Pokémon TCG – Attaining the Art of Consistency

How often does your deck do what you want it to? This is the question at the heart of consistency. If your answer to my question was “not often”, then consider continuing to read this article for some tips as to how to make your deck more consistent. If you answered “often enough”, it may be worthwhile reading in case it’s possible to improve your deck. And if you answered “100% of the time bro”, then consider playing something more complicated than a Landorus EX and 59 Ground Energies…

The more, the merrier…

One of the easiest ways to improve consistency is to just max everything out (that’s not Basic Energies) and remove anything that’s just a one-off. Four copies of Professor Juniper, Basic Pokémon and other key cards should ensure that the cards will appear with good frequency. Having multiples of cards also means you are less likely to be in the position where the card(s) you need are prized.

Some Pokémon products come with a sample decklist – such as the Pyroar Box Set or, going back a few years ago, the Platinum and Rising Rivals Guide book. The main thing to take away from these lists is the guideline I’ve mentioned – run 4 copies of pretty much everything (the strategies behind these decks are a bit hotchpotch).

As with most guidelines or rules, there are exceptions. If you are playing a Stage 2 with Rare Candies, having four copies of the Stage 1 is quite pointless (unless it’s ButterMilk 😛 ). Additionally, having four Pokémon Fan Clubs is great for improving your chances of getting one in your starting hand, but do you really want to draw into one late game? It is for this reason some people play three copies of Fan Club instead.

Are your Pokémon holding up their weight?
Brethren dost thou even hoist

As I briefly mentioned in the previous section, limiting diversity in your deck can improve consistency. Let’s consider the Empoleon/Terrakion/Emolga/Dusknoir deck. The basic idea of this deck is to slug with Empoleon and hit Electric (Empoleon’s weakness) and Dark Pokémon for x2 with Terrakion. This deck was designed for a previous season, but we still have (most of) the cards in the current format and the deck could still work… either way, the deck’s viability in a given format is not the question at hand.

A 1-0-1 Dusknoir BCR line greater helps with making the most out of damage output from the attackers; but how often is it coming out? Are you being put into situations where you have to pick whether to get a Dusknoir out or another Empoleon? Is Dusknoir consuming more resources than you can spare? Could the two cards (i.e. Duskull and Dusknoir) be better spent in other cards which would be able to get Empoleon into play sooner? These are the sorts of questions you need to ask yourself. Practicing with the deck will also help to identify whether or not Dusknoir is a worthwhile addition to the deck.

Terrakion and its Ground Energies are also worth looking at. Do you get into situations where you have a Water Energy instead of a Ground Energy (or vice-versa if you want to attack with Empoleon)? Rainbow Energy can remove this issue, but will the damage counter from it place your Pokémon in easy KO range? Is Terrakion pulling its weight against the Electric and Dark decks? How about in the other matchups too? Once again, these are things to think about and to note when you are testing with the deck.

Ultimately, it’s usually better to go with consistency over flexibility because it’s pointless having numerous options if you can’t utilise what you want when you need it. The best way to find out, though, is through playing with your deck(s)!

Chaining and going with the flow

This are things which I believe are lacking with the current card pool. Looking at some old cards, there was Cyrus’ Conspiracy (Platinum) which let the user search their deck for a Supporter, a Team Galactic Invention and an Energy. This was the backbone of most SP decks once you had the first Cyrus’ Conspiracy, you could grab another one and be guaranteed to have a supporter the next turn, and the one after that, etc. Going back further still and you can find a card called Holon Transceiver (Delta Species). This card let you search your deck or discard pile for one of the many Supporters with Holon in its name. These supporters did everything from grabbing you Energies, to drawing cards to grabbing Basic Pokémon and so forth.

Nowadays, the best we’ve got really is to just Juniper or play Shuana and hope that you draw into another Supporter, as well as what you need. Whilst it is true that we have Jirachi EX to search out a Supporter, it’s a one-time party trick that results in you having two easily-obtained Prize Cards on your bench for your opponent.

Claydol GE

The power of the cosmos was so great that it undeniable shaped the meta.

