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The Two Sides of POP
By Drew Holton, AKA JediDrew
02.23.05

Good in POP

POP has done many things in to help this game progress as it has. I'd like to hit some of these things before I turn around and do the bad. It is important to realize how this company has helped the game and not just see some of the bad it has done. The good by far outweighs the bad. The bad however, are fixable things that never should have been changed, or need to be changed.

First I'd like to start off with the amazing tournament structure that POP has in place. There are so many different events that offer things for players of every level. Casual players and competitive players alike can play in tournaments like Prereleases. Competitive players are offered an intense tournament structure capping in a World Championship. This is much more than the former regime of Wotc ever had. Instead of a schedule with just Gym Challenges and Stadium Challenges, POP offers some variety with Cities, States and Nationals.

POP also has some outstanding prizes awarded at all of its events. Unlike the Wotc days were you got nothing to show for your hard work, POP offers some amazing possibilities. I won two trips with Wotc in command but that was as high as the prizes went. Who knows how many countless boxes of cards I won. Now with POP I can get medals, trophies, invites and best of all, scholarships. Yes I know Wotc had medals for the STS events but that was their TOP prize. Here medals take a backseat to scholarships and a large amount of goodies. Also these scholarships aren't just offered at one event anymore, but many. The opportunity to make some serious cash for a good player is huge. Now there is some hard earned cash for your education to show for your hard work.

Lastly I'd like to thank POP for resurrecting what was basically a dead game. Barely anyone played pokemon during the twilight of the Wotc era. Now people are coming back to play in swarms. Attendance at leagues and tournaments around the country is picking up. Players are hearing about the new programs POP has put in place and how the game is picking up again. Jason, Alex and Seena are just some of the high level players attracted by this resurgence.

I'd like to note that I'm only hitting the tip of a huge ice burg of good that POP has done. However the bad are all problems that should have been avoided by following other companies' examples. Some of these things have happened in the past or POP has just changed because they want to kill any image Pokemon has of becoming a big game. Games such as Magic are looked down upon, possibly because many of the players are cutthroat in nature. I and many others feel they are just changing things to be different.

Bad in POP

First I'd like to start off with the travesty known as Spirit of the Game. It is the all encompassing golden rule that POP can file any complaint or problem under. They say it is just there to enforce sportsmanship, but is so vague and misused that it can cover anything they want. It has developed into POP's answer all to put down the more skilled players whenever they try to voice their opinions. Several recent policy changes have also been shoved under this rule as an easy answer to the changes. This allows POP to dodge any questions by simply stating, "It violated SotG."

Either the Spirit should be completely done away, or it should be refined to do its true job. If POP really wants to raise sportsmanship in this game, it should have a series of specific rules dealing with them, not one big cover all rule. As it is Pokemon is considered casual when compared to other games, and on a whole I have not seen ridiculously bad sportsmanship in a long time.

Sportsmanship rules such as this one have a way of making players feel babied. Particularly how POP has been applying the Spirit irritates many people that play Pokemon. Even in the old days of WotC when the players were much more vocal and disturbing to the game, there was never such a rule. It makes players feel like POP doesn't trust us to play the game as it was meant to be played. This is a very bad policy in my mind and others.

Also POP should not keep filing any "violation" under the SotG. As problems arise the Spirit should become more precise and broken down to deal with each individual time. This is what I hope it develops to over time, as it is fairly new.

The next issue that is considered a problem are IDs. Many people know I am quite outspoken in favor of IDs, but they have caused a large bit of controversy. It has died down recently in favor of other issues but I still feel it needs to be included for the purposes of this article. For those of you who don't know what an ID is, it is simply when you and your opponent both take 1 point instead of playing out the game. They are usually used to insure a player their spot in the top cut. IDs have been gone pretty much this whole tournament season, since just before the City Championships started.

IDs have been cut under the new trend of eliminating "violators" of the Spirit. How does it violate it? Who knows because the Spirit is so broad. The general feeling is that POP wants to continue its separation from WotC rules. Simply put, they are changing just to be different. However the quick fix answer is that all games are meant to be played to a finish. This is simply bull as when a time limit is added to a game the loophole of draws is created. I'll deal more about time later but since there is time, the game can't be played as originally intended and draws have to be included. POP doesn't see this though and eliminated what has been part of this game from the beginning of OP.

Also IDs were eliminated to help the little guy. Generally used by the older and more experienced players, IDs are seen as a cheap way to win. POP has continued to hurt the people that have been playing the longest and are trying to appeal to the younger, less experienced player. When they whine, POP listens and changes to the masses. The older players are forced to deal with it and suffer. A person in a position to ID deserves their spot in the top cut, regardless of who they are. Others learn to deal with it, as that is the way things had always been. However those that never got to use IDs found something to blame for their continued bad performances. Try playtesting and hard work like the rest of us. It works wonders. Don't hurt the people playing under the system.

Next thing that POP has done wrong is sudden death. However I'm grateful that they've recently gone back to the old system. This is much better than the old system that I had planned on bashing. I'd like to thank POP for finally seeing the light in at least one error.

Still I would like to see a gradual introduction of a turn clock when time is called. For those of you that don't know what a turn clock is, it is a continuation of a tied game by giving both players five turns each. This is much better than even the current system. A player that is gaining tempo and would have eventually won the game without a time limit is allowed the chance to win. Otherwise a player losing tempo could have possibly taken a quick prize and stolen a win. Over all it takes as much time as a next prize game and is much shorter than the old sudden death games.

Turn extensions are also a great way to eliminate the current problem of stalling. With each player being guaranteed an equal amount of turns, it is impossible for one player to play slowly to gain a huge time advantage. Players are unable to steal their opponents last couple of turns and possibly an opponent's win. A policy of turn extensions would be a great move by POP.

When POP announced it's new policy of no ranking invites, I along with many other was greatly disappointed. For some this is the only way some people are able to make it to worlds. With areas stacked with amazing players, there aren't possibly enough trips to spread to everyone. The rankings was a way to reward these players that tried hard all year. It makes no sense at all that POP would get rid of this way of rewarding its most dedicated players. This was one of the worst moves this season along with IDs. POP should reinstate this or an equally valuable way of rewarding the top ranked players each year.

Those are all the problems I will go into for this article. In my next one I will go in depth with the penalty guidelines and offer my opinion on how to fix them. They are very loose right now and offer many loopholes that are possibly exploitable. I have also heard about the possibility of the next Prereleases occurring as little as a week before Regionals. If this becomes a truth, I will write about it too. I am reachable by email at dothedrew730@yahoo.com and by AIM at dothedrew730.

-Drew Holton

AKA JediDrew

 


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