Fun So lately I've been collecting Theme Decks...and came up with a new format with them.

Discussion in 'Pokémon Trading Card Game' started by Big One, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. Big One Aspiring Trainer
    Big One


    Background information (skip this if you want to hear about my format concept): So for literally decades throughout my life, Pokemon TCG has played an integral role in various spurts all the way back in the Base-Jungle-Fossil era till now. I've taken plenty of breaks from it but somehow manage to still hold onto a decent collection of cards.

    One of my fav things I did as a kid was get a theme deck for my birthday, all the way back with the 2 player starter set. The second theme deck I got was the Rocket deck with Dark Arbok, as well as Lt. Surge and Blaine Gym era decks.

    However, over the years I've lost quite a bit of cards. I've given some away, straight up threw them out, misplaced and damaged them. All I really have left of my old collection is all the holos which I've always been careful to preserve but even they aren't in the best condition.

    Fast forward to a few years ago during the Black and White era. I got back into the TCG in a rather serious manner. I bought the Scolipede and Crookadile decks and had a lot of fun playing them and making decks with the cards featured in there. Then about a year or so after that I got the Team Plasma Volcarona deck, and started buying boosters then BAM a bad spill killed most of my collection. Whoops! Took another break...

    Fast forward to a few years after that, I got the Volcanion and Hoopa structure decks which I heard at the time were good starts into the competitive game (Volcanion and Volcanion EX was a legit thing at one time) and had a lot of fun tearing players up on TCGO with my Volcanion deck. Took another break due to life leading me in new directions.

    Then Sword and Shield's prerelease hit. I went through the entire phase of being excited, then tempered, then downright disappointed lol. I still like the games for what they contain, but even after playing them and beating them it really left a sour taste in my mouth. So I went back to the TCG, doing what I always do to get a head start, and bought the Groudon and Kyogre decks that came out recently. Had a ton of fun with them, then bought the Necrozma and Dragonite decks to add to the cardpool. Then I reformed my Volcanion and Hoopa theme decks and put them into the fray as well. At first I was keeping the theme decks together, playing with my brother in an IRL version of Theme Deck battles in TCGO. However we both soon realized that not all theme decks were created equally, so we mixed and matched parts and...

    The Victory Road Format (alpha/testing):

    Core Rules:
    1. Only cards that are released in Theme Decks are legal.
    2. The number of copies of a card you can run depends on how many copies of that card is printed in a theme deck F.E. you can only run up to two copies of Team UP Charizard.
    3. Two main formats: Standard Gen 6/Gen 7 and Unlimited.
    4. Newer printings override the old ones as long ad the newer printing was printed in a theme deck. For example Bill is still a Supporter card in this format, while Erika is not.
    5. Unlimited has a limitations list which currently contains (as of testing)

    Power 1* - Block A (Professor Oak, Computer Search, Lass)
    Power 4 - Block A (Gust of Wind, Energy Removal, Pokemon Catcher), Block B (Professor Juniper, Professor Sycamore)

    *this means that in each individual Block, you can play X amount of cards in your deck. X equals the Power number.

    Motus Operandi:

    So, what exactly is the goal here? Well theres a couple of things. For starters, this is a format that can showcase a lot of lesser known Pokemon cards. To be honest most Theme Decks feature junk, but in this format? That junk could be essential parts of the game. On top of that I wanted to give purpose to my theme deck collection I was amassing as well. I've went back and repaired my Volcarona, Krookodile and Scollipede theme decks for example, as well as reformed my Dark Arbok deck. For the past month or so I've been buying Sun and Moon decks as well as attempting to complete a Gen 1 theme deck collection (I'm not buying sealed themes for Gen 1 though, just building them with single purchases cause its cheaper) and I've honestly been having a blast playing with my brother! I'm even thinking about doing a game night with my friends cause I've amassed such a large collection you could easily just go ham with it.

