Hello everyone. I hope everyone has had a good Thanksgiving,
even though this wish is almost a week after the fact. I was
otherwise tied up for Turkey Day, on short notice.

           I received a call from Maine about my grandfather. He's not
doing well, having suffered through several severe health
complications on top of his already existing maladies. Toss in the
fact that he's 88 and it becomes obvious that, unfortunately, his
time to pass on may be at hand. I'm not squeamish about death
and have no trouble accepting this fact. We all die and he's no
exception. Still, I wanted to go up there to see him one last time. I
was his first grandchild and there's always a special sort of bond
with that.
           I and my mother had to arrange last minute reservations on
an airplane from Buffalo to Maine, stopping over in Newark for a few
hours. We finally got a flight booked, rental car plans taken care of
and our bags packed. Everything was looking good until....
         We arrived at the airport on Thanksgiving morning, the
earliest flight we could arrange. Due to a sleep disorder, about
which I won't go into details, I had to bring a piece of special
equipment. It involves oxygen, which I know airlines don't like to
bring onto planes since the pressurization can cause problems at
high altitudes and it's extremely flammable. I checked with the
ticket desk and brough documentation that this item would not be
a threat since it doesn't actually CONTAIN any compressed or
liquid O2, it just pulls it from the surrounding air and disperses it
once the appliance is shut off. I spoke to a special crew in Houston
and they verified that this was safe to bring on a flight.
          After some initial hesitation by the flight crew, the machine
was brough on board and I was seated. Ten minutes before takeoff,
I was summoned to the front of the plane where the captain stood
with this big frowny face and a book in his hand. He pointed to a
paragraph just long enough for me to realize that this was indeed a
paragraph, although it could have been about clowns in rubber
underwear for all I got to read of it. He ushered me out of the plane
where the baggage handler had my machine. He said that I was
jeopardizing his passengers and that I should be fined for trying to
bring that kind of threat onto HIS flight. I told him how it worked, but
I may as well have read him the Gettysburg Address, because he
obviously had made up his mind that he was right and no amount
of fact would change things.
           The ticket counter told him everything was kosher, but he
wouldn't believe them. My mother was panicking; she doesn't
handle pressure well. She decided that yelling at me was the best
way to solve things. Her fear was that she wouldn't get to see her
father because of my "stupid machine". Angry at everyone in sight,
I whipped out the tickets and boarding passes from my jacket
pocket and gave her her set. She snatched them and went back
onto the plane with not so much as a word of thanks or concern.
She told me to see what I could do to get to Maine myself.
           The plane was closed and she left about 15 minutes after
with that jackass captain.
          The boarding gate personnel were extremely apologetic and
they did try to convince that idiot captain everything was good to
go, but he has final say apparently. They tried to find me another
filght on numerous airlines and paths, but nothing could be
arranged within reason, although I admit it would have been
interesting to see Atlanta and Chicago from the air. They found a
flight leaving at 6 A.M the following morning, but I'm no masochist.
Besides, there is no guarantee that I wouldn't run into the same
trouble at another airport like Laguardia or JFK. Then I'd have been
completely stranded.
          I decided to cut my losses. I was tired, frustrated and
hungry. The ticket people gave me some vouchers for the airport
restaurant, but I'm not much on airport food. It tastes like
corrugated cardboard soaked in bullion. I did get a cappucino and a
Snickers though. Caffiene and sugar are better than nothing.
         I was about to go to the car, way out in East Nowhere, when
I realized that my mother had taken the keys with her on the flight
and was probably over Syracuse at that point. I'd left my set on my
drawing table at home since I didn't think I'd need them in Maine. I
called a locksmith, but he required payment up front for anything
he did. Without a checkbook or a credit card, I could give him
nothing. The airline let me call home and someone came to get
me, but not for a few hours after I called, so that I could go
mentally insane by reading every business magazine in the
newsstand while waiting to get the heck out of there.
         I got home in the early evening, completely frustrated and
convinced that there was a decent Reader's Digest story in there
somewhere which might get me some kind of monetary
compensation for my tribulations. Thanksgiving dinner had already
been eaten and there wasn't anything leftover since the relatives
took the rest home to their houses. I opened a can of Beef-a-Roni
and made a sandwich. Happy Thanksgiving to me...
         My mom called at ten that evening wondering where I was. I
told her the story of the airport paranoia from hell and she told me
that it was probably best that I couldn't go since she didn't really
want me up there in the first place getting in her way. I got
completely outraged at her selfishness, told her not to call me until
she got home and slammed the phone down. I immediately went to
bed after that, just to get the entire day done and over with.
        I know that's not exactly funny or uplifting, but it's the truth.
So when I say that I hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving, I say it
under the assumption that, odds are, yours was much better than
        So now that I'm here and not in Maine where I should be now,
you luck out. This means I can fix decks this week, as I'm not
doing much else. I sort of ignored my mail for a few days, just
because I felt like being a recluse. But at least I now have plenty of
decks needing help. Here's one that really needs a push in the
right direction.
        Step into my office, let me see this deck and we'll get to
work. And don't mention anything about flying....

