While I have had many friends over the years who were quite fond of Magic: The Gathering, for one reason or another I never quite got into it. So when I began reading about the different player types in Magic as defined by the cards’ creators, I found it so fascinating in a way that I kind of wish I had gotten into the game more. But while I do not have familiarity with Magic, I have thrown many hours into the Pokemon series, and I thought about whether or not I’d be able to determine by player type based on my experience there.
According to Mark Rosewater, the architect behind the current card creation system, players of Magic fall into one of three categories: Timmy, who “wants to experience something,” Johnny, who “wants to express something,” and Spike, who “plays to prove something.” More details can be found here. I’ve found myself unable to quite determine where I fall in the spectrum, but perhaps if I explain how I feel about one aspect of the Pokemon, maybe you can help me out.
The second generation of Pokemon games introduced an attack called “Hidden Power.” Story-wise, it was supposed to be a mysterious strength lurking deep within your Pokemon which allowed it to attack with a type element that it normally would not able to. On a technical level, it was an attack ranging in power from weak to medium strength that could be any one of the 17 Pokemon types in the game depending on your individual Pokemon’s inherent statistics. At first it came across as a move you were “lucky” to get, but its meaning and purpose changed in the context of high-level competition, where it could be manipulated to give you exactly the type and strength you wanted. Combined with the fact that nearly every Pokemon could learn it, Hidden Power became a wild card of sorts, customizable just like everything else in the game.
I did not like Hidden Power then, and even though its capacity has been a little more limited since Diamond and Pearl and the re-categorization of “physical” and “special” attacks where the move only becomes useful to “Special Attackers,” I still do not like it. As a person who really enjoys creating Pokemon teams using Pokemon that are not the cream of the crop and trying to figure out different ways to make them work even when they’re at a distinct disadvantage, the way Hidden Power has been continuously used as a near-automatic suggestion to fill a Pokemon’s move slot has always bothered me. Need your Hypno to fight a Swampert? Just give it Hidden Power Grass. Ground types giving your Jolteon trouble? Hidden Power Ice is your answer. Rather than encouraging players to really sit down and think about how a Pokemon could make the most out of its limitations, Hidden Power became a band-aid that could be applied to just about anything, the chainsaw applied to the proverbial hedge maze which just encourages laziness. While I don’t necessarily fault anyone for using the move (why ignore it if it’s there?), I would rather it never existed in the first place.
I am well aware of the counter-argument that Hidden Power is a boon to these lesser Pokemon of which I’m so fond, as it gives them diversity and the ability to compete where without it they would just have no other choice. After all, why should Dragonite get Ice, Electric, Fire, and Water attacks but not Pidgeot? I understand that side well, but I just wish the solution wasn’t as simple and widespread as Hidden Power. With Hidden Power, there’s so much less challenge in trying to get a Pokemon to work that it takes some of my enjoyment out of team-building, because I can’t just ignore that it exists because it’d inevitably be used against me.
So what do you think? I get the feeling I’m not really all that Spike, and I know hybrids can exist, but I’m not too sure where I fall between Timmy and Johnny.
As an aside, I’m quite pumped that Mewtwo finally gets its own signature attack. I’ve been hoping for this since forever because previously Mewtwo’s only distinguishing trait was that it was “really good.”