During the past holiday weekend, my family enjoyed lots of Pokemon trading card game action, among other things. We attended the weekly League meet-up for card trading and lots of head-to-head battles with everybody’s current decks. And as usual, I learned a few more things, had fun, and embraced challenges. But this Pokemon thing is a craze that sometimes has me a little concerned.
I don’t know how long my family’s Pokecraze will last. There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm, especially from my five sons. My wife and I also have some serious fun with it. The makers of Pokemon release new cards over time, at a pace that reinvigorates the craze just when it might be dwindling. Well played!
Amidst all the card trading and playing buzz, I have two concerns: addiction and expense.
No doubt you’ve heard the slogan of Pokemon, “Gotta catch’em all!” It’s that “gotta” part that’ll get’ya. But it’s not just about trying to collect all the Pokemon as I once thought. There are so many Pokemon cards, with new ones coming out all the time, I don’t think it’s feasible to catch them all.
It’s about playing the cards more than collecting them. With so many Pokemon cards and a plethora of abilities, the strategic possibilities are vast. There are several general types of play stratagem. Let’s say, for example, there are ten basic ways to win battles, and you definitely must think about both offense and defense.
Ten ways does not sound like too many, but the numerous cards and abilities combine in so many various ways that the possibilities are endless! So many angles of attack! You can’t help being drawn into the stratagem.
You’ve gotta try one more thing, one more card or combo of cards that lets you tweak your battle deck. And you then get to play it several times against multiple opponents with their decks to find your own strengths and weaknesses. The cycle repeats itself afterwards when you learn once again where you need to adjust your cards.
Next, as your brain tries to strategize, you think of what you want to accomplish and how you might achieve it. There must be a card somewhere that gives a specific ability you could use. So you go on the hunt to find such a card. And you might not notice that you’re being further drawn into the Pokecraze.
Addiction comes with a cost. With various new cards, new abilities, and endless possibilities, you have more to buy, more to catch, and more money to spend. A few dollars here and there add up to a lot! In my household, with 7 people enjoying Pokemon, it doesn’t just add up, it multiplies.
There is the gambling type of addiction in buying single packs of cards off the store shelf. Called Booster packs, each one contains 10 random cards. You pay money for the chance to pull an extra rare and powerful card out. It’s like a slot machine, pulling the handle in hopes the three cherries line up and you score the big prize. And you do it over and over until you win or you’re almost broke.
Another way to throw cash at the cards is to buy in bulk. There are many types of boxes and promo sets of cards, each with their own special offerings. They typically contain several Booster packs inside along with a powerful rare card, a collector’s pin or coin, specially marked dice, card sleeves, or a pre-built battle deck – always something to entice. And the price per card in the bigger sets is a little less than individual packs, so you justify the spending.
Finally, there’s the number one place to go and buy cards, TCGPlayer. It’s a great website where you can buy any Pokemon card you want! If you want to collect certain cards or you’re on the hunt for the next few cards needed to tweak your battle deck strategy, then you simply type them in and Add to Cart! Days later, your cards are waiting in the mailbox.
TCGPlayer has all the cards, offered from different sellers across the country, so you can try to find the lowest priced card in the best condition. And instead of spending a lot of money on Booster packs, hoping to pull a good card, you spend a little money on the specific good card you need. But it adds up over time.
I wonder when, like any fad, our Pokemon craze will conclude. Or is it here to stay; are we playing the long-game? Part of me wouldn’t mind if it dissipated because we’d be less inclined to throw cash at cards here and there. It tests our self-control and restraint. But it’s not all bad.
My whole family is sharing the enjoyment of Pokemon together, playing and trading and collecting with one another. There’s much value in that. “Family Game Night” happens a lot these days! And it is helping us to go out to the League and meet new people in our community, socializing face to face with others, geeking out on a common interest. Overall, we’re having a lot of fun!
The makers of Pokemon have been going at it for over 20 years now. They routinely put out new Expansions in each series of cards, so we’ll likely continue the Pokecraze for a while. In fact, there’s an entire new Series coming soon! It has teased new special card types.
Here’s my money; gimme the stuff.
What’s your expensive addiction? Ever try Pokemon? Leave feedback below, or write to me here! Thanks for reading!