Trainer decks

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How to build a Pokémon TCG deck for beginners

Once you’ve mastered how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game, you’ll almost certainly want to find out how to build a Pokémon TCG deck. Like the video games, a lot of the fun of the Pokémon TCG is the chance to assemble your own party of Pokémon, combining different strengths, weaknesses, evolutions, energy types and trainer cards to gain the advantage over your opponent and ultimately claim victory.

If you’re completely new to the Pokémon Trading Card Game, the best way to learn is probably by picking up a pre-made deck pack. These are widely available and can be based on a variety of things, from specific themes (such as Electric-type Pokémon, if you’re a Pikachu and Zapdos fan) to World Championship decks that recreate the pro decks used by master trainers in high-level tournaments. These ready-to-play decks let you focus on learning the rules without worrying that your deck is potentially unbalanced or having to invest in lots of booster packs.

Once you’re comfortable with the basics of playing, though, you’ll probably want to learn how to build a Pokémon TCG deck. Building a Pokémon TCG deck is similar compared to learning how to build a Magic: The Gathering deck and other popular collectible card games, but there are a few unique things that set the Pokémon Trading Card Game apart from the rest of the crowd - and make it a little bit easier to pick up if you’re a total newcomer.

Pokemon Trading Card Game card Pidgeot

What are the rules for building a Pokémon TCG deck?

The rules for building a Pokémon deck specify that a player’s deck must always have a total of exactly 60 cards, with no more than four cards of the same name. This applies to all types of cards, except energy cards.

For example, you might decide to have four Eevee cards, along with some of the Pokémon’s various evolutions - Vaporeon, Jolteon, etc. Although you couldn’t have more than four cards called just ‘Eevee’ - even if the cards’ artwork is different - you could then also have four copies of the Eevee & Snorlax Tag Team card from Pokémon TCG expansion Sun & Moon - Tag Team. That’s a lot of Eevees!

Although you can include any number of any type of card - Pokémon, trainer and energy - in your deck other than the rule above, it’s often recommended that beginners aim to have an even split of Pokémon cards, energy cards and trainer cards: 20 of each. More advanced players may change the amount of each card type they have in order to focus on a particular play style or strategy.

You also want to consider what types of Pokémon you will include, to plan for certain Pokémon types, strengths and weaknesses. You may decide to have conflicting types - Water and Electric, for instance - in order to defend against certain Pokémon types. Of course, you should make sure you have the correct number and type of energy cards needed for your Pokémon to perform their attacks and abilities.

Often, the best plan for building a Pokémon TCG deck is to look into what cards you think would be most effective using the Pokémon website’s official trading card database.

What are the Pokémon TCG card types?

Energy cards

Pokemon Trading Card Game energy cards Fire

The staple of your deck, a certain number and colour combination of these cards is required to perform moves on a Pokémon card. Unlike the video games, the Pokémon Trading Card Game offers 10 main types of Pokémon and energy : Colourless, Dark, Psychic, Fighting, Water, Dragon, Metal, Fire, Lightning and Grass. An eleventh energy type, Fairy, was recently phased out of the game as part of the Sword & Shield expansion; Fairy-type Pokémon and energy cards remain legal to play in Standard matches, but no new Fairy Pokémon will be introduced to the TCG from Sword & Shield onwards, with Fairy-type Pokémon from the video games included as Psychic-type cards.

Trainer cards

Pokemon Trading Card Game card The Masked Royal

Despite the name, not all trainer cards are actually trainers - they’re divided into three subtypes: items, stadiums and supporters. They all have different ways to help you get to your end goal of winning the match.

