I've got the office all to myself this afternoon. My secretary, who
always learns the hard way that she should listen when I speak to her,
purchased a cafeteria bagel against my advice.
     When I told her those things looked familiar, she laughed and paid the
1.29 anyway. Now she's having her upper right cuspid capped after it cracked
when she bit into the thing. I told her they looked reeeaaaal familiar. They
were the same ones on display since last Thursday. Well at least she'll be
quiet for a few days...

     But I'm keeping you from what you're here for, aren't I? I suppose you
have deck problems? Everyone does lately. Well I'll try my best to fix it.
Step into the inner office and let the healing commence.

>Alright. Hello. This deck needs help and fast. It doesn't do good at all.
>The cards are:
>(16) Fire Energy               (1) Zubat
>(4) Electric Energy            (1) Golbat
>(11) Grass Energy              (1) Dratini
>(2) Charmander                 (1) Dragonair
>(2) Charmeleon                 (1) Switch
>(1) Charizard                  (1) Pokemon Breeder
>(1) Bulbasaur                  (1) Gust Of Wind
>(1) Ivysaur                    (1) Pokemon Trader
>(1) Venusaur                   (1) Potion
>(1) Electabuzz                 (1) Super Potion
>(1) Growlithe                  (1) Full Heal
>(1) Arcanine                   (1) Energy Retrival
>(1) Vulpix
>(1) Ninetales
>(1) Chansey
>(1) Clefairy
>(1) Caterpie
>(1) Metapod
>               Ok. I want this deck to be able to beat my annoying friend
>who's always bragging that he can beat me. I want this deck to be good
>against almost every deck it comes across. I don't have acess to most
>Jungle and Fossil cards, but I have access to every Base Set card except
>for Magneton, Zapdos, Nidoking, Machamp, Hitmonchan, and Blastoise. I don't
>have those.
>Thanks for your help!
>      -Thomas

       Ummmm...so I lied. Well Thomas, I'm not going to do my best to fix
this. There's no point. My honest, professional opinion would be for you to
deconstruct this deck before it even enters another match.
       I can't fix it because it doesn't really seem to be headed in any
particular direction. You didn't outline any strategy besides "Win", and I
sure can't find any other tactic than to slap out big guys and hope for the
best with this deck.

       It's no wonder your friend says he can beat anything you throw at
him. I could beat that deck with a couple Voltorbs, a Weedle, a Drowzee, a
Poliwag and a Porygon.
        Don't get angry at me though. I'm posting your deck as an example of
what happens when you cram all your good cards into one deck. Not a dang
thing, that's what.
        I'm going to try and help you out even though the deck is no good.
What I'm gonna do is give you some tips for making a new deck, so maybe your
friend will respect you a bit more.

        You suffer from "Suitcase Syndrome". That's when you have all the
big tough cards, but have no clue how to effectively use them. It takes more
to win at this game than just tossing one of every Pokemon you own together
and throwing down the gauntlet. You need to study each Pokemon and decide
for yourself if that one is truly worth using. Look at all the features- HP,
Attack Damage, Weaknesses, Resistances, Retreat Cost, steps necessary to
have the full Evolution, Pokemon Powers...the works. You'll probably find
that 50% of the cards you own aren't really worth including in most decks.
        Let's take an example- Diglett: This is a typical Basic creature.
            HP 30- That's pretty low. A good hit from a Hitmonchan or a
Farfetch'd and he's done for.
            No Retreat Cost- That's great. He can run away for free. And at
30 HP, you'll be doing a lot of running.
            Weakness: Grass- That's painful. Scyther is a popular starter
Pokemon. Diglett is a sitting duck in this case. Lots of other Grass Pokemon
are big now too.
            Resistance: Electric- Wow! A first turn Electabuzz won't be able
to do any damage to this guy. On the second turn the most it can do is 10.
Electric is a nice Resistance to have.
            Attack Value- 10 damage for 1 Fighting Energy, 30 damage for 2
Fighting Energy. No drawbacks to either attack. The value of attack power
versus cost is very good.

             So we can see that, at best, Diglett is an average card. It has
good attacks and handy Resistance, but in most cases he is a sitting duck
and an easy prize for your opponent. However he does evolve into Dugtrio
which is a plus, but take my word, Dugtrio's not so great either.

