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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day

 

 

First Ticket

Dragon Vault

Date Reviewed: Oct. 8, 2012

Ratings & Reviews Summary

Modified: 3.0
Limited: 2.0

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being the worst. 
3 ... average.  
5 is the highest rating.

Back to the main COTD Page

Baby Mario
2010 UK National
Seniors
Champion

First Ticket (Dragon Vault)

Hello and welcome to an exciting new week on Pojo’s Cotd! Why is it exciting? That would be because we are going to take our first look at cards from the new Dragon Vault, and I believe this is the first time we have ever got a Japanese-style mini-set. All the cards in it are holo (which will please those who like their bling), and at last that Secret Rare Rayquaza from DRX become easily and cheaply available. That’s not the only interesting thing to come out of the set either, so let’s get on with the reviews.

Today’s card is Fast Ticket: a Trainer unlike anything we have ever seen before. See, you play it after you have set up but before the opening coin flip. The text of the card is as follows:

Before you flip a coin to decide who goes first in a game, you may play this card. Don't flip that coin, and you go first. If both players play First Ticket, flip the coin as normal. (You may play only 1 First Ticket before you flip that coin.)

So, having this card in your hand means that you will gain the huge advantage of going first in the game (unless your opponent also has one, in which case you are back to the 50-50 odds of the coin flip). Now I’m not really a maths-type person, but I believe that if you play four copies of this card, your chances of going first in a game (once you factor in the odds of winning the flip anyway) are somewhere around 70%. That’s fantastic because under the current rules, the player going first gets every possible advantage: first attack, first use of Trainers/Supporters, and first Energy attachment.

But there are some real drawbacks to consider:

· To make the most of First Ticket, you need to play four. That’s a big chunk of your deck. Can you find the space?

· Except for the one that may or may not be in your opening hand, it is a dead card all game. Yes, you can use it for discard fodder with Ultra Ball (for example), but that’s never a positive feature of a card: anything can fulfil that role and have other uses as well

· If your opponent plays one as well, you’re back to square one . . . a coin flip to decide who goes first

It’s clear that not every deck will even be able to run First Ticket without damaging their consistency, so I expect its use to be mostly limited to decks which are built to exploit to the maximum their opportunity to go first. Yes, that’s right, we are looking at super fast donk decks having a resurgence in the game, with Pokémon that can take Prizes for a single Energy attachment like Tornadus-EX, Rayquaza (non-EX), Stunfisk DRX, Mewtwo-EX, and the forthcoming Landorus-EX all being likely candidates. Don’t think that will limit the impact of this card on the game though: that strategy is going to be very popular and highly effective. I suspect that the next format will consist of a lot of players laying down a lone weak Basic at the start and praying that their opponent doesn’t have a First Ticket/first turn win combo.

First Ticket seems like the card designer’s way of addressing complaints about the first turn rules. Don’t like the fact that such a huge advantage is decided on luck? Well, here is a way you can manipulate the odds in your favour – at a price. With that in mind, I am a bit disappointed that they changed the way this card functions from the Japanese original. In Japan, if both players have First Ticket in their opening hand, the play Rock-Paper-Scissors to decide who goes first while we revert to the flip. RPS is somewhat a game of skill, and can be pretty fun to do (remember Team Galactic’s Wager?), but oh well, that’s just the way they decided to do things.

Rating

Modified: 4 (this card will make an impact and it will be feared)

Limited: N/A (you can’t really play limited with a 21 card mini set)

Jebulous Maryland Player

First Ticket
 
First Ticket is a trainer that can only be played to determine who goes first (before the coin flip).  If you play it, you go first.  If both you and your opponent play it, then you flip a coin like normal.  You can't play more than 1 of these before you flip the coin.
 
So going first is the best thing, no doubt about it.  You can do everything your opponent can do on their first turn, only you do it first.  No drawbacks.  So obviously a card that lets you go first is a great thing.  On the surface it's great; in reality... we'll see.
 
So the best way for it to work is to run 4 First Tickets.  It gives you the best odds of drawing one on the first turn.  Even then you are not guaranteed drawing one first turn.  The drawback to running 4 Fast Tickets is that you give up 4 slots in your deck.  If your deck can work well without them, then by all means run it.  If you can't fit them in, is it worth messing with your deck to add them?
 
