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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6. Blastoise

Screenshot of Base Set Blastoise from Pokemon TCG
Screenshot of Base Set Blastoise from Pokemon TCG. Courtesy of The Pokemon Company /

Gave Rain Dance Decks Their Name

Squirtle’s final evolution is one of the most iconic Pokemon of all time, and its first-ever printing in the Pokemon TCG certainly lived up that billing. While Charizard’s first TCG card still grabs headlines due to its high price point on the modern secondary market, Blastoise was the stronger, more impactful card competitively in the TCG’s early days due to its Pokemon Power: Rain Dance.

Rain Dance (which is where the powerful deck archetype got its name) allowed players to attach any number of water energy cards to their water-type ‘mons during their turn, which allowed for broken starts. Blastoise was so dominant, in fact, that many Rain Dance decks only included one or two Wartortles – instead relying on the card Pokemon Breeder to evolve Squirtle directly into Blastoise so they could quickly deal massive damage after using Rain Dance.

5. Alakazam

Screenshot of Base Set Alakazam from Pokemon TCG
Screenshot of Base Set Alakazam from Pokemon TCG. Courtesy of The Pokemon Company /

Damage Swap Deck Engine

One of the most infuriating deck archetypes of the Base Set era was Damage Swap. Much like Rain Dance, this archetype was built around another format-warping Pokemon Power – this time belonging to Abra’s final evolution, Alakazam.

While its stats (80 HP, a three-energy, 30-damage attack) aren’t incredible, Alakazam’s Pokemon Power: Damage Swap is where the card’s true power lied. Being able to shift damage counters around during your turn infinitely was massively powerful, especially when paired with high-HP ‘mons like the aforementioned Chansey or Lickitung (90 HP). Combine that with cards like Scoop Up and especially Pokemon Center (which allowed for all damage counters to be removed from your Pokemon at the cost of discarding energy from them), and you had the makings of a brutally effective stall deck in the TCG’s early days.