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Greetings, sleepy citizens, this is your wake-up call. After today, you will no longer be bound to the inferior Pokémon game. Over are your days and nights of Shoddy Battle, as we present you with five reasons why the Pokémon Trading Card Game is superior in every way to its cartridge incarnation.
On Shoddy Battle, the Pokémon who have the higher Speed gets to attack before the opponent. If we apply the same logic to TCG, we come to the conclusion that Sableye is the fastest Pokémon in the game. Its Poké-Body (Overeager) allows its player to be the first one to act no matter what, barring a mirror Sableye.
The only other indications of Speed in the TCG would be low energy requirements, and either being easy to evolve or not having to evolve at all. Sableye is on top of both of these types of speed as well, being a single-stage Pokémon with one of its attacks being for free, and the other costing only one Energy. Both of them also happen to speed the game up a lot, each in their own way.
Another notable speeding maniac is Beedrill, who can do up to 120 base damage with its Band Attack as long as there are three other Beedrill in play. This is further accelerated by its pre-evolutions having attacks that allow the player to search for more members of the Beedrill line, as well as the Rising Rivals Beedrill whose Poké-Power does the same. This is all in stark contrast to Beedrill in Shoddy, who ties speed with the likes of Kingler and Claydol.
Or let's take an old school example: Jungle Wigglytuff. One of the fastest ways known to man to get 60 damage going as early as turn 2 in the TCG, but on Shoddy you can find Wigglytuff having trouble winning a foot race against Golem, Octillery, and Dusknoir.
You're used to Shedinja having 1HP and being taken out with Stealth Rock or offensive weather. Well, those things don't exist in the TCG unless you run an extremely specialized deck, so even survivability goes up! But aside from that, each Shedinja currently legal in play has at least 60HP. When you throw in cards like Shaymin Lv. X and Expert Belt, Shedinja's HP skyrockets to a grand total of 120HP! Then you even have cards like Cherrim which can reduce damage done to you by 10 for each Cherrim in play. However, while it may be more than your average Shedinja, it's definitely not tanking anything soon.
The more powerful a Pokémon is in statistics or even appearance, the more worthless it often becomes in TCG. Both WOTC and Nintendo wanted to make these Pokémon appealing to fanboys, so they are often trademarked by big numbers. Huge HP and damage output, great. Huge energy costs for attacking and retreating, and often several negative side effects such as discarding Energy and flipping coins, those trademark an "Uber" in the TCG.
For a classic example, let's look at Shining Tyranitar from the old Neo Destiny set. We see good HP and damage (for a basic Pokémon), but each of its attacks require two different Energy types. Both of them require a rigged coin to be reliable, and the second one is going to throw your Energy cards in the trash can at an alarming rate if you do have a rigged coin. Or Neo Revelation Lugia. Big damage for that attack, but a terrible chance for it to fail outright. Broken, yes, but not in a good way.
The modern legendaries and top tiers are more forgivable. A few of them, such as the pixie trio and most Arceus cards, actually have fairly low Energy costs with acceptable returns. There's also the LEGEND cards though, which are an enormous pain to get out, then more of a pain to power up. And once you manage to do it, their dual weaknesses often takes them out. However, their attacks are often either extremely powerful, or very powerful as well as disruptive, so the trade-off is better.
On Shoddy Battle and on the cartridges, anyone can tame a legendary, or a dangerous monster such as Salamence. In the TCG, it takes an enormous amount of skill to get any mileage out of them, rather than an enormous amount of Ultra Balls.
Ever seen a Cherrim used competitively? Ever seen Spiritomb form the crux of an OU strategy? Ever seen a Crobat be the line between winning and losing? Well, all these situations can happen in the TCG, and usually, are crucial components for some decks.
Cherrim, depending on the one you use, can either increase your damage output, or decrease damage taken. Often, that extra 10 or 20 damage is vital in securing or preventing those KOs that could turn the game around. Each Cherrim's PokéBody also stacks, so you can be adjusting damage by up to 40 at once. Let's hope nobody's allergic to pollen.
Shuppet doesn't even see any play in LC, so what makes it so amazing in the TCG? Well, 30 damage for is one hell of a bargain when you're a Basic Pokémon, and considering Shuppet can even hide in hand ready to smash later on makes it all the better. Throw in an Expert Belt and that's 50 damage for . Considering you need something on the bench, Crobat G is actually the best option there is—does an extra 10 damage, and considering most first-turn basics either have only 60HP or are weak to Psychic, then that's an instant KO for you. It'll Fade Out and take you with it.
Spiritomb's PokéBody prevents any player from playing Trainer cards while Spiritomb is active. This is a near-shut down for common tactics since they instantly are limited in their options to just Supporters. This lockdown can be extremely helpful in you getting that leg over your foe, and in more ways than one when they realize just how limited their options are. To make it better, Spiritomb even has an attack that lets you instantly evolve your Pokémon in exchange for 10 damage on Spiritomb. This is usually a good idea, but be wary since Spiritomb only has 60HP, meaning it's already in OHKO range for common attackers.
Luxray GL Lv. X is a staple in many, many, decks, SP and standard alike, and with good reason. The normally slow sweeper in NU actually has one of the best PokéPowers in the game—Bright Look lets you switch your opponent's Active Pokémon for something else of your choice! Very little does that, and the only other card to have an effect like it is Infernape 4 Lv. X and Pokémon Reversal (which requires a flip). But what sets Luxray apart is its ability to also deal steady damage. With Flash Impact, that's 60 for while doing 30 to one of your own Pokémon, and that can easily be substituted for a TGI Energy Gain. Alternatively, if you do get two energy, Expert Belt drives up the damage output to 80 without adding damage to your own Pokémon. The problem is, Luxray's PokéPower only works once (as opposed to Infernape's, whose works every time), but Luxray has more consistent damage output. Rawr indeed.
