Top 20 Most Enjoyable Cards in Pokémon TCG History (10-1)

If you missed part one, be sure to check it out here.

#10 Recall (Gym Heroes)

Oh, the surprises! I remember the first time I walked into this one. I was playing at a mall tournament in 2000 against a Gyarados deck. My Electabuzz put his Gyarados up to 70 damage. One more Thunderpunch and that Gyarados was gone – wait, what’s that – Recall? Magikarp does what? Boom, Flail for 70! At the time of its release, this was about the only practical use for Recall, but I’m sure there were endless other mediocre possibilities this card could allow you to surprise your opponent with.

#9 Tickling Machine (Gym Heroes)

You know this card is going to be fun just by looking at the wall of text on it. Tickling Machine had some cool gimmicks, namely, being combined with Impostor Professor Oak (Base Set) to try to deck your opponent. Of course, a tails flip ending your turn kept it in check. But if you were ever lucky enough to hit two or three in a row, you could combine them with a barrage of Imposter Professor Oaks and perhaps some Item Finders and deck out an opponent who had as many as 14 or 21 cards in their deck!

#8 Rocket’s Admin. (Team Rocket Returns)

Rocket’s Admin (reprinted in Noble Victories as N) was one of the few great comeback cards of the TCG. Not only that, but it allowed for a little bit of strategy by allowing certain Pokémon to get knocked out at the right time. Timing was everything with Rocket’s Admin, and a well-timed Admin after your Pokémon ex had been knocked out could turn the tables on your opponent, limiting his options and allowing you to come back from behind.

#7 Alakazam (Base Set)

Sure, Black & White would eventually unveil a reprint of Alakazam’s Damage Swap Pokémon Power on a Stage 2 Reuniclus, but in all fairness, Alakazam was here first. Alakazam’s Pokémon Power was so different than all of the other original Pokémon Powers in the game as it was the only thing that could be done over and over with no limit. It allowed for some gimmicky stall decks, all of which were exploitable but fun to play nonetheless. Moving those original blue & yellow damage counters that came in the theme decks until you realized you ran out of damage counters? Ahh, great memories.

#6 Ditto (Fossil)

No Ditto has ever matched the power of the very first one printed in the Fossil expansion. Ditto’s ability to turn any energy into any type allowed for a variety of tricks that could surprise your opponent. Double Colorless Energy (Base Set) was its best combo, and it kept otherwise imbalanced cards like Sneasel (Neo: Genesis) in check. Even playing against Ditto was fun because there were so many creative ways to knock it out. You could use Gust of Wind to send it to the bench and lower its HP to 50, often immediately scoring a KO, or if you’re legendary Pokémon TCG Veteran Scott Gerhardt, you can get even more creative. Gerhardt came up with the idea of running one 30 HP Eevee in his deck to counter Ditto. A single energy & PlusPower would KO the Ditto, which was forced to copy Eevee’s low HP.

#5 Electrode ex (Fire Red/Leaf Green)

Knocking out your own Pokémon allows for a variety of cool tricks (at the time, namely Pow! Hand Extension and Rocket’s Admin) But there’s another great thing about Electrode ex’s Extra Energy Bomb Poké-POWER: it kept games moving along. Recent Pokémon formats (especially 2008, 2009 & 2010) were plagued with 45+ minute matches that drew tournaments into the early morning hours. Decks with Electrode ex usually won or lost in about 15 minutes. That meant you could play a few games of Pokémon without dedicating your entire day to it. Or, if you were playing Electrode ex at a tournament, it usually gave you enough time in between rounds to catch a glimpse of your friends’ matches, eat a snack, and, unfortunately, listen to every nit’s sour grapes about how they got turn two’d.

But that’s not to downplay the disadvantages of this downtime, either. These quick games could also pose liability issues as players like Matt A are unlikely to use the extra time productively, often spending their 15 minutes repeatedly being told to quit creating a fire hazard by blocking the exit aisle. Also, if you’re the parent of a hyperactive kid, you might not want to give him the Electrode ex deck. He’ll blow up three of those things faster than you can say, “Extra Energy Bomb,” and then disappear into the tournament hall. The next time you see little Joey is going to be on the back of a milk carton. Thanks a lot, Electrode.

