The TCG Design Thread


The power creep wouldn’t have been so game changing and bad, if they had applied it evenly. That would even up the game and get kids to want more than just the OP EXs. Instead, they left the rest of the Pokemon the way they were and raised the power of the legendaries.


Maybe because the Legendaries were seriously underpowered before. Does anyone really think it makes sense to have Mewtwo and Ninjask with the same HP? Or how about Palkia and Dialga being on a par with Floatzel like they were in DP?


Sure, but they could have been boosted a little bit less though. :wink:


I don’t expect small Stage 1’s to be on par with Legendaries, I just expect them to have realistic HP levels for their respective Stages, like 90 for Ninjask and 100/110 for Floatzel.


Would that really make much difference to the game?

Low HP Pokemon can do pretty well in the post-BLW era: Durant, Night Marchers, Hawlucha, Accelgor, Flareon, for example. It isn’t necessarily a barrier to playability.

If your argument is that you kind of feel that you would like for some Pokemon to have a bit more HP because, well, that would be nice . . . then, that’s a point of view.


You’re right, it’s honestly moreso a matter of taste in this instance, but those little HP bits can help now and then. For example, if Landorus-EX has a Muscle Band and a Strong Energy attached, it can OHKO Whimsicott AOR. If Whimsicott had even 10 more HP, it could survive that hit. It’s the little things that matter.


I do wish that they would have something along the lines of good synergy with other cards to give non-ex’s a chance. I understand why they chose the route of highly powerful EX cards. If they had made cards that could compete with EX’s then that would make EX’s less playable as they would loose the prize war.

It just irks me that really really awesome cards like empoleon and garchomp were still drastically outshined despite having amazing support and sysnergy in decks. It also lessens the strategy involved.


To be honest, I think that Empoleon and Garchomp are pretty overpowered cards too . . . it’s just that they exist in a format where there were even more overpowered cards.

Empoleon, for example, is Jumpluff HGSS on steroids

This was considered a very powerful card back in the day, yet Empoleon has significantly more HP and built-in draw.

Garchomp is just a very cheap rush attacker with a well-designed pre-evo, nothing very skillful or engaging there.

Just because these cards are Stage 2s, doesn’t make them inherently more interesting or strategically challenging to play.


I wasn’t suggesting they were. But the concept of big Ex smash other big Ex for damage reduces the strategy does limit them. But I read somewhere that this was probably intentional downplaying of the difficulty of strategies and complexities of card rulings.


True. True.

They didn’t just leave the Pokemon the way they were however. It’s worse. They nerfed them. At least, that is the trend from DP era to current era, though to be fair Lvl.Xs were at the very peak of overpowered (more than EXs imo).

Honestly, given that Ninjask is a fragile but speedy Pokemon by concept, 60-70 HP + no retreat is pretty decent to symbolize that. Many Stage 1s do actually have the bulk to rival Legendaries as it is, and all of these are bulky in concept so there isn’t much problem there.

I just had a discussion yesterday with a few reddit users regarding the relationship between HP and Power. I know I’ve probably started sounding like a broken record by now, but the support for something is just as, if not more important than a certain something itself. This does not apply to just specific Pokemon, but to everything, from archtype to a stage to a type to a weakness to a resistance to a retreat cost to a HP to a mechanic.

More HP is not necessarily better HP. In said discussion, we discussed Vespiquen VS Flareon, and the general consensus is that one of the reasons to run Vespiquen over Flareon is that it has better HP thanks to Level Ball. The only reason 180 EXs are so prominent in today’s meta is thanks not solely due to their innate power, but also because there is little support everywhere in general and EXs are better at running with little to no support (which is actually the case for EXs. Hoopa EX is the first ever EX support).

You can see this in the non-EX decks that are successful or have become successful since EXs have been around. Flareon rose because of Battle Compressor, VS Seeker, DCE, Ultra Ball and the fact that Archie really works so well in the deck. Donphan because of Korrina, Float Stone, Strong Energy, Fighting Stadium, Muscle Band and Hawlucha. Weavile because of Silver Bangle, Exeggcute, Loppuny, Level Ball and Dark Patch (and subsequently died when the last two were rotated). All of these were little seen until the release of Phantom Forces, Furious Fists and Flashfire, respectively.

But the big things matter more.

To bring back the Ninjask example, I have a CaC down at Pokebeach called Safari Ball that could exchange up to 3 cards in your hand for the same number of 60 HP Pokemon from your deck, and if that were released as an official card, would a 60 HP Ninjask be better than a 90 HP one? There is no benefit in this game from overkilling, and with that in mind, a Pokemon that gets an advantage from its 60 HP to set up blazingly faster or have a better place in this metagame would prefer that over an iffy chance to survive slightly longer. If we want to make these cards viable, I suggest we give them that.

It is for that reason I find it pointless to lament over a Pokemon having lower HP than to lament about that lower HP being not viable due to a lack of support.

