10/15/2018 by Mark Dizon
This Edition of Level One - Learn How Decision Trees are formed as Mental Maps in your head when making decisions. These can be the focal point for the major decisions you make in-game that lead to game wins or game losses.
Level One is a series geared towards the improving player. Want to take your game to the next Level, this is where you can start
Hey 60 card readers,
What a few weeks it has been. We went through Memphis regionals/Canadian Thanksgiving and then a weekend of league cups. Pokemon is so ever moving and the format just keeps plugging away. I for one had had a tough quarter, not being able to move past a top 4 and a top 8, missing my goal of gaining a finals finish. I only have one cup left so I have to make that one count.
I had a very interesting league cups this weekend with a lot of tough decisions. I wanted to share with you some the decisions I made and how some were just plain wrong and some were right but still lost me the game. Understanding which losses are in your capacity to fix and which ones are out of your control are extremely important in improving your game.
Table of contents
No! Not that map silly! We are talking about mental maps. A mental map is the point-of-view perception of your area of interaction. I behavioral psychology, it is how you maintain information in your mind and use it as the means of which to plan activities or select routes when traveling. Such as if you played the original Pokemon Video Games, you know the only way to Cinnabar Island is either from the back side of Pallet Town or after the Safari Zone
In Pokemon, it is how you make your decisions based on the factors presented to you.
On average a turn in Pokemon is broken down into five simple actions turn-over-turn.
Draw -> ( Attach Energy, Play a Supporter, Choose to Retreat or not) -> Attack or Pass
While you will always begin your turn by drawing and end your turn by attacking or passing, you will always find the best line to do the other three choices above. Do I play a draw Supporter? Do I play a Gust Supporter? If I Draw Supporter, I am forced to attack with my active? If I Gust Supporter, Do I take a knockout? These are the mental lines presented to you. One of the most common examples is, Do I attach before I Cynthia? Or after?
I think one of the biggest predisposition in our game is prejudging our opponents. Generally, we believe that "known" good players are the best players in our area and we expect to compete with them while newer "unknown" players or former "scrubs" are seen as players that you should be able to beat. This form of rational thinking though it can be negative is generally positive and we believe this because of the times we have been correct. When I talk players in general, I always say it doesn't matter who you play because if you play your best, you have a chance to beat anyone. That is the difference of why we play card games competitively and not golf.
Here is our first example for the article.
I got the idea for this deck from James Stephenson's top 64 finish at Memphis. His major difference was the inclusion of two "evil admonition" Weavile, while I decided to go with "Traschalance" Garbodor. The reason for this being we had a lot more Buzzwole Lycanroc Macargo in our area and I wanted to get a leg up on that deck, whereas Weavile would not have added that much to the matchup. The "Traschalanche" could also add an element of surprise, as I would not need to bench a trubbish till late game, and my opponent would also assume I was just playing Zoropod. I really liked this concept for the cup because it got around Chimeco. Chimeco influenced the cups this weekend highly in our area as there was a lot of malamar and the other decks were trying to find the way to beat Malamar.
Mark Dizon's Zoroark/Golisopod/Garbodor
- 2x Golisopod GX
- 3x Wimpod
- 2x Trubbish
- 2x Garbodor
- 2x Tapu Koko
- 1x Deoxys
- 4x Zorua
- 4x Zoroark GX
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 3x Choice Band
- 2x Devoured Field
- 1x Rescue Stretcher
- 1x Pal Pad
- 4x Nest Ball
- 1x Friend Ball
- 1x Field Blower
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 2x Acerola
- 2x Professor Kukui
- 1x Judge
- 3x Cynthia
- 2x Lillie
- 3x Guzma
- 1x Grass Energy
- 3x Rainbow Energy
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
It's Round 4 and I am 2-1 after starting 2-0. I was pretty ecstatic with my situation feeling that today might be the day I can get the finals to finish off my list. I'm sitting at 137 points which is not bad but I really want to be able to achieve my worlds invite at this point and I really want to get to the 150 thresholds. So far this season I had 57 out 100 points from cups and I really wanted to round out that number to 82. Mental map wise, my barometer for points this season are as follows.
- 82 Points from Cups per Quarter (82 x 4) 328 CP
- 30 Points from Challenges per Quarter (30 x4) 120 CP
- 328 CP + 120 CP =448 CP 500 CP - 448 CP = 52 CP needed
I would need to get 52 CP from other alternatives to hit the 500 CP projected invite. Which would be another top 64 at a regional which is attainable. You see here, by breaking down into quarterly goals for my invite, I can rearrange my goals to fit my needs. Currently, I am behind my goal this quarter by 25 points.
