Pikkdogs Review and Criticism of Pokemon TCG Online

by Pikkdogs ~ December 14th, 2011.

A  big hello to all you OHKOers out there, this is Pikkdogs here with a review of the Pokemon TCG Online.  My extra-dimensionary sidekick Pedro is also here.

Hey Pikkdogs, hasn’t TAndrewT already done something like this?

Well, yes. And you can read it here.

Wasn’t it a good article?

It was a good article.

So why are you doing it again? 

Well…………….I’m not sure, but I am doing it.

Okay, fair enough. 

Did you know that TAndrewT is a doctor of Chemistry?

Like the guys on the Big Bang Theory?

Yes.  Well kind of.  But those guys are  physicists.

One can only wonder why such an accomplished person can write on such a crappy website.  We usually get dumb people who only have master’s degrees like you.  So, what does Dr. T do?

Well, I looked it up, but I think I need a chemistry degree to understand it.  One of his papers is titled, “Enhanced Stability and Bioconjugation of Photo-Cross-Linked Polystyrene-Shell, Au-Core Nanoparticles.”   I started reading it a while ago, it’s pretty good.  I will be through reading the title in about a week.

Well, if he ever moves in with a physicist, has friends who are engineers and astrophysicists, and lives right next to a hot actress;  than let me know and I’ll watch the tv show. 

Will do, onto the article.  The first half of the article is the critique of PTCGO, while the second part is an instruction manual of how to use the program.

The Goals of PTCGO

To critique PTCGO, we must define what the goals of this service will be.  Although Nintendo never really announced what the goals were, I can arbitrarily make some.

So you make up your own goals, and then criticize Nintendo for not making your arbitrary goals?

Yep.  Let’s just get onto the list before people catch on.

  1. Teach beginners the rules of the game.
  2. Create an international community of players that we can interact with.
  3. Help existing players become better by helping them test current decks.
  4. Make sure everyone has fun playing the game.
  5. Create an environment that can eventually be used for Premiere Events.

1.  Teach Beginners the rules of the game.

I think that even early in the process PTCGO has accomplished this task.  Just by creating the original beta version with decks like Basic Yellow, Nintendo has created an environment where beginners can come to learn the rules of the game.  The game teaches you about what you can do in a turn, how to play certain cards and abilities, and how attacks work.  While no system is perfect, I think we have to say that #1 is a success.

However, I do think that PTCGO does do  harm to beginners by giving them unrealistic expectations.  The average deck that gets played in the “Advanced” section of the site, would probably win a decent amount of games online, but would probably only win 1 or 2 games at a tournament like a City Championship.  There are only a handful of guys online now that can make every deck they want to make perfectly, and everybody else is playing with a subpar deck.  So if beginners do well against these subpar decks, they might think they are good when they are not.  This is not really Nintendo’s fault, since they can do nothing else except give away every card for free.  And this experience is no different from what they would get at most leagues around the country. 

2. Create an International Community of Players

While PTCGO is not Facebook and has never tried to become it, I think PTCGO would be a failure if the players felt they were playing against artificial intelligence.  It is nice to know exactly who you are playing and where they are from, so that you both can share greetings and ideas.  In the free sharing of ideas we can learn more about each other, and the game in different area of the country and the world.

I think for right now this goal is not met, but is almost met.  There is a nice chat room that you can join, and you can chat with your opponent while you play.  However, all chat rooms never get beyond the “Hi, what’s going on?” phase.  And it is great to talk to your opponent during the match, but there is not really enough time since you are playing the game.

It would be nice if you could have the equivalent of a Facebook Friend online, and keep track of how your list of friends are doing.  You would know when they are online, and know what they have to trade.  Being able to keep better track of a group of players would greatly improve PTCGO.

3.  Help existing players become better by helping them test current decks. 

This goal I think has been met by some players, but has overall been a failure.  If you buy or trade for a lot of codes you will be able to eventually build a collection that will let you build whatever deck you want.  However, it is very hard to build a collection that big.  Most people have a limited amount of cash they can spend on the game, so most people buy singles from a card shop or online.  This leaves them with no code cards, and the 8 codes you get from Pre Releases doesn’t stretch very far.  So while it is possible to test online and make all the decks you need, it is not possible for everyone to right now.  This will probably get better as more code cards are released.

What Nintendo can do to make this transition smoother is to release more codes.  They did well in releasing those theme decks with Primes in them, although Yanmega was the only real playable card that we got.  They should release more codes either online, or through retail stores.  It would also be cool to see if the World Championship decks came with code cards, allowing people to grab a lot of playable cards easily.  The increased revenue that Nintendo will get from more people buying these codes will help make sure that PTCGO stays around for a long time.

