A Review of Pokemon TCG Online

by Pikkdogs ~ March 27th, 2011.

Hey everyone in Omar-Nation.  This is Pikkdogs here with a short review of the new Pokemon TCG Online game.  This is the online TCG simulator that we’ve been hearing about.  It isn’t in its final version yet, its still in Beta testing, but you can still play with some theme decks right now.  You can find it at www.pokemontcg.com.

Right now Pokemon TCG Online doesn’t feel like the online version of the game that we’re all waiting for, it kinda feels like just a cheap Flash game.  But that could all change, in time it could become more comprehensive.

How it Works

The game is fairly simple to play.  They computer automatically deals you a hand of 7 cards, and you pick your starter and bench by clicking on the Pokemon.  After you pick heads or tails, you play out your hand as if it were a card game.  To attach an energy you click on the energy you want to attach, and then click the Pokemon you want to attach it to.  To play a trainer, stadium, or supporter card you just click it and the computer does the effect of the attack for you, unless you need to search your deck.  In that case you would be brought to a screen that displays all the cards which you can pick from and the contents of your deck, you would just pick the card that you want with a click of the mouse.  You attack by clicking on a menu button located on the right side of the screen, once you choose the attack there is a cheesy animation that pops up and damage counters are automatically placed on the defending Pokemon.

For newer players the game does give helps.  Such as if you are about to attack without playing a supporter or an energy, a box will come up and remind you.

The Plot

When you start the game you are transported to a league and are given three decks to choose from.  You can pick either of the three HGSS theme decks.  I picked the Typhlosion deck because of the damage output of Typhlosion and Flareon.  You then go through about 4 games against the other 2 theme decks, and 2 decks from other sets.  If you wish to continue, they will transport you to another league where there are about 5 other slightly more difficult decks.  If you are able to beat all comers at that league, the players are after revenge at a tournament.  When three games and you become champion.

After most games that you win you will be given a new card to add to your deck.  During my game play I added Burned Tower, 2 Fisherman, a Magmortar, 2 Raticates, 2 Professor Elm’s Training Method, and a 2-1 Arcanine line.

The Good

I gotta say that while these games were no Luxchomp versus Luxchomp slugfest, it was still a pleasant experience.  I got to easily play a fun game.  Ease of use is the best feature of Pokemon TCG Online.  No more doing the math on attacks, the computer figures out damage for you, yes even from effects from previous attacks.  Shuffling is also gone, there is no need for that.  These features make is very easy to play the game, and it is a fun experience.  

The Bad

After playing the game for a couple hours I only noticed one mistake that the game made.  It was against a girl who was using a psychic deck.  She had a Drowzee active and used “Sleep Inducer.”  This attack was supposed to switch my active and put the new active to sleep.  But, since I didn’t have a bench, it put my active to sleep.  The correct ruling would be to state that “Sleep Inducer” would have no effect.  Its not a big mistake, but it was something.

The AI seems to be reasonably decent.  There were a couple of times where the AI could have played better.  One of those moments was when I had 1 prize left and my opponent had 2 Magikarps left.  It was his turn and I saw that he just Elm’d for a Red Gyarados.  The smart play would be to evolve to Red Gyarados as the active and then wall with him while you setup someone who could attack.  Instead they gave up and just sent a karp after me and evolved to Gyarados on the bench.  Sacrificing the karp might have been a great strategy earlier in the game, but not when the game is down to 1 prize.

The Ugly

While I don’t want to make it seem like I don’t like the game, there are some things going against it.  It is a far cry from the program we want.  You can’t make your own deck, or play against human players.  I do know that some of those features are coming soon, but until then the jury is out.

One thing I can say is that gameplay is a lot better than Redshark and Apprentice.  With Redshark you don’t have card art, have to calculate damage yourself, and have to do everything manually through a menu.  With the Pokemon TCG Online, the software does just about everything for you.   It is some much easier and more fun to play than Redshark and Apprentice, that I think people may stop using those programs.

One interesting part of the game is that it uses the rules changes that were implemented in Japan back when they got their Black and White Set.  This includes being able to use trainers and supporters the first turn.  It is possible that TPCI added this feature just for this game because there is yet no way to abuse it (like with Sableye and Uxie).  But, the greater possibility is that the rule change is included in this game because it will soon be the standard ruling for all Pokemon games.  If this is true and we do get the rule change, it is all but a sign that we will also get a mid-season rotation.  If we don’t the only deck that will be playable is a Sableye SF/Uxie deck that runs through the entire deck on the first turn.  If we do get a rotation Sableye and Uxie will be gone, meaning the game will slow down and be more balanced.

Overall, for what it is the Pokemon TCG Online is pretty cool.  Its AI is decent, its easy to use, and it looks pretty cool.  It has all the building blocks of a cool program.  Now we just need the greatly enhanced features.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

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