#4 Mew ex (Legend Maker)

Oh, the possibilities! With Holon Mentor in the format to fetch out three basic Pokémon, it was easy to give Mew ex access to a variety of creative options. Two decks in the 2005-2006 format were amongst the best that year. The first was a Manectric ex deck invented by Seena Ghaziaskar that used a swarm of Mew ex to keep using Manectric ex’s Disconnect attack, locking a Stadium in play.

Another Mew ex-based deck, called “Mew Lock,” (or “Mynx” if you want to sound pompous) is credited to Chris Fulop and AJ Schumacher of Ohio. This deck paired Mew ex with a combination of bizarre, seemingly unrelated Basic Pokémon. Now, don’t let Seena Ghaziaskar’s 0-4 Gym Challenge performance (including getting owned by the Pokémom’s theme deck Round 4) with Mew Lock fool you. Mew Lock was an incredibly strong deck, probably the best deck in the format at the time. The reason it wasn’t used at National & World Championships was because it took so long to draw prizes and thus could not win in the 30 minute time limit.

Mew Lock would win by stranding an opposing Pokémon active, while the Mew ex player repeatedly used Pow! Hand Extension to stop it from building enough energy to attack or retreat. Minun allowed Mew ex to recover the Pow! Hand Extension, Wobbuffet added to the defending Pokémon’s retreat cost, and Jynx allowed Mew ex to attack the bench while the helpless Pokémon was stuck active.

#3 Brock’s Ninetales (Gym Heroes)

Oh the things you could do with this. Brock’s Ninetales had the ability to shift into any Evolution card you wanted. If you had a Brock’s Vulpix on the bench, it was one turn away from turning into a Charizard, a Steelix, a Feraligatr – who knew!? But what’s even more fun about Brock’s Ninetales is that you could pair it with a unique trainer card: Brock’s Protection. Brock’s Protection was one of the few ways to deal with the devastatingly popular Energy Removal and Super Energy Removal cards that made so many other otherwise good cards unplayable. You could shift into a Steelix, slap four Special Energy on it, and, once Brock’s Protection was on Brock’s Vulpix or Brock’s Ninetales, it would stay on the Steelix, too, and that well of Metal Energy was untouchable.

Originally, when this card was released in Japan, it was rumored that the Pokémon Power: Shapeshift was different. In America, Shapeshift did not allow you to use Pokémon Powers of Pokémon you Shapeshifted into. In Japan, rumor was you could, and a deck featuring both Blastoise & Charizard became popular. You would Shapeshift into Blastoise, Rain Dance a bunch of water energy on to it, then next turn discard Blastoise, Shapeshift into Charizard, and begin using Fire Spin. Was this just some made up story or was it truly a deck that was so strong the card had to be rewritten? No one seems to know for sure.

#2 Team Galactic’s Wager (Mysterious Treasures)

Although the idea of playing Rock-Paper-Scissors appeared earlier in the TCG with Misty’s Duel (Gym Heroes), the card saw no competitive play. Team Galactic’s Wager upped the ante by putting the loser at a clear disadvantage, and thus became a tournament-viable card. Those that realized that there was indeed some skill involved in playing Rock-Paper-Scissors welcomed this card, and there is no doubt in my mind that those who were a mental step behind their opponent repeatedly got their hand hit down to three cards and lost games.

Can you guess #1? Here’s a hint: it’s the only card that has been in at least one of the Finalists deck in the Masters Division of every single World Championship.


#1 Rare Candy (Sandstorm, Emerald, Holon Phantoms, Great Encounters, POP5, Unleashed, Dark Explorers)

Before the debut of Rare Candy, Pokémon had been a game dominated by strong Basic Pokémon and Stage 1 Pokémon. Fans of the video game were the most disappointed that their Stage 2 favorites like Charizard, Blastoise and Venusaur were rarely used in strong decks. While some Stage 2s worked their way into some of the Modified formats over the years, it wasn’t until Rare Candy was printed that a variety of them would become some of the best decks in the format. Rare Candy allowed cards like Blaziken (Ruby/Sapphire), Pidgeot (Fire Red/Leaf Green), Blastoise ex (Fire Red/Leaf Green), Nidoqueen (Fire Red/Leaf Green), Gardevoir and Gallade (Secret Wonders) and Magnezone Prime (Triumphant) to not just see competitive play, but to win World Championships.

