Donking for Dummies Part 2: Radu’s Guide To Cultivating Hatred

by TheRadu ~ January 18th, 2011.

Victory Medal Spring 2007-2008This is the second part of a 2-part series. You can find part one here.
Donking for Dummies Part 1: Radu’s Obnoxious Uxie Deck

Time Management
I mentioned in the previous article that you will take extremely long turns. I said you will do it without stalling or slow play. I will explain how one goes about achieving this in this section. If I were to play a “fun” game against this deck the Uxie Donk players turn would probably be about 10-12 minutes, if I were to play against it in a tournament the average players turn would be somewhere between the 15-18 minute range. This is not ideal, not because you want to win on time, but because you are likely not taking all the time to think and plan that’s would be best. People just play this deck too fast. You have right to shuffle for more than two seconds, you have right to take a little bit of time to think between plays. What you will be doing may seem unreasonable given that you are denying your opponent a turn. It, however, is not. Honestly, you will be taking less time in between plays than a Luxchomp player would, your searches will be faster. You will check the discard pile three or four times during a game. That’s in 30 minutes of playing time. Most decks check the discard that many times in just 15 minutes of play. But your opponent will not like this regardless of any logic that is used. But keeping your opponent happy isn’t your job. Now, let’s look at some of the factors which lead to people not using enough of their time and losing game they should have won on time.

Randomizers
Using a coin is better in terms of time. The time it takes to flip a coin and to roll a die are about the same (about four seconds form when you pick up the coin to flip it to when you pick back up after it lands), the coin may take marginally more time but that’s really irrelevant. The nice thing about using a coin is you can’t flip two at a time when fulfilling the requirement of Ball or Victory Medal. Also, with coins there is no chance a flip may be confused with anything else that is on the board. I like using quarters to flip. Anything bigger is also fine. Anything smaller may prove cumbersome. There is one thing to note about coins; when using a coin your opponent has to agree to the use of that randomizer. Your opponent can say that they don’t agree to the use of a quarter. If anybody is actually aware of this obscure rule, they probably are also aware of the exception to the rule. Ironically, your opponent, who can object to the use of coins with monetary value which are generally considered fair, cannot object to the use of those absurdly  coins that come in the starter decks. My advice is to have one of those out incase your opponent tries say anything about your coin.

Shuffling
Take the full time at the beginning of the game to make sure that both your and your opponent’s decks are thoroughly randomized. Pile shuffle once then riffle shuffle for about 20-30 seconds. Once that’s done and your opponent is done, riffle shuffle your opponents deck for about 10 seconds. This will ensure thorough randomization (Only for the initial shuffle. If they end up shuffling, just cut). During the game, after each search, you should shuffle for about 8-10 seconds.  Again, do this to ensure thorough randomization. Again a 8-10 second shuffle is normal in most games, but to your opponent, it will seem like an hour. Then, verbally offer your deck for a cut. They may say no. If they say no the first time, offer the deck the next times for a cut.  If they refuse both of those, for the next shuffles don’t make a verbal offer.  Instead place your deck on the table 3-4 inches in front of where it would normally be. Move it to its normal position right before you make your next play.

TGI PokeTurnTaking Shortcuts
A lot of times, I see people saying something like “double turn, put 20 on x.” Most players will understand that that means, “Play Poketurn picking up Crobat. Lay Crobat on the bench. Use flash bite to put 10 on x. Play another Poketurn to pick up Crobat. Place Crobat on the bench. Place 10 more on x.”

However, in reality “double turn, put 20 on x” does not mean anything. For one, except for Drawers, Blowers, and Healers, you CANNOT play two trainers at the same time. You have to play one, resolve it, then play the next. Also, PokeTurn has no inherent effect of placing damage on anything. “Junk arm, get back Turn, 10 on x” is just as bad. So, do yourself a favor, keep it perfectly clear and impossible to “misunderstand,” and play the cards like they are supposed to be played.

