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[PTCG GUIDE] --- TACTICS: Fundamental of Game Strategy

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Attack - Using an attack skill of the Pokémon. Some skills are not really attacking opponent Pokémon, but still counted as "Attack".


Ability - Ability is an effect on a Pokémon. Some will be automatically giving effect while some will need you to activate it, depend on the condition of the ability. Note that, you can still use Pokémon ability even when it was under "Special Condition"


Retreat - To send your Active Pokémon back to the bench, exchanged place with one of the Benched Pokémon. There is Retreat Cost and you can only retreat once per turn. Some cards have effect that increase or decrease Pokémon retreat cost. 


Switch - Swap place between Active Pokémon and one of the Benched Pokémon. You can also switch your opponent Pokémon as well. You are allow to switch as many times as you want, providing you have available cards/abilities. In normal circumstance, Switching remove all Special Conditions and Effects on the Active Pokémon.


Draw - You draw a card at the beginning of each turn. But there also cards that allow you to draw additional cards.


Discard - Directly put one or more cards from deck/hand/in play to player Discard Pile. There is no limit number for cards in your hand. So, it's required card effect to make it happen.

Revive/Retrieve - Put cards from your Discard Pile back in play or to your hand.


Recycle - Put cards from your Discard Pile back to your deck.


Return - Put cards from In-play back to your hand or your deck


Card Call - Different from draw, with Card Caller, you can choose specific cards from Deck/Discard Pile/Prize Cards.  


Remove - Remove cards In-play, depends on which effect, the cards can be moved to Hand/Deck/Discard Pile/Lost Zone.


Evolve - Put a Higher Stage Pokémon over the Lower one. In normal circumstance, Evolving remove all Special Conditions and Effects on the Active Pokémon, but not Damage Counter.

Devolve - Remove a Higher Stage Pokémon from the Evolved one. In normal circumstance, Evolving remove all Special Conditions and Effects on the Active Pokémon, but not Damage Counter.

Special Conditions
-- Poison - Poison do no initial damage. But do 10 damage at the end of each player turn. No coin flip between turns, so it keep poisoned until player do some actions to remove it.
-- Asleep - While Asleep, the Pokémon cannot Attack or Retreat but can still use its ability. Do a coin flip at the end of each player turn.
-- Confused - While Confused, the Pokémon can Retreat or use Ability as normal. But do the coin toss when choosing Attack. If Head, it attack as normal. If Tail, the attack won't work and it get 30 damage. No coin toss between turns.
-- Burned - Burned do initial 20 damage then at the end of each player turn, do a coin flip. If head it cured, if not it get another 20 damage . 
-- Paralyze - While Paralyzed, for one turn, the Pokémon cannot Attack or Retreat but can still use its ability. After one turn, it's back to normal.


Heal - Remove Damage Counter from a Pokémon.


Cure - Remove Special Conditions or Effects from a Pokémon and/or Player.


Snipe - Active Pokémon directly attack one of opponent Benched Pokémon.


Spread/Bombing - Damaging multiple Pokémon with one attack.


Sneak - Giving damage or Special Conditions to opponent from Ability


Shuffle - Shuffle your deck. I don't think there any card directly having this effect, but many cards effect do shuffle your deck as well, usually after you search your deck.






Double Switch - Switch the Pokémon back and forth between Active Spot and Bench. 
It can be either your Pokémon or opponent Pokémon or both side at the same time. In some situations it might need more than double and involve more than 2 Pokémon.


Retreat Switch - Using Retreat to swap Active/Bench Pokémon.
Retreating requires Energy cost. And you are allowed to use Retreat only once per turn. There several cards giving effects that reduce your Active Pokemon Retreat Cost.


Sacrifice Switch - Discards your Active Pokémon to Bring up another one.
Instead of using Switch or Retreat, cards like Doll, Robo, Fossils or some Pokémon have ability to remove themselves from play, let the Active spot open for your Benched Pokémon. One thing need to be careful, if you have no Benched Pokémon, it will be instant lost.


Return Switch - Using effect that return your Pokémon to your hand.
Some cards like Scoop ups, Acerola or Az can return your Active Pokémon to your hand, let the Active spot open for your Benched Pokémon. Same as Sacrifice, without Benched Pokémon, it is instant lost.


Kill Switch - Switching opponent Pokémon.
Bring up your opponent Benched Pokémon that you can kill. Boss's Order is a must for Standard format deck. Lysandre is another option for Expanded. And several Catcher for this job as well.


Matching Kill Switch - Switching both you and your opponent Pokémon to get the kill.
Matching your Benched Pokémon against your opponent Benched Pokémon, so that you can get the kill. You can use only one card like Guzma or Escape Rope or Switching Combos together. with Switch, Retreat, Boss's Order, Pokémon Catcher etc.


