When you say Pokémon, you immediately think of trainers who collect cute animals and then get to compete against each other in combat. Since Pokémon Go conquered the mobile phones, everyone knows what it feels like to catch and train like Ash Ketchum Pokémon. What far fewer people know is that Pokémon has been hunting for much longer and not just in the original cartoon series.
over the world, Pokémon Leagues are fought among many trainers with cards from the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). Players collect cards that you can buy in the store and exchange, similar to football cards. With this you can create your own collection and create a so-called deck. With that deck, you can compete against rival trainers.
New sets are released regularly, so you can always expand and customize your collection. Recently, a special expansion around Sword and Shield, called Darkness Ablaze, appeared. In honor of this expansion, we were asked to ask Mr. Atsushi Nagashima, the Game Director of Pokémon TCG a number of questions.
Pokémon TCG existed long before the current popularity of Esports and competitive games like Fortnite. How do they affect each other?
Pokémon TCG has always been popular because you meet each other physically. Basic principles of friendship, togetherness and friendly competition are paramount. The power of the game lies in the social aspect. You meet like-minded people, make friends and learn from each other. You look each other straight in the eye during an exciting competition, but then you close friendship.
Thats what makes Pokémon TCG so special and why its so popular. We try to adapt Pokémon to that, now and in the future. In addition, we certainly look around to learn from it and to keep Pokémon interesting for both existing and new players worldwide.
What tips can you give someone who wants to play competitive?
Practice, practice, practice! Only by playing the game against other players will you get better yourself. You will learn to anticipate the actions of various opponents with different decks and strategies and learn how to develop and adapt your own strategy.
A good starting point are the Pokémon Leagues. This is not competitive, so you can practice in friendly battles while meeting fellow fans of the game. The Leagues are usually led by Pokémon Professors who have a wealth of knowledge theyd like to share with you.
Now a new expansion set has been released around Pokémon Sword & Blade called Darkness Ablaze, containing several ultra-rare VMAX cards. How do you ensure that the balance remains in the game?
At Creatures (the developers of Pokémon Trading Cards, red.) we have a team of test players who play a lot of TCG. Through them we collect so much feedback on how a card plays. They test the playability of new cards and try out new mechanics, along with the existing cards. They try strategies that will be used in League matches once the new cards are introduced and watch how the new cards play together with existing cards from previous sets.
The development team will work with the testers to see if the new cards have the desired game effect. For the special cards, such as the VMAX Charizard card in the Darkness Ablaze set, it can take a long time to get the balance just right, precisely because of the impact the cards can have and the many combinations that are possible. We adjust the HP or damage of the cards until we are completely satisfied with the result.
At the beginning of each season, the Pokémon Organized Play team removes older expansions from the Standard format set to keep the game competitive. This change requires players to compose new strategies and decks and gives newcomers a chance to enter the games using the latest set.
Would you like to read more about this interview, read the extensive interview on xgn.co.uk.
Then in the Netherlands there are several fan clubs and official organisations that regularly organize meetings. Take a look at