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PokePancake — The Two-Person Pokemon TCG Cube Draft

Once in a while, I like to Cube. Pokemon hasn’t recognized this format in any capacity, so the options are usually pretty limited. There’s a fair bit of information out there on how to get started and some example lists of what you could choose to include in one – but none of this has been extremely satisfying for me. The big thing for me is the people required to play, especially right now with most get-togethers hosted online.

Right now, more than ever, smaller gatherings in person are preferable – sometimes just two people…

Introducing the Pancake Draft!

Last weekend, I realized I’d never researched a two-person draft for trading card games. I’ve briefly considered it, and even put something rough together myself, but neither tried it or had any testing time to go off of. I finally took a stab at a search and what do you know – Google delivered.

I found a ton of information and got thinking. One variant stood out: the Pancake Draft. Yes, this is in Magic terms, but I found it to be very adaptable for Pokemon. I quickly threw a 198-card list together with some options I thought would be fun and nostalgic and tried it out with a friend. It was awesome.

The Draft & Rules

  1. Randomize your 198 cards in the Cube.
  2. Create 18 sets of 11 cards to draft from.
  3. Each player takes a pack and takes one card.
  4. The packs are swapped and each player takes two cards.
  5. Each player then discards two cards.
    1. Discarding should be done face down so not to reveal information.
  6. The packs are swapped a final time and each player takes two cards.
    1. The remainder of the cards are discarded.
  7. Repeat until no packs are left.

Feel free to modify your own rules as you see fit, but here are the basics of mine:

  • No deck limit and still six Prizes
  • Only one of cards as they are printed (ACE SPECs)
  • Old Trainer cards are considered Items (as printed)
  • Ability, Poke-BODY and Poke-POWER are not the same (as printed)
  • Current rules so not to confuse anyone

Say More

Doing this properly should take 10 to 20 minutes at a decent pace. For me, drafting is always the most fun part of a Cube. Using these instructions, you’ll soon find that the discards function quite similarly to playing with more people – it’s awesome! In discarding, you also don’t wind up with many bad cards, usually.

Personally, you might find hate-drafting a skillful pastime, but I don’t really enjoy it because a Cube is supposed to be a casual entry-level environment (depending on the players). You’ll almost never know what your opponent is playing until you start a game, but you can infer based on cards you don’t see. In this, you can discard some of those pieces, or discard generally good cards to deny your opponent those options.

Even in our first draft, I felt pretty hooked. This is a very fine-tuned system that works great. As with any Cube though, the challenge is compiling a selection of cards that work well with each other while still providing a healthy and unique experience. I enjoy Stage 2 Pokemon a lot, so I gravitated in that direction.

At first, I wasn’t sure how many cards each deck should play, or if there should even be a limit. Based on the 198 cards in the Cube, you ultimately draft 45 cards each when all is said and done. This said, since the cards you drafted are almost all playable in your deck, you’re going to want to play all of them! We decided after a few go throughs to allow just this – unlimited deck sizes.

You don’t have to use all the cards you draft in your deck, nor do you have to cram your deck with unnecessary Energy cards to hit an arbitrary limit. You’re almost always going to have at least 55 cards after Basic Energy, so we stuck with six Prizes – which works fantastically. There’s little advantage/disadvantage to playing against an opponent with fewer/more cards than you, hence this unorthodox approach.

Here are some decks I made:

After some tweaking we took out all of the big Pokemon-EX/GX. Upon further consideration, I think it might make the most sense to only include Pokemon from certain set blocks, Sword & Shield Series; Sun & Moon Series; XY Series; Black & White Series; HeartGold SoulSilver Series; Platinum Series; Diamond & Pearl Series; EX Ruby & Sapphire Series; etc.

From here, you can really have at it and try different combinations – although I would advise including at least two of each Pokemon card you want to be useable. Playing with thinner lines can be better for drafting (fewer people vying for one card), but with the mandatory discards between you and the other player, some things will be made impossible to use without multiple copies. I personally like playing one of each type of a Pokemon, like:

BlastoiseBlastoise (Delta Species)BlastoiseBlastoise ex

In this way, you get some more variety too. Same goes for Trainers if you ask me, as well as Special Energy. However, all this is really up to you. If your Cube ever gets stale (there are fewer cards than with a larger multi-person one), feel free to switch things out!

These Cubes should always be your personal playground – have fun with it! My sole purpose for sharing this is the awesomeness of two-person play – I really like it as an option. Enjoy!

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