Discussion Vmaxes, ADP, and the Terrible Power Creep

Discussion in 'PTCG Competitive Play' started by The Last Shaymin, Dec 13, 2020.

  1. Recently, I just got back into the game, mostly for the team challenge. I haven't collected any Vivid Voltage or Darkness Ablaze cards, and I haven't played the new standard format before.

    And boy howdy, was it like a slap in the face.

    I, as you know, enjoy playing bad meme decks. Last format, I played Nag Quag ADP and Blissey-Z, as I found them fun and they had a decent winrate. Please note that they both are one prize decks that center around crazy energy acceleration that can whack for a lot of damage and can cheese out games against the biggest of decks. I mostly played Nag Quag, because the name is funny. I played this deck when the first couple of SWSH expansions came out, before any Vmaxes were viable. I liked memeing with this deck, and it was great. I had a positive even matchup on fire box, positive even matchup against mew3, and did okay lost against everything else. The deck did decently okayish, and I do not regret playing it. If I had a chance, I would play it again. The format was relatively fun. The format was somewhat balanced. I could win with a meme deck that I had fun playing.

    This changed when Vmaxes became viable.

    All of a sudden, Nag Quag didn't do enough damage. Dragapult picked on Woopers and Poipole, OHKO'ed Nag and Quag, and had 320 HP. I hadn't seen anything like this before. My pet deck now had an autoloss that I could do absolutely nothing about, and several other even losing matchups that just outsped it. This problem led me to my other favorite deck. Blissey Porygon-Z was janky, inconsistent, and best of all, could absolutely annihilate anything that stood in its way. This deck was great, I found myself actually winning games with it. It could even beat sleep box, because of Blissey's seemingly useless ability. The only problem I had with it was getting unlucky, which included both coin flips and card draws. The coin flips part was entirely mostly solved by Glimwood Tangle, and chucking as many consistency cards I could into the deck. It worked great, I was up 3-1 in the sunday open at some point with it (i bricked afterwards). Eventually, I got bored of absolutely destroying losing to everyone and quit, partially because ADP was super annoying, and even coin flips have a limit.

    Cue Rotation

    I hadn't played standard in at least 3 months, I have no clue what was good or not. Looks like ADPZ is still BDIF, and the rest of the decks are Vmaxes (and baby blowns, which doesn't count). I didn't want to play any of these big boys, and set to make a meme deck. This part is where I struggled.

    Almost all one-prizers don't do enough damage to OHKO Vmaxes. It was at this point where I realized how crazy the Power Creep is. Doing 150 damage with a 1-prizer is now not enough. I remember when ZapBeasts was a deck, chilling with ~120 average damage, and it was considered one of the best decks in format. That was only a year ago. In the last year, HP on pokemon has inflated so much that Wailord EX, the pokemon with highest HP for at least 4 years (until tag teams) now has pitiful HP compared to new cards. Wailord's attack isn't even good at all, and now we have pokemon with 300+ HP with absolutely bonkers attacks. This would all be fine, if they released one prizers with easily accessible 150+ damage attacks. In theory, one prize decks shouldn't even be that bad. you can chuck 3 of them at one Vmax and still trade prizes evenly. This was the idea behind Tag Teams, and those don't even have insanely high HP levels. One prizers should have a solid place in the format, but they don't. Why? Because of ADP.

    ONE CARD has removed an entire subset of decks from being playable. ONE CARD.

    ADP didn't even look that OP when it came out. It seemed that it had a good matchup against Mally and traded blows with others. Mally even had ways to beat it when it came out. The best card to pair with it was Keldeo, which helped in a lot of matchups, but it wasn't broken. Then Zacian came out. Zacian was the perfect pairing for ADP! In the first couple of turns, you can use the ability to draw cards, and Zacian would do 260 damage after the GX attack, basically perfect numbers to OHKO most Tag Teams with a shrine ping or galarian perseeker. This is when ADP became absolutely broken. ADP has a good answer to both Tag Teams and One Prizers, and TPCI's response? Make bigger tag teams.

