How to Build Competitive Decks


This is probably the best part of the game: making your own custom decks to play with!

If you need a refresher, check out the other guides:

This guide wont be nearly as long as the previous ones. Youve learned almost everything you need to and are ready to experiment and enter competitive play online.

Before you dive right in to building your own competitive deck lists, make sure you first have the staple trainer cards (and Pokemon like Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX).

Get the Staples

Its time to put your unlocked packs to use, and trade em for cards you need! What do you need first? The Staples.

Staples are cards that every player should own. These include your deck engine cards that allow for draw support, consistency, and all other commonly used cards that can be used across multiple decks.

Most important are Supporter cards like Professor Sycamore, N, Lysandre, item cards like Ultra Ball, VS Seeker, Trainers Mail, and Pokemon like Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX for their abilities (Set Up and Scoundrel Ring).

You probably have at least some copies of some of these cards, such as Sycamore, but its very unlikely that you have them all, especially Shaymin-EX, which is quite an expensive card. It takes dozens and dozens of packs to trade for a Shaymin-EX (and IRL its value is as high as $70+ for 1 single FA copy).

Many of these Staple cards are available in the Battle Arena Deck: Rayquaza vs Keldeo. This limited-time 2-deck product is a great way for players of the physical game (and online with the code) to get their hands on some Staple cards. Physical players would also benefit from picking up an Elite Trainer Box from the most recent set.

Build your Decks!

Got the Staples? That took a while. Now for the fun part, almost.

Check out some of the most popular decklists and trade for the cards you need. If you have all the Staples, you probably have most of the cards you need. You likely only need the core Pokemon for your deck, and maybe a couple odds and ends.

If youd like to build your own deck from scratch, heres a few tips. The game has a built-in Deck Wizard. Dont use it. Ever. It stinks.

Deck Structure

Youve been playing Theme Decks for a while and thats taught you a very bad lesson. Theme Decks usually have 30 or so Pokemon, 10 or so Trainers, and 20 or so energy cards. That balance is too out-of-whack to get a consistent deck.

Trainer Cards

Roughly half of your deck should be trainer cards. Trainers are essential to draw the cards you need. Dont be afraid of using cards that discard, like Sycamore and Ultra Balloften times you can choose which filler cards to discard and get important Pokémon, energy, and supporters back with other cards like Super Rod, Fisherman, Special Charge, VS Seeker, and more.

Cards like Pokeball and Great Ball are too random to give you what you need. Ultra Ball is infinitely better. If youre playing a lot of low-level Pokemon, throw in some Level Balls (HP 90 or less). Water Deck? Dive Balls. Love those Snorlaxes? Heavy Ball.

Moving through your deck is very important. Youre going to want a Sycamore, N, Shaymin-EX, or similar card in your hand each turn, or a way to get one like a Trainers Mail, VS Seeker, or Ultra Ball. Then again, dont dig too much using Sycamores, items, and Shaymins or youll deck-out.

Still, drawing a single one of those cards can get you out of a dead hand that would cost you the game.

Energy Cards

20 energy is way too much. Most decks run 6-12 energies (some may use more, some may use only 4, or none!).

The amount of energy cards youll need varies. But remember, unlike Theme Decks were youll often rely on top-decking an energy card each turn, competitive decks can move through their cards to find and recycle energy as needed.

Pokemon Cards

For Pokemon, pick 1 main attacker and have 3-4 of it. Youll likely need 1 or 2 support pokemon, which you can run 1 or 2 copies of. Dont run too many different Pokémon to attack with or your deck will lose consistency and get clunky. Theme Decks also use a lot of filler Pokémon that dont really serve a purpose. They just take up space.

Evolution Lines

For evolution lines, Theme Decks like to use a pyramid line, where if you have Greninja and its prevolutions Froakie and Frogadier, you likely have 3 Froakie, 2 Frogadier, and 1 Greninja (shortened to 3-2-1 of Greninja). Competetive decks will often use lines like 3-3-3, 4-4-3, and 2-2 for Stage 1 evolution lines. If youre using Rare Candies you might see 4-1-4 or similar lines.

Dont make it hard on yourself to find your main attacker by only having 1 copy of it and it gets prized!

For Mega Pokemon-EX, you should probably only have 1 evolution line (such as not running Mega Charizard and Mega Blastoise, even though you like em both). Having 2 sets of different Megas can get very clunky.

If youre running a 4-3 or 3-3 line (both are very common), also include 4 Spirit Links for consistency.

Watch: How to Build Pokemon Decks for Standard 2016-2017

Pokemon TCG Online YouTuber DarkIntegral brings us another fantastic video on how to build some competitive decks for the new Standard Format.

Welcome to his Kitchen! Now get cookin some awesome decks!

Check out Popular Decks in the Meta

Check out some of the popular deck lists, import them, trade for the cards you need, and try em out!

Build your own competitive decks and most of all, have fun.

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