Pokémon TCG: 2016 Staples Checklist

Hello again everyone, I’m James Goreing and I’m here today to help beginning and continuing players alike to be prepared for the coming tournament season by discussing the essential, must-have Trainer cards for the 2016 season.

Trainers are the engine of every deck; the actual Pokémon may be the exciting and colourful part of playing the Pokémon TCG, but it’s the Trainers, the Supporters, Items, Tools and Stadiums, that get your Pokémon ready to attack and advance your board state. By composition alone, most decks predominantly feature Trainer cards; often around thirty-five Trainers, fifteen Pokémon and ten Energies. It should be of no surprise that Trainers are being played in such high number when they have such powerful effects.

The purpose of this article is to give a general idea of what Trainers are considered staples, that is, essential cards to have access to in your cardpool, to give you the options of building most decks. In considering whether or not to class a card as a staple, I have given consideration mostly to how frequently a card will appear in popular lists, as well as to how often these cards appear in high counts. There are some cards that are played less frequently, or in lower counts, that still serve important purposes and can be classified as staples.

Whilst many Trainer cards will be included in this list, it is by no means exhaustive. There are plenty of good, powerful, important Trainers that wouldn’t really be considered staples or must-haves to own, for a variety of reasons. Often, their playability has dropped due to meta shifts, like Energy Switch being less useful with most decks running high counts of Special Energies, or by being important cards in only a few decks, e.g. Eco Arm is an essential Trainer for Mienshao decks, but is used too infrequently in other decks to be truly considered a staple. For this reason, I don’t think any Spirit Links can really be counted as staple Trainers, as they’re too heavily deck dependant. Obviously, hunt down the single-deck Trainers according to your intention to build.

A quick note before we start: this article is covering Trainers for the start of the 2016 season, from XY base set up to and including Break Through, and as such, contains predictions of the as-of-yet unreleased Trainers from Break Through, and further cannot account for changes in playstyle or meta fluctuations from post-Break Through sets. Huge changes are unlikely, so this should hopefully be a valuable resource throughout the competitive season for ensuring you have access to most of the things you’ll need to build the deck of your preference.

To make finding a card entry easier, Trainers have followed the sub-classification into Supporters, Stadiums, Tools and Items, and within these subcategories, entries are listed alphabetically with the expansion sets the card can be found in, along with a suggested optimum number of copies to own.


Ace Trainer (Ancient Origins)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

Ace Trainer

Primarily offering use in non-EX decks that are likely to give up prizes early whilst they set up, Ace Trainer is one of only a few cards that can affect the number of cards in your opponent’s hand. It is also a fairly strong shuffle draw hand refresh for yourself, but is weakest in the opening few turns as it cannot be played unless you are behind on prize cards.

AZ (Phantom Forces)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1


AZ is one of the more useful utility Supporters available currently. Picking up a Pokémon from your field can have huge benefits, such as healing the damage on it, allowing for a new Pokémon to be promoted to the Active Position, resetting powerful Abilities such as Shaymin EX’s Set Up, Hoopa EX’s Scoundrel Ring and Crobats’ Surprise Bite. As with all Supporters, and utility Supporters doubly so, access to VS Seekers and Battle Compressors allow for almost on-demand and repeat usage of any Supporter, justifying AZ as a standard singleton count.

Blacksmith (Flashfire)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1


Blacksmith is almost too niche to be considered a staple, but with the introduction of the Flareon AOR, the ability to attach two fire energies from the discard to any Stage 1 Pokémon is too good to overlook in any Stage 1 deck. Again, this Supporter owes its success to the VS Seeker/Battle Compressor access combo, and as such really only requires one copy in any deck.

Hex Maniac (Ancient Origins)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

Hex Maniac

Hex Maniac is an absolute problem solver. Need your Megas to hit Giratina EX? Need your Joltik to hit Aegislash EX? Want to stop your opponent using Metal Links? Want to shut off Vileplume for a turn? All this and more – Hex Maniac.

Judge (Break Through)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1


Whilst this card hasn’t yet been released, it has some potential to be a disruptive Supporter and provide some light draw power. It’s unlikely to be required in high counts, but can provide the option to reduce an opponent’s hand in a way that currently only Ace Trainer can do, yet can be used regardless of prize count. Slowing down an opponent or removing the game winning pieces from their hand could be worth the inclusion.

