Challenge: The Plan

by Ed ~ November 17th, 2011.

Pokemon ReversalThe Motivation: Okay, so maybe announcing the idea without discussing the plan wasn’t the best. I know that some people are very skeptical, but I’m hoping that you stick with me and hear me out. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to read the Challenge: Announcement before continuing.

Before I go further, let me dispel some obvious (as in I understand why you’d make them) misunderstandings. I’m not expecting people to build me a top-tier deck. I’m not doing this to save time, and I’m definitely not doing this to save money. I’m doing this as an experiment to build community around something new that I hope will be exciting and enjoyable for all participants.

I keep using the word “experiment,” because I feel very unsure about all of this. At times, I’m very excited about trying something new and crazy. At other times, like now, I feel fairly down, because I wonder if anyone will care to become part of this thing I’m hoping we can create together.

The main problem is that it’s a crazy idea, and I don’t know anything like this that has been attempted before. I’m hoping that makes it unique and intriguing, but only time will tell. I really want to find people that are willing to help me create something new and build a community that works together to make something out of nothing. I hope that is enough motivation for some to take the initial leap. Then maybe others will see how it’s working and join in later.

The Plan: The plan is that I will build a deck and play it in tournaments. The community will supply the cards. Let’s get this out of the way first. NO, I don’t expect you to send me your hard-earned Yanmega/Pachirisu/Magnezone/etc.

I expect that most of the donations to the card pool will be of the “I wasn’t going to use this anyway” type. Now, for some people, that might be because they already had 4 of a staple card, aren’t into trading, and don’t see the need to carry a 5th. For most, though, it will be like, “I run 4 Pokemon Catcher in every deck I make, why do I need these Pokemon Reversal? Maybe Ed can use them.”

I find it interesting to build decks based on constraints. For example, when I build my daughter’s deck, I am constrained by trying to optimize for her playstyle. There are many cards that I think would be better if I was building the deck for myself, but I know they would work worse for her. Take Junk Arm. It’s an awesome card that I would normally play in just about every deck I’d build. I won’t put it in her deck, because I know that if she discarded the wrong thing early in the game, she might not recover later. Plus, if she’s faced with a tough decision, she may decide not to decide, and then it’s a dead card. So, there are cards I just won’t put into her decks, and that slightly constrains the card pool.

I always thought booster draft and sealed deck tournaments (like the Pokemon prereleases) were a fun format. I enjoy trying to optimize a deck from a bunch of random junk. My main problem, though, is that the deck is essentially throw-away. You build it, play it in one event, and then it’s worthless. It has no merit outside of that one event. What if we could do that on a more grand scale, play it in multiple events, and have it evolve into something better each time?

So, the people that choose to team up with me will supply this “random” card pool. Yeah, you get to choose what goes into it, so it’s not random in that respect. I don’t know what will be in it, so it’s random from my viewpoint.

How To Donate: If you want to donate, email me at I’ll send you my address, and you can send me an envelope with some cards. If you’re sending just a regular envelope from the USA with not so many cards in it, I think you can do it with a normal stamp. That’s going to be less than 50 cents. If you want to send cards in a padded envelope, I guess it could be a couple bucks depending on packaging and all that.

I just want to say please don’t send boxes of cards. Limit it to envelopes. This way no one person will over-influence the card pool. I’d much rather get a few cards from many people than many cards from a few people. Remember, my main goal is to create a community around this.

In your envelope, I will also ask that you include your name, and a comment. The name could be (or the name you want to be known as) could be “Anonymous” or “Team AB” or whatever. The comment could be a sentence, the URL to your website, your email address, or whatever. I’ll plan to build a table of the donations and publish these on

Also, there are some local people that I know that may be interested in donating. Because I don’t want any one person (or group of people) to over-influence the card pool, I ask that you too follow the same rules of actually mailing me an envelope (again not a box). The practical side of me thinks that it’s a waste to pay for shipping if it’s something you could just hand to me. If you have an envelope that you would TRULY have sent to me in the mail, I will accept in in person. Just know, though, that I would rather receive it in the mail, and if you give it to me in person, it will be too late for me to use in that event (assuming you hand me the envelope at a tourney).

What Happens To The Cards: You will not get the cards back! To me, that would move this idea from crazy to insanity. If this goes well, I will have small envelopes of cards coming in from all across the country (and maybe even the world). I don’t think it would be realistic for me to return them when I’m done. Also, I think it would cheapen the entire experiment if people were just lending the cards.

