The Basics of Deck Building
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March 7th, 2012 (11:51 AM). Edited November 17th, 2013 by donavannj.
Join Date: Nov 2009
I decided to write this article for all of the PC members who are looking to get into the Pokémon TCG, whether they intend to play casually, competitively, or if they’re just curious about what the “good” decks are. Seeing as there have been so many different cards printed over the years, and so many deck archetypes which have been established and discarded, I would like to set out some very basic guidelines which can be applied to decks from any era, but for specific cards I will only mention modified legal ones.
Where do I start?
First, you need to decide whether your deck needs to be able to be taken to a tournament, or if it’s something you intend to play casually with your friends. If it’s a casual deck, feel free to use cards that you have from any set, but if you are looking to make a tournament deck, check out this thread for a list of tournament-legal cards:
A good way to begin a deck is to choose a card that will be your main attacker; go through your cards and pick something that seems like it has either a strong attack, good ability, high HP, or all of those if you can. Think about what kind of a strategy you are going to go for; does it deal a lot of damage? Use status conditions? Snipe weaker Pokémon on the bench? Whatever it is, make sure you only include cards that involve the strategy you choose!
What goes in a deck?
There is no set ratio of Pokémon, trainers/supporters/stadium, and energy that you need in your deck. You can have them in any combination as long as they total 60 cards exactly; however there are better combinations than others, and you can only have up to 4 copies of a card in your deck, excluding basic energy. A common mistake is to overload a deck with Pokémon while overlooking those crucial support cards.
An example deck:
So I want to build a deck, and the card I’m interested in is this one:
I will need some Magikarps and some of these Gyarados. Seeing as it’s my main Pokémon, I’m going to have four Magikarp and three Gyarados. I want to max out the basic form because you can’t start the game unless you have basic Pokémon in your hand, and this gives me the best odds of getting Magikarp at the start of the game and setting up the Gyarados as quickly as possible. I’ll use the Magikarp from Heart Gold Soul Silver because it’s in format.
Now I need Pokémon that support Gyarados. It’s a water-type, and I happen to know that Feraligatr prime from HGSS has a power that puts energy on water Pokémon quickly, so I’m going to add that. It will be 4 Totodile, 3 Croconaw, and 3 Feraligatr (4-3-3 or 4-2-3 if you have Rare Candy are pretty standard for stage 2 Pokémon). I can also add Pokémon that aren’t water type if they have attacks which can use any type of energy (colourless attacks). I’ll use Zoroark from Black and White because its attack uses two of any type, and its dark type will add variety to my deck, so I don’t just automatically lose to electric decks. 1 Zorua and 1 Zoroark sounds good, which puts me at 19 Pokémon in total.
Trainers/Supporters/Stadiums: arguably the most important part of your deck. I need cards that search for my Pokémon, draw new cards, set up my Pokémon faster, and restore my cards from the discard pile. My Pokémon have a high retreat cost so Switch will help a lot. Here is a fairly standard list of things to add:
3 Pokémon Collector
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
2 Professor Elm’s Training Method
3 Pokémon Communication
3 Rare Candy
3 Junk Arm
1 Super Rod
3 Rescue Energy
4 Double Colourless Energy
9 Water Energy
16 Energy Total
Water energy is obvious, and Double Colourless energy can be used by both Zoroark and Gyarados, basically giving you two energy in one attachment. Rescue energy brings your Pokémon back to your hand after it has been knocked out.
There are plenty of good cards both in and out of format right now, so choose the ones that seem to help your strategy. If energy is really important for your deck, get cards that help you search them out and recover them from the discard pile. If your Pokémon is a stage 2, rare candy will get you to the last stage one turn faster by skipping the middle stage. The most important thing is for the cards in your deck to work with one another, so don’t throw things in unless they specifically add something to your overall plan. Unnecessary random cards will only get in the way and hurt the consistency of your deck.
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