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William Hung's Underground Card Laboratory
Gameplay 101: 5 Tips to Get Started
December 28, 2006

Hello Pokemon TCG Trainers,
I would like to deliver some articles and carry out discussions that are sorely lacking in the Pokemon TCG Community: Gameplay.  Excellent gameplay allows you to maximize your deck's potential, and win games you otherwise would not have won.
I am going to call this series of articles "Gameplay 101".  In analogy to football (sorry, I am a football fanatic), it means I want to break down the execution of plays in the playbook.  For example, the most likely Trainer card you play on turn 2 is probably going to be Holon Mentor, because it allows you to set up your army of Pokemon quickly.  So without further ado, let's get to the tips I would like to share for this week:
1)  Always use all applicable Poke-Powers, Trainers, and Energies.  The order you use them will definitely depend on the situation.  However, don't worry about frustrating your opponent with all the Poke-Powers and Trainers you may be using.  More importantly, you shouldn't be frustrated when you see your opponents doing this, as long as they are steadily progressing through the game.
2)  Try to plan ahead, and often for the worst case scenario.  I will use a deck example that a lot of you know how to play: Banette ex/Houndoom.  If your deck goes first against that, you can expect 40-50 damage to your Active Pokemon by turn 2.  If your deck goes second, you can expect 30-50 damage, although 50 damage is much harder for your opponent to achieve.  Notice 50 damage is an important damage threshold in the early going, because it means your many of your pre-evolution Basics and your Holon's Castform will be KO'd.
3)  Know your and your opponent's victory conditions.  Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint your opponent's victory conditions, but you should definitely know your own victory conditions.  For example, in a Flygon ex d deck, it should be apparently obvious that you need 2 Flygon ex d, 1 Flygon d, and maybe a Fearow d to put yourself in a good position.  Decks like Banette ex/Houndoom or Flariados can not only put tremendous pressure on their opponents, but can certainly disrupt or sabotage your opponent's victory conditions.
4)  Make your gameplay decisions based on your current needs, not too far into the future.  Let's say you have a choice between getting Metagross delta and Dragonite delta, and play it on top of your previous evolutions (Metang and Dragonair delta, respectively).  You obviously need Metagross delta first, because its Poke-Power Delta Control gives you a really good chance in not getting just Dragonite delta, but everything else as well.
5)  Keep an even-minded attitude for every game.  This is a lot easier to be said than done.  I have difficulty having an even-keeled attitude about the game.  I strongly believe that you take every game the same way, regardless if you are 2-0 or 0-2.  Don't get too high or too low, and let emotions affect your play.
That's all folks!  Happy Holidays!
William Hung

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