Calling your cards

Calling the Card Caller - Using effect that get another Card Caller to your hand.
Most Card Callers have specific range of card they can call, So you use them to gat another one that can call the card you want. It can be a same turn combo or next turn combo. For example, you use Skyla to call Poke-Ball then use Poke-ball to get the Pokémon, that in the same turn. Or use Skyla to call Teammates then wait for your next turn after your Pokémon was KOed to Teammates for the cards you want. 


Over The Top - Bring up your wanted card to the Top of your Deck.
Some effects can use certain card from the Top of your Deck, so you bring that card up first then use the effect. For example, use Mallow to bring up Energies for your Ethers or Zacian V's Intrepid Sword. Or you can also use card like Pokédex, to rearrange your top deck, though limit to 5 cards but it is an Item card.


Dig up the Grave - Bring up cards from your Discard Pile so you can use them.
Some effects working with cards from your hand, If your resource was already in the Discard Pile, then you bring them up first. So you can use the effects. Most known combo probably "Fire Crystal+Welder".


Bury to Dig up - Send your wanted cards to Discard Pile then bring them up.
Some effects working with cards in the Discard Pile, so you use another card to discard them first. Then use another effect to use those cards. Most effective to discard the cards is "Battle Compressor", discard ANY 3 cards from your DECK, that nearly impossible to get a void play. So you can use it to discard energy for "Metal Saucer", "Aqua Patch" or "Blacksmith". Or "Darkrai GX"+"Energy"+extra card, to get him on bench with extra energy and could be on the first turn.



Mully Super Draw - Have only one Basic Pokémon expect for high Mulligan.
Then you use "Copy Cat" or "Battle Reporter" to match number of cards in your opponent hand, provided that your opponent hadn't shuffle his hand back to his deck or win with his  big hand advantage. And to use this kind of tactics, I would recommend you prepare lot of substitute like Robo, Doll or Fossils together with what ever cards that can dig up your Pokémon from Discard Pile.


Draw to Your Dead - Repeat the drawing effect until win or deck out.
The most notorious infamous combo was probably "Shaymin EX + Scoop Up Net". It so effective in a Donk deck until "Shaymin EX" was banned in late 2020. Basic idea is to have card with drawing effects again and again in the same turn. Apart from "Shaymin EX", Mad Party deck might be a good example with combination of "Dedenne GX","Crobat V","Polteageist","Professor's Research" etc.





Disrupt your enemy

Energy Shortage - Remove opponent energy
Keep hammering your opponent or use other cards, so that your opponent cannot do anything  due to shortage of energy.


Spoil their Hands - Reduce cards in opponent hand or replace with random card.
If your opponent use drawing strategy or card caller, you can reduce or replace your opponent hand to block the opponent combo or or counter. Common uses cards are "Marnie" and "N".


Keep them Stall - Continue using Sleep, Confused, Paralyzed
Using Special Condition like Sleep, Paralyzed or Confused can slow down opponent attack. Without a card to remove the conditions, your opponent have to take chance with coin flip or wait for another turn.


Go Away or Die - Using Poison or Burned
Poison and Burned do damage at the end of each turns. So if your opponent do not have card to remove the conditions, the Active Pokémon may have to withdraw to the bench before taking too much damage.


KO but No Prize - Let opponent KO your Pokémon but unable to get Prize Card
Substituted cards like Robo or Doll won't give the Prize when KOed. There also other card effects like "Black Market" that make your opponent get fewer Prize Card, so a 1-Prize Pokémon will give no prize when KOed.


7-Prize & 8-Prize deck - Opponent have to kill extra Pokémon
If your main Pokémon are all 2-Prize Card, you can have another 1-Prize Card Pokémon that you don't have to worry if it was KOed, then you can use it as a block. So to win the match, your opponent end up killing 2+2+1+2 = 7 prize. Or if your are 3-Prize Pokémon, then it will be 3+2+3 or 3+(1+1)+3 = 8 prize.


Improve your hand

Refill Your Hand - Draw for more
We get to draw a card every turns but usually we use more, so our hand diminish pretty fast. Without replenish what you have used, you will be at disadvantage. As a rookie trainer, you may have to rely on the "Draw 3 cards" like "Cheron" or "Hau". But when your card collection are bigger, it is better to choose a card with side effect over them. For example, "Bird Keeper" switch your Pokémon while give you another 3 cards. Or "Welder", attach Energy to your Pokémon and also give you 3 cards. Choose them wisely, then you don't have to worry about refilling your hand while keep up to your game plan. Also, card like "Professor's Research", if using as a last card in your hand, that will be fresh new 7 cards.


Replace Your Cards - Discard your hand or Shuffle back to your deck and get new cards
When constructing your deck, each cards should have its purpose. However, they not always in your hand at the right time. Or the situation is not right for cards in your hand. So replace them with new cards might give you a chance to improve the situation, providing there are other card in your deck that can do the job. Depend on your deck strategy, there quite a few  you can choose. "Professor's Research", discards your hand and give you 7 more. "Marnie" put your hand at the bottom of your deck, so you won't draw cards from your hand, also  your opponent. "N" or "Shauna", shuffle your deck first, so you may draw the card used to be in your hand.


