Jump to content

Deck Building Guide (For beginners) - Work in Progress -April 16

Recommended Posts


In The Beginning

A great deal of this guide is built upon the work of others.


If you're just starting out read this good advice from Otakutron.

Another guide for PvP strategy and deck building here by Felidae_

If you've asked for deck advice you've likely been welcomed and offered sound advice from Chasista.

A good primer here by PinkyPockyPanda


I will try to keep the information general and not use too many specific card examples.

The first parts will focus on the importance of Trainer cards as these will form the base to build most decks from.




  • Get the staple cards for the chosen format.
  • Use 15 +/- Pokemon, 30 +/- Trainers and 15 +/- Energy(Usually less) as a rough start(the staples will already fill some Trainer and Pokemon spots)
  • Test your deck for  consistency (staples should cover this).
  • Refine your deck for your playstyle.
  • Have FUN!


When you do the trainer challenge in the beginning you are forced to play with not just a poorly constructed deck but an incomplete version of a poorly constructed deck. 

That is a lesson in why you should follow proper deck building guidelines.

You don't want to build decks like the free decks you start with!


You should still complete the trainer challenge to earn cards (as you progress you unlock the "full potential" of your starting theme deck(s) - but even at its full potential it's not very good).

You also earn coins which can be used to get more cards or better theme decks.

Newer theme decks are quite a bit better than the starting decks and a few plays through any of them should be enough to see the card synergies and intended strategies of that deck.


Before you begin building a deck you should have a good ability to search for cards.

Familiarize yourself with the way cards are worded so you can find cards that do what you need.

Know the ins and outs of both the deck manager and the collection. 

Learn how to import and export deck lists through the deck manager.


Building a deck requires cards of course but how do you get the cards you need? 

You can use earned in game coins to buy (locked) booster packs for opening or theme decks which may contain a few staples.

Coins can be earned by logging in, completing daily challenges, playing on the vs ladder and participating in events(tournaments).

You can also earn (both locked and unlocked)packs this way (eg. completing the daily KO challenge will earn an unlocked pack).


If you purchase physical products like booster packs or box sets they will come with codes that can be redeemed for (unlocked) packs/cards or other items.


Trading is probably the best way to get specific cards for your deck and (unlocked) packs are used as currency for trading therefore it is wise to save your (unlocked) packs for trading and only open locked packs.


Edited by Yeesterbunny
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Names & Numbers


Maximum card counts in a 60 card deck


4 copies of cards with the same name (this includes special energy)

1 copy of prism star cards 

1 single Ace Spec card per deck

59 basic energies (you must have at least 1 pokemon to make a useable deck)


Card Quantity Guidelines

The more important a card is for the deck, the more copies you want.

Cards that guarantee you something are much better than ones that make you flip a coin for a chance.

6 cards are placed as prizes so many cards are run with a minimum of 2 copies(in case 1 gets prized)


8-16 Pokemon is typical.

Main attackers are usually 4 copies (Tag Teams & Vmax are sometimes only 2 or 3)

Evolution Pokemon can quickly take up a lot of room in a deck (especially stage 2s) so most decks usually run no more than 2 lines.

To save a bit of space and speed things up Stage 2 are run with Rare Candy whenever possible(Let's you skip from basic to stage 2).

Secondary(Backup) Attackers and Support Pokemon are usually run in sets of 2-3


~30 Trainers or approximately half the deck. Trainers cards are divided into supporters, items, tools and stadiums.

You can only play 1 supporter per turn so carefully consider which ones to put in your deck.  You can play as many items as you are able per turn so if an item card can do the same function as a supporter choose the item.


8-14 Energy is usually enough (Generally you want the minimum amount for the deck to function smoothly)



Name Prefixes, Suffixes & Tags

Some pokemon have a  prefix on their name (Alolan, Galarian, Team Aqua, Team Magma)

These Pokemon are considered to be cards of a different name than their regular versions.

I.e. You may have 4 copies of the regular and 4 copies of the prefix variation in the same deck.


Some pokemon have suffixes on their name eg. EX, GX, V, VMax).

Each suffix creates a new name for that card. 

I.e. You may have 4 copies of the EX form, 4 copies of the GX form, 4 copies of the V form and 4 copies of the VMax form all together in the same deck.


Prism Star is a suffix in the form of an icon after the name and while you may only have 1 copy of a prism star card it is considered a different card than its regular version. You may have several Prism Star cards in your deck as long as they have different names.

(eg You may have 1 Volcanion Prism Star and 4 Volcanion together in your deck with a Jirachi Prism Star)



Most Pokemon start with a basic form.  Some basic pokemon evolve into stage 1, some stage 1s evolve into stage 2. 


Evolution pokemon used in decks are usually referred to by their highest form and are often mentioned in a numerical shorthand of how many copies of each stage are used. 

