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Pojo's DBZ CCG!

Top of the World - Interview with Jon Schweppe (RaNd0m)

Jon Schweppe has been and still is a frequent contributor to the Pojo Dot Com site and publications. He is currently #1 on the Pojo Pokemon Apprentice Ladder as of this interview and has countless other high rankings with the DCI in Limited, Constructed, and Team Play. Plus, he shaves his hair. How cool is that?

Phil: Howdy Random... or RaNDoM... wait how do you say it? Oh, RaNd0m, yeah I knew that. So tell us your real name, location, and actual age?

Jon: Er... RaNd0m ;x I'm 15 years old (almost 16, gotta love driving), I'm from Aledo Illinois... which is like 4 hours west of Chicago... oh my REAL name is Jon Schwepppe =P erm Schweppe.

Jon:  My name is Jon Schweppe, I'm 15 years old, and I'm from Aledo Illinois (4 hours west of Chicago) there, that's a little better ;/

Phil: Does anyone call you Triple P?

Jon: No but I did have someone call be shwek... which I have no idea how that resembles my name.

Phil: Okay... Shwek, how did you get started with the crazy craze that was and unfortunately is not as big as before?

Jon: Don't call me that... ;x

Jon: Well my friend Chris (BaD_RoNaLd, he still plays) invited me over to his house to spend the night when I was like 10 or 11... and he had just gotten the starter deck for Pokemon. We read the rules and tried to play it but I realized I was hook*. Then, I bought the video game/GameBoy.

Phil: Captain Hook?

Jon: Hooked* lol

Phil: Ah I thought you were into some freaky Role Playing game back then...

Jon: Well, I did play a little Magic... again, with Chris. But it was a just-for-fun something-to-do activity ;/ But I stuck with the game even after it became "uncool" at school... because it was so enjoyable.

Phil: Yeah, just blow a couple thousand purchasing alpha, I know how it is Jon/RaNd0m/Shwek. So how did you manage to get on the Pojo site?

Jon: Lol. Well I went to the WCSTS, and I met Scott and Christine Gerhardt. They had just gotten married. When I got back, they gave me AOps in #pojo (basically, it meant I was an operator). Then I wrote Bill asking to write for the site and with a couple people vouching for me, he gave me a column. It was basically I did the right thing at the right time.

Phil: Now kids, understand that emailing the site bugging for a column like Shrek did does not work anymore. But anyways, what is probably the best part of the Pokemon TCG compared with other games?

Jon:  I didn't beg lol. Well for me the best part of the Pokemon TCG is the people involved. Unlike other games, it's NOT cutthroat and it's realistically a family game. It's not completely lacking in competition either, though... but the friends I've made through this game are unbelievable.

Phil: So uh where do you play with your friends locally in Illinois?

Jon: Well I used to play at a card store called "Trademart" in Moline but they stopped holding pokemon tournaments in favor of Yu-Gi-Oh/DBZ... and now I basically only play in major events, qualifiers, or big events in the Chicago area.  Oh, and I play online. Where I just recently achieved rank 1 on the Pojo's apprentice league :-)

PhilTell us about this online play... many seemed confused about the whole deal with Apprentice. What exactly is it, how do you use it, and can you tell the fans out there any secret tips about winning online?

Jon:  Apprentice is probably the best tool for playtesting currently for Pokemon. It's a program that was designed for Magic: The Gathering that allows you to do all the normal functions of the normal game. But at the same time you're able to see everything your opponent is doing. It has commands for every situation, like showing your hand, peeking at the top X cards of your library, and the like. You extract a "patch" into the folder so you can have the entire current card pool. It's difficult to learn, but it's fun once you play a few games.

Phil: As you know, at least I hope, EX: Sandstorm is being released this September. And guess what? Some Fossil cards are being reprinted in the set, like Mysterious Fossil. What would you like to see showing up in Sandstorm from Fossil?

Jon: Not Ditto lol.

Phil: Shrek, what's your strong point: Limited or Constructed? And why? Give us some tips.

Jon: I love both. Limited is one of my favorites, because overall I'm pretty good at it. I've been #1 in Illinois for quite awhile now. Draft takes so much skill, it's not funny. You just have to know what other people think, and how you think they'll build decks. You need to know the sets you're drafting too so that way you can know what colors are strong, what aren't, so you can decide how to build your deck to counter the most percentage of what you'll face. Constructed is really fun too. The latest version of Modified, Neo On, has been one of the best formats I've ever played there was so much potential for rogue decks in the format. And Unlimited is a classic format... and it takes a lot of skill as well. But my strong point is probably Limited... I don't like sealed, however... completely based on what you get in your packs =\

Phil: Love is a strong word to be using... And yes sealed is very RaNd0m (I got two expedition Blastoises and the whole evolution line in the  GenCon FAT, lucky eh?). What do you think the Modified Format will be changed to?