Okay, let's jump back into this match. My opponent is Lex Law. I know he had played in the past but he wasn't very active in the circuit last year. We have talked in the past and I knew he was above average due to the fact that he subscribes to 60 cards and reads the articles. If your opponent is willing to have an article subscription they are trying to get better and you can immediately not classify them as a "scrub". "Scrubs" say they want to get better but aren't willing to do the work. Lex played beside me the round before and I knew he was playing Zoroark Control. Going into this match, I had hoped not to be paired against him because I knew the matchup was slightly in his favor.
My mental map for the match was that I had to outplay him and hope that he made a few mistakes that I would be able to capitalize on. Amazingly I can only remember one misplay that he made which was trading away a weakness policy that he could have attached to his teched Banette later on in the game. We played a lot of turns, and it seemed that every turn he would have Guzma to take out a Wimpod.
The whole game I played a sub game with him that, I would hope he keeps discarding items and that eventually, garbodor would win me the game. Towards the end game, he had used 3 Guzma's and pal padded 2 back in and used them again. At this point, he had "Guzmaed" me four times. That is an excessive amount of Guzma. I had knocked out a Macargo and stopped him from setting up a second one in hopes of him getting no more Guzma's for the time being. Lex had 14 Items in his discard which was more than enough for Garbodor to knockout a Zoroark and get past the resistance. I had an active Zoroark and so did he.
I was at four prizes he was at two. My game plan was to bench Trubbish, attack into Zoroark and then on the next turn Acerola Zoroark, evolve and Traschalanche, bench a second Trubbish. Traschlanche for the knockout to go to two prizes, he would knock out my Garbodor, and my second Garbodor would knockout a Guzmaed Gx and be able to win the game by taking my last two prizes. I know at this point he wasn't prepared for Garbodor because he thought I was just playing Zoropod. I benched the Trubbish and my plan was in motion.
On the next turn Lex
Guzmaed my Trubbish and knocked it out. Yup, he had the last Guzma. Three Guzma and One pal pad in the discard, he had hit all of them. My mental map immediately pivoted to plan B. Acerola loop to knockout a Zoroark, and then have the Trubbish take the knockout. Surely we had a chance.
The next turn Lex
Guzmaed my trubbish and won the game.
Sorry let me rephrase that
He played four!
He played four!
Here is an actual picture of me after the fourth Guzma. Here I thought that I had outplayed him, but he Guzmaed me Six times, Six times, he played Guzma equal to how many times you could have Pokemon on the bench. Here I assumed based on most Zoroark lists he played 3 Guzma. He had mentioned Grant Manley's list and I knew it had only played 3 Guzma but he got me.
The lesson here is "you can only be prepared for what you know" That is the difference between some of the newer players versus someone who will just netdeck. They are willing to try new things, even if conventional wisdom says that it isn't correct. How do we decide whether it is correct or not when we win or lose. I know myself personally even in the BKT-CES format the whole of the last year, I would play 3 Guzma in Zoroark Lycanroc no matter what because you always just want access to the card, even with Puzzle of Time, not having to Puzzle for Guzma allowed you to Puzzle your one-of's more.
A Loose Situation
It was round one of the next day and I was super excited for my deck choice. Former Junior World Champion and one of the Top Two Candian Seniors Rowan Stavenow had given me a decklist that he had won with the day before. The deck was really cool and felt like playing a combo deck as it allowed you to set up End-Game Turns.
Rowan Stavenow's Fighting Zoroark
Round one I was paired with two-time Canadian National Champion Eduard Kuang. Eddy comes in and out to play the game and top 8d NAIC after not playing all year. He was responsible for the double Marshadow GX tech in the Malamar decks the Canadians brought to worlds. I knew that he was likely to not make any misplays and I would have to play extremely tight on my end to not let him have an opening. I failed at this in this game.
I spread with Buzzwole Gx on some Malamars and had taken a knockout on an Inkay through it. He had set up Lunala Prism Star and my goal was to let him knockout my Buzzwole GX so I could set up a turn with a Sledgehammer and get my Rockruff Set up to close the game. Instead, I misplayed and did not realize that Sledgehammer would be off by ten damage. I accounted for Lunala prism star resistance but I rushed my train of thought to guarantee it was a knockout before double checking.
