TCG Fakes Base Set Rebalanced (feat. Jungle and Fossil)

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
I have been playing the Gameboy TCG game for a while now, being very curious of the early metagame and how card design evolved since the birth of the game. After a lot of experimentation and reading about the Base Set-to-Fossil meta, I found it surprisingly simple. It centered around a couple of extremely overpowered Trainers, like Gust of Wind for aggressive decks and Energy Removal for stall. That wasn't a bad thing - I found it exactly as charming and nostalgic as I wanted, even though I never really played my Base Set cards as a child. That said, I immediately wondered how this batch of cards could be improved and changed, what would happen if we applied modern design principles to old cards? By just removing (or reworking) the most broken Trainers we would absolutely flip the game on its head, but I wanted to go further and take a look at every single card.

I'm sure I'm not the only person to attempt this, especially given there's an official set doing exactly the same thing. But everyone's take is sure to be different, and I wanted to address some core elements of the game that had begun and remained unchanged since Base Set released. This includes some cards you still see today, core design principles and overall balance. Ultimately, I'm not just buffing and nerfing cards, but making a slightly different game with - hopefully - still the same charm.

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ALBUMS WITH ALL THE CARDS CAN BE FOUND HERE
BASE SET - JUNGLE - FOSSIL

BASE SET IS NOW FINISHED. FULL IMAGE HERE:

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No cool images for the rest yet :(

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Abilities on Stage 1 Pokemon


If you are a fan of a Stage 1 Pokemon in a two-stage line, then you know the pain of your favorite always getting sidelined by its more popular evolution, or just straight up getting skipped with a Rare Candy. Meanwhile, if you're a player that utilizes Ability Pokemon, you might find yourself with a bench full of unusable pieces, making each game that much less complex. There is a solution that does appear sometimes in the modern sets and we're going to apply it here - putting Abilities on Stage 1 Pokemon, while reserving the Stage 2 for big attackers.

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In this example, I have removed Blastoise's signature ability - Rain Dance - and moved it to Wartortle. I also nerfed it severely, but allowed you to scale it up by playing multiple Wartortles. Now Wartortle has a place in the game and, when you're ready, you can evolve straight into Blastoise for a major beatdown.

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Alakazam's ability allowed it to stall the game indefinitely when paired with Scoop Up. Now, much like with Wartortle, its single-use variant appears on Kadabra instead, with Alakazam itself possessing the ability to go nuclear and move all of your damage counters to itself and the opposing Pokemon simultaneously. Also, Abra gets a cute attack that lets it dive into your deck for any card.

Splashing

As you can see on the cards above, the costs of attacks are generally cheaper and involve more colorless energy than originally. This is to encourage more splashing and boxing out your decks to tackle multiple threats. Obviously energy types are still a consideration, but it's also important for me to provide each card with a super-effective counter. Here's one example.

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The old Electrode hasn't changed much, but its attack was made completely colorless (and given a slightly bigger drawback). It makes sense - its ability states it can transform into any energy, being useful in almost every deck, but yet its attack is horribly unsplashable, making it a one-trick pony. Now, it deals 50 Lighting damage - exactly enough to knock out an opposing Blastoise, should it become too unruly in the meta.

Supporters

Yeah, Supporters went all Back to the Future and reappeared to help with some more problematic Trainer cards. It was important to me to not just make stuff up when it comes to new cards, but the effect of Gust of Wind obviously needed to find its way onto a Supporter - and since it's already tradition to have this effect on a main villain, the choice was pretty obvious.
EDIT: Further in the thread I have decided that I should not use members of the Gym challenge, nor Team Rocket, on the cards as they're the stars of their own future sets. As such, I have changed this card to 'Rival'.

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Conclusion

There are many more cards I have prepared and am excited to share. The goal is to go through every card from the Base Set-to-Fossil era and re-create the whole format with completely new cards and mechanics. If you are interested, or have any feedback, let me know.
 
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Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Coin Flips

Coin flipping might remain one of the most hated, yet most persistent of the TCG mechanics to date. It'd be easy to dismiss them entirely when recreating the Base Set and pretending they have never existed in the first place - but this is a recreation, so it's better to add and improve things than straight up remove them.
On the topic of coin flips, the main gripe seems to be that they are extremely wild - in fact, the only ones that see competitive play are those that have massive upsides, making them even more random and annoying, often deciding the outcomes of games with little player input. While the easy answer to those is to simply not print them, there also needs to be an incentive to actually flip these coins and not let them fall to the wayside.

My proposed answer is to give an upside to a "tails" result, while reducing the upside to "heads". That simply makes the outcome less random, making it more of a flavor that an all-or-nothing event - you can see it on a Squirtle attack above. However, that's not possible for every card and every attack, and you don't want every coin flip be joined by a bunch of words - sometimes, simplicity is key. In this case, we should rely on other cards to provide the same effect.

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Old: Clefairy lets you draw a card every time you flip tails, essentially negating bad flipping outcomes, replacing them with a different type of bonus instead. We have to be mindful of the design space we're limiting here - by introducing Clefairy, we're blocking ourselves from designing Item card with more than one flip, otherwise we could produce some ridiculous combos. I think that's fine though - as long as we stick to 1 flip per Item and 2 flips per Supporter, we're in the clear.
Clefairy is very much referencing its future "Fairy" typing here, as I want to put a similar ability on the next set's Wigglytuff. It's obviously a very strong effect, and it's possible these will be swapped in the future, with Lucky Flip going to a Stage 1 Wigglytuff and Clefairy getting some sort of smaller bonus instead.


I have reduced the power level of Clefairy, by giving it a lesser upside, as it's only a Basic Pokemon. You can find more information below.

Not everything is broken

It's easy to think that, in such a set every single card will need some sort of change. On the contrary, I expect that upwards of half the Base Set cards will remain unchanged. Some of them are so simple, that they don't need any intervention. Take this Base Set Doduo, for instance.

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Not only is it a classic, but actually it's now extremely strong when paired with the Clefairy shown above. The chance of drawing two cards on turn one, dealing a strong 20 or a mix of both? That's an option many decks might go for. A such, I don't think it needs changing in any way.
 
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Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
The next post was supposed to touch on the topic of Switch, how to rebalance it and if it's even needed in the game at all - but since that little post is now almost two pages long and I still haven't came to a definite conclusion, lets switch to a different subject.

Special Conditions

Pokemon TCG currently features five different special conditions, with Base Set-Fossil having four of them in store (Burned is excluded). By-in-large, I am not a fan of how these special conditions work and, to me, the design behind the cards that use them proves they need major "gimmicks" to keep them afloat. In the Base Set-Fossil meta Special Conditions seem to be fairly overpowered, though this is more likely due to the combo of Energy Removal + Scoop Up paired with the ability to infinitely stall the game.
The main problem of Conditions is that they're extremely easy to get rid of. Switching the Pokemon and evolving both remove all Special Conditions, rendering the card Full Heal almost completely useless, when Switch has pretty much the same effect. In this form we can see that Special Conditions play very little role in competitive TCG, unless they're supported by additional gimmicks like massively increasing poison damage, or as a bonus on top of already strong attacks.
We've already threw some ideas around in this forum before, I suggested that SC's should stay on Pokemon as they retreat on the bench, while @Otaku proposed that they should stay on the bench, but only trigger in the Active Spot. I believe both approaches can be used to balance and finely-tune Special Conditions.