You can also go the 1 First Ticket route.  It means worse odds (besides zero), but there is still a chance that you will get it on your first turn.  This way means you only have to give up 1 slot in your deck.
Honestly, it just depends on your luck.  Some people may run 2-3, others 4.  I would run 1, if any.
 
So a problem is that you run First Ticket and don't draw it on the first turn.  Now it has become a dead card (in the sense that it can't be used for its intended purpose).  The only other real use you can get from it is using it for discarding effects (like Ultra Ball).
Drawing it for your turn is a dead draw.
 
I noticed the wording on it that you can only play 1 before the flip.
I'm curious as if that was placed there to avoid people from arguing (if Player A plays 1 and Player B plays 2, then Player B might argue that they should go first).  While that is an option, I give people more credit than that.  I look for abuses in this card, and one could be an opening hand of 4 First Tickets (anything more than 1 really) and a Bianca.  If you could play all 4 First Tickets, then you are down to
1-2 cards.  That means Bianca gives you 5-6 cards.  If you couldn't play more than 1, Bianca gives you 2-3 cards (and you have 3 dead cards in your hand).  Actually, it really is a dead card because it's worded such that you cannot play it any time after the coin flip.  I do think it's far that it is truly dead, since it's the price you pay for trying to go first.
 
I'm new to the competitive scene, so I don't know how much cheating goes on.  Unfortunately I can see people cheating in order to always get this card.  Hopefully that's not how things will be; I enjoy the effect, but I like when it is earned.
 
But most of this is my opinion; I honestly don't plan on running this card.  My luck is bad enough as it is in going first, might as well not waste the space.
 
Modified: 2/5
Limited: 2/5
Combos With:  Luck of the Draw
 
Questions, comments, concerns: jebulousthemighty@yahoo.com


Otaku

Now we come to Fast Ticket First Ticket; yeah early spoilers for this card had the name wrong, or else they changed it during translation. I really wish they had called it “First-Class Ticket”, but that is just me being obsessive. Still, just realize if you see comments about a card with a name vaguely like First Ticket, it probably is First Ticket from an earlier, less accurate translation; it was quite hyped when first revealed, and many thought we wouldn’t even get it.

Why was that?

Stats

First Ticket is an Item, which is one of the many kinds of Trainers. Items have been important since before that term applied to them, and while there are areas where I complain about a lack of balance in the modern game, the relationship between the three branches of Trainer cards isn’t one of them.

  • Items provide useful effects and aren’t burdened by a once-per-turn limitation.
  • Supporters bring forth the most potent effects, but are a once-per-turn card.
  • Stadiums stick around, so the effects can be continuous or at least recurring, but work equally well for both players (provided both players have legal targets for said effects). While also one-per-turn, dropping your own Stadium is the easiest and most effective way to get rid of your opponent’s.

Right now, the best support we’ve got for Items is Sableye (BW: Dark Explorers 62/108), while the main opposition for Items comes in the form of the Disconnect attack found on Zebstrika (BW: Next Destinies 48/99). The rest just hasn’t proven potent enough to mention or isn’t out in English yet… and as you’ll see, I could have left these out anyway.

Effects

The effect of First Ticket may be unique amongst Trainers; it only has an effect during set-up of the game. Before you would flip a coin to determine who goes first, you can reveal an in hand First Ticket to skip the coin flip and just go first. If your opponent has one, however, then the coin flip occurs as it normally would. Multiple copies cannot be used by the same player; no bonus if you have more than one in hand and your opponent has none, and if you have multiple but your opponent has just one copy, you still end up flipping to see who goes first as you normally would.

Going first is a huge advantage, but a card that is dead for all but the set-up of the game is quite a huge cost. Especially when you remember that roughly half the time the card works… you would have gone first anyway. That is right; unless you are the rare statistical anomaly that is going second significantly more often than you go first, even when drawn, this card essentially only works half the time.

Usage

I am not the greatest as calculating probabilities, but I can tell the odds aren’t good. Getting the effect means opening with at least one copy in your initial seven card hand. You also still need a Basic Pokémon to make it stick; you can’t use the effect until after meeting that set-up requirement. This is important since, as a comparative example, opening with particular Pokémon is aided by the fact that if you fail to get any Pokémon at all, you have to shuffle your hand back into your deck and try again; no such luck when First Ticket fails to show.

