EX: Sandstorm
Prerelease Tournament
Salt Lake City - by Alamedyang

"Aah! Atarashii kaado wo asobu yo
Kawaranai ore no yume: Sou! Pokémon kaado masutaa!"

See also EX: Sandstorm Card Scans


In the Beginning....

Promotional Poster

The promo poster in the window featured Pokémon from the brand-new expansion set. Can you name 'em all?


Mike and Chad

To kill time before the tournament starts, Mike and Chad go through a few rounds of GBA Ruby and Sapphire.

The Salt Lake City Sandstorm Prerelease Tournament was held at Crossroads Mall, on Saturday, September 6, 2003. I don't normally go to these things, but I can't recall the last time a big tourny like this came to the city where I was actually living, so I decided to go for it, taking my little sister along with me.

On a Personal Note:
After the Team Rocket expansion came out my family moved to Utah, and all my Poké friends stayed in California. Thus, except when I played games against myself (truly boring) or against my sister (only slightly less boring, as I usually make her decks for her) I had no exposure whatsoever to playing the Pokémon TCG. I still kept up on collecting information, but that was it. A prerelease draft tournament was up my alley, as 1) no one would have seen these cards before, meaning everyone (not just me) would be playing advanced strategy by ear. Also, being draft, 2) everyone would have equal footing on how many rares etc. they have in their decks, and, obviously, 3) no cards from previous sets would be allowed. (As in, cards from previous sets whose strategic applications I wouldn't be familiar with.) All of this meant I actually had a chance! I brought my sister because she'd never been to a tourny before and she would enjoy it.

I pleaded for Mom do drop me off (she needed the car today and I didn't want to have to deal with parking) at 9:45, to give us ample time to find the place, as I had only been to Crossroads Mall once (and then only for Toshiko's up a few floors...I suppose I need to get out more often....) Anyway, my sister and I missed the designated place entirely, but luckily managed to find some TCG players in the food court area, practicing their unlimited decks, whom we were able to ask for directions.... (Apparently, the room wasn't set up yet...no wonder we couldn't find it!)


In Preparation

Tallying is such sweet sorrow....

Olivia Jenkins (8), begins to tally up her card yield from the 6 boosters she got. Way to tally, sis!

The doors opened at 10:00 and began the registration process. (My sister and I were numbers 5 and 6 of the more than fifty that yet had to arrive.) At the cost of $15, participants received a Prerelease-stamped Armaldo card and 6 Sandstorm (woo-hoo!) boosters from which to make a 40-card deck. (The prerelease card was not allowed in the deck, much to the dismay of many.)

The first thing we did after opening our boosters was to sleeve our cards. (We dislike playing without sleeves, especially when there are holos involved.) My sister was very lucky and got good numbers for some decent evolutionary chains, as well as a Dusclops! She also scored an Aerodactyl ex, but, alas, no Mysterious Fossil. (She had tons of the other fossils, though.) I got Arbok, Arcanine, and a moderately strong bunch of Psychics, but all in all, a pretty limited bunch...a rather bad draw, if I dare say, and no Lanette's Net Search. (I did get a Wally's Training and a Double Full Heal, but I would've prefered to have a Net Search as well.)

Lists were provided to tally up all cards that were received in the 6 boosters and to indicate how many of each were included in the deck each player would make. (Just tallying and sorting took up a good long time.)


On to the Deckbuilding!


After tallying comes deckbuilding--a challenging process, since no one has seen these cards before.


decisions decisions...

The intense process of card selection....


Spencer and James

Spencer (14) and James (12) try out their new 40-card decks before the tournament begins.


last-minute practice

Practicing with their new cards.

Because my sister had no experience in draft, I helped her build her deck, which, given the circumstances, wasn't too shabby:

Pokémon: 18, (13 Basic)
2 - Cacnea I-05-#
1 - Cacnea I-06-#
1 - Wobbuffet
1 - Duskull I-19-#
1 - Duskull I-20-#
1 - Dusclops
3 - Wingull
1 - Pelipper
1 - Psyduck
1 - Golduck
3 - Zigzagoon
2 - Linoone
Trainers: 2
1 - Wally's Training
1 - Lanette's Net Search
Energy: 20
5 - Grass Energy
8 - Psychic Energy
7 - Water Energy

I, like my sister, had to make a 3-color deck because no two of the colors had enough depth to stand on their own. (I really don't like to go above 3 colors, but my options were limited.) Arcanine was too powerful for me to pass up, partially because of how common Grass would be in people's decks, despite the fact that I didn't have any other Fire cards to act as backup. Espeon struck me as a good card if I could get it up and running, as did Wobbuffet, while Xatu presented many interesting gaming opportunities. The result went something like this:

Pokémon: 18 (14 Basic)
2 - Ekans
1 - Arbok
1 - Cacnea I-05-#
2 - Shroomish
2 - Growlithe
1 - Arcanine
1 - Wynaut
1 - Wobbuffet
1 - Natu
1 - Xatu
1 - Eevee
1 - Espeon
1 - Zigzagoon
2 - Skitty
Trainers: 2
1 - Double Full Heal
1 - Wally's Training
Energy: 20
1 - Multi Energy
5 - Fire Energy
7 - Grass Energy
7 - Psychic Energy

Anyway, after you tallied up which cards you planned to have in your deck, it was off to the front table to fetch Energy cards.