Here are the changes I'm proposing and which are used in this format:
(All Special Conditions are maintained on the bench, and aren't removed when evolving).
Paralysis
A Pokemon affected by paralysis cannot attack, but can retreat. At the end of your turn, remove Paralysis from all of your affected Pokemon.
Poisoned
A Pokemon affected by poison takes 10 damage at the end of your every turn, if it's in the Active Spot.
Asleep
A sleeping Pokemon cannot attack, but can retreat. At the end of your turn flip a coin - if heads, this Pokemon recovers from sleeping.
Confused
A Pokemon affected by confusion flips a coin every time it tries to attack. If tails, it deals 10 damage to itself instead. This Special Condition is removed if the Pokemon leaves the Active Spot.

Here's the theory behind every change:
Paralysis - before, Paralysis was generally a "free turn" effect, unless your opponent had a way to recover, making its effect extremely polarizing. Now, it eliminates the Pokemon from attacking, but allows the player to front a different one, if they have it ready.
Asleep - pretty much like above, a stronger version of Paralysis that doesn't feature the annoying "50% chance to instantly fail" of the original. The affected party can still retreat - retreating is treated as a "Trainer move", not a "Pokemon move".
Confusion - already a pretty annoying Condition, retains its game-faithful mechanic of disappearing after retreating. It's meant to be used to force a switch, punishing tactics that revolve around a single attacking Pokemon.
Poison - the biggest change, as it's the only Special Condition that doesn't disappear naturally. While the first concept made it trigger on the bench, this iteration is more faithful to the games and not too overpowered, while still allowing for fun mechanics like "Gust a Poisoned Pokemon", etc.

Today's card is Koffing. I actually like most cards that cause Poison, so this is a very minor change to its attack cost - everything else stays the same.

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Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
This is going to be a whole essay about one particular card. Said card might be one of the most underrated cards in the game - even though everyone uses it, and widely appreciates its effects. It’s Switch.

As I’ve said in a different topic, I don’t like that Switch can essentially negate Retreat Costs. Decks that use Pokemon with high retreat costs are generally forced to circumvent the whole mechanic, usually by using Switch and other switch-like-effects. If your Pokemon’s Retreat Cost is 3 or 4, you’re never paying that cost, unless in the most dire of circumstances, or to win the game immediately with a different attacker.
Because of that, I had suggested rewording Switch to something like “Remove from your active Pokemon an amount of energies equal to its Retreat Cost minus two, then switch”. Ignoring how wordy this textbox is on a card that had one simple sentence before the change, there’s one more word in it that I’m not sure is really necessary - the “switch” itself.

“Switch” describes a retreat that doesn’t use your retreat for a turn (in fact, retreating is a form of switching, not the other way around). It’s necessary for effects such as “after this attack, this Pokemon switches with 1 of your benched Pokemon”, or “switch your opponent’s active Pokemon with 1 of their benched Pokemon”. But it’s not clear to me it’s actually advantageous to include it on Trainer cards and allow players to double-switch during a turn.
This aspect of Switch doesn’t play a massive role in Base Set-Fossil, but in general it allows for some Pokemon to become “pivots” - utilize specific Abilities that only work in the Active Spot, then retreat for your main attacker to avoid taking damage. It also allows you to clear the Active Pokemon from all negative effects, then immediately attack again. While not every deck utilizes pivots, they do seem to pop up a lot - so a discussion about Switch is really a discussion about pivots and their place in the game.

Are cards like TEU Jirachi good design? I don’t really believe so. Firstly, they’re really finicky - you’re not going to print a card like TEU Jirachi every set, meaning you will usually end up with one card in the format for every deck that needs this kind of effect. Secondly, there’s really no reason for these effects to not be on attacks - they speed up early game to such a degree, that having a bad starting hand becomes even more punishing. Finally, I’m already not very hot on Ability-Pokemon that hog space on the bench simply to increase consistency.

So, let’s be mindful about the design space being closed or altered by having Switch - one is cards like TEU Jirachi, but it’s not clear if we want to see this archetype at all. Avoiding this collision is as simple as not printing that type of Pokemon in general, given they really don’t have much use outside of abusing Switch. Another affected area are attacks such as “if this Pokemon became your Active Pokemon this turn”, which become much weaker when they cannot abuse Switch to trigger this effect each turn. Again, that’s not a bad thing - we get more control over the strength of these effects, and they get to keep their main use case. And finally, you don’t get to “cleanse” your Pokemon from conditions and effects by using Switch + Retreat - which actually opens the design space for many more exciting cards that interact with special effects.

What’s the conclusion then? Well, ultimately, it’s a what-if scenario anyway and, in my opinion, Switch is one of these cards from Base Set that is on a ridiculously high power level for a Trainer, but somehow slipped through the cracks, unchanged. But, should it be rewritten, or scrapped completely? Giving examples on how Switch can be abused wasn’t that hard, but it’s a much harder task to analyze whether “lower retreat cost by 2” isn’t great either.

Switch belongs to a range of cards that let you convert deckbuilding resources and, later, card advantage into an effect. At their best, cards in this range should help you in doing something you’re already doing, not be an alternative. Potion is a classic example of the former - it doesn’t “circumvent” health, it doesn’t make it meaningless (like Max Potion or Scoop Up do), it helps you achieve something you already want to achieve (keep your Pokemon alive) and adds flavor on top of the basic mechanic. A deckbuilding case would be - “My Pokemon generally benefit from staying alive, so healing is a good inclusion”. Healing is generally better on Pokemon with high health or, better yet, ability to prevent damage, so it’s a natural combo.
Switch, on the other hand, is an alternative to retreating, and that’s not fixed even by changing it to “lowering retreat cost”. Paying the retreat cost is not the goal of retreating, it’s to bring a different Pokemon to the Active Spot. Switch doesn’t really make that part better, it just makes it “less worse” - you’re not including the card to bolster a strength, but to remove a weakness. If you need to circumvent the Retreat Cost mechanic, then the entire mechanic has failed to be fun and/or balanced.

...and that's another question worth answering. What is the purpose of Retreat Cost? Is it to punish you for not having Switch in your hand? I don't think so, even though it usually ends up working this way. In an ideal scenario, Retreat Cost makes you commit to a big attacker, and increases the depth of your forward-planning. But if that's the case, then it does a really bad job. Squirtle is not a "big attacker", yet the game still expects you to lose a turn worth of energy to front someone different. This ends up creating bad openings, where having an optimal 1st Turn Pokemon isn't just better, but having a bad one becomes disastrous - sometimes resulting in having to sacrifice them, while the actual frontliner waits on the bench for their turn. Nobody needs to be punished for wanting to retreat their Squirtle, and it would make the opening hands so much less volatile.