              This is how you must look at each Pokemon you have. Decide if
it it's abilities fit your playing style. You may prefer a defensive style,
or you may like an all out offensive melee. There's enough variety to have

              Another rule to remember is that this is a game of chance.
Amongst 60 cards, you have only a 1 in 60 shot of drawing any particular
one. It helps to increase the odds of getting important, effective cards by
putting duplicates into your deck. There's no rule against having 3 Kadabras
on your bench. In most cases, that's a big advantage. Just be sure not to
include more than 4 of any one card into your deck. (Basic Energy cards do
not count toward this rule, and no, Double Colorless Energy is not a Basic
Energy card.)
             You should choose about 4 to 6 different pokemon families, or
evolution lines, whatever you want to call them, and focus upon them when
building your deck. This gives you a much better scope as to how you should
plan your strategy and which Trainers to include.
             Some Pokemon are Basic and stop right there. Like Hitmonchan
and Chansey. (Hitmonchansey? I'd love to see that one.) For each different
Basic Pokemon of this type, you can usually include 3 or 4 with no
             For the Basics that evolve, you will always, ALWAYS need more
of the Basic than you will of the Stage 1 and Stage 2. To start evolution,
you must have the Basic in play first. To make this more likely, including 3
to 4 of the Basic is the best strategy. The general rule is that if your
Pokemon evolves fully to a Stage 1, then 3 Basics and 2 Stage 1's are good.
If the Pokemon becomes a Stage 2, then 4 of the Basic and 2 or 3 of the
Stage 1 is preffered. Then you should have 2 of the Stage 2 in as well.
             Never put just one of any important Pokemon (And if it goes
into your deck, it's important.) into any deck. All Pokemon are there for a
reason, and you don't want them buried as prizes you can't get.

             Trainers are perhaps the most underrated element of the game.
Many players are coming around to the fact that playing key Trainers is more
effective than having kickbutt Pokemon.
             First you want Trainers that help you get more cards. There's
no penalty for having lots of cards in your hand, and it broadens your
choices. Play 4 Bills, always and 1 or 2 Professor Oaks as well. Oak is the
most powerful card in the game. Don't overlook him.
              Next- Gust of Wind, Energy Removal, Super Energy Removal,
Computer Search, Item Finder, Scoop Up, Switch, Pokemon Trader, Pokemon
Breeder, Pokemon Center, Mr. Fuji, Energy Search and Lass. These are the
most used and effective Trainers in the game currently. Because they work
and give you the edge when you need it, you should consider these cards as
well. Not that some of the other Trainers aren't any good, but these that I
listed are the cream of the crop. If you find a Trainer that you honsetly
feel is effective in your deck, then by all means use it, but typically
these are the best.

             Energy- You never want to be caught short on Energy. Also you
don't need the frustration of having a bench full of Water Pokemon and a
hand full of Grass Energy.
             The minimum any deck should carry for Energy is 22. This is the
bare bottom and is usually only seen in quick beatdown decks like the
Haymaker. Most other decks require at least 25. Some like Raindance decks
need at least 30 Energy to support the strategy.
             Don't overlook the Double Colorless Energy as well. If you're
playing with a fair amount of Colorless Pokemon, then there's no reason no
to have the DCE's in your deck. Bear in mind that some non-Colorless Pokemon
have effective colorless attackes as well. Charmeleon and Scyther are
examples of this.

              To show you how a winning deck looks I'm going to give you the
contents of  the Damage Swap Deck. This deck uses all the basic principles I
outlined in a very effective fashion.

                  ---Damage Swap---

                   4 Abras
                   2 Kadabras
                   2 Alakazams
                   3 Mr. Mimes
                   4 Bulbasaurs
                   2 Ivysaurs
                   2 Venusaurs

                   4 Bills
                   2 Professor Oaks
                   2 Pokemon Traders
                   3 Gusts of Wind
                   1 Computer Search
                   1 Item Finder
                   2 Pokemon Centers

                   13 Grass Energy
                   13 Psychic Energy

      That's what a typical Damage Swap deck sometimes looks like. The
Pokemon are simple and there aren't a lot of different types. The Trainers
are focused and flexible. The Energy is plentiful and divided enough to
allow both types opportunity to do their thing.

      What I'd suggest you do is this: Choose which types you like most, be
it Grass, Fire or whatever and make a mono-colored deck. You can include
Colorless Pokemon in if they fit well into the theme. Closely examine which
Pokemon you insert, and know their strengths and weaknesses. Put in a good
mix of the reliable Trainers I mentioned above, add the appropriate Energys
and play test your deck against your friend. He will probably beat you, but
you'll see what the weaknesses of your deck are. Play a few times to allow
for a better assessment. Also ask him or her what they would do to make your
deck better. Maybe they'd be willing to show their so-called superiority by
giving you pointers as well. Go home, and take out cards that didn't work
like they should have or that you never had the opportunity to use. Replace
them with other cards that you feel may work better. Then play your friend
again. This is how killer decks are forged.
      A lot of becoming a skilled gamer is trial and error. The skilled
players have played long enough to know what works and to recognize
universal strategies that can be used almost anywhere. Over time you'll gain
this skill as well. You can't rush it.

      If you come up with a deck that does okay, I'd be more than glad to
review and tweak it a bit to surprise your arrogant friend. Just send it to
me and I'll get to it as soon as I have the chance. I'm sorry I had to tell
you to dismantle your first deck here, but sometimes it's best to go back to
Square One.

           I look forward to seeing your new deck and seeing if you've
improved your building skill. Also don't stop at the cafeteria on the ground
floor. If you've learned ANYTHING today, it should be not to eat there.

                     Good Luck,
                 Dr. Crash-Landon
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