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Pokamon (and or other CCGs)

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mdkiehl's picture
Joined: 12/10/2010

What makes a great CCG?

Why do/did they flourish in pop culture?

I've seen Pokemon and Magic used as the stand in for "successful game". Are these really good games or do they succeed because of the collectibles aspect?

Each time you by a pack of cards you are almost always gamboling in some way with CCGs, is that what makes them popular?

Was the Star-Wars CCG game popular because it was a good game or because it was Star-Wars?

JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011
The idea of a Collectible

The idea of a Collectible Card Game, is that players randomly buy cards within a set and play with what they buy. They got really popular because of their portability and potential low investment.

When magic first started you could buy packs at 2 dollars, for Pokemon because of the anime you were buying packs at 2.25-2.50. In the case of Pokemon the kids wanted the anime pokemon in a card frame that they "could" play a game with. However, I have never met a collector that knew how to play the game. I know gamers that learned and traded "chase" cards for what let them win tournaments however the actual tournament scene for Pokemon is dramatically smaller than that of Magic.

Magic on the other hand, stems from the fact that a lot of poker players also play magic. Magic is supported with its high pay out tournaments. Hence forth when you play to win, you buy a lot of product. Like wise players arent looking to collect sets as much as collect the cards they need to win a Pro Tour and go home with 40,000 Dollars. additionally, any person invited to the pro tour through a Pro Tour Qualifier has Free air fare to and from and Hotel stay.

So what happened, Collectible cards games were no longer really for the sake of collecting but for winning big tournaments. Eventually the "collector" phase came in, and so in around 2000-2003 we started to see people wanting to buy old cards from 93-95... and guess what, people always have a price. and so these cards end up racking anywhere from 400-1500 per card.

Star-Wars CCG was only SEMI popular, it had its following and many fans, However it wasnt making as much money as other top games. So the game was killed off. I've read around that many of the fans make "fan sets" to continue the game. but that is nothing more than just fans playing a game they like for the sake of it. You can also see this with Vs. System.

If it wasn't because Cryptozoic Picked up World of Warcraft. that game too would have been dead a long time ago. Also, these games dont just "flourish" in popular culture. Magic: The gathering is still semi Underground in actual pop culture. Go ask Paris Hilton if she knows what Magic: The Gathering is, im sure she wont know. However ask her what Pokemon are. and im sure she can remember the craze of those cute little animals. So with Pokemon it was more the cute factor of the show, combined with "Gotta have em all" (i know its Catch, but to the kids they had to HAVE them), and you have the recipe for success.

You are most likely to hear somebody say, "Oh like Pokemon" than "Oh like Magic"... In order to answer you question about the Magic's success... well let me just tell you this, When distributors pay upfront to receive product from wizards of the coast that should tell you that the ones holding the cards really is Wizards of the Coast and not the distributors.

Many times you can hear FLGS's say, "the Distributor cant get any more product from Wizards of the coast" And not "The distributors dont want to pick up more product"

Cogentesque's picture
Joined: 08/17/2011
Jaffet, great answer - once

Jaffet, great answer - once again proving yourself to be a pro designer king.

+1 / Reccomend / "Like" / Subscribed

mdkiehl's picture
Joined: 12/10/2010
Thanks JaffetC

Thanks for the input.

Is it really about the money though?

Is Magic the gathering, or Pokemon also a good game? In other words, is there anything about the mechanics that makes it great outside of the pro tours and cool illustrations and cute animals that you MUST collect?

I guess it is a little hard to look at these products outside of the business and the craze.

What keeps Magic players coming back? Is it really about the ability to win $40,000 or does it do something that other games are not doing. What about those magic players who don't win the prizes, but love the game. I have a feeling that part of it is related to the fact that players can customize their collections and decks, that it becomes a game around their own identity and aesthetic interest (you can try to collect and trade for the Pokemon you like and build your deck to work with those Pokemon). The game also has a good amount of complexity it isn't always clear that you should build one way or another.

(Sorry I misspelled Pokemon in the thread title Hah)

GreenO's picture
Joined: 11/14/2011
mdkiehl wrote:Is it really

mdkiehl wrote:
Is it really about the money though?

It's not about the money for the vast majority of Magic players JaffetC has it backwards: a lot of Magic players also play poker, however those players who got into playing Poker professionally don't see the draw of Magic. The money isn't there for one thing.

