Staple Cards (Standard Format)

Staples are the cards that every player should have.

Many of these make up your deck’s “engine” that allow for draw support (to get the cards you need) and for consistency.

The MVPs for Staples

If you had to pick the most important Staple cards in the game right now (in the Standard format), these few would be them.

Professor Sycamore

Why Sycamore? Professor Sycamore is the most aggressive draw supporter in the Format. You discard your hand and draw a fresh hand of 7 cards.

Yes, discarding your current hand can lead to some awkward discards, including valuable Pokemon, Energy, and other Supporters.

Remember you can bring back your discarded Pokemon and Energy with cards like Super Rod, Karen, Brock’s Grit, Energy Retrieval, and others. Supporters in the discard pile can be recalled with VS Seeker.

However, discard all your VS Seekers, and RIP… Be sure to run 4 copies of Professor Sycamore in every deck.

Full Art Professor Sycamore (STS 114)

Full Art Professor Sycamore (STS 114)


N (Full Art) (NVI 101)

N is a very neat Supporter. Each player shuffles their hand back into their deck (so no discarding like Sycamore), and draws a card for each Prize card they have left. In the early-game this means each player draws 6 cards.

Not as a good as Professor Sycamore, but you don’t discard anything, either. Besides being a draw supporter, it can also serve as a disruption card to your opponent.

If you play N late in the game, and your opponent is winning, you’ll disrupt their hand and draw more cards!

If you’re about to lose and your opponent has only 1 prize card left, play N and get them to only one card! Vicious! 😀 Most decks run 2-4 copies in each deck.


No other card can be so cruel and strategically win games, besides perhaps a late-game N to 1 card. Can’t OHKO your opponent’s Active Pokemon? No problem. Play a Lysandre to bring out a weaker one for an easy Knock Out.

Lysandre allows you to force one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon to the Active spot. Did they play tons of Shaymin-EX? Knock one out easily for a nice 2 prize cards! Got only 2 prizes left?

That Lysandre for a Shaymin just won you the game. Most decks run 1 or 2 copies.

Lysandre (Full Art) (FLF 104)

VS Seeker

VS Seeker (Secret Rare) (ROS 110)

This nifty item, the VS Seeker, lets you grab any Supporter from your Discard pile and put it into your hand.

Not only can you recycle your used or otherwise discarded Supporters, but that Professor Sycamore or N can be used later for an emergency draw supporter.

Discarded or used a Lysandre? Bring it back to win the game! Be sure to include 4 in every deck.

Ultra Ball

This item card allows you to search any Pokemon in your Deck and put into your hand. The cost? You must first discard 2 cards from your hand. Worth it? Definitely. Poke Ball and Great Ball both rely on chance, so they can’t compare to the almighty Ultra Ball.

Have a Shaymin-EX or Hoopa-EX in your Deck? Pull them out with an Ultra Ball to get Set up.

Need another main attacker? Turn the game around with Ultra Ball. Ultra Ball combined with a Shaymin-EX turns into another draw supporter–without the cost of using your one Supporter per turn.

Be sure to include 4 in every deck.

Running a water-only deck? Use Dive Ball without having to discard 2 cards. Heavy Ball, Repeat Ball, and Level Ball also have similar effects for Pokemon with 3 retreat or more, Pokemon already in play, and Pokemon with 90 HP or less, respectively.

Ultra Ball (Secret Rare) (PLF 122)

Trainers’ Mail

Trainers' Mail (Secret Rare) (AOR 100)

When this item card first came out, most players thought “what a waste”. However, this card can provide great consistency in your deck. Trainers’ Mail allows you to look at the top 4 cards in your deck and chose a Trainer Card (Supporter, Item, or Stadium), besides another Trainers’ Mail, and put it into your hand.

Sure, sometimes it’ll miss, but others it will give you that needed Draw Supporter–Professor Sycamore, N, a VS Seeker to pull one out of your Discard, or an Ultra Ball for a Shaymin-EX or other Pokemon. Because most competitive decks run about 30 Trainer Cards (out of 60 cards in a deck), odds are your Trainers’ Mail will find something.

Don’t count out the Trainers’ Mail and include 4 in every deck to start. Plus, Trainers’ Mail is one of those cards that you can use for Ultra Ball fodder or Sycamore away without guilt. You can also purposely “miss” to shrink your hand by 1 when necessary.