    It's also a fairly cheap format never requiring you to pay a lot of money. What you get in a Theme Deck is it, no more, no less. There's no Pokemon EX or GX to worry about (remember theme decks only, not legendary decks or trainer kits), just good old fashion brawls. Here's a decklist example:

    Charizard/Incineroar (Unlimited format)

    2x Charmander (Team Up 12)
    2x Charmeleon (Team Up 13)
    2x Charizard (Team Up 14)
    2x Litten (Unbroken Bonds 27)
    2x Torracat (Unbroken Bonds 28)
    2x Incineroar (Unbroken Bonds 29)
    2x Slugma (Lost Thunder 43)
    2x Magcargo (Celestial Storm 24)

    4x Lillie
    2x Welder
    2x Guzma
    1x N
    1x Tate & Liza
    1x Brock's Grit

    1x Computer Search
    4x Gust of Wind
    4x Ultra Ball
    3x Pokemon Communication
    2x Evosoda
    1x Rescue Stretcher
    1x Professor's Letter
    1x Super Potion
    1x Escape Rope
    1x Switch
    1x Energy Retrieval

    13x Fire Energy

    There's still some powerhouse decks here. Charizard is one of them, as is Blastoise/Dragonite and Necrozma as well. However nothing has tested so over the top for me that I've felt anything to be super broken outside of what's on the limitation list lol.

    What are your guys thoughts on this concept? I've pitched it to Pokemon TCG reddit to no avail so I was hoping you guys might be more responsive to it. I'll give you guys updates as I continue to do my own testing!

    Theme Decks I currently own:

    Gen 1:
    2 Player Starter Set
    Water Blast
    Power Reserve
    On the way: Brock, Misty, Lt. Surge, Erika

    Gen 5:
    Power Play
    Toxic Tricks
    Mind Wipe
    Cold Fire
    + some cards in my collection I already know exist in Theme Decks (hence N)

    Gen 6:
    Gears of Fire
    Ring of Lightning
    Pikachu Power
    Mewtwo Mayhem

    Gen 7:
    Leaf Charge
    Hydro Fury
    Storm Caller
    Blazing Volcano
    Relentless Flame
    Torrential Cannon
    Lightning Loop
    Battle Mind
    Soaring Storm
    Laser Focus
    Towering Heights
    Unseen Depths
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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  2. Otaku The wise fool?


    Okay, so reading through all of that because I really enjoy the Theme Format of the PTCGO:

    This is just too complicated.* I mean, you're even making your own Standard and Unlimited Formats with this... and while you're not banning cards, you're coming up with a very clunky set of restrictions instead.

    You've already got all these cards and went to the trouble of creating these rules, and I've no doubt that it is great fun for you and your brother. For those wanting to get into it, though, vintage cards/Theme Decks can still be kind of pricey, especially if you only need them for this Fun Format.

    I'm not telling others they shouldn't play it, but I want you all to realize what it is you're in for: having to comb through all the Theme Decks to see what cards are allowed and at what quantities, before your additional restrictions, seems like a real drag.

    You'll also need to be prepared to "show your work", since that is the easiest way to deal with questions:
    • Why do we have Power Block 4 B instead of just applying the rule that applies to all other Formats (or at least to Standard and Expanded): no mixing Professor Juniper with Professor Sycamore.
    • What Theme Deck has two Magcargo (CES) in it?
    • Is Pokémon Catcher so good that it really deserves to be in the same Power Block as Energy Removal and Gust of Wind? If so, why isn't Pokémon Reversal also there?
    Just to clarify, that last one is a great example of the need to "show your work", or at least state "I went through every Theme Deck since Expedition through Call of Legends and none had any copies of Pokémon Reversal!" I did not do that; that is the only real justification I can think of for why two functionally identical cards aren't seeing the same level of restriction. I did double check the two Theme Decks I know have Magcargo (CES) in them, and both decks only have a single copy of it. Oh, wait... are you saying that we have to keep track of each time a card has appeared in Theme Decks to find out how many of it we can play? @[email protected]

    Finally... you might want to use a better example deck as something for your Unlimited Format is going to be too alien to properly process, at a glance. Probably something for your Standard Format, so it uses cards contemporary and even Theme Decks that recent players are more likely to be familiar with. ;) I must confess, part of me wants to try your idea just to see if I can break it. XD

