My son really likes Pokémon, and owns a lot of cards. He mostly plays the video games and reads the books, but wants to build a Pokemon deck to play as well. We understand the basic rules. I know decks can only have four of each type of card (except basic energy) and must have exactly 60 cards total.

What I would like to know is if there is a recommendation for how many cards of each type to have in a deck. I've played Magic: The Gathering, but applying the same logic used there doesn't seem to work because energy behaves differently than mana. I've read some web sites that have recommendations, but when we play with those ratios it seems like I never draw enough basic Pokémon.

We have been trying to adjust things, but I thought I would see if there were some recommendations from people who are currently playing Pokémon.

  • 3
    did the recommendations you read mentioned: 20 Pokemon, 12 trainers, and around 28 energies? It fits with most decks you can find at: bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Theme_Deck_(TCG)
    – user545
    Commented May 15, 2011 at 13:57
  • @Repecmps: Yeah, that is what I read. Commented May 24, 2011 at 0:47
  • 1
    This heavily depends on the Trainer cards you have available. If you can play a bunch of card that get you new cards or even let you search your deck for Pokémon, you need less Basic Pokemon. If you rely on your one card per turn, you will need many more Basic Pokémon if you want to have them available when you need them.
    – scenia
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 9:42

8 Answers 8


I play regularly with my kids. The energy card count depends heavily on the pokemon you use. I have gone as low a 8 in a deck where all the pokemon had effective attacks at 1 energy and a retreat cost of 0 or 1. I have gone as high as 28 or 30 when the deck was based on pokemon that discarded energy to attack and/or took 3 or 4 energy to have an effective attack.

When building a new deck we usually start at 16-18 energy adjusting up or down by a few as outlined above. Then we tweak after some playing games. My kids, who have more time than I do, will often build a deck then "goldfish" it. ie play out a game solo to see if the needed energy arrive as fast as they can be played.


The recommendations provided in the other answers are good guidelines for casual play, these are the sorts of ratios that would be found in theme decks.

It is also important to note that for competitive play, there is an emphasis on speed and reliability, therefore the ratios change quite drastically. The ratios depend on the type of deck and the pokemon within, however rough guidelines for more competitive play would be around:

8 - 16 pokemon

8 - 12 energy

Remaining are trainers; predominantly card drawing trainers (with emphasis on larger draws such as discard and draw 7)

The pokemon in these decks tend to be of one energy type, or utilising colourless attacks.

There is nothing wrong with casual play (it is actually the best and most fun way to learn the game), however these slower, less reliable decks, would likely struggle if they were played in a local pokemon league / event


The ratio purely depends on the deck you're trying to run, theme decks tend to have more Pokémon, closely followed by energy and less trainers; they also usually revolve around 2 colors (plus colorless) of Pokémon.

For example, the Lunala theme deck contains 24 Pokémon, 20 basic energy and 16 trainers (the colors used are psychic and fire). These types of decks are specifically built to help new players learn the basic rules and that's fine (in fact the Clanging Thunder (Kommo-o) theme deck is so good right now it's even viable against some competitive decks).

The difference between this and competitive decks used in tournaments is that theme decks are slower to get set up and get momentum, so faster decks can get rid of your main threats before you even get set up (e.g The Lunala theme deck's main source of damage against competitive decks would be Beware and Lunala; both require evolution - Lunala has to evolve twice, although if you replace some of the less useful cards with copies of rare candy you don't even need Cosmoem), beware requires 3 colorless energy and its main use is to take out basic Pokémon (which are useful in TCG as there are less cards required to get set up), its attack does 60 to evolved Pokémon and 120 to basics, 3 energy for 60 is pretty bad but 3 energy for 120 is ok. It's also used for its ability that allows you to draw 3 cards when you evolve Stufle into Beware. 3 energy takes a long time to set up so I switched one of my fire energies for a double colorless.

Depending on one Pokémon only really works well if you have the trainers and abilities to be able to search the deck for the cards you want.

Most competitive decks I've seen contain a small number of Pokémon (like less than 12 total) even fewer energies (usually special energies) and a ton of trainers.

E.g a Gyrados deck I'm planning on building has 11 Pokémon, 4 energies, and 45 trainers. As stated before, the reason the trainers are there is to give me the ability to get the cards I want when I need them.

One thing to note though is that competitive decks are an expensive investment (the deck I'm planning on building is £117.41 approx and it's a budget deck, some cards are so high in demand they cost more, this deck contains Tapu-Lele GX which allows you to search your deck for a supporter - which is really good for a deck that contains a lot of supporters) so one copy costs nearly £40.


