Saturday, January 23, 2016

Unboxing Japanese Pokemon Music-Jan. 2016

What goodies lay inside the recently released "Pokemon XY&Z  Character Song Project" CD?


Alright. Hi folks, Steven here. We’re going to be doing an unboxing video. This should be the latest Pokémon CD from Japan in here. And you know, I ordered this before I knew what was happening with the station. I think I’m going to keep doing these even though I don’t technically need them, because I don’t really have a true station anymore. But, we’re just going to keep doing these unboxings.

So, first of all, you notice it came in relatively a small box. That means there’s probably not a poster, or at least not a rolled up one in there. So, this should be a little bit less complicated to unbox.
Alright. Now that we’ve got that little edge there cut out, we can do these two and then this should open. By the way, speaking of the station, what do you folks think of the new approach? It’s really the best I can do right now. But, I am kind of curious to get your feelings on it. In any case, let’s continue opening this.

Alright. So, you can see, usual tissue paper. Let’s see what we’ve got.

Bubble wrap.

Alright. Pocket Monsters XY & Z. Now, of course, a week or so ago, they announced that the XY & Z is coming to America. I figured the TV show would, but they are calling it XY & Z, despite no official confirmation of a third game. And it looks like we have another one of these Tretta chips in the middle there.

I believe this is, yeah, this is a CD and DVD bundle. The way these come out in Japan, there’s usually, for the major ones at least, there’s a CD bundle, and then a CD and DVD bundle that has, usually, some sort of video content, obviously, on the DVD.

So, let’s get this shrink wrap off and see what we can do.

Boy, this is stubborn. We’ve got, it looks like Ash-Greninja on there.

I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed that the 20th anniversary thing that Pokémon announced a couple of weeks ago didn’t include any music things. But hopefully that’s in the works and they just don’t have anything to announce just yet. But in any case, let’s open this up, slide this out.
And let’s start with the Tretta chip.

If you remember, Tretta is sort of the successor of Battrio, which is this arcade unit. You can sort of see it down there. And this is a special chip that you can use in there. I don’t really know how the game’s played or what the mechanics are like. But, seeing as there are no arcades here, you just be glad we’re getting Pokken Tournament.

But in any case, this is, I guess, the Ash-Greninja Tretta chip. And if you look on the back, there’s some stats: HP— Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about the game to really say too much else. Water Shuriken, I think is how that’s pronounced. Interesting that that’s in English. But yeah, that’s a little bonus you get at least for this edition of it. I don’t know if it comes with the regular edition as well, but there you go. Obviously, some more information here on the back about Tretta. It does have a website, which interestingly is .com, not .jp. But this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to it. I didn’t really see anything while I was in Japan a couple of years ago.

In any case, let’s take a look at the actual discs that are in there.

Okay. Comes with this little leaflet. But, let’s take a look at the discs here quick. They have this little line art. I’m not sure how well that’s going to show up there. But, there’s line art. Here’s the compact disc and then here’s the DVD.

Like I said, this is the new, I believe, opening theme, if memory serves me. XY & Z. I’m very tempted to try and combine that somehow with ABC, the Jackson 5 song, but oh well.

In any case, let’s see what’s underneath this. Some more art, of course. Zygarde in its 1% Forme, or something like that, obviously not its Perfect Forme. Over here, Ash and Greninja. I wonder why they chose—I guess the color schemes kind of match, if you take a look there. I guess that must be the main reason why they have this similarity there of Greninja and Ash. Wouldn’t have worked as well. That was the starter he picked up- maybe it just happened to work out, or maybe they decided to do that. In any case, track listings over here. We have the usual versions, some B-sides, and then off-vocal or karaoke version. And we have the intros on the DVD.

In any case, it comes with this little leaflet as well. Take a quick look at that.

Here, obviously, are lyrics. Of course, they’re in Japanese.

I like that shot right there of them standing side by side. That’s a nice combination there.

I’m guessing this is about—I believe in the Japanese, she’s called Eureka. But we know her as Bonnie. There we go. Took me a second to remember the English name, for some reason. We’ve got Dedenne and again Zygarde. So, we’ve got some Team Rocket stuff. I remember seeing a thread or something about Team Rocket stuff. I don’t know if that’s what this song is about or what. I’ll have to take a listen to the CD. And on the back, we have the track listing.

So, that’s all there is in that one. And it’s not a bad package. I think I will keep buying these and bringing them in, even though I don’t have a proper station that they can go on.

