Guide to Creating a Standard Format Pokémon Deck in 2018

We’ve written a lot on how to improve your Pokémon TCG Gameplay, so another blog post on the subject may seem redundant. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

See, when it comes to Pokémon TCG, the cards in use change every year. This causes the decks and even the strategies to change. Examples of this can be seen in the introduction of EX cards, which heavily altered gameplay and strategies.

In addition to the changes in cards and therefore decks, there are multiple formats to play Pokémon TCG. This blog post will focus on the standard format specifically while our other posts have taken a more general approach.

So that’s why we’re writing yet another strategy/tips post. Let’s dive right in:

First, let’s talk meta.

Meta is a term that’ll be brought up a lot in this blog post. It’s basically an acronym for most effective tactic available. However it may be used to describe a popular card, deck or strategy. In this way, it’s used as an adjective and may sound like this: “Charizard EX isn’t a meta card at the moment, but the addition of new trainer cards could bring him back into the meta.”

With that defined, we can talk about Pokémon TCG’s meta going into 2018.

EX Pokémon Phasing Out

Previously, the meta revolved heavily around EX Pokémon, and specifically basic EX Pokémon. However, the cards introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon are gradually changing the meta. The new GX cards and focus on powerful evolutions are simply more effective than their basic EX counterparts.

Slower Gameplay

Another big change is the switch from a fast paced, attacker focused meta to a slower paced game. This change impacts several things and has resulted in:

  • Decreased effectiveness for drawing cards
  • Increased emphasis on Pokémon with evolutions vs basic Pokémon
  • A desire for increased sustain in strategies
  • A decreasing number of players willing to risk 2 prize card Pokémon.
  • And more.

One Hit KO’s Still King

Even though the game has slowed down, the value of Pokémon with one hit KO’s hasn’t decreased. Pokémon will still need to be chosen that can reliably knock out an opponent with one hit. It also means that you’ll need to factor in high damage attacks when thinking of your Pokémon’s HP.

Ability Heavy Decks

Another important part of the meta are abilities. Pokémon with abilities have and will continue to be popular in the new meta. This means that you’ll want to bring some abilities of your own, and Pokémon/items that can shut off your opponent’s abilities.

Building a Competitive Pokémon TCG Deck in 2018

When it comes to deck building, it’s a good idea to start with the primary Pokémon you want to use, then build a deck which supports them. We could discuss which Pokémon are popular, but you know the saying: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll never go hungry.”

So, we’re going to teach you how to pick a primary Pokémon. There are 3 things you’ll want to consider when choosing your primary Pokémon:

  1. Attacks (Damage. Energy Cost, and Effects)
  2. HP
  3. Abilities

Of course you’ll want to know more like retreat cost, but those factors aren’t important as the main three above.

Let’s start with attacks. You’re going to want your primary Pokémon to be able to dish out at least 210 damage or higher. (With modifiers and abilities included.) A 230 damage attack is ideal, with 250 damage being the best case scenario. With this level of damage, you should be able to KO decks that rely on Basic Pokémon easily while even posing a threat to evolution decks as well.

For your attack’s energy cost, you’ll want to keep things lower if possible. Colorless requirements can also be a life saver helping you to power up your attacks sooner. The meta may be slower gameplay, but that doesn’t mean you want to wait several turns to dish out damage. Another thing to consider is discarding energy attacks popular in fire Pokémon. These aren’t necessarily bad as supporters and items can overcome their effects, but it means you’ll need to increase energy draw/recover energy from your discard pile.

Lastly, you’ve got attack effects. This can include status effects, disruption effects, (like moving a Pokémon to a bench and discarding energy) or damage effects. Damage effects are always great and in current meta are highly valued. Status effects haven’t been meta for a while, but disruption effects are always welcome.

Next, you’ve got HP. This one’s simple. Pick Pokémon that have 250 HP (with or without items/abilities). This level of HP will protect your from most OHKO’s (one hit knock out’s). However, know that it’s not totally safe.

Lastly we’ve got abilities. These are meta at the moment, and you’d need to have a good reason to not pick a Pokémon with a good ability. Abilities are like attack effects, but they can be used independent of the attacks. There are similar categories with disruption, damage, and more.

The thing to keep in mind with primary Pokémon is these 3 key traits. Whether you aim for a balance or specialize in certain traits is up to you however. Once you’ve gotten 1-3 main Pokémon chosen, pick other Pokémon, trainer cards, and energy cards to support those. There’s a reason most decks are named after one or two Pokémon!


The meta is changing every year, and while this tips will help you build a competitive deck in 2018, they won’t necessarily translate over to 2019 or beyond. That’s why one of the best tips for Pokémon TCG players is to constantly read about the game and it’s meta as well as watch matches on YouTube.

Any tips of your own? Share them in the comments below!