Korrina (Furious Fists)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4


With such minimal specified target search in the format currently, Korrina really stands out. Searching a Fighting type Pokémon of your choice AND one of the super powerful Item cards listed below is a winning combination. Supplementing draw support between shuffle draw, discard and draw and targeted search, Fighting decks have a huge advantage in the consistency of their builds. It is suggested to own four copies of Korrina, though three is probably fine too, as Korrina is an ideal first turn supporter, and higher counts increase the likelihood of being able to find one early on.

Lysandre (Flashfire and Ancient Origins)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2


Gust or Catcher effects have always been ridiculously powerful, and Lysandre is no exception. Whilst it’s a drawback to cost you your Supporter for the turn, there’s so much non-Supporter draw in the format currently that this price pales in comparison to its power. Lysandre is a threat-neutralising, game winning card. Two copies is fairly standard, assuming a full suite of VS Seekers to back it up. Truly one of the must-have cards, it’s lucky that Lysandre just been reprinted.

Professor Birch’s Observations (Primal Clash)

Suggested Number of Copies: 3

Professor Birch's Observations

Shuffle draw Supporters are in short supply currently, and arguments can be made for the flip-for-more option of Birch over the consistent (though slightly underwhelming) Shauna. Birch is probably the better bet, as it statistically averages five and a half cards over Shauna’s five, and sometimes the option to put cards back into the deck can be useful to prevent deck-out. The Sandal Man is probably the best shuffle-draw supporter at the moment, and that’s kind of sad.

Professor Sycamore (XY and Phantom Forces)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Professor Sycamore
Sycamore is really the only decent draw Supporter around, and as such is a natural four of inclusion. Some decks with additional draw power might like to play three to help prevent discarding important cards, but in the vast majority of cases it should be played in maximum counts. Discarding and drawing seven cards is strong in its own right, and is even more so with a lack of other draw power competition. Definitely, obviously, make sure you have four.

Shauna (XY and Phantom Forces)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2


The consistent hand refresh to five cards is slightly underwhelming when compared to previous shuffle-draw Supporters like Colress, N and Professor Oak’s New Theory, but at least you know what you’re getting. It is this predictability that sets Shauna apart from simply being a worse Birch. It is often useful to run a split of Shauna and Birch, so you can VS Seeker for the guaranteed five, or risk the four/seven split when it’s necessary.

Skyla (Break Through)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2


The Skyla reprint in Break Through is an interesting inclusion, as there’s very little universal targeted search available currently, and there’s lots of ways to increase your raw hand size. This means that sacrificing the opportunity to draw more cards with your supporter for the turn can be supplemented with an Ultra Ball to a Shaymin EX, but ultimately the playability of Skyla will be determined by the need for certain decks to piece together combo parts, like the required Tool or Stadium. Even the often useful but underwhelming option of using Skyla to fetch a better Supporter is back.

Teammates (Primal Clash)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1


As mentioned before, targeted search is a little light in this format, but Teammates can help with that, if used in the sort of decks that often lose a few prizes before they set up or have low HP attackers. Teammates, as a sort of Ace Trainer nailed to a double-Skyla, can only be played if you have had a Pokémon knocked out on the previous turn, so its window of viability is restricted, but the payoff is fairly powerful. Being able to search your deck for any two cards is a huge bonus, especially with non-Supporter draw being so prevalent. Due to its limited timing of playability, Teammates works best with the Battle Compressor/VS Seeker combo.

Xerosic (Phantom Forces)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

The utility supporter par excellence, Xerosic just gives you so many options. Discarding an opponent’s Special Energy or preferred Tool is always fun, and can serve as an insurance against being hit with Team Flare Tools yourself. Traditionally, Xerosic has been the non-Item way of slowing down Seismitoad EX, and in a format full or Special Energy, it’s not a bad card to include where you can.

These are the premier, staple Supporters of the format currently. There are plenty of other good and powerful supporters, but most have a much more narrowed focus than those listed. Supporters like Archie’s and Maxie’s are undeniably powerful, but fairly restricted in play, and Centre Lady and Fan Club are both useful, but often eclipsed by AZ and Ultra Ball respectively.


Dimension Valley (Phantom Forces)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Dimension Valley

Reducing the attack cost of all Psychic type Pokémon in play by one colourless energy is quite the effect. Many Psychic-type Pokémon have been printed with attack costs that seem to acknowledge that they’re going to attack for cheaper, see the Roaring Skies Deoxys, Pumpkaboo PHF and Mega Gallade EX. Whilst this Stadium only benefits Psychic types, it can be run in many different deck builds, like decks with Wobbuffet PHF, Crobat PHF or Night March. Not truly universal, but very useful.

