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NPE Net-Decking

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02 November 2018 - 05:22 AM



    Rookie Trainer

  • SenseiAshinaga

I have played this card game since the beginning. At one time I was a regional tournament organizer for conventions. From Haymaker onward, there has been net decking. Back in the day it was called magazine deck. Basically, you didn't design your own deck, you found a pre-designed format for an overpowered deck, built it, followed the steps, and hosed most other players. Normally these decks would have a lifespan, but it would be painfully long. Also, it would be possible to play around them if you knew how. In a lot of the TCG's I've been involved with this can be said. However, I have not seen the level of net-decking as this game has. I go to play in the Standard and it is one net deck after another, you either play them or lose to them. If you win and you are playing an original deck, it is only by sheer chance or bad luck on their part. Just about the only way you can win is if you build a deck specifically designed to counter theirs, and that is still a toss-up considering how wicked fast most of them are. Before the recent reset of the card legality, there was potential with a few decks, but the cards have been shifted back and left the game in the hands of the net deckers. It is frustrating to the point that I am walking away after over twenty years, I can't take it any longer. It has become an NPE.


If you don't know what this means, let me explain. Negative Player Experience, or NPE, is when a game is so one sided that one of the two players has 0 enjoyment. Yes, it is possible to enjoy a game even when you lose. You can be energized to do better by a loss. But and NPE leaves you either so frustrated or disillusioned that you don't care. These games are highlighted by speed or negation. In Pokemon there isn't a lot of negation, but there is wicked speed. Most of these net decks, (I'm looking at you Garchomp) can be so fast and reliable that they hose people without much effort. And, worse, you can even beat an NPE deck and find no joy in the game, just a minor relief that the particular game is over. Net-Decks tend to be NPE's, and they drain all the fun. Why? Because while you put a lot of thought and ingenuity into your deck, you never stand a chance. Out of hundreds of cards available, you can't find something unique and fun to play that won't get curb-stomped before you've had a chance to even see your deck in motion. 


After the reset I played 100 games, 88 of them were net-decks. I could predict their movements with uncanny accuracy. They not only remove any thought and cleverness from the game, they make a 20 year player feel good about leaving. 


Pokemon company, if you're going to design just a handful of cards to be the powerhouse players of the game, why waste the money and time printing anything else?

Edited by SenseiAshinaga, 02 November 2018 - 05:25 AM.

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02 November 2018 - 06:24 AM



    Elite Trainer

  • Sakura150612
If this is your opinion, that's perfectly fine. But lets make this clear: this really is just an opinion and not necessarily true for the PTCG community at large. I don't know whether you meant to imply otherwise or not, but that's simply my impression when you call this "negative player experience" in general terms as opposed to saying "I, personally, don't enjoy playing against X decks". I'm sure that there are people that agree with you here, but we don't all consider net-decking something bad, and we don't all consider it Negative Player Experience in global sense.

Just like I've made emphasis on this just being your view, nothing more, nothing less, what I'm about to say is also just my opinion and I have no pretensions of talking on anyone's behalf.

I've already implied my thoughts, but I'll state them clearly: I don't think net-decking is a problem for the PTCGO. I do not believe it's been a problem in the past, and I don't think it's a problem right now either. I don't mind facing similar decks often or even consecutively, because each game will be different and play out differently regardless. I understand how for some people it feels repetitive, but that's not how I feel about it. I don't feel forced to net-deck or to use the top meta decks either. I just play whatever I want and whatever I have fun with; if that happens to be a netted deck, so be it. If it's a stupid whacky deck that doesn't win as many games, so be it.

Right now, since I only recently returned, I started by my old favorites like Archie's Blastoise and Night March (my own variation of them. The main structures are the same as any decklist you'd copy from the internet, but I have my own proportion and choice of the non-NM cards). It's simple, it's familiar, it's comfortable, it works. I don't feel bad in the least bit for using these decks even if they're completely unoriginal. Same goes for Garchomp; having no collection to speak of (although that has quickly changed thanks to my awesome forum friends), I just bought Match Strike twice and managed to go straight into Standard without any further investment.

While I'm at the topic of Garchomp, after using it quite a bit I cannot comprehend what people find so questionable about it. It's not as fast as everyone makes it out to be. Garchomp is still a Stage 2, which means you'll need 2-3 turns to set one up. You won't always be able to set up multiple Garchomps at once, and even if you do, the energy cost is still a problem. As far as I know, and please correct me if I'm wrong, there is no reliable energy acceleration for Fighting and Dragon type in Standard right now, so you're limited to your 1 energy per turn. If your opponent has Hammers or any other form of energy control (a lot of them do) you'll take even longer. There are many other decks that can accelerate energies much faster and basically have energies be a non-issue. Then there's the fact that if you don't attack with Cynthia you're not really KOing anything that wasn't previously damaged. Not only does this limit you when you don't have a Cynthia handy, but it also limits you when you do, because it means you might not be able to use other critical supporters like Guzma when you have to.