Alright folks, that pretty much does it for this video. I’d like to, as I said earlier, get an impression of what you think of the new “station” format, where I put a blog article out each week with a playlist. How’s that working for you? I have my own thoughts, but I’d like to hear yours. So, give us a comment or drop me an email. Alright, folks. Thanks.

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pokemon TCG City Championships 2015-2016-Madison, WI

We recently interviewed a player at a Pokemon TCG City Championship (Expanded Format) in Madison, WI. The player used a Heatran deck with lots of metal Pokemon:


Steven: Hi, I’m Steven Reich from Madison, Wisconsin at Pegasus Games, at one of the Pokémon Trading Card Game City Championships 2016-this particular one was in the Expanded Format. And I’m here with Nick Miller from Green Bay. Nick, you played kind of a non-conventional deck for this one, one we don’t see very often. It’s been spotted occasionally, but it’s decently rare. It’s a Metal-based deck with, obviously, a bunch of different Metal Pokémon. The main ones for attack are going to be Heatran, and Ageislash EX.

Let’s talk about the overall strategy. What is the basic idea behind the deck, and how did you start using it?

Nick: Basically, the entire point of the deck is to prevent as much damage as you possibly can, to the point where they’re pretty much almost never going to hurt you and you’re basically two-shotting everything in the game almost.

Steven: You don’t play any Hard Charms, or the new Metal Special Energy that came out, the Shield Energy. But, you have a variety of ways of either, generally, actually eliminating damage unless your opponent can get around stuff. So, let’s start off with the Heatran. What’s the point of that card in the deck?

Nick: Well, I use it for, actually, both attacks. The first one does 40 and then an additional 40 if there’s a Stadium in play. Which, I run two Sky Fields to make it so I have more room to maneuver stuff around. Then, Steam Blast is usually used to knock out stuff like Donphan, Mew EX, stuff like that.

Steven: Yeah, Jirachi is still around, since this is Expanded as well. That’s another low-HP target you can sometimes use that on if you’re lucky. And then-

Nick: And it’s a good Shaymin killer too.

Steven: Oh, absolutely. Definitely, obviously, that is definitely going to be around for a while in both formats. Anyway, the next thing is you have Ageislash EX. Let’s refresh for the audience at home, if they’re not familiar, what does that card do and how does it help you out?

Nick: The Ability for it, it’s a 170 HP Basic where basically the Ability is if the attacking Pokémon has any Special Energies attached to them, they basically can’t deal damage to Ageislash. But Effects still apply. Like, if Gengar uses Dark Corridor, I can still get Poisoned.

Steven: But, that is definitely something that-other than, since this is expanded, Hypnotoxic Laser, there isn’t a ton of additional effects in attacks in this format right now. So, being able to negate damage from decks that use Special Energies is a huge boost. You also have a few side Pokémon. One of them is the Plasma Klinklang. What does that exactly do, and how does that help the deck out?

Nick: First, the Ability makes it so all my Steel Pokémon basically can’t be hurt from EXs. And the attack actually isn’t that bad either. I have used it on occasion, where it does 70, then you flip a coin. If heads, deal 20 to 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon.

Steven: Yeah, anything you can get out of there. But the Ability to stop damage from EX Pokémon to your Metal Pokémon is absolutely critical there. Alright, well, you went 3-3 in this tournament. So, you had some success. You had some things that worked. You had some things that didn’t. But, let’s start with the games that you won, the games that worked. What happened that let you win those?

Nick: Basically, the first one I won was against a Gengar/Nidoqueen deck. Where, basically, I pretty much just killed their Nidorans before they could really get into their Nidoqueen and start attacking to get through my Klinklang and stuff.

Steven: Yeah. And then, there were two other games you were able to win on. What clicked there for your deck?

Nick: Against a Flareon, I basically just kept on Lysandre-ing Eevees they laid down so that they can’t hit for weakness. And therefore, they would have to overextend a lot more than they would have to normally.

Steven: Of course, Flareon’s, I believe, Vengeance attack would obviously be a major threat to your deck, because it’s not an EX Pokémon. But it looks like you were able to play around that and combat it quite effectively. Alright. Well, there were also a couple games there that didn’t go so well. What happened in those, and are there any changes you might make to adjust for it?

Nick: The first one, there really wasn’t much I could do about it. For one, I couldn’t really draw anything good. Because, dead hands happen, pretty much whether you like it or not.

Steven: Yeah. You always run into those games where things are just aligned in a certain way and it doesn’t work out. That first round, you told me earlier, that’s against a Weavile deck. Which, is another very fringe deck, which is kind of interesting. And the last two rounds, unfortunately, were also where you kind of met defeat. How did those play out?

