Discussion of Rule Changes and Possible Format Changes

by Pikkdogs ~ March 31st, 2011.

Last October the Pokemon world was shaken up by news from Japan.  When Japan got there Black and White sets they also got new rules changes and a mid season rotation.  Fast forward to April, and now North America, Europe, and South America are about to get the Black and White set.  What will this mean for the format?  Will we also get the rules changes and the format change?

If you haven’t guessed already, the topic of this article will be the possible changes to the rules and format changes.  Before we begin to talk about the impact of the changes too much, lets review what happened in Japan.

What were the changes in Japan?

  1. Rules change so that Trainer/Goods cards can be played on the first turn of the game.
  2. Supporters are now called “Supports” and are considered Trainer/Goods cards and can be played once per turn, even on the first turn.  They are now immediately discarded after use.
  3. Stadium cards are also considered Trainer/Goods cards and can also be played on the first turn.
  4. Rare Candy cannot be played on either player’s first turn, and they cannot be played on the same turn that you first played the basic Pokemon.
  5. Poke-Powers and Poke-Bodies are merged into one category called “Abilities”.
  6. After you knock out a Pokemon, you draw your prize card before your opponent sends out a new active Pokemon.
  7. The format was changed to HGSS-on.

Will we get them?

All signs seem to be pointing to the fact that we will get at least points 1-6.  The rules changes are already in effect on the online game simulator (www.pokemontcg.com).  It seems unlikely that they would make different rules for online play.  I also heard that someone from Portugal’s organized play stated that they would follow the rules changes that the U.S. employs.  That seems to suggest that the U.S. will have rule changes.

What about a rotation?

A mid season format rotation is a powerful thing.  It would mean that a large percentage of everyone’s cards will become almost worthless. Decks that people have been playing all season could now be deemed illegal.   It could turn a lot of people off about the game.

Regardless of the negative aspects of the rotation, I think a rotation is needed.  If there is no rotation, I think that most of games would end on the first turn of the game.  The problems in the format are trainer cards like Poke Drawer and Pokedex, that allow you to go through your deck fairly quickly.  Other problems are Sableye SF and Uxie La.  Sableye guarantee’s that you go first, so that your opponent has no chance to brace themselves against a donk. If you start Sableye all you would need to do is use a Pokemon Collector for an Unown (dark) and 2 Uxies, and you would be very close to winning the game.   Speaking of Uxie, like the Trainer cards, Uxie will help people go through their decks really quickly.   If these cards are ousted from the format longer games can take place, and games would rely less on luck.

So now that we know we need a rotation, what should it be?  Japan got rid of all of their Diamond and Pearl and Platinum sets, but Im not sure if thats really neccessary.  If we would get a similar rotation that we had the last two years, it would mean that the format would be Rising Rivals on.  To see if we need a large rotation, lets look at the problem cards in the format, and find out what sets they are from.  Besides cards that i have previously mentioned, I will also include SP cards since I believe they are the cause of our stagnant format. In the list, I will italicize cards that would be rotated if the rotation is RR-on.

  • Poke Drawer +-SF
  • Pokedex Handy 910’s-PtExpert Belt - AR
  • Super Scoop Up- Unleashed
  • Expert Belt- Arceus
  • Cyrus’s Conspiracy-Pt
  • Energy Gain- Pt
  • Power Spray- Pt
  • Sp Radar- RR
  • Uxie-La
  • Sableye-Sf
  • Unown (Dark)-UD
  • Luxray Gl-RR
  • Garchomp C-SV
  • Double Colorless Energy-HGSS

As you can see, most of the problem cards will be taken care of with a format of RR-on.  With the loss of Sableye, the important drawing Trainers, and Uxie; it will be a lot less likely for the game to end with a donk.  And, even though there will still be SP cards in the format, the SP deck will no longer work without the SP engine.  The loss of the SP engine will make sure that the format is not in the same stagnant state that we have had to deal with in the last couple of years.  But, I fear that if Japan got the HGSS-on format that we will also receive it.

