trainers which draws or search for cards, and instead gives the player a steady stream of Pokémon, trainers and energies from 3 different decks. To give cards a higher “card value”. I also moved a lot of powerful cards to the prize cards so you can’t draw them early but certainty will draw them later in the game. The Perfect Shuffle rule set is playable: you get to play with a lot more of the normally underplayed cards and trainers have a less dominating role in the game, but games got a lot more longer and kind of static, to be continued…

Extra Rules

Back up cardsExtra Rule Back Up & Rare Prices

  • Instead of prize cards, each player plays with Back Up cards.
  • When a Pokémon is knocked out the Pokémon’s owner draws a Back Up card.
  • All cards that compare the amount of Prize cards each player has, instead count the amount of Back Up cards your opponent has.

This is a kind of a rubber band effect [1]. Like in Mario Kart, when you start to get behind you also get better items, which makes it easier to get back up. Normally in Pokémon tcg when it it is getting good it continues to get better, which is kind of backwards. But tbh usually its just one card, and in normal games you draw a lot of cards anyway so the prize cards doesn’t have that much of a snowball effect. But because I added the rare prize card rule, the prize cards are a lot cooler, and with the perfect shuffle rule you no longer draw a lot of cards or search for them, so to gain specific cards has an advantage.

Rare PrizeExtra Rule Back Up & Rare Prices

  • Each player may play with a maximum of 12 rare and evolution Pokémon cards.
  • Maximum 2 copies.
  • Shuffle them and put them aside as your prize cards.
  • Every time you would normally choose 1 prize card instead choose 2. If you have any basic or evolution Pokémon in your hand, you may trade it for 1 of the chosen prize cards. Shuffle the remaining 2 into your deck.

This rule is kind of over the top. Mostly because most decks play with a lot of rares, so to have all of them inside of the prize cards kind of cuts the teeth of the decks. And a lot of cards becomes a lot less useful, like good starter Pokémon that you want early in the games, now you get them a lot later, and then its kind of to late to be useful. But its also makes the game a little less random. You can’t draw the over powered cards early in the game by chance, or by searching for them with trainers, so you kind of have to play with the low level cards early on. And it also make the game a lot more reliable. Because you know that your rare cards are inside the prize cards, and when you get a prize card you know that its going to be 2 of the 12 you put there. Rare is not really a good indicator of power level, so I would have liked to walk through all cards and add a different ranking to “power cards”, but its kind of out of scope right now. But its kind of in the spirit of having more under powered cards see some play.

Perfect ShuffleExtra Rule Perfect Shuffle

  • Your deck has to be constructed of exactly 20 Pokémon, 20 energies and 20 trainers.
  • Instead of shuffling all cards into one deck you play with 3 separate decks.
  • Each turn you draw 1 energy, 1 trainer and 1/2 Pokémon (one turn you look at the card and put it face down next to your deck, next turn you draw it).
  • Each turn you may play up to 1 Pokémon, 1 energy and 1 trainer.
  • Your starting hand is 3 Pokémon, 2 energy, and 2 trainers.
  • You can not play with trainer cards that draw cards, search for cards, effect your opponents hand or manipulate the order of cards in decks in any way. All Pokémon attacks or Pokémon power with a similar effects no longer has that effect.

The reason I added these rules was to counter the trend of building decks with a lot of trainers (Great articles!), few energies and only a hand full of Pokémon where most of them are very energy light. So the first idea was to add a similar mana system like the one in hearth stone, where you don’t have mana cards, but instead just a static escalation of mana. It doesn’t work in Pokémon tcg because you don’t escalate all mana globally, but instead locally on each Pokémon, so there needs to be cards to put on Pokémon. So it could have worked to just put out 1 energy per turn. But Pokémon have different colors [1] so I kept a deck of energies that you shuffle, but you get to draw cards from them, and decided the ratio of different energy colors.

1 Trainer per turn

I then added a deck of trainers, so you always get a steady stream of trainers, and you can only play 1 trainer per turn. This is to even out trainers played instead of having the crazy combos people get when you draw a lot of cards, play as many as possible, then play a Professor Oak to get another hand etc. Also, the game bottlenecks the number of energy you can play per turn, 1, and the number of Pokémon you can attack with each turn, 1, but you are free to play any number of trainers (except supporters). Therefore you want to maximize the number of trainers in the deck, but still have enough Pokémon and energies to come by. The cap of playing only 1 trainer per turn tries to side step that problem.

