The Joy of Deck-Building in the Pokemon Trading Card Game


Building a deck from scratch is the most difficult task that any player of the Pokemon Trading Card Game will face. For the most part, you can skip this step entirely. Newcomers are usually guided through the early stages of their careers with pre-made decks from The Pokemon Company. Once they get familiar with the game, it’s usually best to simply use resources like Limitless TCG and build copies of decks that have performed well in tournaments. If it works for the pros who have done all the legwork, it should work for you too, right?

Nevertheless, the itch to create my own deck grew as I got more comfortable with the game. Most of my earlier efforts to create a deck were trainwrecks. Part of that came from me not having the best cards, but most of my early failures stemmed from not knowing how to truly build a cohesive deck rather than just a collection of cards. My earliest decks were stacked with V and VMAX cards and yet I’d still get destroyed because my decks didn’t have a clear game plan to follow.

After months of fumbling my way through the process, I may have finally turned a corner.

One of the resources that helped was this video from OmniPoke. Here, they spotlighted their example of a Zacian/Inteleon deck. Despite how “simple” it is, the deck works because it’s built with a focused plan. Zacian acts as the deck’s primary attacker. Quick Shooting Inteleon can squeeze out a few extra damage points to push past any remaining health. Then the other Inteleons can use their Shady Dealings abilities to summon trainer cards almost at will.

The above video from The Pokemon Company better articulated how to build a cohesive deck. Instead of stacking my deck with whatever strong Pokemon I have, I should build decks around a hero or gameplay concept. Using the video’s example, they built a deck that focused on Samurott as the main attacker. To support Samurott, the deck featured Rare Candy cards to help it evolve faster, Frosmoth to attach energy faster, and Keldeo GX to act as a wall while Samurott sets up.

With the help of these resources, I tried to theory-craft a more focused deck. Starting with a hero, I chose you, Pikachu!

 

Over the past few months, I have cobbled together a full play set of Pikachu V cards and a pair of Pikachu VMAX. Both versions of Pikachu can hit for incredibly-high damage at the cost of unloading all of its energy. Having to reload after each move made Pikachu V and VMAX a non-starter for me.

Then the latest set – Evolving Skies – hit the scene. While many are fawning over the inclusion of Rayquaza and the Eeveeloutions, Flaaffy might actually be the most meta-relevant Pokemon of the set. Its Dynamotor ability allows it to attach an energy from the discard pile to any Pokemon on the bench. If you have multiple Flaaffy, you get multiple attachments.

As it stands, most of the conversation revolves around pairing Flaaffy with Rayquaza. It makes perfect sense, as Flaaffy can attach all of the energy dropped by the active Pokemon onto a Rayquaza on the bench. However, I didn’t have the luxury of possessing four Rayquaza V and four Rayquaza VMAX at the time. Can Pikachu work as a substitute?

Based on my testing, yes!

The general concept of the deck is to have a Pikachu VMAX always ready to hit for 270. Starting with one in the active space and one on the bench, the active Pikachu unleashes a devastating Volt Tackle. On the next turn, Flaaffy attaches the discarded energy to a benched Pikachu. Then, using balloons and switches, the charged Pikachu is then moved into the active to strike again. Simply repeat this process until I shock my opponent into submission!

Early versions of this deck included Memory Capsules and Boltund V. Coincidentally (?), other major Pokemon TCG content creators started making videos about Pikachu VMAX after I made the deck and streamed it. While I highly doubt that I’m truly the pioneer of the idea, it was great to know that I was onto something by virtue of them following my “lead”. After watching their videos, I cribbed a few ideas from them to make my deck even better.

With the release of Pikachu V-Union, I have made a modified version of the deck to accommodate. Though it can be a real struggle to get the V-Union on the field, the army of 25 Pikachu spread out across four cards can electrify the battlefield in epic fashion!

This is by no means a meta-defining deck. Odds are, this isn’t even the best possible form of this deck. Nevertheless, I’m proud to have made a deck that has a clear focus and performs well. It’s also one of my favourite decks to play!

Furthermore, based on my testing, I’ve won a surprising number of games with it while even taking down some of the more notable decks at the moment. If they can’t shut down Pikachu early enough, it can become incredibly difficult to stop this runaway mouse going at full force!

With the rate at which the pros are constantly breaking down the game and providing their recommendations for decks, you don’t really need to engage with architecting your own deck from scratch. You can do just fine by mimicking what they do. But if you’re willing to take the plunge, there’s a ton of fun to be had crafting your own deck and winning on your own terms.


Just in case you’re interested in building my Chonkychu deck, below is the deck list!

Chonkychu Deck List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon – 18

* 1 Kricketune V BST 6
* 4 Mareep CRE 47
* 3 Pikachu V PR-SW 61
* 1 Pikachu V PR-SW 63
* 1 Regieleki EVS 60
* 1 Tapu Koko V SSH 72
* 4 Flaaffy EVS 55
* 3 Pikachu VMAX VIV 44

##Trainer Cards – 32

* 2 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 4 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 1 Cheryl BST 123
* 4 Marnie SSH 200
* 3 Switch SUM 132
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 3 Boss’s Orders RCL 189
* 3 Stormy Mountains EVS 161
* 4 Level Ball BST 129
* 4 Professor’s Research CPA 62

##Energy – 10

* 10 Lightning Energy SWSHEnergy 4

Total Cards – 60


Also, if you’re looking for a starting point for a Pikachu V-Union deck, try mine out!

25 Chonky Bois Deck List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon – 18

* 3 Mareep CRE 47
* 2 Pikachu V PR-SW 61
* 1 Pikachu V PR-SW 63
* 1 Regieleki EVS 60
* 1 Tapu Koko V SSH 72
* 3 Flaaffy EVS 55
* 2 Pikachu VMAX VIV 188
* 1 Galarian Articuno V CRE 58
* 1 Pikachu V-UNION PR-SW 139
* 1 Pikachu V-UNION PR-SW 140
* 1 Pikachu V-UNION PR-SW 141
* 1 Pikachu V-UNION PR-SW 142

##Trainer Cards – 32

* 2 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 2 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 1 Cheryl BST 123
* 3 Marnie SSH 200
* 3 Switch SUM 132
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 3 Boss’s Orders RCL 189
* 2 Stormy Mountains EVS 161
* 3 Level Ball BST 129
* 4 Professor’s Research CPA 62
* 1 Professor Burnet PR-SW 167
* 3 Great Ball SSH 164
* 1 Zinnia’s Resolve EVS 164

##Energy – 10

* 10 Lightning Energy SWSHEnergy 4

Total Cards – 60


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