Jon: I've argued and argued this on boards over and over. The new format will most likely be only consisting of Nintendo printed cards. Nintendo wants to bring new players into the game and by telling them they need to have cards that aren't even printed anymore isn't going to do that. Plus, that would be taking away from profits going to them. It just wouldn't be a good idea, no matter how much they think they're accommodating the current fan base.

Phil:  What did you have for lunch today? Or brunch?

Jon: I made myself three hotdogs, with ketchup/mustard/relish/onions/tomatoes... very tasty ;-) Oh, and a bag of Doritos + 2 cans of Pepsi on the side.

Phil: And you weigh? I'd consider using the Atkins diet, like Gymbo told me about in another Top of the World interview... by the way arent you and Gymbo friends?

Jon: I weigh 140 pounds, and I'm 5'11". Yeah Jim and I are friends I suppose, we don't talk a whole lot but yelling "GYMBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" really loud at GenCon might have scared him into never talking to me again :P

Phil: Okay, listen carefully on this one: If you could go back in time and seriously burn (I mean to the third degree) one employee at TCG Research and Development that created a card you dislike, which card would that be and why?

Jon: Like Gymbo 3rd degree burn? :-)

Phil: Yes.

Jon:  Hm... I'd have to say Wigglytuff. I know that sounds nuts, but CCC - 60? Unbelievable. That card wreaked havoc for an entire 5 set reign... and beat my Raindance quite a bit.

Phil: Raindance Mmmm. Satoshi must've been proud. Speaking of good ole Blasty, what card is ranked number one on your top ten list (coming to the Pokemon site soon)?

Jon: In which format?

Phil: All of em, one of em, I don't care ;x

Jon: In unlimited, it's Cleffa. The ability to pull of the Lass/Eeeeeeek combo first turn is insane, and wins games. In Modified, it's probably Professor Elm. I haven't seen very many decks that don't play it, and the ability to get a new hand is nice.

Phil: What would you do if you were in charge of Organized Play?

Jon: First off, I would separate into two divisions... 13+ and 12-. I think that 13 and 14 year olds can compete with the 15+. Then I'd set up a World Championship system, similar to the WotC version... This time though, ONLY have GC's. Have about 75 scattered throughout the U.S. 25 in Europe. Maybe have a few in other areas of the world like Australia and Brazil (I do know players who play there). Have the two divisions (12- and 13+) each have a tournament. Winner gets a trip to Worlds, 2nd gets an invite. Then at Worlds, have an invitational tourney... and have lots of ancillary events (and even a "main" ancillary event) so people who didn't qualify would still go. Meanwhile, have Super BattleZones, and League tournaments going to keep the game fresh and exciting.

Phil: Is there any competition up there in Illinois that you hate playing against? Like certain people? Names please, we want to send them law suits.

Jon: I don't hate playing against anyone unless they're jerks. I get nervous playing against Jason (Ness) or Alex (BigChuck01) because they're both excellent players. I also don't like playing Kyle Sucevich (Pooka) or Vincent Blasko (Th3Legend) because they both like to beat me too ;-) But usually I don't mind playing anyone because I know I've playtested my deck enough to beat theirs (I hope :P).

Phil: Any advice you would give to new players?

Jon: This game is FUN! Play it! Don't give up after a few losses. It's going to be hard to start out when everyone is so good. But start off by buying the starter deck and a few packs, learn the rules, get a couple friends to play, and then USE the internet it's such a helpful tool to the immense pokemon community.

Phil: Wizards of the Coast. Yay or Nay? Explain.

Jon: I like Wizards. I think they've done a lot for the game, and I hope Nintendo can follow in their footsteps. I dislike what went on with the 15+, but I still believe they did an excellent job. Nobody told them they had to give us trips. And they did anyways. The OP they held was unimaginable to someone who isn't familiar with TCG's. I think I may continue playing TCG's owned by them too.

Phil: Everything besides the Simpsons TCG. Gah. It looks bad and plays worse. But what else does Jon do other than Pokemon?

Jon: lol Well, I love bowling. I might actually consider going pro when I'm 18... if I'm good enough. I have like a 140-150 average right now. I bowl league all the time :-) I'm also very good in school... got straight A's last semester =)

Phil: Anything I missed Mr. Schweppe?

Jon: Just one last closing thing: Stick with it guys. Nintendo might not be all that bad. It's not worth quitting when we don't know what lies in the future. And thanks for talking with me Phil :-)

Phil: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule Jon/RaNd0m/Sweck/Shrek/Mr. Schweppe.

Jon: I'm going to regret EVER mentioning "shwek". is here to provide guidance to all Pokemon trainers out there.  Whether it's the Gameboy Game, N64 or the Trading Card Game, provides all the wisdom you desire. 

If you have cool game tips, a killer deck, or breaking news ... send them to us.  We'll post it on the site ... and give you all the credit.  


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