Bricking In Pokémon

Though I’m not always a good loser, I’m pretty good at losing in Pokémon (I’ve had plenty of practice). There are different ways a player can suffer defeat in the Trading Card Game. Two I have found both involve “bricking.”

Deck Bricking

No matter how well a deck is made battle-ready in Pokémon TCG, it can brick (like a smartphone that became a paperweight). I’ve seen in championship tournaments with highly-skilled players, rare as it might be, that a winning deck can still sometimes brick. Chalk it up to bad luck or Murphy’s Law, but every now and then a deck, even the best ones, can and will simply fail to work. Usually the key cards needed for setup simply aren’t drawn into because the “draw engine” in the deck simply doesn’t start up. Whatever Trainers or Pokémon Abilities are used to draw more cards just don’t surface when needed, and/or they’re Prized. Whether you draw good cards at the wrong time or bad cards at the right time, it’s like your whole game is a dud.

Brain Bricking

While Deck Bricking can happen to anyone, Brain Bricking, well, is more of a personal problem…for me. It’s like Stage Fright. Picture this worst-case scenario I faced recently (my own fault):

  1. Being unfamiliar with the Pokémon and Trainers in the deck
  2. Being unfamiliar with the basic strategy of the deck
  3. Being not proficient in basic Pokémon strategy altogether
  4. Playing in a tournament with time pressure of the clock (not casual)
  5. Playing against those who know their cards and their deck’s strategy
  6. Playing against those who know basic Pokémon strategy like it’s their first name

Basically, that’s the situation I was in recently. Being an unpracticed player, any of the above put me at a disadvantage. But when all of the above occur together, I’m toast. The burnt kind.

My brain turns to mush with such disadvantage and competitive pressure. Sometimes people excel under pressure, but I tend to freeze up/stress out. My ability to strategize and adapt to the card battle situation gets derailed. Once that happens, unless pure luck hits me, it’s game over. Any confidence I might have had melts like chewed gum on sun-baked asphalt. Though I try to check my ego at the door, I still suffer embarrassing defeat. OK, so I’m not great at playing cards.

But maybe Yoda would say, “Opportunity to learn, failure is.“

Learning, I am. I haven’t been playing Pokémon TCG for long and am still practicing general rules like: in the first few turns especially, draw, draw, draw (get set up). One mistake I learned from was to not worry about using disruption cards early on when I should just focus on setting up my basic strategy.

I keep playing Pokémon because, despite my opponents leading me as a lamb to the slaughter, I sometimes have great fun in battle. When neither my deck nor my brain bricks, the pocket monster Trading Card Game is rich and robust with tantalizing strategy options. In fact, it’s so fun to play a good hand that, even when I lose, I enjoy a sense of satisfaction. On top of that, I quickly and readily analyze how I could have played better or think of ways to augment my battle deck with better cards.

Bricking happens. Decks brick on anyone. Brains – well, mine at least – brick sometimes. But Pokémon TCG shines when zero bricking occurs. Playing, not bricking, is definitely a winning strategy.

Have you bricked in a card game? How do you handle it? And what’s your favorite card game to play?