TPCi’s ‘Core Player Survey’ Asks Good Questions, Needs Great Answers

Late last week, select TCG players received an e-mail from TPCi inviting them to take part in a 39-question survey. The survey asks players how happy they are with the Standard and Expanded formats, how interested they would be in potential new products, the player’s experiences playing the game, which products they buy, and how they learned to play.

The survey runs through January 15th, and participants will receive PTCGO codes for a Vivid Voltage Elite Trainer Box and four Vivid Voltage booster packs. We have chosen not to link to the survey as it appears TPCi only wanted designated players to respond, rather than the general public.

This survey comes at a time when an increasing number of players are discontent with the state of the Standard format.

The problem here isn’t a small one: the Standard format is supposed to be the star format of the Pokemon Trading Card Game. It is the format used for the World Championships, most large events like Regional Championships, and even the more recent online events that have taken the place of the large in-person events: the Player’s Cups and the Team Challenge. The survey asks questions about the Standard format—like the question below which asks which options could, in the player’s opinion, improve the format:

It’s good to see that TPCi has open ears when it comes to the health of their game and its formats, but the survey doesn’t just ask about the Standard format. In question 16, it asks about the player’s interest in four hypothetical official formats—Booster Draft, Cube Draft, Singleton, and an “Evolution” format in which no multi-prize Pokemon are allowed.

“Evolution” Format

This format throws out the beefy multi-prize Pokemon in favor of a somewhat slower format where single-prize evolution Pokemon have a chance to roam free. In this format, it’s simply not possible to use Altered Creation-GX before playing Boss’s Orders on two subsequent turns to win. Although bulkier basic Pokemon and Stage 1s often do exceptionally well in such a setting, decks built around Stage 2 Pokemon also have a reasonable shot at victory.

Singleton Format

The Singleton format would be a constructed format in which all cards included in the deck—with the exception of basic Energy—must be unique. A playset would effectively be 1 in this format. Your deck could contain, for example, 1 Cynthia, 1 Tate & Liza, 1 Sightseer, and 1 Professor’s Research, but never 2 copies of Cynthia. Pokemon of the same name with different attacks and abilities would count as unique cards, allowing you to play 1 copy of Charmander from Sun & Moon—Team Up, 1 copy of Charmander from Base Set, 1 copy of Charmander from Black & White—Boundaries Crossed and 1 copy of Charmander from EX Power Keepers in the same deck.

Cube Draft

The Cube Draft format is already a popular, unofficial way to construct decks for the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Recently, Conner LaVelle wrote an excellent article on drafting in cube formats. An official cube format would likely see the release of some sort of official product containing all of the cards in the “cube” to be used in the drafting process.

Booster Draft

Drafting from Pokemon TCG booster packs has always been a bit of a challenge. Because of the mechanics of evolution in the game—and because of the large set sizes and randomness of the cards included in each pack—it’s been next to impossible to construct a deck with some semblance of a coherent strategy straight out of handful of recent booster packs. However, a Booster Draft format could also take advantage of special products designed to support the format—Booster Draft packs, as mentioned in question 32 in the survey. This would enable TPCi to craft booster packs in a way that makes them usable for Booster Drafts, not unlike a similar product for Magic: The Gathering.

Another potential product of note from question 32 is the “Expanded format reprint expansion set,” which would drastically lower the bar for players to jump in to what is currently a fun and exciting format. Similar to how the Trainer’s Toolkit and League Battle Decks have helped to drastically lower the cost of Standard format staple cards, an Expanded format reprint set could help newer players get their hands on key cards in the Expanded format, like Computer Search, N, Dowsing Machine, Colress, Trainer’s Mail, and VS Seeker.

If you’ve received one of these surveys, be sure to fill it out frankly and honestly. If you have yet to receive the survey, don’t forget to check your email’s spam folder to ensure it hasn’t been trapped there. The better feedback The Pokémon Company International receives, the better the game can be. We’ve received some great products over the last year including the Trainer’s Toolkits and the League Battle Decks, and we’ve seen some great official events happening, even in the chaos of the coronavirus. If TPCi listens—as this survey implies they will—we could be seeing some truly amazing new stuff for the Pokemon Trading Card Game in the not too distant future.