I’m glad you brought this card up. M Charizard is the prime example of huge damage and huge HP meaning nothing without sufficient support. Few means for powering up. No Spirit Link. Average pre-evolved forms. The power it has is ironically the biggest reasons for its downfall because it needs to sacrifice a lot just to take out a 30 HP Joltik.

When M Ray Dragon was introduced, this card reinforced the importance of support even more. Getting Double Dragon, Reshiram, Hydreigon EX, Scorched Earth, and a Spirit Link pushed it up to a point where it is almost viable, still vastly better than where M Char was.

Amazing support… I think not!

Really though, the only block with worse support for Evolvutions than BLW-On was Base Set. The only bloody thing we have for Empoleon in standard is Archie, which is counter synergetic to Empoleon anyways, Rare Candy, which is just terrible and can barely count, Exeggcute and Dive Ball. Yes, I admit that Empoleon has a lot of power, but when you consider that the pre-evolved forms are little better than filler, it isn’t quite so hard to imagine why it can’t shine. These cards have to pull the weight of 2 other cards so worthless than they had to print cards to let you get away from them faster.

Garchomp I can admit to having semi decent support, but still not great support nonetheless.

A reasonable response. Stage 2s did undergo bankruptcy at coincidentally the same time Pokemon EX started to become widespread (directly or indirectly thanks to the stunningly good decision to break us in with an EX that was its own counter), so it is common for people to put 2 and 2 together and say that EXs killed Stage 2s.

As @baby_mario said, Stage 2s aren’t all that strategic. They have useful skills, and attack when they have energy, no different from EXs. The difficulty they have nowadays is the sort of difficulty that that is lucked based, not skill based due to their lack of support, and back when they had a lot of support they dominated to the point where being a basic that could not evolve was a deathblow. In fact, I would argue that EXs actually add to the strategy needed in the game, because it is only when they are around that the concept of a seven prize game emerged. The mechanic is used hellishly well in some instance, like Shaymin EX for starters where it becomes a limited.

Also, as far as skill goes, Garchomp is just about as low as it gets. Get Gabite out. Get Gabite#2 out. Get Altaria out. Get Altaria#2 out. Attach energy. Attack. I’ve played it, and if I wanted to play a high skilled deck, I’d play just about anything else. Even pre-LTC ban Toad Shaymin had more skill involved.

Anyways, regarding Power Creep, here’s an interesting question to ponder: What is Power? It’s too easy to point at HP and Damage and say “Power Creep!” A better definition of it would certainly help with further discussion.


Dive Ball
Rare Candy
Accelgor lock alternative
Sky field
Shaymin ex
Rough Seas
Miltank (arguably)
Though I admit that empoleon itself didn’t have direct support that couldn’t be applied to other decks but it did have support enough to be an incredible deck just one season earlier.

Garchomp had everything and more however in terms of support. Empoleon itself was just such an awesome card it didn’t need as much. Garchomp however had altaria, muscle band, lazerbank ect.

I don’t recall saying anything about stage 2’s being more strategic in nature. I said that the Ex’s of now reduce the complexity of the game. Its possible they could create a complex Ex card but why when you can just smash face with Mega Tyranitar or Mega Rayquaza? The most complex high preforming deck of the this last standard was probably night march. It wasn’t complicated but it required some judgement calls that might be difficult for some people to make.

And as stated I didn’t say “stage 2”. I just listed empoleon and Garchomp as the first two non-ex powerful cards that were underwhelming to come to mind.

Some others.
Ninetails DEX
Aegislash (shield form)
Charizard Legendary treasures
Beartic (arguably )
Milotic (energy ability)

Ect. I am not complaining but noting the path of the game. There will always be cards that were “okay” or “almost good enough”. I don’t mind that. Even if there were no Ex’s only a handfull of the above would be played. But all of the above were good or at least playable in the absence of ex’s. Some would have even dominated. Vespiqueen looks like the only deck in the up and coming set that can get by without Ex attackers. Its neither here nor there but still the truth.


I think it’s pushing it somewhat to claim things like Shaymin EX, Muscle Band, LaserBank as support for specific Stage 2s when they are really generic support cards that can be used by almost everything (most notably by big EX Pokemon). It’s not like the old ex era where we had cards which were designed to give something to non-ex decks (Celio, Scramble & Double Rainbow Energy, Desert Ruins). They only things you listed that aren’t also used by EXs would be ‘Accelgor Lock alternative’, Rare Candy, and Miltank.

You’re right that there will always be powerful cards which push the rank below them into unplayability. If we banned the EXs, then the cards that emerged would be keeping others down etc. I don’t really see a problem with EX domination per se, though. I don’t really care whether the Pokemon I’m using is a Stage 1, 2, or Basic as long as the game is enjoyable and challenging to play. I find something like Groudon or Metal Quaza, although not complex relative to the game’s history, are a bit more strategic than almost all of the Stage 2s we have at the moment.


Read the sentence directly underneath the first list.


