Discussion Does Pokémon TCG Need a Casual Format to "Compete" Against MTG in EDH / Commander?

Discussion in 'Pokémon Trading Card Game' started by Card Slinger J, Sep 22, 2020.

  1. Card Slinger J #BringBackNationalDex
    Card Slinger J


    One thing that's come to my attention in the light of this pandemic is that most Paper Trading Card Games / Collectible Card Games outside of MTG are too competitive based as they don't really have their own dedicated casual format like MTG does with EDH / Commander while still having to rely solely on Organized Play to support their own Hobby / Game Stores which as you may have noticed has become extremely difficult due to social distancing and COVID-19 protocols. This was an idea I've been pondering about for some time now though I'm not sure If it'll work or not.

    I figured If Pokémon TCG had it's own casual format then the community would have a way to continue supporting their Hobby / Game Store without these businesses going belly under. I don't know how the format would be designed in such a way that promotes more social interaction where it doesn't detract too much from the way TPCi originally designed the game (technically Wizards of the Coast). The reason why I think it was much easier to do in MTG was because of it's simplicity where with Pokémon TCG I'm not so sure.

    Anyway let me know what you think of this idea to see If it can take off or not.

  2. CrownAxe Aspiring Trainer


    I for one love having alternate formats in games. They are great for variety and expanding the value of your collection by allowing more diverse play compared to competitive formats. I'm actually toying with an alternate format for PTCG right now (but with COVID I haven't been able to actually play it with anyone). It would be great if pokemon had an alternate format that was popular.

    But I think you're misunderstanding the value of casual formats. For starters pokemon already does have casual formats like U150, Single Prize Only, or Cube Draft but they just aren't popular. EDH has been around for decades but only in 2011 did WotC actually begin to officially support EDH by releasing EDH focused product. EDH succeeded because players just liked playing it and it grew as a result. WotC didn't start supporting EDH until after it was popular which was roughly a decade after inception. And without the official WotC support EDH probably wouldn't be close to the the popularity it has now.

    I also don't see how a "casual" format would get around issues with organized play and card shops. There is nothing stopping players from playing the "competitive" formats casually and still supporting their local card shops in the process. And any issues of meeting up to play because of social distance would still apply to a casual format as well. Organized Play is still one of the best ways to find people to play the casual formats with because it's ultimately an organized meet up for players in the area, tournaments or no. There just isn't anything unique about a casual format that would get around this situation.

    PTCG would definitely benefit from more casual formats, just not in the way you seem to be looking for
    Otaku likes this.
  3. Otaku The wise fool?


    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'll once again remind everyone that the Pokémon TCG has three "fun" formats that used to be popular enough they showed up in Play! Pokémon Rules & Formats document:
    • 30-Card: 30-card decks, Rule of 2 instead of the Rule of 4, 3-Prizes instead of six.
    • 2-on-2: You have two Actives, and only four Benched Pokémon.
    • Team Battle: Simultaneous 4-player battles, with players operating in teams of two. Too complex to detail here.
    To be fair, all of these actually originated from official sources. Pokémon - in North America - began with a 2-player starter set that... was actually one 60-card deck with rules for splitting it in half, and the halves being used against each other by two players. 2-on-2 was introduced in the EX-series (Gen III sets) because it was added to the video games around that time; actual cards from that time reference it! Team Battle was derived from Team Multi-Play. TMP was created by WotC during the doldrums of the Neo-era. Nintendo/PUI (I think that is what they were called back then) revised and rebranded it as Team Battle.
  4. Lanstar The Funny Fairy Bug


    I think a casual format would be nice, but unless enough people are willing to agree with one to play on a regular basis, it will go nowhere...

    ...Which I think I know the best solution: An independent Pokemon TCG app, similar to Pokemon Showdown, which lets people play and create such formats online.

    Smogon is able to create metagames that people are willing to play because they host a simulator, which invites players to design even the most improbable teams possible in the cartridge. No need to go through card prices to create a meta, in the TCG sense: all the options are there to experiment with.

