Deck Information for New Players
Players MUST play with a deck of Pokémon cards that meets the EXPANDED Format deck requirements.
A Pokémon deck must meet certain requirements in order to be "tournament legal". A Pokémon deck should have 60 cards which conform with the current "EXPANDED FORMAT". This format limits the cards that are playable. Furthermore, there are other restrictions and limitations on quantities of cards that can go in a deck. (More information on this below).
Furthermore, these TWO cards have been BANNED, and are NOT allowed:
- Shiftry from Next Destinies 72/99 BANNED
- Lysandre's Trump Card from Phantom Forces 99/119 BANNED
Below is a chart of all the sets included in the EXPANDED FORMAT, so ALL cards in these sets are playable EXCEPT the cards mentioned above.
A quick and easy way to tell if your card is allowed, is to look at the symbol on the bottom right of your card. If it's on this chart, that card is good! You may use it.
Sometimes, if a card has a different symbol, it may still be allowed IF that card is has been reprinted in one of the current sets. This is a little more advanced, and requires that you go through a list of reprinted cards. So, for this beginner guide, we'll stick to the use of this chart.
With the exception of those basic Energy cards, you must NOT have more than four of each card, or more than four of each Pokémon (even if they are different cards) in your deck. Pokémon are considered the same if they have the same name printed on the card. It doesn't matter if they have different pictures/text/set symbols.
This limit also applies to Special (non-basic) Energy Cards. as well as Trainers/Stadiums/Supporters. Note that Special Energies are the Energies that have text on them (giving information about what the card/Energy does). You can have as many Basic Energy cards as you want in your deck. Side note, Basic energies have no writing on them.
Building a Legal Pokémon Deck
Your Pokémon deck MUST meet the following specifications:
Your deck MUST contain 60 cards.
EXACTLY 60 cards. NO more, NO less.
The cards in your deck must meet the EXPANDED Format requirement. The chart above lists the sets currently included in the EXPANDED Format.
You may have as many Basic Energy cards as you want in your deck. Basic Energy cards are the plain Energy cards that have no text on them. With the exception of those Basic Energy cards, you must NOT have more than four of each card. This limit also applies to Special (non-basic) Energy Cards. Special Energy Cards are the Energy Cards that have text on them (giving information about what the card/Energy does). You can have as many Basic Energy cards as you want in your deck, but ONLY 4 of each Special Energy. Trainers, Supporters, Stadiums, etc. are also limited to only 4 per card.
Pokémon (character) cards are also limited to four of each Pokémon (even if they are different cards). Pokémon are considered the same if they have the same name printed on the card. It doesn't matter if they have different pictures, text/attacks, set symbols/numbers.
Novelty cards like the World Championship Cards, or other cards sold as "Not Tournament Legal" are not allowed. Some of these cards (like the World Championships cards) have a different backing and grey borders on the front, clearly noticable from front & back. Good for playing-with and learning at home BUT not allowed in tournaments.
Foreign cards are not allowed in play. The foreign cards are fun to collect and trade but you cannot play them.
While it's fairly simple to put together 60 cards that meet the above rules, there's a lot of planning and strategy that goes into building a good deck. A young or new player may benefit from starting off with a Preconstructed Theme Deck. We recommend these because they come with everything you need, including a 60-card deck, an instruction book, etc.
Buying a Preconstructed Theme Deck
Purchasing a Theme Deck (one that's already built and ready for play) will ensure that the deck conforms to Pokémon deck specifications, but you must pay attention to the deck's name, as NOT all theme decks are playable in today's tournament format. Before you buy one, make sure that the theme deck is from a set listed in the chart above.
Look for these decks where Pokémon cards are sold. They usually come in small boxes sealed in plastic. Look at the back of the box, and check to the listed contents to make sure that it comes with 60 cards, a coin, instruction book, etc. A Preconstructed Theme Deck comes with all these things and are ready for play!
Additional Tip for Parents
If buying preconstructed theme decks for multiple children, buy different sets (There are a lot of sets to choose from). Access to different sets and cards expands a child's exposure to the game. Similarly, if mom or dad are learning to play the game too, try to get a different deck also.
Children learn better and quicker when they practice at home! Having your very own deck allows you to play at home and become familiar with your cards.
Using a "Loaner Deck"
We will have "loaner decks" at some of our larger events. Players who arrive without cards, or without a proper deck, may borrow a loaner deck for use at the event. There is no cost for this. See the Pokémon Regionals Information Desk.
There will also be NEW Preconstructed Theme Decks available for sale at the event, should you wish to purchase your own.
Information is subject to change. For the most complete set of rules and information regarding the Pokémon Trading Card Game, please see visit pokemon.com.
In case of a discrepancy between the information on this site and the information on the pokemon.com, the information on pokemon.com will take precedence.
Supplies are available "while supplies