Conclusion

I’m massively reducing Retreat Costs across the board, dropping them to values that players are actually willing to pay, and that reflects their importance on the board. Switch becomes “Retreat Aid” - players can no longer access switch effects during their turn, meaning there’s only one retreat per turn. Retreat Costs are roughly separated into card classes, though obviously they can be used as upsides or downsides while balancing cards.

No Retreat Cost: These are reserved for Pokemon that are weak and deal relatively little damage, usually waiting to be evolved - such as Squirtle/Charmander/Bulbasaur.
1 Retreat Cost: These appear on Pokemon that are mainline attackers, but don’t have the most extremely damaging attacks, such as Hitmonchan or Lapras.
2 Retreat Cost: These appear on the most powerful of Pokemon, with the most powerful attacks, such as Blastoise or Charizard.

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I am aware that multiple Retreat Aids can be used to reduce the Retreat Cost to 0, but I’m absolutely fine with that - it’s a lot of card advantage to give up for that effect.
Now, it might seem that we haven’t really addressed the issues I’ve mentioned before, we have simply just moved a couple of numbers around and the mechanic hasn’t changed much - however, the scale of the effect is important. This is the difference between Potion and Max Potion - one is tame and completely balanced, while the other is widely out of scale and easily exploited. By moving Retreat Costs into an area where they’re easier to pay, we’ve made it a mechanic that doesn’t have to be circumvented, therefore it is okay to present a card that - as I’ve said above - helps you achieve something you already want to achieve, rather than skipping the mechanic altogether.
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Re-balancing or re-creation?

It's worth asking a question - is the purpose of this set to let people experience the Base-through-Fossil format without resorting to a couple broken decks? Or is it to revisit the game's beginning and use that opportunity to change some of its fundamentals and experiment? There's definitely some of the latter already implemented, but there must be a point at which changes need to be called off, even if they look enticing. Take for instance, giving Prize Cards to the loser, rather than the winner. It seems like an obvious improvement, introduced in a similar mechanic by Duel Masters, to remove Pokemon's snowballing effect. However, at some point the changes truly make it a different game. I'm trying to limit myself to solutions already used in the Pokemon's future set, or just rewording and rebalancing existing cards and mechanics. The reason I've changed Special Conditions was really because it was the only way of making them stand out. Now, with Supporters in the mix, there's another rule worth taking note of - penalty for going first.
Throughout the years Pokemon has tried a plurality of solutions for the first-turn advantage. I won't really comment on any, because I want to try something different.

First-Turn Rule
The player going first can either choose to play a Supporter or attack, but not both. If they play a Supporter card, they cannot attack this turn.

I think this idea is pretty simple - either aid your set-up or attack, your choice. A relatively good hand can afford to attack, while a bad one still gets a chance to set up before taking the first blow.

Today's card is Bill - he's been buffed to three cards, making him on par with future "Friend" cards. I am still not sure what to do with Professor Oak, but rest assured - these won't be the only two drawing options, as Lass and Impostor Professor Oak will definitely get complete reworks.
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BONUS CARD

I also took a stab at Maintenance. Maintenance is a classically terrible card, that asks you to lose three cards in order to draw one, for an amazing negative two card advantage. This is of course fine if you have some sort of draw as a follow-up, but expecting to always hit the combination of Professor Oak + Maintenance + two cards you want to get rid of but not lose forever isn't a great idea.
That said, there's definitely a use case for this type of card - Pokemon TCG is known for having the issue of "dead cards" like evolutions cluttering your hand and being useless. There needs to be some way to effectively filter them of, so here's the concept:

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This version of Maintenance is very strong, though it still doesn't generate card advantage, since you have to sacrifice Maintenance itself. But I wouldn't mind seeing it played in a lot of decks, as I expect it to have a positive effect on the game overall.

Happy New Years!
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
With most of the rule changes covered, it's time to upload some more of the evolution lines.

Nidoking

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The changes to the Nidoking line are pretty minor, though each card was changed in some way. Like I've mentioned before, all of their Retreat Costs were reduced, and most attacks became less Energy Type-dependent, but there are also changes made to specific cards.
Nidoran ♂'s previous attack was an all-or-nothing flip for 30 or 0. While I do see a case for these types of attacks - not competitively, but as fodder for fun and memorable moments in the playground - this attack will be changed, as the whole line becomes more in-tune with the new Poison mechanic. That's why Nidoran ♂ gets a pretty basic "flip for Poison" attack.
Nidorino is another case of trying to equalize flips. His Double Kick's average outcome remains the same - 30 damage, however his top and bottom damage output was changed from 60 or 0, to 40 or 20 respectively. The cost of Horn Drill was also lowered, as it - for some reason - was higher than both of Nidoking's attacks.
Nidoking isn't actually changed much, however the "challenge" was to find a solution to Toxic - and other Poison-amplifying effects - while combining it with the fact they remain on the bench. I think the usage of a second Poison counter is pretty elegant here, but it remains to see if everyone "gets it" on first read.
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Professor Oak

Professor Oak does not have an outlandish effect - the “discard your hand, draw 7” has appeared multiple times on other Pokemon Professors, now dubbed “Professor’s Research”. I could limit myself to slapping a Supporter clause on the card and calling it a day, but I am personally not a huge fan of this effect. I don’t think it’s bad, and I do actually think it brings some skill to the game, but there are other downsides I want to address. For starters, since I’m watching a lot of beginners playing the game, they’re reluctant to use cards like Professor Oak, or even reshuffling Supporters like Cynthia, in fear of losing the cards they already have in their hand. If they’re already holding a Wartortle, they would much prefer to wait for a Squirtle, instead of dumping their whole hand in chance of getting a Squirtle - even though, strategically and mathematically it’s the superior option. With a card as basic as Professor Oak, I would much rather appeal to the “regular” player, while keeping both deckbuilding strategies as options - one as a tactical, reserved approach, and another as an agressive, “Pokeballs to the wall'' one - and keep both of them viable.

Before I get to rebalancing Professor Oak though, there are a bunch of considerations to take into account, which cannot be ignored just because we get to “remake” the set. Firstly, Professor Oak is a pretty important character in the game, so his card cannot be very niche, it needs to be relatively simple and fit many decks. Secondly, there’s another card that’s paired with Professor Oak - “Impostor Professor Oak”, that’s supposed to be a reflection of the basic Oak. We could, of course, chuck the Impostor out of the space shuttle window, but that’d be going against the spirit of the set. With all of these considerations in place, we need to find a pair of effects that fit both of these cards.

At first I thought about maintaining the “Impostor’s” evil ability of disrupting your opponent’s hand, but going through the thought process described above made it clear that the real “polarization” here is between the two approaches - the tactical and the aggressive one. So, if we make the regular Oak into a tactical, hand-refilling supporter, we can make the Impostor into an aggressive, “discarding” one. I think it would be extremely fun to have two mainline deck designs, based on opposing Supporters.

