Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Search Your Prize Cards!

Zach explains how to properly search out your missing Prize Cards

05/29/2019 by Zach Lesage

Growth as a Player

What’s up 60 Cards readers? It’s me Zach and I want to help you grow as a player. You may have noticed that I have seen strong results this season, but that has only come from me evaluating how I have been playing over the past two seasons. In this article, I specifically want to go over the importance of searching though your Prize Cards when you play the game. Now don’t read into this literally, I am talking about when you play a Nest Ball (SUM; 123)  on your first turn and you find out what is missing from your deck. You never know if you will have all of your Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  hiding in your Prize Cards or if you want to take a Knock Out because you have a high chance of getting a Supporter card. Let’s dive into this article. And away we go…

Sequence Properly

Have you ever questioned yourself when you are play testing a certain deck and you do NOT have a reliable way to confirm what is the BEST way to play? My goal when writing this section is to apply as many strategic plays that will be able to allow you to grow as a player in order to improve your play habits. In your hand, when you have a decent start, you can quickly determine what is the best way to play your hand; it will usually be in a particular order. In a normal game that I was playing on PTCGO today, this is the hand that I was dealt:

Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)

Ultra Ball (SLG; 68)

Heat Factory Prism Star (LT; 178)

Kiawe (BUS; 116)

Fire Crystal (UBO; 173)

Fire Energy (BUS; 167)

Fire Energy (BUS; 167)

I was forced to start with the Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20) , because it was the only Basic Pokémon in my hand, so I went ahead with starting my turn. I started the game by drawing my card for my turn, a Nest Ball (SUM; 123)  and I was left to stare at a bunch of paths I could take from the game. Do I want to use Ultra Ball (SLG; 68)  to search out a Pokémon? What about that Nest Ball (SUM; 123) ? Do I want to use Heat Factory Prism Star (LT; 178)  to draw some more cards? Who do I attach to? Should I play Kiawe (BUS; 116)  this turn? Do I play a Cynthia (UPR; 119) ? Where do I actually start? Well, despite myself having urges to play all of these FANTASTIC cards, there needs to be a proper order that is based on the amount of knowledge each card can give me. When playing Pokémon, the ultimate goal is to make each decision with the most amount of knowledge because you can then make the most ideal plus available to you. Looking at this situation, there are many paths to go on, but which one is ACTUALLY the best? Let’s see where I went with it:

I started by playing the Nest Ball (SUM; 123)  because it allowed me to search out to see what was hiding in my Prize Cards. Some may argue that you can also play Ultra Ball (SLG; 68)  in this situation, but that is ultimately WRONG because you are discarding cards to get to that point. The main premise here is to be resourceful, conservative, and find as much free knowledge as possible. Getting back to the game, I decided to search out a Jirachi (TM; 99)  so that I could have a backup consistency card if anything were to change in the game. Maybe my opponent has an Escape Rope (BUS; 114)  or maybe they can find a way to Knock Out my Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  next turn. As you can see, I used the Nest Ball (SUM; 123)  to conserve resources, plan out my starting turn, and peep through my deck to see what was missing. WHAT WAS MISSING?!?! Well, that’s a WHOLE other section, but let’s dive into it.


In my Prize Cards, I quickly found out that I had the following cards hiding away in my Prize Cards:

Eevee & Snorlax GX (TM; 120)

Fire Energy (BUS; 167)

Switch (CLS; 147)

Kiawe (BUS; 116)

Welder (UBO; 189)

Guzma (BUS; 115)

In terms of missing out on cards in my deck, the cards that were taken away from me were not overly important, they were mostly tame. It is great that I could quickly, as in under one minute, determine my missing Prize Cards, but how did I determine what should I search for? Well, I looked at the match-up at hand, and determined that there has to be a finite amount of appropriate cards that I will use in the match-up. Look at it this way, would you be looking for an Eevee & Snorlax GX (TM; 120)  when you are playing against a Zapdos (TM; 40)  deck that runs Buzzwole (FLI; 77) ? No, right? You would want to search out your Eevee & Snorlax GX (TM; 120)  when you are playing against a Quagsire (DM; 26)  / Naganadel (LT; 108)  deck! These were the cards that I considered important in the match-up, Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  mirror, and they are also likely important in other match-ups too:

Alternate Attackers

( Volcanion (UBO; 34) and Turtonator (DM; 50) )

When you are playing against a deck that features Tag Team Pokemon, you need to realize that they are worth three Prize Cards. Maybe you can Knock Out a Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  with a Turtonator (DM; 50)  or two shot it by attaching a Choice Band (GRI; 121)  to a Volcanion (UBO; 34) . When you are peeping through your deck, make sure to look for these single Prize Card attackers because they might end up winning you the match up.