4. Make sure everyone is having fun playing the game.

This goal has everything to do with game play, technical issues, and user satisfaction.  It was easy to say that early in the release of the beta version that game play was fun.  Poke-Powers and Abilities are easy to activate and cards do what they are supposed to do by themselves.  One real drag about things like Redshark was that you had to do things like Poke-Powers and Supporter cards yourself.  All those things are now taken care of by the AI, this makes the game very fun to play.

Technical issues are always a problem with software programs like this.  Nintendo didn’t know how many people would use the game, so servers can easily crash during peak hours of play.  It is not unusual for games to be dropped halfway through, and sometimes the game fails to load.  Although these issues are a concern, they just come with the territory.  The servers and technical issues will get better and the game will improve.  Right now the issues are a concern, but they do not cause the game to not be fun.

The third prong of this goal has to do with user satisfaction.  This relates to the first two points, playability and technical issues. If those aren’t taken care of, the user will not be satisfied.  Right now besides technical issues, the main issue of user satisfaction is the lack of good cards.  A lot of people don’t have enough cards like Rare Candies, Pokemon Catcher, Pokemon Collector, Double Colorless Energies, and Rare and Ultra Rare cards.  It is possible to trade for cards like this, but not a lot of other people have these cards to spare.  The best way to get hard to find cards is to buy packs, and as anyone knows how tried to pull 4 Catchers, it is hard to pull the cards you want.  This can be solved by releasing more code cards and promos.  So it will get better over time.

5. Create an environment that can be used for Premiere Events

Using PTCGO online for testing is a  good goal, but the better goal is to be able to attend a premiere event from your bed.  Holding online events would increase the amount of online play, and would increase the number of users who would go to events as a whole.

Going to events costs a lot of money since gasoline is so expensive now a days.  I know a lot of people who love to play in more events if they could attend them online.  If we can play test online, we should be able to have events online.  I know that the Magic game holds events online so this is not something new.

One concern about having tournaments online is the threat of hacking.  Pokemon users are very computer smart, many of my friends who play the game design websites and software programs.  So, it is possible that some players might learn how to hack the system and some how use it to their advantage.  Although I haven’t heard of this happening, it would be nice if Nintendo could ensure us that the program is safe before this program is taken to the next level.

There are other concerns that must be heard before we take tournaments online.  Such as, “How is judging being handled?”  Will it be possible to appeal a ruling that the game makes, or will the AI be the judge.  If so, Nintendo must be sure that they either tell us what rules the AI goes by, or make sure the AI knows all the latest compendium updates.  I know there are a lot more concerns out there, perhaps you can leave some in the comment box.

Okay, so those are the goals that I think PTCGO should have, and how I think they are meeting them so far.  Overall, I am happy with how they are meeting the goals.  I think Nintendo has made a step forward with PTCGO, and with more tweaking this system could be very good.  PTCGO is not a complete success yet, but it is on a good track.  I hope it keeps on improving.

A Step by Step Guide to Playing the Game Online

Here is a step by step guide to playing PTCGO, if you already play online you can skip this section and look up more porn or something, but if you want to get playing online, hopefully I can help you.  I will assume you know how to use the original functions of PTCGO that you learned in my article here.

1.  Get some code cards.  You don’t need code cards to play the game, but you do if you want to use the game for anything other than learning the rules.

2.  Go to www.pokemontcg.com and log in.  You can use the same log in information that you use to access the www.pokemon.com website to see your standings and stuff like that.

3.  When you log in you will be brought to the Dashboard, think of this as the jumping off point to all the features at the site.  Your next step will be to hit the “Play Online” button, you will be taken to the loading screen, and then to the lobby. Here you can choose to redeem codes, by clicking on the “redeem codes” button.  Just type in you codes, and then go back to the dashboard.  You can use a webcam to scan your cards, but typing it in is a more reliable system.

4.  At the lobby you can choose to play a match versus another player, against the computer, build a new deck, or trade cards.

5.  If you want to play against the computer, you can click on either “Single Player Versus AI” or “Single Player Trainer Challenge.”  The versus AI button will let you choose your deck and then play against the computer.  If you do the trainer challenge it will be against the same computer opponents that was in the original online game.

6.  If you choose to play against an online opponent, you can choose either “Expert Game” or “Novice Game.”  The main difference between the two modes are the opponents you will face.  If you have a tournament worthy deck you can play an expert game, if you have more of a fun deck, play a novice game.