Fighting Stadium (Furious Fists)

Suggested Number of Copies: 3

Fighting Stadium

Helping Fighting type Pokémon do what they do best, and that’s stack damage. Almost any Fighting-type deck should be utilising this damage modifier, making non-EX fighting types like Hawlucha, Mienshao and Medicham able to compete with the high HP of most EX Pokémon.

Forest of Giant Plants (Ancient Origins)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Forest of Giant Plants

This stadium allows Grass-type Pokémon to break the usual conventions of the evolution rules, allowing for strings of Vespiquens to attack, quick Ariados support for your Machamp EX and even the dreaded turn one Vileplume. Again, this Stadium really only benefits Grass-types that need to evolve, but there’s a lot of good Grass-types out there, and this Stadium makes any future-released Grass evolution at least worth considering.

Rough Seas (Primal Clash)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Rough Seas

The idea of infinite healing is definitely an appealing one, even more so considering Rough Seas can hit ALL Water or Lightning-types once per turn. Seen most commonly with Mega Manectric EX decks and Primal Kyogre Decks, the combination of high HP, attacker mobility and continuous healing is pretty powerful. Every time a playable Water or Lightning Pokémon comes out, this stadium gets better.

Scorched Earth (Primal Clash)

Suggested Number of Copies: 3

Scorched Earth

Supplementing draw power with the added benefit of sending a basic Fire or Fighting energy to the discard is a powerful multi-purpose strategy. The draw power is small, but useable, yet the ability to line up Blacksmiths with discarded Fire energies or Mega Turbos is huge. Unfortunately, decks often don’t play high counts of safe to discard Basic energies, but if they do, Scorched Earth is a useful inclusion.

Silent Lab (Primal Clash)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

Silent Lab

With so many Abilities running around, it’s amazing that this card isn’t seeing more play. Shutting down the Abilities of basic Pokémon like Shaymin EX and Hoopa EX can be devastating to a player’s first turn options, especially with so few actual Supporters generally being played. Silent Lab shares some of the benefits with Hex Maniac, as both can often buy you some turns to set up or impede your opponent’s progress.

Sky Field (Roaring Skies)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Sky Field

Managing bench space is a problem of the past with Sky Field. So many benefits and interplays can come from the playing and removal of Sky Field. First, the obvious ones: Raichu XY and Colourless Mega Rayquaza EX do more damage with more benched Pokémon. Secondly, more support Pokémon down, the more support provided, as in more Bronzongs, Bat lines, Eeveelutions, whatever you like. Furthermore, Sky Field reduces the negatives of using support Pokémon like Shaymin EX and Hoopa EX, which each require a bench space to activate their ability. Further still, when Sky Field is removed from play, discarding Pokémon from your bench is an opportunity to remove liabilities like Shaymin EX or damaged Pokémon, a chance to discard Pokémon to increase damage such as with Night March or Vespiquen. Sky Field also combos well with Sacred Ash where you can benefit again from triggered abilities such as Shaymin EX or Crobat PHF. Sky Field is a truly multifaceted card.

That’s most of the staple Stadiums covered. Other options included Faded Town or Fairy Garden, and even the new interesting Parallel City, which while definitely worth hunting a few copies of each, probably aren’t used as much as the Stadiums already mentioned.


Float Stone (Break Through)

Suggested Number of Copies: 3

Float Stone

A much-needed reprint, Float Stone is the defensive support Tool to the Muscle Bands offensive Tool. Providing a Pokémon with free retreat is definitely a huge benefit. If your Active Pokémon has been knocked out, you are able to play out your turn before deciding which Pokémon to promote to attack, or stall for the turn. It also allows for greater circulation of the bench to active position for things like Bronzong to attach to the bench. Float Stone is a hugely impactful card, for only one and a half lines of text.

Focus Sash (Furious Fists)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

Focus Sash

Despite only providing an effect if attached to a Fighting-type Pokémon, Focus Sash can come up as useful in a lot of decks. One-hit knockouts are pretty common in this format, and forcing opponents to attack a Pokémon twice to knock it out, especially on a non-EX, can provide the extra turns of set up or prize advantage a slower deck might require, especially with Startling Megaphone being played in such low numbers. The suggested count to own is two, as Fighting decks usually like other Tools like Muscle Band and Hard Charm, and with Korrina they’re easy to search out. Mienshao decks may play four copies of Focus Sash, but every other deck probably won’t need more than two.

