the start of our pokemon story

A couple years ago the boys in our house started to get interested in Pokemon cards. I told them that, if they wanted to have cards in any number, we should learn how to play the game! So we did. We started with the Pikachu Libre and Suicune trainer kit, then moved on to theme decks. Things might have stopped there, except that our growing interest in the game spurred my friend Tim to rediscover his own love for TCGs. He'd played in the early 2000s, so he was able to take our deck-building up a notch—and also provide a higher level of competition. I started reading the forums on Pokebeach and bought my first singles (from, the first result when I searched).

At this point, though, we had a bit of missed opportunity: Harvey stopped by our local game store in search of opportunities to play, but not knowing anything about the scene he asked about tournaments. At the time this particular store wasn't doing League Challenges, only Cups... and there had been one just the week before. So the owner told Harvey to come back in three months. We put it on the calendar, little knowing that the store had Pokemon League every Saturday—and that, at that point, a League Cup was about the last thing we wanted to be part of! So that was some time wasted.

A while later we did manage to discover the league that was held there (thanks to the event finder on But then the first time we tried to go it was actually the Ultra Prism prerelease, and not feeling ready to spend $30—$60 for both of us!—I chose not to participate. The next week, though, we were in it! Not that there was much going on at that league: most days, we were the only ones there with standard decks. It was still fun to be part of the scene though!

Somewhere in that time we came to League only to find a League Cup getting ready to start. It was a little intimidating—the store was packed with swaggering, confident Pokemon masters—so Harvey declined to participate. It's too bad: the only other Junior there was in the same boat as us and had a less-than-optimal deck, but more confidence and enthusiasm (plus his dad had more money than me... I shouldn't discout the role of the entry fee in our decision). I think Harvey would have been able to take the win from him at least. He could have picked up some points for the 2018 season!

When the Forbidden Light prerelease rolled around in April, Harvey was ready and enthusiastic. We bought purple sleeves for the event, which was a good call: they matched the Malamar promo and psychic evolution pack he pulled. He didn't have any GXs, but the consistency of his pure psychic Malamar/Uxie/Azelf deck propelled him to a convincing 3-0, and first place in the tournament.

Around that time we also switched our league attendance from that store to Comicazi in Somerville. The level of play wasn't that much more competitive, but at least everyone there was playing the card game—unlike our first league, where most folks were video game players first. But we still went back to that first store for the next prerelease—Celestial Storm—and this time I played too. I went 2-1 with the Celesteela promo, and Harvey once again won all three games playing Elektrike with Metagross.

By this point we were enough aware of the competitive game that we tuned in to the stream for the 2018 World Championships in August. And as we watched, we made our plans to compete ourselves as soon as we could in the new 2019 season!


first league challenge of the season

On Sunday evening we attended our first event of the 2020 season, a challenge at That's Entertainment in Worcester. Harvey brought PikaPads; I had lists for both Blastoise and BuzzMosa. My thought was it would be a small turnout, and that it would just be fun to play some games... but when we got there the room was packed, with not only locals but serious players from the Boston area and Connecticut too. And scouting a little bit I noticed a ton of fire, so BuzzMosa was right out!

Not that I had a ton of confidence in Blastoise either: it's totally hit or miss. Testing on PTCGO Saturday night I lost three straight with the deck in disgusting no-setup fashion, before I gave up in frustration; but then Sunday morning I had three straight wins. So I figured I'd go for it. You know, just for the laughs.

My round one opponent was a local league player. When he started a Litten my mind went straight to Caturday.. but then he benched a Vulpix. Incineroar! Going first I was able to take two KOs with Articunos before he got an Incineroar set up, then I OHKOd the Incineroar with Blastoise GX, followed by another OHKO on Ninetales GX for game.

Round two and three were against Reshizard/Jirachi, and the games have blurred together in my mind. Both opponents tried to avoid benching Reshizards and instead attack with Eevee & Snorlax, but in both cases I was able to overcome slightly shaky starts to two-shot and EeveeSnorlax with Articuno then Blastoise, then deal with any other threats my opponents tried to develop. The second of the two games was especially dicey: I was going second and my opponent started off with Kiawe to an active EeveeSnorlax, facing my lone Squirtle. I had to toss three energies to stablize my board, which slowed me down in the mid game until I found energy recycler. Then everything was fine.

Round four wasn't fine. I actually had an chance at a great set-up: at the end of turn one I had two Squirtles down and a hand with two rare candies and both Blastoises. But then my opponent, playing a terrifying Aerodactyl/Dewgong deck, was able to use Giratina damage plus Dewgong to KO both Squirtles. I hung in there, and even managed to stablize a little bit, but it was too little too late and after Dewgong took two more prizes (!) I scooped it up.

Never mind: since we started with 24 masters there were points available all the way down to 8th place! So it was with a happy heart I started the last round, and I felt even happier when my opponent flipped over a Koffing. The Weezing matchup is almost an auto-win, except for a very nervous few turns at the beginning. Once I had both Blastoises up it was pretty much check-mate, especially since the three prizes my opponent took in the early game on Squirtles and an Articuno meant he couldn't use counter energy effectively.

Since my only loss was to a player who went 5-0 I came out the best of the 4-1s and took second. The points were the same as they would have been in an 8-person challenge, but the six packs in prizes felt nice (first place got ten!). I pulled a Dedenne and and Honchkrow; Harvey is very interested in building a Honchkrow deck now.

As I said, Blastoise is pretty hit or miss, but when it sets up it's a lot of fun. And the atmosphere at the event was great too; I would have had a positive experience even if I hadn't done so well. It was nice playing competitively again, for the first time in a while... now bring on rotation, and the real start of the season!



our Pokemon adventure

My son Harvey and I play competitive Pokemon. Well, as the header says, "a little bit" competitive. We don't get coaching, we don't (yet) fly to events or drive further than a couple hours, and we don't spend too much on cards. But Harvey at least managed to qualify for Worlds in his first year playing, so that's something! Even better, he did it even though we only started going to tournaments in September of 2018—nobody told us that we could start getting points for the 2019 season even before Worlds happened, as early as the end of June! While there are tons of resources out there for deckbuilding and competitive play—at all levels—there isn't that much about what it's actually like being part of the world of the Pokemon TCG. Since I like writing (I have another blog where I try to limit my Pokemon-related content so as not to bore or confuse my audience) I thought I'd take a stab at remedying that lack. So here's our Pokemon adventure... I hope you enjoy it!