Discussion What do You Think About PTCGO?

Christian Ellingstad

Aspiring Trainer
(warning, long post)

Hi everyone:)

I wanted to open up for discussion on what people think about the PTCGO and what can be done to improve the experience. First, it is a great platform which allows Pokemon-fans to play the game more often and test new decks. However, it is not the most exciting online game/platform. Yes, it lets us play Pokemon, but by improving it, I think it could attract so many more people to, both, the online game and the physical game.

This is something that I keep thinking about and I like comparing Pokemon to other TCG's that have an online platform, such as Hearthstone and Hex. The thing about Hearthstone is that there is a clearer goal when playing (you are aiming for a Legend rank), compared to Pokemon where you can basically just test decks, earn some rewards or play tournaments (consisting of 8 people.....) . Also, Hearthstone has some third party websites, like Strivewire, which allows people to compete in tournaments with smaller cash prizes. I have never played Hex, but (as far as i know) they provide larger tournaments built into the online game.

I have been playing in Pokebeach's and Google' tournaments (which are a great initiatives!), however they seem so clunky to a arrange and the threads/facebook posts where pairings are posted become sooo long with everyone posting every single result. I do not know exactly where I am going with this post, but one of the things that annoy me is that there isnt a platform out there (that I know of) where anyone can create a tournament and the participants can report their results within the platform. Challonge, almost does it, but you still need somewhere else to post the results and pairings, while Strivewire only supports certain games and not everyone can create tournaments.

The second thing i want to discuss is the effort put in the PTCGO by Pokemon. I understand that Pokemon is, originally, a physical game, so they might want people to mostly play the game with actual cards. However, i think the online platform can be used so much more effectively to gain new players and also "transform" online players into people who would actively seek physical tournaments. I do not know exactly how this can be achieved, but what if larger tournaments where arranged, within the platform, where people could win championship points. However, there could be a limit on the points that can be won each season, so it forced the players to go out and play the game as well, so that they could gather the last points needed to get an invite to worlds.. Ooooooor, develop a ranking system (like HS), where the top player each month gains an invite or something like that.

The third issue i would like to raise is, why streaming within Pokemon is so much less popular than other games? By that, I mean, both, streaming from official tournaments and streaming from users playing online. There are so many times i would want to watch tournaments happening in the US (i am in EU), but they are so rarely streamed (and results/decklists are also not always posted).
While I was writing this, there were 11 PTCGO streams on Twitch (compare that to 300-400 HS streams).
Why is it like this? Pokemon is the largest media franchise in the world, but they still cant even nearly keep up with other popular games on Twitch. One of the reasons why this is happening, is because (as mentioned earlier) there is no proper goal in PTCGO. The second reason is that the platform looks so boring (if you ask me). You have the same table top every single game and the characters and design is just so boring... These are two reasons i could think of atm, but feel free to list more.

Pokemon is a great game, no doubt in that, but they will need to innovate to be able to compete against other card games. Yes, this has been a long post and there are probably things I have said that you might disagree with, but that is the purpose of this post. I want to start a discussion on what Pokemon is doing wrong and what they are doing right with the PTCGO. I have mentioned three quite different issues, so feel free to discuss any of them (or all). All I want is to hear what other Pokemon-fans think of the online game! Thanks:)


The wise fool?
Most of what would improve the PTCGO are things that have to change with the actual Pokémon TCG. Things like pacing and game balance. So we won't worry about that.

I'll mention up front I don't like Hearthstone. Possibly because I was never very good at it.

There was a TCG with a strong online component called "Chaotic". It even had an animated tie-in that aired on broadcast television. The game preceded the efforts of Pokémon to add an online component, and while Chaotic failed, I liked that (at least in the fiction) they were shooting for making the two compatible with each other. A player using a physical deck of cards could face off against a player using the online program. I do not know how feasible such a thing is, however.

While I wouldn't mind TPCi bringing competitive, organized play to the PTCGO in some capacity, I am more worried about fun. There are two reasons I no longer play the physical TCG. First is because I simply cannot afford it right now. Second is because even if I had the discretionary income, I don't believe it is worth it anymore because I still wouldn't be able to attend a good Pokémon League. The PTCGO helps me with that first point, but the second point is hurt because some of the really cool, lesser known (but officially recognized) rules variants aren't allowed. Plus, in tournaments, it isn't best two of three.

So I would like to also see best two of three play, at least for tournaments, on the PTCGO. Even if we keep the super simple 8-person events. I would like to see the 30-card deck rules allowed, even if only for Versus mode (so no Rewards Ladder or Tournaments). I would like to see the Team Battle Rules added as well. Finally, a mode equivalent to some version of the Limited Format... one of the areas where I DO think Hearthstone is doing it better. ;)


Aspiring Trainer
1. Whenever you get more than 4 no-trade copies of a card, it should turn them into tokens at a rate of 5 per common/energy, 10 per uncommon and 15 per rare So if you had a fully duplicate pack you'd get about half of a pack's value back in tokens. There is no point in letting me have 17 untradable copies of Lilipup SUM in my online collection, I can only use four. A system like this would let you recover tokens wasted on packs full of cards you already have untradable playsets of and let you make progress towards getting complete collections of a set.

2. The ability to test decks with cards you don't have against the AI. Granted, it's not useful for determining how good a deck is but you can see how your cards flow 'in a vacuum' and catch mistakes before you trade for cards.

3. Give us the cards to play unlimited online, HS-on unlimited is so lame. I always thought that PTCGO should be the ultimate platform for the game digitally but you have to use other ones if you want to play with cards older than late gen 4.

As for events, I think that at least the final match of tournaments should be bo3. There are too many outright terrible players entering on demand events to justify doing it for every match especially given time constraints many players face, but the final match of most events is actually somewhat competitive.


happy thoughts
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Articles Head
Elite Member
Advanced Member
First two ideas are pretty good. I feel like that we'll never get tokens for our extra untradeables since the point of the online game is to push physical product, and if you could just token your way to an entire collection, you would have no reason to buy codes (packs).

You can play Unlimited in friendlies; that's good enough.

You could code it so Unlimited matches don't count towards the ladder, but then no one would play it. The whole point of Legacy was to stop Shiftry cancer because some people did like playing with older sets.

It's easier to just leave it as is. No one wants the Shiftry ladder back.


Aspiring Trainer
My point is you can't actually play unlimited in PTCGO because the player obtainable cards only date back to HS era while in 'true' unlimited you can play everything back to base set, I want people to have access to ALL of the old cards.

Granted, that includes a lot of incredibly ridiculous things including donk decks that are arguably superior to Shiftry. I don't necessarily want an unlimited ladder (or if there is one, it should have rewards disabled on it to discourage donk cheesers) but the ability to play friendlies in real unlimited online would be wonderful. It's a pretty big investment in time and labor for a feature that only appeals to a few weirdos so I don't think it'll ever happen, but a man can dream.