Energy Acceleration

( Kiawe (BUS; 116) and Welder (UBO; 189) )

It should go without saying, but attaching extra Fire Energy (BUS; 167)  is a really good strategy! When you are playing against any deck, make sure you search out the cards that make up the DNA of your deck. Would Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  be as viable if Kiawe (BUS; 116)  and Welder (UBO; 189)  didn’t exist? Probably not and that is for a great reason, they are amazing in this deck. Hopefully they aren’t Prized!

Damage Modifiers

( Choice Band (GRI; 121) and Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) )

In order to hit some bigger numbers, you need to lean on using your damage modifier cards to get those important cards. In a Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  mirror match, you can get a Knock Out with Double Blaze GX (with six Fire Energy (BUS; 167)  attached), but how do you Knock Out a second Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20) ? If you use Flare Strike with a Choice Band (GRI; 121)  attached, you will do 260 damage, and Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)  will do the final ten damage to hit the necessary 270 damage! If those cards are tucked away in your Prize Cards, you might need to adjust your plan in the game to take an alternative route, such as attacking with Turtonator (DM; 50) .

Draw Cards

( Heat Factory Prism Star (LT; 178) , Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) , Dedenne GX (UBO; 57) , and Marshadow (SLG; 45) )

Drawing cards is good right? Right? Yeah… RIGHT! You want to find out what your options are during the game to make sure that you have all of your choices available to you. Luckily enough, in this deck there are multiple ways to get your much needed cards out of the deck so even if you have your Heat Factory Prism Star (LT; 178)  Prized, you can still use a Dedenne GX (UBO; 57)  in a pinch. You want to use these cards to help progress your game and aid you in getting those necessary Knock Outs.

Gust Effects

( Guzma (BUS; 115) and Escape Rope (BUS; 114) )

If your opponent has a pending threat on their field, like a fully powered up Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20) , you want to make sure you can possibly Knock them Out. Both Guzma (BUS; 115)  and Escape Rope (BUS; 114)  are pivotal in your plan for success against any opposing threat.

Energy Support

( Fire Energy (BUS; 167) and Fire Crystal (UBO; 173) )

You need to have access to your Fire Energy (BUS; 167)  in order to use your attacks and that is as basic as it gets. You might not use a late game Kiawe (BUS; 116)  if you have all of your Energy in your remaining Prize Cards and you might want to use that Fire Crystal (UBO; 173)  before playing an important Welder (UBO; 189) . Since this deck only plays one type of Energy, it is really easy to determine how many are missing, just count them during your first deck search.

If you look and see how all of these cards can put a stick in the wheels if they are Prized, I am sure you will take a second look when you search through your deck the next time you play. On the other hand, you may want to learn more about searching through your Prize Cards because that is something that you just haven’t been able to get into. Well, don’t think that your boy Zach would leave your hanging, that would be too silly right? Here are a few of my methods for searching out Prize Cards that have effectively helped me this season:

Search Your Prize Cards

This is a technique that I have trained myself on for over the past decade, but I have really kicked it into high gear when it comes to playing the game as a seasonal pro! It all started really making sense when my brother and I went to Melbourne, Australia last year to play in the 2017 Oceania International Championships. Our flight was way too long, we quickly got bored of testing, and we wanted to grow ourselves as players in a different way. We effectively made a game, ‘The Prize Searching Game’, and we tried to perfect our craft for about 10 hours. Think about your Prize Cards for a moment... You have read this article up until this point, but how effective is knowing information to the success for you as a player? Well, I would deem it absolutely necessary to know more information to become a more successful player! That makes sense right? Here are some of the rules of the game:

  1.  You must time yourself and keep everything accurate
  2. The winner is the player who can find their six Prize Cards within the shortest amount of time
  3. You must set out ANY random seven card hand (even if it doesn’t include a Basic Pokemon) and you must place down six Prize Cards
  4. You ARE allowed to write down your Prize Cards on a BLANK sheet of paper as you search through your deck
  5. Have fun and good luck!

The rules seem simple enough, but where is the strategy beyond repetition is what you may be asking yourself? Well, there are only a handful of ways that you can quickly determine your Prize Cards and I will break them up into methods:

The ‘No-Method’ Method

This method truly explores the root of Prize Card searching because you are able to search cards out in any direction without rules! Look at your hand, see what you have there and look at your deck to see what is hiding away in your Prize Cards! If you want to search for Welder (UBO; 189)  in your deck first, do it! If you have Energy that really catch your eye, do it! This method is really all about searching out your Prize Cards in whatever way that you feel comfortable and making sure that you can at least get that basic task done! The biggest thing that I have found when I have used this method in the past is that I usually end up missing a few Prize Cards due to one-of Cards in the deck. Looking at your list, you might end up finding that your Kiawe (BUS; 116)  is Prized and you simply missed it! While this isn’t my favourite or the most effective method, it does offer a basic glimpse at what you can do to find your Prize Cards in general! 