    Make bigger Tag Teams.

    Tag teams were already a stupid idea, and now they thought it was another good idea to make them better. "ohh but they have to evolve first, perfectly balanced" you might say. BUT NO! The basics have HP levels on par with good GX's. 180+ HP. One prizer decks usually attack twice to take a knockout, but once the 180 HP Pokemon evolves into something with 320 HP, its over. You can also evolve more than one, which means you can just put 2 down and evolve both of them, removing the strategy of killing them before they evolve. Like I said before, One prizers would still be decent of they weren't completely gatekept by ADP. This leads to a toxic format where the only good way to win is to play pokemon with over 200 HP, or baby blowns. Games now take around 4 or 5 turns, which prioritize drawpower and barfing cards all over the playmat. Slow decks with stage 1's and 2's are now unplayable, both because they are too slow and that ADP exists. The only "viable" meme deck I could think of that was not Shedinja (my friend told me it sucked) was Cramorant scopes paired with flapple, welder, and... baby blowns. My strategy is to snipe benched dedenne and bats, and maybe Zacians if you can hit the flapples. The most problematic matchup is ADP.

    ADP Gatekeeps all meme decks.

    ADP can win in 3 turns if you bench 2 2-prizers of any kind. 2 Prizers, such as Dedenne or Crobat, are required to have at least a semi-consistent deck, especially with the turn 1 supporter rule. This means that you can only attack a total of 3 times, or only 2 turns if they go second. This means that the entire game can be decided after the first coin flip. Not to mention, meme decks are inherently inconsistent, which is why they are meme decks and not top tier. ADP is such a bad matchup for cramorant that I might as well accept the loss and build it with porygon Z, except I don't want to do that because then I guarantee the loss to ADP. I can still win, but only if I get incredibly lucky or they get incredibly unlucky. Cramorant does pretty well against Eternatus though, which I think is pretty funny.

    Rant over
    TLDR: vmaxes suck, ADP gatekeeps all meme decks, power creep sucks
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2020

  2. RisingRaichuu Aspiring Trainer

    Advanced Member Member

    Completely agree.
  3. I'm hoping that the single strike and rapid strike gimmicks can make meme decks exist again but to be honest I'm not so sure they can
  4. kingK4RP Who doesn't love a good old Magikarp?


    Despite the bleak appearance, don’t lose hope! Heracross UNM is a card that exists and, though neglected, can make a deck’s ADPZ matchup 50/50 or better. Turn the Tables is the best way to deny your opponent the Ultimate Ray that they need to power up their Pokémon, which will make them heavily reliant on Metal Saucer to get the job done. If you have something like Omastar, or additional energy denial, you should be able to sweep through ADPZ, while having decent matchups against other things. About your other statement, that VMAXes gatekeep the format, I somewhat disagree. Cards like Dragapult VMAX certainly do, but others, even Darmanitan VMAX don’t, because they’re easily countered by Mew as is the case for Darm or they can’t take multiple KOs at once, take Eternatus for example. Looking at all this, I have a suggestion for a meme deck to try: Morpeko Omastar. The entire game plan is to get down Omastar on turn 2 to Item Lock then continuously use Torment to stop your opponent from doing anything. Galar Mine can stop them from Retreating and you can pair energy discard with the strategy as well.
    The Last Shaymin likes this.
  5. Another thing that I was thinking about is that there is no way back from this powercrept mess, unless they either 1. Ban all vmaxes and tag teams or 2. Buff single prizers pokemon to the point where they would absolutely dominate once ADP is gone or 3. Ban ADP and buff single prizers so that they can actually compete against vmaxes without getting bodied. TPCI is not willing to do any of these things, because they want to make money by selling sets with 200+ pokemon with 2 chase cards in them so you have to buy an incredible amount of product to actually play the game and pull the cards you want. We are at the point where the only good cards in a set are half the Vs, vmaxes and 2 or 3 trainer cards Because pokemon wants to push out these massive sets also means that there is more trash and useless cards created, which is bad for both the environment and the players themselves.

