The Ultimate Guide to Building a Pokemon Deck

Anyone can pull a shiny rare ex card from the latest hobby cases, but it takes a real fan to know what goes into strategizing a great Pokemon deck. Whether you’re already an enthusiast or someone just looking to get into the game, this guide is all you need to know how to build a Pokemon deck.

Master The Basics

Every great Pokemon deck strategy starts from the basics. Master the fundamentals of this TCG, and you’ll be the strongest trainer in any tournament room.

Card Types

Broadly speaking, there are dozens upon dozens of different Pokemon card types. However, for the sake of simplicity, we can divide them into 3 sections: Pokemon, Trainers, and Energy cards.


These are the cards you first think of when you’re planning on building a Pokemon deck. There are two key types of Pokemon cards: No rulebox and rulebox.

No rulebox Pokemon are the ones you might remember from back in the day. Simple, usually boasting a few primary colors, and with basic abilities that generally don’t change the game up too much. Unremarkable as they might be, most of your Pokemon will belong to this category and capitalizing on their simple movesets can help you win the vast majority of your matches.

Rulebox Pokemon cards are the leaders of your deck. How you build a Pokemon deck later on will often revolve around the rulebox Pokemon in your collection. Keep in mind that there are also multiple subtypes of rulebox Pokemon, with new ones coming out alongside every new hobby case release. If you’ve been following the latest Paradox Rift release, you’ll be familiar with the Iron Hands and new Ex cards.

Tons of collectors fall into the FOMO trap, trying to maximize their Pokemon deck strategy from day 1 by running after the rarest rulebox cards. Don’t make that expensive mistake! Even basic Pokemon V rulebox cards can be deceptively powerful. Pikachu V, for example, can wreak a surprising amount of havoc if you have a few energy cards lying around.


This one can be confusing if you’re new to building Pokemon decks. Trainers work as more of a ‘catch-all’ category, covering card types like items and stadiums. As vague as they might sound, mastering these cards is a crucial part of how to build a Pokemon deck. For instance, even an unassuming card like the Battle Compressor can drastically shake up your game by allowing you to shuffle your cards and discard up to 3 cards that you don’t need. If you need help finding the best trainer cards, the Scarlet and Violet collection has a few great ones!


These cards give your main attackers the fuel they need to win the game. Without energy, you can’t really use your best abilities. This naturally means that most rookies end up putting way more energy cards into their decks than they really need – an easily avoidable trap. Take a look at your key players before deciding how many energy cards you need when building a Pokemon deck. Generally, most players will have between 8-10 of these cards.

Build a Standard Deck

The standard Pokemon TCG deck has 60 cards, and it’s up to you to determine the best possible breakup of Pokemon/Trainer/Energy cards in that deck. If you have no idea how to build a Pokemon deck, we would recommend going with 22 Pokemon cards, 28 trainers, and 10 energy cards. Collection boxes from older drops like Pokemon 151 have a great mix of cards and are great for new collectors.

scarlet & violet 151 ultra premium collection

As a beginner, you can look up pretty much any meta deck online and copy that completely, achieving acceptable results if you have a hang of the basics. We would, however, recommend trying to build your own deck with the cards you already have at hand. You’ll learn a lot more by experimenting and seeing your deck’s limitations in real time.

As a general rule, you’ll want to start by picking your main attackers when building a Pokemon deck. Primary attackers like Charizard Ex, found in the Obsidian Flames boxes, form the foundation of your Pokemon deck strategy. You can augment these cards by selecting items and energy cards that synergize with them.

Go Off-Meta

Once you know how to create a basic Pokemon deck, you’re all set to test it out against your friends and at trading card tournaments. You’ll slowly see what works and what doesn’t, giving you the room to think outside the box and try out wild new combinations. As fun as going off-meta is, it’s also quite the formidable strategy for building a strong deck, as it’s pretty unlikely that your opponents will have a plan ready.

pokemon lost origin card case

Ready to build a Pokemon deck that stands out? Take the odd anti-ability deck that some people are building with Aerodactyl GX from the Lost Origins collection. This deck allows you to pretty much nullify all of your opponent's abilities if played right. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s a great time.

Become The Ultimate Trainer

As far as TCGs go, this one’s novelty comes from the fun balance between learning how to build a Pokemon deck and trying to adjust to the new meta when a new Pokemon box comes along. As you’re building your collection, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the journey! If you need help finding that one elusive single card or if you’re trying to pre-order the best Pokemon hobby cases, head over to Skybox Collectibles to find everything you need all in one place.