When it comes to TCG’s I’ve always considered Magic my go to, and lord knows I’ve sunk a disagreeable amount of my children’s university money into chasing the dream of mythic rares and foil sets. This was always encouraged by Keith, the well-spoken chap at my local Model and Games shoppe by putting on tournaments and local launch events at the weekends.
Time has passed and I’ve since had to pass my collection on to other people via eBay and local trading. I walk past the shop sometimes at the weekends and the events are still running. The most popular of which is the Pokemon TCG, which has also held a special space in my heart. But with expansions aplenty and nearly 750 of the little bleeders up for grabs, I knew that getting into another TCG would be expensive, time consuming and my other half would be full of the face of ‘oh god why’.
Fortunately for me, I have 2 kids, who are obsessed with Pokemon at moment (thank you Pokemon GO). So not only a daily basis to I get to watch all the Pokemon I could possibly want, but I also get indulge my inner Trainer with all of the toys, plushies, clothes and indeed Cards that I can get my geeky little hands on.
‘It’s because of the kids’ I tell myself. Indeed to them, I am a Pokemon MASTER.
The cards are numerous and interesting. From humble beginnings as a sort of ‘let’s fill a marketing gap’ for the Pokemon company, the TCG has blossomed from a simple enough card game where trainers battle with their personal favourites to a full-bodied, strategy-laden TCG that commands international tournaments with large prize pools, lists of ‘Pro Decks’ dot the internet and it’s all a bit mad… fun indeed, but mad as a Mankey having a really bad day.
For the 20th Anniversary of Pokemon, The Pokemon company have decided ‘Alright guys, all this madness is good and well, but don’t forget your roots’ and have (re)released the original set in all of it’s nostalgic glory, right down to the original artwork and card layout, so once again you get to look at your faves in with all of the joyous abandon that you had when you used to spend your pocket money on 5 packs and ultimately end up with another 3 Diglets and devolution spray you never really understood the reason behind. Hoping that the foil card at the back was a shiny Charizard and not the Charmander it’s almost inevitably turned out to be.
So I (and John, and Harri the occasional tag-along) find ourselves in London, it’s cold and sat-nav tells us that the venue is ‘just around the next corner’ We’ve been invited to the launch event and yes, all of us are looking forward to it. I’ve just started a new collection of cards that my kids are adamant are is theirs, Harri’s been playing for a while and John is in it for the swag, he’s not going to sugarcoat it – his first love is Magic and doesn’t see a reason to cheat on her.
The venue is smaller than expected and a bit pokey (poke´- get it??) but is full of people getting into it. There are new players, old veterans and those just getting reacquainted with the card game. We get signed in and promptly have a deck thrust into our hands and after establishing that we are aren’t new to the game are send off into the room to find a space and get to playing. John quickly dispatching Harri with his Mewtwo deck and I falling at the last hurdle to a chap whose name I forget to a Pikachu mirror match.
It was fun playing with the older cards again, I knew every single one and it felt comfortable like that jumper you always have on standby. My Pikachus and Voltorbs with their average attacks were like old friends, and I’m sure that this is part of the reason this set is out now… and It’s standard in league play.. winner.
Halfway through the event we were given some boosters from the set and we got to experience the old joy of seeing what’s contained beneath the foil wrapped goodness, some cheers went up around some lucky players hit the mark with foil Charizards and EX Pokemon, whilst I had to settle for a foil Metapod and Caterpie. Thems the breaks and part of the enjoyment / pain of playing a TCG. It’s was a warm atmosphere and we were all experiencing it – some for the first time, others with a rekindled enthusiasm. Good job Nintendo, Great job The Pokemon Company.
We tried to grab someone for a video interview, but alas there were no takers, but we did manage to get a few minutes from the Rep at the Pokemon company who whilst declined to go on the record, did say that this event was not supposed to be this busy, but was hugely satisfied with the turnout.
After blagging some swag and exchanging cards, John, Harri and I were off into the night – they had just started a knockout tournament but the trains were stopping soon and my kids were gonna love the free plushy Meowth that was in the swag bag.