Experts' corner

Mark Dizon

Level One - Your NAIC In Game Play Refresher

With NAIC on the horizon, here are some tips for you to remember as you try to play your way to Pokemon Glory. Whether it is your first International or twelfth, we can always have a refresher on some things we should be doing every game.

06/20/2019 by Mark Dizon

With NAIC happening this weekend, most of the Pokémon players in the community are converging on Columbus Ohio to compete in the last International Championship of the year. Many people are trying to get the last few points to close in on their invites and play in the prestigious event that is Worlds. After Worlds, these International Championships are the next biggest events. North America has always been the largest one, both in stature and attendance. What are your goals for the event? Are you close to your invite? Are you just playing to take it all down? Today’s edition Level One is to refocus on some things you should do as we enter the last event of the season. 

Go into every game trying to learn something 
 It isn’t possible to win every game of Pokémon unless your name is Jimmy Pendarvis. You aren’t going to win every game, but every single game you play, win-loss or tie will teach you a lesson to the future of your Pokémon game. As I have written in some of my previous Level One’s that mistakes teach some of the biggest lessons to you. No one likes to make mistakes, and no one can play perfectly, but trying not to redo those errors will set you up for the rest of your day and other tournaments. I can tell you that I have made mistakes earlier in a day and by making those mistakes it helped propel me further in those matchups later on in the tournament. Last year at NAIC, I played Zoroark Lycanroc. I had thought that the Buzzwole Lycanroc matchup was closely favoured because of Mew EX however coming off Madison regionals; the deck had acquired Baby Buzzwole and Beast Ring. The number one important thing in the matchup was learning how to skip beast ring turns and sledgehammer turns. I played versus the deck three times in day one. I lost to it twice to put me at two-two and have my back to the wall because I wouldn't be able to take another loss or I’d be out of the tournament. I quickly had to learn the matchup and I asked my friends how to play the matchup. I played it three more times and didn’t lose another match to it. Had I not learned from my earlier games, I would not have been able to be confident in the matchup.

Understand your role in each game
“Role Mis-Assignment will lead to losses” Every game of Pokémonhas two decks that are trying to reach their deck's goals. Even when it comes to two one-prize decks, one deck if running at the same prize trade will have more inevitability than the other. Even between two unique “control” decks, one deck has more inevitability than the other. Specifically, with Zap Beasts we can see the importance of four prize turns for Sledgehammer and Two Prize turns with Night Cap the deck to reach this first will have a supreme advantage. Go into every game trying to figure out your role in the matchup and focusing on what is important for you to do. 

 Take your time 

“Slowplaying” is a huge problem in the game that has been crucified by media coverage and judges alike. When it comes to discussing it, you need to be very careful, as players have been punished by it. The problem with the game is that it involves a lot of decisions. Most players will focus on one line, discover another line and not even realize how much time they have taken off the clock. There is nothing wrong with slowing down and thinking a playthrough, and most opponents will let you do this as long as you aren’t doing it the entire match. The problem occurs when one player takes more of the clock than the other. This is important because most games of Pokémonare decided by one critical decision that was done incorrectly. 

 Think during your opponent’s turns too
Your opponent’s turn is an important time to think and plan out your actions. It is extremely important when playing Zoroark to figure out what cards you need to when you trade. Figuring out what cards you need to draw in what order can take up so much time on your turn. I can't even tell the number of times I draw a card from trade and need to reevaluate my turns. You should always have a set plan in motion, and adapt it as you get new information. Don’t wait to decide this at the last minute as it can throw off your turns. 

 Always play to your outs
How many times you have been able to survive un-winnable games. Though there are many times when it looks bleak, there is always a way to win some of those un-winnable games. Most players tend to get disheartened when they’re down and out and tend to just give up. Next time you’re in that position, take a breather and figure out what you need to do to win that game. Your outs in these situations usually involve your opponent making mistakes while certain cards come off the top of your deck. I had a situation recently where I took two prizes with Dewgong and than my opponent knocked out my Dewgongleaving my board with Muk, two Zoruas. I drew a DCE off my prizes with a Zoroark GX. For my turn, I drewLillie. I was able to evolve my Zorua into a Zoroark GX. Attach energy. Lillie and then draw into nest ball, another poke comm for a second Zoroark GX and take a knockout on my opponents Zapdos. As unlikely as it seems, you have nothing else to lose, because you already have your back to the wall. There have been so many games where I always wanted to give up, but somehow I ended up getting there in the end because of this. There is a caveat to this rule when it comes to time. Some games you just need to concede especially with two games remaining to save time on the match. 

Allocate your resources effectively
Know the cards in your deck. Know what you have left. I have always run three guzmas in my Zoroark decks. The reason being is you never know in the late game when you are going to need one. Even when we had puzzle of time, I always wanted to make sure that I could Lele for one for the game. Earlier, I talked about inevitability and this is one of those situations. I always want to be able to check in the deck the important cards. Guzma, Acerola, Professor Kukui. These are all cards that are important in certain matchups. Acerola versus Spread, Professor Kukui vs.Blacephalon. This is why knowing what to put back you're your deck with Pal Pad for the late game is important. Every card you discard with Ultra Ball could affect your game later. Always have this in mind when it comes to your cards 


 Think about how you can lose

This is the opposite of thinking about your outs. When you’re so far ahead of your opponent in a game, how can they come back to beat you? When does the prize trade favour your opponent?What combos in their deck can take the game out of your hands? I had a situation during day 2 of Collinsville; I had pretty much had the game in hand. My opponent, also thought this until he was able to rescue stretcher Baby Buzzwole Beast Energy Guzma, sledgehammer a damaged Zoroark for the game. Had I seen this play earlier I would have been able to play around this accordingly. 

Even when you are 95% to winning a game, there is still that 5% left for your opponent to retrieve the win. Make sure you don’t give them that opportunity and try to figure out how you can lose. Always remember as well, as soon as they show you the cards scoop as quickly as you can, and move on to try to win the next two games. 


 Watch your opponent

No, no. I’m not saying that your opponent is a cheater. Of course, that’s definitely a positive of this change, in that you can protect yourself from being cheated. But what you should be looking for is reactions from your opponents. Pokémonplayers give a lot of information away, not just by the way they play but also in the way they look at things.

Is your opponent looking at a Pokémonon your bench they might have Guzma in their hand? This is might be the correct time to Marshadow your opponent or Judge. If you see your opponent checking their discard over and over again, make sure to take a look at their discard too, to try to discover what they are trying to figure out. 



 Do your research

We are about to play the biggest tournament in the Pokémonseason. Are you about to play in a tournament for a certain format? It would be a big help to read up on articles and look at the decks that have been doing well.I always make time to watch some matches from previous events to figure out what the new techs in the deck are. You don't want to go to an event and be surprised by new tech. A lot of players will immediately copy decks from the last tournament. Looking at the last few decks will tell you to have players have stopped running field blower, or have switched to two judges in their deck. Knowing this information can be the difference between winning and losing. Always remember knowledge is power. 


Well that is it for me. If you are at NAIC come say hi. I love hearing feedback. I hope you can close out your invite and if not I hope you have fun at our biggest tournament of the year!

Until next time, 



[+0] okko


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