With the upcoming North American release of the Sword & Shield series in the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG), some players are expressing understandable feelings of frustration at the news that the Fairy type, first introduced in the XY series, will no longer be supported. Future Pokémon cards that would have fallen within the Fairy type will now be represented as Psychic, but the decision overall feels like a mistake: the game should seek to maintain and add more types, not remove them.
This is not to say that the game does not need balance. Since the game’s release in 1996, there have been constant changes to rules and the removal of certain cards from legal play entirely. However, most of these changes have often been considered necessary to remove overpowered mechanics or motivated by the game developers wanting to see the meta shift in a particular way. Yet, the removal of Fairy type does not seem to fall into either of these two design paths.
The Games Keep Adding Types, And Players Love Them
If the Fairy type were some obscure leftover experiment from the Pokémon series of games, it would be easier to see the justification for removing the type entirely from the TCG. This, however, is not the case, and Fairy Pokémon have dominated the video game meta now for two generations. Sword & Shield still has plenty of powerful Fairy-type options available, with more becoming available in the upcoming DLC.
Fairy-type Pokémon are a core part of the roster of many players, and unless something drastic happens in the upcoming DLC, The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra, this will remain the status quo among players. As one might expect, this popularity for the Fairy type in the video games translates over to the TCG. The game developers may see the removal of the Fairy type as a means to simplifying the game, but that isn’t really the point.
Tribes Are Fun, Even When They’re Not Competitive
Generally speaking, Tribal decks in TCGs are those that are centered around one or more creature types, and one could make the argument that the entire premise of the Pokémon TCG is built around tribes thanks to the source material and energy types. Dragon decks, Fairy, and Ghost are examples of more streamlined Pokémon types, but the same can be said of almost any of the energy types. One of the best parts of the Pokémon TCG was the ability to create a deck in a similar way to how one builds a roster in the video game.
This means that while there is always an optimized way to play in an established meta, many players simply enjoy creating decks that are fun with their favorite Pokémon. Eliminating the Fairy type may simplify design for future content, but it comes at the cost of sacking a tribe that may be the favorite of some players.
Removing The Fairy Type Is Unnecessary Because Of Standard Rotations
Like all competitive TCGs, be they digital or paper, the Standard format of play dictates which sets are sanctioned for official Play! Pokémon events. This means that once an expansion is released, the cards from that set are tournament legal for roughly two years before they rotate out and can no longer be used. This provides a natural lifespan for all tournament decks and is a part of all TCGs, which further makes the removal of the Fairy type unnecessary.
The Better Decision? Add ALL The Types!
While removing Pokémon types may make the game simpler, it robs players of the ability to play their favorite Pokémon as they have for years. More importantly, adding more and more types to the TCG as they are created for the video game series serves to create the potential for greater deck building diversity and creativity. The goal of adding new types need not even be to make all decks as viable in a competitive setting, but rather to allow players to build the decks they want.
The long-term problem with removing types lies in finding the ideal spot that the game developers consider appropriate, and if the Fairy type can so easily be blended into the Psychic type, there is no telling what else lies ahead.
Players have already experienced similar simplification in the past with Fighting types including both Rock and Ground Pokémon, and that still feels wrong given the prevalence of each type in the video games. Hopefully the future sees a reversal towards complexity by reinstating each to their own type, even if they cannot all be competitive, more players will still have fun by making the decks as they want, and not as they are told.
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