Every good deck will lose some games. It is going to happen. But just how do you build a deck to win most of the time? What are some of the key foundations in building a good, solid, winning deck? There is a lot of differences in opinion on this, but after playing the game since the early days of 1999 and both playing in tournaments and judging tournaments, I've noticed a few things that seem consistent in the winning decks. I've outlined those here. Before you submit your deck to a mechanic to fix... try fixing it on your own with this article. You then might get the mechanic you submit to to simply say 'Great Job!' and post your deck for all the world to see!

12-18 Basic Pokemon

Why 12-18 basic pokemon? And is there any exceptions to this? Yes, there are exceptions. Most notably of these is Rain Dance, which uses maybe 8 basic pokemon and tries to speed through their deck in the first couple of turns to get out a Blastoise... but most decks aren't this fast and don't draw that many cards. Yet, you still need to be able to reliably pull a pokemon from your deck when your bench is empty and your active is about to be KO'd! So why 12-18? Where did I get that number from? Playtesting. I've built hundreds of decks over the past year and have reviewed and helped with hundreds more. Solid decks seem to use 14-15 basic pokemon and do very well. But, occasionally, people play stall decks or decks with large HP pokemon and can get away with 12... and then on the other end of the spectrum, are those that want to get a lot of basic pokemon, either for Wigglytuff or because they have a lot of low HP basics... and they do best with upwards of 18 basics. Not a rule in this article exists without lots and lots of testing. Try it out in some decks for yourself and learn what many others already have!

20 Basic Energy & 4 Double Colorless

Why so little? The starter decks average around 28-30 energy in them! Because of trainers. Every deck should play with Bills, Professor Oaks, Gamblers, Computer Searches, Energy Searches, Energy Retrievals, or any number of other cards that help you move through your deck quicker. As a result, you can play with less energy than what the starter decks start you with, because you'll be drawing more than 1 card per turn on average. Great! But why 20/4? First of all, we are limited to only play with 4 Double Colorless Energies, because it is not a basic energy card and DCI explicitly forbids more than 4 cards of any one name except for _basic energy_. Double Colorless Energy (aka DCE) is one of the most useful energy cards in the game, because it provides 2 colorless energy. One important thing to note is that this card ONLY provides colorless energy, which means it can only be used for costs with the white * symbol. It can't provide 2 'fighting' or 'psychic' energy, for instance. The problem that many people have with this card is the understanding of the reversal. You can use any energy to pay for a white * (put a psychic energy on Kangaskhan and you CAN do fetch), but you can't use the white * energy to pay for a color (put a DCE on Hitmochan and it CAN'T do Jab, unless you get some Fighting Energy on it). So why 20 basic energy? Again... playtesting. I've seen an occasional deck do well with 18, and some as high as 22. But a good balance seems to be about 20 basic energy.

Good Trainers to Finish the Deck

What are good trainers and what are bad trainers? If you come right down to it... the best definition is a good trainer is one that helps your deck do what it needs to to win, whereby a bad trainer is one that doesn't help your deck or may even hurt your deck! Most decks, again there are exceptions, you can use the following table to determine a good trainer from a bad trainer (note: trainers listed below are Base Set -> Fossil).

Good Trainers: Bad Trainers:
Computer Search
Item Finder
Pokemon Breeder
Pokemon Trader
Scoop Up
Super Energy Removal
Energy Retrieval
Plus Power
Pokemon Center
Professor Oak
Super Potion
Energy Removal
Gust of Wind
Mr. Fuji
Energy Search
Mysterious Fossil
Clefairy Doll
Devolution Spray
Imposter Professor Oak
Full Heal
Pokemon Flute

Occasionally, some of those I have listed in the bad trainer column end up being a key element of a deck and then become a good trainer... and vice versa. This table is by no means the final say on what trainers you should put in your deck and which ones you shouldn't, but it is a good starting point for new players. If you have some trainers from the right column in your deck, try swapping those out for something from the left column and see if your deck plays better. Particularly, note how I capitalized, bolded, and exclamation marked Bill above. Undoubtedly the best common card in the game. Try to make use of 4 of these in every deck you build. I even play with 4 of them in my stall decks!

Best of luck to all of you in your pursuits to build the ultimate deck. I hope these words bring you a little bit of insight into building solid, tournament worthy decks.