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Professor’s Corner – The U.S. National Championships Experience (2013 Edition) 06/29/2014

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor.
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It’s almost that time again…U.S. Nationals! Whether you are preparing to attend this year or are generally interested in attending in the future, this article will give you some insight on what to expect. I will show a few pictures from my photo album from 2013 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN.

Nats BannerGiant Pikachu

Just…how big is Nationals, really?
It is held in a huge hall at the Indiana Convention Center. It’s the big party every Pokémon player from across the country should strive to go to and celebrate with all sorts of fun activities they have to offer over a three-day weekend. From blow-up Pokémon displays, to game tournaments, to costumed appearances and cosplayed fans, there’s something for everyone here!

Hall 2 Hall 3 Hall Starter Balloons

How often does it happen?
Usually around late June/early July timeframe.

What is the Nationals Tournament like?
It is the biggest tournament and the biggest chance for all good players to meet, compete, have fun, and battle for Championship Points and invitations to the World Championships! For TCG and comparable amounts of the VGC, Junior Division attendance tends to be around 150-200, Senior Division around 250-350, and Master Division can reach upwards of about 1,000 players!

Registration Day: Thursday, everyone that come early can check in to register for the TCG and/or VGC tournaments. Those who pre-registered and check in will receive a Nationals T-shirt, a Nationals-stamped promo card. There will be open gaming in the rooms across the hall to get your last-minute practice in and tweak your decklists as necessary before Day 1. Vendors will be open to buying and selling Pokémon goods. This is a great first opportunity to get together with friends across the country that you normally wouldn’t see on a regular basis, whether you’ve met them at another tournament or League far away from home.

Day 1: Friday is usually dedicated to TCG Nationals, where the players will play several Swiss rounds to determine if they can continue into Saturday or drop from the tournament.  All players that complete two (2) Swiss rounds of TCG will receive ten (10) additional Play! Points for participating. All the while, small events and special guests and costume appearances are also taking place throughout the day. Professors who qualified for and registered for the North America Professor Cup will play in a few Swiss rounds in the evening.

Day 2: Saturday tends to be the busiest day while TCG continues their Swiss rounds for the day and then plays a few rounds of Top Cut through Top 32 for all age divisions. VGC will be playing their preliminary Swiss rounds in parallel, and more special promotions, tournaments, and appearances are happening throughout the day! More Swiss rounds of the Professor Cup are played in the evening.

Day 3: Like the Super Bowl, championships happen on Sunday here! TCG and VGC plays through their Top Cut rounds until Champions are decided, and the Professor Cup Top Cut will be happening in parallel. All Championship matches (Top 2) will be featured on the big stage for all to see!

Finals StageVGC Finals 2

What can one win for doing well in the Nationals tournaments?
TCG: Quarterfinalists will earn invitations to attend the World Championships, Top 4 players will earn trophies, and great Pokémon merchandise. Championship Points and booster packs of the current set may be awarded as low as the Top 128 level, but ultimately depending on respective division attendance.

VGC: Top 4 players will earn trophies and invitations to Worlds, and great Pokémon merchandise. 2nd-4th place will win Nintendo 3DS-XLs and the Champion will win a 32GB Nintendo Wii U. Championship Points may be awarded as low as the Top 128 level, but ultimately depending on respective division attendance.

See Nationals information under the Tournaments tab for complete information.

I am going to Nationals this year! What should I expect that could be different from previous years?
-TCG players will play 50-minutes Best 2-of-3 Swiss Matches on Days 1 and 2 and will cut to a Top 8.
-VGC Nationals will feature battling through the X/Y versions.
-U.S. Nationals will feature two Championship Point Challenge tournaments throughout the weekend as way for players to get in another chance to earn Championship Points for the Worlds invitation. They will feature Swiss rounds only and CPs will be awarded based on final standings per the Regional Championships CP distribution. Registration is $20 and entrants will receive a U.S. Nationals limited edition playmat.

Can I still go to U.S. Nationals even if I don’t meet the TCG Play! Points requirements for this year?
YES!!! I will repeat that there’s something for everyone at Nationals. If/While you won’t be eligible to play in the Nationals tournament, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy while you’re there.

What is all there to do over the weekend?
VGC Nationals
: There is no Play! Points threshold in order to participate in the VGC. Assemble your best VG team and battle for the Championship! Be sure that you have registered beforehand!

Mini-League: This isn’t your ordinary League Session that you’re used to going to every week(end)! Find a player, battle them to a game and get in line for prizes. When you get to the front of the line, the League coordinators will reveal two prizes you can get. The winner gets first choice and the loser gets the other. The prizes are completely random, so you never really know what you can win until you get to the front of the line, so it’s best to be the winner of your game. Once you get your prize, find more players to battle, and rack up more prizes! Sample prizes can be anywhere from pencils, deck boxes, League and Premier Event promo cards, booster packs, and maybe even a booster box!

Side Events: Throughout the weekend, there will be several tournaments you can participate in order to win some great prizes. Such tournaments include 8-player knockout tournaments, 32-player Swiss, and 64-player Swiss TCG and VGC events. Brush up on your gaming skills, assemble your best deck or VG team, play against other players, and win more stuff! Who knows…big prizes like a Nintendo 3DS could be up for grabs!