Watches
Don’t use a watch under any circumstance. Here’s the thing.  If you’re wearing a watch, you will check it. If you check it and you’re feeling like you are playing too quickly, you will slow down. This is bad. It leads to stalling. Ultimately, it’s pointless as well. The key here is consistency in your pace.  Don’t change the way you play during a game.  Play the same every game.  If you do this, the time factor will work out for you with you trying to do anything.

Consistency
Every match you play should be played at the same speed, and each of those matches should be played at more or less the same pace.  You will be a bit slower earlier on, only because there are more options. Your opponent may get irritated and ask or tell you to speed up. If you are not ready for this, it will place you a bit on edge.  You had best prepare for people to say this, and prepare to ignore it. Playing at this sort of constant speed requires a ton of focus, and it’s easy for your focus to break. If your focus does break for some reason, just be sure you can regain it within 5-10 seconds, and you’ll be fine. It’s like hitting a rough patch of cement while biking.  It surprises you at first, but you’ll get back to where you want to be soon enough.

You should be thinking between every play you make, and calculating some approximate probabilities in your head. Also, take time to make sure that you are aware of the consequences of your plays before you make them, as you make them, and after you make them. At the early stages of the game, you will naturally be taking a little bit more time in between plays (about 10 seconds, maybe even more). As the game goes on, you will find that less and less time is needed between plays, and it becomes more like 6 seconds. This works out nicely, as opponents are far less likely to press the time issue at the beginning of a game. This averages to about 8 seconds over the course of a game, if not a little bit more. Again, an average of about 8 seconds between play is actually fairly close to, if not substantially lower than, the time used running other decks.

One other thing to take note of. If you are intending to play either Cyclone Energy or Seeker, think about it as long as you can to make sure it is the right play. These plays are game changing. If you’re going to play one or the other, take everything into account. What basic will they put up if I Cyclone? Is that the basic I want to be knocking out when I attack? If I Seeker now, who do they take back? Does it make more sense to Cyclone first? Is it worth it dropping this card now to draw one more with Uxie, or is setting up for 6 the best play?

Movements
This is something I’m almost positive no one that’s reading this will have ever considered. It is something that’s very important for the game finishing when you want it to finish. It also helps make things really clear to both players and dramatically reduces the chance of making a mistake.

Normally, movements in card game are fairly short and quick. One needs to train themselves to have large and quick movements. For example, a person playing one Poke Drawer+ may:

  • Declare that they are playing Drawer
  • As they are doing that they will place Drawer in the discard pile by moving it from their hand with one hand, going from a 45 degree angle (the angle between a persons arm and the playing surface) to a 5 degree angle, while moving about 8 inches in a diagonal line then moving their hand 2 inches forward or backwards (depending on where the deck is in relation to the discard pile)
  • Finally, they draw the card and move the card (and their hand) back to the starting position again another 8 or so inches

This gives us a total of 18 inches that their hand has to move and about 2.3 seconds of time used. That’s approximately 0.8 to put the card in play, 0.8 to physically draw the card, and 0.7 to move the card back to you hand. Yes, I timed it with a stopwatch, and you can assume every other time value here is something I actually timed. This is faster than what you should be aiming for.

I’ll take you through how to slow it down a little bit. We’ll assume the use of a single Poke Drawer, but these steps can generally be applied to anything.

  1. When you first decide what card it is that you are playing, declare it and play it on the playing field. Don’t put a card in the discard pile until it has resolved. Before your opponent sees the card you are playing, they should already know what it is. Leave that hand close to the card on the field.
  2. Put your hand down on the table on the side that is furthest away from your deck or discard but far enough away from your prizes that no confusion would occur. Your hand should stay here until play has resolved.
  3. Tell the opponent what you are about to do. Basically, summarize the card. For Drawer, for example, you would simply say “draw one.” (As fun as it seems, resist the urge to let them know that if you played two you search for any two cards.) Using one hand to touch the card, draweing focus to the card.
  4. Complete the action of the card. In this case, draw your one card. Then, move your hand from the table.
  5. With one hand, place the card where your hand normally is. Then move the hand back to the starting position.
  6. Move the card from the playing field to the discard.

