The Essence of Strategy!

Hey everyone! Treynor Wolfe here from PokeBeach’s Premium Article team. This is a fun article that should be a good read for everyone that plays any sort of strategic game, not just Pokemon. This isn’t about a particular topic in Pokemon, but it’s more of a theory article. I want to write about the topic of strategy. I will write this from a Pokemon standpoint, but what I will be writing about pertains to any game. Military applications of strategy aren’t the only ones that exist. Doing things in the most strategic way possible is something you do every day of your life. Strategy has a very broad definition, and understanding exactly what it is is often the best way to best implement it. In Pokemon, every decision you make has to do with trying to win the game and conducting a game term strategy in the process.

I will explain how strategy plays a part in your deck building process, because coming up with deck strategies is a whole process on its own. In addition to that, I will talk a bit about in-game strategy and how your decisions change the game later on. One of the best skills that the best players in this game have is to be able to “see two turns ahead.” This is actually a statement that refers to making the best strategic decision. Knowing how strategy applies to you and your game is key to making the best decisions ranging from deck choice, to decisions within your game.

Warmachine is awesome!

I play a lot of different games, and I have been playing tabletop games and real time strategy games since I was 10 years old. I started playing Warhammer 40k when I was 12 and I started playing Pokemon when I was 17. I currently play games like X-Wing, Flames of War, Star Wars: Armada, Bolt Action, Warmachine, and Pokemon TCG. I will do my best not to refer to those games and if I do, I will explain things in the best way possible. But I am going to keep this as Pokemon TCG related as possible.

Understanding what you’re doing when you make decisions in a game is key to making the right ones every time. Understanding what kind of deck you’re playing also gives you a deeper understanding of how to play it and what is essential to the strategies of other decks. This also gives you a good understanding of what kind of decks fit your style of play. I know slower, more methodical players, and I know a lot of players that will play very fast decks.

The season may be over for a lot of you if you do not have a Worlds invite, but it’s still a good time to subscribe to the Premium Article Program! A lot of our writers are reflecting on Nationals and are writing about their preparation for Worlds and it is a good time to see how some of the best in the game are preparing for Worlds.

Definition of Strategy

Very simply, strategy has always been about maximizing your opponent’s losses while minimizing your own. Losses can be defined in Pokemon as Prize cards, cards remaining in your opponent’s deck, Energy attachments, and time to wait to evolve your Pokemon. Attacking these will slow your opponent’s deck strategy down, or will cause them to “miss a beat.” I’ll go more into that later.

We strategically make decisions to fit that definition more than we think. Time management is probably the best example of strategy when it applies to us every day. Building your schedule in the best way possible to maximize the value of your time is the same as minimizing your lost time during the day. Have you ever put your bread in the toaster and had the toaster run while you got your eggs out of your fridge? Instead of putting the bread in the toaster and waiting for the toast to come out, you went about doing another task while that one was getting done. So your time spent to cook your breakfast was done efficiently and quickly, cutting your lost time, and maximizing your time spent on doing things that were going to make your end goal, which is making your breakfast, possible. Business is another good example of this. You invest money into things that give you your money back, plus a profit. You avoid losing money on things that won’t return you this profit.

We make these decisions in Pokemon too. Have you ever attached to a Benched Pokemon to prepare it for later? Have you ever seen a loss in advance? If your Pokemon is going to be KO’d regardless of what you do to protect it, such as benching it, is it worth putting more Energy on?

Pokemon differs a bit from games like Magic. In Magic, I can get out lands, and those lands don’t get attacked during every game I play. If I attach Energy to Pokemon, my “lands” get knocked out with my Pokemon. You invest resources into your Pokemon to attack your opponent’s Pokemon and the Energy attached to them. Your investments attack your opponent’s investments. Every game does this, just in a different way. In games such as Warmachine, I have a certain amount of points I can spend on units. I start the game with all of my units, but they get destroyed by my opponent’s units. A common thing we use to determine if a unit did its job is if it “got its points worth.” As in, did that unit destroy as many points as it cost? Did your Pokemon earn as many Prize cards as it gave up when it got KO’d? Are you in a worse state than you started in when you lost the Pokemon?

Pokemon, and other TCGs, differ from other games, because you have to build your investments. They don’t start on the table, ready to go. You have to attach Energy to attack. Usually, the more Energy you put on, the more powerful the attack. A typical trend that I see in Pokemon is that you either have fast decks with expendable attackers that take very little Energy to attack, or you have slower decks that take more Energy to attack, but has ways to get more Energy into play. The slower decks tend to have more longevity and an easier recovery, but the faster decks tend to have ways to deal massive amounts of damage for very little investment, but lose those Pokemon quicker.

I will talk about this a bit more in the next section, which is overall deck strategy. I will also cover a little bit of deck selection.

In summary, questions you should be asking yourself when you make decisions in Pokemon are:

  • Is this the right Pokemon to employ against my opponent?
  • Is it worth attaching Energy to this Pokemon?
  • How am I going to deal with the loss of this Pokemon? Do I have any backup attackers?
  • What is going to maximize my chances of evolving my Pokemon next turn if something goes wrong with the one Basic Pokemon I have out?
  • Am I recognizing what will cripple my opponent the most?

Now lets go into the two different types of decks we see in Pokemon and my tips on playing the game. But first, make sure you are a Premium member! By subscribing you get access to top-notch articles covering everything that you need. If you have any questions for us you can hit me and the other writers up in the Subscriber’s Secret Hideout. We can help you out with your deck or just talk strategy together. I can’t wait to help you out!

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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