7.  Let’s assume you don’t want to play, or have already played and are back.  Let’s now trade.  Hit the “Trading” button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.  You will then be taken to a screen that shows you your collection.  First things first, let’s make a trade offer.  Let’s assume you don’ t have a trade partner in mind and want to have an open offer.  Hit the “Select Partner” drop down menu towards the middle bottom of the screen.  Next you can select “Public Offer”.  Next you can look through your collection by using the arrow buttons.  When you find a card you want to trade away you can click on it and drag it down to the bottom of the screen.  When you are done selecting the cards to trade away, you can then select the “Getting From” tab from on the left hand bottom of your screen.  Then you drag and drop cards that you want to receive.  Before you hit the “create” button to submit the trade, make sure to summarize the trade in the message bar, so it will be easy for others to see what you are offering in a trade.

8.  Now let’s find out how to get a good trade.  On the right hand bottom of your screen you will see an “Offers” tab.  Hit that, and then hit the “Public” tab that is below the tab you just clicked on.  The screen will  now show any public trade that has been offered.  You can click on each offer to examine it more closely, and see if anything is to your liking.  To accept an offer just click on it and hit the accept button.  But, be careful because most of the public trades are not very far.

9.  Let’s build a deck.  Once you know how to trade, building a deck is fairly easy.  From the trading screen, just hit the “Deck Builder” Tab.  There is also a “Deck Builder” link on the screen where you went to bring yourself to the trading screen.  From the deck building section, you can look at your collection until you can find a card you want in your deck.  Then you can drag and drop a card from your collection to the bottom of the screen, just like you did for a trade.  Once you have a card below your collection, you can click on the “+” button to add more of the same card to your deck.  Continue until you have 60 cards in your deck.  Once you have a 60 card deck you can click on the save button that looks like  a floppy disk, and then you can name and save your deck.  The next time you play you can select this deck, and you will be able to play with your new deck.

So there is a step by step way to use PTCGO more effectively.  If you have any more questions about the game, please leave them in the comment box and I’m sure somebody will know the answer.

So that’s all I got, how do you wanna end the article Pedro?

Well today, December 14th, is the  birthday of Stan Smith.

The guy from American Dad?  I do like that show, gotta love a Russian Fish and an Alien that sounds like a gay 70s actor.

No, not that Stan Smith, the Stan Smith that was one of the U.S.A.’s best Tennis player in the 60’s and 70’s. 

Oh.

Do you like the Tennis?

I do like the Tennis.  I played it in high school.

Where you any good?

Well not really

How many wins did you have?

Not very many.

4

no.

3.

no

2.

no

1 .

no.

Who would have guessed. 

Hey, maybe I can’t beat any good tennis players, but I can beat my brother.

In tennis?

No, but with a tennis racket.  Have a good night everybody.

 

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  • Ed

    Under “The Goals of PTCGO” I think you forgot #0.

    MAKE A PROFIT

    • Anonymous

      I kind of mentioned it at the end of #3. 

      This is important because its a goal of everything a business does.  The way it makes a profit is selling more code cards.  So I don’t know why they don’t sell singles, they would make lots more that way. 

      • Ed

        Maybe, but that’s pretty short-sighted.  It would seem that would be a solution, but the way they do it now ensures that the online version more closely resembles the real world version.  Rarities are kept in tact and all that.  If they sold singles, there would be almost nobody buying the crap ones and everyone would buy the “good” ones.  They’d end up at a point where nobody is buying after the initial rush to get the top rares from each set.  The only good way to counteract that is to make the “good” ones exorbitantly expensive, which people would be even more upset with.

        • Anonymous

          excellent point.  However, if cards are made more avaliable, more people will play online.  I would say over half of the players have little or no online play.  If singles are offered, more people would play online because it will be easier to do so.  Even if they just have to offer a single store for a limited time only, it will at least legitimize PTCGO because competitive decks will finally be played there. 

  • Anonymous

    One of the reasons that I hate the guts of PTCGO is the people offering terrible trades like “Audino for Magnezone Prime” or the “Prime for Prime” deals that is a Meganium for a Magnezone or people who are giving up nothing to get a good card and trying to trick people into accepting by making them think they were getting the card. They should make it so that A: There was something to compare prices for the cards in the trade and B: make sure both traders were giving something in the trade.

    I think that Troll and Toad or Collector’s Cache or something should have an online PTCGO singles shop, like regular cards but virtual, and you would pay them $20 for them to offer you a Donphan Prime, and you would give up some crap card. This has its flaws, but everything does.

    • Ed

      I agree with all your points.  There were some guys that had a singles shop set up and were selling on eBay.  Pokemon shut them down, from what I heard.

  • Great article Pikkdogs! You brought a smile to my face on this rainy day here in Philly. Nice analysis and I think you’re spot on with everything.