Changing Formats: A Beginner’s Guide

I’m not sure about you guys, but when they first came out with the possibility of having Prime cards in your deck, I was so excited! I asked my parents if for my birthday they would get me a booster box of the Undaunted set. After bugging them for weeks, they caved in and I was so happy. Little did I know, these cards were all going to be part of one of the biggest formats in the history of this game. As of this moment, we have a total of 10 sets in the current format for the World Championships. For those competing to become the World Champion, this means they have to figure out what everyone else in their field might be playing. Now, when you have a total of 12-1300 cards in a set things can seem a little bit daunting. So, that’s why this article will be focusing on the cards that we are saying goodbye to this format and the cards we can expect to make an impact on the current format after worlds.

This guide will be split up into 2 parts:
~First of all, a preemptive welcome to the new format and a summation of what we can expect to come next year.
~Secondly, a short rundown of the cards and decks in the format we will be losing.

The New Format!

As many of us finished our season run at Nationals this year, we would like to take a small step back and prepare ourselves for next season. This means familiarizing ourselves with the new set coming out and looking to start a new and exciting creative process. For some new players to the game, this may not be as easy as we think. As players who have been a part of the game for a long time could tell you, the changing of formats is always a very challenging but fun experience as the game throws hundreds of new things at you that make you go, “Wow.” When it comes to 2012/2013, however, I have a few tips and tricks for players new and old that might give you a little bit of a head start to next season and what all players can expect come Battle Roads.

Tips for Familiarizing Yourself With a New Type of Pokémon

Dragons are bursting onto the scene!

With the addition of Dragon type Pokémon in the next format, people from all over that haven’t yet had a chance to play these cards are wondering if they are as good as people from Japan are making them out to be. As we don’t yet know how these cards will fare against our trusty decks from this format yet, we can only speculate about how good they will be and if they will indeed be as formidable next season. For starters, the number one piece of advice I can give you is do not jump the gun on adding these Dragon Pokémon to every deck you have. Like with everything else Pokémon related, a certain amount of patience is key to understanding the game, and being able to think rationally will get you a long way.

When it comes to building a deck in the new format I have a few pieces of advice for new and old players that I hope will get you thinking BW-on for the rest of the season. With the addition of 2 Dragon type EX’s and no Energy specifically for dragon type Pokémon we will only see these cards added to old decks or used to create new and exciting decks. However, before rushing in to create a brand new deck with Giratina and Rayquaza, it is advised that you take a look at the cards you’ve been using since Black and White came out and deciding whether or not these cards fit into decks that you’ve already made. On the other hand, when seeing cards like Garchomp and Altaria joined together to take the Japanese format by storm, we can see that a deck that features lots of evolution Pokemon is going to be great when the format changes over. My last tip for the new set is in the form of Trainers and how effective they will be. As with all Trainers for previous formats, there are those that stick out as clear favourites for already popular decks, and there are those that are initially overlooked but find their way into rogue decks to do incredibly well. My advice is to keep an open mind when we get these cards. When trying out the new type or the new set of Trainers and Supporters we will be receiving, the most important factor in your decision making should be the inclusion of these cards into already great decks. If you plan on creating your own style of deck, think carefully and have some fun while doing it!

Goodbye Vileplume, Hello Dragons!

Vileplume just wants a hug goodbye.

Next up, I thought I’d offer a quick look at the cards from HGSS-Call of Legends that were popular this format that will be missing next format and what that means for some decks trying to make the transition to next season. I shall be starting with the Trainers and moving over to the Pokémon that were popular this season.


Junk Arm

Junk Arm is being discarded once and for all.

One of the cards that was featured in most every deck for the last 12 months, Junk Arm has become one of the best consistency boosters in the game and one of the pro’s favourite cards. With the ability to get back Pokémon Catchers and the capability to place cards that can be recovered by Abilities in the discard pile, Junk Arm will be missed sorely by fast-paced decks and will slow down the format considerably.

Dual Ball

In the same vain as Junk Arm, this card was a wonderful card for decks that relied on fast starts to trample the opponent. The coin flip aspect did put people off slightly, but with Junk Arm around at the same time, you had an opportunity to potentially search for up to 4 Pokémon per turn. Definitely this is a favourite that will be missed by quick decks.


The Twins have grown out of the format.

Twins was a Supporter that pretty much made the Vileplume variants of the game playable and gave a huge benefit to those types of decks that relied on time to set up and prepare their arsenal. However, with the addition of some Pokémon and Ace-Spec cards, this card will be just a distant memory of time when Stage 2’s were rarely used.

Professor Oak’s New Theory

Once again, a fantastic card that was used throughout the entire format to boost your consistency and give you a fresh start each turn. Although being a favourite for many decks, we have found quite a good replacement in Bianca or Cheren that will be seen a whole lot more in times to come.



Arguably one of the most annoying Pokémon of the format, Vileplume offered a type of game play that promoted patience and tactics to eventually overwhelm your opponent and cause him or her to run out of options. Without this card the use of such cards like Vanilluxe, Accelgor and others will go down incredibly as the game becomes more free flowing and focused on setting up instead of all out attack. Some of the decks that will cease to exist include: Vanilluxe/Vileplume/Victini (VVV), Vileplume/Mew/Accelgor and The Truth that took second place at Worlds 2011.


A card that skyrocketed in popularity towards the later stages of the format, Smeargle’s ability was an incredibly amazing tool with scouting, boosting consistency and being able to set up with lightning speed. A card that was featured in almost every deck, this card does not have a solid replacement in the upcoming format and will once again be a catalyst in slowing down the format. Decks that played Smeargle never relied completely on the card to make the deck, but most every deck that it featured in will slow down even slightly.


Shaymin was a great card that revolved around the idea of fast set up (something that a lot of these cards have in common) and paired amazingly with cards like Mewtwo EX and in most heavy hitter decks of the format. Seeing it go is once again going to slow these decks down and make way for cards that were previously obsolete to perhaps see a little bit more play. No more Shaymin proves very tough for a lot of decks, but does not completely cripple them.

Celebi and the Primes

Prime time is over.

After Worlds we say goodbye to all of the Primes from the HeartGold/SoulSilver sets that proved to be incredibly fun to use and worked in many different types of deck. However, the biggest loss for the format and for one deck in particular comes in the form of Celebi Prime. This card was the key factor in the CMT deck that became popular earlier in the year as an incredibly powerful first turn threat. We say goodbye to many others, too, some which were playable like Donphan Prime and cards that saw barely any play at all like Houndoom Prime.

All in all, we say goodbye to many decks that will be losing their key cards going into the next format and say hello to a completely new type of Pokémon to bring something new once again to the Pokémon TCG.. I hope this article has proved slightly helpful for those of you looking ahead to the new format and thank you to The Top Cut for considering this article in any way.

2 responses to “Changing Formats: A Beginner’s Guide”

  1. Bodhi Cutler

    Thankyou to the guys at The Top Cut for considering my article, it means a lot to me :) Cheers!

  2. Ross Gilbert

    I started playing shortly after the EXs came out. I’m gonna miss them.

    Mostly Donphan. We don’t have a Donphan now!!

    Though there was never a Mamoswine Prime. That sucked!