Experts' corner

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Zach Lesage

Playing With The *New* Rules

Learn how to play within the new rules of the game!

05/08/2018 by Zach Lesage

What A Time To Be Alive

What’s up, 60 Cards readers? The year is 2018 and the Rules Team from Pokémon seem to live in the year 3018 with these rule changes coming out of nowhere! In this article, I will examine the new rule changes, consider my thoughts on why they were changed, and go over some preventative measures that you can take to avoid these penalties. On the other side of the coin, I will share some ways to properly call over a judge, explain how to properly respect staff at events, and give you some strategies to use to prevent your opponent from gaining an unfair advantage. There will always be naysayers who are against articles like this, but I do believe that an article like this is necessary to help spread awareness. That being said, there is a lot of ‘ground’ to cover today so let’s get to steppin’ on it -- onto the article!

The New Rules

For those of you who have not been active on Social Media lately, or have not participated in the 2018 Latin American International Championships in São Paulo, Brazil, you may not have heard of any rule changes. While Pokémon may view this as a simple change in their rule book, I actually think that this is one of the biggest changes to the game ever. Single Prize Card penalties and Multi Prize Card penalties no longer exist and have since been replaced with the following penalties straight from Pokemon.com:

Double Prize Card

“The Double Prize Card penalty is used when a mistake has been made that significantly affects the game state and there is no clear way to resolve the issue, or when a Warning has been given and a Quad Prize Card penalty would be too harsh. After a player receives a Double Prize Card penalty, the offending player’s opponent is informed that in order to win that game, they must take two fewer Prize cards than would normally be necessary according to the format (i.e., they will win the game when they have two Prize cards remaining). Should the opponent have only one or two Prize cards remaining at the time, the game is over immediately, and the opponent wins the game. The opponent cannot decline to abide by this penalty.”

Quad Prize Card

“The Quad Prize Card penalty is used when a mistake has been made that has a severe impact on the game state and there is no clear way to resolve the issue, but a Game Loss penalty would be too harsh. After a player receives a Quad Prize Card penalty, the offending player’s opponent is informed that in order to win that game, they must take four fewer Prize cards than would normally be necessary according to the format (i.e., they will win the game when they have four Prize cards remaining). Should the opponent have four or fewer Prize cards remaining at the time, the game is over immediately, and the opponent wins the game. The opponent cannot decline to abide by this penalty.”

While these both seem incredibly harsh rule changes, you need to ask yourself why would Pokémon head in this direction...

Why The Changes?

The most obvious reason for these changes is to entice players to raise their hand when something goes wrong. In the old system, your opponent drawing an extra card would result in a Single Prize Card Penalty, but they could easily activate certain cards such as Counter Catcher (CIN; 120)  or Counter Counter Energy (CIN; 122)  to gain an unfair advantage. Furthermore, cards such as N (FCO; 105)  can dictate a game so why should you be punished for one card less than your opponent who actually broke the game state? These new rules rectify all of these issues by making it more tempting to call a judge, only negatively affecting the player who is wrong, and bringing the game into the a brighter future. In most cases, it is often disadvantageous to anyone in this game to not call a judge over because the minimum of drawing two less Prize Cards can be game breaking. Look at the difference between these two scenarios between the old rules and the new rules:

Old Rules Vs. New Rules

The below situation is comeplely hypothetical...

Old Rules

Player 1: They start the game by going first, they start Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , attach a Fighting Energy (XY; 137)  to Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , play a Cynthia (UPR; 119) , and draw a new hand. They play a Remoraid (BKT; 32)  down on their Bench, play a Brooklet Hill (GRI; 120)  down from their hand, use Brooklet Hill (GRI; 120)  to search out a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , and use Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  on their Benched Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) . They hit the Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  and pass their turn.

Player 2: They start a Zorua (SLG; 52) , play a Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 155)  down from their hand, they use Wonder Tag to search for a Brigette (BKT; 134) , they use Brigette (BKT; 134)  to search for a Rockruff (GRI; 73) , Zorua (SLG; 52) , and Zorua (SLG; 52) . They attach a Double Colorless Energy (UR; 103)  to their Active Zorua (SLG; 52) and use Ram to attack the Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  for 20 damage.