    Another problem I found was that games only last 3-5 turns nowadays. Gone are the days of slowly outplaying your opponent, setting up big attackers, or running them out of resources slowly. We are now in the era of “gust 3 dedenne to win”. This is incredibly dumb to me because I think the game should be a mental challenge with interesting gameplay from both sides, and not just hehe hammers go brrrr. It used to be that hammers were completely useless in normal decks because your opponent had more time to set up and get an attacker, but now you are buying a turn from those 3-5 turns. The game goes so quickly now that a single hammer heads can lock you out from possibly winning, because games are so fast that you cannot physically attach enough energy in the amount of time you need to not lose. This is absolutely ridiculous, but I have no clue how to fix it other than banning ADP, because then true single prize decks can exist again. Single prize decks make games last for at least 6 turns which is an improvement, but not really that much. Single prize decks are an important part of a healthy meta, and ADP blocks them from being played.

    And yet, there are still more issues that I have with the format.

    The lack of alternate win conditions is truly aggravating for me. If you know me, I enjoy playing stall decks. I played sylveon at more regionals than I can count, and i played normal stall after sylveon became bad. Nowadays, however, you never see any sort of stall or mill deck winning games. Part of that is because Pokemon do so much damage now that it doesn’t even matter if you have 300 HP, you are still going to get basically OHKOed by some decks. Another thing that made stall playable was that disruption cards existed in the format. Nowadays, TPCI is so afraid of alternate win conditions that they banned cards that made these decks tick, even though they weren’t even that good. Take the ban of Bellelba&Brycen-man for example. It allowed a mill deck that had some autolosses, namely mally and reshizard, to exist. Now, they release Eternatus Vmax, and they don’t want it to have any good counters, so they ban it. There is absolutely no good mill or stall cards now, and what does that make? A format full of toxic attacking decks that do not care whatsoever about card conservation and management. All you need to do to win nowadays is barf stuff onto the table until you gust enough Dedennes to win. Not to sound like a boomer, but back just a couple years ago when zoroark was king, you had to conserve your resources and stuff to play the game normally. A normal game back then lasted 4 times or so as long as games today. Cards such as acerola were good because Pokemon didn’t OHKO everything in the format back then. Your supporter choice mattered instead of it just being “do I want cards or do I want to gust a dedenne,” like it is today. Support Pokemon such as Tapu Lele had enough HP to even survive a few this so you couldn’t mindlessly gust stuff and kill it. Sure, things weren’t as consistent back then but consistency didn’t matter as much. You had more than 5 turns to play the game. The only real way to have games last longer than this is to play goons or something dumb like that.


    I have seen Heracross before, and it is indeed a cool card. Also, I am not saying that Vmaxes gatekeep stuff. Vmaxes are a little bit balanced in that the meta right now would lose to a modern version of zapbeasts, except for ADP. It's the Vmaxes along with ADP in the meta that gatekeeps single prize and meme decks. Morpeko does sound like a fun idea, i will have to try it out
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2020
  6. Looks like the survey that is out now might mean the TPCI understands these problems and might want to change them, as they asked questions if we were satisfied with the standard format and how they could improve it. Hopefully this leads to a design change decision and maybe an ADP ban.
  7. ShaQuL @KabutoKingTCG


    What is this survey you are referring to?
    I do agree with a lot of what you have put in this thread btw. The game is still fun to play, but jesus, it's so much more expensive when I can't even begin to compete without a top tier deck.
    The Last Shaymin likes this.
  8. here is the survey
    ShaQuL likes this.
  9. CardPone Delta Species is best species


    I had been struggling to enjoy the card game since EXes came out. GXes were a step in the right direction for bringing back evolving, but they didn't fix the problem that basics could still have 180 HP. It's not a whole lot of fun to me for high-HP cards to be so easy to fart out whenever you want, but I still found a way for my meme decks to shine and really surprise people.

