Why Does Pokemon Like "Shuffle Your Deck" so Much?

I’m primarily a MTG player, but have a real soft spot for PTCG, primarily the WeeEggs decks in Expanded (Plasma Freeze Weevile that pitches pokemon to do damage alongside Propagate Exeggute). One thing that has really started to get to me is the seemingly abusive use of the phrase “shuffle your deck afterwards” or something of the like depending on card. Most notably this shows up on Trainer’s Mail, Great Ball, and Max Elixir. These cards do things that shouldn’t require shuffling of the deck upon completion, yet they do, adding more time to games. It feels like games could be shortened, drastically in some cases depending on how many of these cards are run in a given deck, with a simple change to having the unused cards be put on the bottom of the deck. MTG has cards that do similar effects where the top X cards are looked at by the using player, and all unused are put on the bottom and it works really well. People complain about too much shuffling, but that’s only when players also use some 8+ cards that search the deck, but that’s besides the point.

So what purpose does all this shuffling serve, when the entire order of the deck is still unknown by both players? I’m actually struggling to understand and would love some insight. Thanks!

A good amount of this has likely to do with the greater number of children playing Pokemon than MTG. When Pokémon had a major “put these cards on the bottom of your deck” effect a few years ago, a frequent issue arose with rewinding gamestates where that effect was either mismanaged or another issue resulted in the deck being shuffled improperly.

By constantly destroying knowledge of the deck’s order, it’s a lot easier to rewind misplays. That’s probably the most significant design-side reason for the decision. Most players work around/mitigate this by simply playing search effects in a row where applicable, but I agree that it’d be smoother if Pokemon adopted MTG’s template style in this regard.

I’m fine with shortcutting and performing multiple searches in a row, but where my gears start to grind is casting/playing multiples of Trainer’s Mails, Great Balls, and Max Elixirs all back-to-back. I guess the number of children playing and needing an out to screw-ups makes sense, but as an older player it really frustrates me. There are other issues I have with PTCG crossing over, but this is by far the hardest to get over as it seems so tedious.

What kind of issues would come up? I’ve heard of people forgetting they already played a supporter, and then play “N” and having to rewind that, but an item under non-lock condition perplexes me.

Well, for example, suppose I play a trainers’ Mail and I need a Lysandre and a Float Stone to win the game. I have one copy of each left in my deck, so if I can dig deep enough for them I deserve the win, right?

Say the Mail reveals two energy, the last Lysandre and the last Float Stone. I can only take one trainer even though I need both. Under the current rules, I take the Lysandre and shuffle the other cards back.
I can then play a second Mail and potentially reveal the Float Stone I need to win.
However, under these proposed “to-the-bottom” rules, I would be physically unable to play the second Mail and grab the Float Stone if my deck contained 5 or more cards, since the Float Stone would have to be put on the bottom after the first Mail, meaning the second Mail can’t reach it, thus depriving me of the victory that I should otherwise have.

In my opinion, a luck-based loss like this isn’t fair. The situation I described was simplified but events like it happen all the time. The current shuffle-after-mail/elixir/great ball rules lower the chances of me losing to bad luck, since any trainer in my deck can be theoretically added with trainers’ mail (depending on how the deck is shuffled), even if I played another Mail right before it.

In short, the current rules reduce slightly the amount of detrimental impact luck can have, which is always a good thing.

Maybe it’s just playing so many feel bad games of MTG where the draws just don’t pan out for one player or the other, but I’m fine if games end that way. Not gonna lie, it sucks when they do, but that’s variance and it will bite you. If I’m going to lose, I’d rather lose quickly, or just scoop it up if my opponent has lethal on board. Sure keeping hope alive can be good, but if it costs time that could be better used in games 2/3 why bother? Also, early turns already take too long, so why lengthen them even more?

After reading so many PTCG cards that needlessly say “shuffle your deck afterwards” or something to the effect, I feel there could be more efficient ways of doing it. Like say in your example, just save a search effect if you might need the shuffle. Yea my personal experience with the game and playing Eggs means Ultra Ball, for example, is a free shuffle effect that comes with an added bonus, but I’m sure plenty of search effects exist in the game.

Here is the reason there are so many shuffle cards according to @KPiplup in From Top to Bottom.

“Consider: the rules of the Pokémon TCG dictate that in order for a deck to be sufficiently randomized, no cards may become visible to their owner at any point in the shuffling process — if a player gains knowledge about the location of any card in his or her deck, the deck is no longer randomized, and randomization must begin again to destroy any preconceived order to the deck.”

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Finally someone states the obvious.