> Hi. My deck was really good for a while, with mostly
> Base and Jungle cards. It has a few TR cards, but not
> many. With the release of both gym sets, and neo
> coming out soon, this deck will need some serious
> revising.
> Deck Listing
> Pokémon
> 2 Venusaur
> 3 Scyther
> 4 Charmeleon
> 2 Ivysaur
> 3 Bulbasur
> 2 Base Charmander
> 2 Team Rocket Charmander
> Trainers
> 2 Pokemon Breeders
> 4 Bill
> 4 Energy Removal
> Energy Types
> Grass and Fire
> 14 Fire Energy
> 15 Fire Energy
> 3 DCE
> As the name states, this is my "False Haymaker".
> People see Scyther and say "Haymaker." Then suddenly I
> have two powered Venusaurs on my bench with a powering
> up Charmeleon (the most powerful fire card I have). I
> was thinking of adding fossil Magmar, but I'm not
> sure. Please help me!

     I think that anyone who automatically assumes that a Scyther
indicates a Haymaker deck isn't that great a player in the first
place. Scyther fits into just about every deck out there. If you see
Scyther, your first reaction should be "Oh wow, a deck!" Not, "Oh
wow, a Haymaker!"
     Now having a deck with Scyther and Fossil Magmar is getting
closer to a Haymaker. These are staples of the archetype.

       The problems I see with this deck, and there's several, are
that the Pokemon are a bit too demanding, the Trainers too sparce
and the Energy too abundant. In order of complaint...

     Pokemon: Decks with multiple Evolutions can be pretty slow.
Especially when you're building up to a Stage 2 like Venusaur.
Venusaur is however an extremely excellent card, so I see no
reason why we can't base the deck around it.
     It's the Charmeleon and Charmanders that have to go. I'm very
pleased to see that you don't have those rich-kid-bait Charizards in
the deck. I'd have had to slap you if they were.
    Since you don't want to clutter up a deck with too many
Pokemon, the Venusaur line, Scythers and Fossil Magmars will be
plenty to make up your army.

    Trainers: Oy Vey!! I'm not Jewish and you made me say Oy
vey...that's pretty bad. Maybe you're just a novice. I can't tell, so I
won't yell too much, but I will firmly tell you that this few Trainers is
just asking for a good stomping. Now that the East Coast STS is
behind us and it's been pretty much confirmed that Prop 15-3C was
just a passing fad, we can go back to stacking our decks with
ridiculous amounts of Trainers, the way the game works best.

     Trainers give you strategic options that your Pokemon can't.
The more versatile and plenty your Trainers are, the more likely it is
that you'll be able to tackle whatever it is that crosses your path.
This is why many decks have anywhere from 25 to 35 Trainers in it.
They have been proven to have the largest effect on winning.