Garchomp is by no means a bad deck. It really has done a good job for me, but it's not an insta-win deck and it does not quickly win me all the games I do win. I've had a hard time against beefy 250HP targets as well, which used to be rare a long time ago, but with the return of Stage 2 pokemon to the meta, it's really not that strange to find Solgaleo GX and Metagross GX in random VS matches.

Back to the main topic, the times I used to play random fun decks, were still actually fun even when facing netted decks. I remember I used to play this silly AT Double Nidoqueen back in the day, and it was super fun to double hit everything. I actually put the pain on the then popular M Mewtwo Y deck since two regular attacks with muscle band and a single energy did exactly 210 damage (30 base + 20 from MB, duplicated and then +10 more because of poison). But other than that I didn't really do too well against other decks. Even so, I still had fun with it, and I never begrudged the people who spammed their more competitive decks. Even now, the only reason I haven't been trying some more silly stuff is because I'm just returning and I need to make some packs before I do anything else.

I don't believe that netted decks are overpowered either. I see you avoided using that word, but that's exactly what it means to "never stand a chance". A meta that forces you to create X deck or lose is a meta where said X deck is overpowered. I'm sure I'm nowhere near as experienced as you when it comes to actually playing (just played casually in my schoolyard as a kid. Joined the PTCGO relatively recently compared to the age of this game, and even then I mostly just spend hours and hours typing stuff in the forums rather than actually playing), but I can still beat net-decks often enough that I don't feel the need to always play net-decks just so that I can win. Again, I myself use certain copied decks too, but only because I find them fun and easy to use as well. I don't always use these decks, I don't feel bad when using non copied decks because they aren't as good, and I don't feel guilty either when using these mostly copied decks.

EDIT Alright, apparently I can't read. I thought that "88 out of 100" was just your gut feeling, but you did say that you registered 100 actual games so it's not a made-up statistic. But even so, I'd like to do the test myself. A lot of people get carried away by confirmation bias and conveniently (or perhaps inconveniently) forget or don't notice that things aren't as bad as they thought. Even if you did face mostly well established archetypes, I still don't buy it that different decks don't stand a chance, so I would like to test that myself.

I'll leave it at this for now, but feel free to continue the discussion. Despite what it may look like, I do not believe that my opinion is absolute. I'll be happy to hear what you think of this, and if you manage to convince me that net-decking really is a problem I'll be ready to admit it.

Edited by Sakura150612, 02 November 2018 - 07:17 AM.

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02 November 2018 - 09:59 AM



    Rookie Trainer

  • darth_suicune

While most of my points have been already made (I'm perfectly fine with netdecking), I'd also like to recommend avoiding "NPE" as "Negative Player Experience". Because it's also used in some other competing games as "New Player Experience", and it's commonly known in programming environments as Null Pointer Exception, which is a very specific type of error that might mislead some people (such as myself) to thinking this thread is about something technical.


Netdecking is a thing in every single TCG. With the internet in between, there's never going to be an end to it. Currently, there is over a dozen perfectly viable decks for standard, lots more in expanded. There is many, many more that are under the radar and not so effective, the issue being that because at the top level, a deck that gives you a 70% win rate is better than a 65%, people are going to gravitate towards the first every time. This is just how it works for every game.


I'd be in favor of reducing set size substantially and remove a lot of the filler, increasing set size simply increases prizes on the secondary market raising the entry barrier for new players, which is never great, but that's not going to work against net decking, or meta variance, on the contrary, it's going to reduce the amount of rogue stuff that is actually playable.

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02 November 2018 - 12:06 PM



    Elite Trainer

  • Felidae_
You are obviously entitled to your opinion, but I for one think that you are neglecting various points here.

Availability of cards

Its funny that you mentioned the magazines, because I recently found a “Kartefakt” (German card gaming magazine) dating back to 2001. Back then it was fun to see the decks that just placed in the top8 of various world championships, but even if I had the money to buy those decks, there wouldn't have been any store in my area that sold them.

Nowadays with the internet and various online stores it's easy to get every card you want.

Back in the days I had several one of Rares and was delighted as a little puppy when I drew one of them. Nowadays I just buy a play-set online and be done with it. There's certainly a different aspect to deck building when I compare those times.

However, I for one like the current times way better. Sure, sometimes I get nostalgic for that thrill to open a booster pack, hoping to find a cool new edition for your decks. However, as someone who is only interested in the competitive aspect of the TCG/CCG titles I play, accessibility to every card is key to be able to play at the highest level.

Tournament vs Casual Mode

Arguably the biggest downside to the Pokemon TCGO is the lack of any casual mode. Standard and Expanded are both designed to be played competitively and thus you'll naturally see a lot of tier 1 and tier 2 decks roaming around.