  • Theme decks tend to have more Pokémon and energies than trainers but are fairly even

  • Theme decks are great for beginners

  • Theme decks are slower to set up when played against competitive decks

  • Usually competitive decks are mostly trainers, with a small number of energies

  • Competitive decks with this ratio are a lot faster

  • Competitive decks are usually expensive due to many of the really good cards costing a lot of money for 1 copy

  • Competitive decks can contain other ratios if the strategy is vastly different to most of the others

  • Cards that allow you to search your deck or draw cards are really good for fast competitive decks when your main strategy is to do as much damage as possible (like the Gyrados which can do 240 easily once set up)


If you are just getting into the game another Ratio, which is similar to another of the earlier ones is this. 20 Pokemon - including evolutions 18 trainer/item 22 energy

Also for those just getting into the game you can make a decent single type deck of the cards you have the most pokemon/energy for until you get some better cards to split into the dual type decks mentioned in another of the answers above. I Play the Pokemon TCG online game as i don't have money to buy the physical cards, or the time to play in actual competitions due to my two jobs.

Good luck and have fun.


A good ratio for strong decks is as follows

12-16 Pokemon
8-12 Energy
32-40 Trainers

The trainers should be composed of the following (Note: These are only general guidelines. It is often necessary to change them depending on the deck you play)

*5-10 Draw supporters (cards that allow you to draw other cards) Examples of these include: Cynthia, Lillie, Tate and Liza, Sophocles, and Sightseer. All of these cards are currently legal and are some of the best draw supporters available.

*4-6 pokemon search cards (cards that allow you to find your pokemon) Examples of this include: Ultra Ball, Nest Ball, Timer Ball, Professor Elm's Lecture, and Pokemon fan club. These cards allow to create and maintain a game state in which your best pokemon are in play. Ultra Ball especially is extremely useful in this regard.

? Deck-specific cards (cards that are specifically used in your deck in order to advance your strategy) The number and type of cards varies based on the deck you play. One example of a commonly used deck-specific card is rare candy, which allows you to evolve a basic pokemon directly into a stage 2. This should ALWAYS be used on place of an evolving stage 1 whenever possible.

2+ Disruption cards (cards that negatively affect your opponent's game state) Examples of disruption cards include: Guzma, Crushing/Enhanced Hammers, Team skull Grunt, and Plumeria. Only Guzma is commonly used, the others are only placed in decks specifically designed for disruption.

Other trainers should be added as needed.

  • 30 pokemon (includes evolutions)
  • 12 trainer cards
  • 18 energy

Try to focus on two types of pokemon good type sets are water-fire, fire-psychic, and water fighting. You can also have a few normal type pokemon and still be efficient.

  • 2
    The "12 trainer cards" is a REALLY bad advice. No deck can properly function with so few Trainer cards.
    – user8121
    Commented Aug 9, 2018 at 7:12

When I build a deck, I usually have around 16-20 Pokemon, 26-30 trainers, and 16-18 energys. Always try to only have one or two Pokemon types in a deck at a time.

  • When it comes to Pokemon, you should try to have 4 basics, 4 stage-one, and four stage-two. There are exceptions, say you don't have enough stage-ones for how many stage-twos you have, you can replace them with rare candies, which let you skip the middle evolution in battle. Or, EXs, that don't need the previous evolutions to get out.
  • When it comes to Trainers, I like having tools, that you attach to Pokemon to give them new abilities, or raise their attack. Supporters are good, like the draw-threes, or Pokemon Center Lady, because she heals your Pokemon. good items to use usually are Prof. Letter, to search your deck for energys, or energy retrieval, to get energys from your discard pile. Also, the different poke-balls, to get out Pokemon from your deck.
  • And when it comes to energys, double colorless are always good, and other special energys that match up with you Pokemon's type to give them abilities. The rest are just basic energys.
  • My main deck has the following Pokemon: Charizard GX x3, x3 charmander, Salazzle GX x1, Salazzle x1, Salandit x2, Turtonator GX x1, Bewear GX x1, Bewear x1, Stufful x2, Tauros GX x1. Most of them are heavy hitters. (16 total)
  • My main deck has the following Trainers: Professor Kukui x2, Pokemon Center Lady x2, Hau x2, Hala x1, Olivia x1, Blacksmith x1, Fighting Fury Belt x2, Hard Charm x1, Muscle Band x1, Rare Candy x3, Professor's Letter x2, Energy Retreaval x2, Nest Ball x2, Timer Ball x2, Switch x2. They mostly help me get out pokemon and energies. (28 total)
  • My main deck has the following Energys: Burning Energy x4, Double Colorless x4, Fire Energy x8. Not very many, but enough for my deck. (16 Total)

I hope this helps someone in need!


I like fast decks so I go for 1 set of 4 set up pokemon then 1 full evolution line leading up to a gx(8 or 12 cards total), 1 set of 4 basic gx with good synergy with your deck, 12 energy is enough then rest trainers ( at least 1 set of 4 switches).

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