Oh man, this past month-plus was a killer for me! I won’t get into the details, but YEEESH, adult life is tough. I know I sound like a broken record, but everyone must know the truth about growing up: you don’t have time for anything anymore! I mean, sure, I can eat ice cream and/or Reese’s peanut butter cups for breakfast… BUT AT WHAT COST
So if you can: stay young forever. For the love of God, cherish it!
OH! One other update: Pokémon Aaah! is going to Worlds 2023 in Yokohama! … Well, kinda. I’ll share details in the next roundup, but Matt Matoba (who made the below video about the Promo Snorlax #49) is going there, and he’s agreed to help hand out advertisements for the site. But unlike previous promotions, it’ll be more than just mere paper advertisements! Wanna know more? Then you’d best swing by in the next Roundup! 😊
The Actual News:
Today’s news will cover these topics:
- The CRAZY Story About Promo Snorlax!
- Pokémon TCG Scarlet & Violet Blanks… ARE DONE?!
- WAIT! AND ALSO CLASSIC AND GYM BLANKS TOO?!
- Hide Your Trainers: it’s Four More Safari Zone Cards
The CRAZY Story About Promo Snorlax!
So as you may have noticed, very little Pokémon TCG cards are drawn by non-Japanese artists, let alone Westerners. Even when Wizards of the Coast managed to convince their Japanese overlords to let them create their own card—Dark Raichu #83—it was still drawn by Mitsuhiro Arita. So ultimately during the Classic era, there were only TWO cards drawn by a Western artist: Mewtwo (Promo #12), drawn by famed Magic the Gathering artist Christopher Rush, and Snorlax (Promo #49) by… Craig Turvey? ….wait, who the heck was that??
Well as the story goes, this Snorlax card was part of a Pokémon TCG Pokémon League art contest back in 2002, where kids could submit their artwork and the best artist would get their work placed on an official Pokémon TCG card. And so Craig Turvey was that lucky kid who won, and now his work is now eternally etched in Pokémon TCG history. But that said… to be honest, I really don’t remember this contest at all. In fact, apparently NO ONE remembers this contest, because there doesn’t seem to be any evidence this contest ever took place (do YOU remember this contest??). And there’s nothing about it on the the Archive.org Wayback Machine—namely the Wizards’ Pokémon TCG Press Release archive, nor the Wizards’ Pokémon TCG page outright, and especially not in the Wizards’ PokéGym archive either. Not even former Wizards employees remember this contest! But this isn’t some weird case of the Mandela Effect; clearly this Craig Turvey kid won, his art is on a card we all own, so something must’ve happened to bring this about. But what? And how??
As it turns out, the truth of the lucky kid who’s artwork is immortalized on a Pokémon TCG card is an INSANE deep dive into a serious rabbit hole… and perhaps even a memory hole that Wizards themselves dropped it into. For starters, it turns out that Craig Turvey was a 20-someodd year old adult when he submitted his Snorlax artwork to this supposed contest. And I don’t mean he’s 20-something now, he was 20-something back in 2002. That made him older than *I* was back then!! If that gets you asking questions about how this could’ve happened, fret not! Matt Matoba is here to answer them all for you. Fresh from his deep dive on the History of Jamboree—the Wizards’ made Pokémon TCG set that I personally would’ve brought on to draw artwork for but was ultimately never released—Matt brings us a two part story about Promo Snorlax #49, it’s history, how it came about, and what it might have influenced later on down the road. And hey, you might see a few familiar faces this time as well!
Did you enjoy it? Pretty crazy stuff, huh?! And trust me, I was just as surprised as you were when Matt first shared this info with me. Again, I seriously don’t remember this contest happening at all back in 2002, and for this card to come out later on… yeah, it felt like a kid drew it, and the Pokémon League always had random stuff happening, so I didn’t think anything of it back then. But the fact that literally NOTHING—no archive, no backups, no news from PA! from back then, not even memories from Wizards employees!—ever talked about this contest, and it would’ve remained lost to time if it weren’t for a random French paper on “the Nature of the Internet” using screenshots of the contest. Golly! But hey, maybe when certain powers-that-be tries their best to make sure something disappears, there might be a good reason for it (well, depending on who benefits the most from that “good reason”).
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the video as well as my own thoughts about it. Maybe Matt has more random Pokémon TCG history to share?? Be sure to subscribe to Matt’s channel so you don’t miss out!
Pokémon TCG Scarlet & Violet Blanks… ARE DONE?!
So back in April, I released my first back of Scarlet/Violet blanks, and it was a roaring success! Sure it took me the better part of a week just to find the time to make the ZG Grass blanks, and it would’ve likewise taken me another… I dunno… nine weeks to finish the rest… but by jove! I was gonna finish them. Check them out!
Part of the reason why I was willing to make these blanks was because the previous top tier blank maker and the best Pokémon TCG fake card master ever (well, best after me, of course 😝), aschefield, said he was burnt out of faking and wanted to take a break. So I was more than happy to make the Scarlet/Violet blanks, especially since they would be my first new blanks for a current release.