Then everyone waited until more people showed and others finished their decks. [At this point I took most of the photos you see on this page.]

Hmm, what's this? Rob Larrabee wants to sell a whole carton of over 500 cards for $5? Just before he was about to sell, I made an offer for $10 and bought the entire thing. Whoo-hoo!


Let the Games Begin!

Checking the List

The computer spat out player matchups according to age group: 10 and under, 11-14, and 15 and up.


Pokémon Professor Tymon

Prokémon Professor Tymon Martindae, or Gym Leader Blaine, explains some of the new R/S rule changes before the first round.


Leah Gallina

Leah Gallina (18) poses with her pride and joy--the stunning Aerodactyl ex.

The professors (smartly) brought a computer laptop and printer with them to do all of the match setups with special software designed for swiss tournaments. Before each match was to begin, a printout was taped to the wall that announced everyone's opponents and which table the matches would take place. (At the end of each match, the computer tabulated your win-loss ratio and the win-loss ratio of your opponents to calculate your overall rank. What cool software!)

MATCH 1 - 11:30
For the first round, I was set against one of the ladies I asked directions of a few hours before. We were both new to the Ruby and Sapphire additional / changed rules, but were patient with each other. (I wish I could remember the details...I should've taken notes of some sort.) Anyway, in the end I won after a slow-paced but close match.

LUNCH - 12:00
The professors kicked everyone out of the room. My sister and I sat down at a table in the food court area and ate our sack lunches. (If I hadn't bought all of Rob's cards, I would have been able to afford Arby's for the both of us...oh, well.) At this point I was a little cocky about winning match 1, though I knew that there were four rounds to go. (I had big dreams about getting first prize: a booster box of 36 packs!) After we were done we sat down in front of the door (the professors wouldn't unlock the door until 12:30) where just about everyone else gathered to wait.

MATCH 2 - 12:30
I played against a Gardevoir ex deck and lost in about 2 turns because I ran out of Basics (my Natu died versus his Ralts and Kirlia, as well as a half-full Bench). To be sporting, my opponent said we could go two out of three. (Whew!) And though my Arcanine and Arbok won the second, my lone Skitty caused me to lose the third. (How sad! It's not like I was running low Basics in my deck, either.) The first of several losses to deflate my big head.

MATCH 3 - 1:00
I can't remember the details, except that a Kabutops ex caused me trouble--until my Wynaut evolved to Wobbuffet, whom I used as a stall until I could coordinate some alternate form of attack. (All it succeeded in doing was let my opponent gather up some stronger stuff to kill Wobbuffet.) This match resulted in a loss, too. At this point, the idea of me winning first place was looking a little unrealistic, and I resolved myself to the fact that I might just have to be satisfied eighth place instead. Ha ha.

MATCH 4 - 1:30
I lost this one, too! It was soooo traumatic I can't remember what happened. Wah.

MATCH 5 - 2:00
Huh? My opponent is Rob? Whoa, that's funny. Anyway, after a very close match I pulled ahead and took my last prize card first, making my total points a pathetic 6/18. Hmm. Not bad for my first tourny in 4 years.



Everyone gathered 'round as the Professors announced the winners. And--amazingly--my sister placed second in the ten and under category! Congratulations, Livie! (The first time she battled people besides me and my next door neighbor and her first tourny ever!) The both of us went aside to open her 18 new boosters. (After some convincing, she gave me 7 boosters for paying for her entrance fee and doing the majority of her deckbuilding, as long as she got the common and uncommon reverse-holos.)

Was it worth it? I'd say so, even though I lost horribly. Between my sister's winnings, our original 6 booster draws, and the over 500 new cards from Rob's collection, I was able to scan a total of 251 new cards, over 120 from Sandstorm, making Sandstorm my most complete set besides Base Set in terms of percentage of total cards scanned. I did learn something about deckbuilding...something, I'm not sure what exactly, pehaps this: don't judge EX cards based on the standards of Base through Rocket, which I think I did.

Until next time I get some money and am able to leave the house...!

An Extra Special Thanks...

...to Rob Larrabee, "The Ultimate Dragon," for selling about 1,000 cards for eighty-four hundredths of a cent each.

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