Timed out using quick straight movements, this totals out to 5.8 seconds: 0.4 Seconds to declare the card, 0.4 to place the card on the table, 0.8 to place your hand down, 0.6 to touch the card and say that you are Drawing one, 1.2 to draw one and move the card to starting position, 0.6 to move your hand back, 1.8 to move the card from the field to the discard and your hand back to starting.

There are several other way that one must move in order for this to work out just right. First, instead of making quick straight motions, make curvy motions at the same speed. Normally, it takes about a second to move your hand a foot going into a straight line. Let’s assume that every straight line was instead a quarter circular motion. While this doesn’t add too much time, it adds up of over course of nearly 70 plays. Second, there are some movements which give you an edge in time. This next one isn’t one of those. Players should either shuffle or sort their hand while thinking about their next plays. This is because it gives off the impression of action where there actually is none. If your opponent sees you constantly moving or doing something, even if it is not necessarily game related, they will be less likely to try to rush you, as opposed to if you were just staring at your hand.

Pace of Play
With this deck, there are so many options with each card that you should not go too fast.  The best option is always to err on the side of caution. The penalty guidelines say that the appropriate time that should be allotted for performing the actions of a card or attack should be 15 seconds for mid game deck searches and 10 seconds for considering game position before playing a card.  If you follow the guideline to a T, your turns would be taking about an hour each, which is completely unnecessary. But, playing and resolving a card every 5 seconds is also way too fast for you to take in all the information you need.

Normally what is adequate is to take about 5-7 seconds from the time one card is resolved to the time where you play another one. During this time you should quickly run through your priorities list of things to play and make absolutely sure that you are making the right play. When you play the card, depending on the situation, it should take you between 4-6 seconds to resolve a card like Poketurn.

If you’re asking why it should take so long to resolve a Turn, here’s the answer. Normally, you’re thinking Poketurn will just end up bringing back a Bat, but that’s often not all there is to it.  You should make sure it’s the right Bat.  If one of your Bats has a Q, Belt, or Plus Power on it, while others do not, consider which you want to pick up. Make sure that’s the right play. Then, even if it seems obvious what you should do after you pick up the Bat, take a few seconds to double-check, then play the Bat and call Flash Bite make sure you’re placing the damage on the right target, and then place the damage.

For other things, like when you resolve Quick Ball, don’t ram through your deck revealing cards at a rate of 10 per second. Make sure you and your opponent get a clear view of each and every card revealed. It just comes down to practice. Figure out what the good pace of play is where you almost never misplay, and game time will fall into place.

Time Analysis
If the concept of a 30 minute turn still seems Farfetched (haha Pokemon pun), I’ll break it down for you to the last second.  For the purposes of this example, we will use a situation where every thing is 50/50. As in you get half of all coin flips on any given card right and half wrong. Everything is as average as it could be. Every possible thing that could happen when playing a card is accounted for. For example benching an R and using its power are two separate actions.

In the table below, “Times Played” is how many times the action would normally occur during a turn, if you were to play everything out. For example, Poketurn takes place 8 times, due to you being likely to Junk Arm it 4 times (assuming that you play 4 Junk Arm in a game). “Total Time” is just the product of the first two columns. It represents how much time during each game would be spent on all copies of any given card.  The “Shuffles Required” column tells you how many times the deck would be shuffled as a result of that card during the course of a typical game.

  • Assumes it takes 1 second to play a card. (It takes a bit more but I’ll round down for simplicities sake.)
  • Assumes it takes 4 second for coin flips.
  • Assumes it takes 1 second to draw a card. (again it takes slightly more)
  • Assumes it takes 8 Seconds to search for any one pokemon +2 more for a second.
  • Assumes it takes 10 seconds to search for any one card +6 more for a second card.