Player 1: They attach a Strong Energy (FRF; 104)  to their Benched Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , play an  N (FCO; 105) , draw a new hand, and use Jet Punch to Knock Out the Active Zorua (SLG; 52)  and to do 30 damage to a Benched Zorua (SLG; 52) . They draw one Prize Card and have five Prize Cards remaining.

Player 2: They promote a Zorua (SLG; 52)  from their Bench to the Active position, Evolve it into a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , Evolve another Zorua (SLG; 52)  on the Bench into a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , and Evolve their Rockruff (GRI; 73)  into a Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) . They use Bloodthirsty Eyes to bring up Remoraid (BKT; 32) , attach a Double Colorless Energy (UR; 103)  to Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , and play N (FCO; 105)  to refresh their hand. They use Trade one, discard a Brigette (BKT; 134) , and draw two cards. They use Trade two, discard a Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 155) , and draw two cards. They play a Zorua (SLG; 52)  down on their Bench and use Riotous Beating to Knock Out the Remoraid (BKT; 32) . They draw one Prize Card and have five Prize Cards remaining.

Player 1: They promote their Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  with two Energy attached to it and start their turn. They attach a Fighting Energy (GRI; 169)  to their Active Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , use Brooklet Hill (GRI; 120)  for another Remoraid (BKT; 32) , play it on their Bench, and use Professor Sycamore (XY; 122)  to discard some useless cards. They use Absorption GX to Knock Out the Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) . They draw two Prize Cards and have three Prize Cards remaining.

Player 2: They promote their Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) , attach a Float Stone (BKT; 137)  to it, place a Mewtwo (EVO; 51)  down on their Bench, use Trade, and accidentally draw three cards instead of two cards. It is at this point that a hand is raised, a judge is called over and a Single Prize Card Penalty is awarded. Player 1 opts to take the Prize Card and is now at two Prize Cards remaining. Player Two plays an N (FCO; 105) , attaches a Choice Band (GRI; 121)  to the Mewtwo (EVO; 51) , and Knocks Out the opposing Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) . They draw two Prize Cards and have three Prize Cards remaining.

Player 1: They promote their Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , use Brooklet Hill (GRI; 120) to search for another Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , attach a Fighting Energy (GRI; 169) , play Guzma (BUS; 143) , and Knock Out a Zorua (SLG; 52) . They draw one Prize Card and have one Prize Card remaining.

Player 2: They promote their Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) with the Float Stone (BKT; 137)  attached, play down a Mew EX (DR; 46) , attach a Double Colorless Energy (UR; 103)  to Mew EX (DR; 46) , play down two Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 155) , Retreat into Mew EX (DR; 46) , and copy Riotous Beating to Knock Out the Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) . They draw two Prize Cards and have one Prize Card remaining.

Player 1: They promote their Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , have a dead hand, and use Jet Punch to hit the Active Mew EX (DR; 46)  for 30 damage and the Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  on the Bench for 30 damage.

Player 2: They draw their card, use Mew EX (DR; 46)  to copy Riotous Beating to Knock Out the Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) . They draw their remaining Prize Card and win the game. Player 2 wins.

Now that we have seen how the ‘Old Rules’ would have issued a Single Prize Card Penalty, let’s look at the exact same scenario except it will follow the ‘New Rules’. In any case, there will likely be drastic differences between the game state and this so to rectify potential advantages and to detract cheaters away from cheating:

New Rules

Player 1: They start the game by going first, they start Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , attach a Fighting Energy (GRI; 169)  to Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , play a Cynthia (UPR; 119) , and draw a new hand. They play a Remoraid (BKT; 32)  down on their Bench, play a Brooklet Hill (GRI; 120)  down from their hand, use Brooklet Hill (GRI; 120)  to search out a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , and use Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  on their Benched Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) . They hit the Max Elixir (BKP; 102)  and pass their turn.