The ‘Important Cards’ Method

This is a method that I frequently use, but that frequently should read more as at League Cups or when I am pressed for time at a major event. In order to use this method to the best of your ability, you want to determine which cards are the most important in a particular match-up, and then search your deck for exclusively those cards. You might not find out all of your Prize Cards, but you will find out about the cards that matter the most to you in that particular instance. Looking at the above article, there was a moment where I searched out my Prize Cards in a Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20) mirror match and the particular cards that I was searching for were:

Turtonator (DM; 50)

Volcanion (UBO; 34)

Kiawe (BUS; 116)

Welder (UBO; 189)

Choice Band (GRI; 121)

Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)

Heat Factory Prism Star (LT; 178)

Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60)

Dedenne GX (UBO; 57)

Marshadow (SLG; 45)

Guzma (BUS; 115)

Escape Rope (BUS; 114)

Fire Energy (BUS; 167)

Fire Crystal (UBO; 173)

As you can see, these cards are generally important every game and they are easy to identify when searching through a deck. These cards do not equal up to the sixty cards in total of the deck which means that this method should take you less time than the ‘No Method’ Method overall. In the real life example that I gave above, the following cards were Prized:

Eevee & Snorlax GX (TM; 120)

Fire Energy (BUS; 167)

Switch (CLS; 147)

Kiawe (BUS; 116)

Welder (UBO; 189)

Guzma (BUS; 115)

That being said, the only cards that I would have searched for in this scenario would have been the Fire Energy (BUS; 167) , Kiawe (BUS; 116) , Welder (UBO; 189) , and Guzma (BUS; 115) ! While that leaves the Eevee & Snorlax GX (TM; 120)  and Switch (CLS; 147)  behind, those cards were NOT important to that match-up and I learned about the overall status of my Prize Cards very quickly. If you are ever missing a card or were wrong on a Prize Card search, feel free to use your auxiliary searches to find out MORE information.

The ‘Three Way’ Method

This is the method that I use the most often and the one that I find the most effective overall! Looking through a deck, there are three categories of cards: Pokemon, Trainers, and Energy! If you look at Pablo Meza’s Sao Paolo winning  Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  deck, you will see that there are 14 Pokémon, 34 Trainers, and 12 Energy within that deck. When I search through my deck, I search out the two lowest numbers of categories, in this case 14 Pokemon and 12 Energy, to find the largest category of cards remaining. All of this can be hard to explain, but let’s look at it from the above example of a real life game with the following cards Prized:

Eevee & Snorlax GX (TM; 120)

Fire Energy (BUS; 167)

Switch (CLS; 147)

Kiawe (BUS; 116)

Welder (UBO; 189)

Guzma (BUS; 115)

I would look through my deck, count for 14 Pokémon, and 12 Energy and come up with the following cards that are in my deck:

13 Pokemon

11 Energy

That number equals up to only 24 Cards, but we quickly realized that we are missing one Pokémon and one Energy. That means that if we are supposed to have 26 Pokemon / Energy in the deck, we also need to have 34 Trainers in the deck. Looking at this information, in about 15 seconds, I was able to find that I am missing the followings cards:

1 Pokemon 

4 Trainers

1 Energy

Quickly glancing through my deck, I can now target what I need to search through my deck, try to gain more specifics on those cards, and I am no longer search for cards that do not exist (such as wondering if I have a Volcanion (UBO; 34)  Prized even though I can only have Eevee & Snorlax GX (TM; 120)  Prized). This method is great at finding information quickly and allows you search for more specific cards on a subsequent search! 

With that being said, you should be able to find a way to search through your Prize Cards and effectively learn more information per game! I challenge you to try each one fo these methods and see exactly what way you are able to find your Prize Cards the quickest. Best of luck fellow trainers.

See Ya in Madison

That is a wrap for today. To update you on where I am at, I am sitting at 1700+ CP right now, I am hard locked for a Day Two invite to the World Championships, and I have hit my full Best Finish Limit (BFL) of eight Regional Championships this season. If you don’t understand how a BFL works, it basically takes your best performances at Regionals into account. I am doing my best to get to Madison Regionals, I will be attending the Special Event at Origins, and I will be going to the 2019 North American International Championships. This season has been a super exciting year for me in terms of Pokémon, life, and growth as a person. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me and I hope that you are all there for the ride! If you want to see more of my journey, follow me on my social media:

Twitch: zlesagepokemon

Twitter: zlesagepokemon

Facebook: Zach Lesage

I also have open slots for coaching so if you are interested, please reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook.


Zach Lesage

[+24] okko


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