Chaos Gym
Chaos Gym

Chaos Gym
– Gym Challenge

Date Reviewed:
September 5, 2019

Ratings Summary:
Standard: N/A
Expanded: N/A
Limited: 3.50

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.

Reviews Below:

Otaku Avatar

Chaos Gym (Gym Challenge 102/132) is today’s Throwback, officially released (along with the rest of its expansion) on October 16, 2000. This Trainer-Stadium released at a time when the rules for Stadium cards were different, which is why it lacks the typical reminder text about “If another card with the same name is in play, you can’t play this card.”  Unless you’re playing under older rules, you cannot play Chaos Gym if another Chaos Gym is already in play. Chaos Gym also released at a time when you could play multiple Stadium cards in a single turn; again, not an option when playing the game with the modern rules. As a Trainer, it could take advantage of Item Finder but ran afoul of many potent anti-Trainer effects back in the day; as a Stadium, it would stick around until another card effect (or playing a Stadium from hand) discarded it.

The effect of Chaos Gym has multiple steps. While Chaos Gym is in play, anytime a player plays a Trainer card other than a Stadium from hand, that player flips a coin. If “heads”, the Trainer is played as normal. If “tails”, the Trainer cannot be played. If the Trainer in question was not something that had to be put into play, the opposing player was given the chance to use it! They paid all costs and made all the decisions involving that Trainer. In all cases, the Trainer ends up in its owners discard pile; obvious if you flipped “heads”, but worth stressing for all other scenarios. This is a game-breaking effect, and it often lived up to its name: yes, skill was most definitely involved as you had to consider how your Trainers could be turned against you, and how you might turn your opponent’s Trainers against them, but it also all boiled down to coin flips and whether or not your opponent had a means of discarding Chaos Gym handy.

Chaos Gym’s effect isn’t just complicated… it is downright confusing and the official rulings only help so much. The Pokémon TCG’s rules have changed over the years, cards have received errata, and both specific rulings and general ruling guidelines have changed in places. I’ll do what I can to explain, though. For example, if a card says you have to do something to play it, you do that before flipping for Chaos Gym. If your opponent wishes to use one of your Trainers via you flipping “tails” for Chaos Gym, they still have to do everything required to play that Trainer. So if I use Computer Search while Chaos Gym is out, I discard two cards from hand. If I flip “tails”, I am out those cards and my opponent has the option of using Computer Search’s effect… but they must discard two cards from hand to do so. This ruling seems like it would still stand.

If you go to use a Supporter, originally those were put into play so you might think that means Supporters would be unaffected by Chaos Gym.  Nope.  The rulings for Chaos Gym recognize that Supporters were only put in play as a reminder that player had spent their Supporter usage for the turn. So if you went to use a Supporter, flipped “tails” for Chaos Gym, your opponent could opt to use the effect of that Supporter. You could then attempt to use another Supporter (if you had one) because you hadn’t used your Supporter for the turn. If that one failed, your opponent could not use the second one because they had used their Supporter for the turn, even though they never played a Supporter from hand. I don’t think they’ll like it, but I may have to make use of the Ask The Rules Team forum at the Pokégym to see if this was ever straightened out. Almost all Chaos Gym rulings are from WotC’s tenure with the game, which might be part of it.

I began typing this review three or four hours ago. Yeah, I messed up my schedule, but what you should care about is I’ve decided not to try and make sense of the rulings beyond what I’ve already explained. Like how this card interacted with Slowking (Neo Genesis 14/111): seems like the effects “stacked” in that your opponent checked for Chaos Gym and then – assuming they flipped “heads” – you could flip for Slowking’s Trainer-denying “Mind Games” Pokémon Power. There are more rulings, but I understand them so little I’m not even going to detail them. Just recognize that both before and even after these rulings, Chaos Gym caused chaos as we tried to figure out how it worked. It also caused chaos because,  again, the effect is just so amazingly potent: dropping this at the end of your first turn, or just any turn where the field heavily favored you.

Chaos Gym should never be re-released unless it is with improved wording, clarifying the effect. Even then, if it works more or less the way the original was ruled to work, it might quickly be banned. Why? How many non-Trainer effects can get rid of Stadium cards? Okay… now how many of those are easy to draw or search from your deck without reliable access to your Trainer cards. Yeah, even though most decks have answers to Chaos Gym, if your opponent drops Chaos Gym T1, you’re going to have a hard time answering it barring lucky draws or flips. Some decks need to play Trainers every turn, but those that don’t would have much incentive to run Chaos Gym, then shift to something different from the other player exhausts most of their anti-Trainer options.  Maybe a hypothetical Chaos Gym {*} would work out as it might be Prized or just barely hard enough to reliably open with, but probably not.

For the Limited Format, Chaos Gym is a must-run just because you might need to counter other Stadiums. Outside of that, it would still likely be a must-run; the fact neither player will have many Trainer cards means whatever they do have are just that much more important. It is a gamble, as your opponent may flip well or Chaos Gym may show up at the wrong time, but when it pays off it really pays off. I haven’t played any Unlimited Format games in over 10 years, so I’m just guessing, but Chaos Gym was good but not great. The short version is that a deck had to not win T1 or enact a lock T1 that preferred a different Stadium.  Back in the day, Trainer-locking decks would lead with Chaos Gym to buy time until they could Evolve into Dark Vileplume or Slowking… but Broken Time-Space meant they no longer needed to buy that time.  No score for Unlimited as I’m mostly explaining how it was, not how it is.


Standard: N/A

Expanded: N/A

Limited: 3.5/5

Reviewing Chaos Gym after all this time was painful.  used to think I understood how it worked, but after reviewing it, I’m even gladder that it is gone. The years haven’t made it easier to understand, but more difficult. Why did I have us review this? Oh yeah, a new Stadium announced with a (translated) name of “Chaotic Swell”… don’t worry, it only messes with Stadiums, doesn’t involve coin flips, and is nowhere near this complicated.

vince avatar

Note: Must be a pretty good throwback due to a Japanese Stadium Card Chaotic Swell interacting with other Trainers. That Stadium card acts as a Destiny Bond such that it also discards that opposing Stadium that just replaced Chaotic Swell.

Chaos Gym is a nice nod making 50% of Trainer cards fail. Similar to the infamous misprint Slowking’s Mind Games.

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