Impact on The Format

Obviously a mid-season rotation would radically change the format.  The only deck that would stay similar to the way it is now is Lostgar Lock.  Other decks like Machamp, Gengar Sf, Uxie, Gyarados, Luxchomp, Dialgachomp, and many others will be wiped out.  Besides taking out main attackers, it could also take away a lot of staples like Uxie, Spiritomb Ar, and supporters like Palmer’s Contribution.

All decks would have to be changed and adjusted to the new format.  The new format would be a lot slower without Uxie, and would be more reliant on Trainers (and Trainerlock).  If a rotation comes we will all have to re-work our decks and completely change them.  It will make Nationals a lot different than States and Regionals.


A lot of people are understandably opposed to a large format change.  But, I think a mid-season format rotation would be great for the format, taking away the SP problem and making sure that the new rule changes will not lead to a format of all donks.  I don’t really see the need for the rules changes, but if they are going to make the rule changes they also need to rotate at least 4 sets out of the format.

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  • Ed

    I think it would be fun to scramble to get a post-rotation deck ready for nats. There’s plenty of time between Regs and Nats for that, right?

    • Anonymous

      of yeah, regionals is in a couple weeks and nats isn’t till July. Plus we got spring battle roads to get used to the format.

      It’s just I don’t know why they are putting in these new rules, it seems like its creating more problems without solving any.

  • I think if they do change i think it will make the game more fun because people will need to use new strategies and make new decks vs just keep playing the same ones over and over again. Also the rule were you can play trainers and supporters on first turn will help with rotation because usually first player can’t do anything and are stuck on being possibly dunked.

    • Ed

      I think this is a common conception, but I’m not sure how valid it is. I mean, if the first player can’t do anything and the second player donks them, how is that different than the first player doing a bunch of stuff and then donking the person that would have gone second?

      It could be interesting if the first player could play trainers/supporters but not attack. I don’t think that will happen, but at least it could help the donk “problem.”

      • Anonymous

        I once saw a post in either PokeGym or PokeBeach that was like a petition where they wanted people to reply with their “signature” in support of the rule change that the post was proposing. The rule was a suggested way to fix the donk problem once and for all. It was simple and elegant but I don’t think PokeMon took notice (or maybe they did and ignored the suggestion to come up with the new rules instead). If I recall correctly, the suggestion was this:

        In the situation where a player’s last PokeMon in-play get’s KO’d, that player gets one more turn in which they can try to get more PokeMon into play. If they fail to get any more PokeMon into play, they lose like normal, otherwise the game continues.

        • Ed

          I think I remember seeing that. To be honest, I think donking is part of the game. I’m not convinced it needs fixing. It would just be a different game.

          • Anonymous

            I would say that I agree Ed. My point is that the recent rule changes seem to point to an intent to “fix” the donk situation and if that truly is the case, I think they could have done it better. That being said, I have my suspicions that the rule changes are in fact not trying to fix the donk situation but are setting the stage for some future game mechanics that the next generation of card sets will be introducing.

          • Anonymous

            I’d guess that the turn 1 TSS change–along with consolidating Powers & Bodies into Abilities, and getting rid of all cards that break the no-evolution-turn-1 rule–was meant to make the game easier for kids to learn. But what the heck do I know; my red phone to Pokemon HQ has been broken for a couple of months now.

            I do think the HGSS and Japanese B/W sets will discourage the donk under the new rules though, and I bet the new rules work well in Japan. Compared to Platinum and DP, the starters are much weaker, there are much fewer opportunities for blazing through your deck, and the card combos you’d need to take out multiple Pokemon T1 are so much tougher. As for what we should do about those Japanese rules here in the States–no clue.

  • Anonymous

    In case you missed it, PokeBeach has the news about the new rules going into effect: http://pokebeach.com/#black-white-rule-changes