The professional Magic players that continue playing Magic with the knowledge and ability to play Poker at a high enough level to win money but choose not to do so, play for the sense of community. Predominantly Magic players play competitive magic for the sense of community that is largely not present in the Poker world. Magic is aimed at dorky teenagers that like fantasy settings They get to talk to other like-minded folk and play a deep, competitive card game. It's a lifestyle choice.

mdkiehl wrote:
Is Magic the gathering, or Pokemon also a good game?

They are as good as they need to be and, more importantly, they have the ability to change. Don't like how the game is at the moment? Wait until the next set comes out- it might change the environment massively. If there is a community structure in place where like-minded folk can meet, if doesn't matter if the games have flaws, which they do (resource availability for one thing), but the flaws can be overlooked if everyone know basically how to play and has a good time playing it.

Look at D&D- a terrible system from a purists RPG perspective: it's overly restrictive, arbitrary and unbalanced. It's taken 30 years for Pathfinder to provide it with a credible challenge to market leadership and _that_ required a situation where the mechanics for an old edition could be re-packaged as a profitable competing product for another company.

It doesn't matter that there are 'better' CCGs on the market (now or gone) Magic is the market leader because people know how to play magic. Every time a new CCG is released, there are player that will buy it, wonder why they stopped playing Magic, then start playing it again. Trying to compete with a lifestyle is a high risk strategy IMO: unless you go very niche to appeal to folks turned off by Magic for whatever reason or develop some method by which folks can have an enjoyable community experience (Magic/D&D/WoW)

mdkiehl wrote:
I have a feeling that part of it is related to the fact that players can customize their collections and decks, that it becomes a game around their own identity and aesthetic interest

For sure. Carve out a reputation for yourself amongst a peer group as the guy that always plays Red decks/Big creatures decks/Psychic Pokemon decks/Crane clan/Malkavian sneak-bleed decks or whatever. I think these games do provide a sense of identity.

Joined: 11/13/2011
Played Magic a Lot

I think you all guys got it wrong, I've been playin magic for more than 6 years with friends and it is popular not because of the collecting feature or because of the money of the tournaments, Magic remains a successfull game because of the whole structure, it is a strategy based game with a spice of risk management, you build your decks and play with statistics to try to have a decent hand and be able to win, although half of winning relies on luck, here is where risk management enters, you try to choose the best of the cards you have to turn the game , furtherly, on your favor. So Magic si popular because it is a very well thougt game, you are forced to think and develop strategies, unlikely pokemon and yu-gi-oh that are merely designed to younger audiences and their popularity doesn't rely on the game itself but it relies on the publicity made prevoiusly by the cartoons, that is why they are sucessfull... is like disney, they lately made crappy movies but invest a lot of money on publicity so some how they manage to make money out of it....

So what I'm saying is, you MUST have a very good game design to make it attractive to people and then you have to invest some serious money on publicity, it has happened in the past for game designers that altough their games are good if they don't advertise enough it will just fall off; and viceversa, if you have a crappy game and tons of ads at the end you will be unsuccessful...

What I found great of magic is that it makes me think! It is not for morons, and the current global trends of gaming seems to be turning into simplistic and adictive games because people is no longer used to use their brains, this had make me upset a lot and you see it everywhere, at work, school, etc. So although I'm on my late 20's I'm still being old-schooled, I like challenges and that is why I found strategy games interesting, particularly CCG's....

My recommendations are then: create a GOOD game, and then if you see acceptance from your audiences, invest seriously on advertisement...

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Pokamon!? Pokemon = Pocket +


Pokemon = Pocket + Monster

JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011
You're separating the fact

You're separating the fact that the game of Pokemon is actually very heavy in strategy. I mentioned before, there are tournaments, they arent as widely popular as other games, but EVERY year for the last 10 years there has been a Pokemon world championship held. 1 side of the tournament was for the digital game and the other for the actual card game.

The game has plenty of strategies, its not an easy game to learn, and it most definitely not an easy game to master.

You guys might see things out side of the business as a bunch of players that happen to "love" a game, or as a way to be "nerdy" however, guys like Brian Kibler, Jon Finkel, Justin Gary, are all businessmen. They are all businessmen that happen to go out to different country to play magic and make some money on the side, but for the most part these guys really dont need a "nerdy" outlet.