There’s also the option of relying on Pokémon’s Abilities to draw cards. Naturally there’s nothing quite as good as Claydol (Great Encounters) for cycling through cards, however, there are some options out there (and maybe we’ll get a Claydol EX with a drawing Ability soon…).

  • Delphox XY – Once per turn, you can draw until you have 6 cards in your hand. Very useful, the problem is that it’s a Stage 2 and is best used with Rare Candy – a card which sees little play nowadays due to the prominence of EX Pokémon (and some Stage 1s).
  • Electorde PLF – The same as Delphox, except for 4 cards instead of 6. Much easier to get out, however, having under 4 cards in your hand is usually an uncommon occurrence.
  • Plasma Crobat – Once per turn, draw a card. Outclassed by Delphox (although the Free Retreat is nice).
  • Slurpuff PG – Like Plasma Crobat, except that you draw an additional card if Slurpuff is your Active Pokémon. Draw one card Pokémon have a history of seeing little play, even if they have something extra like Musharna NXD did. I’m interested to see if the same will happen with Slurpuff.
  • Plasma Metagross – Once per turn, you can search your deck for a Plasma card and put it in your hand. Plasma Metagross is somewhat like Holon Transceiver in that it can search your deck for a variety of things. You can grab Plasma Pokémon, Supporters such as Colress and Ghetsis or additional damage in the form of Hypnotoxic Laser.

Finally, there’s also Items to help with the flow of cards. Bicycle, Fiery Torch, Roller Skates and Maintenance are such cards, however, they only work in specific decks, are “chancey” and/or have certain conditions.

Chaining Supporters and having a good flow of cards into your hand every turn are things that are not that great at the moment (especially when compared to past cards). This is one of the reasons why Stage 2 decks struggle at the moment.

Deck - pile shuffling

Now hopefully this randomises the deck well.

Shuffling things up

A bad randomisation of your deck can be just as bad as having a deck that is half-full of Energies (unless it’s Heatmor PLS, in which case it’s bad because you need more than 30 Energies). You can have the perfect list for your deck, but it doesn’t change the fact that you will have the chance to draw a horrible starting hand and then draw dead for the next few turns. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to unclutter your deck and ensure that you have an ideal randomisation.

There are various methods of pile shuffling which, as the name suggests, is dealing out your cards into piles. I usually do six, eight or ten piles mainly because I can see whether or not I’ve lost or gained card (usually Stadium cards), whilst also shuffling my deck at the same time. Another method is to make a staircase, I suppose you could say. You put one card down, then you put a card on top of this and another card down and so forth. Each cycle, you are putting one card on every existing pile and then creating a new pile (of one card), similar to the layout of Solitaire.

Does pile shuffling work? I think it does. I believe it usually does separate all your Trainers which were stacked in a clump in your discard pile, but I cannot get rid of the feeling that sometimes pile shuffling has actually done the opposite and clumped all the Energies together or ensured that all the Supporters are having a tea party at the bottom of my deck…

Another thing to do when searching through your deck, such as through Ultra ball, is if you notice any suspicious-looking clumps such as two Junipers next to each other, take one of them and randomly place it elsewhere in your deck. Having said that, do not take cards like Ultra Ball as an opportunity to completely scour through your deck and rearrange it to your liking as this can be considered stalling and stacking.

In a Forretress

Consistency is all about ensuring your deck is efficient enough to make sure your goal or strategy occurs as fast and as often as possible. Having multiple copies of your main Pokémon and important Trainers is one way of doing this. Removing Pokémon (or any other cards) that are dragging the deck down can work too. Ultimately, you need to practise a lot with your deck(s) and observe what is and isn’t working in the deck.


Got any better ideas? Post a comment and let your voice be heard.

About Miner751

Miner 751 has been around the competitive Pokémon scene for more years than he can remember. He is often seen around Melbourne playing odd-ball decks and teams which are good in theory however, more often than not, they don't do so well in practice. He is proud member of the not-so-world-renowned team, Melbourne Mudkips.
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