In which case, I’m not entirely sure what this discussion is about. You could simply list those cards and say that any Pokemon in the entire format had great support.


I understand the confusion now. I mean that the architype for those cards would have been supported. The cards themselves would have been good but Ex’s were either simply better or more overwhelming. Its neither good nor bad. Just a note.


Let’s ‘necrobump’ this.

Over the past few sets (well, basically since blw, but whatever) the cards have become even simpler and more powerful. Since the last time this thread was used, Stage-2’s and evolutions have become the dominant force in the tcg. These cards (i.e. Greninja-Break, Trevenant-Break ) are impossibly “simple” and exceedingly powerful.

This shows me a few things about the PCL (or whoever it is that designs cards)

  1. They listen to the players to some extent:
    -For those of you who have been playing the TCG for any period of time remember how everyone complained about how OP big basic EX’s were. The game designers have done their best to remedy this, with evolution decks dominating standard (at this time).

  2. Despite their awesome listening skills, the designers seem to be running out of ideas
    -Every generation, it seems, the cards get less complex. I’m seeing cards that are nearly identical to older cards more and more frequently.

  3. I don’t see them ever “fixing” the power creep
    -They’ve tried to fix the game, and it really hasn’t worked. Pokemon as just as mind numb-ing and thoughtless as it was when they started trying to help the gamestate.

  4. I believe that the game is beginning to become less popular with the longtime players
    -Myself and many otherst hat I am close with all have a general consensus: the OP, at the time of posting this, sucks. Very simple, repetitive, and non-creative formats are the reality we face.

I would like to know how each of you would solve this. How would go about re-instilling more skill into the game? How would you “fix” such an abstract subject? Or would you? Would you let the PTCG run it’s course?

This probably doesn't make sense; I'm exhausted rn, but if you have any questions about what I said, please ask.


I don’t think the simplicity is necessarily a bad thing. If any given specific card has exactly one general use or purpose, then it’s a lot more manageable than most cards having two or three different purposes/effects. For example, Yu-Gi-Oh at the moment is pretty dang complicated, with every single meta card that comes needing at least two, usually three different effects to be useful enough to become viable. I don’t think that’s the direction Pokémon needs to head.

However, a good split between simple single-purpose cards (such as Zygarde EX) and utility cards with multiple uses (such as Zoroark BKT) would most likely be very beneficial to the game. If deck strategies become more derived from how cards interact beneficially with each other (like RayEels to an extent, or LudiCargo, or VileGar) rather than being based on a single one-trick-pony plan (like Toad or Vespiquen Vileplume or Night March or Trevenant or maybe even Greninja), then the game as a whole would be a lot more interesting and enjoyable.

I also think that for the most part, lock decks need to go. Sure they balance out overpowered turbo decks like Night March, but in reality, decks like Night March or Tail Revenge Turbo or Uxie Donk shouldn’t exist to begin with. Lock decks turn the game into one-sided matches that take away strategy and encourage mindless spamming (Quaking Punch). Lock decks can also turn into overpowered turbo decks themselves (Medicham ex or Vileplume). I think the game needs to reach a much more steady, consistent pace within matches before it can be perfected.


I think that it’s at least become better, with regards to “meta-planning”, as there aren’t REALLY just 3-4 decks that everyone plays, as if you look at the week 3-4 winners of states (as it’s standard, you’ll find more variety in expanded) you see NM, VespiPlume, Trevenant, Dark, and ToadTina just in the Masters format, meanwhile if you look at the CroClass tournament going on @ Team Cake (chosen b/c they have the top UK players participating) you’ll see Greninja, WaterBox, and FightingBox. If you compare this to BLW-X, you have, at a given time, either Darkrai/Hydreigon, Darkrai/Hammers, Eels, Ho-Oh, or Plasma, Darkrai, Blastoise, Emboar, VirGen, or Plasma, Darkrai, Blastoise, RayEels, depending on the format, and IF you could find a counter to the meta decks, then you could build an amazing counter deck that lost to 1 deck, went 50-50 with another, and beat the others (cf. @hunkyross @ the ECC).

You simply don’t have that with this day and age. Sure, you could separate them out into Lock, Big Basic + Support, and Turbo (Trev/Vespi/Greninja (prize lock)/ToadTina, Water/Fighting/Dark, and Night March), but classification has two issues:

  1. It doesn’t fully explain other decks, such as MMan/Ho-Oh or Vespiquen/Raichu, leading it’s predictive ability to approach 0
  2. It isn’t the only way to slice the decks ,as you could mark them as Ability Reliant, Turbo, and Big Basic + Support, further reducing the amount of classifications, as well as increasing it’s predictive power, but other classifications still don’t have huge predictive power (or maybe I’m just bad @ classifications. If you think so, please reply with your own with large predictive power).


Can you explain the point you are trying to make?
(side note: no one has played Manectric/ho-oh or Vespiquen/raichu to any degree of success afaik)


Vespiquen/Raichu has been successful in the south east, M Manectric/ho-oh is definitely straight trash though.