All the Japanese players when they reach their college entry exam drop magic because while it is fun to travel the world and play magic on the side, they know that they cant make a living off it. The one person that pursued making a living off it was mr. Darwin Kastle. And for a long while he was actually very successful. Guys like Luis Scott Vargas has a store on the side.... However, I do know that there were a lot of poker players that quit magic once they made the transition. So it really shows that magic could be a source of entertainment mixed with a bit of business.

However, like I mentioned before, the cuteness factor of pokemon was what really sparked Card Games into "pop culture"... However even that doesnt make ccg's and so forth actually mainstream.

Id agree with you guys if we were talking about the asian market where card games are released left and right.

GreenO's picture
Joined: 11/14/2011
It's not about the money, money, money....

JaffetC wrote:
You guys might see things out side of the business as a bunch of players that happen to "love" a game, or as a way to be "nerdy" however, guys like Brian Kibler, Jon Finkel, Justin Gary, are all businessmen. They are all businessmen that happen to go out to different country to play magic and make some money on the side, but for the most part these guys really dont need a "nerdy" outlet.

Those guys represent 0.00001% of Magic's player base. Magic is not marketed at savvy businessmen who are looking to turn a quick buck, it's marketed at 16-24 year old males influenced by counter-culture. Equally all those guys above have been playing for over a decade and were squarely in the nerd demographic when they started (in the case of Finkel, certainly, ref: Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids). Why do they still play?

It's not solely for the money: there's a community infrastructure to the game that makes it an appealing way to spend time. The game itself is good enough to keep players interested despite there being technically better CCGs on the market. Any game is worthless unless you have people to play it with: Magic/YGO/Pokemon are all very portable and fairly easy to start playing and well marketed which make it easier to find opponents. I strongly believe the reason for their success lies in this area. YMMV *shrug*

And yes- Pokemon is very strategic, folk should certainly give it more credit. I am loving playing Pokemon with my daughter at the moment, if vaguely perturbed that according to BGG I played more of it in 2011 than any other game....ah well. :)

JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011
haha, i wouldn't say those

haha, i wouldn't say those guys are the .000001%, They arent the only ones now being the candy makers. Sure some guys still seem "nerdy" like mr. Randy Buehler. But then you have guys like Zac Hill who are very charismatic and excited. Its a mix of niches to be honest.

yes the game "can" be fun. For me in particular i had the most fun during 06 with Ravnica and Timespiral block. after that the game was a downward spiral to hell. Many players agree with me, and many other players disagree. You cant satisfy them all... and yea in regards to the "Big Three" those three seem to be the Cash cows of 15+ years now...

Considering Legend of The Five Rings came out during the same time that magic did, it is no where near the cash cow that any of the Big three are....

I do agree that there are some players that form an Identity with these games, however there are many others that do not. Only because you play blue in magic doesn't mean your cynical... or because you happen to play white all the time you have a "hero Complex"... Sometimes people just play the cards they want to play because they really like them. Right now im playing Etched Monstrosity in standard and i only play it because it looks like Predator. haha...

However, and this is something that i will back up anyday. I believe as Designers we should pay real close attention to what our Japanese designer brothers are doing... They are really innovating over there in terms of mechanics and design as a whole.

just look at the twists that they have implemented in the Deck Building genre... Tanto Cuore is a nice fun game... its still Dominion any way you look at it...

mdkiehl's picture
Joined: 12/10/2010
Magic the Gathering, Pokemon

What do you think are the best mechanics in these games? ( and you may need to give some detail for those who do not play them).

Matthew Kiehl

JaffetC's picture
Joined: 09/19/2011
In japanese games? The use of

In japanese games? The use of hand management, card interaction, deck interaction, exploring concepts that many us designers aren't willing to explore.

Who do you think did the double faced mechanic first in TCG's? Takara Tomy... what game? Duel Masters. Was it a success? a huge success... they were willing to try out a mechanic that their counter part Wizards of the Coast was not willing to release out in the market. Specifically I believe they were worried because of how Flip cards turned out during kamigawa block. Im not saying that only the japanese are being innovative. Heck no by no means, but i do believe they are testing the waters that we just arent willing to go near yet.

The "Stack" mechanic in a TCG just recently introduced in Yugioh is a variant of the Ride mechanic from Bushiroad's Card Fight!! Vanguard.

