Pokemon Solitaire Playtesting (TCG Deck Testing)

by Ed ~ February 5th, 2010.

You’ve thought up your next great deck. You’ve worked out some ideas on paper (or in Excel as I’ve taken to doing recently). You’ve even gone as far as building a deck (with a few proxies here and there). Now what do you do?

Of course, you’d like to test it out against some known decks. For various reasons, that might not be the next step, though. You might just want to play the deck by yourself first to see how things go, but how do you go about playing Pokemon TCG Solitaire? That’s exactly what I want to know, too.

If you have the same question, then it’s only fair for me to tell you how I’ve played Pokemon cards by myself. I’ve done it a few different ways, so I’ll lay them out below. I’d love it if you could respond and tell me how you do it. I’d like to try some new ideas for solitaire playtesting.

1) Just Draw

This is the most simple way that I can think to test your newly built deck, and it can be incorporated into any other solitaire game. Shuffle your new deck, and draw 7 cards. Look at the cards, and decide if it’s a good starting hand. You could even lay out the basic Pokemon and decide what you would do if you went first or second. When you’re done, shuffle the deck and draw another 7. I could even see making a little tally sheet with good vs. bad draws, and I’d have to categorize a mulligan as a bad draw. Do this 10 times or so to get a fair idea if the deck can start the game well. Shuffle well between draws, though. I might even recommend a (6 or 7) pile shuffle here.

2) Vs Another Deck

Pick one of your known working decks, and pull 6 Pokemon. Depending on the challenge level you want, you can pick the best 6 or some mix. I would pick the strongest 6 Pokemon (even if they are Stage-2’s or Lv. X’s), but it may make sense to drop something on the bench that’s representative of something that might actually be an easier target (like a Baltoy or Unown G). Lay out the 6 Pokemon as if you were playing against them. Shuffle your own deck, and draw 7 cards. If you have to mulligan, just do it, but make a note if it happens too often. Put out your prizes, and then roll to see who goes first.

I have a bunch of D&D-style dice, so I mark things with those. You could use paper, or you could just use the cards themselves. Here are some ideas. Whenever the “opponent” plays, pull a card off the top of their deck and place it in their “hand.” That way, you can tell how many turns they took. If you want to use a die, place it on top of your deck. Then, whenever you draw for the start of your turn, increment the die. I also keep track of how many KO’s the opponent got. For that, you could put out 6 prizes for the opponent, and turn one up for each KO. If you like the dice, though, you can just keep another counter going.

The opponent needs to do something on their turn, and this is where the realism of the solitaire game wanes. Lately, the only thing my opponent does is attack for 60 damage each turn. I do this on every turn, even the first. It puts pressure on me from the start, but it can be too little later in the game. It’s also very predictable (which can be good or bad). In a real match, you can often guess how much the opponent will attack for on their turn, but you could get surprised. Maybe you’d want to roll a die for damage. Maybe like 1 through 5 does 60 damage, but if they get a 6 it does 100 damage. Another thing that I tried before was, instead of fixed damage, the opponent always did the max damage that their active Pokemon could dish out. That can be rough, but it can be negligible, too.

Things my solitaire “opponent” never does is retreat, use PokePowers, play cards from their hand, etc. This makes some situations or draws worthless for testing. For example, Power Spray is a dead draw against this technique. Trainer locking or power locking would be pointless here. You get the idea.

Just play out the game. See how many turns it takes for you to grab your 6 prizes and win the match. I tend to favor quick and aggressive decks, so this style of testing works okay for me. If I can win in 8 turns or less against a brain-dead opponent, then maybe I have a chance versus a real foe. If you’re building a slow and controlling style of deck, it might not make sense to test using this method.

So, I’ve laid out some of the ideas I’ve had and used for testing decks all by my lonesome. I mean, you have to do something when your friends are too afraid to show up and test against you. What do you do?

Category: Practice | Tags: , , ,