Junk Arm - TR

Card Time to Resolve Times Played Total Time Shuffles Required
Uxie 10 6 60 0
Crobat G 6 11 66 0
Unown R (Bench) 1 4 4 0
Unown R (Power) 3 4 12 0
Unown Q (Bench) 1 1 1 0
Unown Q (Power) 2 1 2 0
Poke Drawer+ (Single) 2 2 4 0
Poke Drawer+ (Double) 18 1 18 1
Victory Medal (No Heads) 9 1 9 0
Victory Medal (1 Heads) 10 2 20 0
Victory Medal (2 Heads) 20 1 20 1
Pokedex Handy 10 4 40 0
Plus Power 1 4 4 0
Poke Turn 5 8 40 0
Super Scoop Up (Heads) 9 2 18 0
Super Scoop Up (Tails) 5 2 10 0
Poke Blower+ (Heads) 9 2 18 0
Poke Blower+ (Tails) 5 2 10 0
Junk Arm 15 4 60 0
Dual Ball (No Heads) 9 1 9 0
Dual Ball (1 Heads) 18 2 36 2
Dual Ball (2 Heads) 20 1 20 1
Quick Ball 10 3 30 3
Luxury Ball 10 1 10 1
Expert Belt 1 2 2 0
Pokemon Rescue 6 2 12 0
Alph Lithograph FOUR 28 1 28 0
Seeker 7 1 7 0
Cyclone Energy 3 1 3 0
Totals 77 573 9


Reflect on how long it should take you from when you play a card to when you finish the effect and start thinking about the next step. Take a stopwatch and test some things for yourself, if you have doubts about my analysis.

So, according to this, the time spent on just playing and resolving card effects during this perfectly average turn would be 573 seconds or 9 minutes and 33 seconds, with 77 plays per game at 7.4 seconds per play. This, however, is misleading. First, we did not account for the plays lost because of Junk Arm’s discards.  The ideal is to assume that you will discard 1 Q, 1 Belt, 1 Luxury Ball, 1 Seeker, 1 Cyclone, and one more card which means you lose one play per game, and in turn 7.4 seconds of total play time. This brings your new totals to 76 and 565.6. We also did not account for prizes which are 1/10th of the deck, you will take one so that’s 1/12th of the deck that you wont get to play with, for this we will multiply both the new totals by 0.92, since that is how much of the deck you will have use of over the course of the game. So, your final totals for Total Plays Per Game would be about 70, and for Total Time Spent Playing is 520 seconds, or 8 minutes and 40 seconds. Now 30 minutes is 1800 seconds so you are just over 1/4 of the way there.

Now we have some things to add on to our total.

First, there is the time that we have in-between plays. This should average out to 8 seconds. You will need to think just a little bit more at the beginning of the game, which sort of skews this. Toward the end of the game, between play should be closer to 6 seconds. So let’s multiply our total plays by 8. This gives us another 560 seconds.

Then, we will add the time spent at the beginning of the game to shuffle and set up. Assuming no mulligans, this tends to be about 2 minutes and 30 seconds. We will add another 150 seconds to our total.

After that, we take into account the time you and your opponents will spend on your first turns. Since a game state two situation is the only situation where you hope to go to time, we will only focus on that. Almost always when a game state two occurs, it is because you went first. Let’s start assuming that your first turn is always short, because you will just pass about 95% of the time. You look at the board and your hand planning what it is you are going to do next turn and how strong your start is. Let’s say that takes 10 seconds.

On your opponents turn, in order for you to go into game state two, your opponent either has to play a ton of cards and start doing some plays with Uxie, or play a Collector (which also leads to plays with Uxie). Either way, they will search their deck and check to see what is prized and what is not. This alone takes at least a minute. We’ll add 60 seconds for all that. Then, your opponent will play their basics, attach energy, and make any other plays they may have to make while thinking about their plays. How long this takes is fairly variable.  I have seen it take 30 seconds, and I have seen it take 3 minutes.

