Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011 Pokémon Jack O' Lanterns

These are the Pokémon Jack O' Lantern's we've gotten this year. Cofagrigus and Chandelure are by me (FossilJockeyMG), Gyarados is by Earl III, and Darkrai, Meowth, and Lillipup are by GamerFox.

To see last year's jack o' lanterns, click here!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What's Your Opinion? Are Uber-Competitive Families Ruining Pokémon TCG Tournies?

The Play! Pokémon Organizer for our area in Southern Ga often asks, "What's the first rule of Pokémon?" The players reply, "To have fun!," however from my point of view and what I've heard from others that's no longer the case, at least in the Trading Card Game. Instead, the first rule of pokémon has turned into, trounce new players and casual players to make your ranking look better using strategy you downloaded off the Internet. 

Lately, I have become really frustrated with some of the lowest level Pokémon TCG tourneys, namely Battle Roads. Many of the participants in my League play pokémon for fun, and rarely run decks based around an Internet archtype. For those who don't know, archtype decks are deck strategies which have been posted online and hundreds of people have play tested them. Because of this, they tend to do really well at small tourneys. Unless you build a deck that is specifically meant to counter an archtype you can have problems. Building an archtype or anti-archtype deck can really run you into some money though. One archtype player told me his deck cost him $150. This is the issue I have, many of the people in my League play with what they have, especially the Junior and Senior age division players. Many of the Junior players, in fact, have mainly what could be described as modified theme decks (the decks sold at places like Walmart for $13). These decks are usually quite inferior to archtype decks, but since we try to play at our League along a relatively fair playing level, it's usually OK. Even I can't afford to drop that kind of money on a deck, which is why I opt only to play at low level tourneys, rather than attempt to play at higher levels like States.

However, when Battle Road or City tournaments come to our town I encourage everyone in my League to participate, as I hope that they will enjoy the change in pace from usual points-based free play to a tournament format. Unfortunately, there are many uber-competitive families which travel all over the US to play in Pokémon tournaments. For big tourneys like States, Regionals, Worlds, etc that makes sense. The thing that bothers me is when someone travels from places like North Carolina all the way down to our little Southern Georgia tournaments, wins all or most of the prizes, and then leaves until next season.

It's frustrating to those of us in the Master's division that, if we don't build an anti-archtype, end up fighting and losing to the same deck being played by who knows how many out-of-towners. What's even more "fun" is the archtype players often have an air of smug about them, usually telling you point by point why you lost and why you should scrap your deck in favor of whatever archtype is the flavor of the month. So many times I've heard, "Why would you play that? It's not as good as *insert archtype deck here*. You should start over and build *insert name of archtype deck here.*" The archtype that was rampant at our Battle Road earlier this month was ReshiBoar, which if you haven't guessed has Reshiram and Emboar from the Black and White set in it. There may have been some slight variation (as one deck I saw was technically MagneBoar.. which is Magnezone, Reshiram, and Emboar) but they all consist of pretty much the same idea. Just search it on Google... you'll find everything you need to build it. 4 out of the top 5 players at our Battle Roads Master Division played some sort of Reshiram/Emboar variant. So much for creativity... why even have so many cards to choose from?

It's even worse for the younger divisions, as many lose turn 1 or 2 and don't even get to play. Often times, they quit pokémon never to return to League again. What ends up happening is the uber-competitive families will spend tons of money so everyone in their family is running some archtype variant. At the youngest level, Junior, this is devastating as the archtypes are often devised by older experienced players who have income to buy the cards required. Normally, kids at the Junior level don't have the experience, or the money, to build the often complex strategies involved in archtype decks. This severely unbalances the playing field when a child which has been simply given a deck strategy from the Internet and told how to play it plays an opponent who can only afford a theme deck. I've even had parents come to me and tell me their kids didn't want to play the game anymore because they never stand a chance anyway.

I can't say I blame these kids either, as I often question why I bother after these tourneys as well.. and that's the thing. Battle Roads (I thought) were supposed to be low ranked fun tournaments. People from around the general area (not 2 or 3 states away.. maybe at best other parts of the state) could come and play and see how they fair. Often times the prize is simply a single promo card or a pack or two, and the ranking points are so low, I often wonder why these people would even bother wasting the gas.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. If you want to express your opinion feel free to do so below in the comments or even better vote and comment on your opinion on our Facebook page.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Featured Pokémon: Cofagrigus

By: Matt G

With Halloween coming, I really love the opportunity to start off reviewing the 5th generation with the Coffin Pokémon, Cofagrigus. For those of you out there who are unsure about how to pronounce it's name, it's pronounced Cough-Uh-Gree-Gus... just a quick FYI.

When some of the first 5th gen screenshots were released Cofagrigus was one of the first pokémon leaked.. and even though it was just shown from the back I knew this guy would hold a spot on my Unova team for sure.. and it does. Along with my obvious love for this pokémon's appearance, it actually can be quite useful!