Special Costumed Appearances: Costumed Pokémon will make appearances throughout the weekend and are the perfect opportunity to get photos with friends, family, and yourself. Make those memorable moments count!

Special Video Game Pokémon Distribution: While made available during Day 3, if you bring your Nintendo 3DS/3DS-XL with a (then) Black 2/White 2 version, you can receive a special Pokémon distribution that you can only get at Nationals!
Update: 2014 Nationals is offering a distribution via X/Y versions of the game.

Creativity Corner: Coloring activities are available to the younger groups in an area where parents can also be to spend that quality time with their child(ren) or wait on their child(ren) who may be playing in the Nationals tournaments. There may even be creativity contests where you could win prizes for having the best art!

Street Pass City: For those of you with a Nintendo 3DS/3DS-XL, prepare to be inundated with multiple Street Passes throughout the whole weekend. It’s a great opportunity to fill up missing puzzle pieces, get those missing colors to help get through Find Mii-2 and other Mii Plaza games you may own, share data from other games you have allowed via Street pass, and much more!

Shopping and Vendors: Looking for that certain card you need for your deck or collection? Or how about that Pokémon plush you’ve always wanted to get? Or a gift or souvenir for yourself or a friend? Looking to sell some cards? There will be some nationally-known vendors in attendance to help meet your Pokémon shopping needs.

Volunteer Work: The Pokémon Company staff is always looking for help throughout the weekend. You can act as a runner and take up and submit match slips during the Nationals tournament, judge in Side Events or assist in Mini-League, and more. That’s not to say that your hard work and dedication won’t be well rewarded; you will receive booster packs of the current TCG set per hour that you work (or 1 pack every certain number of minutes), and a Staff-stamped Nationals promo card (and possibly more). You even get to keep the “Volunteer” T-shirt you wore while working! Your contribution to a smoothly-run event, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated!

Swag

Nearby Hangouts: Summertime in down Indianapolis can get very busy, not to mention hot and humid outside. The Skywalk is a convenient network of overpasses linked between the buildings to allow ease of access without having to wait outside at crosswalks. From the Convention Center, it is a very short walk through the overpass to get to other buildings and parking lots, including the Circle City Mall (popular spot to go get lunch during the day and do some shopping), and hotels you may be staying around the area. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants alongside the large buildings if walking outside is a must. When in doubt, follow the crowds!

U.S. Nationals is a big event I highly recommend attending at least once in your lifetime. I am providing the link to the complete album found on Facebook .

Please let me know if you have any more questions about U.S. Nationals! Hope to see you there this year!

PikachuTepig

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty: N/A – Informational

Professor’s Corner – Match Resolution for Best-of-3 Swiss Matches 10/05/2013

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor, Pokemon News, Pokemon TCG, TCG News, TCG Strategy.
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With the change of Tier 2 Premier Events announced, players will now play in Best-of-3 Swiss Matches starting with Fall Regionals. As such, TPCi has re-introduced ties it has previously run in distant formats and will be determined in the following manner cited from the 2013-2014 TCG Rules and Formats:

Match Resolution During Swiss Rounds
Section 8.3: Determining the Outcome of an Unresolved, Best-of-Three Match

Game 1
• If the last turn ends during game 1, the match results in a tie.
• If time is called after game 1 has been resolved but before the starting player for a Sudden Death game has been determined, the match results in a tie.
• If time is called after the game 1 winner has been determined but before the starting player for game 2 has been determined, the winner of game 1 wins the match.

Game 2
• If the last turn ends during game 2, the winner of game 1 wins the match.
• If time is called after game 2 has been resolved but before the starting player for a Sudden Death game has been determined, the winner of game 1 wins the match.
• If time is called after the game 2 winner has been determined but before the starting player for game 3 has been determined, the match results in a tie.

Game 3
• If the last turn ends during game 3, the match results in a tie.
• If time is called after game 3 has been resolved but before the starting player for a Sudden Death game has been determined, the match results in a tie.

What this means:
-Please be reminded that the following explanations apply to SWISS rounds.
-If Plus 3 Rule is in effect, match winner or tie can only be determined by any of the above-explained criteria after Turn 3.
-The “4-Prize Rule”  does not apply to determine the winner of Game 2. The game must be decided on Game 2 before time is called for a match score of 1-1 for the tie to result.
-Plus 3 does not apply once a game has been resolved after time has been called through setup of the next game. The match winner or tie will be determined based on the game score at the moment time was called.
-Sudden Death will not be used to determine a winner of a match.

It is presumed at this time that Top Cut matches will also be Best-of-3 matches with complete game, and Sudden Death conditions applied as they are Single Elimination matches. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty: Advanced

Professor’s Corner – Championship Points Explained (2013-2014 Play! Cycle) 09/11/2013

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor, Game News, Pokemon TCG, Pokemon Video Games, TCG News.
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Championship Points (CPs) are a way of recognizing top performing players at Premier Events, and serve as a benchmark for an invitation to high-level events (i.e. World Championships). As many people are aware that the 2014 World Championships will be held in Washington D.C., most are curious as to how many CPs can be earned at Premier Events and how many CPs must be obtained in order to receive an invitation compete in Worlds 2014. I will explain with respect to both TCG and VGC routes.

