Pokemon @ Loading Bar: Geek Gaming Goodness

Sod your smartphone pirated version of Pokemon Red, nothing beats the original card game. Here's what happened when we went to Dalston with a shiny Charizard...
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Collectible card games have been around for a long time, nowadays games are pushing toward mobile platforms, the ability to take our favourite games, gather and mix our decks, obtain new pieces and battle people from our phone or tablet. There are however a group of players who remain strong, the physical players, the men and women who find pride in dedicating themselves to a game.

These brave strategists search long and hard to find what they need, tweaking each and every aspect of a deck to crush their opponents with the most unique and varied battle plans. Recently I attended a celebratory event to launch the latest expansion to the Pokemon Trading Card game, the XY--Phantom Forces expansion.

Now I hadn’t played with Pokemon cards since school, but with our fingerless gloves, anime eyes, and specially painted baseballs ready for face throwing, I jumped in to rub elbows with the elite card collectors down the Loading Bar in Dalston.


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Now as we arrived a little late, we weren’t able to jump straight in, everyone at the Loading Bar was friendly and helpful however, and within a matter of minutes we were right there alongside another group about to start playing to relearn those rules and shake off the dust. Within minutes we were ready to play once more, the player maps providing a good clear instruction of the turns we needed to take and the actions we could do, to be perfectly honest we were up there with the best of them with the help of the Poke-Gurus dotted around the bar.

So after our demo sessions and instructions, we approached a table with two ladies who had just finished the training with us. Turns out that they were working on releasing a new gaming magazine soon. Before long we were chatting away and decided to jump into a few games. Our helper Gina was an absolute diamond who was on hand to walk us through a demo game first, we were already in the flow of the game by our third turn.

We won’t go through all the details of how to play the game, but we can say that the game is very easy to pick up, with a great range of cards, almost limitless possibilities for strategy, and say what you will about this next statement, but the nostalgia factor is through the roof. It’s all very enjoyable. Alongside this, with a good few free drinks, and Pokemon themed pizza (Poke-Pizza? Pizza-Mon?) , we were the toast of the town for one night only as the top Pokemon trainers in town.

We won’t ruin the details for you, but we can end by saying we really did enjoy our time there, it was more than we expected, the trading card game hasn’t ended yet. People may nowadays want to play on their phones or tablets, but that in itself is an issue. If everything is all right there in your hands, it’s not fun, its rarely challenging, more often than not, people will uninstall the games the moment they hit a paywall. When it comes to the physical game, it's wholesome, it's pure. To this day nothing will beat the joy of finding a great card in a booster pack, the moment you realise it’s real, it’s yours, and your mind will go to work on how you can best use it. We’ve said it once, we’ll say it again, the trading card game isn’t dead yet, pick up your starter set for the Pokemon TCG now, and pick up what you hadn’t even realised you missed, I’m on the road to Viridian City.

Keep grindin