Things are moving and shaking in the Pokémon TCG world, and right now is an especially exciting time for players!
Today marks the official launch of the newest expansion, Lost Origin! Following soon after this, Silver Tempest drops in November, and The Pokémon Company has already revealed its early 2023 plans with the tease of a few new cards coming out in their next series, Scarlet and Violet!
In addition to plenty of new cards, The Pokémon Company has just released its latest official handbook for alternative playstyles, which includes some fresh, new ways to play! This is a review of just one of those playstyles, The Gym Leader Challenge.
The Gym Leader Challenge, or GLC as it is commonly known, may already be familiar to some readers, as it has been rising in popularity since early 2021. Originally created by Andrew Mahone, a popular Pokémon Youtuber and avid player, the GLC format has made huge waves among Pokémon TCG fans. Players have been clamoring for its formal recognition, and this inclusion in the new handbook demonstrates not only that The Pokémon Company is listening to its devout fanbase, but actively willing to learn from and develop playstyles based on the creations of its players.
- Expanded format
- 60 card deck
- Players may only use 1 type of Pokémon
- Players may only use 1 of any card, except basic energy
- Players may only use single prize Pokémon – Rule box Pokémon are prohibited
- Ace Spec cards are prohibited
At its core, the GLC format is a distillation of the game largely removed from the gradual power creep of the last few years of releases, and generally offering a slower paced game progression. It does this by limiting or removing players’ usage of certain card types, as well as restricting players from using more than one copy of any card (except energy) in their deck.
The removal of rule box Pokémon makes perhaps the biggest impact on the speed of the game, as it becomes necessary to knock out 6 of an opponent’s Pokémon at one prize card each, as opposed to most of the rule box Pokémon knockouts rewarding 2-3 prize cards each. Many of these Pokémon also boast powerful abilities that make quicker work of a Trainer’s opponents.
The unique rules of the format – allowing access to the immense pool of cards in the expanded format, as well as requiring players to build a deck utilizing only one type, and not allowing more than one copy of any card in a deck – all work in tandem to demand an expanded understanding of the game, and a deep level of strategy and flexibility when building and battling with a GLC deck.
One great example of this is a player’s prize pool. It certainly presents a greater challenge when one or more of your most valuable cards is trapped in your prize pool until late game, and this forces players to think about the game differently than if they had three to four copies of each card available.
This new format has already made appearances at many local shops, and has even started to debut at some of the official tournaments as a side event, such as the 2022 Indianapolis Regionals. It is very exciting to see The Pokémon Company integrating new ways of playing, as well as recognizing the creations of its fanbase.
If you’d like to learn even more about the format and learn directly from its creator how to play, go check out the Gym Leader Challenge official website!