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A Professor Oak deck would focus on maintaining a big hand size, keeping tech cards at the ready. An Impostor Oak deck is one that most of you know - fast access to resources, filtering cards and bringing them back from the discard pile. While Professor Oak brings a hefty five cards, Impostor Oak promises an unholy sixth card for the price of discarding your hand. Professor Oak seems very strong, and it’s deliberately to bring him more in line with a discarding Supporter. This is obviously something that cannot be predicted with theory alone, and would require testing to figure out if any of the tactics isn’t too strong.
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Early-game Pokemon

Today's post will feature a lot of cards, mostly because I have a lot of them on-file and the set is nearing completion, at least on my end.
As I've briefly mentioned above, I consider Pokemon like Hitmonchan and Tangela (and Lapras, but that's a spoiler) to be early-game Pokemon - they're unevolving Basics, meant for scrappy brawls in the beginning turns, as you build the back of your bench. Without insane consistency of draw supporters and overpowered Gust of Wind, a deck like Haymaker is hardly possible to make, so these cards are actually changed very little, perhaps with some rotated numbers. Below is a selection of these cards.

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The only change on Hitmonchan is the reduction of Retreat Cost, in line with the set-wide Retreat Cost reduction.

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Two-for-40 on a Basic Electabuzz, coupled with an extremely wild coinflip is a recipe for disaster, or just a pretty overpowered card. I've removed the upside, leaving the rest of Electabuzz unchanged (except for Retreat Cost).

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Magmar gets the exact opposite effect to Electabuzz - it's 30 damage was changed to 20, but with a coinflip +10. This is, of course, worse than Electabuzz, but Magmar has access to a second, much more powerful attack. I also boosted it's HP a bit.

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Tangela is a common, which puts it in a rather unfavorable position - but I don't think this should mean it's weaker than others. I've increased it's HP, reduced the Retreat Cost and made the second attack a bit more splashable.

The problem with Legendaries

Making all Basic, non-evolving Pokemon into early-game cards is all fine and dandy, until we consider another group of these Pokemon - Legendaries. It's hard to imagine one of them as one with cheap attacks, and consider them easily disposable. On the other hand, granting them massive attacks - coupled with equally massive Retreat Costs - is yet another blunder. Just take a look at Base Set Zapdos.

You don't have to read the attacks - their cost, and the Retreat Cost that comes with it, spell one massive downside of this card: every time you start with it, you can write off a Prize card. While this might be remedied with ridiculous acceleration, or a Switch card, we purposefully removed these - so now having an early-game Zapdos is always terrible. Something needs to be done.
It's clear that Legendaries need impressive attacks to match their impressive appearance. But they also must serve an early-game function, as having them on an equal power-level to evolutions would be rather imbalanced. The only solution I came up with was making them stars of their own shows - featuring powerful set-up attacks, plus a way to abuse that set-up with a second, expensive attack. For their power, however, they must bear the Retreat Cost of 2.

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This Zapdos is basically its own engine, able to dish out 90 damage as soon as Turn 3, while you're already building another Pokemon on the bench.

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Mewtwo is a bit of an anomaly, as it already had pretty cheap attacks. I could have left it this way, but I wanted all of the Legendaries to follow the same pattern - and this one is a great set-up card.

Changes

It's not unexpected, but I revamped a couple of previous cards.

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I decided that the draw engine would be rather too strong on Clefairy, and I wanted to reserve it for a future Fairy Pokemon that could achieve Stage 1. Clefairy gets a much less impressive, but still considerable healing ability.

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Previously, Electrode could attach energies to any Pokemon, including the active one. I have made a conscious decision to remove all acceleration possibilities (except for attacks) from the Active Pokemon. It allows cards like Zapdos to behave more predictably, it encourages playing multiple attackers, and - I think - it will create more strategical play.
 
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PMJ

happy thoughts
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I've only found this thread recently but I wanted to make a point to make a few comments.

I like your ideas on Special Conditions but sleep only going away (maybe) on your turn just makes it the same as old paralysis. Being able to retreat is fine but the main draw is preventing the target from attacking.

In the most recent set I've been working on, I've come across the same problem of what to do with legendary Pokemon, and I did the same thing you did in terms of making them powerful start options with cheap attacks that can accelerate. But then I noticed that I'd done that with every legendary Pokemon in the set and it made the changes feel stale. I think that reducing Retreat Costs generally makes starting with these Pokemon forgivable, and you could even give them free retreat, but expensive attacks. This means that starting with them isn't the end of the world, but they can still hit legendarily powerful if given enough time.

Anyway, cool thread. I appreciate the work that went into all these redesigns.
 

ggDerpyDerp

Faking hard or flailing all around the yard.
Member
This is super cool. I've always been interested in rebalancing old cards, and I even started at one point. I was more upgrading them to the current power level, but this is way cooler. I like a lot of your ideas, like semi-eliminating coin flips and adding a fliptini-like effect. If you're interested, there's a community on PokéBeach and Discord dedicated to making custom Pokémon cards, which sounds right up your alley. Keep on with the set, it looks great!
 

CardPone

Delta Species is best species
Member
I do plan on coming back and catching up on the rest of this thread at a later point, but I wanted to chime in and appreciate that amount of consideration put into these cards. I read the Professor Oak posts and I think that's a really interesting change that you made to the cards. And you made some really good points about the original discard and draw 7 effect looking a little more wasteful to new players than you'd want for such a staple effect. I like the move to Imposter Professor Oak and I think it's really thematic, however I'm not quite convinced reducing it to 6 is the right call. Drawing 7 is very powerful but they wouldn't keep reprinting it so many times if it was harmful to the game (maybe now they would, but they certainly cared more about the metagame in past generations and Discard + Draw 7 has been there for a very large portion of the tcg's existence).

The new Oak effect is particularly interesting though, and something I never though of before. It does have potential to create runaway hand sizes, though, which if played two or more turns in a row can run through your deck unexpectedly fast. If you play it with 5 cards left in your hand (4 since you played it), which isn't really unexpected for a new player who may not have a lot of deck building skills, now you have 8 cards and may not be able to play them. Next turn you play it again, say, after being able to play two more cards. Now you have a hand size of 14 (because of your draw at the beginning of your turn).

This is already nearly half your deck in just two turns: 7 to start (53 left in deck), play your active and maybe one bench (5 in hand), put aside 6 prizes (47 in deck), play Oak (now 8 in hand since you double 4 cards after playing Oak, 43 left in deck). Turn ends, next turn you draw 1 (42 left in deck, 9 in hand), and you still don't have Charmeleon, but you have another Oak, so you play that (8 in hand after playing, now 16 in hand and 34 left in deck).

I really like the design space, and my breakdown is a little pessimistic (it assumes you never attach an energy, for example) or even just not an actual problem haha. It definitely has potential to be a powerful card and I would look forward to seeing how that effect would play it in a game.


EDIT: My math might also be weird. It's been a long day lol.

EDIT 2: Disregard my math actually. I managed to miss the 5-card cap. :facepalm:
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Thank you for your comments!

