Pokemon TCG: Five Strongest Decks from Base Set to Fossil Era

Rain Dance, Haymaker, Damage Swap and more! Shuffle up and explore these five strongest decks from the Pokemon Trading Card Game’s early years.
Pokemon Trading Card Game. Courtesy of The Pokemon Company
Pokemon Trading Card Game. Courtesy of The Pokemon Company /
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Stall Screenshot of Jungle Lickitung from Pokemon TCG
Pokemon Trading Card Game. Courtesy of The Pokemon Company /


Effective And Devious With Multiple Methods Of Play

A fairly nebulous deck concept but one that was nonetheless rather effective, the Stall deck saw a plethora of different setups during the TCG’s early years, but one of the main cards that helped push it to the top of the metagame was Lickitung from the Jungle expansion.

A 90-HP basic Pokemon with a one-energy attack that could paralyze your opponent’s active Pokemon was nearly impossible to defeat one-on-one in the early days of the TCG. Another card from Jungle, Kangaskhan, was yet another basic Pokemon with 90 HP and a one-energy move, but this time it was a non-damaging attack that allowed you to simply draw a card – which was also hugely powerful.

While those cards were often the most popular in early stall builds, the Fossil set unveiled both Aerodactyl and Muk – cards that directly hosed both Rain Dance and Damage Swap strategies. Aerodactyl’s Pokemon Power: Prehistoric Power said that no more evolution cards could be played, and Muk’s Pokemon Power: Toxic Gas shut off all other Pokemon Powers except for its own. Aerodactyly, in particular, was massively strong, as even non-competitive decks would suffer greatly from not being able to play evolution cards.

Of course, one can’t mention a stall deck without discussing Base Set Mewtwo. If one wanted to play a truly chaotic evil Stall deck, they could simply play a deck that featured a single Mewtwo and 59 psychic energy cards. This would be an effective strategy thanks to Mewtwo’s Barrier Attack, which prevented all effects of an opposing Pokemon’s attacks (including damage) at the cost of discarding a psychic energy from Mewtwo. While not an extremely entertaining way to play the TCG, it was a nonetheless effective (and devious) way to play in the game’s early days.