Steady Stream of cards

This version lets you draw 2,5 cards per turn, while in the original game you only draw 1 card per turn. But there was also a lot more cards that made you draw other cards. So tbh, I think that 2,5 is a little less what you originally drew, its just that you draw cards more consistently, instead of drawing a lot of cards some turns, and only 1 other turns. It makes the game feel a little more static, kind of dull, but the cards gets a lot more card value compared from before [2]. Also, because your start with 2 trainers, and draw 1 per turn you at least always have 3 trainers to choose between each turn. I also want to add one thing: in the original game you play a lot of trainers to draw cards and manipulate the deck. Like in hearth stone how they removed the island from magic to remove the possiblity to draw to many island or to draw to few, I would also like to remove the need to draw cards, to make it more consistent. But mostly because I think that the pokemon game should be about the pokemons and that trainser should directly impact play. Like remove the need to have cards that manipulate the deck, kind of playing patience and instead put in cards that add play value. Like all the power you get when you have the perfect trainer drawing streak, putting it into the basic rule set, instead of requiring 10-15 card slots.

So what trainers do you play when you don’t need to play cards that draw more cards?

So what trainers do you play when you don’t need to play cards that draw more cards? I don’t really know. From base set to fossil theres 32 trainers and 16 of them draw cards, search cards, gets cards from the discard pile or manipulate the deck. The remaining 16 are: Clefairy Doll, Defender, Develution Spray, Energy Removal, Full Heal, Gust of Wind, Mr. Fuji, Mysterious Fossil, Plus Power, Pokémon Breeder, Pokémon Center, Potion, Scoop Up, Super Energy Removal, Super Potion, Switch.

Of them these was ranked as not fitting:

Clefairy Doll (Unplayable), Develution Spray (Unplayable), Energy Removal (Over Powered), Mr. Fuji (yes but…), Mysterious Fossil (Very specific), Pokemon Breeder (Very specific), Scoop up (yes but…), Super Energy Removal (Over Powered), Super Potion (Over Powered).

The remaining 7:

Defender, Plus Power, Potion, Full Heal, Pokemon Center, Gust of Wind, Switch.

Stadium, Tools and TM

So I tried to look for more trainers from the newer card sets. I generally like the stadium idea, the problem with most of them is that the stadiums gives a obvious advantage to one of the players and not the other. I would prefer if they would create a different kind but interesting gameplay for both players. But I didn’t look through all of them, so I think there might be something there. I also like the Pokémon tool mechanic: you attach a card to a Pokémon which have some kind of effect which remains in play, like enchantments in magic. Some of the tools are just stronger versions of other trainer cards, like potion or full heal. Others are interesting, like Expert Belt (the Pokémon gets + 20hp and +20 dmg, but if killed gives a extra prize card, a little to powerful for base set, but interesting) and Exp. Share (gives energies from knocked out Pokémons to attached Pokémon). And Fluffy Berry (free retreat). I also saw some TM variations, where the Pokémon got new attacks, most of them felt bland, but I will look into it into the future.

The other trainers I included was:

Brook (like a mini version of pokemon center), Warp point (kind of like switch and gust of wind, it usually creates interesting sitruations), Energy switch (Move one energy to another pokemon, like playing a extra enegy but slightly more balanced). I also looked to lt. surge’s secrets plan (playing a Pokémon face down, hidden information woopho!) and Kogas ninja trick.

Slow down

One problem I got with the trainer set I played with was that the trainers removed damage but very few would add, that combined with that I would have most of the powerful rare cards in the prize cards, so most Pokémon would be very basic, and deal little damage, which would make the game very slow. You would play a trainer most of the turns, and there would be like a potion or a defender each turn and Pokémon would deal like 10 or 20 damage without weakness and resistance, so most of the damage would get neutralized by the trainers, which isn’t good.