As a designer, or historian, or TCG Anthropologist, you should really expand your horizons. Go out there and start learning other games. I started to really learn Japanese because I want to communicate with the Japanese designers on their level. Then when i start seeing singaporeans release stuff ill learn their language and learn what they know. I already know spanish so any instance that i can get at learning Spanish games im more than willing to see what innovations they are doing. (one of the reasons why i was able to do a Guilty Gods translation. I am also a big fan of the Anima Series from Edge Ent. From RPG to Card Game, anytime somebody asks me, hey want to play Anima, im like what property? because they are all really good and innovative.)

GreenO's picture
Joined: 11/14/2011
Best mechanics

Matthew- assuming you are referring to the best mechanics in M:tG and Pokemon from your title, I'll take a shot:

This one is difficult, but I'll choose....the Upkeep Phase. What! I hear you cry- let me explain.

Magic has a fairly rigid turn structure: untap/upkeep/draw/main/combat/main/discard/end (over-simplistically). The first thing that happen in a player's turn is that they reset all their available resources for use that turn. OK. Done. Before you get a new card for this turn though, let's spend a phase determining exactly what the game state will be this turn. Upkeep is where the effects of cards in play that have a constant effect are checked, deck manipulation is at it's most potent and any resource pressure are applied to players.

Magic is essentially a resource management game and the upkeep phase fixes the resources for the main phase turn and colours a player's tactics for any decisions that might come later. It also acts as a mental 'stop' for the player to check what they have on their board, even in more casual play, one you have drawn a card you are demonstrably out of you upkeep phase- if you miss something, it's down to you.

From a computational point of view, it's like a systems check. Reboot...checking component X...checked, checking Y...checked. Proceed to randomised input step. It trains the player and encourages logical thinking and good play rather than an easier and less structured: 'At the start of your turn, do this:' style of approach which seems sloppy by comparison.

This one is easier for me- it's the prize card system. Each player deals 6 cards face down to the side of the play are before the game begins; the basic aim of the game is to be the first player draw those 6 cards. A prize card is drawn into your hand every time you knock out an opponent's Pokemon so you get a sense of who's winning pretty easily and there's a sense of reward for the player when they achieve a knock out.

Look at it further and you can find all manner of interesting thing to do with the mechanic:

+ It 'hides' 6 cards from the player- and the game has a 4 card limit
+ It represents a game state for some card interactions- switch a prize card with the top card of the deck allow you to stash a card for later use
+ Use it to increase risk: this Pokemon is super-powerful, but if beaten lets your opponent draw two prize cards.
+ It can provide a catch up mechanism- if you how more prize cards remaining than your opponents then *this card text effect* is enhanced
+ A player's 'health' is tracked by 6 cards, not a peripheral dice, track or score

It's very elegant indeed and completely suits the feel of the game.

Crensh3000ad's picture
Joined: 03/06/2012
Well, according to Jesse

Well, according to Jesse Schell's theory of a fun universe which you can enter from different "gates", Pokemon would be a perfect example of such a universe. I believe that the Pokemon CCG did so well because its card game was part of a giant hype wave that came over kids just like Transformers, Masters of the Universe, Mask, Action Man, Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did. The fun universe is based on the idea that you can enter it from any directions, be it video games, action figures, cute toys, card games, board games, movies, cartoon series or comic books. Then you get drawn in by consuming more stuff from the same franchise, like switch from watching the cartoon series to playing the video game or the CCG. All these huge toy/cartoon/game franchises were planned and executed in a coordinated, encompassing way to enthrall kids from all points of view, popping up everwhere they go, comic books stores, cinemas, board game/video game shops.

Magic, on the other hand, does not flourish in the pop culture at all. Eben though it sells well, it remains part of the somewhat narrow nerdy culture, and as Howard Wolowitz from "The Big Bang Theory" puts it: "it seems like a penalty tax for guys unable to get laid". There have been some video games and some cool-looking action figures, but they were never a part of a large "universe" concept, not even with Hasbro's backup. Yes, there is a professional tournament scene, but I doubt that it is well-known to regular folks.