Player 2: They start a Zorua (SLG; 52) , play a Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 155)  down from their hand, the use Wonder Tag to search for a Brigette (BKT; 134) , they use Brigette (BKT; 134)  to search for a Rockruff (GRI; 73) , Zorua (SLG; 52) , and  Zorua (SLG; 52) . They attach a Double Colorless Energy (UR; 103)  to their Active Zorua (SLG; 52)  and use Ram to attack the Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  for 20 damage.

Player 1: They attach a Strong Energy (FRF; 104)  to their Benched Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , play an N (FCO; 105) , draw a new hand, and use Jet Punch to Knock Out the Active Zorua (SLG; 52)  and to do 30 damage to a Benched Zorua (SLG; 52) . They draw one Prize Card and have five Prize Cards remaining.

Player 2: They promote a Zorua (SLG; 52)  from their Bench to the Active position, Evolve it into a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , Evolve another Zorua (SLG; 52)  on the Bench into a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , and Evolve their Rockruff (GRI; 73)  into a Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) . They use Bloodthirsty Eyes to bring up Remoraid (BKT; 32) , attach a Double Colorless Energy (UR; 103)  to Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , and play N (FCO; 105)  to refresh their hand. They use Trade one, discard a Brigette (BKT; 134) , and draw two cards. They use Trade two, discard a Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 155) , and draw two cards. They play a Zorua (SLG; 52)  down on their Bench and use Riotous Beating to Knock Out the Remoraid (BKT; 32) . They draw one Prize Card and have five Prize Cards remaining.

Player 1: They promote their Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  with two Energy attached to it and start their turn. They attach a Fighting Energy (GRI; 169)  to their Active Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , use Brooklet Hill (GRI; 120)  for another Remoraid (BKT; 32) , play it on their Bench, and use Professor Sycamore (XY; 122)  to discard some useless cards. They use Absorption GX to Knock Out the Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) . They draw two Prize Cards and have three Prize Cards remaining.

Player 2: They promote their Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) , attach a Float Stone (BKT; 137)  to it, place a Mewtwo (EVO; 51)  down on their Bench, use Trade, and accidentally draw three cards instead of two cards. It is at this point that a hand is raised, a judge is called over and a Double Prize Card Penalty is awarded. Player 1 instantly must opt to draw two less Prize Cards and now needs to draw one Prize Card to win the game. Player Two plays an N (FCO; 105) , attaches a Choice Band (GRI; 121)  to the Mewtwo (EVO; 51) , and Knocks Out the opposing Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) . They draw two Prize Cards and have three Prize Cards remaining.

Player 1: They promote their Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , use Brooklet Hill (GRI; 120)  to search for another Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , attach a Fighting Energy (GRI; 169) , play Guzma (BUS; 143) , and Knock Out a Zorua (SLG; 52) . They draw one Prize Card and win the game. Player 1 wins the game.

Can you spot the potential advantages earned by Player 2 under the ‘Old Rules’? As you can see, Player 1 defeated Player 2 in the second scenario because a Double Prize Card Penalty awards clean play to Player 1. Player 1 also didn’t suffer the offset of Prize Cards that led to their demise in the first scenario, they drew more cards from N (FCO; 105)  because the Prizes were still on the table, and they ultimately won the game. Shockingly, Azul Garcia Griego was hit with a Double Prize Card Penalty in the finals of São Paulo, which likely shows that the judges are actively trying to make these new rules stick. In the below section, I’ll go over some scenarios that seem like prime situations to be awarded a Double Prize Card Penalty. In any case, don’t use this article as fact because I am not a judge, the rules are subject to change, and I don’t want to promote Rules lawyering. However, I do want to provide an interesting read that will benefit the readers from being more aware and to become more comfortable in tense situations. Let’s get to it:

The Scoop on Double Prize Cards

In this section of the article, I will go over some situations that would immediately require judge assistance and the likely ruling of a Double Prize Card Penalty. In most cases, a Double Prize Card Penalty can leapfrog you ahead of your opponent or at the very least bring the game back into your grasp. Look at it this way; if you have a fully powered up Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  and use Absorption GX, and follow it up with a Knuckle Impact, you probably only have two Prize Cards remaining right? In the case of a Double Prize Card Penalty being awarded in your favour, you instantly win the game and move on with your day. Anyways, let’s not get too side-tracked and I’ll list some of the more common Double Prize Card Penalties:

  • Drawing an Extra Card with an Ability
  • Drawing an Extra Card with an Item / Supporter
  • Drawing an Extra Card for the start of your turn
  • Trying to attach a second Energy Card during your turn
  • Drawing too many Prize Cards
  • Drawing too little Prize Cards
  • Trying to play a second Supporter Card during your turn
  • Not properly shuffling your deck between actions
  • Slow-playing your opponent after receiving a Warning

Now these are the simplest of Double Prize Card Penalties and I am sure a knowledgeable judge would be able to list off many more opportunities for these penalties to be addressed. In any case, if you sense that something is wrong, it is best to stop the game yourself, tell your opponent, and politely call over a judge to explain what happened. It should never be your intention to ‘snake’ your opponent into a Double Prize Card Penalty, but it is also your opponents duty to play the game to the fairest degree. In some cases, it might be difficult to call a judge over, so I’ll explain that for you in the next section of my article.

Learn to Call a Judge

Your opponent just tried to double attach, you think to yourself ‘did they attach already this turn’?!?! You ask your opponent, the respond with a red face and apologize saying that they forgot. They are about to continue on with their turn and you are upset because something feels wrong... This situation happens to many players, mostly newer players, because they didn’t realize that it is their duty to stop the game and let their opponent know that they broke the game state. In this scenario, it might sound like our hypothetical opponent is just being forgetful, but what if it is a cheater who just got caught? I’m not a judge, you are not a judge, and your opponent is certainly not a judge... You wanna know who is a judge though? The judge is a judge and they are there to *calmly* find a solution. If you don’t call judges, games are unfair, tournaments end up having different results through ripple effects, and the cheaters walk away with prize money. The following steps should help you learn to call a judge in any scenario so let’s get there.

Step 1: Pause The Game

You have obviously realized that something is going wrong in the game and it is best to stop the game exactly where it is right now! If you wait until your opponent shuffles their hand into the deck with N (FCO; 105)  or if you remember a turn too late, you may be at fault for breaking the game state just as much as your opponent. The best way to do this is to flat out tell your opponent that you believe there is an issue with the game and that you want them to stop their play to resolve this. If you are playing at an event versus a player who speaks a different language than you or if any additional special assistance is required, call for either a translator and / or assistance. Explain to them that you would like your opponent to stop the game and to help translate with the opponent. In any case, it is best to treat a situation such as this with respect to your opponent and not to accuse them right away!

Step 2: *Politely* Ask Your Opponent What Just Happened

So you think Timmy Richardson just drew an extra card from Trade, but you aren’t sure and you are worried that you might be imagining things. That’s ok! I often ask my opponent their hand size every few turns or so, I look through their Discard Pile, and I frequently ask questions. In any case, you need to NICELY (I can’t stress this enough) ask your opponent if they drew an extra card. In most cases, they will just say whoops and ask what to do next. You may be playing against the newest player in the game, a friend, a cheater, or one of the greatest players of all time -- it doesn’t matter. Let them know that you need to call a judge to figure out the best way to fix the game state. Most opponents should be fine with this, but I have had opponents argue with me, intimidate me to not call a judge over, or get upset at me for not trusting them. The absolute best resolution will always come from a judge so I recommend to ALWAYS call for a judge when something goes wrong.

Step 3: Confidently Call A Judge Over

This step is essential in making sure that a judge notices you -- the best thing to do is to put your hand up as high as possible. Sometimes judges might think a player is just scratching their back, but they are actually trying to call a judge with the laziest raised hand of all time! If you have been waiting for a while, it is appropriate to call out ‘JUDGE’ in a firm way, but not to yell it either. A judge should quickly address that you have called over for a judge and come over to your table right away!

