Why Can’t I Play Eevee?

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 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!

18 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Play Eevee?

  1. Morten Schødts Pedersen

    There is hope for the Umbreon fans out there; With the release of Evolving Skies, it is possible to get Umbreon and Dark Type Nuzleaf/Shiftry into play, using the ability Illusion Transformation on Zoroark. This ability reads: Search your discard pile for a Stage 1 Evolution card (excluding any Zoroark). Discard this Pokémon and all cards attached to it, then put the new Pokémon in this one’s position.

    Best Regards,
    Morten Schødts Pedersen

  2. Jake Gearhart

    I don’t believe a singular additional rule would add unnecessary complexity to the format. The question is already on player’s minds enough that it needs to be clarified as an official ruling, just like the other restrictions in the format.

    Here is sample wording for a ruling that would address the issue:
    “If you have an evolved Pokémon in your deck and there are no legal pre-evolution Pokémon of the same type, you may include a pre-evolution Pokémon of a different type.”

    1. trickygym Post author

      Sure, but why add exceptions in the first place if it has no impact on the format and by the nature of being an exception does indeed create additional rules? More rules does mean more complexity, even if you consider it to be slightly so.

      1. Jake Gearhart

        There are a fair number of currently unusable cards that I believe would have an impact on the format. The majority of them would have a small impact, but I personally think more options for creativity is certainly better than less options.

        Wanting to play a card and discovering there are no pre-evolutions of the same type naturally leads new players to inquire about the ruling (as evidenced by how many people ask it). Unlike learning an initial ruling like Ancient Traits being banned, this situation is naturally discoverable through the deck building process in any monotype format.

        The argument against including an additional ruling like this is accessibility which I definitely believe is a legitimate concern for custom formats in general. But in this case, new players don’t need to learn an additional ruling before beginning the deck building process because they will either naturally discover the problem or never encounter it. I see a large difference in the impact on accessibility that creating a rule which removes limitations has, compared to one that imposes more limitations.

        1. trickygym Post author

          Creating an exception for these Pokémon (of which there are about 50) complicates the identity of the format (a monotype format) and seems entirely unnecessary when hundreds of cards get released every set. The number of Pokémon that don’t have an on type pre-evolution is insignificant compared to the number of cards in the pool and the number of cards that get released every 3 months. There are other non monotype single prize formats that eevee and such can be played in, but since GLC is a monotype format, they don’t fit with the inherent format requirements, which is totally fine imo.

          1. Joe

            i agree 100% with this, there really is no reason to make the format more complicated in my opinion. The entire point is it is easy to get into, and there will always be something a bunch of people are asking for. To be clear, there are a tonne of decks i want to play (flygon with the retreat lock trapinch, for example) that i cant due to this rule – but they would add virtually nothing to the format, so i am fine with it. Also, you only have to go through the agony of not being able to play these cards for another week:) zoroark will fix all your problems!

    2. Skittles

      I don’t find that sentiment true at all, Imagine seeing a player with 6 different type basics (well possible for psychic) it would just muddy the format.
      The ruling isn’t for meta reasons so asking for an exception citing meta impact is misguided.
      You don’t need any extra wordings for the current rules, yes people still ask questions but that’s on them not the wording. It is very clear ‘monotype only’ too bad so sad scizor.

  3. Zurkiss

    Outside of tourneys, could one just do a house rule for the one peep who wants to run one eevee in their electric deck?

  4. Cactus

    Eevee being a fan favorite pokemon and the ease of stumbling on the idea of “I’ll make an Eeveelution deck!” makes this more common than it might be if this wasn’t as popular of a pokemon.

    Anyone that won’t play the format because they can’t play Eevee probably wasn’t too dedicated to getting into it in the first place.

  5. Jack

    the format is not so easy to pick up as you say. Most people I play with do not have cards going back to black and white. I definitely wouldn’t call it simple. Allowing different types doesn’t affect the core of the format in my opinion. It’s singleton with the Overpowered Pokémon banned making room for stage 1 and 2’s. That the format. Monotype seems like an add on. A house rule.

  6. Ant

    I feel like it’s both an easy and a hard to answer question. It all depends on how valuable monotyping is to the format, and how strictly that’s expected to be followed.

    For instance, every deck can already use colorless energy, and that’s not strictly monotyping, and colorless decks have to use other other means of basic energy from other types, aswell.

    Personally, I don’t think the game was ever made for or balanced enough for a monotype format to make sense so my easy answer is just that it doesn’t have to exist as a rule holistically or completely.

    A compromise between camps could be met where colorless become “wild cards” and usable by any deck type, or there could just be a multitype format, I think both mono and multi type formats offer a creative way to view existing tcg cards.

    The easy answer is no, though, no changes are necessary, honestly even though I don’t like monotype as much, I appreciate the format as it is in it’s current ruleset, and I think you’re passionate about it, and overall I think it’s your format, you’re cultivating, curating, and publicizing it, and for the sake of simplicity and creating less work for you I’d probably just say no, either it’s all fair or none of it’s fair, and people that dislike monotype in any aspect of it can just opt in their own rulesets for it and play with their own formats.

  7. Azule

    I understand the need for a clear identity and simplicity, but also Eevee has essentially become the second mascot for the franchise after Pikachu, I think the prospect of the format being picked up officially without Eevee and his forms included is pretty low just in it’s mismatch with the company’s own brand identity and increased focus on Eevee.

    1. trickygym Post author

      My goal isn’t explicitly get the format picked up officially (it already has been endorsed officially, considering there have been GLC side events at official regionals and internationals), but if they ever wanted to officially pick up the format and fix that, they could print a rainbow Eevee for GLC 🙂

  8. Arcadra

    I understand the rulling, but I must have just picked the wrong kind of deck to make. Was trying to make a Poison based dark deck but I cannot use Drapion or Galarian Weezing because of the pre evolutions.

    I just found the 1% of the format XD </3

    1. Arcadra

      And with that, I take it back. TCG Player just unchecked “show not owned”. There are dark pre evolutions for both of them. But now I know how those who cannot play their cards feel lol XD

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