For many Pokemon enthusiasts, the trading card game is more than mere child’s play.
On Jan. 7, a “city tournament” held at Hobbies, Etc. in Warrenton attracted 61 participants — mostly from Northern Virginia and Maryland.
One player, Hunter Hawkins, came all the way from Greensboro, N.C., to claim fourth place in the senior division of the competition.
To those in the know, that’s not surprising.
“Many players travel the region and play in as many city championships as they can,” said David Tuskey, who coordinates tournaments throughout Virginia.
“Top finishers earn championship points. At the end of the season in July, players with the top point totals will receive invitations to attend the world championships in Hawaii this August.”
No one from Fauquier claimed any of the top prizes in the recent Warrenton tournament, which was the second largest to date, according to Tuskey.
Jonathan Croxton of Charlottesville took first place in the junior divisio and Dean Nezam of Fairfax won the senior division.
Last Thursday, a handful of the trading card game enthusiasts gathered at the Warrenton hobby shop to build their decks and hone their skills in preparation for the next competition.
All of them are members of a free, informal league coordinated by Mary Ivie of Prince William County and Kathryn Orta of Warrenton. “I had a blast today,” said Orta.
“Usually I play against the younger kids on Sundays. I love teaching them to play this game because they learn strategy, counting, reading and sportsmanship,” she said.
The Pokemon trading card game is based on the animated Japanese TV show and video games invented in the 1990s.
Each player has a deck of 60 cards. There are cards representing different types of Pokemon characters, energy cards that help them fight, and others that help them “evolve” by gaining strength or power.
Players take turns or “battle” using the cards from their hand until someone wins by eliminating six opposing Pokemon.
“It’s a lot like chess and other [strategic games],” Orta said. “But [even if you use the same strategy] there’s a different outcome in every game because everyone is playing a different deck.”
Because building a strong deck is crucial, especially in tournament play, Ivie and Orta help novice players acquire cards. Players are allowed to trade cards at the end of each session.
Pokemon aficionados can also buy new cards when they are released.
There are different decks for novice, intermediate and advanced players, and strict rules governing which cards can be used in tournaments as opposed to informal matches.
Consequently, players often have multiple decks. The cards are carefully organized and kept in binders or protective sleeves.
“This is the maiden voyage of this deck, and it is playing well,” said Chris Bradshaw as he pondered his next move. “Let’s see....What will I do next?”
At the next table, players who finished their games gathered around to watch another one still in progress.
“Playing Pokemon is fun and it’s not a really competitive environment,” Ivie said. “Even at tournaments, people still help each other. I think if fosters a real sense of camaraderie.”
For more information about the local Pokemon league, visit: http://sites.google.com/site/virginiapokemon