I like your ideas on Special Conditions but sleep only going away (maybe) on your turn just makes it the same as old paralysis. Being able to retreat is fine but the main draw is preventing the target from attacking.
Well, the original sleep has basically the same issue, except it's also on a 50% coinflip of not doing anything at all - which is partially what makes Base Set Haunter such a terrible card. I think there's enough design space for sleep to not be just "a different paralysis", but it's definitely worth testing if spamming sleep isn't going to be super-annoying.

In the most recent set I've been working on, I've come across the same problem of what to do with legendary Pokemon, and I did the same thing you did in terms of making them powerful start options with cheap attacks that can accelerate. But then I noticed that I'd done that with every legendary Pokemon in the set and it made the changes feel stale. I think that reducing Retreat Costs generally makes starting with these Pokemon forgivable, and you could even give them free retreat, but expensive attacks. This means that starting with them isn't the end of the world, but they can still hit legendarily powerful if given enough time.
I came to the same conclusion, but assumed it's fine to repeat the same design for four cards, especially since Mew probably won't follow the same philosophy. I purposefully restrained myself from including very novel mechanics, keeping things as basic as possible - it is the Base Set after all, and in future expansion this idea for Legendary cards would obviously expand into thematic Poke Powers, weird and eccentric attacks, etc.

Drawing 7 is very powerful but they wouldn't keep reprinting it so many times if it was harmful to the game (maybe now they would, but they certainly cared more about the metagame in past generations and Discard + Draw 7 has been there for a very large portion of the tcg's existence).
I wouldn't classify it as "harmful", it just overrides basically any other way of building decks. In these types of effects, a single card of difference makes a huge difference, even in the 6-7 range. I wanted the draw-supporter to get closer to the power-level of the discard-supporter, and a somewhat backwards way of doing that was nerfing the latter, to make the gap easier to close. Intuitively, the difference in balance between 5-6 and 5-7 is very tight, and I can see the case for 5-7, but I liked the idea of Impostor Oak giving "one extra card".
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
The actual End Boss of rebalancing Base Set

This post was meant to be about Pokemon that have unfinished evolution lines, but in that group is probably the most infamous card from the whole set - the terrifying Base Set Gastly.
Gastly isn't actually an unreasonable card. It has no weakness nor retreat cost and, as a basic Pokemon, it's not really meant to be a show-stopper. Yeah, Sleeping Gas only has 25% chance of succeeding, but (the original) Asleep condition is supposed to be more powerful than Paralysis - if it sticks, of course. I can also see what they were going with Destiny Bond, and this attack actually appeared a couple of times since then - it's just a cute stall, even though it's pretty objectively terrible. In reality, I wasn't really that scared of Gastly, as Pokemon of his category aren't really meant to be impressive. However, there's a bigger question to be asked here.
Base Set is the beginning of Pokemon TCG. If you've read some early Pokemon TCG cards - or Magic, for that matter - you'll see they had some... experimental designs, sometimes. The designers weren't afraid to do weird things and, more importantly, trust the player to carry out their weird instructions correctly. Yeah, it often backfired and created confusing and complicated cards that we mention to this day, but perhaps it's for the better - you haven't played Vintage Magic until you had to play a sub-game of Magic for half of your health.
I mention all of this because, as I've mulled over Destiny Bond and it's possible "upgrades", I came up with a concept that's both scary and exciting. Normally, I would discard it for its sheer outlandishness, but this is Base Set - yes, I'm using this as an excuse to do something fancy.

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So yeah, you flip a Psychic energy and Gastly - along with any Pokemon evolved from it - becomes a bomb that always trades up in Prizes. Three things to notice here - this design is very dangerous, because it encroaches on the design space of any future Haunters and Gengars. If it becomes overpowered, then any of these evolutions also become really overpowered. That's where the second note comes in, which is balance - the cost is purposefully very high and not easy to skip, as there are no Psychic acceleration cards. Your Gastly has to survive three turns with Energies, and then not get immediately knocked out despite having 30 HP. Which they probably will, albeit without losing on Prizes - the threat is honestly scarier than the execution.

Third note is that Destiny Bond's energy cost looks really funny.
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Unifinished Evolutions

As I've promised yesterday, today we'll deal with some Pokemon that appear in Base Set, but do not have access to their evolutions until the next two sets are released. Because my plan is to rework all three sets, we do not have to consider these cards in an absolute vacuum, though in some cases a different version of the same Pokemon becomes available, which presents an interesting challenge. In modern Pokemon, it's often the case that we only care about the final Stage card and whichever previous evolutions we'll use is purely semantics. Here, we really want to push for every card to have its place, and for evolution to really be a choice, rather than necessity.
In short, in cases like Fossil Gengar, where a single Stage 2 Pokemon has multiple Basic and Stage 1 cards as pre-evolutions, we need to make sure that both are appealing options. We cannot fall into the design trap of "preference" - the faulty idea that, if two game elements exist in the same space and do roughly the same things, then the choice between them is the player's choice. In reality, if two elements do the same thing, then one will always be objectively better than the other - their distinction must exist as a consequence of adhering to a playstyle, deckbuilding concept, etc.
Let's continue with the example of Fossil Gengar. Their Poke Power - which I'll probably keep the way it is - is to move damage counters around. This obviously synergises with other cards that apply or spread damage counters, but there are multiple mechanics that do so. By presenting Gengar with different Gastly-Haunter lines, we can make it more appealing for two types of very different decks. There will come a time to present the Fossil Gastly and Haunter, but here's the Base Set version of Haunter.

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The power of Hypnosis was increased significantly with the changes to the Sleep mechanic, and so was the chance the original Dream Eater triggered successfully. However, it was still a pretty terrible attack - barely anyone would front a sleeping Pokemon with a Haunter on the field, and it was still only 50% chance of succeeding. Now it's a machine in Sleep decks, distributing damage from the bench - damage, that can then be used by the explosive Gengar.

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Pidgey and Pidgeotto are a pair of Pokemon that inadvertently suffered from our changes to Retreat Costs - suddenly their ability to "force a switch" becomes much less impressive, when your opponent can simply choose a 0-retreat Pokemon and ignore it completely. The effect obviously needs some help, but we mustn't rush to include a "can't retreat during your opponent's next turn" clause. We can be much more elegant by increasing the Retreat cost instead - not only is it more interactive, but we can intensify the effect on the evolution, making it much more thematic.
As for Pidgeotto's ability, we have to realize that there are really no boundaries to our designs - it is Base Set, it's supposed to set themes, not be limited by them. But if that's the case, there must be other considerations that should guide us towards including certain mechanics, while excluding others. As such, I've toyed with this ability for a while, but ultimately decided an "Exp. Share" effect is the best idea, simply for its good gameplay compared to alternatives, and its thematic connection to Pidgey/Pidgeotto's attack. With only three sets available, each Pokemon gets to shine in a different way, and the birds become masters of moving stuff between the Bench and the Active spots.
 