TCG
The CP distribution for Premier Events for 2013-2014 Play! Cycle have changed somewhat from the previous Play! Cycle, but are as follows: *Updated as of September 20, 2013*

League Challenge
Earn 1 Play! Point per LC attended
Best Finish Limit (BFL) = 6

1st = 15 CPs
2nd = 12 CPs (Kicker = 4)
3rd-4th = 10 CPs (Kicker = 8)
5th-8th = 6 CPs (Kicker = 32)
9th-12th = 4 CPs (Kicker = 64)
13th-16th = 2 CPs (Kicker = 64)
17th-32nd = 1 CP (Kicker = 128)

City Championships
Earn 2 Play! Points per Cities attended
BFL = 4

1st = 50 CPs
2nd = 40 CPs (Kicker = 4)
3rd-4th = 30 CPs (Kicker = 8)
5th-8th = 20 CPs (Kicker = 32)
9th-12th = 10 CPs (Kicker = 64)
13th-16th = 5 CPs (Kicker = 64)
17th-32nd = 3 CPs (Kicker = 128)

States/Provincial/Territorial AND Regional Championships
Earn 3 Play! Points per event attended
BFL = 4

States
1st = 100 CPs
2nd = 90 CPs (Kicker = 4)
3rd-4th = 70 CPs (Kicker = 8)
5th-8th = 50 CPs (Kicker = 32)
9th-12th = 30 CPs (Kicker = 64)
13th-16th = 20 CPs (Kicker = 64)
17th-32nd = 10 CPs (Kicker = 128)
33rd-64th = 5 CPs (Kicker = 256)

Regionals
1st = 120 150 CPs
2nd = 110 135 CPs (Kicker = 4)
3rd-4th = 90 105 CPs (Kicker = 8)
5th-8th = 70 75 CPs (Kicker = 32)
9th-12th = 50 CPs (Kicker = 64)
13th-16th = 40 45 CPs (Kicker = 64)
17th-32nd = 20 30 CPs (Kicker = 128)
33rd-64th = 10 15 CPs (Kicker = 256)

U.S. National Championships
Earn 10 Play! Points for attending
BFL = 1

1st = 500 CPs
2nd = 500 CPs (Kicker = 4)
3rd-4th = 500 CPs (Kicker = 8)
5th-8th = 500 CPs (Kicker = 32)
9th-12th = 80 CPs (Kicker = 64)
13th-16th = 60 150 CPs (Kicker = 64)
17th-32nd = 40 100 CPs (Kicker = 128)
33rd-64th = 30 80 CPs (Kicker = 256)
35th-128th = 10 50 CPs (Kicker = 512)

Best Finish Limits (BFLs) restrict the amount of CPs that can be applied towards the Worlds invite. For example League Challenges have a BFL of 6. This means that the CPs earned from your best six (6) finishes (no matter how many LCs you attended) will count towards the Worlds invite (Maximum: 6 x 15 CPs = 90 CPs for LCs)

Kickers are the number of players in an age division that must participate in the tournament in order for the CPs to apply to that place finish.

In order to receive an invite to Worlds 2014, players from the following age divisions in the U.S. must have earned the following CPs after 2014 U.S. Nationals:
Junior = 400 CPs
Senior = 450 CPs
Master = 500 CPs

VGC

Online Competitions
Earn 1 Play! Point per event participated

1st = 10 CPs
2nd-8th = 8 CPs
9th-16th = 4 CPs
17th-64th = 2 CPs
65th-128th = 1 CP

Regional Championships
Earn 3 Play! Points per event attended
BFL = 3

1st = 120 CPs
2nd = 110 CPs
3rd-4th = 90 CPs
5th-8th = 70 CPs
9th-16th = 50 CPs
17th-32nd = 30 CPs (Kicker = 64)
33rd-64th = 10 CPs (Kicker = 128)
65th-128th = 5 CPs (Kicker 256)

U.S. National Championships
Earn 10 Play! Points for attending

1st = 480 CPs
2nd = 440 CPs
3rd-4th = 360 CPs
5th-8th = 210 CPs
9th-16th = 150 CPs
17th-32nd = 90 CPs
33rd-64th = 30 CPs (Kicker = 128)
65th-128th = 15 CPs (Kicker = 256)

World Championships – To be applied retroactively to the current Play! Cycle if earned from the previous cycle’s World Championships
Earn 10 Play! Points for attending

1st = 600 CPs
2nd = 550 CPs
3rd-4th = 150 CPs
5th-8th = 120 CPs

After July 10, 2014, all North America players in all age divisions must place in the Top 16 in total earned CPs in order to receive an invitation to Worlds 2014, while the Top 4 will receive travel awards.

This is quite a lot to absorb, but please feel free to ask any questions about the CP structure!

