Pokémon VGC 2016 Rule Changes – A Resource for Judges

Welcome to the Pokemon Video Game 2016 season! What’s changed? Well, most of it comes down to the fact you can now use up to two Legendary Pokemon in a team! And with both Groudon and Kyogre on the list, it means you can have both a Mega Pokemon and a Primal Reversion Pokemon active on your team… at the same time! However, with great power comes great responsibility (wait, is that the right franchise?), so there’s a couple of things to be aware of before you start playing.

View/download/print a PDF of these changes (as explained below):

You can select up to two of the following Legendary Pokemon in your team!

Note this means two per team, not two per round! So you can’t have 4 Legendary Pokemon in your team but only pick two each game you play.

Mewtwo Lugia Ho-Oh
Kyogre Groudon Rayquaza
Dialga Palkia Giratina
Rishiram Zekrom Kyurem
Xerneas Yveltal Kygarde


You have to select “Normal Rules” instead of “Flat Rules” when challenging your opponent to a battle.

Flat Rules don’t allow for Legendary Pokemon to be used, so you’ll need to ensure you select “Normal Rules” so you can use your team properly!


All Pokemon are auto-leveled to 50, even ones that are below level 50 before starting your game.

In 99% of cases, this probably won’t concern anyone (in fact, if you can get your Pokemon fully evolved and all it’s moves ready prior to level 50 it’s a time saver!) However it does mean if you plan on slipping a level 1 F.E.A.R. Aron into your team, it’s going to be leveled up to level 50 automatically, so don’t rely on it in the 2016 format!

The game won’t enforce selection of 4 Pokemon anymore, so be careful when selecting your team!

Under “Flat Rules”, the game enforced the selection of 4 Pokemon every game – even if you didn’t pick 4 it would auto select the remainder for you.

Under “Normal Rules”, the game only have enforces selection of 2 Pokemon. But you can select anything up to 6. Bring less than 4 Pokemon to a battle and you’ll get a warning (and be at a hefty disadvantage!) Bring more than 4 and it’s an instant Game Loss, so be careful when selecting your teams!

The in game timers won’t match the tournament timers, so be careful with your time management!

Team Preview – 90 seconds
Turn Time Limit – 45 seconds
Game Time Limit – 20 minutes

Team Preview is enforced by the game, so no issues there. However you are allowed 45 seconds to make a move in game, which is less than the game will allow. Please alert a judge if you’re having issues with this.

Likewise, you are allowed 20 minutes for a single game – if you reach the 20 minute mark in your game, immediately stop attacking, put your hand up and call over a judge so they can apply the tiebreaker for that game.

Item and Species checks are no longer automatic

Under “Flat Rules”, the game enforces that you can’t have more than one of each item in your team, as well as not having multiple Pokemon of the same species.

Under “Normal Rules”, that is all allowed, so you’ll need to check it yourself. Make sure your team list you submit is accurate, and use it to check this yourself before you begin! If you have more than one copy of an item on your team and it’s discovered, you’ll have the item removed, and be issued a Game Loss.

Any other questions?

If you’re not sure about any of the new rules, please ask!

If you’re not sure if your team meets the VGC 2016 standard, then arrive early and ask for a team check; if it’s not busy at the time we might be able to accommodate. But remember that as a player you’re still responsible for your team, so read through these new rules and make sure you understand how to play in the new format!

About Tim Crockford

Tim, aka the PokeDad, after playing through the 2015 season of both VGC and TCG, realised that being beaten by 16 year olds at 32 probably wasn't the right way to go about attending events with his son, so in 2016 can be found at the judging tables doing his best to look like he belongs there.
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