The Star Wars game from Decipher, despite being second-tier only behind Magic in the late 90s is legendary for making all important and cool characters from a well-known franchise rare, expensive and difficult to find. It may have been good as a great collector's item, but with poor card collation and the Mr.-Suitcase-approach to new gamers (the most expensive cards [Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Vader, Yoda] are also the best cards in the game, and easily beat up all other "cheaper" cards) it never appealed to me. The way I see it: the fans loved it for being Star Wars and the rest refused to jump on the too-expensive CCG-train. The game with its strategical cycling of card piles and battles in open space and on planets itself seems okay to me. However, when Decipher released the game without the Star Wars license based on their own sci-fi-universe, it quickly went defunct within a year or so.

Joined: 03/15/2012
I definitely think that part

I definitely think that part of it is the collecting aspect, as well as the gaming. There is an identity attached to it as well. I never really got into M:TG, and I was one of those kids who never learned how to play Pokemon but I have the entire collection of the original 150 cards. I play Warhammer though, and I have been since I was 9 years old.
Eventually a hobby becomes part of you. You essentially create an addiction pattern where you can't see yourself without that hobby. I devote *hours* to painting my models, working on army rosters, and playing games. My friend and I meet up every Wednesday at our local game store - we do this more often than we go drinking together, or out to other events. We both still do this, but we do these things separately and with our girlfriends or other groups of friends. Likewise, there are 5 or 6 people who I know from the game shop and never hang out with otherwise. Finally, I am a moderator on a large community forum that I have been a part of for 5/6 years, with people who I can share gaming experiences with, and a few that I have built up a long-distance friendship with, based on Warhammer.
I have so much invested in this hobby, that if the game suddenly disappeared, I'd have a massive void in my life. 12 years of hobby memories, my whole life practically, would be irrelevant. I would have to go find new friends (not close friends, but acquaintances) to replace the ones that grounded our relationship in the hobby. I would have hours of time free, which I would have to find a new hobby to fill. And I would have thousands of dollars of worthless plastic sitting on my shelf.

Granted, Warhammer creates a bit more personal investment, but Magic and other TCGs can have the same effect. Part of the draw for these games is that they are initially very cheap, they dupe people into getting into them. Warhammer has a $150+ starting cost, but you can get started in Magic for less than $20. Over the long term however, you will invest just as much if not more in TCGs. I haven't bought another miniature for 2 years, the armies that I like are finished - but I know people who are buying new decks for every 6month expansion at $50+ per deck, and show no sign of slowing down. The monetary investment is still there.

In Highschool, Magic wasn't a big deal - it was incredibly nerdy. But now that 'nerds' are kind of hip again, and now that College offers a choice of Study, Booze/Party, or Flirt as your three main pass-times, kids are more willing to join clubs which offer new outlets, like D&D or Magic. So the social aspect is still there, people still have their little group of friends, their own social niche, all unified around a single game.

Once you have established a wide enough following, once you have managed to get people to invest that much of their own time and money into a game, they will no doubt return. The trouble with boardgames is that they are less portable (smaller following) and that they only require one, usually small initial investment from the game's owner. Also, most boardgames don't lend themselves to the type of open community play that TCGs do. If I have a deck, and you have a deck, we can play a game. Boardgames are groups of people around a table, and there aren't any ways to really create "round robin" style event - it's more rigid, less fluid. If you can create a boardgame that has the same ability for a player to get up, take their piece, and go play on another person's board, then you have solidified those bonds between the community - this is part of the draw with the new D&D "Legacy" events, where players can either go play with a different DM for a short period, and/or can carry their character through each event.

Joined: 11/29/2012
MTG and all of its glory

I have been playing Magic for about 11 years. There are MANY reasons that the game is a great success.

The meta game is one of MTG's greatest strengths. When the people in your play group change their strategy, it greatly effects the effectiveness of your strategy. If everyone is playing aggressive fast paced decks, a player can prey on this environment by playing to beat this meta. When the aggressive players start to lose because of this, they change and the cycle is repeated. Strategy in MTG goes beyond in game decisions and allows players to analyze play groups, whether its PTQ's, the local game shop, or the kitchen table.

Another great aspect of CCG's is the introduction of new cards and mechanics. I don't think i need to tell you why this is an awesome feature, but I can tell you why MTG has been so successful with it. For a while MTG was making a habit of hiring the best professional players for R&D. This guaranteed that the most likely people to break the game had the opportunity to do so well before the product was released. Another great move by them was holding competitions involving new set development. The winners of the competition were actually hired by Wizards of the Coast to create new magic cards! SWEET OPPORTUNITY!