Nick: Against Archiestoise, I thought-normally it’s actually a surprisingly really good match up, depending whether or not I can get Klinklang out turn two. If I get Klingklang out turn two, my chances of winning are increased significantly.

Steven: And I take it that didn’t happen in that? I think I watched some of it and you just got kind of a slow start there and that didn’t work out. And then, one other time, you were against a Mewtwo EX deck. What happened there?

Nick: Basically, pretty much, Zoroark happened. Long story short.

Steven: Yeah, Zoroark has a lot of things it can do to really mess things up in a very structured deck, so you do got to watch out there. Any changes you might make, to give some advice to the audience out there, what you might add or remove from the deck to sort of improve it if you wanted to use it? Because, of course, this is Expanded. That’s going to be legal at least for the rest of this tournament season.

Nick: Basically, the only thing I’m going to change is probably either the Cobalion EX, maybe get rid of Wally and Ghestis altogether, and add more main attackers. Because overall, I technically only have 4 or 5.

Steven: This is obviously still a very basic, attack heavy format. And being able to do that is important. Alright. Well, now that we’ve gotten some advice, you have an interesting history that we should probably tell the folks at home about. You’ve sort of left and come back to the game several times over the last 7 or 8 years. How has that happened and what do you attribute to that?

Nick: Basically, certain other games usually catch my interest. And if the meta seems interesting, in my opinion, then I go for it. And if not, I usually don’t focus on that game that much.

Steven: Just out of curiosity, have you ever learned something in another game that’s helped you out in the Pokémon Trading Card Game?

Nick: Oh, yes. Definitely. There’s this game made by Bushiroad called Weiß Schwarz, which is basically a compilation of a bunch of different animes put into the same deck. And one great thing about it is it’s literally impossible to win in one turn.

Steven: And what did that teach you about Pokémon? How did that transfer over?

Nick: Basically, managing your resources very well.

Steven: I’ve actually, over the last few years, been going to a board gaming group. But, I’ve learned some things that I think have given me some perspective here as well. Alright, well, thank you very much, Nick. This has been Steven Reich from Pegasus Games in Madison Wisconsin, at one of the Pokémon Trading Card Game City Championships 2016.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Nintendo World Store Remodeling, Changing Name

Perhaps NY, not NX, are the letters we should be paying attention to.


Hi folks, Steven here. So, I wanted to let you know about a bit of Nintendo news that with some of the rumblings about NX, I think this piece of news got left a little to the side. A few days ago, the @NintendoNYC Twitter, which is the Twitter for the Nintendo World Store, announced that the store’s closing on January 19th, just for a little while, just for a month. And will be reopening in February as the Nintendo NY store. This is effectively the third name for this store, started in 2001 as the Pokémon Center. And back in 2005, it sort of closed down for a little bit, got remodeled, and became the Nintendo World Store with a broader product focus there. As far as what’s going into this store during this remodeling, on the website for the Nintendo World Store says, “Updated interior design, new demo stations, and a 15 foot gaming screen.”

But, let’s rewind. Forget about what they’re going to putting in there during the remodeling. Let’s talk about that name change. It’s going to Nintendo NY, which is obviously a bit more locale specific. Which kind of suggests, just kind of a guess, that maybe Nintendo is looking at building more of these across the country and maybe eventually the world. Obviously, that’s a very large assumption based on not a ton of evidence, but I kind of wanted to put it out there. Now, of course, the Pokémon Center, when it launched in 2001, was called Pokémon Center New York. That was, of course, tying into the Japanese chain. So, putting the name there doesn’t necessarily mean there’ll be an expansion. But on the other hand, we’ve seen some of their other efforts, like the theme park deal that was announced last year. And having more dedicated retail, could help Nintendo spread their brand. It’s kind of similar to the Apple Store strategy. Back in the early 2000s, one of the reasons Apple Store was created is that Apple/Steve Jobs decided that normal computer store employees weren’t doing as well of a job of explaining the Apple products as they would have liked. And they decided to go more into their own storefront type business to get people excited about it.  And maybe that’s what needs to happen here. Nintendo has definitely some marketing troubles over the last few years. And maybe this could help out the situation.

