Pokémon TCG Deck
Image: Mahin Kesore / Nintendo Life

Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they've been chewing over. Today, Mahin laments the loss of a treasured deck, and recounts his quest to build it anew. For real, this time...

There was once a time I was doing moderately alright at the Pokémon TCG Online game, taking down EX and GX cards with a tactic that nullified those types, which were mainstays in many decks. Now, all that’s left is a broken deck. A family of Pokémon torn apart for the sake of capitalism where the motto isn’t 'gotta catch 'em all' but 'gotta keep buying the new ones'. This is an ode to my long lost Pokémon Deck from Pokémon TCG Online, caught in the crossfire of the new migration system to Pokémon TCG Live.

I had titled this deck 'Tropical Storm' as it utilised a lot of cards from the Alola region, like Alolan Exegutor, Alolan Ninetails and Alolan Sandlash. It also had a sprinkle of cards from the Black and White series. Pokémon from my deck like Accelgor and Escavalier were deemed too old and not brought over to the new game. A lot of these cards I used in the older online game came from a QR code found in the real-life theme deck I had. My only hope now is to use my physical cards and go face-to-face with real-life Pokémon trainers in the hopes that I have what it takes to stand tall against players who’ve had years of experience and money to burn on the latest cards.

Pokémon TCG Shock
Image: The Pokémon Company

However, I’m still determined to fight against the odds and resurrect my deck, which has the disadvantage of using cards from a set that came out in 2011.

A Week Later

So, yeah … about sticking to my guns and making my old deck again. I've very quickly realised that isn’t a very viable way to get anywhere with the beast that is the Pokémon Trading Card Game. I’ve since made a load of new friends from my nearest Pokémon card shop, Bath TCG and here are my findings.

One of my favourite cards in my deck, Alolan Ninetales, has an ability that meant GX and EX Pokémon couldn’t harm it, which is incredible now that EX cards are making a return … or so I thought. After creating a deck quite close to my older online one and heading to my first event, I'm told my Ninetales' ability is now null and void. It’s in fact 'ex' cards that are all the rage now and not the ancient and forgotten 'EX' cards.

How silly I looked as the cogs immediately started turning in my head to decide how to fix my now broken deck built around a mechanic that seemingly doesn’t exist anymore.

To make matters worse, another beloved card of mine, Accelgor, was now way too weak to be considered a good option. You’ll be glad to know that Alolan Exeggutor is one of the staples of my original deck that has stayed in and I’m trying my best to stay afloat with an Alolan-themed deck. Yes, a deck based on the Sun and Moon sets, which in my mind only appeared last year. In reality, these cards came out roughly six years ago in 2017-ish. With Gen-Z Pokémon trainers in my sights, I’m determined to show these kids up and teach them that old school is the only school!

And by that, I mean Generation VII from 2017.

Another Week Later

So, yeah … about showing these kids how it’s done… I’m now realising the pool of different Pokémon decks is much smaller than I once thought.

I’ve dabbled in Magic The Gathering in the past and one of my favourite things about that series was how different everyone’s decks are and what it says about the person. A cyberpunk Japanese mech-inspired deck, a deck about a bunch of vampires having a wedding where the bride and groom are also on the dinner plate, a Cabaret-style 1950s crime family full of monsters that love to party deck. All such creative themes and strong decks when paired with the right cards.

Unlike Pokémon where the two sets I saw repeated were the 'Lost Zone' decks, which centred around Giratina, Sableye, Comfey and Cramorant, and a Chein-Pao / Baxcalibur deck. The Giratina one revolved around getting cards into your Lost Zone, which then made your Pokémon’s abilities stronger and the Chein-Pao one made getting energy cards onto your Pokémon a cinch. Both are incredibly strong decks that my tropical Pokémon who are used to sunbathing on the sunny islands of Alola are not accustomed to.

However, after taking on foe after foe — who quickly turned into friends — before I knew it, I was actually having a lot of fun. I may not have been winning too many matches but holding my own and doing decently with a deck incorporating strategy as well as sticking to a theme was well worth all the effort.

Decked Out

Pokémon TCG Deck
Image: Mahin Kesore / Nintendo Life

To me, the Pokémon series is about what the Pocket Monsters on your team say about you as a person, but I understand that the competitive scene is just about that — being competitive. New cards are constantly being printed that put last season's cards to shame, so it’s always a constant race to see who can splurge on the newest cards first. Naturally, my Alolan deck never stood a chance, but to be able to see my Pokemon in play, doing semi-decently in such a tough TCG game, and managing to stay afloat gave me a sense of pride. And who knows how close we are to seeing some of my favourite Alolan Pokemon in the spotlight again in a future set.

I still had a lot of fun getting into the real-life Pokémon TCG in my own way and it wouldn’t have been as much fun if the trainers behind the Pokémon weren’t so lovely and welcoming. So whether you’re looking to blow some cash to climb the ranks of competitive play or just want to use your favourite ‘mons and collect shinies, there’s no wrong way to get into the Pokemon TCG.

Have you ever played Pokémon TCG? Have you tried to rebuild your deck? Share your memories of your collection in the comments.