Hard Charm (XY)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

Hard Charm

Hard Charm reduces the damage taken from attacks, increasing the bulkiness of the Pokémon to which it is attached. When coupled with other healing, such as that from Rough Seas or Pokémon Centre Lady, Hard Charm can help push a one or two-hit knock out to requiring multiple turns of attacking. Bulky Yveltal EX, Primal Groudon EX and Florges EX have all utilised Hard Charms before, if you’re happy to sacrifice offensive power for an increased defence.

Head Ringer (Phantom Forces)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

Head Ringer Team Flare Hyper Gear

One of the most annoying cards to ever be printed, Head Ringers provide a decent banding technique for slower decks to keep up with fast, low energy attacks from EX Pokémon. Not only does Head Ringer increase the attack cost of all attacks by one colourless energy, it also takes up the Tool slot for that Pokémon, preventing the preferred Tool from being attached. Head ringers are most useful in disruptive, slower or non-EX decks.

Muscle Band (XY)

Suggested Number of Copies: 3

Muscle Band

Truly the most played Tool in the format. If you’re going to attack, why not do twenty more damage? Muscle Band is what every other Tool must compete with for inclusion on attacking Pokémon, and is the reason a lot of Tools aren’t played; they’re simply not worth missing out on Muscle Band. Most decks that play Muscle Band would play the fourth is there was room, but often three will suffice. A definite must have.

As mentioned previously, Spirit Links are also useful if you’re playing the corresponding Mega Pokémon. Weakness Policy can also be used in a deck that has a decent strategy, but a glaring weakness to a particular type, like on Primal Groudon EX against Vespiquen.


Acro Bike (Primal Clash)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Acro Bike

An excellent supplementary draw-power Item in decks that don’t mind some extra discarding, like Night March, Archie’s/Maxie’s decks or Manectric decks. The main benefit of Acro Bike over Trainers Mail is that Acro Bike can find an energy card, whilst Trainers Mail cannot. However, the two are often played in conjunction to max out that Item-based draw.

Battle Compressor (Phantom Forces)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear

Honestly one of the best, most versatile Items in the format, and one of my personal favourites. The combos, the consistency, the options this card can give is unparalleled. To start, the deck thinning is amazing, as not just the three targeted cards of the effect of playing a Battle Compressor, but by playing the Battle Compressor itself, allows for a playset of Battle Compressors to remove up to sixteen cards from your deck. How this helps is two-fold: first, it increases access to the discard pile for options like Night March and Bee Revenge damage, sets up Archie’s or Maxie’s plays, escorts energy to the discard pile for Yveltal XY, Bronzong PHF and Mega Manectric EX to power up multiple attackers. Secondly, it increases the likelihood of accessing these one-of supporters by allowing for four VS Seekers to count as targets for the desired discarded Supporter, instead of relying on drawing into the single copy from the deck. To be able to compress out the irrelevant cards in a matchup, or to stack your deck to the point of every draw being potent, is a truly powerful option. I’m personally hoping for a reprint soon to keep the card legal for yet another year.

Crushing Hammer (Emerging Powers, Legendary Treasures and Kalos Starter Sets)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Crushing Hammer

Historically, one of the most annoying and powerful effects in the game is energy removal, and Crushing Hammer is a prime offender. Often utilised in full playsets in disruptive decks, like Seismitoad EX builds of the past, and Sableye/Bunnelby decks around in Expanded. Due to the coin flip nature of the effect, high counts of this card are suggested to both get access to it early and to hopefully disrupt as much as possible.

Enhanced Hammer (Phantom Forces and Primal Clash)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

Enhanced Hammer

In a format where 90% of decks run some form of Special Energy, and many deck relying on them almost exclusively, the ability to remove a Special Energy from play and setting an opponent back a turn of attachment is ridiculously powerful. Without acceleration, a card like Giratina EX can never attack if enough Enhanced Hammers are played. Hammers can be used to give slower set up decks a chance against heavy hitting EX decks or to help even out a prize deficit in non-EX mirror matches, if attachments can be denied. A truly evil necessity.