    I have a deck I call Entropy that uses GRI Rayquaza + Battle Compressor (or in some variants just Shining Mew) to power up a PLB Cradily with 5 energy on the first turn, then switch it in on the second turn after playing Sky Field and use Lifesplosion to call in 4 CIN Gengar and a DRX Ampharos. Then I follow up by playing Frozen City to replace Sky Field and discard Rayquaza or Shining Mew and bam. My opponent takes 130 damage for attaching an energy. Most times it takes more than two turns to set up and it's extremely vulnerable until the Gengars come out. It was a really fun meme deck and if your opponent doesn't know what's coming it's amazing to see the look on their face once they find out it's too late.

    Then tag teams came out and farting out a 250+ HP basic with no drawback was possible. This deck became pretty much unusable as soon as Team Up dropped. What's 130 damage when your HP is twice that and some cards have enough energy acceleration all on their own now to be able to completely ignore all the Gengar and Ampharos abilities? I played against a Rayquaza GX deck that was able to completely power up every Pokémon it was using on the first turn before I even got to attack. My entire archetype as worthless now. My other meme decks and even serious decks that I put a lot of effort into around the beginning of gen 7 didn't make it out alive either. Nothing about the post-Team Up TCG is fun anymore and incidentally I haven't played since that set released.

    I don't even have to play ADP to see why people hate it so passionately. It's a degenerate card that has everything it needs built into it. Then Zacian comes along and makes it the only deck in the format. Then they buff Zacian with his own special tool card that only he can use. And now they're even bringing in Empoleon V to completely block single prize cards from using their abilities. What even is the point of non-multiprize card anymore? They're doing they're darnedest to make them as worthless as possible, but then proceed to pump their sets so full of them that it's impossible to get anything good from packs. You said it best. Sets are 200+ cards now and at best maybe 5 of them are ever going to make a difference. There's no strategy or clever deckbuilding anymore. It's just cards with excessive HP, easy setup, low attack cost, and stupid high damage. It's not fun.
    Shinxed3, The Last Shaymin and ShaQuL like this.
  10. kingK4RP Who doesn't love a good old Magikarp?


    Yeah, Pokémon feels like it’s been getting more and more muddled lately, and my only reasonable explanation is that the goal of the designers is to force everyone to use multi-Prize Pokémon. Which is a huge pain, because single-Prizers should always be a decent part of the meta in some form.
    The Last Shaymin likes this.
  11. Constantine Palaiologos Emperor of deckbuilding
    Constantine Palaiologos


    Very much agree, I feel like they haven’t really power creeped oneprizers to keep up with VMAX:es. A good solution would be to print an actually good damage boosting tool. Maybe +40 to all V:s, It’s a bit more powerful than choice band, but so are the V:s compared to GX:s.

    Another small complaint I have is that the combination of quick ball and comm is a lot worse for oneprizers than nest ball and ultra ball was. Quick ball forces you to discard a card to get a basic, but Nest ball doesn’t. The only advantage is getting it to the hand is that you can use play down abilities like dedenne or crobat which are only really used by multi prize decks. The discard can really feel bad when you have more nessisary cards in your deck compared to Multiprizers. While ultra balls also requires discard, it never felt bad because you could at least get whatever you like. A basic on t1 or an evolution mid game. Pokecomm however forces you to have a pokemon in your hand which makes it bad 1/3 times.

    These bad pokemon search cards also makes it really hard to play thin lines of pokemon like techs, which was very fun to do.
    The Last Shaymin and ShaQuL like this.
  12. Shinxed3 Get Shinxed bro


    I completely agree with everything you've said. Hopefully TPC can redesign multi-prize Pokémon in a way that heals the meta... or at the very least, the "Evolution" format from the survey becomes a thing.

