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How to Build a Pokemon Deck

Pokemon Feature
Pokemon Feature

How to build a Pokemon Deck

I don’t have to explain the Pokemon part, they’re little pocket monsters you use to do your bidding and I think is currently the most successful franchise of all time. The deck-building might need a little explanation if you’re new to the game.
So we shall start this series not building a deck you could take to a tournament, or looking at the latest and greatest cards; but the basics. What cards you need, what strategies to base your deck on and how you can begin to learn to be the very best, like no-one ever was.
Now before we delve in, I should say none of this is set in stone, and you don’t aim to have a certain amount of card types in your deck. You will pick a Pokemon and build your strategy and cards around that. However, we’re covering all the basics, so I will use some general rules of thumb.

Where to begin?

Now before we pick a Pokemon, which trainer cards we want and what type of energy let’s take a step back even further. As a base, let’s say you aim for around 14 Pokemon in your deck of which you want 6-8 to be basic.
The reason you want basic Pokemon is to avoid giving your opponent extra cards at the start. The reason you want Pokemon should be fairly obvious, as that’s what you’ll be battling with.
For energy, I would aim at a similar number. Starting off I would always suggest more, so let’s for the sake of this say 12-14 energy. You need to make sure you can power up any attacks your have on your Pokemon, and normally on a few of them. As no matter how good you are, your Pokemon will get KO’d from time to time. Hopefully not too often.
Finally, trainer cards, of which we’ll aim for the rest of our deck, so around 32. Now if you haven’t played Pokemon before this may seem a little high, but in all honesty these are the cards that make your deck function. You have draw cards, you have cards that replenish your hand, find you Pokemon. Trainer cards are and will always be the most important things in your deck.
So for our template we’re going for:
14 Pokemon (6 Basic at least)
32 Trainers
14 Energy
Pokemon body

Choosing the right cards

So we have some idea of what a deck should look like, lets decide on which type of deck we’re going to build. A lot of building a deck will come from playing the game. You might notice a lot of decks are built around basic Pokemon for example, so lets take the Galarian Obstagoon from the Sword and Shield base set as his attack Obstruct, for 90 damage, says:
‘During your opponent's next turn, prevent all damage done to this Pokémon by attacks from Basic Pokémon.’
So now this Pokemon creates what’s known as a wall. Basic Pokemon can’t knock him out if we’re getting the attack off (minus some exceptions).
Now we have an idea for a deck we can began to build around it. So as well as a great attacker Galarian Obstagoon has a fantastic ability which reads:
‘When you play this Pokémon from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokémon during your turn, you may put 3 damage counters on 1 of your opponent's Pokémon.’
So we could also build round that as a strategy. We either go down the route of other cards which will drop damage counters or we focus on Pokemon, such as Sableye V, who can do more damage if the opponent already has damage counters on them. For this example we’ll go with Sableye V.
So as a pivotal part of our deck we will want to have a lot of access to the Galarian line, so we’ll start off with 4x Zigzagoon, 1x Linoone, 4x Galarian Obstagoon and 4x Rare Candy.
Rare candy basically allows us to skip the middle evolution and go straight from Zigzagoon to Obstagoon, which means quicker evolution and skipping the less than useful Linoone part of the evolution. We do run 1x Linoone as there are Pokemon that can lock you from using Item cards and we need a way around that.
Then we’ll add 2 Sableye V as they could deal big damage if we drop damage counters via our Galarian line.


You may notice we run a lot of x4 lines, why so many of one card? It’s for consistency. You want as high a chance as possible to draw into those cards which let you pull off your gameplan.
You have six prize cards in Pokemon, lets say for example you run one of a card and it’s stuck in your prizes? You can’t afford for that to be a crucial card in your deck, so I would suggest running a good number of any cards you need to win.
Pokemon is a card game, so sometimes you will run out of luck and you might see 3-4 important cards in your prizes and it leads to a loss. It will happen.
In my experience though, with the sheer amount of draw support and search cards there is in Pokemon, it’s one of the more consistent and skill based card games I’ve played. Very few games come down to not being able to pull off your strategy, it’s how well you opponent deals with it and small plays that make the difference.

Staples in any deck

There are very few cards that are an instant include in any deck, but there are some, then some lesser ones which appear in most decks.
First off, Professors Research, the best card in the format. It lets us throw away a useless hand and renew it with 7 fresh cards. I can’t imagine a deck running without this card, other than the Golurk deck which runs no supporters.
Cynthia is similar, it doesn’t let us throw cards away but we can shuffle our hand into the deck and draw 6 new cards, which again helps so much with consistency.
You then want Pokemon draw, whether that’s via some kind of Pokeball or something like Pokemon communication or Incence, it really depends on the types of Pokemon in your deck so this one is a little more difficult to predict.

The deck we’ve built

I’m going to give you the skeleton of what we’ve gone through here so far. You can then adjust it to your liking and test it out yourself, or you can take the things we’ve learnt here and build your own. Whichever you decide make sure you let us know over on Twitter how your play-testing is going!
The below is what we’ve come up with, it is not a full deck so fill the rest of the Pokemon and trainers in to fit your play style and let us know what you decide!


x4 Galarian Zigzagoon
x1 Galarian Linoone
x4 Galarian Obstagoon
x4 Sableye V


x4 Professor Research
x4 Cynthia
x4 Rare Candy
x4 Quick Ball
x2 Evolution Incense


x10 Darkness
Thanks for joining us in this deck breakdown and getting your started on your Pokemon journey. Again, any questions or want to share your creations you can find us on Twitter over at

Thanks for reading!