As far as me personally, the closest I could expect, in the first or second wave if there is an expansion, to have a store near me, would probably be in the Chicago area. I guess they could put it downtown, or in one of the major malls in the metro area over there. But really, what I want to know is what are your thoughts here? Do you think Nintendo either will expand or should be expanding their retail presence? Give us some comments. I really do want to know. Alright folks, thanks.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Pokemon TCG City Championships 2015-2016: Loves Park, IL

The following is an interview with Nick Foltz, who won the 2015 Pokémon TCG City Championship in Loves Park, IL (Standard format) with an Entei deck:

Where are you from, and how did you get into playing the Pokémon TCG?
I am from Rockford, IL and spent my formative years living in Loves Park (a neighboring city). It was very exciting to bring home the gold in my hometown. I'm an old man in Poke-years (28) so I actually played (non-competitively) during the Base Set days. I took about a 15-year hiatus before regaining an interest in the game thanks to the children in the after-school program I run. What started as a joke amongst me and a few friends has become a fun way to spend time together and travel around in hopes of earning an invite to the 2016 World Championships.

What made you choose to use this deck for this tournament?
It was sort of a last minute call-I had some success the prior weekend with an original deck of mine, Toad/Zoroark, netting me a second place finish in Tecumseh, MI, so that seemed like the safe play, but as I walked through the play area I noticed a lot of Night March being written out on deck lists, and Entei pretty well crushes Night March thanks to Assault Vest, so I figured I'd give it a go.

What's the basic idea of the Entei deck?
The goal is to quickly draw through your deck with item draw and Scorched Earth, discarding Fire energy along the way to fuel Blacksmith. By attaching a DCE, using Blacksmith, and attaching two Muscle Bands (thanks to Entei's Theta Double Ancient Trait) you're able to use Heat Tackle for 170 damage on the first turn more often than not. Conversely, if the matchup calls for a more conservative, defensive style, you can opt to attach Assault Vest and use Entei's Flame Screen attack, which reduces your opponent's attack by 30, plus another 40-80 from the Assault Vest cards if they have a Special Energy Card attached.

What were some of the other Pokémon in your deck, and what were they used for?
Besides the four Entei, the deck only plays a single copy of Charizard EX (FFI 12) and three Shaymin EX. As mentioned before, the deck relies on drawing as many cards as possible in order to maintain a steady stream of Blacksmith throughout the game, and no card does that better than Shaymin EX. The Charizard EX is more or less a “last resort” card when setup doesn’t go as planned, and functions as a less versatile version of Entei. It's able to do 170 damage like Entei, but only requires one Muscle Band. Unfortunately, Charizard EX’s Combustion Blast can't be used the following turn, plus it gives two prizes when KO'ed because it's an EX.

In the Top 8 match, you ended up having to play a sudden death match to resolve game one. What led to that, and how did you approach the single-prize game?
The Head Judge, Chris Dreksler, always “accuses” me of keeping his tournaments interesting, and once again I did not disappoint. I was facing a straight Mega Manectric EX deck, which, in my opinion, is not a great matchup for me-Rough Seas messes with my math as I'm not able to efficiently slow down their attacks with Heat Tackle/Assault Vest, and I'm not able get OHKOs because of its massive 210 HP. He had one remaining prize on the board, compared to me with two. My last Entei had incurred 120 damage but was fortunately fully powered up to do 170 damage with its two Muscle Bands. I played Lysandre to bring up his Hoopa EX, used Heat Tackle for 170, effectively KO'ing it and earning my final two prizes. Unfortunately, when Heat Tackle is used you must flip a coin: If tails you do 30 damage to yourself. Naturally, I flipped tails, causing a double KO. This sent us into a one-prize sudden death, with the winner of that match being declared the winner of game one.

In the actual Sudden Death, there wasn't really any way for me to strategize for the match as I started lone Shaymin EX while he had a Manectric EX. He attached twice while I essentially drew-passed, and thanks to Shaymin's Lightning Weakness, I was quickly taken out and put in a 0-1 hole. Fortunately, I was able to win the two other games and advance.

What worked well for the deck in the tournament overall?
Just about everything worked well during the tournament. I was able to effectively manipulate the two very powerful tools in the deck to optimize each specific matchup. I faced a lot of non-EX decks that rely on DCE to attack (three Night March and a Raichu/Crobat), so Assault Vest does an incredible job of forcing those decks to two-hit KO while only receiving one prize.

Are there any changes you might make to improve it?
I think I made a fairly optimal version of the deck for the given meta. Should Seismitoad EX become more popular (as I already witnessed the following day), there are a couple items I may cut in order to maximize the cards I can effectively use under item lock, such as a fourth Scorched Earth and a fourth Blacksmith. I've also heard of players using a Parallel City to minimize Seismitoad's damage output (which seems pretty clever to me) as well. It all comes down to reading your meta properly.