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Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
PokeRus

Short bonus post today. It seems that many Water Pokemon from Base Set were struck with a terrible disease, which caused them to all have the same attack. Jokes aside, there is a certain prevalence of using the same style of attack on Pokemon or, in fact, having multiple Pokemon follow the same design principle. As I've said above, with only three sets and all 151 Pokemon represented, it's important for me to give every single one something special, while roughly following the limitations of each Type. With multiple design "hooks" on each Evolution line, you can craft varied decks, where certain aspects of attacks shine more than others.
Before the change, the Poliwag line featured the same Water Gun attack as Blastoise and Lapras - bonus damage for bonus energy. I feel like this made it pretty tough to differentiate them from the Blastoise line - and if a choice is to be made, one will be better than other, even if we don't know which one yet. As such, I tweaked the "bonus damage" to use coinflips instead, making the line a strong contender for a main attackers in a coinflip deck.

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I got to say - this attack does make Poliwag a lot weaker than the original, but the fact that Poliwag's and Fossil Lapras had the same exact attacks wasn't sitting well with me.

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Poliwhirl already had something unique going for it, and that's the Amnesia attack - so we won't be changing it at all. Doubleslap continues to improve on Water Gun, though now it doesn't use any colored energy, nor it ever specified that you need to use Water energy. You can splash (get it) Poliwhirl into any deck for some bonus water damage, especially if you've got additional acceleration.

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Not much to say here, as it's a bigger and badder version of Poliwhirl, now with a flipping compensation you saw before on Nidorino. Four energies can get you either a flip between 40-80 damage, or 40 with an Energy discard. I even dropped it's HP by 10, as this might get a bit insane with the existing and upcoming flip-support cards, but one thing's for sure - I'm excited to playtest it.
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Look how they have massacred my boy

At first, I wanted to stagger the releases on the main starter trio - but I also wanted them all to be pretty well-balanced against each other. And since I saw how much the Bulbasaur line gets shafted, number-wise, in comparison to Charmander and Squirtle (just look up Ivysaur vs Charmeleon), I realized I had to release the two remaining lines at the same time, to highlight the changes.

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The only change to Charmander is its Retreat Cost, as per usual. I retained the Fire type's niche of discarding energies while attacking, which will come to fruition with it's evolution into Charmeleon.

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Like I did with the Squirtle line, the Charizard's passive ability was moved to Charmeleon - however, it wasn't really an impressive ability to begin with. If Fire's theme is the discarding of energies, then they will surely benefit from the ability to get it back.

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And again, we're giving Charizard more attacks to really push its offensive nature. 2 for 50 is nothing to scoff at if you're running low of energies, and Fire Spin got the usual reduction in colored energy cost - however, I also lowered its damage, as it seemed really out of line compared to the other two.

In case of the Bulbasaur line, I really had to change their "hooks", as they were all over the place. Bulbasaur heals when attacking, Ivysaur Poisons, and the line's signature ability seems to be moving energies around. That's not the worst ability ever, but it's kind of underwhelming nonetheless. Nidoking already occupies our spot for a "Poison line", so we have to pick something else. However, there's no line based on healing, and it's a classic Grass mechanic that needs a good representative.

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When other Basic starters got two attacks, Bulbasaur got one. Why? I gave him Growl and, obviously, made the healing attack's cost less Type-reliant.

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Ivysaur was a real victim of the anti-Bulba-bias, having strictly worse attacks and less health than Charmeleon. Now it's a star of its own healing ability, while getting the same 3-for-40 attack that Wartortle has.

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Venusaur is, once again, a massive attacker. It features a made-up attack in Powder Frenzy, applying two strong Special Conditions on your opponent's Pokemon. As I've said, the Bulbasaur line needs to find its niche, so it might seem that Venusaur isn't really capitalizing on the healing aspect, but not every evolution needs to blatantly use the upsides of the previous one. Venusaur is plenty strong and can be used in both Poison and Sleep builds.

A line more in line

"But wait!", I hear you cry, obviously remembering that Wartortle's attack was actually 2-for-30, not 3-for-40. /s True, with Charmeleon's 3-for-30, having Wartortle with a direct advantage would be pretty unfair. That's why I brought it more in line with Ivysaur.

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Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
If you thought Switch is the only card in Base Set that deserved two full pages of deliberation, then you’re sadly mistaken - it’s time for one of the most broken cards in the history of the game, the infamous Scoop Up.

Previously I’ve alluded to Scoop Up breaking basically every rule of good design, by making multiple mechanics absolutely meaningless. Much like Max Potion, it completely ignores health and damage counters, because its drawback of discarding cards can easily be played around. It also has the same issue as Switch, allowing for a free retreat of a Pokemon while enabling weird mechanics and interactions with double-switching. I do hate Scoop Up, and I do hate when my opponent Acerolas their damaged Zoroark GX to undo all of my progress. And yet, I somehow feel enticed to keep it.

When I learned that Base Set’s hidden best deck is actually a stall deck, I was not very surprised. I really do not consider stall a viable type of deck, but more of a clear sign that something has gone horribly wrong when designing that particular pool of cards. Stall, of course, is a viable mechanic, it’s a viable, short-time tactic, but it cannot be a deck, lest it produces boring games where one side doesn’t get to play Pokemon TCG for an hour. Stall should purely be a way of equalizing the game when you’re behind. When the disparity between yours and your opponent’s resources becomes too great, there are only two solutions - one is to use some mechanics to “catch up”, but another is to “wait them out” and develop at an equal pace, while sacrificing as little advantage as possible. A difference in three energies is massive when we’re talking about your 1 and your opponent’s 4, but not as important when both players have 10 of them on the board.

Back to Scoop Up now. Even though many cards get abused in unintended ways, it’s often pretty simple to realize what the designers thought while making them. We can discover their hidden intended meaning by just considering their “ideal cases ": gameplay scenarios that produce the most healthy interactions. Once we do, we only need to eliminate the potential for abuse and fix the faulty areas that allowed them. Sometimes we might just have to redesign the whole card, while keeping the original, intended purpose - or at least its spirit - intact.
But in the case of Scoop Up, it really seems like abuse was its primary purpose. Why would you need to return a Pokemon to your hand, if not to completely heal them of damage and status effects while getting a free switch in the process? I really fail to see a deeper meaning here.

So, does that mean the entire card needs to be scrapped and removed? Perhaps, and that idea was in the back of my mind since the beginning. But before such drastic measures can be taken, let's try to cover the abuse cases, and see what we’ll get.

First, let’s cover our bases and put the effect on a Supporter card. Some uses of the “Supporter” clause genuinely limit the use of the same effect multiple times in a turn (generally draw), but some offer a trade of such Supporter for a powerful effect. We’ll approach this as though it’s a very powerful effect, and continue from there. We will also eliminate the clause about “Basic Pokemon only” - it really didn’t have much reason to exist, as most of the Pokemon abusing the effect were already basic.

Next, we must do something about these damage counters. All of the ideas about limiting its usage by the amount of damage counters (less than 4, more than 8, etc.) made it feel like an extremely obtrusive card. It’s partially this abuse that made me so wary of the effect in the first place, but after some consideration it did hit me that we can do something else with them - move them. We don’t get to remove them completely, but we get to split them among our Pokemon to lessen their impact. That appealed to me right away, as it’s a mechanic that scales with the damage on the returned Pokemon, eliminating that abuse case whether it has 40 HP or 200 HP.