    Also, hear me out- imagine how much fun Standard would be right now if Stage 2 Pokémon had a built-in immunity to multi-prize Pokémon. Not an Ability like Decidueye or Alolan Ninetales, but a rule box protecting them from V/VMAX/GX. Multi-prizers still have a chance to knock out the Basic/Stage 1, but if not, they have to rely on single-prize Pokémon.
  13. I'm excited for January. Now that limitless has banned ADP from the standard format for their tournaments, we can finally see what the meta could possibly become if they ban ADP. I am hopeful that this new format is fun and interactive, and that TPCI themselves follow suit.
    CardPone likes this.
  14. Playing old format tournaments shows me again what it is like to play a deck that requires thought to play. The fact alone that garbodor is a card requires me to conserve my items so that I don't get one shot. I misplayed a lot and it just showed me how soft i have become as a player by playing newer decks. The difficulty level from a deck like sylveon, something I played as my main deck for the majority of 2017 and 2018, to a deck like ADPZ which I taught my mom how to play in 30 minutes is just astounding to me.
    bbninjas, CardPone and Shinxed3 like this.
  15. CardPone Delta Species is best species


    As much flak as it got, Trashalanche was a brilliant card. I've always been a hard opponent of any kind of lock because it has way too much potential to shut down entire strategies by playing a single card. Garbotoxin, Seismitoad EX, etc. were in my opinion really bad cards for any format. But Trashalanche takes a different approach by deincentivizing playing that specific kind of card. Instead of being completely locked out and having to just sit there while the card you need to play is in your hand but being a totally dead card, now you get to weigh the costs of playing it or not playing it and adjust your strategy accordingly. It's way more interesting and fun.
  16. Recently, I made an Alcremie Vmax deck. (list is on twitter.) Its incredibly inconsistent, and you know what I found? the current pool of items that are playable right now is incredibly limiting. It's kind of sad, really. When your deck doesn't need to run 4 switch, 4 research, 4 marnie, etc, its difficult to put enough cards into the deck. Everyone is talking how the format is too consistent, but I think its set up so that its only consistent for decks that need these cards. When you remove all of these unnecessary cards from a deck, there are no items you can replace them with. We get stuff like Drone Rotom and energy search, but we are missing cards akin to acro bike and trainers mail, which decks dont need but I would say are important to let deck creativity flow. Maybe I didn't think hard enough but my list is similar to the Blissey-Z list I built last year, but acro bike and all those cards rotated, so now its difficult for me to build a full 60 card deck, even while running a 4-4 vmax line, a 3-5-3 stage 2 line, and 14 energy.

    I think the main problem, to be honest, is that ultra ball doesn't exist. I can't get the full usage out of Crobat because my hand is cluttered with unplayable stage 2 and vmax cards, but a simple set of ultra ball would let me run more techs such as Mallow and Lana, because I don't need to worry about them getting stuck in my hand when i want to crobat.

    If you guys can think of anything, that would be great. I was thinking of putting in a playset of old computer for the memes
    Shinxed3 likes this.
  17. Hey guys, if you could fill out this form it would be great for the team Karps and Rats

