Optimism by Martin Moreno
Part 1: Optimism

I haven’t written anything in a long time about Pokémon, so I thought I would come out with a three part "saga", sort of speak, which will include my take on the last year of Nintendo’s transition in taking control of the Trading Card Game here in America, and some strategy. So sit back, relax, and enjoy.

During the last five years of playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game, there has been a lot of change. We all remember the packed leagues and local tournaments that would bring an immense challenge that would keep you strategizing and deck building for weeks in advance for preparation, and the last couple years where you would have to travel hundreds upon hundreds of miles to play in large scale events in order to get some sort of feel of real competition.

Things have changed. There has been highs and lows in Pokémon, but one thing remains the same, there are still plenty of dedicated and eager players STILL out there giving it their all playing a game they love. Now, I could explain the flaws in advertising, the lack of motivation, and the overall poor performance Wizards of the Coast presented in it’s last couple of years with the games license, but that is not what this piece is about. No, we need to move on. We need to look towards the future, a future with Nintendo calling all the shots. With Summer creeping up upon us, we are now almost finished with a year of Nintendo running Pokémon. Are we happy? I say we should be.

There are many factors that contribute in keeping the playing fan base satisfied. The players want: big events, big prizes, more events on a local level, and of course most important of all, a 15+ division. The current treatment of the 15+ is the best it has been since we first saw an STS. City Championships, State Championships, Gym Challenges, Prereleases, all provide a means of competitive play for everyone interested in the game. Best yet, this year includes the first ever official Pokémon World Championships that includes a 15+ division. Not only that, but 15+ players are now eligible for Travel Awards and accommodations. Seems like things are changing for the better.

However, with all this we still are not where we should be. I honestly feel we still suffer from a poor fan base. A lot of this stuff we are getting now would have been perfect a year ago. You could say it’s too little, too late, because a lot of talented players have quit the game. I’ve seen a lot of this, and don’t understand how I have stuck with it so long, and they haven’t. I guess it might have been impatience on their part, or maybe simple stubbornness on mine. Regardless of that though, we need to get more people involved in the game. I’m glad to say that Nintendo seems to be aware of this as well as me, because you may notice that there is much more media exposure to the game than ever. I’m sure I am not the only one who has seen one of those commercials advertising the newest sets.

My favorite newest addition to the game are the Prereleases. I cannot believe how much you can gain from playing at these events, it is ridiculous. First of all, you pay a twenty-dollar "entrée" fee giving you six booster packs of cards. The cost to play is less than going out and purchasing the same number of booster packs from a retailer - an average of 2 dollars less. You are already leaving with a profit! To make it even better, after you make your limited tournament format deck, you play in a fun oriented event where you can win a booster box of a set before it comes out in addition to the cards you have already received. This is friendly to beginner and experienced leveled players alike. You walk out a winner each time =D

The Gym Challenges this year are similar to the events we had last year, except the prize structure could use some improvement. Making top 8 should get you a little more than a guaranteed four booster packs. It’s kind of disappointing playing the whole day, getting a single digit placing, and possibly leave the building with no product. Ouch. Also, with Worlds coming up this summer, a lot of us have the high hopes and anticipation that Nintendo will outdo last years championships. I have gotten word that the people at Nintendo already are planning the 2005 worlds event, so I’m sure this year’s had a lot of time and effort put into it. I guess only time will tell.



I’d like to hear from you. Email me at MartinReturns@aol.com with your input.

-Martin Moreno

Next Chapter: "Winning is not an event, it is a process."