Well, I guess the fact that I was taking my sweet time on making these blanks lit a fire under aschefield’s butt, because he ended up making his own ZG Grass blanks ScVi blanks one day. Take a look; mine is on the left, aschefield’s on the right.
Hey, they look pretty much alike, don’t they? I mean, the only difference really is that mine took out “weakness/resistance/retreat” in order to facilitate other language blanks… but otherwise, I doubt you could tell the difference. Hey, that’s how good the best Pokémon TCG fakers in the world can get!
Anyways… OK, I liked: aschefield ended up making ALL the blanks. Yeah clearly I was taking too long 😝 Take a look!
I mean, look at this ABSOLUTE MAD LAD
It took me a few days during my vacation to make just the Grass-type Pokémon, and here he comes and embarrasses me by doing the whole set! lol jk, I kid, I love you ashy! 😄
So where can you download these amazing ScVi blanks? Right here! I’ll be building a unique page for it in the sidebar in a little bit, but at least that Archive file (74MB) has all the ScVi blanks that aschefield made. As a reminder, the included blanks are:
- All types seen in the ScVi sets thus far (therefore, no ZY Fairy blanks)
- Blanks for Basic Pokémon, Stage 1 Pokémon and Stage 2 Pokémon
- Normal and Full art versions of each
- EX and Tera forms as well
- Basic and Special Energy cards
- All four trainer types: Items, Stadium, Supporters and the new Pokémon Tools
There is an included Read Me file in the archive which goes over all the blanks in the download as well:
Honestly, while I was happy to make these blanks myself, I’m absolutely stoked that aschefield was able to make these for everyone. I gotta admit, he has a way of making these blanks with that extra bit of polish, and much after than my slow butt could. Anyways, we hope you enjoy them!
WAIT! AND ALSO CLASSIC AND GYM BLANKS TOO?!
Clearly aschefield was on a roll and making ScVi just wasn’t good enough for him… so he had to make Classic and Gym blanks as well! Take a look-see:
That said, this isn’t a 100% aschefield jam; I gave him the backgrounds and type icons I used on my Neo Gendai blanks… which I really ought to just release by now. I think that made it easier for him to work on these blanks, and hey, the world is better for it.
Wanna download them? Here are the links! I’m planning on making a page for them as well… hopefully soon, but you know how it goes ’round here.
These blank packs all include:
- All types released ever, including ZN Dragon and ZY Fairy blanks
- Blanks for Baby Pokémon (Normal and 3x Evo/Tyrogue style), Basic Pokémon, Stage 1 Pokémon, Stage 2 Pokémon, and Mega Pokémon
- Normal and Dark Pokémon borders for each
- Trainer card
- Symbol sheet
- Gym Badge (easy drop-ins) for all nine Owners in the Gym sets
The Gym Badge drop-in files is actually a pretty clever idea that aschefield did… he set it up so that all you needed to do was import the Gym badge file (or copy & paste, whatever works) into the card blank itself, and it’ll always be placed in the right position. Take a look; I did an example using the power of HTML5 and CSS, placing Sabrina’s badge on a Stage 1 Dark Fighting blank:
Pretty neat stuff, huh??
So yeah, I wanna give my thanks to aschefield for making these blanks for us! In fact, we’re also working with the kind folks over at PokeCardMaker.net to get more of our blanks on there for everyone to use… so that if you’re not the Photoshop type, you can still make your own fake cards using our blanks at the tools over at PokeCardMaker.net. Pretty nifty, huh? We’ll keep you posted as things progress. Huzzah!
With all these blanks out of the way, what’s next? Well, I have a few in mind:
- Japanese Classic and Japanese Gym blanks — the very first Pokémon TCG cards the world has ever seen! Meanwhile Gym blanks are basically the Classic blanks, just without the flavor text box.
- Western Shadowless blanks — the first Pokémon TCG cards that players outside of Japan ever got to see. Apparently no one has ever made them before (not counting my first set of blanks) if only because there aren’t very many cards available to scan and blank. Thankfully I have enough to blank, so that’s on my to-do list!
- Japanese Prototype blanks — previewed in CoroCoro magazine, these were really basic templates used to help develop the game. But they’re a very unique look into the development of the game, and soon you’ll be able to make your own!
- Wizards Prototype blanks — first seen on the Prototype Blastoise card from a year or two back, this too was a unique look into the initial development of the game from Wizards of the Coast’s perspective… almost as if looking into the multiverse and seeing a familiar-yet-totally-different version of the game.
Aschefield himself has a few future blank projects as well… so keep visiting the site to find out what it may be!
Hide Your Trainers: it’s Four More Safari Zone Cards
As always, any time I share these wonderful Safari Zone cards designed by GC|Linkinboss, I like to connect them either to the previous release or set them up for the next release. Nothing like a bit of continuity to things, something that certain Hollywood films and TV shows seem to forgot how important it is. … huh what?