Another strong point was magic's story. Even if you didn't read MTG novels, the strong themes, characters, and flavor text in each block or set are unmistakable. These themes and flavors create very strong feelings of nostalgia not only for the game, but for specific sets and cards. That gets people hooked. I often have trouble trading, not because of the financial value of a card (although it IS important) but because of the nostalgic value of a card. A genuine feeling of connection to a colorful cardboard rectangle...

Magic was not created as a CCG. It was created as a new card game with a focus on customization, but it was nothing like what it has evolved into. It was a TRADING card game. The cards did not hold much value at that time, so collecting them was silly. They were game pieces, just like a food token or a meeple. I read an article recently that compared collecting MTG cards in 1993 with the intent of selling them later, to buying a game of Monopoly with the expectation that the funny money would become real in 10 years. Of course, upon release everyone and their mother wanted Shivan Dragon so trading for them was difficult :( I guess thats how it started.

I could go on and on, but thats enough for today.


Shattered Empires
Shattered Empires's picture
Joined: 10/16/2012

The thing you have to keep in mind with a CCG is why would someone want to play that CCG rather than playing another? There are a number of reasons that a person picks a certain game to play. One of the biggest is of course, having someone to play the game with. All CCGs are community games, no matter what the original reason you have for getting into the game.

Why do people play Magic? The community, the strategy, the story. Why do people play Pokemon? The community, the strategy, the anime. Why do people play L5R? The community, the strategy, the story.

Why do people not play Star Wars or Star Trek anymore? The games aren't fun. The world was nice, being Star Wars and Star Trek and the fans of those two series originally got into them. Unfortunately, the games themselves weren't good enough to keep out attention. It wasn't enough to offset the cost of the game and keep us interested.

The key is finding out what makes people play your game rather than another game.

I'm working on my own CCG. It's based in a Science Fiction based world of my own creation with a rich history. The players also get to help shape that world and the development of the story. I encourage people to comment on card design as it occurs. The decks that are being played will be the factions that will be winning in the accompanying comics. That's how I plan on standing out from Magic, Yugioh, Pokemon and the others.

Hope this helps.

Joined: 03/06/2017
Ok I see a lot of posts on Magic. Let me tell you about pokemon

> Why do/did they flourish in pop culture?
I do not know the exact history. I can only speculate that it attracted kids more than anything else because in the Pokemon world, people had Pokemons in balls. It is like their pet, their possession. You can have as many as you wanted too. How to translate that in real life? Cards. That would be why there were a lot of collectors, probably more than players. Anyone who watches any cartoon wanted to be like the main characters, and they could do that by buying cards. The difference between pokemon and transformers is that in the cartoon, all trainers had different pokemons, and it is the same with cards. It adds a personal side to it, and not just two people having the same toy.

>Each time you by a pack of cards you are almost always gamboling in >some way with CCGs, is that what makes them popular?
Never thought of it in that way, but it is somewhat similar.

>What makes POKEMON a great CCG?
Pokemon is a great CCG because the cards are simple. Even a kid can understand that a card with 120HP and 120 attack is better than a 50HP with 30 attack. It is also intuitive, as the weakness of fire is water. The picture is a deformed cartoon animal, so easy to remember (as compared to monsters in magic or yugioh). The energy cards are easy to be associated with the symbols on the cards. There is this intuition of how the game can be played just by looking at different cards.

Going into how it is played, I don't know much about yugioh or magic, but pokemon varies from 85%-95% deck building and 15%-5% performance. Easy and linear decks win because of its structure, and requires almost no thinking in the match, while trickier decks must adapt in play. Why no luck you say? The past 6-7 years of Pokemon meta has made decks very consistent. Changing 1 card in a deck of 60 could change 1/3 of a strategy. That makes this game great because each card is relevant in a match, because each card is searchable, so it isn't even a question of consistency over 100 matches. The difference can be seen right away (sometimes a weird deck pops up in the meta and people starts to play 1 card hard counter. And it is effective (the hard counter just gives you a slight edge at 1-2 turns but it is usually enough to balance the game from unfavorable to 50/50) ).

in summary, pokemon is simple and personalized. Easy to remember, and intuitive to play. In competitive, it is consistent and each card change can make a immediate difference. You feel in control of the deck as a whole. (recently pokemon caters to kids so strategy went down the drain, but pokemon is still a great ccg).

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