Let’s assume an average of 100 seconds which adds up to a first turn lasting a total of 160 seconds.  Add that to your 10 seconds and a little bit more for time in between turns (about 5 seconds), and you get 175 seconds.

After this, add 60 seconds to your first deck search to check for prized stuff.  Add the time you will spend shuffling after that. The table indicates that you will be shuffling your deck 9 times, but this has to be multiplied by 0.92 as well. That gives you 8 shuffles. Each shuffle and cut will take about 15 seconds, so add 120 more seconds.

Then take into account that there some times where you will slow down and think more than normal as well as mistakes you will make.  Flipping a coin off the table or getting distracted by what’s around you are good examples. Add 50 more seconds.

You will be checking your discard pile for about 12 seconds 4 times a game. Add 48 more seconds.  You’ll take 8 seconds choosing a prize when you knock out a guy with Crobats.  At the end of your turn, it will take about 20 seconds to attack, take a prize, and arrange Uxie at the bottom of your deck.

520+560+150+175+60+120+50+48+8+20 = 1709 Seconds = 28 Minutes 29 Seconds. That’s using a purely theoretical system. In actual testing, things work out a bit slower than what I described here. If the numbers on the table seem off to you, it’s simply because you are not used to playing in this fashion.

Other Things To Know

Stress
This is a very stressful deck to play in the way that I am describing.  In addition to having to be in constant motion for about 30 minutes, you also have to deal with bitter opponents and judges breathing down your neck.

Go for the quick win if you can.  Though I have been preaching cautious play, if you have any opportunity to donk a one or two basic start, you can afford to do it fast (since it’s pretty much assured). This cuts down on the stress level as well as providing some time to rest.

Be conscious of the bitter people. Out of all the card games I have played, I have never met a bunch that are as big of sore losers and whiners as Pokemon players. If you beat someone with this deck, do not be surprised if they are complaining about all day, giving you dirty looks, and going online to whine about it to a bunch of other whiners within half an hour of the tournament ending. Also, do not be surprised if they bring it up a year later with a look of disgust on their face. For some reason, Pokemon players hold on to this stuff and tend to treat this game as more than just a game. It’s like some sort of creepy lifestyle to some people.KMFDM - NIHIL

Rule Of Three
There are really only three times where playing Uxie Donk is logical:

  1. When you know there will be little or no Vilegar (or any other trainer lock) in the field that you are playing in.
  2. When you are playing in a field where many of the players are superior to you. With this deck your opponent’s skill level is irrelevant.
  3. You are a Nihilist.

If you fall into any of these three categories, you should seriously consider playing this deck at an upcoming states or battle roads

Conclusion
That about concludes it for the strategy behind the Uxie Donk deck. I now would just like to make a few comments about the current “controversy” that is building up around this deck.

There are a lot of people who hate playing against this deck. They hate playing against it, because it’s generally not a fun deck to play against and doesn’t give a chance to be outplayed (only “outlucked”). This is an understandable sentiment. However, there are so many other things that cause luck to play a big factor and skill to play very little in determining the outcome of the game. This is natural in all Trading Card Games, and yet, even in a format where Uxie Donk see’s a lot of play, you still see the same people winning and top cutting as you did before.

That’s because, ultimately, a highly skilled player realizes that there are better options, and they play those options. However, what may be a better option for a highly skilled player, may not be as good of a play for the average player. This deck might be the best chance an average player has at winning any given tourney. Those people should consider playing this deck, because it mitigates the differences in skill.

People have also claimed that this ability to ignore skill in determining the outcome of a game is bad. We’ll, what can I say? That’s true. Skill should be the determining factor, but if an opportunity presents itself to prevent skill from determining a match, then those who it benefit should take it.

This is a competitive game and should be treated as such. People place emphasis on winning, thus this deck see’s play. Contrary to most people’s belief, a player does not have the right to a good game. They have a right to a game which, by the letter of the rules, is fair and nothing else. They don’t have the right to not get donked. They don’t have the right to get at least one turn. They don’t have a right to play decent matchups.