I said it elsewhere, but bigger is always better and by that design philosophy 80-90% of cards are simply inferior. Now, if we had a casual mode that would bend the rule set a bit (say limiting Pokemon to 100 HP, limiting Trainer cards to 2 copies each, etc.) you could find room for various creative decks and would be able to play a broader spectrum of cards.

Arguably even those modes would find there meta game, but depending on the rule set it wouldn't be nearly as dominant as other formats.

Trainer cards are OP as ****

It's kinda funny that you mentioned Garchomp, which is a good budget deck for beginners that sees almost zero play in top tier matches, as the deck is tier 2 at most. The strength of every top tier deck relies rarely on their Pokemon. The true strength in those decks lies within their trainer and supporter setup, that accelerates them to the next level.

A lot of times you'll see beginner and “casual” player complain about Pokemon GX7EX and net decks, claiming that their fun and unique decks can't compete. When you look at those decks you'll find a horrible distribution of Pokemon, Trainer and Energy cards, as well as way to few draw supporter. And no, just because you choose to deliberately play the worse trainer card doesn't give you the right to complain. You don't enter a 100 meter dash with shackles around your ankles and complain that everyone else is faster than you.

There are various streamers and ********* who constantly showcase whacky and fun deck ideas, but they also know that the core of a deck has to evolve around strong trainer cards.

The devil is in the detail

It's true that it can sometimes look as if everyone is playing the same 3-5 decks over and over. I can totally understand if this is unappealing for some players, who would like to see more creativity. That sad truth is though: if that is the case then Pokemon TCGO is probably not for you (unless you reduce your ELO to a level where you only face beginners).

However I challenge you to stick to the game and look out for the small, yet distinctive differences in all of those lookalike decks.

A bad player simply copies a deck. A good player takes said deck to the next level.

The Hivemind

We live in the age of the internet and that means that it's easy to communicate with like-minded people from all around the world. When we talk about net decking, it's easy to forget that there are thousands upon thousands of players who are constantly working on those decks and refining them. Just take a look at various forums and you'll find dozens of pages of discussion and ideas.

I can understand that you like to play something truly unique that was only created by you and that's cool, however I like to point out two things:

  • Relying on the help of others is no sign of weakness. If someone is new to the game and isn't as experienced in deck building as you are, than there is absolutely no shame if he looks out for help. Even if you are an experienced player, not everyone has the time to spend hours upon hours testing and refining, so taking a basic template for a current top tier deck is the easiest way for them to approach the game.

  • No one is truly unique in this game. The options to combine cards are limited and chances are that your awesome idea was already tested out by various other players. True, it's unlikely that you'll find the same deck on the ladder, but I wouldn't say that this is desirable.

    Look at it this way: you can ride a 1890s style bicycle and you'd be pretty unique, but that doesn't give you any advantage over the millions of regular bicycle riders and in most cases would probably result in the opposite.

The shadows of the abyss are like the petals of a monstrous flower that shall blossom within the skull and expand the mind beyond what any man can bear, but whether it decays under the earth or above on green fields, or out to sea or in the very air, all shall come to revelation, and to revel, in the knowledge of the strangling fruit - and the hand of the sinner shall rejoice, for there is no sin in shadow or in light that the seeds of the dead cannot forgive...


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03 November 2018 - 02:25 AM



    Elite Trainer

  • SuperStone

The Hivemind

Card reference in a card game?  I dunno, man.  That's kinda meta.        Wait.  Does that mean 'metagame' here..? He's combining the re-fute with the complaint-origin!  :o Eet's all cermin' tergether!  Ahm struck by a surden an' powaful revulation!  Let me propheteer th' new waive of litahrary prolifteration.  Peeple, we ah livin in a society.  We go walkin on the streets, an they ain't nuthin but asphalt.  People try to tell me, that Papyrus is their default.  But ahv been blessed with unambiguous recall, a past trend's mah last friend and now weah all in freefall.


The sun will rayse at ten in th' East an' then ageen at two in th' West, as th' French king of Nanking suhmounts ta conquer Budapest.  Alphabetical, heretical, ethereal pests will ravige on with Parmesan in mistuh M. Hall's test.  The skill of man a half-baked plan will flippan'ly create to save the crown from commin groun' and keep cabs from beyin late.  A cah from Manila and a cah from Spain will atomic'ly innertwine with JFK back from the grave to keep 'em on Aleutian time.  But th' efferts of few an' the trals of all will nefa come to fruwishun, cuz Kathmandu and all Nepal will nefa evah go along with 'em.  So as th' sun comes twice, prepeah yoa rice an' get those six-oh togetheh, cuz the truth's a light an' the time is right to stake ah claim on th' heather.

Edited by SuperStone, 03 November 2018 - 05:46 PM.

The truth waits for no one.  That which you refuse to see, TPCi, slips past you.  The chat function was never your problem, yet through your blindness, you have made it one.

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