Getting Your Game Back. Re-Learning the TCG.

The last time you looked at your Pokemon cards you were still taking spelling tests. You’ve been out of the game for years. You’ve dug out your old psychic deck from the shadows underneath your bed. Now you want to crush some ten year old poke-face. In your years of maturing the game has changed. It is time to hit yourself with a max potion and get your grade school edge back. This is what you need to know.

While you were going to homecoming and graduating from college the owner of the Pokemon Card game changed. Which is good for the game but terrible for that old psychic deck. With a change in ownership the format for the game eliminated all of the older cards. The new format, standard, plays with cards currently from the Heart Gold Soul Silver block and forward. DON’T THROW OUT THE OLD STUFF YET! Lots of people still love to collect and if you’re sly you can trade off that Delta Series Charizard for a good chunk of what you will need to build a new deck. There is an extended format that allows you to play any and all cards but there is little to no tournament support for this format.

When I first began playing the card game the way I was taught to build was in a 4-3-2 or a 3-2-1 evolution line. For example: 4 Tepig -> 3 Pignite -> 2 Emboar. This is a safe way to build. You would clearly want more of the basic then of an evolution. With the cards currently in standard however you can pluck what you want from your deck without a problem. If you’re only running Stage 1 Pokemon, like Ursaring, it would probably be better to run 1-1 lines. 3 Teddiursa -> 3 Ursaring. Use the extra spot you’ve saved for a card like Dual Ball or Pokemon Communication that will help excel you into your stage 1. If you’re running more than one type of Stage 2 line it might be worth it to cut out the middle Pokemon in favor of a rare candy. It may look something like this: 3 Tepig -> 1 Pignite -> 2 Emboar / 3 Gothita -> 1 Gothorita -> 2 Gothitelle / 2 Rare Candy.

Energy count has also drastically decreased in decks. A big reason for this because of Yanmega Prime, a Pokemon that can attack without any energy. Since you can only play one energy a turn that is really all you need in your hand. With cards like Professor Oak’s New Theory and Professor Juniper you can, if you don’t draw it for your turn, cycle through a chunk of your deck to find that energy card. Some tier 1 decks are still energy heavy but it is very possible to build a winning deck with only ten energy cards. Really it boils down to the Pokemon you run but remember, an energy card is a dead draw if you already have one in your hand.  

The final big change is the addition of the Supporter card. It is just like a trainer but you can only play one of these cards a turn. With less Pokemon in your deck and a much smaller energy curve you have a gap to fill. Fill it with supporters and trainer cards. These are the cards that drive the game. Simply drawing one card a turn will not lead you down victory road. You need to force what you need out of your deck and into your hand and trainers and supporters will help you do just that.


I want to thank Chris, @darkassassin721, for the idea behind this article. Please feel free to tweet @ me, @spincenzo, with suggestions, questions or compliments.