People Who Play to Prove Something Cause Damage to Those Switching Out

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.”

10 thoughts on “People Who Play to Prove Something Cause Damage to Those Switching Out

  1. You’re definitely a Johnny. In actual terms on the game, Timmys are people who like the big splashy cards that cost a lot but have a big effect on the game. They also tend to be more casual players who don’t necessarily care or know about the deeper theories behind the game and tend to play more for fun than anything else.

    Johnnys on the other hand tend to be more interested in the deck building and card interaction aspects on the game. They like to build their unique decks based on their own ideas and often time using cards that require you to focus your deck around those cards. They also tend to have more of an interest in the mechanics of the game because that is how you learn to best take advantage of figuring out how to use the cards you want to. They also like using overlooked cards or ones that are thought to be “unplayable.”


  2. I feel that you’re a Timmy with a slight brain mutation. You want to experience the game in its purest form. In other words, in the way in which it was meant by the creators (or rather your interpretation of how the creators meant for the game to be played).


  3. Timmy = likes big, splashy effects with little consideration of cost or efficiency.
    Johnny = likes the challenge of using unique and under-appreciated tools to accomplish something.
    Spike = likes the competition and loves winning with any means.
    Vorthos = likes the story and mythos behind the game maybe even more than the game itself.

    I agree with the first comment: You’re a Johnny, someone who likes to express creativity through the Pokemon teams you build. Hidden Power is the definition of a Spike move: a vanilla attack that’s random to most Pokemon players but a staple in the metagame because it can be exploited. You’re against the “one size fits all” mentality that Hidden Power promotes.


  4. Thanks to everyone for chiming in. I think both kadian and Eric are probably right, and I fit most neatly into the Johnny category.

    One thing I want to point out though is something that’s mentioned in the article I linked, which is the misconception about “Timmy.”

    “One of the great myths about Timmy is that he is young and inexperienced. I think this comes from the fact that a non-Timmy (particularly a Spike) looking at a Timmy play reads his choices as those of inexperience. Why else would he play overcosted fatties or coin flipping cards or cards that, simply put, aren’t that good? Because Spike misses the point. Timmy plays with cards that make him happy; cards that create cool moments; cards that make him laugh; cards that allow him to hang with his friends; cards that cause him to have fun. Winning and losing isn’t even really the point (although winning is fun – Timmy gets that). For Timmy, the entire reason to play is having a good time. ”

    Which is to say, not prioritizing winning as the only thing doesn’t mean you don’t prioritize winning at all.


  5. Pingback: Whatchu Talkin’ ‘Bout « OGIUE MANIAX

  6. Flareon is one of my favorite pokemon, and I have raised a few of them in both SoulSilver and White version. Do you have any ideas on how to make Flareon viable? I usually max out its Attack and Special Defense stats (mostly because my roommate loves Jolteon, and we duel with our respective Eevee-lutions).


    • I haven’t played Pokemon seriously in a long time, so my understanding of current strategy isn’t there, but in just a more general sense you’re on the right track to maxing out those defensive stats. Though, I wonder if you can’t get, say, an Adamant personality to give your attacks more power, then devote your EVs to Special Defense and HP to make it able to handle Jolteon’s special attacks better.

      If it’s indeed a 1-on-1 duel you’re playing as opposed to team battles using each of the Eeveelutions, then I think you can get away with all sorts of wacky anti-Jolteon strategies, like maybe Substitute + Dig, or Protect + Dig, because the only thing you’d really have to worry about when using Dig 1 on 1 is if Jolteon ALSO has dig (though if you both use it at the same time, then you win). An alternative might be to use Toxic or Will-o-Wisp to wear Jolteon down continuously, or to reduce its physical attack power in case your roommate tries to exploit Flareon’s own low defense.

      In any case, having some strong physical moves like a full happiness Return or Fire Fang if you can’t manage to raise its happiness in time should be the go-to way to break Jolteon down, just with some things you can exploit in a duel setting.

      Not sure if my advice is entirely accurate, but perhaps try it out?


      • I EV-trained the HP on one of my Flareons, but I’ve never combined that with maxing out its Special Defense. I think I’ll try that. Just need to find another Fire Stone (I miss being able to dig those out of the Underground in Pearl version). It’s funny that you should mention Dig, because there was one duel where both Flareon and Jolteon knew Dig. Aside from the hilarity, I don’t remember exactly how that battle went (I probably lost, but all in good fun). He probably attacked with an electric move on his first turn, and I went second with Dig. Then he probably used Dig, and caught Flareon when it resurfaced.

        If you’re familiar with Shaman King, I’m (slowly) building a team based on Silva’s five animal familiars. So far, I’ve built one (Bouffalant, aka SilverHorn). I plan to round out the team with the following Pokemon:
        Braviary (SilverWing), Zoroark (SilverPaw), Serperior (SilverRod), and Carracosta (SilverShield). Half the team is already weak to fighting, but meh. The Jolteon, whom I keep telling you about, can score super-effective hits on four of the five. Wow, now I really want to see if this team can K.O. the Jolteon with such a disadvantage!


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