Friday, July 8, 2016

Pokemon - Re-Learning the Card Game with Penny

Summer has arrived and with it a bunch of free time (when I'm not doing housework at least).  This summer Penny is a lot more cognizant of her surroundings and after a year of kindergarten is eager to learn how to read and do math and other stuff.  I've already started on teaching her the basics of game play with games like Tsuro and X-Wing so following a set of rules is getting easier for her.  She does have occasional bouts of why can't I do this but those are getting lesser and lesser.

Anyways, she started watching Pokemon on Netflix a few months back and out of the blue I asked her if she wanted to learn to play the Pokemon card game.  From my perspective this accomplished a few things.  First, she would learn to play a game that I used to play when I was younger.  Second she would learn to count by 10s since for some inexplicable reason Pokemon hitpoints and damage are in 10s and third she would learn to read some words like Cut or Tackle or other simple words that are Pokemon attacks.

So to start the road to learning the game we picked up the new Trainer Kit from Game Quest.
And so it begins...

The set contains two 30 card decks with fairly simple Pokemon, a playmat and all other necessary components for playing the game.  I thought Penny would want to play with the Pikachu deck as Pikachu is so prominent in the series but she opted for the Suicune deck as she liked the look of that Pokemon better.

The first game we followed the scripted game plan.  By scripted I mean that the decks were already pre-ordered and the instructions told each player how to play each turn for the first 8 turns or so.  This pre-scripted game ends up with the Pikachu deck winning.  Needless to say Penny was not happy so wanted to play again.

This time we shuffled up the decks and went at it again.  I kind of got a little unlucky in the second game as I did not draw enough energy cards to fully power my Pokemon (especially my Electrivire) and Penny eventually knocked out enough of mine to win.  She even made good use of Retreat to save her Suicune from my Electrivire and then brought it back the next round (after letting one of her Seakings eat an attack) to finish off my Electrivire for the win.

Penny laying the beats down.
As for the objectives I set out when teaching her the game, all were met save for the reading one.  We will have to work on that a bit more.

The rules for the game were really simple and haven't changed much at all when I first learned them back in 2000.  Penny picked up the rules really easily and she seemed to enjoy the imagery of the cards as well as imagining the two Pokemon fighting each other.  The only hangup we had was when we used attacks that had additional conditions like coin flipping.  She couldn't read the whole sentence so I had to explain to her that some attacks did extra stuff or only hurt under certain conditions.

Penny picked up counting by 10s pretty easily especially with the counters available.  She was even able to do some elementary algebra by figuring out how much more damage was needed to knock out (though she used the term kill) a Pokemon.  Interestingly she understood weakness easily enough (she referred to it as the Pokemon being allergic to certain types) though her math skills were not enough to multiply by 2 yet (admittedly I have not taken the time to show her what doubling means).

I need to figure out how to play the game for 3 players so that my wife can join us too.  My biggest concern is it would end up becoming gang-up on whoever was winning as is my experience in most other card games.

Teaching her the Pokemon card game coincides perfectly with the recent release of Pokemon Go too.  Just gotta wait for it to come to Canada now.

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