Pokémon Battling, Poker and Chess: How They’re Alike – Part 1.

Pokémon Battling and Chess: How They’re Alike

Pokémon battling at the competitive level can be likened to a mixture of chess and poker. There is fundamental principles to be understood which are gradually elaborated on and assimilated by the player. Improving at Pokémon is Similar to how different levels of understanding are reached by Chess players after learning new guiding principles or ideas. As a Pokémon battler progresses he uncovers more features of the game in team building, prediction and planning that he had never before imagined tied the game together.

Common Pitfalls when Pokémon Battling

These features of the game reveal themselves in a similar pattern. When a player begins to battle he is enthralled by the numerous possibilities for strategising, the in battle possibilities for calculation and deduction. You must take care not to lay prey to sloth when building, or to tilt when battling. Laziness is another habit which can sit in, leaving the battler in a mode of ‘autopilot’ where moves are not really considered at length.

These challenges are exemplefied by a player who learns the moves of an opening in chess, but does not understand them. This lack of understanding leads to many errors in play. By not building your own teams, comes a lack of understanding for the goal and plans your the team. Without the testing and refinement period or practicing of lines subtleties about the team and common situations or positions which are encountered aren’t given due attention.

Much like in Chess, these effects will hamper your tournament performances, as well as your rating. The lack of knowledge of a team might not have such a huge impact so long as a turn by turn awareness of the game and where it is headed is nurtured during practice. Furthering an enemy win plan is a mistake many new players make in Pokémon due to the unawareness of a position. As such experience facing similar positions before, and being analytical are two tools which can mean the difference between a win or a loss.

The autopilot mentality many new Pokémon players adopt on Ladder is similar to the mindless bullet playing of a new beginner. Sure, it betters intuition, but this sword has two sides to it. Intuition isn’t always right, and when it’s wrong the analytical mind should be there to step in and offer second opinion. When reliance on lazy, auto-pilot selected moves become a players go-to style, he should realise in the long term this is not a feasible strategy.

How Chess Compares to Poker

The opening features of a Pokémon game (we will use Sun/Moon as an example, as these mechanics have remained similar for 3 generations of games) are very different to those of pre-BW generations that lacked team preview. Preparation is an important step for which recognising patterns, keeping general game plans in mind are important. In Poker one must be careful to look for small similarities and differences between ones current hand to previous hands. In Pokémon this translates to comparing a team (hand) to previous teams that may be similar in build in order to adapt the old strategy for the new match.

By keeping these preparatory elements in mind, we notice how much mental energy we can save in game. So simply by being familiar with ones own team, and how it fares against the current metagame you create a powerful advantage.

The nature of a Pokémon game past the opening is in many games more similar to a Poker game before team reveal. Back then guessing an enemies team was a very important skill, akin to guessing an enemies cards to decide whether or not to bet or fold in a game of Poker. This element still exists, just with a little extra information. Still sets and plans may be devised from earlier in the game than ever, allowing for numerous complications. In the case of team reveals the familiarisation with common teams is necessary through viewing replays or laddering in order to notice and act on only important details in game.

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