Escape Rope (Primal Clash)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

Escape Rope

Often used to supplement a deck’s switch count and act as a possible pseudo-gust effect, Escape Rope can be super useful for lining up plays. Offensively, Escape Rope can force up a Pokémon an opponent is trying to defend, or be used to reset an attack effect like Regice’s Resistance Blizzard. Defensively, Escape Rope can push an opponent’s powered attacking Pokémon to the bench, requiring them to find a way back into the Active position. Escape Rope is even more useful when run with Pokémon with free retreat costs, like Raichu XY and Hawlucha FFI, as it allows you to return your preferred Pokémon to the active.

Heavy Ball (Break Through)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

Heavy Ball

Depending on the deck, targeted Pokémon search for free is a powerful option. Characteristically, Fighting and Metal-types are often heavy enough to be hit by Heavy Ball. Though not a replacement for Ultra Ball when Shaymin EX and the benefits of the discard pile are still around, it does offer supplementary support for decks that want more than the four Ultra Ball options. At a quick look, Heavy Ball hits Aegislash EX, Bronzong PHF, Camerupt EX, Giratina EX, Groudon EX, Heatran PHF, Hydreigon EX, Regice AOR, Seismitoad EX and Vileplume AOR. And all for free.

Level Ball (Ancient Origins)

Suggested Number of Copies: 2

Level Ball

There are so, so many useful Pokémon that can be targeted by Level Ball; bats, Raichu XY, Vespiquen AOR, Bronzong PHF, Mienshao FFI, Hawlucha FFI and many more. At zero cost to play, Level Ball is an excellent additional search option for decks with some lower HP Pokémon. Combined with Trainers Mail, Ultra Ball and Shaymin EX, it’s easier than ever to find and bench the Pokémon you’re looking for. A long-awaited reprint.

Mega Turbo (Roaring Skies)

Suggested Number of Copies: 3

Mega Turbo

Accelerating Basic Energy onto energy-hungry Mega Pokémon is a hugely powerful option. It’s surprising that Mega Turbo isn’t actually used more. In Primal Groudon EX builds, speed Colourless Mega Rayquaza EX or Dragon Mega Rayquaza EX or Mega Gardevoir EX decks, Mega Turbos can help account for the slowness of Megas, or help chain attackers when one goes down. Where they’re played, Mega Manectric EX, Metal Ray decks and Primal Kyogre builds probably have the acceleration to get around needing Mega Turbos. Two to three is a usual count, as a few bonus attachments is all that is needed.

Professor’s Letter (XY and Break Through)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

Professor's Letter

A double Energy Search is a neat idea, and has seen play in a lot of decks. With so little hand disruption, it’s likely that both the targeted energies will get attached or discarded as intended. For decks like Mienshao or Mega Manectric EX, or previously Virizion EX/Genesect EX Decks, attaching energy is crucial to executing their strategy. Prof’s Letter is also the only way a Trainers Mail can get you an energy, offering more combo options. You never really need more than one though.

Robo Substitute (Phantom Forces)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Robo Substitute Team Flare Gear

Another option in the prize denial strategy, and the chief replacement piece in hit-and run-strategies, this little guy can buy multiple turns of ineffectual attacking or defensive passing from your opponent. If you’re using prize denial as a strategy, a usual three to four of count can buy you a lot of turns. Whilst Donphan has been relegated to Expanded, Standard still has Gengar EX and Primal Groudon EX, whom both enjoy a solid wall option.

Sacred Ash (Flashfire)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

Sacred Ash

This card has seen increased play since the banning of Lysandre’s Trump Card, and for good reason. With VS Seeker allowing for the reuse of Ultra Balled Supporters, and Sacred Ash allowing for the reuse of discarded Pokémon, almost any hand can be milked to its last drops of potency before using Sycamore for a fresh hand. Obviously, being able to reuse powerful Pokémon Abilities like Shaymin EX and Crobat PHF can be useful over the course of a game. Sacred Ash can also help to smooth out unfortunate draw order when you have to discard Pokémon pieces early, or to reuse lower count tech attackers.

Super Rod (Break Through)

Suggested Number of Copies: 1

Super Rod

Another much-anticipated reintroduction into the Standard format, the versatility of Super Rod is what sets it apart from Sacred Ash or Energy Recycler. Not just being able to reintroduce Pokémon and basic energies back into the deck, but sometimes having to put back in extra Pokémon is actually a detriment, such as in Night March or Vespiquen decks. Super Rod is the nicely hedged bet.

