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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8. Gyarados

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

Extremely Powerful Finisher For Rain Dance Decks

We all know the story of Gyarados. An incredibly powerful Pokemon paired with one of the most useless and – in the parlance of the actual Pokemon Game Boy games – pathetic pre-evolutions in existence. That statement is also true in the TCG, but, just like in the actual mainline games, the pay-off of evolving Magikarp into Gyarados is definitely worth it.

Gyarados boasts 100 hit points and two extremely potent attacks that do at least 40 damage, with one having the possibility of paralyzing your foe’s Pokemon. Sure, Gyarados runs exclusively on water-type energy, but if you’re playing a Rain Dance deck that employs Blastoise (more on this powerful ‘mon later), that was a non-issue.

7. Hitmonchan

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

Jab Your Way To Victory In Haymaker Decks

The best competitive deck that emerged after the release of Base Set was Haymaker. This archetype revolved around high-HP basic Pokemon, such as Electabuzz and Hitmonchan – both of whom had strong one-energy attacks as well as a higher-upside multi-energy attack.

In the case of Hitmonchan, its Jab attack did 20 damage for only one fighting energy, which was an impressive rate when the card debuted. Furthermore, it had an impressive 70 hit points and a three-energy attack that did 40 damage. All of this added up to a strong basic ‘mon that served as an anchor for the utterly dominant Haymaker deck.