For the first time at PAX East, Pokemon Play Lab has made an appearance to educate the attendees on how to play the tradable card game. We’ve been known to be collectors and not necessarily players, so I had to get in line to experience this. It’s one thing playing the game digitally, but it is completely different playing with the physical cards.
Pokemon Labs has made its PAX debut at PAX West 2022, followed by another booth at PAX Unplugged 2022 later in the year, and finally making their appearance at East with the same game-play tutorials from each of the previous events.
Despite having to wait in line for about an hour, the play session ran for about 20 minutes which is a decent change from the normal 5 to 10-minute demo for just about any game on the show floor. Now I can’t stress this enough but every team member working this booth had the title of “Professor” and they were guiding 4 people in 2 separate 1 vs 1 battles, repeating themselves for 8 hours, every day of the convention…kudos to you lot as the patience you must have to be dealing with people who don’t know a thing about the game or are familiar with the game, and you need to find a balance point to keep things entertaining for everyone must’ve been difficult. Depending on the time you went I can only imagine getting a different experience as each of the professors could have been more energetic at the start of their shift, and then just over it by the end of it. Unfortunately, I think we were hit with the latter, and despite being somewhat familiar with how to play the game, my opponent (my wife) was not familiar at all. Even with the explanations we were given by our professor, something just felt off, and the demo just felt rushed.
Despite the rushed feeling, the demo was extremely educational and when I asked my wife if she felt that the demo was enough to get her to play, she said she is at least interested in learning more. In a way, that means the lab did its job, getting people interested.
The game modes were PokeCatch, Attach and Attack, and then a full half-deck battle (30 cards with 3 prizes) – with a preset deck to further advance gameplay and to show how to use Items and Supporter cards.
PokeCatch shows you how to use energies, Attach and Attack takes the elements from PokeCatch and shows you how to attack with the same energy, and then applying it all together to close things out in the final battle made things really simple to understand and follow.
The prize for completing the Pokemon Play Labs was your very own badge, A Sprigatito Pin, and of course, no Pokemon trainer would be complete without some Pokemon at their side, so they also provided a choice of half-decks (30 cards) from Lucario, Umbreon, or Greninja, as well as a set of punch-out cardboard damage counters.