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty: N/A

Professor’s Corner – The 2013-2014 Play! Season Updates 08/22/2013

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor, League News, Pokemon News, Pokemon TCG, Pokemon Video Games, Uncategorized.
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DISCLAIMER: The following article is a discussion regarding the information conveyed by TPCI regarding the 2013-2014 Play! Pokémon cycle. All opinions on the subject matters discussed here solely reflect my personal views and understandings and in no way reflect those of the WRAPL as a whole. ~Professor Raz

For those of you who haven’t already read the latest news about this year’s Play! Pokémon tournament cycle, you are highly encouraged to review the article by clicking here before reading any further. For now, I will simply brush up on the highlights of the article and convey my understanding of what this means to us as players, Professors, etc.

Battle Roads
This year, Battle Roads will be incorporated into what will now be referred to as League Challenge (LC) tournaments. Such tournaments will be held year-round at the end of each League Season.
-You can think of LC tournaments as having up to eight (8) Battle Roads tournaments a year.
LC tournaments are considered Premier Events, meaning that players will have the opportunity to earn Championship Points (CP) towards qualifying for an invitation to the 2014 World Championships.
LC tournaments will be Swiss-only rounds.
-The Best Finish Limit (BFL) for LC tournaments will be the same as that as Battle Roads from the previous year – 6. This means that if you played in all eight (8) LC tournaments this cycle, the CP associated with your best six (6) tournament rankings will count towards your invitation to 2014 Worlds.
-You may participate in multiple LCs from the same League Season from other Leagues provided thy are scheduled during the end-of-season window. Please bear in mind that those leagues may have attendance restrictions based on venue size and may prioritize their League Players entry into their LCs first.
-The distribution of CP for the top finishers is not known at this time.
-A Tournament Organizer (TO) on staff with an active League (example: yours truly) may have the opportunity to run LCs.
-The TO has the option to run single game or best-of-three Swiss rounds.
-It is not known at this time how or when TOs will be determined or designated to run LCs.
-There will not be a LC for the Humilau season. They will begin with the new League Cycle in October 2014.

Tournament Format Changes
Tournaments above the City Championships level will feature best-of-three Swiss rounds with a 50-minute “Plus 3” time format. Single elimination (Top Cut) matches at all levels will be determined to a maximum of Top 8. Some events spanning multiple days will take players the top records to be allowed to play into the second day before the Top 8 round. Ties will be re-introduced into this format.
-No time format has been announced for the Top Cut, so it will be assumed to be at the TO’s discretion.
-The multiple-day “rule” allows players with very good records to continue on with the tournament without fear of their player resistance being adversely affected in determining player standings for Top 8. I would infer that players not having a good tournament record will be dropped by the end of the first day.

VGC
Fall Regional Championships will be the final tournament that will require the use of Black 2/White 2 versions to compete. Winter Regional Championships will be the first tournament to require competition using the X/Y versions.

Tournament Entry Fees
Master Division TCG players will now be required to pay entry fees in order to compete in Premier Events. Such fees will be determined by the TO. Junior and Senior Division TCG players will continue to enter Premier Events for free. ALL players will still be required to pay the entry fee in order to participate in Pre-Releases. ALL VGC players will continue to enter VGC Premier Events for free.
-Charging the Masters Division TCG players an entry fee into Premier events will benefit towards giving Masters increased tournament prize support in larger events as I’ll discuss below.

Prize Support
While on the subject, Master Division TCG players will benefit from the fees+increased prize support in the following way:
-More booster packs will be awarded and the opportunities for those placing lower in the standings can earn booster packs at the Cities level and above.
-Masters now placing in the Top 8 at the 2014 U.S. National Championships will receive Travel Awards to 2014 Worlds. In Nationals past, it used to be Top 4.

TOs have the option to award additional prizes to the other age divisions as well.

The U.S. National Championships Travel Awards/Stipends will be awarded based on the CP rankings at the end of Spring Regional Championships. Players who earned CPs at 2013 Worlds will only have their CPs applied in determining invitations to 2014 Worlds. VGC players ranked in the Top 4 of their division in CP will receive a Travel Award to 2014 Worlds. Also, all VGC Regional Champions will win a Nintendo 3DS. See article for detailed list of prize distribution.

Player Rewards
Player Rewards will be discontinued for this cycle, but will be distributed for the 2012-2013 cycle to all eligible players later on this year.

Professor Program (VERY IMPORTANT TO ALL THE CURRENT AND PROSPECTIVE PROFESSORS)
ALL TOs, LOs, and Judges will be granted membership into the program. I cannot say for certain LLs, but I will assume for the purpose of discussion that all League staff will fall under this program as well.
-Professor rank will be determined on the basis of tenure, level/frequency of staff involvement, and specialty (Exams: TO/League/Judge).
-Professor rank will determine Professor Rewards awarded (i.e. points or shopping privileges for certain items in the Professor Store, eligibility to compete in the Professor Cup, etc.), opportunity to staff at larger events (i.e. States/Regionals/Nationals/Worlds), and (for TOs) the amount of prize support available by TPCI to provide to help run events.
-It is not known at this time if current tenured Professors will be grandfathered into the ranking system based on their past activities with Play! Pokémon.
-It is not known at this time if current TOs on League staff will be required to take the TO and League exams in order to run LC tournaments.