This saddens me a bit, but you have to realize that I might not use the cards you send. If the card pool contains a strong line of fire Pokemon, I might end up playing a mono-fire deck. If you send me 4 metal Pokemon, I’m not going to include them if they don’t work with the deck I decide to build. You might want to keep this in mind when you send cards. I’d still love to get the 4 metal Pokemon from you, because I might use them if other people send some good cards to accompany them. However, my suggestion would be to send at least one card that you think I could immediately use. That might be an trainer or a supporter or maybe even a some basic energy. I’d very much like to try to use one card from each donation, but I really can not guarantee that.

I really hope that this is fun, interesting, and builds a sense of teamwork toward a common goal. If it keeps working toward those goals, then I could see this continuing on past Cities, into States, and indefinitely. However, there’s a chance that hardly anyone participates, I go 0-5 in 4 tournaments, and nobody cares. That’s the risk. If that happens, then I’ll go back to my normal way of building decks from my own resources. That would leave me with an unused Challenge Card Pool. When that happens, I will draw on suggestions from the donators to help determine what might happen to the cards. I don’t expect them to be worth much, and I won’t guarantee that they will be put to any particular good use after that. I have some ideas for what could be done, but we’ll just see how things go.

How Will The Deck Be Built: I will publish the list of cards in the card pool. I will also discuss my thoughts on what I can do with them. I might go as far as to discuss the decklist I plan to play. During any of these steps, I really want your input and suggestions. Just realize that I can’t use all of them (suggestions or cards), so I will make the ultimate decision what 60 cards to use. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but I imagine that some people might be sad that I didn’t use the cards they sent or that I didn’t build the deck the way they thought was best. There’s no right or wrong answer, but in the end, I have to play the deck, so I’m going to build it to my playstyle (and potentially metagame).

As far as the type of deck I imagine will come of this project, I assume it will need to be some sort of meta-breaker. To have any chance of winning, it will need to be something most people won’t prepare for. I am thinking of tactics such as energy removal, discard, hand disruption, and maybe even Lost World. These strategies are not currently mainstream, so people don’t generally prepare for them. Also, since they’re not mainstream, the cards are often buried in binders or otherwise unused and valueless. My thought it that this is where an exploit might be found to win some games with cards people wouldn’t otherwise care about.

I don’t want to have to do this, but I believe it’s necessary. I (or maybe my daughter) will supply an entire pre-constructed theme deck for the card pool. I think it’s necessary so that I am guaranteed to have a tournament-legal deck come City Championship time. If nobody (or barely anybody) donates, I can still play something.

The reason I don’t want to start with a pre-made deck, is because it removes much of the organic nature that the donation-based community-driven goals for the experiment. To mitigate this, I have decided to not announce which theme deck I’ll use. If I announce it, people may only donate cards they think will go with the deck. I’d prefer to steer away from that. I have one theme deck in mind (because it’s one my daughter owns). Maybe I’ll use that one, or maybe I’ll buy a new one. I’d rather see what cards end up in the initial pool and add a theme deck that complements those cards than the other way around.

If, under some unforeseen miracle, I am able to build a realistically usable first deck without the help of a pre-constructed deck, then I will forgo the theme deck plan. Also, later on, if things go well, I’d like to remove the theme deck from the picture entirely. It’s not important, but again, I’d prefer to drink from the organic community-supplied pool.

Basic Energy: I view basic energy as basically free. It’s not worth a stamp to send me basic energy. I’ll supply the basic energy. I will accept basic energy, but I don’t feel that it’s worth anyone’s time/energy/money to send those.

Goals: First and foremost, my goal is to create something new. This is a game we’re building on top of a pre-existing and well-established game (Pokemon TCG). To call the experiment a success, I would like this new game to be enjoyable for all involved. Everyone that donates or follows along should voice their opinion as to whether or not things are going well.

I will not base success on wins versus losses! However, it is inevitable that losses may get me down. I will keep in mind that it’s not the ultimate goal. If there’s a sense of community built around the project, if I am having fun, and you are having fun, then (in my mind) things are successful.

If some people initially donate, but then nobody is discussing the cards/deck, nobody seems to care how the tournaments go, or it becomes a joke, then I will likely view that as a failure. I’ll try to keep you guys informed, and I think you’ll know if things are going poorly.

I guess success means that we should continue. Failure means we should abandon the challenge.

As for in-game goals, I do believe that we need to set some lofty goal(s) for the Challenge aspect of the experiment. For me to walk away from a tournament with a “Wow, we did it!” attitude, I think we would need to hit 50% wins in any tournament. Around here, there are often 5 rounds of Swiss. If we hit 3-2 at a tournament, I feel like that would be achieving our initial challenge.

What do you think?: If you’re ready to join in, email me at

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