Pokemon TCG: 10 Strongest Cards From Base Set

The Pokemon TCG has changed considerably over the years, but these 10 Base Set cards dominated in its early days and set the stage for the game’s future.
Pokemon TCG artwork
Pokemon TCG artwork /
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The Pokemon Trading Card Game’s Base Set released in January of 1999, bringing the genre of collectible card games and trading card games into the homes of fans of the Pokemon animated TV series and mainline Game Boy games. The TCG’s first set featured some of the most popular and iconic cards in the game’s history – many of which still hold huge monetary and nostalgic value for Pokemon fans the world over.

While the Pokemon TCG has experienced significant “power creep” over the years (the phenomenon of cards in card games becoming stronger over time to keep longtime fans interested and invested), Base Set featured a number of impressively powerful cards that have stood the test of time. Let’s explore the strongest cards from Pokemon TCG’s Base Set!

10. Charizard

Screenshot of Base Set Charizard Pokemon TCG
Screenshot of Base Set Charizard Pokemon TCG. Courtesy of The Pokemon Company /

Legendary, Iconic and Powerful

Perhaps the most famous Pokemon TCG card of all time, the first appearance in the TCG of Charmander’s final evolution was an instantly iconic card for multiple reasons. First, it featured the highest hit points (HP) of any ‘mon in the TCG, and it also boasted the strongest overall attack: its Fire Spin did a whopping 100 damage!

Both its hit points and massive attack made it hugely popular, but it was also the striking, action-packed Mitsuhiro Arita artwork that made this card a chase rare when Base Set was released over 25 years ago. Still boasting an enormous price tag on the secondary market, Charizard is just as impressive now as it was in 1999.

9. Chansey

Screenshot of Base Set Chansey Pokemon TCG
Screenshot of Base Set Chansey Pokemon TCG. Courtesy of The Pokemon Company /

Damage Swap Deck All-Star With Massive HP

Putting the two ‘mons with the highest HP at the time back-to-back might seem odd, but it does make sense. Since most Pokemon attacks were not doing huge chunks of damage at a time, ‘mons with high hit points were always going to be quite powerful in the early days of the TCG.

In the case of Chansey, tacking 120 hit points on a basic Pokemon (not an evolution one) meant that this card could be abused in the Damage Swap deck archetype that was dominant during Base Set’s heyday (more on that later). With its whopping HP and an attack that could nullify an opposing ‘mon’s attack with the winning of a coin flip, Chansey was a brick wall (“Brick House?”) in the TCG’s Base Set.