I have been playing Pokemon the TCG for a long time now, not competitively but just for fun. It is relaxing and a great hobby to have, however I have always had this problem with the game and I think it is time I ask the question… Are EX Cards OP?
Now before some fanboys take out their pitchforks, let me just say I DO like the EX cards. I love the look of them, I love the power behind them and all that BUT I feel like it sort of takes an important element out of the game. If you don’t know what an EX card is, it is a 1 off card of a particular Pokemon that has 180 HP and usually a move-set that could win you the game all on its own. An EX card like a Charizard, does not need its Charmander or Charmeleon to get into the game as you would normally have to evolve them. An EX card is set as a BASIC card meaning it can go out right away. So instead of you or your opponent working your Charmander up to a Charizard during the game, BAM you got a Charizard all set and ready to go.
In one way that’s awesome and I LOVE the idea BUT where I think it goes wrong, is there is NO LIMIT to how many 1 player can have in their deck. For example I was playing this one player online and before we took our first turn he had 1 Starting Pokemon and 5 bench Pokemon (that’s a pretty damn good start to any match). When the cards flipped over, 5 of those 6 Pokemon were EX cards. Myself, I had ONE EX card in my deck and I didn’t draw it. Right away I knew I was going to lose the game, it is hard enough to beat ONE EX never mind a DECK of them.
2 more turns go by and of course he puts 2 MORE EX cards on his bench… I was able to get through one of his EX cards which granted me 2 prize cards instead of one (the other reason I like EX cards, they are more powerful but if you beat them you get double the reward which puts you closer to winning the game). However, the time it took me to beat his EX card his others were all powered up and ready to go and in less than 3 turns I was toast.
I posted a poll on Twitter and also had a conversation with a fellow “trainer” in the game. I asked “are EX cards to powerful?”, a few people reacted to the poll and the outcome was 57% for them being to powerful. The conversation I had with that trainer led to the same conclusion but WE BOTH were lovers of the EX cards. As much as I support this type of card, I think there needs to be a 1 to 2 EX limit in a deck and I say this for 2 reasons.
1) Part of the LOVE of Pokemon is being able to EVOLVE them and have them become more powerful in the game. Seeing your strategy workout as your Squirtle evolves all the way to a Blastoise and eventually winning the game is a great feeling and it is really fun. When you have ALL the EX cards you want, you don’t NEED a Squirtle or a Wartortle, you just need your Blastoise EX and if you have 3 or 4 of them you can almost guarantee a win.
2) For new comers to the game “Part One” is exactly what they are looking for in the game AND they don’t have ANY EX cards, so when they are put against that player with their 3 or 4 Blastoise EX’s they will be CRUSHED and when they keep having battles with players who just stack EX cards, they eventually rage quit and stop playing the game completely.
This isn’t good for the players or the game and I remember when this was me (and still this happens to me) and it felt unfair. Now after playing for a long time I have a deck made specifically to counter those decks, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, BUT it’s better then having NO chance at all.
This means common and MOST non-EX cards are left basically useless. I have a deck made up of Poison Pokemon, I love that deck! It has Haunter, and Muk, Vileplume and so on, BUT it goes unused now because it doesn’t have the slightest chance against EX decks. For instance, look at this match up between an EX Charizard and a regular Onix.
Say BOTH of these Pokemon had ALL of their needed energy and they were pitted against each other. Even IF Onix had the upper hand by attacking Charizard first, Onix would only have a CHANCE to deal 120 dmg if BOTH coin flips landed on heads. Even IF that did happen, Charizard would still have 60 HP left and would deal 150 dmg on its first turn to Onix who only has 100 HP. Now say they only had use of their weaker move, Charizard would finish Onix in 2 turns, while Onix would NEED 6! No matter how you slice it, unless Charizard is short on energy and Onix gets lucky with the coin flips, Charizard will win every time.
YOU may be saying, “Well Charizard is supposed to beat Onix, its a stronger Pokemon”, and for the most part you are right, BUT this is how it is for MANY match-ups containing an EX and a Non-EX Pokemon, ESPECIALLY the start of a game when 1 player has a common basic like Pikachu starting for them and the other has a Venusaur EX, if the Pikachu trainer doesn’t do something quick, in a turn or 3 the game will be all but lost.
Having a 1-2 EX limit would bring back the Evolution challenge to the game and while you can experience the game WITHOUT EX cards by playing the “Themed” or “Trainer Challenge” game modes, where it is the already put together theme decks, you don’t get the fun of adding cards to that deck (or creating your own) that you got from other packs unless you play “Standard” and sadly that is the start of the EX flood. I honestly believe the game will benefit from an EX restriction, or even have a new “Standard” mode where EX cards aren’t allowed.
What do you all think? Do you think EX cards are OP? If so, what ideas could be brought to life to balance the playing field?