The best part of the TCG, however, is the larger amount of diversity in flavor. There's only so many moves programmed into the cartridges, and if you got bored of the ones you got, you'll have to wait for the next generation to get see some new ones. In the TCG, there's potentially new flavor in every new released card, and new card sets are released so much more often than new Pokémon generations!
The flavor in the Pokémon TCG can be clever, funny, and cute. First off, there are cards that remind you of the sickeningly cute anime segments where Pokémon sort-of say their own name: Supreme Victors Pachirisu apparently has the power to "Pachi" its opponents, Mysterious Treasures Pikachu can damage enemies with BikaBika, and my personal favorite, Stormfront Budew who seems to be looking for some Buddy Buddy.
The way the flavor matches the mechanics can be nice as well. The staple Neo Genesis Cleffa calls for help with an attack named "Eeeeeeek". Multiple versions of Cleffa have been printed, where the amount of 'e's always matches the amount of cards drawn after the shuffle. Jungle Wigglytuff's Do the Wave does more damage if more benched Pokémon participate in it. Majestic Dawn Empoleon goes one step further, allowing the bench to participate in its Surf Together attack, but not without the risk of falling and getting hurt.
On top of this, there's always evidence that Nintendo aren't out of touch with the modern world. Oh no, there are always those subtle references to anything worth being funny about. For example, Combee's attack, Zzzt, references the recent FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and with all those vuvuzelas buzzing about, you would be forgiven for mistaking the crowd for a flock of Combee. The shenanigans continue with Flygon, who has a PokéBody aptly called "Irritating Buzz." All this buzzing is going to cause some damage, be it hearing loss or 20 damage.
Meanwhile, there are some cards that portray a very exclusive Pokémon. Most of the time these are Pokémon that make you squeal in delight when you were five years old, especially as your GameBoy says "Your ONIX evolved into STEELIX!" These are the guys who are supposed to be awesome, and definitely, their attacks reflect this in all its glory. These are the sort of attacks that you would rise from your seat, throw the card onto the table declaring your dramatic evolution, and scream the attack name with all your might. YOURS IS A BEEDRILL THAT WILL PIERCE THE HEAVENS!
Let's start off small, however. After all, even the mightiest of champions were but mere children at some point in their life, were they not? So let's go to the biggest champion of them all, Tyranitar. And then let's scale down, back to when he was but a little Larvitar. Isn't he cute? Well don't be fooled. This little guy, despite only measuring 2ft tall, can utilize the ancient art of the Mountain Eater. Let's put this into scale. The peak of Mount Everest in Asia clocks in at 29,000 feet high. That's 14,500 times his body height, and probably millions of times his body weight. If you ate that much in proportion to your body you'd not only explode, but you'll have consumed roughly something about 87,000 feet in height. Big things come in small packages.
Then, we move up the big league scale. Steelix Prime's Gaia Crush. Just take a minute. Make sure the room is relatively quiet, and say it to yourself. "Gaia Crush." Put emphasis on the "sh" sound of Crush. Say it again. Throw on a deep voice. Gaia Crush. Don't you feel your spine tingling? Alternatively, let's imagine you're at a tournament. How much fun do you think it is to just jump up and yell "I USE GAIA CRUSH!"? I'll tell you, since I've been there—lots. Especially when your opponent is only 9 and doesn't know better.
And then, as this article draws to a close, we move onto what may possibly be my favorite card ever. Forretress. Before I make the endless jokes here, I do want to say that this card technically in competitive play is actually viable, and if you can get it going, it can pump out an extremely high damage rate, albeit at an alarming cost to yourself. But anyway, it's time to make the funny. For a bagworm to be able to make everyone in the nearby vicinity explode on command, it's either you're as smooth as John Marston, or your Forretress contains epic amounts of kick-ass. It gets better. This is just one explosion in a series of many.
As a bonus, I would like to compare the trolls on Shoddy Battle to the trolls of the Trading Card Game. On Shoddy Battle, you'll run into unfunny, sassy, and annoying 12-year olds (three of these descriptions are superfluous). Nobody likes dealing with them unless they are really bored. In the TCG GameBoy game, however, you will meet Imakuni?, a superb troll. His name already leaves you in wonder: what's with the question mark? Mr. Mime having punctuation in its name was annoying enough, but Imakuni? takes it to a while new level. Another thing Imakuni? has in common is that he tries his best to look like both a Pokémon and a human, and fails on both counts in the end.
It doesn't end here, though. Imakuni? challenges you to a dance off at first, but when your player character apparently refuses (we assume he does, since like in many games, your character doesn't actually talk), he goes for a Pokémon duel at first. While you'd expect a major character to put up a major fight, Imakuni? whips out some of the most worthless cards of the set just so other trainers don't stain their decks with them while the devs can still claim they are in the game. Slowpoke, Drowzee, Psyduck, and Farfetch'd form the core of his "strategy", which is apparently to keep you guessing what in heaven's name he's up to. His trump card, however, is his personal Imakuni? Trainer, which hasn't even been released outside of Japan. The GameBoy game has translated its text as the following: Your Active Pokémon is now Confused. Imakuni wants you to play him as a Basic Pokémon, but you can't. A mysterious creature not listed in the Pokédex. He asks kids around the world, "Who is cuter—Pikachu or me?" Yeah, if I was his Active Pokémon, I would be confused too.
So what are you waiting for? Cast aside your DS and uninstall Java, the TCG is where it's at!
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