I understand that this is a lot of information to absorb, but please let me know if you have any questions. I welcome a healthy discussion on this matter, and I would like to try and help make your transition into the 2013-2014 Play! Cycle as smooth as possible any way I can with the knowledge that I have of P!P thus far.

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty: N/A

Professor’s Corner – The Modified-Constructed Format and Tournament-Legal Sets (2013-2014) 07/30/2013

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor, Pokemon TCG.
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This document is available on the Library Tab.

Every year, following the World Championships tournament (usually by September), the Pokémon Company releases a new Modified rotation of sets by phasing out older sets as the newer sets are released. This is to ensure that the metagame stays fresh and to encourage players to come up with new ideas and strategies that will allow a balance to the game and prevent certain cards and card combinations from becoming too powerful as to negatively affect the overall spirit of the game.

Effective August 28, 2013 the Modified rotation for the 2013-2014 Play! Pokémon tournament cycle is as follows:

  • NXDBlack and White: Next Destinies (NXD)

    DEX

  • Black and White: Dark Explorers (DEX)

    DRX

  • Black and White: Dragons Exalted (DRX)

    BCR

  • Black and White: Boundaries Crossed (BCR)

    PLS Symbol

  • Black and White: Plasma Storm (PLS)

    PLF

  • Black and White: Plasma Freeze (PLF)

    PLB

  • Black and White: Plasma Blast (PLB)

    DRV

  • Black and White: Dragon Vault (DRV)

    Black Star

  • Black Star Promos (PR):  BW033 and higher
  • Black and White McDonald’s promos (MCD)

Newer sets that are released after this point are also tournament legal. Cards obtained from Pre-Releases are NOT Modified, tournament legal until their actual scheduled release date. Please note that this post is subject to updates as the newer sets are released.

When filling out a decklist, use the symbols above to identify the sets your cards came from and the card number (both found at the bottom right corner of each card) and list the corresponding abbreviations (written in parentheses) in your decklist.

Let me know if you have any questions or feedback!

Professor Raz

Professor Knowlede Difficulty – Basic

Professor’s Corner – Modified-Constructed Set Rotation Announced for 2013-2014 Play! Season Analysis and FAQ 07/17/2013

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor, Pokemon News, Pokemon TCG, TCG News.
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Effective August 28, 2013, the Modified-Constructed set rotation for the next Play! season is as follows:

-Black and White: Next Destinies (NXD)
-Black and White: Dark Explorers (DEX)
-Black and White: Dragons Exalted (DRX)
-Black and White: Boundaries Crossed (BCR)
-Black and White: Plasma Storm (PLS)
-Black and White: Plasma Freeze (PLF)
-Black and White: Plasma Blast (PLB)
-Black and White: Dragon Vault (DRV)
-Black Star Promos (PR): BW33 and higher
-Black and White McDonald’s promos (MCD) (2012 versions only)

What does this mean?
-Black and White (BLW), Black and White: Emerging Powers (EPO), and Black and White: Noble Victories (NVI) will no longer be tournament-legal.
-Rotations occur in order for players to try different strategies in order to maintain a healthy competitive format. This prevents overuse of specific cards that will cause certain decks and strategies from becoming too powerful.

What specific (examples of) cards are rotated/banned as a result of this new format?
-Pokémon Communication (BLW)
-Pokédex (BLW)
-Secret Pikachu (BLW)
-Revive (BLW)
-Energy Retrieval (BLW)
-Klinklang (Shift Gear ability – BLW)
-Recycle (EPO)
-Secret Meowth (NVI)
-Vicitini (Victory Star ability and V-create – NVI)
-Cobalion (NVI)
-Eelektrik (Dynamotor ability – NVI)
-Gothitelle (Magic Room ability – EPO)

What specific (examples of) cards that would normally be rotated/banned will still be tournament-legal due to them being reprinted in this new format?
-Poké Ball (BLW via BCR)
-Potion (BLW via BCR)
-Switch (BLW via BCR)
-Max Potion (EPO via PLF)
-Pokémon Catcher (EPO via DEX)
-Great Ball (EPO via BCR)
-Super Rod (NVI via DRV)
-Professor Juniper (BLW via DEX and PLF)
-Reshiram and Zekrom (BLW via NXD)
-Tornadus and Thundurus (EPO via PR BW41 and PR BW42)
-Kyurem (NVI via PR BW44)
-Rocky Helmet (NVI via BCR)
-N (NVI via DEX)
-Evioite (NVI via PLS)
-Energy Search (BLW via BCR)
-Virizion (NVI via PLB)
-Bianca (EPO via BCR)
-Cheren (EPO via BCR)
-Terrakion (NVI via BCR)

Are Basic Energy cards being rotated?
NO! Per the Modified-Tournament Legal Reprints document, Basic Energy cards are ALWAYS tournament-legal.

Are Special Energy cards being rotated?
No. All Special Energy currently printed in the current format were printed from NXD (Double Colorless Energy) at the earliest, which is part of this new format. Therefore, all Special Energy will still be tournament-legal.

