eBay has what you are looking for!

My own little contribution to the WOTC' "Prop Anti-15" decision

February 27, 2001

Dear Wizards of the Coast,

Well, you certainly got our attention! What do you do to follow-up the release of Neo: Genesis, one of the best expansion sets Pokemon TCG has seen? You tell the 15-and-over crowd of Pokemon players (the ones who have arguably made Pokemon TCG the phenomenon it is) to take a hike at the next Super Trainer Showdown. Your corporate decision is simply inscrutable.

For the record, I’m 48 years old, my wife is 40-something, my son (a finalist at the West Coast STS) is 11, and my daughter is 8. We all play Pokemon TCG, we all played at the West Coast STS, and Pokemon is the only TCG we play (although Harry Potter TCG will probably change that!). Just stop and think a moment: that’s a family of four all building decks and playing at Pokemon League every week, buying boxes of Pokemon product with every expansion (Hear that sound? That’s your cash register ringing!).

Now, as far as your decision to shunt the 15-and-above crowd off to the side at the next STS, it’s so unexpected that it’s hard for me to know where to start - so let’s begin with your public relations release:

“Wizards of the Coast is honoring the intent of the Pokemon trading card game creators, to produce an enriching play experience for kids.  Wizards of the Coast continues to do as much as possible with available resources to provide support for Pokemon trading card game fans of all ages.” (Don Williams, Public Relations  Manager, WOTC)

Now, I like Don Williams - I met him last July aboard the Queen Mary when he gave me a “Press Badge” (I covered the event for Beckett’s Pokemon Collector) and I’m sure his statement has the official WOTC imprimatur. But frankly this makes no sense.

Let me give you three points to consider:

1) The older 15-and-above players - including us “Poke-parents” - are an essential ingredient to the success of every single Pokemon League I have ever visited or heard of.  Most retailers assign a single (sometimes uninterested) person to manage the League, and that person rarely has time (and often lacks the knowledge) to answer the innumerable questions posed by younger players. Without the active support of older experienced players, Pokemon League will fail. Who helps kids build decent decks? Who answers rulings questions? Who has compiled the single most comprehensive and useful guide to Pokemon rulings? (Team Compendium is clearly of the 15-and-above category!). Who helps supervise dozens of kids at every Pokemon League across the U.S. while harassed Gym Leaders stamp books, grade Certified Coach quizzes, and try to keep track of badges, “Medal” stickers and promo cards? Without the invested interest of the 15-and-above crowd, Pokemon League will fail. But the clearest message your recent decision sends to older players is, “Sorry, Charlie. This game really ain’t for you, so please step aside.” We’re not feeling the love out here, my dear Wizards. We buy product, support our kids and other younger players, build creative decks, and test the rules - we expect a little recognition, and being included in the STS is one way to give us that.

2) We’ve all heard reports from Toy Fair 2001 that a “Pokemon Tournament Expansion” set will be released for tournament play, and many serious players are looking forward to a more balanced game experience. It sounds like our dear Wizards are giving serious attention to creating better tournaments. But who is going to play in these tournaments? I can’t see my 8-year old daughter getting interested in a booster draft format - and even my 11-year old son hasn’t seemed terribly interested in trying it out. If tournaments are limited to cards from this special set, how many younger players will want to even give it a try (especially after they’ve traded like mad to get just the right cards for their favorite “Charizard-Blastoise Hot Water deck? “). Although I’m sure there are 14-and-under players out there who are intelligent enough game players to work within the limits of a Tournament Expansion set, I think the restrictions will turn off most younger players ... while the older experienced players who understand the need for a more balanced environment will be sidelined! This doesn’t make sense. If you wish to make tournament play more balanced with restricted decks, you’ll need the older experienced players to work with the new format. Once again, it will take older players and parent-players to teach and encourage younger players to play within a restricted tournament scene.

3) Finally, Pokemon TCG in the United States is a different little beast than it’s older brother in Japan. And that’s okay! What works in Japan might not exactly fit in the U.S., and vice versa. I haven’t hard anything about Media Freak limiting Pokemon tournaments to 15-and-under, but even if they do, why should that affect us? In fact, since your public relations statement mentions the “intent of the Pokemon trading card game creators” as a rationale for this sudden shift, let me close by quoting from an interview with Pokemon’s creator, Satoshi Tajiri (Time magazine November 22, 1999).

When asked why Japanese Pokemon fans seem to focus more on Pikachu while American fans seem to identify with Ash, the grand Pokemon Master himself said,

“It’s interesting, because in Japan, everybody goes for Pikachu. In the U.S., the characters Ash [Satoshi in Japan] and Pikachu are grouped together. American kids seem to like that. In America there are more products sold with Ash and Pikachu together, not just Pikachu alone. I think Americans actually understand the concept of Pokémon better than the Japanese. The Japanese focus on Pikachu, but what I think is important is the human aspect—you need Ash.

And, to segue on to Tajiri-sensei’s comments, you need us older Pokemon players to keep the game alive, pure and simple. Lose us; you’ll lose the game.

So please give this notion of eliminating the 15-and-above tier at the STS a second look. If you’re concerned about “resources” I’m sure the older players would be happy to pay reasonable tournament fees for a spot at the table. Otherwise, I’m afraid Wizards of the Coast may be killing their golden goose - and we will all be the poorer for it.

Thanks for listening.


Steven Diamond (DCI #44195221)
Mary Diamond (DCI #94195220)
Devin Diamond (DCI #24169887)
Shayna Diamond (DCI #84169886)