    also i was thinking about how this format you really cannot play rouge decks, because the format is too fast for anything to get set up. I think the right way to fix this is to ban Crobat and Dedenne, and even professors research maybe. ADP wouldn't be good if it can't hit it turn 1
  18. Right now, the state of the game is pandering to new players. We saw this with big basics, then we saw it again with tag teams, and most recently, vmaxes. These new cards speed up the game which reduces importance of nuance and techs, and prioritize consistency and hitting heads on crushing hammer. I don't think this is a very good idea to help new players join in and to keep the attention of old players, where it is essentially failing at both. The lack of a ranked ladder on PTCGO and the vide variety of skill in the game makes it really hard for a new player to judge where they are skill-wise. A recent example that I found recently was with my brother's friend. My brother's friend recently got into the game and he thinks he is "really good," as he keeps beating the bots on the "competitive ladder." We all know that these bots are incredibly bad at the game, but PTCGO insists on pretending that they are 'good'. The friend even went so far as to say that he could probably beat my brother, which is definitely no happening unless he got really lucky. My brother won a regionals, and when asked, the friend says that he played a theme deck with some GX pokemon in it. Dumbing down the game leads to this confusion of newer players who think they are good but really aren't, and it makes the current competitive community feel overlooked, as if they don't exist. The advent of these big 3 prize pokemon also help dumb down the game, such as Eternatus Vmax. With etern, all you need to do is get an eternatus into play, bench pokemon, and attach energy. You have basically no other attacking options to you, the only move you can use is dead end or whatever its called. There is no chance to make unique and interesting plays, and it has 1 glaring weakness: crushing hammer. Every eternatus player hates this card, and for good measure. It's luck based, and it is super OP when games take 3 turns to play. you basically delete a turn from your opponent, and they can't do anything about it because there is no other option you can choose. If you attach to anything other than eternatus, you are just wasting your time. This makes both new players and old players upset at the game and here is why. If you are new, and you just invested 100 of your hard earned dollars into an eternatus deck, you expect to have fun and win games, right? It's hard to have fun when your opponent can just lock you out of the game by playing a card with a coin flip. It is inherently unfun to lose to something involving coin flips, no matter what skill level you are. You never play against some random kid playing a bunch of hammers and lose and think, "hmm. i got absolutely outskilled that game. I think my main mistake was letting him flip heads on hammers. Maybe if i try making him flip tails instead, i will do better." Nobody thinks like that, because there is nothing you can do about it. Its really kinda sad that TPCI thinks that the game needs to be dumbed down as well. In a way, having a more difficult game is better for new players. If they have to learn matchups and how to sequence and other stuff, well guess what! they are learning. If you think they will get bored of the game if its too hard, then how will they not get bored of a game that's too easy? if 2 kids at the playground are both new to the game and all of a sudden one of them brings along ADPZ, its not going to be fun for either player because the same exact thing happens every single game, and there is nothing that the other player can do about it. If the game is more complicated, then tech cards would matter more and there could actually be something that you could do about your opponent, then the game would be more fun and more fair for both sides, where you have to play the tech and then play around the tech and play around the counter for the tech etc. If the game is harder, then the kid could actually notice themselves improving, while if the game is easy then they just have to sit down for 30 minutes with a broken deck and then win a whole bunch of tournaments for basically free.
    Carl Miller and FourteenAlmonds like this.
  19. Charmaster:) The Cube Master, Charmander fan, & Lapras rider.


    If Pokemon players from a decade ago read this thread, they would probably think it was a plot for a horror film, not an actual historical event to come. Things really did take a turn for the worst with S&M Team Up (though they've certainly been moving in this direction since Big Basics made their debut appearance in 2012.
    P.S. IMPORTANT EDIT: my opinion on this matter has changed significantly as I have learned more about the state of the TCG. I have to admit that as of this time I had fallen for the same misconceptions that most people have about this subject. However, this comment wasn’t entirely pointless, as it at least prompted Otaku, who had a much more accurate and insightful understanding of the history of the Pokémon, to give his five cents on the subject, which quickly turned into an extensive case-file analysis. So if you are one of those people who tires of reading people complain about things they don’t fully understand, keep reading! You’ll probably learn something from Otaku’s analysis.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2021 at 8:11 AM
    Carl Miller and The Last Shaymin like this.
  20. Wechselbalg


    At this point, it's pretty obvious that this is what TPCi wants - a quick, dumb game, cards with big numbers and "epic" artwork, where everyone can feel like that they are "good" at something for very minimal effort. It's like a cheap (well, relatively speaking) drug. Pokemon is a business all about money and they are not even trying to pretend otherwise anymore.

    Honestly people, if you're unhappy with the state of the game, just leave it. (I did.) It's not going to change, because the formula works, and the card "game" (which is so bare-bones and simple now that I wouldn't even really call it that) still generates a lot of revenue. Really people, if you're not having any fun with this anymore just leave. There's so much more you can do with your time and money instead of supporting this hollow capitalist trap.
    The Last Shaymin likes this.

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