    There's even a 'random battles' format in that simulator, where you start battles with heavily randomized teams, level-adjusted by Pokemon tiers (Uber-Legendaries are Lv. 73, while Lower tiered mons could go up to Lv. 88) Such tier is quite casual, and it would be neat to see randomly designed TCG decks be made like that as well that pit players to use them. It's probably the best way to attract casual play for actual 'casual players' as well: Deck building is one of the biggest gatekeepers in casual TCG, similar to team building in VGC battles - So automating it would lower the barrier of entry for casual players considerably.
  5. CrownAxe Aspiring Trainer


    @Lanstar Doesn't PTCGOne and Untap.in already fulfill that role? I guess it doesn't have the randomizer format but deck building is vastly more complicated then 6 random pre stated pokemon
  6. Lanstar The Funny Fairy Bug


    It's not as complicated as you'd think. Deck building often has patterns involved, and a randomizers just needs to follow them.

    Take a theme deck, for instance: The pattern of them usually involves a certain number of Pokemon, trainer cards, and energy, along with the rarity of cards. What you could do is make hundreds of casual based 60-card decks that follow certain patterns and rules that seem balanced - Where skill is more involved when playing them than luck. Such decks would be non-competitive - where it assumes the maximum playability of nearly every Pokemon card of the given format. I such, Stage 2's would be a given in all of them, and the number of strategies would be reduced at first (Stall and control would be mostly gone). There might be an EX/GX/V card or two in each deck, but they don't dominate the deck structure at all.

    Then comes the play testing: People play in this format, and figure out the win rates of each one, upon facing each deck. That is when you nerf certain decks and buff other decks to help balance their win rates. All of this data would be constantly recorded and updated, all while making sure the vast majority of cards are used.

    Such knowledge could then be used to design an algorithm to make randomized decks for casuals to play. Sure, luck might still be involved (Randbats on Showdown still has tons of cheese going on!) but as this is noncompetitive and non-serious, it won't matter too much. What will is that over 90% of the cards printed in the game could actually be """Playable""", if you know what I mean, and people can have tons of fun playing them, too!
  7. Otaku The wise fool?


    Oh, you're making the team behind the PTCGO feel bad. ;)

    Really wish there was a "manual" mode for the PTCGO. Something that played like Apprentice, RedShark, etc. Yes, I know those two are ancient examples, no longer in use, but they're what I knew. XD
  8. Yaginku Aspiring Trainer


    The reason EDH got so popular, was because it is a non-rotating eternal format, that nobody is supposed to take "seriously" enough to develop degenerate strategies for. The Singleton aspect also allows it to be very random and exciting, and the somewhat-limited tutoring in Magic stops it from being too predictable. There are definitely "meta" decks in Commander, but people don't build decks to beat their opponents at all cost, but to have fun.

    However, Magic has a massive upside - the power level of many cards have gone down historically, rather than up. This means that old cards aren't obsolete, but actually very powerful and there are tons of "in-between" cards that are perfectly reasonable as additions. One of the big draws of EDH and it's lack of rotation, is that you can play very old cards and get that nostalgia trip. I'm afraid there are so many Pokemon that are simply outclassed nowadays, that the format would basically look like Expanded anyway.

    Yet another draw of Commander is the "Commander" themselves - it gives your deck an immediate personality. A big part of making a fun, flavorful deck is showcasing your own imagination through deckbuilding. Things like archetypes are good, but having one card that screams "This is my deck's identity" is even better.
    Hot take here, the moment WOTC acknowledged EDH as "Commander" was the moment the format stopped being fun. They started releasing Legendary cards (which is what a 'Commander' is, to the uninitiated) that weren't just build-arounds, but hand-holding self-deckbuilders.

    My thoughts for Pokemon is that U150 is a good idea, but it doesn't go far enough to replicate what made EDH popular. My idea here is, instead of having a "Commander", to have a "Leader", which would be a single Supporter card. That Supporter card could be played once each turn "for free", without using the actual Supporter-per-turn slot. Pokemon Masters showed that people absolutely love not just Pokemon, but the characters as well - I think letting them use their favorite character (probably in full-art form) as their deck's representative could be a massive hit.

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