Welcome to Cold Fusion’s “Guide to better deck building”. By following these simple guidelines, you’ll find your Pokemon TCG deck going from a useless pile of paper and ink to a comprehensive tournament-killing machine! Note that this guide is to be used for the modified format, not unlimited play.
1. Pokemon selection
Your Pokemon are what are going to be winning your games, so you need to choose them wisely.
First of all, when choosing your main line, be sure it can be backed up with a decent number of its pre-evo cards. 1-1-1, 1-1-2, and most of the time even 1-2-2 lines for your main evolution will fail, because you won’t be able to find any of the cards you’re looking for, even with a decent search engine. With less than 6 Pokes in the line, you’ll often times end up with one in your prizes, and that’s not good. So preferably with at least a 2-2-3(1-1-3 will work for beginners) line, you can start filling in the rest of the holes.
You’re going to need some backup, usually a stage one evolution line. Try to find something either the same type as your main Pokemon (Crobat EX and Ninjask), or something that makes a good combo (Ludicolo and Magcargo). Most backup lines should be run either 2-2 or 2-3, because that way, there will be enough to see play, but they won’t weigh you down. Some decks make good use of having another stage 2 evo line as the backup (Rock Lock), 3, 4, 5, or more evolution lines will just die.
The other Pokemon you’ll want to use is FR/LG Pidgeot. Even though it’s a stage 2 Pokemon, you can run a 2-1-2 or 2-2-2 line of it in a deck easily with the use of a couple Rare Candies (which will be discussed later), and it will prove to be invaluable to most decks. This card has a Poke-power, Quick Search, which allows you to search your deck for any card. After using it in a battle, you’ll be glad Pidgeot is in your deck. Though this is no longer the case for all decks, it proves to be useful in decks with multiple evo lines. (such as SMP)
The main purposes of having trainers in your deck is to speed it up considerably, as well as fix your Pokemons’ weak points.
Draw power is always important in a deck, as it will speed up the process in getting the cards you need. There are many good draw cards out there, among them being TV Reporter, Professor Oak’s Research, and Steven’s Advice. Those aren’t the only ones, but they are some of the most affective the game has to offer. In all, your deck should use around 8 draw cards, because with the fact that they are supporters, having more in your hand would slow you down. After putting in your draw, put in a couple Wally’s Training or Celio’s Network cards to finish off this section.
After draw is taken care of, you need to look back at your Pokemon, and decide what is needed. Do your Pokemon have high retreat costs? Put in some Switch. Will you need some significant healing? Add in Potion or Life Herb. After asking questions like these, add in a couple Pokemon Reversals, Ancient Technical Machine Rocks, and Rare Candies if you use stage 2's.
Now were almost finished, but we need to add in some stadium cards. Without a couple of them, you’ll be victim to whatever ones your opponent plays, which is never good. Depending on the style of your deck depends on what to use, it’s much too complicated to say as a whole.
We’re coming to the home stretch, but energy is by far the most important part of the deck. Without energy, your Pokemon can’t attack! You need to add a reasonable amount, usually between 14 and 18. Make sure you pay attention to how you’re splitting the energy types in multi-color decks, because otherwise, you won’t be able to get the type you need. Find what you think the best balance is, and then move one.
The last thing is special energy. In decks with Dark and Steel Pokemon, their specific special energy cards will be needed, but only 4 can be used. Because of this, cards like and Darkmetal energy become open options for you to use. If this isn’t a matter for your deck, you have other options. If your evolved Pokemon have large colorless energy requirements, use a few boost energy cards, and they will speed you up. Scramble energy can also be useful, but to a lesser extent…
4. Test it out!
Now that you’ve made your deck, try it out a few times against a friend. This way, you will find the strengths and weaknesses of the cards you chose, and then make adjustments accordingly. Keep tweaking and testing bit-by-bit, until you have made a deck fit for a Pokemon Master!
If you have any suggestions on how to make this better, please post them, and I'll fix as seen needed.
EDIT: I blandly updated it, just so it makes more sense.