Monday, May 2, 2016

New Pokemon TCG Prerelease Format Review (w/Marriland)

Devin (a.k.a. "Marriland") and I give our thoughts on the new Pokemon TCG Prerelease format for the Fates Collide set:


Steven: Hi, I’m Steven Reich, here at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin at one of the Pokémon Trading Card Game Fates Collide prereleases. I’m here with Devin, or as you know him, Marriland. This is kind of a big prerelease in a way because they changed up the way they do things here. They’ve really changed how you get packs, how you build decks, and stuff like that quite a bit. So let’s go over first of all, Devin, let’s go over some of the changes they made.

So it used to be that you would get six packs. You build a 40-card deck with Basic Energy that’s provided and then you just play a couple rounds. This time it’s a little different. You get a little package. What’s in there?

Devin: I was rather surprised when I heard they’re going to be changing how prereleases are run and you’re right. Nowadays you get a little package starting with this prerelease and it’s random. Everyone will end up with a different pack of 22 cards in addition to four packs, rather than six booster packs in the newest set like older prereleases.

It has its pros and cons. I at first thought, ‘well, are there going to just be Commons in here? Are there going to be good cards?’ And I found out today actually and it’s interesting, I’m kind of mixed on it to be honest.

Steven: Yeah, I can see some good and bad points too. but yeah, you get four booster packs and then you get the special 22-card pack that has one of four prerelease promos and then going along with that promo they have a set of about 20 or so cards that include some Trainer cards, a couple of evolution lines and some other stuff to choose from. So do you know which of the four possible insert packs did you get for your 22-card part portion?

Devin: So I ended up getting the Tyranitar promo and I guess that I’m not entirely sure what all the different ones are. This is my first prerelease. I haven’t looked-the first of this new prerelease, I haven’t looked too much into the different starter kit kind of things but I ended up with the Fighting and Dark one. So I used Lucario and Hawlucha and Carbink and I had Mandibuzz and Tyranitar lines for that. And one thing I will say, I was actually pleased to see that there is a good selection of lines and it had some Trainers in it which was kind of nice, but the fact that there are four promo cards, that’s really interesting from a collector standpoint.

Steven: That is one of the things people were kind of worried about, that since there’s no way to tell what you’re going to get until you open it, which I guess keeps it somewhat fair in a way, but it also makes it difficult to potentially get the cards you want. Now the pack that I got in there was the White Kyurem pack which comes with a similar fighting Pokémon to yours. It doesn’t have Tyranitar, obviously, but it has the Carbink and the Lucario, but on the Water side it has the “barnacle” Evolution line. I can’t remember the exact name but they have that, plus some supporters, which I think is a big thing that-a big plus, actually, going into this is that in prerelease tournaments if you’re limited to whatever is in a set, the problem you can run into there is that each set will have a different group of Supporters and it may work out okay, or may not work out very well at all, but of course,which ones you get the number can determine a whole lot. So this kind of evens it out a little bit. What do you think about the trainer selection that came in the packs?

Devin: So I’ve been there at prereleases where I’ve had to build a deck with zero Supporter cards, no Trainers, no Supporters, nothing to help. It’s like, ‘really?’ and it was refreshing knowing hey, I have some options here. I have Shauna. I have Tierno. I have a few different things that could help. Obviously, I like I drew, or I pulled an N that was really helpful in the third game that I played, but it was just really nice knowing that hey, there is some good Trainers here that can at least help. It’s not like perfect stuff that’s you know-Professor Sycamores or really good Trainer cards, but it’s at least good for prereleases which I guess is nice. It solves the problem of not having any Supporter cards in a prerelease and I do like that decision.

Steven: Yeah, I think it definitely helps maintain the balance and one thing we’ve seen in previous tournaments that the folks at home might be aware of, is that you often run into cases once EXes started coming into the metagames that people would play like one of those and then 39 mostly Energies with maybe a few Trainers if they got some of those and I didn’t particularly enjoy playing against those too much. I did try to tech against them, but I think A, having Carbink, which is a Safeguarder in this set really helps, but I think the other changes did too.  Do you think that the additional cards that are more structured kind of helped make decks that are maybe less random or stilted?

Devin: So, I like it and I don’t like it, Why I like it is the fact that now everyone kind of has a base and you’re guaranteed to at least have something that will kind of work for a deck because I’ve played prereleases where I just have nothing and it’s just, it’s not going to happen. I played prereleases where I get that one good Pokémon EX and I just played 39 Energy or whatever and I like that it’s now accessible to anyone to have at least somewhat of a working deck.

However, what I don’t like about it, is it takes away a lot of that originality. I felt like pretty much everyone was playing whatever the starter kit that they had. They were playing that. Usually maybe one line, maybe both, and then like a few other cards here and there. You saw less of the really out there kind of combos or things that might work very well in a prerelease just because you already had a lot of good stuff, or things that wouldn’t work well and you give it a shot and it works out pretty good anyhow. I think I miss that from the old prereleases where you really don’t know what you’re going to get, whereas with this, I felt like you know probably about half your deck by the time you’ve just seen the first starter kit promo card.

Steven: Yeah, you know that’s definitely an effect. The cards you get in there since they are so related, Evolution lines, you can sort of sort of just default to that. Which I guess might be a good thing for a newer players, which is what prereleases have been targeted at so that they don’t have to maybe obsess as much about what cards to put in or just not be able to figure things out from the cards they they’re getting sometimes. So maybe that helps there, but I do also see the point you’re having of that can it also reduce variety to a point that it’s sort of everyone has the same food, it’s just what garnish they put on top. So maybe there’s a happier medium to be found. So based on that suggestion, or that criticism, do you have any ideas on maybe how they can tweak it?  Obviously, each set is going to be different, the opportunities there are going to be different, but maybe if they do keep going with this system, but they want to try and improve it for next time-any suggestions?

Devin: One of my initial concerns with how this is being done was the fact we’re getting one less pack than before. We’re essentially sacrificing a pack for this 22-card kind of starter kit. So as a player and a collector I was really concerned okay, is asking to be worth my money now? And currently, I feel like there’s not quite enough of a value there. Like I wish I would have had that extra pack rather than the 22-card thing and I wish I didn’t say that. I think it made the prerelease maybe a little bit more enjoyable but then afterwards I look and I think, well, none of this really helps. I didn’t get anything good in my four packs so…and also a lot of the cards you get in the 22 well, everyone has these cards, so if you pull one normally in the set, it’s just not quite as good. I think they’re on the right track with that. I like it better than I thought I would. I was originally rather hostile to the idea, but I figure I would give it a shot and I liked it and I’ll definitely crave more of it if they’ll refine it a bit more so than we have just maybe better cards in the 22, or maybe like six options.

I don’t like the promos though. The fact that there’s four, I wish that it’d be two or maybe three. I feel like four is just too much from a collecting standpoint and it makes that just a little too random.

Steven: Yeah, I’m guessing from a packaging scenario that it was easier to have four promo cards cause there were four pack. I mean obviously, they could do two in four or two in eight. I think that might not be a bad idea if they want to continue to feature more of the set. They can try and pick out a different number, maybe six or eight different sets of cards so you are seeing more even though you’re still getting a set that’s very organized like that. Like I said, what they’re trying to do here is sort of maybe not make things quite as random, but still expose you to a larger portion of the set.

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