  • Item cards are typically single-use cards that can do anything from evolving Pokémon straight to Stage 3 without needing the relevant cards (a bit like a Shiny Stone!) to allowing you to shuffle your deck back into the pile and draw a fresh hand of cards. You may play as many item cards per turn as you like.
  • Stadium cards are environmental factors, similar to what happens in the video games if it rains - be it taking less damage, causing more damage or even being able to take your Pokémon out of play for free. Only one stadium card can be played each turn.
  • Supporter cards are all of those familiar faces you might know from the video games, be it Lillie from Sun & Moon or N from Black & White. These cards all serve various purposes but are incredibly important for tipping a match in your favour. Like stadiums, only one supporter card can be played during a turn.

Pokémon cards

Pokemon Trading Card Game card Mudkip

The most well-known cards in the Pokémon TCG, much like in the video games, you use your Pokémon and their skills to knock your opponent’s cards out of the game. (Not sure how? Learn how to play the Pokémon TCG.) Five Pokémon can be stored on your bench until they are put into play - only one active Pokémon may be in play at a time unless you’re using a Tag Team card.

When Pokémon are evolved from Basic to Stage 1 or Stage 1 to Stage 2, the next evolutionary form is placed on top of that Pokémon card. Pokémon may only evolve once per turn, and may not evolve on the turn they are played. They must also follow the evolutionary chain in order from Basic to Stage 1 and then Stage 2.

There are also special types of cards for Pokémon that can make them stronger than ever before; think of them like the video games’ Dynamax.

  • EX/GX and Break: EX and GX are the stronger forms of your favourite types of Pokémon. They’re often the final stage of evolution and can be used immediately without following the evolutionary path, meaning they’re a staple for competitive players. Break cards, unlike EX and GX, will need to be evolved into play.
  • Tag Team: These cards are a new addition to the Pokémon TCG series as of expansion Sun & Moon - Team Up and are used as stronger forms of existing Pokémon, much like EX and GX, but typically feature a pair of Pokémon, instead of just one.

An Introduction to Deckbuilding: Learn How to Build a Pokémon TCG Deck

By Ellis Longhurst, Contributing Writer

With so many interesting Pokémon to choose from and exciting strategies to explore, building your own deck is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding elements of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Before you begin, it's important to note that each deck must contain exactly 60 cards—with at least one Basic Pokémon—and cannot contain more than four copies of any card (except basic Energy).

There are alot of ways to approach deckbuilding. Some decks focus on one type of Pokémon such as Fire type or Psychic type, while others may focus on an individual Pokémon's Ability or particularly powerful attack. Decks can include an even distribution of Pokémon, Trainer cards, and Energy cards, or they can be heavily skewed to include, say, mostly Pokémon and virtually no Energy. With so many options available, the task can feel daunting even for the most intrepid deck builder.

The good news is a variety of methods can result in a winning deck! Let's take a look at two of the most popular approaches to assembling a solid deck and the design principles that underpin them.

Like the teams of many of the Gym Leaders you'll encounter in the Pokémon video games, a lot of successful Pokémon Trading Card Game decks include Pokémon that are almost all the same type. This approach to deckbuilding has merit because types are often thematic, which means Pokémon of the same type will favor a similar strategy. For example, many Fire-type Pokémon are designed to do loads of damage to the opponent's Pokémon, whereas Metal-type Pokémon tend to have attacks, Abilities, and access to Trainer cards that prevent or reduce the damage they take from opposing attacks.

In addition, Pokémon of the same type usually use the same type of Energy to attack, and they can often be targeted by the effects of the same Trainer cards. This means it's much simpler to design a deck around one type of Pokémon rather than many types.

We'll use the following Lightning-type deck as an example:

As you can see, all the Pokémon and Energy cards in our example deck are Lightning type.

After choosing the type of Pokémon to build the deck around, the next step is to choose the Pokémon we want to include. When evaluating a Pokémon, it's important to consider its Hit Points (HP), the damage done by its attacks for each Energy attached to it, any secondary effects of those attacks, and the ease at which the Pokémon can be put into play.

