Author: The Pokèmon Lady
|An old proverb once claimed,
"Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and
he'll eat for a lifetime…"
Archetypes. They are the beginning deck builder's friend and the advanced players' bane. Beginning players seek out the tried and true successfulness of the archetype--and the advanced player seeks to stray from its well-trod path. Archetypes have become the McDonalds of the Pokèmon world. If you want a deck that you know will play out in any tournament situation, all you need to do is point your browser to just about any site out there or open up any magazine and there they are--tried and true recipes for success… But, there's a downside to an archetype-copy. It is unoriginal and boring--lacking the creative luster of an original concept deck.
It's hard to say whom decides what decks become archetypes and which decks don't, but partly archetypes become that way through exposure. Someone builds an incredibly well built deck, and then they play it here and there, post it on some websites, and submit it to some magazines. Before you know it, everyone and their brother has a copy of it.
Recently, I sent out an email to some of my fellow Deck Mechanics, trying to find out if there was a list of the most common archetypes. My pal, Chipmunk, sent me a reply where he listed off a bunch--and these are only a few of the archetypes out right now.
~ Stall Decks (damage swap, impenetrable wall)
~ Energy Transfer (Venusaur Manipulation)
Another pal, PernSpike, commented that "there's no right or wrong way to put a deck together," and while I agree with him on that, I have to say that these archetype decks have to be put together pretty darn well--or else they wouldn't be archetypes!
There are at least two things that all archetypes have in common: They work incredibly well, and they are copied like people's hinies at the company Christmas Party. Deck building around archetypes causes some serious trouble when the new generation of players, who've had the chance to learn the game with the archetypes in place, don't take the time to expand and experiment like their predecessors have. I don't want to say that I belong to the "Old School" of Pokèmon players, since I came to the game about 7 months into it, but I remember a time in Pokèmon history when "Haymakers" was a concept deck.
The reliance of younger players on archetypes to fashion decks has caused a stagnation of the creative deck building processes that those who've played since the beginning have had the chance to experience. It seems to me that the newer generation of Pokèmon TCG players simply take what they find online and in magazines, change one or two cards, and then take their "Xeroxed" copy out into the tournament scene. They learn little, if nothing, about the strategic thought processes that are involved in fashioning a deck from scratch--and let's not even discuss their lack of knowledge of "The Metagame."
It is my opinion, that most archetype decks are overcopied, and much overused in the tournament scene. Unique, original concept decks are often lost in the wash of Energy swap, Haymaker, and Raindance and that is simply a shame. It seems sad that the days of a player taking his or her deck to a tournament and learning to tweak it through the blood, sweat, and tears of trial and error are gone. Ah, the thrill of knowing the deck that came straight from ones head was beating the pants off everyone else… and the player who never learns the bitterness of being smashed twenty five times in a row will never know the sweet taste of victory.
There is nothing more aggravating to a builder of original decks, than to walk into a tournament with something you've put your time, energy, heart, soul, and mind into; only to have the 3 of 6 matches be against Blastoise, and the other 3 of 6 be against Haymakers. Many people can handle losing a well fought match--but not in a tournament scene that encourages the "quick kill" and the "fast draw" copy decks over the well thought out, but perhaps less powerful, slower, concept decks. Tournament sponsors, DCI Judges, parents and Poke-People everywhere need to begin arranging "Original Concept Deck Only" tournaments. Tournaments where the Fabulous four, Haymaker, Raindance, Damage Swap, and Energy Transfer are discouraged if not simply disallowed. Tournaments such as these will reward the person brave enough to walk down the road less traveled in order to find something new, something exciting, that has been lost from the tournament scene nowadays.
Remember though, the old proverb: "Build a man a deck, and he'll copy it forever…. Teach the man to build, and he'll actually be good competition…."
Special thanks firstname.lastname@example.org for inspiring me to write this article.