Always double check your thinking even triple check. Do not get attached to one line when you can take the extra ten seconds to make sure it is correct.
I missed the knockout on Lunala by 10 damage, and then the next turn I watched him set up a Giratina Prism Star. Wow, this deck was different from your regular Malamar deck for sure. I ended up setting up a Zygarde knockout the next turn after he knocked out my baby Buzzwole. The thought process in my head was, I know have a Rockruff set up to evolve and claw slash to clean up the game or dangerous rogue if needed. By Cellstorming with Zygarde, I can now also attackw ith Zygarde and even use his GX attack. Eddy was surprised by the inclusion Zygarde Gx, but then he dropped a Mewtwo GX on me. Something the recent Malamar decks have not played. I was surprised now. He then used Mewtwo GX to use it's GX attack to take the knockout on Zygarde.
This left a turn where Eduard had a full hand and one prize left and I had three prizes left. I had a Zoroark in active. A Lycanroc in hand and Dangerous Rogue still Available. Mewtwo GX's attacks would not be relevant anymore My only one prizer on my bench was Diancie, and the only card that could have knocked it out was Giratina Prism.
Here is the thought process that went through my head.
- I need to knock out this Giratina, If I knockout this Giratina, then he has no Pokemon who can deal the necessary 120 damage to my Diancie Prism Star. I need to see how many Guzma's he has.
- He has used two Guzma's so he has 1-2 left and he has a large hand with 8 cards, 1 prize left and 4 cards left in his deck. I don't have the ability to judge him, because it wasn't in the deck. As long as he can't knock out the Diancie I am in a good spot.
- Eduard's board was two Malamar, Giratina Prism Star, Let Loose Marshadow with a rescue board, Deoxys with No Energy. He had 2 Energy in his discard and five on the board with three on Mewtwo and two on Giratina Prism Star.
- I am also losing 100% to a Marshadow Gx at this point because it can copycat and use Riotous Beating to one shot my active Zoroark if I take the line.
- If I use Lycanroc to use Dangerous Rogue on Mewtwo Gx, he is able to knock out my Diancie with Giratina Prism Star. If I use Dangerous Rogue on Giratina Prism, he cannot use CopyCat because CopyCat cannot copy GX moves. However, then I do not have a clear cut way to knockout Mewtwo GX for my last two prizes and Eduard will not play down a Lele.
- If I knock out a Malamar he might not have the energy needed to power up the Deoxys or Giratina to take the last knockout.
- What if Eduard is above the whole field in level and decided not to play Marshadow GX because it is bad in the mirror and I shouldn't be playing around it. Crazy, I know but I would have seen it by now, Eduard does come from old old Yugioh where keeping your best cards hidden was a lesson that was taught. He has to play Marshadow! He would be crazy not too.
Let's PUT OUR THINKING CAPS ON , What would you do?
It's Okay I'll Wait
I decided to knock out the Malamar and hope he didn't have the Guzma or Energies. Eddy actually let me take the full three minutes to talk out my options. We got into the conversation of whether he actually played Marshadow or not, and he declined to comment which led me to believe he didn't play it. However rationally it did not make sense for him to not play one. He did have both the Guzma and energy to take the knockout next turn. Disappointing to myself, but in the end, I decided to play versus the deck and not Eddy. I would learn later that the list didn't run the Marshadow, so I was happy to be able to think to that next level but disappointed to not take the line. I was lucky to just be in that position after my crucial misplay earlier that I should of loss because of it.
In hindsight after discussion, it would have been correct to take out the Giratina, even if he did have Marshadow, as it could have been his last prize, I needed to make sure he had it at that point.
Oh Marshadow, creating mischief even when you weren't there
I hope both these situations were interesting to you readers. In one situation I couldn't play around something I didn't know was there. In the other situation, I played around something that wasn't there. In our modern era of Pokemon. There is so much information on the internet especially on places like Limitless that it allows us to get a read on the average counts on most decks. We can see whether it someone striving to get better like Lex or a Master like Eduard, innovation could be simple as adding one more card for consistency or removing a card to surprise your opponents.
With discussion to mental maps, I hope eventually you can start seeing your decisions trees flow and not just have it as one line. By being able to think out your lines during playtesting you will be able to do them faster at both League Cups and Regionals.
I know in my last Level One Article I discussed Goal Setting an upcoming article. That one is still in the works. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed reliving my misplays from this weekend, but it was so fresh I hope you learn from my mistakes so you don't make them.
Have a great week from us here at 60 cards!
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