Benjamin Pham - Card Strategies -"Planning & Time Management Part 1"

Benjamin Pham – Card Strategies -“Planning & Time Management Part 1”

Hello Pokémon friends. This will be my second article for CCG and this time I wanted to talk about time management and planning. I will be splitting this article into 2 parts, with part 2 coming next week.

I consider this subject a pretty important but undervalued factor for competitive play in the Pokémon TCG. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I just try to use a lot of examples to explain why I think planning is important.


What Is Time Management?

“Time management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.”

Before we talk about time management in Pokémon, I’ll try to explain how it implements in life.


[Example 1] It’s Monday. You’re a student and you have to finish an assignment for school on Friday morning, you have basketball training on Tuesday and Thursday, and you have friends that you want to hang out with. With good planning you will be able to do all these, without them interfering with each other.

If we would assume that you could only do 1 thing a day, then the most optimal planning would be: Work on the assignment and finish it on Monday & Wednesday, Basketball training on Tuesday & Thursday and hang out with your friends on Friday.



The most important part in this is planning. You know what you need or want to do in a week, so you plan accordingly. If you don’t plan and decide to hang out with your friends on Monday and Wednesday, and on Thursday you suddenly find out that you need to finish your assignment for Friday, you might need to cancel training.

If you know how to manage your time right, your life will become a lot easier and more pleasant. You will be able to do the stuff that you want to do. Planning is not only applicable for a longer period of time, it could also apply to a shorter period of time.


[Example 2] You’re in a supermarket and you received a shopping list from your mom:

“Eggs, Apples, Coffee, Bread, Tomatoes, Milk and Tea”

You have 5 minutes before the supermarket closes. One way to go around the store is the way your mom wrote down. But if you do that, you will most likely not get all the groceries you need in time.

Supermarkets are organized in a way that fruits are almost always next to the vegetables, the dairy products are near each other and coffee & tea as well. Knowing this, the smarter way to get groceries, is to grab the things that are close to each other. So when you grab the tomatoes, you should also get the apples. This way you would only need to walk by every place in the supermarket once, instead of going back multiple times for different groceries. This is also planning.


There are certain steps you need to be aware off if you want to manage your time in a correct way. Time management in a few steps:

Focus on your task

Know your outcome or goal

Project and plan your task

[example 2 implications]

Getting the groceries for your mom within 5 minutes

Having Eggs, Apples, Coffee, Bread, Tomatoes, Milk and Tea at the cash desk in 5 minutes.

[1 min] Apples and tomatoes first, [2 min] eggs and milk, [3 min] get bread, [4 min] tea & coffee, [5 min] go the cashier.





The current tournament format dictates that we usually play best out of three games with a 50 minute-time limit. If you are a regular competitor you know that it is almost impossible to finish three full games in this amount of time. The same structure decides a game in Pokémon only counts when all 6 prizes are taken in a game (When playing Swiss). If you manage to be aware of time and its implications, you could use this to your advantage.





In the Pokémon TCG you need multiple ways of planning. You have a general game plan:  Setting up, taking six prizes, not letting your opponent do just that and of course not decking out. Most of this planning you will do while playing the game. After game 1 however, you have a lot more information about your opponent and the matchup. You can and should use this information to improve your plan for game 2.



[Example 3] You’re playing Greninja against Mega Mewtwo. In the first game you saw your opponent play Mega Turbo but not Max Elixir, and (Mega) Mewtwo-EX is the only attacker in their deck. You’ve lost the first game and you start the second game with Froakie, your hand is Dive Ball, Water Energy, Water Energy, Professor Sycamore, Greninja and Greninja.


A standard play would be to Dive Ball for a second Froakie, attach energy and play Professor Sycamore, discarding 2 Greninja. But in this case you have more information about your opponent’s deck. Knowing that your opponent doesn’t play Max Elixir, the maximum damage output a Mewtwo-EX has is 30. So you know for a fact that your Froakie will not get knocked out next turn, so you don’t need the second Froakie on your bench.


The better play here would be to attach energy to Froakie and pass. If your opponent doesn’t play N in his turn, you can play a Dive Ball to look for a Frogadier, attack with Water Duplicates, evolve into double Greninja a turn later, and then play the Professor Sycamore.



Every deck has a game plan, but there is quite some variety between decks. Some are quite straight forward and will always get setup and take early prizes in the early game, other decks need more setup and are a bit slower.


[Example 4] If you play Greninja, you accept that you will not do a lot of damage in the first couple of turns. Which can be seen as a big disadvantage compared to other decks, which are able to hit for a lot of damage in turn 1 or 2 (Volcanion for example). If you choose to play Greninja, you need to have a game plan and focus on the end game. It involves things like not getting benched out, getting multiple Frogadiers in play and eventually you want 2 Greninja Break on the field to finish the game. These are a lot of small steps you need to take, before Greninja does what you want it to do.



Get Froakie

Evolve to Frogadier

Use Water Duplicates

Evolve to Greninja

Evolve to Greninja Break

Get a lot of energy to deal damage and win the game



If I write it down like this, it looks like quite an easy game plan. But there will be a lot of roadblocks on the way, especially while you’re trying to get to step five and six. Sometimes you need to sacrifice some Pokémon to accomplish this game plan. But if you play Greninja, it’s quite important to remember the goal of your deck. Even though you have a certain game plan, you need to be focused on this goal and be able to adapt to the situation. The more steps a deck has to take to reach the goal, the more often you need to change your game plan. For example, sometimes you don’t need to Water Duplicates to get multiple Greninja Break in play. “There are a lot of ways that lead to Rome”, which basically means that there are different paths that can lead to the same goal.




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