The 2013-2014 Play! season started on July 9, 2013. Does this have anything to do with the rotation?
Although the rotation occurs on August 28th, the July 9 start gives an opportunity for players to participate in local tournaments and the Plasma Blast (PLB) Pre-Releases, and a head-start on earning Play! Points for eligibility towards the 2014 U.S. National Championships. Players participating in the 2013 World Championships will earn Play! Points to count towards the 2013-2014 Play! season.

Can I still play with the BLW-on format at this time?
You may continue to play with this format whenever and however you wish (League play, play with friends, etc.), but be advised that whenever you participate in all sanctioned Modified-Constructed tournaments and Premier Events, your decks must follow the NXD-on format.

Anything else I should know?
TPCi has briefly revealed that the format may return to BLW-on for the 2014-2015 Play! season. More information will be revealed come closer to time. It is recommended that you archive some of your BLW thru NVI cards in anticipation of this format if you wish to implement these cards in the future format.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty: Intermediate

Professor’s Corner – The U.S. National Championships Experience 05/26/2013

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor.
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This post is a departure from the norm of my teaching-style articles I post here, so I would like to take a moment to fill you in on what it’s like to go to U.S. Nationals for those of you who haven’t been or have some questions in mind about it. Some talking points, I will illustrate by showing a few pictures from my photo album from 2012 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN.

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Regionals is pretty big, but I hear that Nationals is even bigger! Just…how big is it, really?
Our own Leaguers Seth E. and Ian C. (SR TCG) and Gryphon (MA VGC) went to Spring Regionals this year and can attest to being in a huge hall full of players. Now look below at the first picture and imagine that space about 6-8 times bigger! It’s the big party every Pokémon player from across the country should strive to go to and celebrate with all sorts of fun activities they have to offer over a three-day weekend. From blow-up Pokémon displays, to game tournaments, to costumed appearances and cosplayed fans, there’s something for everyone here!
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How often does it happen?
Usually around late June/early July timeframe.

What is the Nationals Tournament like?
It is the biggest tournament and the biggest chance for all good players to meet, compete, have fun, and battle for Championship Points and invitations and even paid trips to the World Championships! For TCG and comparable amounts of the VGC, Junior Division attendance tends to be around 150-200, Senior Division around 250-350, and Master Division can reach upwards of about 1,000 players!

Day 1: Friday is usually dedicated to TCG Nationals, where the players will play a few Swiss rounds to determine if they want to continue into Saturday or drop from the tournament and for some to register for VGC Nationals. All the while, small events and special guests and costume appearances are also taking place throughout the day. For those who complete Day 1, they will be rewarded with a Nationals T-shirt, a Nationals-stamped promo card, and 10 additional Play! Points for participating. Professors who qualified for and registered for the North America Professor Cup will play in a few Swiss rounds in the evening.

Day 2: Saturday tends to be the busiest day while TCG continues their Swiss rounds for the day and then plays a few rounds of Top Cut through Top 32 for all age divisions. VGC will be playing their preliminary Swiss rounds in parallel, and more special promotions, tournaments, and appearances are happening throughout the day! More rounds of the Professor Cup are played in the evening.

Day 3: Like the Super Bowl, championships happen on Sunday here! TCG and VGC plays through their Top Cut rounds until Champions are decided, and the Professor Cup Top Cut will be happening in parallel. All Championship matches (Top 2) will be featured on the big stage for all to see.
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What can one win for doing well in the Nationals tournaments?
TCG: Quarterfinalists will earn an invitation to attend the World Championships, Top 4 players will earn trophies, paid trips to Worlds, and great Pokémon merchandise. Championship Points and booster packs of the current set may be awarded as low as the Top 128 level, but ultimately depending on respective division attendance.

VGC: Top 4 players will earn trophies and paid trips to Worlds, and great Pokémon merchandise. 2nd-4th place will win Nintendo 3DS-XLs and the Champion will win a 32GB Nintendo Wii U. Championship Points may be awarded as low as the Top 128 level, but ultimately depending on respective division attendance.

See Nationals information under the Tournaments tab for complete information.

Can I still go to U.S. Nationals even if I don’t meet the TCG Play! Points requirements for this year?
YES!!! I will repeat that there’s something for everyone at Nationals. While you won’t be eligible to play in the Nationals tournament, here’s what you can do while you’re there and still be able to enjoy yourself:

VGC Nationals: As of yet, there hasn’t been a minimum Play! Points threshold in order to participate in the VGC. Assemble your best VG team and battle for the Championship!

Mini-League: This isn’t your ordinary League Session that you’re used to going to every week/weekend! Find a player, battle them to a game and get in line for prizes. When you get to the front of the line, the League coordinators will reveal two prizes you can get. The winner gets first choice and the loser gets the other. The prizes are completely random, so you never really know what you can win until you get to the front of the line, so it’s best to be the winner of your game. Once you get your prize, find more players to battle, and rack up more prizes! Sample prizes can be anywhere from pencils, deck boxes, League and Premier Event promo cards, booster packs, and maybe even a booster box!