Here’s what you do have the right to do: sit down, shuffle your and your opponents decks, setyour basics, flip to see who goes first, and not be cheated or stalled by an opponent. THAT’S IT. You are not entitled to anything else. “Spirit of the Game” states that everything should be fun for all players. People are completely misinterpreting this. What it’s saying is “if people are not breaking the rules, and are behaving appropriately, and you are ok with the outcomes of your games, you should have fun.”

For example, if I lose my first 3 games at Regionals, I am probably not having very much fun, because I’m upset that I lost. If I lose a game due to time limits that I know I could have won with an extra turn or two, I’m probably not having much fun. I might feel like the world is unfair, but that’s life. Deal with it like everyone else, and suck it up. Uxie Donk isn’t the problem. It’s the player base who feels oh so entitled to playing the game that they want to play it under their own modified ruleset.

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  • Anonymous

    another great article Radu

    This part tells more about strategies regarding time, and how to legally win with this Uxie donk.

    It may not be as important as the first part, but its something that no one else is talking about anywhere, so its kinda cool to have it all put together in this place.

    • Anonymous

      Radu thanks you for your kind comments.

  • Ed

    Radu, what do you do when you play Quick Ball and the top card is a Pokemon?

    • Anonymous

      Yea quick ball was an interesting one to figure out the timing for, because its not based on the player only the deck. Since I was assuming that thing happen as probability would dictate I did this:
      You play 10 basics that means that there is on average one every 6 cards You’re starting hand is 7 cards and you place 6 prizes and you draw one card to start your turn, and out of those card your are likely to find 2.33 baisic pokemon meaning 7.67 pokemon left in a 46 card deck

      (46/7.67) averages out to one pokemon every 6(5.997) cards so i used that when calculating the averages for quick ball.

      I suppose if you flip over the first you should get pissed and explain to your opponent why you are pissed by restating the computations in this post. That probably should take a while.

      • Ed

        I had assumed that, technically, if the first card is a Pokemon, you are still supposed to shuffle (based on the wording of the card). This would just further infuriate an opponent, though.

        However, I looked it up, and there is an actual ruling.

        Q. If I use Quick Ball and the very first card revealed is a Pokemon, do I still have to shuffle my deck?
        A. If the first revealed card is a Pokemon then the deck is not shuffled as there are no “other revealed cards” to shuffle back in. (Oct 25, 2007 PUI Rules Team)

        Coming from a M:TG background, I still find it interesting that Pokemon leans so heavily on rulings and makes little to no effort to word cards in a concise and syntactical manner. Nor do they seem to rely on errata when a card’s effects/wording is ambiguous. I get that they’re being translated from Japanese, but come on.

        • Radu

          When you compare rullings in Pokemon to Yugioh, Yugioh is a 100 billion times worse, the simplicity of the rulings in pokemon is one of he best things about this game. There’s like one or two odd or funny rulings a year, which really isn’t a lot.

  • Ed

    This article was live, and then went offline for a while. Just after it was published, it was brought to my attention that it wasn’t Radu’s final version. It had some pieces missing.

    So, if you read it early on Tue morning, you may have missed parts. In particular, these sections may deserve a re-read.

    Consistency (has new content)
    Movements (entirely new)
    Time Analysis (slightly modified with new bulleted list)
    Conclusion (entirely new)

  • Anonymous

    Another great read. And my fears of censorship against Uxie Donk have been assuaged. I’m still not going to play it though.

  • Anonymous

    TheRadu, your articles are awesome.

    I really hope you’ll write another articles here, you explain really well the mechanics of Uxie Donk, how to play it, and you have a very good point of view about what a competitive game should be.

  • Ed

    In one of his old posts here, he mentions playing in the French Nationals. I assume that means you don’t know him!?!?

  • Anonymous

    No, you don’t know me :P

    I was just saying that your two articles were great =)

    • TheRadu

      Well thanks then!

  • Radu is a tool.