Deck Lists

Deck 1 Psychic Fighting

20 Pokemon 20 Trainers 20 Energy
2 Ekans

1 Ekans (Team Rocket)

1 Arbok

1 Dark Arbok

1 Drowzee

2 Drowzee (Team Rocket)

1 Hypno

1 Dark Hypno

3 Rattata

2 Raticate

4 Defender

4 Plus Power

4 Potion

2 Full Heal

2 Energy Switch

2 Warp Point

1 Gold Berry

1 Brock

12 Grass

8 Psychic

Deck 2 Grass Psychic

20 Pokemon 20 Trainers 20 Energy
1 Abra

2 Abra (Team Rocket)

2 Kadabra

1 Diglett

2 Diglett (Team Rocket)

1 Dugtrio

1 Dark Dugtrio

2 Onix

2 Sandshrew

1 Sandslash

2 Jynx

1 Mr. Mime

1 Mewtwo (Movie Promo)

1 Snorlax

4 Defender

4 Plus Power

4 Potion

2 Full Heal

2 Energy Switch

2 Warp Point

1 Gold Berry

1 Brock

11 Psychic

9 Fighting

Comments on the decks

They are not balanced against each other. This projects just got to drawn out, so I just figured that I should write something down before I forget to much about it. The first problem was that psychic has a weakness to other psychic Pokémon. I used the approached when I build the decks that each deck has a main color and that the other deck as a sub color which counters the main color. But because psychic has weakness to psychic, the sub color is also countered by the main color of the other deck. Also, Rattata and Raticate was used because they have resistance to psychic, but because the other deck is psychic fighting, and Rattata has a weakness to fighting, Rattata counters half the deck but is weak to the other half.

Weakness and resistance Original Pokémon

I started to look into the Pokémon games rock-paper-scissor relation and the tcgs version is a lot more simplified. In Pokémon most Pokémon have multiple types, usually two, and then each type has more then one weakness. Also theres “not very effective”, which is what resistance is in the tcg, and immune, which simply deals no damage. Resistance is kind of off in the tcg, because if a Pokémon deals low damage, your not getting over the -30 resistance celling, and deal no damage, but when a Pokémon deals more damage it correspond more to the “not very effective” origin. Maybe deal half the damage rounded down would be more fitting?

Next steps

  • Less static gameplay and trainers that escalate the game instead of slowing down the game.
  • More varied trainers.
  • Rules that encourages decks with a greater mix of different colored Pokèmon.
  • Adding more connections on the “weakness resistance relation wheel”.
  • Making each color more distinct compared to each other, like the different colors in magic.

Footnotes

[1] Negative Feedback loop – See Rules of Play s.215 Negative Feedback Loop, or Characteristics of Games s.106 Snowball and Catch-up. Or google videos

[2] Colored decks and rock-paper-scissor countering – To be honest I think that the system where Pokémon require different colored energies to attack with different types of Pokémon is kind of counter intuitive to the concept of rock-paper-scissor with different elements countering each other. Because the energy system encourages players to build as reliable decks as possible which would only involve one or as few as possible colors, which makes the rock-paper-scissor aspect more a contest before the games, depending on what decks you build and play, instead of inside the game, what Pokémon you play, switch to and attack with.

[3] Card value – In magic theres a concept of card values. Because you only draw one card per turn you have to pay a lot of mana to draw extra cards. If you then play cards that gives you an advantage, like playing a card that gives you two 2/2 creatures, and you manage to trade with two of your opponents creatures which was played from two cards, you have a card advantage. If you play a enchantment to a creature and your opponent kills it with 1 card, you lose two cards, and he/she used just 1 card. If you want to draw a card you usually have to pay 2-3 mana to do it. So each card has a minimum value no matter what it does, because it takes up a card slot and you used up you draw 1 card per turn to get it. Its kind of a problem because you don’t want to play with cards that has a small effect on the game, because you would normally get a lot more if you played with other cards. So theres cards called “cantrips” which have a marginal effect but also draws you a card and sidesteps the problem. Leap is an example of that. Where Fish Oil is a counter example, would have needed to draw a card and like add +1/+1 or something else to be playable (but hey at least your creatures gets to stay healthy ;) ).

It doesn’t work the same way in Pokémon tcg. You can draw more cards, its more a matter of if you have already played all 4 copies of a card or like; if you only play with 8 energies, if theres any more in the deck, or if you actually have to much card drawing cards that you draw all cards in your deck and lose because of that. So I tried to address that by limiting card drawing and bottlenecking the ability to play the surplus of trainers. But I think that because you always draw the same amount of cards as you opponent and you can’t play more cards theres actually no concept of card value, because you can’t get more cards then you opponent. And if you get more cards, by saving up your trainers or energies, you can’t play them to get a significant advantage. You still get more cards but they only give you more options. Options is a advantage but a lot smaller advantage compared to magic where mana is the only bottleneck and when you get to the point when you usually have few cards in your hand and only top deck cards, then every extra card you get directly impact the game.

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