Side Events: Throughout the weekend, there will be several tournaments you can participate in order to win some really good prizes. Such tournaments include 8-player knockout tournaments, 32-player Swiss, and 64-player Swiss TCG and VGC events. Brush up on your gaming skills, assemble your best deck or VG team, play against other players, and win more stuff! If you really wanted to know how big the prizes can get, I saw someone win a Nintendo 3DS in one of these large-player tournaments last year…

Special Costumed Appearances: Costumed Pokémon will make appearances throughout the weekend and are the perfect opportunity to get photos with friends, family, and yourself!

Special Video Game Pokémon Distribution: While made available during Day 3, if you bring your Nintendo DS/DSi/DSi-XL/3DS/3DS-XL with a Black 2/White 2 version, you can receive a special Pokémon distribution that you can only get at Nationals!

Creativity Corner: Coloring activities are available to the younger groups in an area where parents can also be to spend that quality time with their child(ren) or wait on their child(ren) who may be playing in the Nationals tournaments.

Street Pass City: For those of you with a Nintendo 3DS/3DS-XL, prepare to be inundated with multiple Street Passes throughout the whole weekend. It’s a great opportunity to fill up missing puzzle pieces, get those missing colors to help get through Find Mii-2, share data from other games you have allowed via Street pass, and much more!

Shopping and Vendors: Looking for that certain card you need for your deck or collection? Or how about that Pokémon plush you’ve always wanted to get? Or a gift or souvenir for yourself or a friend? Looking to sell some cards? There will be some nationally-known vendors in attendance to help facilitate your shopping needs.

Volunteer Work: The Pokémon Company staff is always looking for help throughout the weekend. You can act as a runner and take up and submit match slips during the Nationals tournament, judge in Side Events or assist in Mini-League, and more. That’s not to say that your hard work and dedication won’t be well rewarded; you will receive four (4) booster packs of the current TCG set per hour that you work (or 1 pack every 15 minutes), and a Staff-stamped Nationals promo card every six (6) hours that you work. You even get to keep the “Volunteer” T-shirt you wore while working! Your contribution to a smoothly-run event, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated!
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Nearby Hangouts: Summertime in down Indianapolis can get very busy, not to mention hot and humid outside. The Skywalk is a convenient network of overpasses linked between the buildings to allow ease of access without having to wait outside at crosswalks. From the convention center, it is a very short walk through the overpass to get to other buildings and parking lots, including the Indianapolis Mall (popular spot to go get lunch during the day and do some shopping), and hotels you may be staying in around the area. When in doubt, follow the crowds!

U.S. Nationals is a big event I highly recommend attending at least once in your lifetime. I am providing the link to the complete album found on Facebook here.

Please let me know if you have any more questions about U.S. Nationals!

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty: N/A – Informational

Professor’s Corner: Professor Cup 2013 Format 04/10/2013

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor, Events, Pokemon TCG.
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Hey, TCG’ers!

I am pleased to relay the format for this year’s North America Professor Cup announced by TPCi representative Dan Brant! For those of you who are Professors, have earned 75 Professor Points for the tournament year between September 1, 2012 and June 15, 2013, AND plan to attend the U.S. National Championships in Indianapolis, IN, it will also be held on the same weekend. For those who aren’t Professors or are but cannot attend, this is an idea for a fun format to consider playing in unsanctioned tournaments.

Format and Rules:
1. Sets/cards allowed are BLW-on, and Black Star Promos BW01-on
2. 30-Card Constructed Rules: Similar to 60-card Constructed but…

  • no more than two (2) copies of any one card allowed in your deck (with the standard exception of Basic Energy) AND
  • games will be played to three (3) Prize Cards

3. “Kiddie Pool” (Additional Rule):
Pokémon used must be able to evolve to a Stage 1 or Stage 2 Pokémon.
For example:
• Tepig can evolve to Pignite and so would be allowed.
• Pignite can evolve to Emboar and so would be allowed.
• Emboar is unable to evolve and so would not be allowed in a deck.
• Bouffalant is unable to evolve and would not be allowed in a deck.

Swiss rounds are played in a 20-minutes “Plus 3” time format.
Single Elimination rounds are played in a 45-minutes “Plus 3” time format.

This is an interesting and fun format to experiment, and I will definitely be coming up with deck ideas to construct and practice in preparation to compete in the Professor Cup this year.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty: N/A

Professor’s Corner – The Limited-Sealed Deck Format Revisited for BLW-on 01/30/2013

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor, Pokemon TCG.
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Hey, TCG’ers!

Some of you my have questions regarding the format of the sealed tournaments I’ve been hosting, so I thought I’d refer back to a previous blog I posted last year. Some rules may have been added or changed due to the introduction of new types of cards, so I also mention them here in this updated post.