No other Pokemon has more utility than Shaymin-EX, making it rightfully the most expensive Pokemon card in the current Standard Format. Shaymin-EX can turn any Ultra Ball into an additional draw supporter thanks to its “Set Up” ability, without using your Supporter for the turn. “Set Up” allows you to draw cards until you have 6 cards when played from your Hand to your Bench. Besides its high cost, it comes with some drawbacks when played.

First, starting off with a Shaymin-EX as your only Basic Pokemon at the start of a game is awful. When you put it as your Active (or to your Bench at the start of a game, so don’t do that!), you don’t get to use its Ability. Also, it’s a Pokemon-EX, so it’s worth 2 prizes. Having only 110 HP makes it an easy Lysandre target.

Also, the only way to get rid of it from your Bench is currently to shrink your own Bench with the Parallel City Stadium, or by the handful of Pokemon that can manage it, like M Gardevoir-EX’s Despair Ray attack. Despite these shortcomings, no other Pokemon in the Standard Format (and the Expanded format) can match its utility. Most decks run 2 copies, some as many as 4. Even a single copy of Shaymin-EX in your deck can greatly improve its consistency (just hope it isn’t in your prize cards!).

Shaymin-EX (Full Art) (ROS 106)

List of Staple Cards

For a more comprehensive list, look no further.

Grouped by type of card, Quantity, and alphabetically below.

The numbers are the recommended quantity. Remember that you can only have up to 4 of each card in a deck (besides basic energy), and you always share your pool of cards across all of your decks, so you never need more than 4 of any card.

Starting out? Need a way to get your hands on some staples? Check out the Battle Arena Deck: Rayquaza vs Keldeo.

4NNVI 92, NVI 101 (FA), DEX 96, BW100, FCO 105
4Professor SycamoreXY 122, PHF 101, BKP 107, STS 114 (FA)
2DelinquentBKP 98
2FishermanHGSS 92, BKT 136
2Hex ManiacAOR 75
2KarenXY177 (Black Star Promo)
2LysandreFLF 90, FLF 104 (FA), AOR 78
2Ninja BoySTS 103
1Giovanni’s SchemeBKT 138, BKT 162 (FA)
1Pokemon RangerSTS 104, STS 113 (FA)
1SkylaBCR 134, BCR 149 (FA), BKT 148, BKP 122 (FA)
1TeammatesPRC 141, PRC 160 (FA)
4Acro BikePRC 122
4Captivating PokepuffSTS 99
4Dive BallPRC 125, PRC 161 (SR)
4Level BallNXD 89, AOR 76
4Max ElixirBKP 102
4Max PotionEPO 94, PLF 121 (SR), BKP 103
4Puzzle of TimeBKP 109
4Rare CandyHS-UL 82, DEX 100, PLB 105 (SR), PRC 135
4Trainers’ MailROS 92, AOR 100 (SR)
4Ultra BallDEX 102, PLF 122 (SR), PLB 90, FLF 99, ROS 93, FCO 113
4VS SeekerPHF 109, ROS 110 (SR)
2Enhanced HammerDEX 94, PHF 94, PRC 162 (SR)
2Escape RopePLS 120, PRC 127
2Professor’s LetterXY 123, BKT 146
2Special ChargeSTS 105
2Super RodNVI 95, DRV 20, BKT 149
2SwitchHGSS 102, BLW 104, BCR 135, KSS 38, PRC 163 (SR), ROS 91, EVO 88
4Bursting BalloonBKP 97
4Fighting Fury BeltBKP 99
3Exp. ShareNXD 87, DRV 18, PRC 128
3Float StonePLF 99, BKT 137
4Sky FieldROS 89
3Faded TownAOR 73
3Fairy GardenXY 117, FCO 100
3Forest of Giant PlantsAOR 74
3Parallel CityBKT 145
3Rough SeasPRC 137
3Silent LabPRC 140
2Hoopa-EX (Scoundrel Ring)AOR 36, AOR 89 (FA), XY71 (BSP)
2Shaymin-EX (Set up)ROS 77, ROS 106
2-2Octillery (Abyssal Hand)BKT 33
4Unown (Farewell Letter)AOR 30
2-2Garbodor (Garbotoxin)BKP 57
Special Energy
4Burning EnergyBKT 151
4Double Colorless EnergyHGSS 103, NXD 92, LTR 113, XY 130, PHF 111, GEN 74, FCO 114, EVO 90
4Double Dragon EnergyROS 97
4Rainbow EnergyHGSS 104, XY 131, BKT 152
4Shield EnergyPRC 143
4Splash EnergyBKP 113
4Strong EnergyFFI 104, FCO 115