Get the Right Cards - Which card will lead to winning road?
Try to understand what your opponent is doing. Do you have time to set up your attack? Or you have to defend first? Should you bring up more Pokémon to your bench or get Support to load up your big attack right now with your only Active? Do not forget that your opponent has his turn too. This game is a game of strategy, not just simply the lucky draw win the game.





A Great Big Combo is just a mixing several tactics together, one that required many step to create a large combo to achieve a great result. Somethings of a surprise to your opponent, leading to your win, upset your opponent, recover from bad situation etc. It may not be easy to pull out and not somethings happen regularly. The number of combos available would be limitless, considered more new cards in the future. 


To be able to use one, it is something you need to
- Learn from your experience.

- Familiar with your deck. 
- Know your enemy.
- Strategy prepare.
- And have luck with you.


I can only give you some case study.


Imagine the situation, you have "Mallow" and "Acro Bike" in your hand with "Metal Saucer"+"Metal Energy" in your deck. You also need one more energy for your Benched Zacian V for your last attack. So you start with "Over the Top" use Mallow to get you Metal Saucer and Metal Energy to the top of your deck. Follow by "Bury to Dig up", use Acro Bike put Metal Saucer to your hand and discard Metal Energy. Then use Metal Saucer to attach energy to your Zacian V, now you ready to do the last attack to win the game.


Ah wait, your Zacian V still on the benched, how you going to switch him to Active spot. How about "Retreat Switch" or "Return Switch" did you prepare for that from the last turn or enemy turn after he KO your other Pokémon.


What if you didn't have Mallow on your last turn, but Skyla. Then you "Calling the Card Caller", get Mallow to your hand for coming turn (in case you don't have better choice). What if your Mallow was in Discard Pile, then I hope you have a card like VS Seeker in your deck, if it not already in your hand.


Hmmm..... was that sound like a specific for the situation. Looking at just one game, yes it sound like that. But when you play like 1000 games, situation similar to this and many others will keep occurring. Once you know your move, know your deck and know your enemy, you can make your own incredible combos. Its all coming from just those basic tactics anyway. 




At the end, there are limitless of great combos for you to discover. So, "HAVE FUN"




Extra guide Panda way of Building a deck from scratch.....


Step 1: Choose the main cards for your deck


There a few choices people choose to start with
- their favorite Pokémon
- the strongest Pokémon already in their collection
- a Pokémon that good for their preferred strategy/style
- a Pokémon that might do well in versus/tournament

Step 2:Add coherent Pokémon


- That of the same type or sharing the same energy
- Utility Pokémon
- Additional support
- Matching Combo

Step 3:Add Trainers, Stadiums and Special Energy


No need to worry about 60-card limit, just add whatever you think it can be useful
- Summon you Pokémon
- Accelerate your energy
- Strengthen your Pokémon
- Improve your hand
- Disrupt your opponent
- Recovery situations
- Required for your combo

Step 4:Reduce your deck size


- Decide on your winning strategy
- Keep cards that required for your main action/combo
- Remove ones that not really important
- If you not certain on the card usefulness, keep one copy of it for now.
- Squeeze it down to around 45-50 cards, to make room for Basic energy.
- You may choose to add less Basic energy cards for now, if you really can't decide 
  on which cards to swap out. Or your deck not really rely on Basic energy

Step 5: Playtest your deck


There is a green "Test Deck" button in Deck Manager page.

- Has your deck a good balance between Pokémon/Trainer/Energy
- Do/How your combos work
- Does it have good synergy within the deck
- Practice to be familiar with your combos, so you not mess up on the real game

Step 6:Tune your deck


- Card that you want it on starting hand should be 4 copies
- Card that only needed on late game can be only 1 copies
- Apart from those could be 2-3 depends on usefulness
- Repeat step 5 and 6 until you have a bit of confidence or have no more ideas on what to do

Step 7:Test it in a real game


- How real opponents be, human trainers have far more advance and varies deck
- How your deck can do against other decks in general
- Is there interesting cards that you never know before
- Repeat step 6-5-7 until you have some ideas on your deck strength/weakness and what need to improve.

Step 8:Upgrade your deck and your collection



- Buying 500-tokens theme deck. If the cards you want is already in theme deck, it might be the cheapest way to get them.

- Buying 200-tokens booster. There are several cards with the same name but different skills, so be sure to double check if the booster contains the cards you looking for. 

- Trade with other trainers. The usual currency in-game are booster packs but cards-to-cards is also common.


Step 9:Start your adventure


You lead your own destiny.



Edited by PinkyPockyPanda
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