You could just run one, which wouldn’t be too hard to fit into a deck, but even with “seven chances” of pulling it in your opening hand, when it is one of 60 cards (technically a one in 60 chance the first card drawn, one in 59 the second card drawn, etc.), that really impresses upon you how low your odds are. You can run multiples (and indeed if you play it you should), but now you’ve just got a four in 60 (or one in 15) chance on the first of seven drawn, four in 59 of the second drawn, etc.

Whenever I’ve discussed this card in a group, someone always seems to feel the need to point out that you can always use it for discard fodder, but this is true of every card ever released. Being able to make use of cards dead-in-hand is a benefit of other particular cards, not the cards being discarded. Still, I’ll mention it again; you’re going to have to deal with those inert cards because this looks to be a card you run four of or none at all. Four slots in the average deck is a tall order.

On first glance, this card had me thinking about the potency of Sableye (DP: Stormfront 48/100), but then I had to consider the differences. That Sableye was a Basic Pokémon that (for the time) okay Stats coupled with not one but two different useful attacks; the first required no Energy and let you discard a Supporter from your deck, then duplicated the Supporter’s effect, while the second required just (D) and 40 if the Defending Pokémon had less HP remaining than Sableye (it did 10 otherwise).

So even if you failed to open with Sableye or your opponent also opened with it, it was a good opening Pokémon, and not the worst thing to be stuck with mid-to-late game, either. First Ticket has the slight benefit of allowing you to open with a different Pokémon, but does that really offset being totally dead the rest of the game, and even when it works sometimes only canceling out your opponent’s copy?

Possibly in some select decks. I can really only see running this in Modified if you are building a dedicated “donk” deck; a deck that wins by KOing your opponent’s lone Pokémon first turn to win because your opponent no longer has any Pokémon in play. When this card was first revealed (and the hyping began) we also still had decks that could deal 120 points of damage first turn, plus Seeker, a Supporter that could forcefully bounce a Pokémon from your opponent’s Bench and usually had other uses within the donk deck. When you did fail the donk, you still had a good shot of scoring enough rapid fire OHKOs to still win the game.

That isn’t what First Ticket comes into; we’ve still got plenty of donk potential, but it requires your opponent doesn’t have a second Basic Pokémon in play, and none of the first turn combos I am aware of yields three digit damage without exploiting Weakness.

So what about Unlimited? We really need a ruling on how Sableye (DP: Stormfront 48/100) interacts with First Ticket. The way the text reads, Sableye activates after First Ticket; you skip your coin flips for First Ticket, but if someone reveals a Sableye, its Poké-Body kicks in. This really hurts First Ticket if it holds true; all the decks abusing Sableye get its normal benefits, plus if your opponent used First Ticket, it was a waste.

This won’t ruin First Ticket here; this is a format where dead cards are less problematic, owing to copious amounts of draw and search power, and where at the most competitive level, you go first or lose. It will hurt making room for four copies and won't matter often, but it may prove worthwhile.

So what about Limited play? Well, this card is part of a new mini-set, so that isn’t applicable. If it ends up re-released in another set down the road, odds are you’ll always run it “just in case”, because you’ll only pull one, decks are smaller, and you’ll have the room.

Ratings

Unlimited: 3/5

Modified: 2/5

Limited: N/A

Combos with: Bandit Keith!

Summary

First Ticket is a card that makes me ask “Why?” because there was such a narrow range of it being good for the game. As is, it won’t address the potential balance issues with going first, and its only real use it to boost “donk decks”, which are considered by some to be an abuse of the game’s mechanics as is. The execution is wanting enough that at least it isn’t strong, but had it been, it would have quickly become a staple just so most players could enjoy “restoring” the game to the 50-50 odds starting first we began with.

There isn’t a lot of space between “underpowered” and “overpowered” with this type of mechanic. If they wanted to represent an effect from the video games, okay; if they wanted to balance out going first, how about making some cards themed around going second, e.g. that flat out give you better effects for having gone second. Assuming we can’t just find a way to balance out the actual rules.


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