    *I'm a GURPS fanboy; if I tell you your game is too complicated, there's a good chance it is. XD
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
  3. Big One Aspiring Trainer
    Big One


    Phew that's a hefty first response! Let me see if I can accurately respond to all of this in a clear and concise manner (I'm not a huge fan of multi-quoting but sometimes it's necessary). First off thanks for the response, as well as the critique provided!
    You're probably right tbh. There is a lot of weirdness to this format that goes against the traditional grain of the Pokemon TCG, so I'll try to explain how exactly my setup is with my Pokémon TCG collection. I have a MASSIVE collection of card games and board games at the house, and the Pokémon TCG is no different though it's smaller than my collection of Arkham Horror LCG for example lol. is how I operate things:
    1. Various boxes full of random cards I've collected over the years (I have about 3 in total, one exclusively for the holos that are all sleeved up).
    2. Energy Box.
    3. Binder full of Victory Road format cards (this is probably going to grow to multiple binders eventually).
    Only number 2 and 3 apply to what I'm doing, so it's really easy for me to sparse what is playable - and the quantities of what's playable - since all it takes is adding it to my binder to extend my own personalized format. I pretty much add the entire Theme Decks to the binder, enough to have playsets of 4 (or 8 if the card is good enough ala Gust of Wind since currently testing is me and my brother) and once it goes over that limit I just stick it in my random card boxes, lol.

    NOW, this doesn't exactly solve your concerns there. I'm not saying everyone should be doing this exactly or will do this, but I'm just letting you know that it's actually rather easy for me to sparse what's useable or not, lol. I have it setup in a way that as soon as I bring the binder and energy box to a friend's house we immediately have the necessary tools to play the game for one-on-one duels.

    So, my solution? Well it's simple...Standard format. Basically in Standard format - even though there's technically cards you could run from certain decks like Double Dragon Energy from Aurora Blast/Storm Rider in an Ultra Prism Garchomp Deck - players already have a solid start into the format by owning or purchasing a few theme decks from Gen 6 and 7. Own both Soaring Storm and Laser Focus from Unified Minds for example? You can already mix and match those two decks to make a genuinely solid deck. Add more to that pool and the possibilities become greater.

    Though to be quite honest, all I've actually been playtesting is Unlimited. XD I feel like the power level of Standard is tempered enough to not worry about anything atm, so a lot of my focus right now is trying to "collect" Theme Decks and create a format around mixing and matching different eras which outside of Unlimited 150 is a bit different from the usual Porydonk style decks you see in Unlimited play.

    I will playtest Standard, but I want to wait until the Sword and Shield Theme Decks come out before I do, since conceptually that should mark the day when Gen 6 gets rotated out of Standard.

    *Also, just a sidenote, but my most expensive purchase so far has been the Team Up Charizard deck lmao. The secondary market is funny that way. Of course like I said I kind of cheated with the Gen 1 era decks I bought cause I bought the "pieces" rather than the sealed product which is waaaaay cheaper. I'm not sure if Gen 2 and Gen 3 will yield the same results.

    I'll answer these questions in order:

    1. Since it's a casual format, I do not expect everyone to know that off the top of their head. In fact, all I'm doing is an extension of that rule by not allowing players to play 8 copies of the same card, lol. That rule inspired my limitation list.
    2. You kind of answer your own question:
      It can be daunting for people that aren't IN IT like I am atm. XD But the best approach to this format is not overthink things too much and have fun.
    3. Pokémon Reversal has a 50/50 chance of working (which is legal @ 4 in this format) so it's noticeable a worse card than those two. However the simple solution to why certain cards aren't on my limitation list yet is that I don't own them yet, lol. So I'm not going to hit something without testing it, however this doesn't mean there aren't cards out there that I'm keeping my eye on.
    You're right I probably should've explained my limitations. While it's still a WIP, I did not do it for no reason and it has been playtested between me and my brother and continues to develop (currently for example I'm looking at possibly tempering Imposter Oak's Revenge a bit).