Neither player can have knowledge of the deck. Even if you know only the top card, any card that searches the deck, even top deck searchers (max elixer, trainers mail). Knowing just one card can change how each turn is played out.

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So the answer to the question in the title is that for some stupid reason, Pokemon doesn’t want anyone to have any idea what resources they realistically have access to? I don’t see what wrong with the active player knowing they can’t draw at least 3-7 individual cards off a Juniper following one of the top deck “searchers”. So now, do we know why Pokemon has this view?

I don’t agree with that explanation. There have been and still are card effects that allow one or both players to see certain cards in the deck without shuffling afterward. Examples from Standard and Expanded that let players look at cards and put them on top of the deck include Gallade (BKT), Swampert (AOR), Trick Shovel, and many more. In the DPPt era, cards like Claydol put cards at the bottom of the deck as well.

It could be, in the case of Trainers’ Mail or Max Elixir, that Pokemon wanted players to have the possibility of drawing into the same card(s) over again on a consecutive Mail/Elixir, but that’s such a minor thing that I would hardly expect it to be a priority. IMO the time saved by not needing to shuffle would make it a much better card for the game if you put the extra cards on bottom.

The idea that little kids have a tendency to goof it up somehow is as close to a reasonable explanation as I think exists.

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The cards that don’t have a shuffle your deck after are played specifically to put cards in an order. They would be rather useless otherwise.

Of course, but their existence contradicts the idea that players aren’t allowed to ever know the location of anything in their deck.

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Mm, knowing the order of your deck because of a card interaction and because you’re cheating (which is what my article is referring to) are different things. I don’t think Pokemon makes you shuffle because they don’t want your cards to tell you where other cards are in your deck.

That makes sense, and I agree it would make the times the cards brick better. What I mean is whiffing on a mail hurts a lot less if they go to the bottom as opposed to being shuffled in, ready to help whiff another mail. For example, I play a card in MTG that looks at the top 6, pick up to 2 certain things, and put the rest on the bottom. When I either whiff, or hit 1, it hurts less since I know 4-6 cards that are not on top of my deck killing my draws. Mind you in most games of MTG draw power is far more limited, so what’s on top really matters, especially compared to PTCG. If Pokemon didn’t want you to know the order of the cards, then have them go on the bottom in a random order. This way the game is still sped up, since shuffling 3-6 cards takes a lot less time, and you still get a random effect added at the end.

Any effect that involves searching the whole deck for something necessitates shuffling afterward to prevent cheating. A player who searches his or her deck knows what they will and won’t be drawing into, which isn’t an intended effect of the card, and on top of that, it would be easy for a player to sneak a card they really want to the top of their deck while searching it if shuffling weren’t required.

But an effect that only involves looking at certain cards from the top of the deck shouldn’t require the whole deck to be shuffled afterward. Trainers’ Mail, Max Elixir, even a card like N could be played without shuffling by simply placing one’s hand at the bottom of the deck, if not for the desired possibility of re-drawing some of the same cards from the previous hand. I would love to see more fast cards like this in future sets, and fewer slow cards like Mail and Elixir.

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I believe the horrendous fossil mechanic would have to be fixed if they ever considered the proposed mechanic.

Or just, you know, make fossil pokemon regular ones in the eyes of the game and sacrifice a little bit of flavor for the few it affects. So current “restored” pokes would just be basics without any weird deck building restrictions. They’ve already shown they’re willing to consider it with the release of Tyrantrum (sp?) EX.

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Clearly you missed out on the original mechanic, gen1 aerodactyl tech was the best!

The original mechanic was awful, leaving us with weak evolution pokes that couldn’t stand up to their normal counterparts. Now if only TPCI could make drafting the game not so terrible…

Fossils have always yielded fun decks (remember that cradily a while ago). In gen 3 era of the tcg they were occassionally abused to block hits with the no prize card factor. In gen 1 we had aerodactyl ontop of this robo sub strategy. The only competitive fossil we’ve had since aerodactyl was archeops; and only in conjunction with Maxie’s which blatently shows that the old mechanic is much better than the one we have currently. A further example of how consistently poor the current mechanic is compared to the old is the level of competitiveness that it has in comparision to its respective metagame. The best thing we have from the current mechanic is aeroflame, and as good as it is, aeroflame literally has no way of gaining an advantage which is it’s biggest failing as a competitive deck.

If they really need to make fossil cards special and not just regular basic pokemon, I wonder if it wouldn’t work best to just have an Old Amber item card (for example) that says “search your deck for Aerodactyl and put it on your bench.” It gets the point across without being a huge pain in the butt. Then just make it strong enough of a card to justify taking up as much deck space as a Stage 1 and being unplayable under item lock.