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX is one of the most powerful Lightning-type Pokémon around. For a cost of 3 Lightning Energy, it can do 150 damage to the opponent's Active Pokémon and attach 3 more Lightning Energy to 1 of your Pokémon. Consider the strengths and drawbacks of Pikachu & Zekrom-GX compared with those of Ampharos V or an evolved Pokémon like Morpeko VMAX, and you can quickly see why it's such a popular choice.

As a general rule, every deck should include a cast of Pokémon with attacks or Abilities that complement each other. Boltund V is the perfect partner for Pikachu & Zekrom-GX because the former's Electrify attack can be used to power up the latter's Full Blitz. Plus, Boltund V's Bolt Storm attack does more damage for each Lightning Energy attached to all of your Pokémon. Tapu Koko Prism Star also earns a spot in this deck—its Dance of the Ancients Ability benefits both Pikachu & Zekrom-GX and Boltund V.

Although some decks fall out of this range, most decks include around 12–16 Pokémon, about half of which fill the role of attacker. When choosing Pokémon to include in the deck, priority should be given to those that can be searched for by the same Trainer cards as your main Pokémon. These Pokémon should work well together, and they'll help save space in your deck by not needing their own different sets of supporting cards. If a Pokémon cannot be searched for, then it might be impossible to find when it's needed in battle. Our Lightning-type deck uses Quick Ball, Electromagnetic Radar, and Cherish Ball to search for Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, Boltund V, and Tapu Koko Prism Star. This means the other Pokémon in the deck should also be Basic Pokémon and/or Pokémon-GX.

To better the chance that players can access key resources when they need them, all decks should include Supporter cards that draw cards from the deck. Professor's Research and Marnie are two popular examples. Our Lightning-type deck also uses Dedenne-GX's Dedechange Ability and the Speed Lightning Energy Special Energy card to draw more cards. As you can see, being able to get the card you need when you need it is crucial in the Pokémon TCG. It's critical to look beyond ways to get a card at the right time besides simply drawing it at the start of your turn.

The remaining space in the deck should be dedicated to Trainer cards that enhance the player's strategy or disrupt the opponent's strategy. Trying to do both of these things typically means you're not going to do that well at either one.

This is the portion of the deck that will differ the most between players because it is often a reflection of personal taste. For example, some players may choose to include the Chaotic Swell Stadium card to disrupt their opponent, while others may prefer the Viridian Forest Stadium card to guarantee they have access to the Energy cards required to attack.

The major weakness of a deck comprising one type of Pokémon is…just that! Pokémon of the same type often share a Weakness. This Lightning-type deck would have a difficult time in battle against a deck that attacks with Fighting-type Pokémon, as every Pokémon except Zapdos is weak to Fighting-type attacks.

Discerning deck builders add one or two Pokémon of a different type to their deck in order to mitigate the impact of a single Weakness. It can't just be any Pokémon—it needs to be one that can utilize the same type of Energy cards as the other Pokémon in the deck, and one that is consistent with the deck's overall strategy. For example, this Lightning-type deck could incorporate Mewtwo & Mew-GX or Cramorant V, which are not weak to Fighting-type Pokémon and can use Lightning-type Energy.

Let's take a look at another approach to deckbuilding—focusing the strategy on one or two specific Pokémon rather than a type. The amount and type of Energy required for a Pokémon to attack varies, and you have to figure out how you'll get the Pokémon into play, too. Not surprisingly, this means the decks themselves can vary wildly in the nature and spread of Pokémon, Trainer cards, and Energy cards. Fortunately, there are a few steps that deck builders can follow to make any Pokémon shine. Let's use Polteageist from the Sword & Shield—Darkness Ablaze expansion as an example in our next deck.

Remember when we mentioned that most decks have about 12–16 Pokémon? This one has 26, taking up nearly half the deck, and only eight Energy! The guidelines are always just that—guidelines—and you should always be ready to boldly diverge from them when the time comes.