    Basically when I first started this, I think I had a total of like 1 Pokémon Catcher in my entire Theme Deck pool lol. Despite it being reprinted in a ton of Theme Decks for some reason I only had 1 which I believe was from the Volcarona deck. So I started collecting decks from Gen 1 (as a way to bring some nostalgia to the table) and Gen 7 which tbh probably has the strongest monsters in this format due to how power creep works in Pokémon TCG. This is how Gust of Wind and Energy Removal came into play, both completely gamechanging cards.

    So, at the beginning, both me and my brother agreed that Professor Oak and Computer Search were "limited" as in we can only play 1 copy of each in our deck. We were already playing the Professor Rule when we decided this, so it was rather silly that we could play 4 Professor Oak without anything to balance it somehow.

    What we found is that, well...that was broken. Basically all of the decks were building included 1x Professor Oak, 1x Computer Search, 1x Lass, 3-4x Gust of Wind, and 3-4x Energy Removal. Oh and Super Energy Removal was also legal, but it wasn't as jarring since there was only one printed copy for us to play due to the rules of this format (decks we're building that can charge energy for free ala anything with Malamar tend to use it the best). It wasn't the power of the cards that were the issue, but rather they would literally shut down the course of play and provide an unfair advantage without any sort of reprecuations. Because this format takes longer to setup than current Pokémon TCG formats, a using Energy Removal over and over again throughout the course of the game and then picking and choosing what Pokémon you want to KO with Gust of Wind/Pokémon Catcher straight up gives the player who drew the best an unfair advantage. We've literally both experienced the bad side of this, lol.

    So we basically segmented the cards in a way that it allows two different strategies: Aggro and Control, with just enough room to mix a little bit of both. That isn't to say we wanted all decks to be the exact same cause they're not, but when a deck could literally do both at the highest of levels...that isn't good for this limited format.

    Of course this is all just my own personal testing based on the cardpool I have, however I think it's a solid solution to an issue players may face. There's likely many other cards out there that function for similar reasons, and I'm open to exploring possibilities if it has a negative effect on the game.

    I probably should've done that. The Charizard deck was something I whiped up like an hour before that post, lol. Which I typed all of it on my phone at the time. I do want to update the OP a bit so give me some time and I'll rework some things.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
    Otaku likes this.
  4. Otaku The wise fool?


    @Big One If breaking up a post into smaller quotes is the best way to respond, go ahead. I try to use it sparingly for the same reason, though there was an obnoxious period where it was my default response approach. XP

    Both to avoid it being buried in a larger response and because I'm short on time, let me focus on two closely related points:

    1. If you want this Format to be for someone other than yourself, don't design it just for yourself. XD
    2. Keep It Super Simple.
    I cannot tell if you realize how unusual it is to be someone with an extensive collection of Theme Decks. TCGs have a high turnover rate for players, so new players probably own only whatever one they picked up when they started the game, if they have even that. Even those that have them may consider them more "collectible" than "card game" by now. I'm not saying you cannot organize an entire Format around cards from Theme Decks but make a spread sheet. That way folks don't have to own these decks to know what they can work with, so actually using (and acquiring) cards individually is an option. :)

    You investing some time to go over to a place like Bulbapedia and enter all the Theme Decks into a spread sheet, which then tallying it all up so everyone knows how many of each card they can play, isn't easy for you... but it makes it so much easier for everyone else. Complex card restrictions are also questionable for this reason; when you can only run two copies of a card but normally you can run four, it gets confusing. You don't want to import the no Juniper + Sycamore rule from the real game, but you're creating even more confusing restrictions in their place. ;)

    You may have to ban some cards. You may need to issue errata instead... "Treat all cards named Professor Oak, Professor Juniper, and Professor Sycamore as being named Professor's Research". I also encourage you to really playtest everything. I'm well aware that Energy Removal is quite crippling for the cardpool; did my own experiments trying to better understand Base Set through Fossil about 10 years ago. The thing is, late SM-era theme decks > Mid SM-era theme decks > early SM-era theme decks > almost every theme deck which came before them. Since I can stack permitted amounts of cards, I can have a full 4-4 line for Malamar (FLI).

    And... out of time!

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