So, we return the Pokemon and split the damage. What about the energies, though? In the original, they were discarded - a poor drawback for low-energy decks that wanted to stall, but a massive one for anyone wanting to use it “normally”. The abuse case clearly barely cares about the energies, so we can do something with them to encourage healthy play. So, how about moving them onto your remaining Pokemon as well? It seems extremely counter-intuitive to buff a card we want to neuter, but it starts to become clear that we are creating a card that’s totally different from the original.

That’s all fine, but there’s still an abuse case left - Retreat Cost. This is essentially a free retreat card, and I already established we don’t want to have none of that. Well, we can first remove the amount of Energies equal to the Retreat Cost… and then add a clause that this card uses your Retreat for the turn… and this is quickly getting very wordy and very ugly. But there is a simple, single word that saves us from all of these additional clauses - “Benched”. If you can only Scoop a Benched Pokemon, then you must first Retreat the Active for it to become a valid target. Two massive birds KO’d with a pretty tiny stone. What’s the final wording, then?

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This card still seems very dangerous, but it’s ultimately something completely different from the original. No longer is it a Max Potion, Full Heal and Switch rolled into one card, but a “management” card, allowing you to redistribute your pooled resources and dangers from a vulnerable place. It can be used to stall, but it’s generally intended for decks that run a lot of high-health Pokemon. I don’t think its true power can be evaluated without proper testing - either dumping all of your damage onto Chanseys is massively strong, or it’s too finicky to be used consistently. I would honestly appreciate your feedback, especially if this version of the effect makes you excited to try it out.
 
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ggDerpyDerp

Faking hard or flailing all around the yard.
Member
That's a seriously genius idea—far cleaner and more productive than the gimmicky coin flip of Super Scoop Up or the meager restrictions of Acerola or AZ. I also love the use of the Bug Catcher, a truly classic trainer class, in the card design. I will concede that the card still feels absurdly strong, as it might benefit the likes of Haymaker or Wigglytuff a little too much; however, where it truly excels is in bulky, energy-heavy Stage 2 decks like Blastoise. I have always felt and still do feel, to a point, that big, hard-hitting Stage 2's should be the cornerstone of the metagame, as they are the "Boss Monsters" of the franchise, along with Legendary Pokémon. What right does Lickitung have to dominate a format where Blastoise can attach 10 Energy in one turn? I think there is a place for underrepresented gimmick Pokémon—Night March and Donphan/Spiritomb are some of my favourite decks—but my opinion is staunchly in favour of the type of decks that Bug Catcher helps. On a tangent, Bug Catcher is a somewhat ironic choice for the Supporter of choice, as they specialize in either quick, small attacks like Beedrill, Mega Pinsir, and the like (analagous to Haymaker), or bulky monstrosities like Shuckle or Special Conditions (analagous to Stall). I understand the pick though, and I fully support the aesthetic choice, what with the net and all. Overall, I love what you did with the card, and I think that it will balance the metagame significantly.
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Getting Philosophic

Pokemon tries to maintain a theme for each Type included in the game, but it is much less rigid than a game like Magic, where certain Colors just cannot do certain things. Pokemon often breaks their own limitations, especially if the Pokemon in question is dual-type - it might have attacks that require the energy of the Type printed, but effects that relate to the other. Since we are going back to the roots of the game, let us try to create and maintain themes for each Type, so that each one feels unique and has a presence in the game.
That said, simply assigning mechanics to Type isn’t going to cut it - for any future mechanic, we must also know if it fits the Type in question, or if it should be reworked. That’s why each Type is going to get a more esoteric “philosophy” - a generic theme that they will roughly follow. Here is the list I came up with:

Grass
Philosophy: “Grow tall, win by attrition”
Healing, Special Conditions

Fire
Philosophy: “I will do it, at any cost.”
Discarding energies for attacks, self-damage, acceleration from-discard

Water
Philosophy: “Strength in numbers”
Increasing damage from bonus energies, acceleration from-hand

Lighting
Philosophy: “Explosive and unpredictable”
Targeted bench damage, self-damage, acceleration from deck and unusual sources

Fighting
Philosophy: “Efficiency is key”
Spread damage, damage prevention, cost efficiency

Psychic
Philosophy: “Reality can be whatever I want”
Card and resource manipulation, Special Conditions

Colorless
Philosophy: “Make yourself useful”
Utility, universal mechanics, coin-flip support

The point isn’t to make the Types play well with themselves - in fact, I want to encourage cross-Type tactics. Many mechanics are represented in two Types, and many others do not have any Type affiliation. These philosophies can work in tandem, or cover each other’s weaknesses. Keep reading to see some cards reworked, in order to fit these philosophies.

Stage 1 Madness

You might have noticed that among the cards I’ve released there is a lack of two-Pokemon evolution lines. This just sort of happened, so I will now catch up with a bunch of Pokemon from these lines.

As I have stated under the Electrode card, I wish for some Stage 1 Pokemon to be considered primary “splashers”, carrying colorless attacks that nevertheless can hit for weakness, if your deck needs to cover one. While this is definitely one of the designs I’m going for, others still come with their own gimmicks. In fact, Stage 1 is definitely one of the best places for a gimmick attack, as the difference of investment between Stage 1 line and Stage 2 is usually pretty big.

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Before the change, Arcanine had some pretty expensive attacks that had only downsides, even if coupled with massive damage output. I decided to both move Arcanine into the “splasher” niche, as well as give it an unique - for the time - attack. Swift wouldn’t appear until Gym Heroes, but I feel like it’s a pretty important attack for any metagame. Take Down also becomes more game-friendly and correctly deals 1/4th of its damage back.

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With a philosophy centered around numbers, one Water Pokemon needed to have an attack based on your Bench’s population. Gyarados fits the bill, especially with how many of their future cards reference other Magicarp cards.

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Ninetales classic “gimmick” is having a Gust effect, so that isn’t going anywhere. Unlike the birds, which merely increase the Retreat Cost, Ninetales truly traps its opponent for a future KO. The Fire Blast attack is also an element of Fire’s philosophy, discarding resources to empower attacks.

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Diglett-Dugtrio line also isn’t spared from having a unique attack, and this time it’s Dig. While it doesn’t make either of them invulnerable, it does deal increased damage, but your opponent gets to choose which Pokemon takes the pain. Since Fighting (or, more accurately, Ground-types from the Fighting category) are meant to excel in spread damage, I have reworked Earthquake to be a spread attack, instead of dealing damage back to your Pokemon.

Bad Influences

As I have scrolled through some of my past cards, I’ve realized that I have inadvertently copied a number of energy costs onto attacks without giving them much thought. My original intention with energy costs was to reduce them across the board, while limiting the amount of energy acceleration at the same time. A four-energy cost is practically unpayable without heavy acceleration and massive investment, so I reserved it for Legendary cards only. Coming down from that, I consider three energy a “heavy investment”, two a “considerable investment”, and one a “regular investment”. The two considerable dangers to this philosophy are Wartortle and Charmeleon, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on them while testing.