The first step is to identify the core components of the deck. These are the cards that are absolutely essential to the deck's primary strategy. It's often the case that there are four copies of important cards. The more copies of the same card in a deck, the more likely it is a player will be able to draw that card when it's needed. You can see this in the example deck: Polteageist is a Stage 1 Pokémon, so we include four of it, but this also means the deck needs to include Sinistea, too. So, we also include the maximum four copies of it.

Polteageist requires 2 Colorless Energy to use its Mad Party attack. This means we need to add Energy cards to the deck, and they can be of any type! Two different Special Energy cards, Twin Energy and Triple Acceleration Energy, are the best choice for this deck because they provide at least 2 Energy when attached to Polteageist. And, once again, we include four of each of these Special Energy cards because they're crucial to our overall strategy.

The next step is to ensure that the main Pokémon can be retrieved from the deck or discard pile when they're required for battle. Notice how this Polteageist deck includes a variety of Trainer cards to achieve that goal—Quick Ball lets you search for Basic Pokémon like Sinistea, Evolution Incense lets you search for Evolution Pokémon like Polteageist, and Great Ball lets you search for both. Like the Lightning-type deck above, Polteageist also includes Supporter cards and Pokémon with Abilities that enable players to draw these core cards. Access to lots of cards, either by searching with Item cards like those mentioned above or by drawing a bunch of cards (like with Professor's Research), is extremely important in virtually every deck.

Finally, we get to see what all those Pokémon in the deck are for. The strategy of this deck is to do loads of damage with Polteageist's Mad Party attack. That being said, this deck should include many other Pokémon with the Mad Party attack, as well as ways to put those Pokémon into the discard pile. Dedenne and Bunnelby are great additions because they serve a dual purpose in this deck: they can attack using Mad Party, and they increase the damage of Polteageist's attack when they are in the discard pile.

Every deck builder should seek to include cards in their deck that can serve a dual purpose. With the Polteageist deck in mind, consider the advantage gained by playing Quick Ball instead of Pokémon Communication, Roxie instead of Marnie, and Great Catcher instead of Boss's Orders. There are basic similarities between these card pairings, but the differences are big enough to sway the outcome of battle. Deckbuilding is made of these small decisions that contribute to the overall result.

Now that you've read up on a couple of different approaches to deckbuilding, it's time to build your own deck!

Remember, the deckbuilding process is all about experimentation, so don't be disheartened if your first deck does not deliver positive results straight away. Discuss your ideas with friends, test out your ideas on the battlefield, and read on at to turn your deck into a World Championships contender.

Good luck, Trainers!

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Trainer Deck A (TCG)

Trainer Deck A
Trainer Deck A Brocks.png
Box art
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The Trainer Deck A, also known as Brock's Deck, is a playing deck of Pokémon Trading Card Game cards produced for use with the Pokémon League, Pewter City Season. Unlike all other Preconstructed Theme Decks, Trainer Deck A was not sold publicly.


All of the cards found within the deck were early printings of the Base Set expansion meant to be used to help league leaders get knowledge out about the Pokémon Trading Card Game. This deck was distributed to prototype Pokémon Leagues before the TCG officially launched in North America. They were not issued to very many leagues and only for a limited time.


Training decks are designed as tools for the Gym Leader to use to enhance the experience of the League Participants.

These decks will allow players to experience the fun of playing against some of the greatest Gym Leaders from season to season as they work to become the greatest Pokémon trainers in the world.

This box contains 60 ready-to-play tradable game cards for use with the Pokémon League.

Deck list


  • Every card in Trainer Deck A is exclusive to this deck in that it had a unique red border and red lettering on the back of each card.
    • Additionally, the Non-Holofoil version of Machamp is exclusive to this deck as it is also the only non-1st Edition Machamp.
Opening a Pokemon Misty Battle Box!


Decks trainer


Lycanroc and Alolan Raichu Trainer Kit Learn To Play Theme Deck Opening!


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