The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

In Praise of …


My daughter built her first deck (instead of using preconstructed decks) and we played a few games today. Pokemon really is the CCG for kids. There are a few reasons.

  1. Deck building is tightly constrained. I dislike this, but it’s great for kids. Exactly 60 cards. 20-25 will be Energy (“Land” in Magic). Probably 20-25 will be Pokemon. So once you decide the colors/pokemon, your just decide the last few cards to splash into a deck.
  2. You can play one energy a turn (attached to a specific pokemon). Only one pokemon can be active, although it can ‘retreat’ by discarding some energy. Each Pokemon has 1 or 2 attacks. Unless you’ve got a trainer/support card (one of those 10-20 spare), your turn has the following decisions:
    1. Retreat your current pokemon? (Usually not).
    2. Which pokemon (if any) do you attach energy to?
    3. Which of two attacks should you use?

    Now, these decisions are coupled (if you play to squeeze every last ounce of win percentage), but they appear uncoupled when you are starting, and give the young apprentice trainer a nice rhythm (“Draw card, attach energy, retreat?, attack!”).

  3. The coin flip mechanism handicaps adults fairly well.
  4. Many of the decisions you have to make are ‘non-decisions.’ “Do I hit for 20 points or flip a coin for 0/40?” If your opponents pokemon only has 20 points left, or (conversely) ignores the first 20 points of damage, then the decision is easy … for an adult. Children will go through a stage and then realize that some options have no upside. That’s a pretty good lesson to learn.

The downsides:

  1. You will walk by the TV and say “Look, a Buizel!” Then you will pause and slap yourself.
  2. Then others will (rightly) mock you.
  3. When your children turn ten, you may be disappointed to find out that they aren’t setting off to make their mark just yet …


Written by taogaming

April 27, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Posted in Reviews

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  1. Read the entry entitled “Pokemon and Comic Con”:


    Greg Williams

    April 28, 2008 at 11:24 am

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