Deckbuilding 101:
Defining "The Metagame"

Author: The Pokčmon Lady

Before I played in my first tournament, I noticed that there were a lot of fire and fighting type decks. I watched very carefully as people built their decks, and realized that if I played my Grass type deck as I had been planning, I would get killed (grass is usually weak to fire.) I also noticed that almost no one was playing any kind of 'status effect' deck. The night before the tournament, I modified my deck, and took out one Grass family that was weak to fire, and I put in the Nidoking family, because they weren't weak to fire, and Nidoking had Toxic! I had Pokémon that weren't weak to the main types that were being played, and nobody was prepared to deal with the poison damage I was dishing out. I came in second in that tournament, and I was beaten by a fellow who ran this incredibly fast deck that he called, "Haymaker." I now know, that what I did for that tournament--without knowing what the actual term for it, was Metagame.

I can hear you now… "Nice story. But, what is Metagame?"

A person who is "Metagaming" watches carefully the decks that other people are playing in the area he is in. He notes which types (colors) of cards are being played most often. He also watches to see which specific types of Pokémon are being played, and which trainers. He carefully observes the people who seem to win tournaments time after time--noticing what kind of strategy they have. Then, he alters his deck, or his playing style, in order to combat the types of decks that are out there.

Let me tell another story. A friend of mine, Scott Gerhardt, came up to help me host a tournament in November. Before Scott arrived, he and I had numerous phone conversations, and in one of those conversations he asked me, "What's the metagame up there like?" I thought to myself, "Metagame, there's that word again… I'll ask Scott what it means," and I did.

He replied, "Metagame is a card, a concept, or a deck being used in a capacity to counter what is currently problematic to the environment. Example, Scyther is a good Metagame choice against the Hitmonchans everyone is playing."

Wanting to discover the truth for myself, and in preparation for this article, I logged onto the WWW and did a keyword search for the word 'metagame.' I found lots of interesting links. Some led me to sites that dealt with the concepts involved in the "Metagaming" research being done by computers regarding chess. Other sites took me to in-depth articles referring to the "Metagame" of various card games, like Magic The Gathering, and even Pokémon. But, none of the articles I read came right out and said, "The definition of metagame is (insert definition here.)

I kept looking. I knew that the word 'meta' was a prefix, a word that is attached at the beginning of another word, and that it had to mean something all by itself. I changed my keyword search and started looking up definitions, just for the word 'meta'.

I found some interesting things! I discovered that in German, 'meta' is the pet form of the name Margaret. In Spanish, 'Meta' is the name of a rather long river that flows between Colombia and Venezuela. I also discovered that 'meta' has many definitions that have something to do with computers and the HTML computer language used to make web-pages. But, none of these things seemed to be what I was looking for.

I discovered that the word Meta, was indeed a prefix, from Latin or Greek origins, and it had ties to Old English and Old High German.

Not wanting to quit, I kept on looking. I learned that the prefix 'meta' had many meanings, some of which are:

1. Meta, when used as a prefix to an item (such as a rock, or a game) can signify that the item has changed.

2. Meta can bean a more comprehensive, a later, or more highly organized form of the original.

I thought about what the prefix, 'meta' meant in combination with the word game, and after reading all those articles I've come up with my definition of Metagame (in relation to the Pokémon TCG.)

Metagame: the strategic analysis of a single deck, or the most commonly played decks in any given region of the country, in the hopes of building a deck that will be more likely to beat decks of the original type when played in a tournament environment.

Pretty much, this means: In order to win, you need to take a close look at the decks that people you're playing against are playing. Remember what types of Pokémon, Trainers, Status Effect they are using, and build decks that take advantages of their weaknesses. That's the long and the short of "the metagame."