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Back since the original 151


msaint91
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I, like so many others, am just getting back into Pokemon. It played a big role in my childhood when the original base set released and I have played some of the games off and on through my adult life. I never really learned how to play the actual tcg though and now I am trying to learn all I can. I have been playing online and would like to learn about using my own custom decks. I just don't have too many cards yet and would like to learn about what packs to focus on picking up. I would also like to learn since I want to play at some local casual pokemon nights. Any help would be appreciated!

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If you're focusing on the free-to-play approach, the best way to get started is:

  • Finish the Trainer Challenge:  Once you have 500 Tokens, invest in one of the Theme Decks that are seen as "competitive" in the Theme Format, because...
  • Grind in the Theme Format:  This is where free-to-players get started, and where even some long time players still grind if they struggle to keep their decks up-to-date (more on that later).  Once you have enough Tickets and are really familiar with the different Theme decks that perform well here...
  • Grind Theme Tournaments: This is where you can earn tradable booster packs.  You need them because:
  • Tradable Booster Packs are money:  In this game, Tokens may seem like the in-game currency, but anything you purchase with them is "trade-locked".  Think of the odds for pulling what you need from a pack; even in a "good set", the odds are against pulling exactly what you need.  With no common medium of exchange, the trading market has evolved to cards being valued in terms of unopened booster packs.  You can try opening the packs and trading the contents, but unless you're skilled at trading and have a lot of time to invest in it, the return just isn't there.

So you follow that path, you grind for trading fodder, and you use that to build your first Standard, Expanded, or Legacy Format deck.  Depending on your patience, maybe its still just a budget deck, or maybe you hold out until you've got something that would - if these were the physical cards - stand a chance at Regionals, or at least, at a smaller, local event.

 

If you are investing money into the game, still use the Trainer Challenge and Theme Format to get used to the user interface, and the differences between the PTCG and PTCGO.  For example, how much more involved certain game actions are online than in real life, playing with the PTCGO timer, and all games being best of one.  However, once you've got that down, you can just find a reputable seller of Redemption Code cards, or cash in your stockpile of them.  This was kind of long, but it is actually the abridged version of the advice I'd normally give. XP  I didn't specify what booster packs you should pick up because it changes all the time.

Edited by Otakutron
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19 hours ago, Otakutron said:

If you're focusing on the free-to-play approach, the best way to get started is:

  • Finish the Trainer Challenge:  Once you have 500 Tokens, invest in one of the Theme Decks that are seen as "competitive" in the Theme Format, because...
  • Grind in the Theme Format:  This is where free-to-players get started, and where even some long time players still grind if they struggle to keep their decks up-to-date (more on that later).  Once you have enough Tickets and are really familiar with the different Theme decks that perform well here...
  • Grind Theme Tournaments: This is where you can earn tradable booster packs.  You need them because:
  • Tradable Booster Packs are money:  In this game, Tokens may seem like the in-game currency, but anything you purchase with them is "trade-locked".  Think of the odds for pulling what you need from a pack; even in a "good set", the odds are against pulling exactly what you need.  With no common medium of exchange, the trading market has evolved to cards being valued in terms of unopened booster packs.  You can try opening the packs and trading the contents, but unless you're skilled at trading and have a lot of time to invest in it, the return just isn't there.

So you follow that path, you grind for trading fodder, and you use that to build your first Standard, Expanded, or Legacy Format deck.  Depending on your patience, maybe its still just a budget deck, or maybe you hold out until you've got something that would - if these were the physical cards - stand a chance at Regionals, or at least, at a smaller, local event.

 

If you are investing money into the game, still use the Trainer Challenge and Theme Format to get used to the user interface, and the differences between the PTCG and PTCGO.  For example, how much more involved certain game actions are online than in real life, playing with the PTCGO timer, and all games being best of one.  However, once you've got that down, you can just find a reputable seller of Redemption Code cards, or cash in your stockpile of them.  This was kind of long, but it is actually the abridged version of the advice I'd normally give. XP  I didn't specify what booster packs you should pick up because it changes all the time.

 

Really solid advice. I appreciate it a lot. I am buying a lot of packs irl right now so it sounds like I will be doing a bit of both strategies. 