No card in the game has had as big an impact on the way Pokémon is played as Rare Candy has. Since it allows so many other Pokémon to become playable (Stage 2 decks simply don’t work without it), it makes the game more fun too. It’s no wonder Japan keeps reprinting it. In fact, Rare Candy is one of only five Trainer cards that have been legal in every single Modified format from 2003-2004 on. Trivia: Try to name the other four! (Scroll down for answer.)

More interesting facts about Rare Candy: Since its debut in 2003, Rare Candy has been featured in four of the eight Worlds-winning decks in the Masters Division! The four years it didn’t show up in the 1st Place deck, it was in all of the 2nd Place lists. Some years the 1st & 2nd place decks both played Rare Candy.

Honorable Mentions:

Thanks to my proof-readers, Tim Doty, Theodore John Paul Adams & Rodel Flores.

-Jason Klaczynski

22 responses to “Top 20 Most Enjoyable Cards in Pokémon TCG History (10-1)”

  1. Bianchi

    where is swoop teleporter?

  2. Christian Ortiz

    Great read. wish atm rock, jirachi DX, and Pidgeot FRLG made it up there.

  3. Andrew Knaack

    Swoop and ATM rock were snubbed :[

  4. Rokman

    it’s the only card that has been in at least one of the Finalists deck in the Masters Division of every single World Championship.

    Very interesting, never noticed before..

  5. Mark Yake

    I disagree. The 2 cards that had the biggest impact on the game were super energy removal and cleffa. Both of those cards were staples in every competitive deck until wizards and later nintendo were forced to ban them. Super energy removal forced the game into a situation where cards like brock’s protection/steelix/brock’s sandlash or kingdra were the few competitive pokemon, because if you couldn’t either protect your energy or quickly regain energy, you couldn’t attack. Cleffa changed the game in that most games were decided by the coin flips of the baby rule.

  6. Pokemonguy

    Rare candy wont be in the world championship deck this year the format is full of speed. Accention is the way Dark deck is fast.

    1. El_jonaman

      Klingklan uses it, also vileplume so it just might work…

    2. mac1275

      Miltank will take the world by storm!

  7. Kuiper

    Here’s a video of Jason Klaczynski playing rock-paper-scissors against Yacine Sekkoum (Sami’s brother) at Worlds in 2008:


    Dang, got 4 out of 5. Guessed Full heal instead of Energy search. It did make me a little sad not to see Fossil Muk. First started playing everyone had big established decks with all their powers, lock it down. Muk was the great equalizer for us that couldn’t get Alakazam, Charizard, Blastiose, etc. Live Forever Muk!

  9. coolestman22

    When I heard “It has been in at least one WC deck every time”, I thought basic energy. LOL.

  10. Ben Stuart

    Great article, picked some of my faves for that ‘fun’ but also strategic factor.

  11. nirwan

    i have got 13 of them

  12. vulpix-pie

    Doesn’t Pokemon Breeder from Base Set do the same thing as rare candy?

    1. EndothermicNuclearBomb

      It doesn’t do Stage 1.

    2. oEvo

      Also, up until the errata, you could use candy the same turn you put the basic down (turn 1).

  13. killerpotatoe

    “Can you guess #1? Here’s a hint: it’s the only card that has been in at
    least one of the Finalists deck in the Masters Division of every single
    World Championship.”

    What has Pokemon been doing?

  14. Kkitten

    I have some of these

  15. iantrhgspouvc

    I have a lot or those

    1. The#1best

      Omg me to!

  16. Skyler Knopp

    Very Enjoyable read, Jason :)

  17. Ash Magnum

    never played competitive pokemon.. but this article is interesting, cool, and nostalgic.. well done