Super Scoop Up (Furious Fists)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Super Scoop Up

Another all-in-one multipurpose item that, whilst on a coin flip, can be extremely powerful. SSU can serve as a switching option, an Ability reset for Pokémon when played from the hand, a healing option, as well as a way to reallocate Tools or attached energy. High counts are preferred to make sure at least some of them work.

Switch (Roaring Skies)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4


Probably the most staple Trainer ever, going all the way back to Base Set, Switch is a must for circulating Pokémon from the Bench to Active position. It cures status conditions, removes effects, and forces Lysandre plays from the opponent to finish off damaged Pokémon. Switches, or at least switching effects, are an absolute must in most decks. Switches are of increased importance in decks proportionally to the number of Pokémon with higher Retreat Costs.

Trainer’s Mail (Roaring Skies)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Trainers' Mail

A truly powerful consistency and item-based draw card, Trainer’s Mail can make up for the seemingly low counts of Supporters in decks and increase the chances of getting to those crucial first turn items. Trainer’s Mail has literally no draw back, being instantly playable, and you can decide to whiff a target if there’s nothing important. It’s one of the few ways to access key cards like Battle Compressors, Stadiums and Lysandre. It’s another way to make your first turn dig as deep as you need, and a great way to get the last bit of playable value out of a hand before you Sycamore. If you’ve got to go fast, this is the guy. But be careful when including Trainer’s Mail in your deck, as decks with high Pokémon and Energy lines are less likely to hit a Trainer card in the top four cards.

Ultra Ball (Flashfire and Roaring Skies)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

Ultra Ball

The premier Pokémon search option. Since its release, Ultra Ball has been played in high counts for two huge reasons. First, it guarantees to search for a Pokémon of any type when played, and is unrestricted by the coin flips of Dual Ball, the HP restriction of Level Ball or the Retreat Cost restriction of Heavy Ball. Second, Ultra Ball can turn the detriment of having to discard two cards into a benefit – such as discarding energy to be attached later, or lining up Supporters for later use. Along with Sycamore, Switch and VS Seeker, Ultra Ball is a true, necessary staple. Luckily, it has received multiple reprints.

VS Seeker (Phantom Forces and Roaring Skies)

Suggested Number of Copies: 4

VS Seeker

This card is the reason decks are so consistent despite having relatively few good Supporters. Being able to Sycamore or Lysandre multiple times a game has become crucial, and this card also increases the potency of single-inclusion utility Supporters. Combine this card with Battle Compressor, and you have targeted Supporters on demand. Literally every deck should be running four of these, unless it’s Vileplume, maybe.

Aside from Trainers, certain Special Energies have reached staple status. First and foremost, Double Colourless Energies are the most-played Special Energy, and warrant a four count. So many good attacks cost two Colourless Energies, and this is the best way to grab some semi-energy acceleration. Double Dragon Energy are also seeing increased play, and open up some powerful combos by smoothing over the mixed energy costings that is characteristic of Dragon type Pokémon’s attacks. A playset of four is recommended. Finally, Strong Energies see enough play and provide such a benefit to be considered a staple. Again, four copies of this card are a must for Fighting decks.


To round out a true list of staple card inclusions, Shaymin EX must be mentioned. While Shaymin EX are expensive to buy, they are nearly omnipresent across all competitive decks. A good number to aim for is two copies of Shaymin EX, with three being optimal. Some lists may even run none or four, but you should be able to play competitively with two to three.

That completes my summary of the staple Trainers for the XY-Break Through sets for the 2016 competitive year in Standard. These are the cards that I would suggest hunting and the counts in which they’d likely be played. There are plenty of other powerful and important Trainers, but these are the ones that a good competitive cardpool should include. Different decks may require varying counts, along with some of the lesser-played Trainers of interest, but these are a great starting point to be able to build the majority of decks. I hope this breakdown of Trainers can be useful in guiding your card trades or sales, and for preparing you for a great tournament season ahead. Thanks for reading!

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About Jerkules


  1. Beautiful article, I’m getting back into the game after collecting for 8 years, this is single handedly the most helpful article I’ve ever read to get me back into it. Thank you so much!

  2. Hi!

    Great article, very helpful!

    Could you do an update for the 2017 TCG Rotation? There’s been significant changes and a lot of core trainers have been removed, and popular decks essentially eliminated.

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