Deck-Building 101: Pokemon Types
Hey everyone. I’ve figured I’ve rambled on enough in these things about Magic decks for a while, so I figured I’d tackle the topic of Pokemon deck construction. For those of you that might actually not be familiar with it, the Pokemon trading card game came out waaaaaaay back in 1998 for the US. Pokemon was originally published through Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes Magic: the Gathering, and now through the Pokemon company. This is a good first trading card game for kids starting around the age of 8 or so. It requires a basic reading ability, and there is a good amount of math involved when it comes to adding up damage and dealing with simple calculations for resistance, etc.
I’ll admit that I’m no expert when it comes to all of the new rules, sets, and fancy things with the new Pokemon, but back in the day of the original sets, I was really into it. So today I’d like to just talk a little about figuring out what types you want to use in your deck. Nothing fancy, but there’s a few different options and methods of going about this. First, let’s go about what types are available for you to choose from!
First, you have Leaf or Green energy which relates to bug, grass, and poison type pokemon in the game. Pokemon in this type tend to have more status effect attacks. Common ones are Poisonpowder, Stun Spore, and Hypnosis, among others. Most of these require you to flip a coin to see if the opponent’s pokemon will fall to the status effect.
Then there’s Fire or Red energy which covers the fire types in the game. These pokemon have the ability to burn your opponent’s pokemon as well as abilities that allow you to discard a fire energy in order to use a strong attack in order to deal the most damage.
Up next is fire’s natural enemy, Water or Blue energy. These are your water or ice types. Some have abilities like smokescreen in order to nullify your opponent’s next attack, or things like fury swipes where you flip coins in order to do multiple “attacks” and more damage.
After water, there’s Lightning or Yellow energy, the electric types of the bunch. Thunder wave and other paralyzing mechanics are common here. Lightning pokemon can deal a lot of damage really quick, and most have a lot of HP. Anyway, who wouldn’t love to use many different copies of Pikachu in their deck? I know I have at least 5 different ones, so there are a lot of variations with just that one card name. Though that’s true of at least a couple pokemon of each energy (like Psyduck for water or geodude for fighting).
That leads us to Psychic or Purple energy. Psychic types and ghosts live here. They can confuse you, put your pokemon to sleep, and just be really mean if used properly. There aren’t too many of this type, but those that exist can be a lot of fun.
Fighting or Brown/Orange is next, and these are your fighting, rock, or ground types in the game. These guys have low HP in the basic forms, but they quickly gain experience as they evolve. They hit heavy, and it can be hard to get through their defenses unless you have some choice grass-types, which most fighting types are susceptible to.
Darkness/Black types and Metal/Silver types were introduced later in the game’s presence with Gold and Silver. They cover the dark and steel types introduced in the game. Metal types are a lot like fighting types in that they have high HP and big attacks. Dark types are just plain mean, kind of like psychic types if you want to compare them.
Last but not least, we have the Colorless/White type of energy, which is all of your normal, flying, or dragon type pokemon from the game. These guys are pretty versatile in that they can go with any deck because they can use any type of energy to attack. They can also do many different things and are just fun. They’re like they are in the game: good at a lot of things, but not great at any one thing in particular.
Now that we know a little more about the types we have available in the game, we can get down to deciding which ones we want to use in our decks. There’s three ways I consider approaching this when I sit down to deck build for fun.
1. What types do you have the most of: This is the easiest and most obvious method. What cards do you have the most of? What energy types do you have a lot of? This involves just sitting down to a hopefully well-organized collection and seeing what stacks are the biggest. The more cards you have of any given type, the more likely you are to have some really great things and good support within that type. Remember that you can mix types, and Normal types become useful in any situation.
2. What types work well together: Some types, like grass and fighting, just work really well together. I ran a really nice “Earth” deck where I took my best grass and best fighting types to make something awesome. With the status effects in grass and big hits in fighting, it was nice to find some synergy there. Other combinations, like fire and electric or psychic and grass, come with some great combos that are nice to work with and pretty easy to get. This is a harder method to work with as it requires a lot of thinking and strategy before you even put the deck on the field.
3. What do you like: This is the method I use the most, to be honest. I love fire-types, always have, so I like trying to work with those. Since my collection is a lot smaller than it was 10 years ago, I don’t have as many to work with, so I apply the first method afterward. If you’re lucky, you might have a large amount of the type(s) you like and can work with just those. If not, then find something you like less (like grass for me) and see how that might work with what you already have.
Remember that once you have the pokemon you want, you still need to add in trainer cards and supporter cards. Think of these as your items and support in the game, like instants/enchantments/sorceries in Magic: the Gathering. The cards you add here should compliment your chosen pokemon’s strengths and prevent the weaknesses. If your pokemon have high retreat costs, you might want to consider using things like Double Gust, which allows you to switch out the pokemon in play. Gambler and Professor Oak are great if you want to make sure you have plenty of cards. If your pokemon are strong, why not make them stronger with PlusPower? Energy Search is a great standard for any deck as it allows you to search for energy cards you need. Of course, all of this could very well be the topic of my next Deck-building 101 lesson; you never know with me.
There you have it: a little bit about all the types and a few methods you can use to decide what types you want to use. Hopefully this will have helped some of you get started or given you more things to write about. If you have any comments, feel free to leave them below. I read all of them, and I do reply to them. Remember: it’s never too late to get into a trading card game, and once you do, you’re certain to have fun.
Happy gaming, everyone, and until next time!