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I am reducing the energy costs of second attacks from Charizard, Blastoise and Venusaur to 3. As I wrap up this set, I will try to make a “balance pass”, evaluating each attack’s damage, effects and cost against a regular baseline, while using health and Retreat Cost as additional balancing effects - many cards might change in order to deliver a true v1.0 of Base Set Rebalanced.
 

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
You might have noticed that, while almost 2/3s of the set is done, we’ve barely made a dent in the Trainer cards. This isn’t just because I feel compelled to write essays about each single Trainer, but also because a ton of them are just kind of baffling. Pokemon cards are usually easy and fun to rebalance, and it’s easier to justify remaking the whole card if the need arises. With Trainer cards, however, it’s a different story - what to do about a Trainer, that actually makes your position worse after you play them? What about one, which entire concept is antithetical to how the game should be played? If I rework an entire Trainer card from scratch, then it’s really not the same Trainer anymore.
It’s worth noting that, when designing an actual card game, not every card should be perfectly balanced. There is space for cards that are fun, and there are some effects that will never be relevant enough to see serious play - and boy, there’s a bunch of these in the Base Set.
Ultimately the question is - are we genuinely reworking single cards, or are we creating a Trainer pool that allows for varied and interesting decks. I’ve gone for a compromise, and that’s never going to fully satisfy everybody. Some of these Trainers are genuinely tweaked and improved, some are outright reworked, but some need to go.

Many of the Trainer cards from Base Set are centered about “breaking the rules”. This isn’t surprising, that’s what generally Trading Card Games are about - establishing some rules (spoken and unspoken), and then giving you cards that bend them to your advantage. However, there is a difference between “bend” and “break”, and breaking the rules often causes irreversible damage to the game, especially if you let them propagate and make your players accustomed to it. Such is the case with Pokemon Breeder, which you now know as “Rare Candy”.
Rare Candy allows you to skip the Stage 1 evolution of a 2-Stage line, and go straight for the final one. What that usually means is that Pokemon that stop their evolution at Stage 1, and those that have a Stage 2, have one simple difference - Rare Candy. They evolve at the same pace and, for balance’s sake, must be treated at a similar power level, one just has to hold/play an item to evolve. While I am painting a grim picture, this isn’t the worst thing to happen - as I’ve said in the previous post, the difference in speed and resource usage between a 1-stage and 2-stage lines is actually quite significant, so making Stage 2 cards “more like Stage 1” is a reasonable solution. However, this set already includes tons of considerations for balancing the concept of evolution cards, so I would like to maintain this stability.

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Pokemon Breeder gets downgraded to “Rare Candy”, but the Candy itself becomes a simple Evolution tutor card, similar to the future’s Evosoda. This effect is probably familiar to everyone, and with a lack of quality tutoring in the format it’s sure to be a welcomed addition.

Pokemon Center is another one of these extremely overpowered cards. I’ve mentioned Max Potion before, so imagine six Max Potions, all on the same card, letting you heal your stalling Pokemon with little to no drawback.
Obviously a reworked Pokemon Center needs to heal Pokemon in some way, so my first idea was to let both players heal the same amount of damage from their Pokemon. This idea, however, has exactly the same problem as discarding energies - you just need to pick the right time to get all the benefits and no drawback. As such, I’ve ended up picking “spread healing”. You get to heal 60 - three times as much as a single Potion! - but obviously your damage needs to be spread out, either by carefully using retreats, or Bug Catcher.

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Pokedex is one of these cards that has a cute effect that’s actually pretty good, but not good enough to be a card in its own right.. It’s hard to improve the Pokedex without ruining the identity of the card. Pokedex’s main relation is to Pokemon, so it’s not unreasonable for its effect to do something with Pokemon. While at first I made it literally a Great Ball, I decided to keep some of Pokedex’s identity, by letting you both choose a Pokemon (albeit from a smaller pool of cards), then rearrange the remaining cards as you want.

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Tired of “one of these cards”? Well, Devolution Spray is one of these cards that is pretty baffling, especially to a newcomer. Its usage is basically limited to Pokemon that explicitly benefit from devolving, but we inadvertently increased that pool by putting a heavier distinction between Stage 1 and 2 Pokemon. Still, while you might dream of a scenario in which Devolution Spray is useful and lets you use a lost ability in time of need, there are a thousand other games where it’s just sitting there, doing nothing. That doesn’t mean there’s no place for cards like that in the game, especially for casuals and children, who wouldn’t care as much about consistency, as about having the experience of that “1 in a 1000” moment.
It’s a tough call again, but I have noticed a parallel between this card and Scoop Up (or rather, “Bug Catcher”). In a way, Devolution Spray is like a smaller version of that effect. The way we fixed Scoop Up might also be the way of improving Devolution Spray and giving it a playable effect, while still maintaining that “1 in a 1000” dream.

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The old Revive let you return a Basic Pokemon card from your discard pile onto your Bench, but with only ½ of its HP. Later printings removed the HP clause, which was probably for the better, as the drawback was completely unnecessary on this already mediocre card. I actually did play Revive in a competitive deck, so perhaps it’s not all bad - even in casual games, Revive serves a purpose of letting you recover from a knock-out more consistently. So, is it a hyper-optimal card? Definitely not, but I see no reason to entirely rework it.

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Pokemon Trader is essentially Base Set’s “Pokemon Communication”, and that’s an absolutely fine card. Of course it needs to be an item, not a supporter, so I switched it to “Trade Offer” - not very… item-y, but it lets me use the same art.

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Straight away - should I keep the names “PlusPower” and “Defender”, or should I change them to their correct English names of “X Attack” and “X Defense”? This is mainly an aesthetic change, but there is one thing that tips me towards the latter - their names are paralleled, while the Japanese names aren’t. If you read what “X Attack” does, and then grab “X Defense” for the first time, you will probably guess its effect before you read the card (and vice-versa). However, if I do not intend to change the effects, then there’s no reason for me to change the names - players can simply use their own copies of PlusPower and Defender. I will argue that these two cards are pretty iconic, and somewhat of an opposite to Potion, which is reactive, rather than proactive. I expect these to work very well in Impostor decks, so I’m leaving them as they are.
I am printing them as “X Attack” and “X Defense”, but making a note that they’re interchangeable with PlusPower and Defender.

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Can you improve on Potion’s perfection? That’s a tough question, as healing 20 wasn’t ever very impressive, nor is healing 30 nowadays. But a part of that isn’t Potion’s fault - a hyper-aggressive deck that mills through its resources in search of specific cards cannot be bothered to stumble upon a useless Potion, and if your average hand size is 5 or 6, you’d really like to hold something more impactful. Perhaps with larger hand sizes in Oak decks we’ll see Potion, and in fact Super Potion too, shine again. As such, feel free to use your Base Set Potions you have laying around.

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