Step 4: Explain Your Case

BREATHE! If you start jumping up and down thinking you found a cheater like the leprechauns on cereal boxes just found a new marshmallow flavour, you are not going to get anywhere! If you ask questions appropriately, state facts professionally, and show everyone respect, rules are much more likely to go in your direction. This might not always work, but it is better to be chill than irate which I am sure every event staff member will appreciate. Confidently state your case, only talk when you are addressed, let your opponent talk when they are addressed, and receive your ruling. If you believe the ruling is unfair, you can ask the judge if they are the Head Judge of the event to see if you can escalate the ruling process. This isn’t meant to be disrespectful, but judges are human and they can still make mistakes. When the Head Judge comes to the table, confirm they are the Head Judge, and re-state your case. No matter which way the ruling goes, be respectful to your opponent, the judges, and the Head Judge (if applicable).

Step 5: Ask For a Time Extension

Sometimes players will have an important ruling and it will take a bunch of time. Whether the ruling takes two minutes or ten minutes, you should always politely ask for a time extension from the staff member that you were dealing with. I can count many games that I have heard of players losing or gaining a tie from a ruling just because they never asked for a time extension. Like anything, if you don’t ask, you might not receive so always keep that door open.

Step 6: Thank The Judge

Finally, when a ruling happens, you gotta thank the people involved! At the recent Internationals in São Paulo, I received a Game Loss as per the ‘New Rules’ due to having my only Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 155)  in my deck being warped. This penalty fell under ‘Marked Cards’ and I received a Game Loss heading into Round 9! They deemed it as unintentional, but the minimal penalty was still a Game Loss. What did I do?!?!... I actually thanked the judges for making the correct call -- even though it was a call that took me out of contention for making Day 2. In any case, always be professional and always being respectful will go a long ways.

Eyes Like a Hawk

Ok, so you know how to call a judge and why to call a judge, but how do you know something fishy is going on? Well, you gotta have eyes like a hawk in order to stop the sneakiest players from getting away with whatever they want. During my first game in São Paulo my opponent played a Brigette (BKT; 134) , does two quick ruffle shuffles to their deck, and presented their deck to me to cut. I immediately stopped the game, told my opponent what happened, and called over a judge! Maybe my opponent made a mistake, but maybe they were trying to cheat against me. You need to pay attention to your opponent when they play instead of looking at your friend play right beside you when it is your opponents turn. Furthermore, after every deck shuffling action your opponent does, you should alternate the way you cut, shuffle, or tap their deck to offset any potential stacking techniques they could use against you. I will shuffle and cut my own brothers deck and he is one of the most honest players I know! If you are watching your opponent for any ill plays, you will often become more developed in the game and see other plays too just from noticing what your opponent is doing on a deeper level! Just remember to call a judge if you see any sneaky actions!

Onto The Next One...

Well, thats a wrap 60 Cards readers! I hope you enjoyed a brief break from my current article structure to discuss this different aspect of the game. I believe that if we all put or best thoughts forward, that we can help combat cheating and make this game crime free. I would hope that most organizers would agree with me on the fact that they would love to see less penalties given out at events so let’s try to make it happen! In other news, I have seemingly lost my mind and I have booked a flight to the Mexico City, Mexico Special Event in a couple of weeks so I get to play in yet another event.This year has been a grind and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to write for such a wonderful website

Until then, I will be playing at Salt Lake City, Utah Regionals and Toronto, Ontario Regionals so feel free to chat with me at any time. I always enjoy talking to new players, people from around the world, and aspiring Pokemon trainers! For updates on my travel plans, tournament schedule, premium deck lists, strategies, and my most recent articles, feel free to check out and follow my professional Pokemon Twitter @ zlesage_pokemon. Also, remember to give this article a ‘like’ to let me know what you thought of this article - it gives me the motivation needed to write! Thanks for supporting 60 Cards, reading my articles, and watching me grow as a player!

Until next time,
Zach

[+21] okko


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