TL;DR: if someone directed you to this page
- Only about 1% of Pokemon cards are affected by the Monotype rule, leaving thousands of cards to choose from
- Any exception can be used as justification for further exceptions, complicating the format
- Simplicity is one of the greatest assets of the GLC, so exceptions need to be really important to consider
- Restrictions are why GLC is fun in the first place!
As a Tricky Gym moderator, I field plenty of questions about Gym Leader Challenge. Most of them are pretty simple (and can generally be answered by just reading the Rules/FAQ, hint hint), but there’s one asked daily that spurs the same lengthy discussion every time – what about Pokemon that don’t share a type with their pre-evolutions? Isn’t it unfair that these Pokemon can’t be played in a monotype format? This blog post will serve as a summary of the discussion around this rule and its consequences. Please read this post, or at least the TL;DR:, before pursuing the topic further in Discord.
What Is the Ruling?
The three rules of Gym Leader Challenge require decks to be Singleton, Single-Prize, and Single-type. These rules have some clarifications – the Singleton rule allows multiple copies of Basic Energies, and the Single-prize rule also bans Ancient Trait and ACE SPEC cards. These wrinkles are necessary for the balance of the game, and cause enough confusion for newcomers to the format as it is. Allowing Pokemon of multiple types in a deck would be a pretty drastic exception to the monotype rule for arguably little benefit.
What’s Affected by This Ruling?
Any Evolution card which does not have a pre-evolution printed in its same type cannot effectively be used in the Gym Leader Challenge format. They aren’t banned, there’s just no good way to get them into play, making them pseudo-banned. This includes Pokemon like Scizor and Vikavolt, who’ve never had a card printed in their secondary type, and the Eeveelutions and Alolan Marowak who change types completely. By my count, there are about 50 GLC-legal cards of these species which are useless because they can’t Evolve (although you could always try Archie’s Ace in the Hole!). That’s 50 out of some 5000+ legal Pokemon, or 1% of the Pokemon cardpool. Although this ruling is sad for fans of the affected Pokemon, statistically it has little impact on the format.
There are also specific Pokemon cards which can’t evolve into play – like any Darkness Tyranitar or Metal Steelix, but these species of Pokemon are playable in a deck if your goal is just to use a card with that name. (There are Fighting type Tyranitar and Steelix available). There are certainly a fair number of these cards printed over the years that become useless in GLC, but there are also dozens of cards which are legal-but-useless for other reasons, such as cards that interact only with Rule Box Pokemon (like Alolan Ninetales), so this consequence is not unusual in the format.
“But I Think We Should Make This Exception”
Players often propose that exceptions be made to the rules for these Pokemon to be playable. The most common one that doesn’t break the rules of the game (such as changing what Pokemon evolves from what) is to allow one copy of any pre-evolution in a deck, regardless of type. This seemingly simple “fix” does a lot more harm than good for the format overall.
One of the best parts about Gym Leader Challenge is its simplicity. When you see a picture of a Gym Leader Challenge deck list posted online, you can instantly tell that the format is a monotype format. When you tell your friends about the format, it’s really easy to explain and pick up. The simple restrictions of the format, like the simple rules of a Nuzzlocke challenge, are essential to the identity of the format and make it easy to share with friends. Asking to bend the monotype rule in Gym Leader Challenge is similar to asking if you don’t have to release your starter Pokemon after it gets KOd in a Nuzzlocke. You may be thinking,”I really loved that Pokemon, I don’t want to let it go!” Too bad! It’s gone now.
Monotype is one of the most essential rules to Gym Leader Challenge format, much like releasing a Pokemon after it gets KOd is one of the most essential rules of a Nuzzlocke. The rules are the rules, and ultimately the challenge of building a deck within the rules makes the experience more fun and rewarding in the end.
Implications for the Gym Leader Challenge’s Future
Ultimately, the argument is that too many exceptions and asterisks are harmful for the format’s simplicity and accessibility. The rules, in their current form, are generally simple enough to understand. The simpler a format is, the easier it is for new players to join. And if the ultimate goal is to have The Pokemon Company International adopt GLC in some official capacity, it must remain easy to pick up and spread. One day, when we watch the Gym Leader Challenge on the World Championship finals stream, we can thank Eevee and Scizor for their brave sacrifices.
I’ve summarized the general stance of the TrickyGym community/moderation team on the issue of cross-type evolutions. It’s been brought up many times in the Discord, so there’s been plenty of opportunities for us to collect and refine our thoughts on the matter. But we’re always open to further discussion or clarification in order to ensure the format is at its best, so you’re always welcome to come chat in the #gym-leader-challenge channel!