Where are you from?
We’re from the Madison area.
How did you and your son get into Pokémon?
My son was introduced to Pokémon cards while attending camp last summer. A number of the kids were bringing the cards to camp and trading them and playing a simplified version of the game. He was really interested in the colorful cards and the social aspect of the game. That meant of course that he needed some cards for him to join in the fun, so we bought him a few tins to start off his collection.
After camp ended, my son wanted to continue playing so I located a local game store, where we quickly learned that they were not really using the Pokémon TCG rules at camp (for example, they didn’t use any Energy cards and just used any attack their Pokémon had). So we decided we needed to learn the rules so he could continue playing. That’s where I started to get more involved-I needed to learn the game myself so I could teach it to him and help him with questions and develop his skills. He learned quickly and his grasp of the strategy of the game often catches me by surprise. This year he even started a Pokémon Club at his elementary school (2nd graders) and I have gone in a few times to help teach the club members.
What’s it been like trying to learn about Pokémon as a parent?
I am a long-time gamer (RPG, strategy/war games, board games), so it wasn’t as hard for me to learn as it might be for others. I also have a few friends that play or have played Magic, so I was aware of the concepts of collectible card games but had never played them myself. We started by getting a couple of theme decks and a few card lots on eBay. We found a number of helpful videos on how to play on YouTube to get the basics down and eventually began attending Pokémon casual play events at local game stores. After we became comfortable with the basic rules we started attending the league events and that has become a weekly thing for us. That league play has helped us pick up some of the finer details and strategies for playing, deck building and trading.
The prerelease you attended was for the Steam Siege set-what are a few cards from that set you found interesting?
The stand out cards for me in Steam Siege are the new trainer cards Pokémon Ranger, Special Charge and Ninja Boy. Pokémon Ranger is useful because it allows players to bypass the effects of many popular “shut down” attacks like those seen on Jolteon, Seismitoad and Giratina EX. Special Charge will likely become a mainstay for decks (such as Night March) that rely on Special Energy Cards, allowing them to recover two of them from the discard pile. Finally, Ninja Boy is sure to create some surprises and interesting strategies with its ability to switch out the active Pokémon with another from your deck.
I also like the rereleased Yveltal, the new Yveltal BREAK and the full art Professor Sycamore cards. My son is looking forward to trying some strategies with the new dual-type Pokémon like Volcanion EX.
This is the second set using the new prerelease format. What are your thoughts so far?
I think the addition of the Evolution pack has really added to the playability and consistency of prerelease decks. Both my son and I were able to easily include ten useful Trainer cards to our decks with the new format. Before the addition of the Evolution pack we were lucky to find one or two useful Trainer cards. Without Trainers it was hard to employ any kind of strategy and it came down to basically the luck of the draw. The new format is much more fun to play.
One thing I have noticed is that if you are lucky enough to pull an EX card in a prerelease (like I was this time) it can really give your deck a power advantage. Maybe they could include one random EX in each prerelease package and place a limit of one EX in prelease deck builds to even that out.
Any general suggestions for other parents?
Get in there and learn to play, it is much more fun to play with your kids than just to watch them play. Start off with a couple of premade theme decks in a causal play environment. There are some good “how to play” videos on YouTube. The Pokémon TCG Online application is also a great place to learn the game.