A Limited tournament consists of the following general guidelines:

  1. The Tournament Organizer (TO) or Premier Tournament Organizer (PTO) provides all the cards needed for players to participate in this type of tournament. This includes enough booster packs of the new set to support the number of players participating as well as Basic Energy to play with cards. Bringing your own Basic Energy for these events may be desired, but it’s not required.
  2. You have 30 minutes construct a 40-card deck upon receiving all your packs and opening them. This includes all the Basic Energy you borrow for the tournament.
  3. In a Limited Tournament, the 4-copies-per-deck rule is suspended. In other words, you are allowed to use more than 4 copies of any one card (including the common exception of Basic Energy) in your deck in this format. Ace Spec cards are still limited to one (1) total per deck per the specific printing on those cards.
  4. During a Limited Tournament, rounds are played to 4 prizes and each round typically lasts for 20 minutes. Some TOs/PTOs may offer the “Plus-3-Turns” overtime rule in addition to the time limit. You still play all your rounds whether you win or lose the first few rounds. This is called Swiss Rounds and the number of rounds is determined by how many people attend your event. (The Plus-3-Turns rule and Swiss Rounds are explained elsewhere in the Professor’s Corner articles.)

The Sealed Deck sub-format basically means that the TO/PTO simply hands you your packs, you open them, and you build your 40-card deck. Other Limited sub-formats include Booster Draft (explained in a previous Professor’s Corner post), Rochester Draft, and Solomon Draft, and will be explained in a future blog.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty – Intermediate

Professor’s Corner – Deck Analysis: Darkrai-Hydreigon (for BLW-BCR format) 12/14/2012

Posted by raznprince in Ask a Professor, Pokemon TCG, TCG Strategy.
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I have had the pleasure of running this deck for the 2012-2013 City Championships and it has succeeded in winning me the Championship at Birmingham, AL on December 9, 2012. In order to understand the tournament report I will post shortly, please take a moment to understand the contents of the deck I used.

My decklist:
3 Sableye (DEX)
3 Deino (DRX #94)
1 Zweilous (DRX #96)
3 Hydreigon (DRX #97)
3 Darkrai EX (DEX)
1 Sigilyph (DRX)
1 Virizion (EPO)
1 Keldeo EX (BCR)

1 Super Rod
2 Tool Scrapper
2 Eviolite
3 Max Potion
3 Rare Candy
3 Ultra Ball
3 Dark Patch
3 Pokémon Catcher
1 Computer Search

3 Skyla
4 N
4 Professor Juniper

1 Tropical Beach

8 Darkness Energy
3 Blend Energy GRPD

Why it works:

  1. Virizion EPO is my choice for a defensive tech as with the current format, the heavy hitters appear to be Terrakion, Terrakion EX, Keldeo EX and other engines that have weaknesses to Grass. Another defensive tech include Tornadus EX (DEX) but it all comes down to player preference when it comes to choice techs.
  2. Blend Energy GRPD can be moved via Hydreigon’s (DRX) Dark Trance Ability and fuel Virizion’s Sacred Sword attack as necessary.
  3. Sigilyph, another defensive tech, is really used for anti-Mewtwo EX, although I have found a few random situations where it won me a few games. It’s been a card on the rise as it has given several EX cards a run for their money due to it’s Safeguard ability, which blocks all damage and attack effects from all EXs.
  4. Keldeo EX is a tricky card to use, but can also prove to be very useful. With its Rush In ability, it can act as an effect canceller for Virizion’s Sacred Sword attack, where you can conveniently attach or use Hydreigon’s Dark Trans ability to move Darkness Energy to it for the free retreat with Darkrai EX in play, allowing you to repeat the Sacred Sword attack. Also it can function as a Paralyze condition canceller if Darkrai EX or any of your other attackers gets Paralyzed so you can continue to attack. This card won’t particularly impress with damage against those with weakness to Water because this deck doesn’t contain Water Energy, but it will definitely give Landorus EX and Groundon EX players something to think about should you manage to attack with Keldeo EX.
  5. Tropical Beach is a very useful Stadium Card that is very difficult to obtain as it is a World Championships promo card  from 2011 and 2012, however it is not necessary to have in order to make similar Darkrai-Hydreigon builds work. Tropical Beach allows you to draw cards from your deck until you have seven (7) in your hand, but the result ends your turn. This is useful if you are willing to sacrifice one turn to replenish your hand especially if your Active Pokémon is Asleep or Paralyzed or otherwise cannot attack this turn. If you cannot run Tropical Beach, I recommend substituting for a Trainer Card that hasn’t reached its maximum deck allowance of four (4) (and abviously isn’t an Ace Spec card).
  6. With the addition of Skyla Supporter Card (BCR) to the tournament format, it has become a staple for Trainer Card searches in this deck as you can grab that Catcher, Ultra Ball, Dark Patch, Rare Candy, Max Potion, or even Tropical Beach to establish or maintain your strategy and/or gain the upper hand in Prizes!
  7. Speaking of Computer Search, it is a necesary Ace Spec to the point of being a must for a lot of decks. You can think of it as a fourth Ultra Ball except you can search your deck for any card and not have to show it to your opponent until you play it. Just don’t forget that you are only allowed to have ONE Ace Spec card total in your deck!

This is a lot of information to absorb, but this deck can be very effective if you employ your strategy and your techs at the right moments. Let me know if you have any questions about this deck!

Professor Raz

Professor Knowledge Difficulty – N/A