Anyways, this week’s Safari Zone cards is something I’ve legit been waiting to share for the longest time… the one card that I feel that, had it been released back in the day, might have made—or broke—the game: Poltergeist Haunter. … and three other cards lol … Give ’em a read through first, and then we’ll talk history:
So back in the early days of the Pokémon TCG, decks packed with as many Trainer cards as you can stuff into it was the norm. 3-time World Champion Jason Klaczynski has a great analysis of all the decks released in that time, and basically every top tier deck had something like 28-33 Trainer cards in it… sometimes even up to 40! 4x Bill, 4x Professor Oak, 4x Computer Search, 4x… well, you get the idea. These powerful trainer cards dominated the game so much that this era of the game is nicknamed “Trainermon”, and it encourages Wizards to invent a complete new format, “Prop 15/3“, just to combat it.
Now I knew that that Poltergeist Haunter existed as a card in general back in the day, but it was around this time discovered that Wizards had the rights to release Vending Machine cards since day one. So I began to ask: why don’t they release Poltergeist Haunter? I mean look at it: the attack only requires a single ZP energy, and with stuff like Pokémon Trader, Energy Searches (Fossil) or Rainbow Energy (Team Rocket), or just having a few extra Psychic Energy, that makes Haunter a bit more splashable, thus making it a good way to combat Trainermon.
Or was it?
Hindsight is always 20/20, and after a couple decades worth of subsequent Pokémon TCG history has gotten me to question if Haunter would’ve actually done anything positive to the game. In fact, it might have made the game even more messed up. The more obvious issue is the notion that Haunter probably wouldn’ve have been able to do so much damage even if you got it set up; the issue with the Trainermon era wasn’t so much of how many Trainer cards players use, it’s how fast they can use them in. With a good opening hand, players can dump through most of their deck and by turn two or three (the earliest an opponent could get a Haunter set up), it’s very likely their hands are just straight up empty, or maybe with one or two energy cards. Whatever the case may be, the chances of an opponent having seven Trainer cards at the end of their turn was extremely slim. You might be able to get a a few turn of your opponent having a hand full of Trainers if you used Gastly’s Spookify attack to lock your opponent until you can evolve it into Haunter, but after that’s assuming you can get Gastly running ASAP.
Even more troubling is the idea that, OK, let’s assume that players would regularly have a hand of five to seven Trainer cards to make Haunter useful. Now that means EVERY deck would need to have Haunters (and Gastlys) in it to remain competitive, which also means they’re going to be using it against you. In any case, the fact that you’ll need to run some amount of Gastly and Haunters is not the benefit I originally thought it was; like, the whole argument against Trainermon was the fact that everyone needed to play Bills and Oaks and Computer Searches just to be competitive… and now we’re adding two more cards to that heap. This has happened a few other times in Pokémon TCG history; the one that springs to my mind easiest is the era of Mewtwo-EX (Next Destinies #54), released in 2012. The fact that it was very powerful and very splashable meant that players HAD TO run three or four of them in their decks… and that skyrocketed the price of it to $80-$100 very quickly. TPCI tried to mitigate it by releasing promo versions of them for $20 (which included a few packs), but still, the fact that players had to run Mewtwo-EX in order to remain competitive was not fun. So, imagine this being the case with Gastly and Haunter. NOOOO FUN
I didn’t see any of this back in the day, but it’s so much clearer to me now: Spookify Gastly and Poltergeist Haunter would not have been the heroes I wanted them to be. Jason Klaczynski basically came to the same conclusion, going even further and building a deck around it and Dark Vileplume, 40 Trainer cards (?!?!) and 5 energy cards (!!!!!!?!). Yes, if Trainermon was bad without Haunter, it would’ve been even worse with it. Maybe Wizards saw that and nipped things in the bud before it even happened. Dang!
All that said, I still gotta appreciate this willingness to be more creative with attack design. Even if it didn’t work in the end, I just love the fact that they were willing to try something different and new, as opposed to the blank milktoast cards we got during the Card-E era (and especially with Pokémon-VS). I mean, all this talk about Poltergeit Haunter, and I didn’t even cover its sibling, Grudge Haunter! It does extra damage based on how many Prizes have been taken by the opponent, ensuring that you can do upwards of 70 damage for a mere ZPZP … sure you have to have five of your Pokémon KO’d, but it might be a decent last-ditch sweeper if you’re ever in a pinch.
But that’s it for this week! I wonder what Pokémon will appear in the next Safari Zone update? We’ll see!
Oh man, I’ve missed out on a lot of stuff over this past month… like there was a Nintendo Direct recently! For example there’s gonna be a new Detective Pikachu game, Detective Pikachu Returns… aw but who cares about the game, but DID YOU SEE THE NEW LANGUAGE SCRIPT?!?
EEEEE!!! Our language researcher extraordinare, ElementsnStuff, already spotted that there were 11 unique symbols, but there doesn’t seem to be any RYME or reason to them just yet.
…gettit? RYME or reason? Ryme City??
Oh you’re no fun.
But seriously, if you think you’ve got a theory about the Ryme City language (or any other theory) then hop on over to the PA! Discord and share your thoughts. Catch you next time!