     You'll need card drawing options. Bill, Professor Oak and
Computer search are the tried and true staples of hand
replenishment, No deck is complete without these gems. Four Bills
is a must and no fewer than 3 Oaks and 3 Computer Searches
keep your hand full at most times.
     Other important strategy cards are Gust of Wind, Scoop Up,
Item Finder,  PlusPower, Rocket Sneak Attack and Nightly
Garbage Run. These should all be present in this deck in some
amount. Most important are the Gusts and Scoop Ups.
      An especially potent card in any Venusaur deck is, of course,
Pokemon Center. Since Venusaur's Energy Trans ability lets you
shuffle around all the Grass Energy you want, you can move all the
Energy to a completely healthy Pokemon and remove the damage
from the injured ones without sacrificing any precious Energy.
Once that's done, redistribute the Energy as you see fit. This is an
old trick, so you're not going to fool anyone with it. Most players
will see it coming, but it's no less effective. Just be prepared to
have it stripped from your hand occasionally with a Sneak Attack
or Lass. Against most decks, it still makes a great late game
restoration maneuver.

     Also, most decks will now require a Stadium card. This is
simply because many players are using them, but only one can be
in play at once. Using Stadiums gives you a definite advantage, but
also remove your opponent's Stadiums at the same time, hurting
his game. For this kind of deck, I think No Removal Gym is a sure
bet. Super Energy Removals really hurt Venusaur and Scyther. No
Removal Gym makes your opponent severely pay for stripping your

     Energy: You have too much. Plain and simple, almost half your
deck is Energy. This means that every 1 out of 2 cards will be an
Energy. This is good in the beginning, but hurts in the midgame
when you're trying to erect an advantage and need a Gust of Wind
or a Sneak Attack to get that edge and you're just drawing Energy.
If your Energy is around the 1/3 mark, you'll be doing much better.
One out of three is quite acceptable and you'll make it up in mass
drawing with Oaks and Bills. Venusaur also gets extra milage out
of your Energy, so we can shoot below the 20 mark. You'll require
mostly Grass Energy, but don't skimp on the Fire either. Magmar
is useless in the beginning without at least one in your hand.
Double Colorless Energy is also a must have for getting Scyther
into the game by turn 2. A couple Full Heal Energies can ruin your
opponent's attempts at using Status to get the edge. If he's
counting on Poison or Confusion, Full Heal Energy is your best

    So let me show you how I'd revise this deck. It doesn't really
need a lot of the newer cards since most of what this kind of deck
needs already existed in the early sets.

       4 Bulbasaurs
       3 Ivysaurs
       2 Venusaurs
       3 Scythers
       3 Fossil Magmars

       4 Bills
       3 Professor Oaks
       3 Computer Searches
       3 Gusts of Wind
       3 No Removal Gyms
       2 Item Finders
       2 Pokemon Centers
       3 Rocket Sneak Attacks
       3 Nightly Garbage Runs
       8 Grass Energy
       4 Double Colorless Energy
       2 Full Heal Energy
       5 Fire Energy 

          And Voila!! (That's French for "Quit looking at my bum, you
cheeky monkey!) This deck didn't require anything radical.
Venusaur decks are pretty standard, but still effective if you know
how to play them and can find the correct pace for your area's play
level. Depending on how fast your group goes, you can lead in with
a cyther or Magmar, do some damage for a bit and slowly build up
to a Venusaur or you can turbocize with Oaks and Bills until you
have one on turn 3 or 4 to wreck shop. How you play it is up to
you. The biggest mistake many players make is in thinking that
Venusaur is a bench helper. The fact is that 60 damage, risk free,
is wonderful and Venusaur can make it happen very fast by
borrowing from his friends. Just use your strategic Trainers wisely
and don't tip your hand too much. Everyone expects that Pokemon
Center, so put it off if you can. It can tilt a game, but some players
hold back in anticipation of it. Check out how your area tends to
react to the Center and make your game plans from that

         Well, I'm going to go back into my inner office now and write
ansty letters to airlines for being such jerks and keeping a guy from
seeing his grandfather for what may be the last time. And if you get
the chance, completely avoid USAir...they really did their best to
make me feel valued. At least Continental tried their darndest
before I decided to just go home. Maybe next year I'll drive...

                   Good Luck!!
               Dr. Crash Landon


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