Sun Tzu and Pokemon

Obsession you say? Nonsense I say!

Today I convinced my coworker to play the Pokemon TCG with me. I have a hoopa deck that I’ve played several times online, but I haven’t used the physical deck. He worked off the volcanion deck.

hoopa-unbound.jpg

Hoopa Unbound. He’s a scary purple genie

I sat there with a deck I knew. I had my primary strategies, the cards I needed and would try for, and I felt confident. I felt there was no way I could lose.

For whatever reason in that moment I understood the meta of what I was doing. Not the acronym people use, where META means Most Effective Tactic Available. At that moment I was watching the flow of competition as if I was outside of the moment. It felt as weird as it sounds.

My opponent surely felt he could win, especially with the knowledge my 4 year old nephew crushed me. He had a deck that was built to face off against mine, even if he didn’t know what exactly was in it. To be honest, aside from knowing it was a fire and steel deck, I didn’t know what was in it.

Know yourself, and you will win half your battles. Know yourself and your enemy and you will win all of your battles.

As the competition went on, I had my strategies before me. I worked through the cards I usually did, even though I had some energy issues. I had to try something new, and it paid off. My opponent made his moves as he learned the deck.

Then it reached a point where I knew how the game ended. It would still be five or six moves until the finale, but as he had two major Pokemon set up, I had two major Pokemon set up, I saw the only path which made sense. I would take out his active Pokemon. He would then take out mine. Our two final hopes would be on the field, with our little people waiting in reserve.

I needed to win a coin toss. I get that you may not understand everything leading up to this, but it would come down to two powerful beings trying to take each other out, and if I could win a coin toss, I won the game. If I lost the coin toss, I lost the game. It would still be three turns after that coin toss, but the results would be inevitable.

It played out the way I expected it to, and we were left with the coin toss. I flipped and looked at the ceiling. In that moment I was both victorious and defeated. I looked down. Heads. I needed heads.

He tried valiantly with his final two Pokemon, but I ran through them in two turns, and the game was over.

Both sides believe they can win a conflict, or they wouldn’t be in conflict. Sometimes it’s delusional or ridiculous defiance, but usually there’s a shot. There is also generally a key moment, and often times the farsighted strategist will see it. They will see the events leading up to that moment, they will recognize that moment, and they will comprehend that winning or losing that one moment dictates the course of everything else to come.

This is Helm’s Deep. It’s Normandy. It’s a thousand other battles, real and fantastic. While not as cut and dry, they are the defining points that a loss would mean total defeat, and victory would mean the march continued.

In this moment of playing a children’s game, I gleaned all of this. It’s amazing what we can learn, even in the simplest of things.

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