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4 hours ago, msaint91 said:

 

Really solid advice. I appreciate it a lot. I am buying a lot of packs irl right now so it sounds like I will be doing a bit of both strategies. 

 

That works. :) I should explain TCG series, Formats, Set Rotation, and Banned Lists "quick" (a relative term).

 

Though it wasn't the case with the first seven North American sets (Base Set, Jungle, Fossil, Base Set 2, Team Rocket, Gym Heroes, and Gym Challenge), after that point, the majority of sets are released as part of a series.  The set after Gym Challenge began the Neo series (Neo Genesis, Neo Discovery, Neo Revelation, and Neo Destiny), which correspond to the video game's Gen 2.  After that was the Card-e series (might have been called the e-Card series), which were a mix of Gen 1 and Gen 2 and compatible with the e-Reader for the GBA.

 

Then the game switched to PUI (later TPCi) and the EX-series released, which went along with Gen III, plus the Gen 1 remakes for the GBA.  Then came the Diamond & Pearl (early Gen 4) series, the Platinum (late Gen 4) series, the HeartGold & Soul Silver series (Gen II remakes), the Black & White series (Gen 5), the XY (Gen 6) series, the Sun & Moon (Gen 7) series, and now the Sword & Shield (Gen 8) series.  You could argue that HeartGold & SoulSilver are late Gen 4 and that the Platinum series is mid Gen 4; they shared a lot of mechanics in common, and on the video game side of things, all were released for the Nintendo DS.

 

Shortly after what would become The Pokémon Company International (TPCi) took over handling the TCG outside of Japan, the release schedule for Pokémon TCG expansions became pretty steady; four per year.  Due to the pandemic, it sounds like they'll actually break that pattern late this year or early next year (or November or February set).  This can give you a rough idea how old booster packs are you're looking at.  Anything from before HeartGold & SoulSilver doesn't exist on the PTCGO, for better and worse.  There are some "bonus" sets released outside of this pattern, usually mini-sets.  Champion's Path is one such set, though you may not realize it is a "mini" set.  I remember back in the old days when sets only had around 100 cards, and small ones might be in the 60s... but for the last year or so sets have been around 200 cards big.

 

There are currently two supported Constructed Formats for the physical TCG.  "Constructed" might be thought of as "normal", in that you build a 60 card deck from your own collection to use for tournaments, or just playing for fun.  Standard is the more common Format, and will contain the last one to two years worth of releases.  New sets are officially added on the third Friday of the month.  Old sets leave - or "rotate out - only once per year, usually near the end of August or early September.  The Expanded Format has new sets added the same time as Standard, but so far has seen no sets rotate out... but that is also why it has a significant Ban List.  You can find the current Ban List - and several other useful resources - here on the official website.  The Ban List, if it changes at all, is updated with each set released.

 

As a historical note, the Pokémon TCG went from about 2003 until 2015 with zero cards banned, which is around the same time they introduced the Expanded Format.  Cards are sometimes banned in Standard, but it is rare.  There's a confusing case right now because two cards were banned, yet technically not because the powers-that-be are releasing "replacements" for them.  Except the replacements are radically different, so the old versions are still effectively banned.  It does transition into our next topics: errata and reprints.

 

Sometimes cards are printed incorrectly, and they receive errata; you play as if the card read the way the erratum does.  If there are no gameplay significant differences, you may use older printings of cards that - due to reprints - are Standard or Expanded-legal.  Sometimes, the powers-that-be really change what a card does; if there is no errata, older-printings are no longer allowed in Standard or Expanded Format play but usually we do get an official erratum, bringing the older printings in line with the new.  You can still use cards like Switch and Potion from Base Set because of this!  Sometimes, there are general rulings/errata.  As you may recall, originally there were Trainer cards with no subdivisions.  Now, Trainer cards are split into Item cards, Stadium cards, and Supporter cards.  Unless an old Trainer received an erratum and/or reprint that says different, if it isn't already labeled as a Supporter or Stadium, it is treated as an Item card e.g. Professor Oak is an Item card in Unlimited, but Bill and Erika are not (those last two received Supporter versions of their cards).

 

Whew!  I know that is a lot and rather rambling, but I originally was just going to give a really rough idea of what packs to purchase... then realized I should make sure you know the rest!

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