Cofagrigus (and it's unevolved form Yamask) bring something very unique to the battling front, the ability Mummy. This ability will activate if someone makes a physical attack, and then replace the attackers ability with Mummy. Basically, it's like a disease which will spread to each physical attacker causing them to lose thier normal abililty. This can be really useful for opponents whose strategy rely heavily on thier pokémon's abilities. For example, Scizor normally has the ability Technician which powers up weaker moves like Bullet Punch or U-Turn. If it makes physical contact with Cofagrigus it loses Technician and gains Mummy.. meaning it will lose that attack bonus. This makes Cofagrigus a pretty fun switch in pokémon if you expect a physical attack. Coupled with this, Cofagrigus has really good defense stats so you can handle a decent amount of punishment (Base stats: HP 58/ATK 50/DEF 145/Sp ATK 95/ Sp DEF 105/ SPD 30).

Unfortunately, Cofagrigus suffers from something a lot of the 5th gen pokémon suffer from... a shallow movepool. Most of the moves it gets are Status or Physical moves, but most of the status moves it gets don't fit it and it's better with special moves than physical moves. That being said, it gets enough to make it usable... it's just a tad predictable and so far as I've seen its best use is in Single or Rotation battles. It's not so good if multiple pokémon in Double and Triple battles team up on it... and Mummy can get a tad out of control. Once Mummy goes rampant in a multi-battles you could see some of your physical pokémon start to lose their once useful abilities to Mummy. Everything I suggest here is for Single or Rotation.

This Creature is the Bringer of Death
-Calm Mind
-Will O' Wisp/Toxic
-Psychic/Energy Ball
Item: Leftovers
Ability: Mummy
Nature: Sassy or Calm
EVs: 252 DEF/252 Sp. DEF/4 HP

A simple set based on boosting Cofagrigus' Sp. Atk and Sp. Def stats while at the same time weakening the opponent due to status. A good staple moveset for the Coffin in that it already does well surviving most physical moves so by using Sp. Def natures like Sassy or Calm with Calm Mind it should survive a lot of special moves too. Will O' Wisp or Toxic will whittle down your opponents HP while Cofagrigus boosts with Calm Mind, and then attacks with Hex. Additionally, Hex will double in power if your opponent is affected by a status move. Whether you chose Will O' Wisp or Toxic is up to you, however there are pluses and minuses to each. The burn from Will O' Wisp will drop their Attack meaning Cofagrigous will survive more physical moves, but is less accurate than Toxic. Toxic gets stronger over time, and is more accurate, but more pokémon types are completely immune to it. Again, the choice falls to preference. As for the final move slot, again it's a choice depending on how it fits your team. I simply suggest Psychic or Energy Ball due to how strong they are.

Death is Only The Beginning
-Trick Room
-Will O' Wisp/Toxic
-Memento/Destiny Bond
Item: Rocky Helmet
Ability: Mummy
Nature: Relaxed or Sassy
EVs: 252 DEF/252 Sp. DEF/4 HP

A simple, and rather narrow moveset, this Cofagrigus is simply for setting up Trick Room for the rest of your team. The best way to use this set is as a switch into a physical move after some field damage has been placed by another pokémon (Stealth Rock, Spikes, etc) because this moveset is meant to force your opponent to switch a lot. If you do, not only will the opponent take field damage, but they will also lose their ability to Mummy AND also lose some HP to Rocky Helmet. After taking all of these effects they will probably switch again and you will have a free turn to set up Trick Room. If they don't switch and they continue to use physical moves, they'll slowly being knocking off HP. You can then tack on Will O' Wisp/Toxic for more HP loss. Finally, you have Memento or Destiny Bond depending on preference. Memento is if you want to switch yourself, but don't want the new pokémon to take massive damage from an attack. You lose Cofagrigus, but the next pokémon won't be hit hard as Memento will cut the opponents Attack and Sp. Attack. Destiny Bond is if you want to attempt to take a pokémon out if you expect Cofagrigus is about to be KO'd. Memento is better if you want to make sure the next pokémon has a couple Trick Room turns after Cofagrigus is gone because people usually will stop trying to actively KO you if you use Destiny Bond too early... which may eat up all of your Trick Room turns so be careful!

A Curse? Or a Blessing? Although not really a moveset, it should be mentioned that Cofagrigus' ability does create a nice little combo with pokémon that have bad abilities in Single battles (like Slaking's Truant and Archeops' Defeatist). It doesn't matter so much what the Cofagrigus' knows, but I'd suggest using a moveset similar to the "This Creature is the Bringer of Death" moveset. The only difference is you attach the item Eject Button instead of Leftovers. If you switch in the Eject Button Cofagrigus into a physical move, the opponent will get Mummy but then Cofagrigus will immeditately switch out. You can then send up Slaking or Archeops and use a physical move now giving your Slaking or Archeops the Mummy ability as well! This means that now Slaking can attack every turn and Archeops no longer gets an Attack drop if it's HP drops below half.

If you have any ideas or opinions, feel free to comment!