Players of the Pokémon TCG will no doubt tell you the game is fun: the variety of deck choices and types, the friendship, traveling to tournaments, dumping in the hotel hallway, etc. Fun, fun, fun!
And there are certain cards that were just extra fun! Now, one card that’s fun to one person might be another’s least favorite card. But for the 13 years that I’ve played Pokémon, I’ve encountered cards that almost everyone loved to play with. And here they are!
Like all card games, Pokémon is filled with luck. In today’s format, one player may open with a Pokémon Collector (HeartGold & SoulSilver), and his or her opponent may not. This often gives a big advantage to the player with the Pokémon Collector. Holon Transceiver was great because it gave both players eight chances at having a turn one Holon Mentor (2007’s equivalent to Pokémon Collector). Not just that, but it gave players access to a variety of other Holon supporters.
OMG, CHARIZARD! FIRE SPIN! 100 DAMAGE! Oh, the rush of using Fire Spin. It was so tough to get a Stage 2 Pokémon out in the days of base, let alone power it up with the four energy it needed to attack. In fact, the only time I’ve ever pulled off a Fire Spin was against a Caterpie on the Pokémon TCG Game Boy game. But that doesn’t mean it was impossible. With cards like Pokémon Breeder and Double Colorless Energy, a player who drew well had a chance of pulling this monster attack off. And, damn, was it satisfying when you did.
Mr. Mime was fun because it allowed bad players with bad decks to temporarily feel good about themselves. When their opponent finally got out Wigglytuff or some other terrible evolution, Mr. Mime could be sent up and temporarily halt the barrage of OHKOs. Of course, it didn’t do much while it was active, and it was easy to use Hitmonchan to simply Jab Mr. Mime twice for a KO, but with Hitmonchan having Psychic weakness, Mr. Mime was able to retaliate with some KOs of its own.
Being able to re-flip coins isn’t new to the Pokémon TCG. The first card that allowed you to re-flip coins was Sabrina’s ESP, which allowed you to one reflip after attacking with one of Sabrina’s Pokémon. Only one problem, though: All of Sabrina’s Pokémon sucked! Sure, you got two chances to Sonic Distortion your opponent’s Pokémon, but then your 60 HP Stage 1 was quickly sent to the discard pile (where it belonged). Victini is different. Since coin flip attacks have improved, so has the power of being able to reflip those coins. With Victini, otherwise mediocre Pokémon like Vanilluxe (Noble Victories) become extremely powerful, and otherwise unplayable cards like Unfezant (Black & White) make their way into tournament decks too. Sure, we both know you’re flipping two tails when you go for Unfezant’s Fly attack, but making Rob Downs sweat it out makes it all worth it. Because of Victini, players now cringe with unease as their opponent gets two chances to Strip Bare their entire hand with a Sharpedo. Oh, and one more bonus: Victini also comes in a full art version, so there’s a few people who get their rocks off from that.
Oh, the satisfaction you get from bringing an extra 40 damage out of nowhere to score a OHKO on an unsuspecting opponent. Black Belt shows up every once in a while in competitive environments. But unlike PlusPower, Black Belt can’t be played on the first turn to get some cheap turn one win. While most competitive decks rarely run it, its mere presence is enough to always make you nervous…
Pow! was a great comeback card that allowed for a lot of creativity. It allowed you to strand an opponent’s Active Pokémon by sending energy to a Pokémon that couldn’t make use of it. There was also a time period with an interesting ruling: because certain energy cards (Double Rainbow Energy and Scramble Energy) could not be attached to a basic Pokémon, you could play Pow! to send those energies to a Basic Pokémon, which would then cause them to go straight to the discard pile instead.
Big comebacks were uncommon until the later years of the Pokémon TCG, where cards like Pow! Hand Extension and more importantly, Scramble Energy debuted. Scramble Energy allows a monster advantage to a player who is trailing in prizes three of any energy. This card paired well with decks that spread damage without necessarily drawing quick prizes (like Empoleon/Bronzong in 2008) and allowed for some seemingly impossible comebacks.
It’s always so fun to win in Pokémon, especially when you do it by running your opponent’s deck out of cards. That’s because before Durant (Noble Victories), making a deck that could consistently win in this way was next to impossible. While Alakazam + Chansey (Base Set) decks were easily exploited, Fossil Moltres had a legitimate shot at decking someone. Okay, maybe not that legit, but when I was 14 and none of us had any idea what we were doing, I was able to deck a lot of people at my local Pokémon League with this nonsense.
Getting out a Stage 2 Pokémon in the early days of the game was so satisfying because it wasn’t easy to do. However, that excitement died pretty quickly when your opponent sent a storm of Energy Removal & Super Energy Removal (Base Set) cards flying your way, stopping your favorite Stage 2 Pokémon dead in its tracks. Blastoise, however, had a Rain Dance Pokémon Power that provided some defense against these Energy Removal trainer cards that wrecked the other Stage 2 Pokémon, such as Charizard, Venusaur & Machamp. Its Hydro Pump attack combined with a PlusPower allowed for one-hit KOs on Electabuzz & Hitmonchan (Base Set), the two big Basic Pokémon that dominated the early years of the game. While Blastoise decks usually lost to these decks anyway, it was the focus of the only deck during the Base Set era that put up a fighting chance against them.
Wigglytuff fits into that same category as Blastoise. It was an evolution that could give Hitmonchan & Electabuzz a run for their money. Just like Blastoise, it maxed out at 60 damage and needed a PlusPower to OHKO these 70 HP Pokémon. At its time in the game, there weren’t too many creative attacks that allowed you to easily increase the damage dealt like Wigglytuff’s Do the Wave did. Filling that bench, playing the Double Colorless Energy, then the PlusPower to KO that 70 HP Hitmonchan or Electabuzz was both fun and satisfying. After all, before Wigglytuff, a OHKO on these Pokémon was uncommon.
That’s going to wrap up the first section. Check back soon for the rest of the list! Thanks to my proof-readers, Tim Doty, Theodore John Paul Adams & Rodel Flores.