Eg. A 4-2-4 Charizard line refers to:

 4 copies of Charmander(basic), 2 copies of Charmeleon(stage 1) and 4 copies of Charizard(stage2).


Break is a special evolution that can be applied as a higher stage onto a pokemon at any of these stages. This means that the highest possible pokemon evolution is a Break applied to a Stage 2 essentially making a sort of Stage 3. Break forms retain the attacks, weaknesses, abilities and retreat cost of their previous evolution.


Mega or M is a prefix for a special evolution that is only applied to EX forms (similar to a stage 1).


Vmax is a special evolution that is only applied to V forms (similar to a stage 1).


There are even some Pokemon that begin their evolution from item cards (fossils).



 Some Pokemon have tags that allow interaction with other cards (Single Strike, Rapid Strike, Ultra beast, Tag Team, Team Plasma). These tags do not create new versions of cards.

i.e.  A “single strike” Houndoom is considered a Houndoom for card quantities.



Edited by Yeesterbunny
Typos, formatting, editing
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

"Please Sir, I want some more." - Oliver Twist

Draw Power, Draw Support,  Digging and Searching through your deck.


You need draw power/support to get the cards you need into your hand. There are many cards that will get you more cards, new/different cards or specific cards..

When it comes to draw power MORE IS BETTER.

Draw support is more about searching out targeted cards than raw amount of cards but more is still better.


Trainers, Pokemon and even special energy cards can provide draw power/support.

Some draw cards are consistent(always get you the same amount) and others are conditional(get you variable amount of cards or require some other action to draw cards).


Supporters frequently fill the role of draw support and can add cards to your hand, shuffle your hand (and your opponent's hand)for a new hand or discard some or all your hand cards for more/new cards.  Whenever you're adding draw support you want to get the most cards you can, especially when you consider you can only play one supporter per turn.

Drawing only 3 cards or 2 plus a random chance for more is not very strong.

Some draw cards will only draw a few but have additional utility (Welder is a good example).


The professors- Discard your hand and draw 7 cards.

(Professor's Research, Professor Sycamore and Professor Juniper) are the most consistently powerful draw support and 4 copies are common in competitive decks. The only downside is you may discard something you need later but if it's an important card you should have multiple copies in your deck.


The shuffling cards worth considering for draw power are:

Cynthia -Shuffle your hand into your deck. Then, draw 6 cards.

(Pretty strong and cards in hand go back in the deck but you may just end up with the same cards you didn't need)


Marnie -Each player shuffles their hand and puts it on the bottom of their deck. If either player put any cards on the bottom of their deck in this way, you draw 5 cards, and your opponent draws 4 cards.

Not bad for draw support because you know you won't get the same cards but especially good for ensuring your opponent doesn't get the cards they had in hand.


N - Each player shuffles his or her hand into his or her deck. Then, each player draws a card for each of his or her remaining Prize cards

Best used if you are losing the prize exchange or if you want to get certain cards out of your opponent's hand (but they may get the same cards)


There are item cards that can draw you a few cards or let you search out specific cards. Generally these are weaker draw than supporters but the advantage is that you can play as many items as you like in a turn while you may only play a single supporter card. If there is an item that can do the same thing as a supporter card the item is the better choice.

Edited by Yeesterbunny
more info, formatting, etc.
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Energy Searching, Acceleration,  Efficiency


Basic energy is the easiest to search, accelerate and move around. 

There are some options for special energies but they are more limited.

Most decks should have a single energy type plus special energy if it benefits your strategy.


Normally you can attach a single energy per turn; energy acceleration is simply adding more energy per turn.


Energy accelerators get energy from various sources. Some search your deck, some will need energy in hand, some get energy from the discard and some can move energy attached to Pokemon around.


The best energy acceleration is usable as often as you like(as long as energy is available). This type of energy acceleration is likely to be from an evolution Pokemon and limited to a specific type of energy.


Pokemon attacks and/or abilities are probably the most common source of energy acceleration but there are trainer cards as well.


Usually Pokemon with powerful(high damage),  high energy cost attacks are paired with some kind of energy acceleration.

If they are not they are likely to be KO'd before they can get enough energy to use their attack.


Energy Efficiency

Efficiency is about how much you get for how much it costs. An attack that costs a single colorless energy that does the same thing as a 2 energy cost attack is more efficient. If an efficient attack is on an evolution Pokemon you need to consider whether the time to evolve and deck space is worth it.


Sometimes a deck with the minimum amount of energy can make good use of items(tools) to move energy from KO'd Pokemon to benched Pokemon.

Edited by Yeesterbunny
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Support Pokemon


These Pokemon are usually selected for their ability, most often as additional draw power. These types act like supporter cards allowing you to draw more cards. Some have to be played onto the bench while others may be activated if your hand gets low.

Edited by Yeesterbunny
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Yeesterbunny changed the title to Deck Building Guide (For beginners) - Work in Progress -April 16
  • Create New...