Trainer, Supporter and Stadium cards (T & S) are usually the most overlooked cards for new players who are building decks. Most new players are more excited about putting lots of different powerful pokemon into their decks that they leave little room for Trainer cards. T & S cards are the engine that drives a good deck.
In the current format, the Fincastle Gym leaders have refined a certain combination of these cards that makes our decks very consistent. We can plug almost any set of pokemon characters into our base set up and get consistent results. With some the biggest tournaments of the year to come, we can’t share our builds yet, but here are some general ideas.
Read and understand what the T & S cards in your collection do. Some get a little complicated, so if you don’t quite get it, ask one of the Gym Leaders (at league or by email). You may have some great cards that you’ve never looked at.
Aim for about 20 cards in your deck to be T & S cards. Within that 20, get a good mix for cards that search out pokemon (both basic and evolutions), ones that help you get energy, ones that recover both pokemon and items from your discard pile and ones that refresh your hand. This can be done in so many ways, it would take multiple posts to cover it all. Don’t over load on Stadiums. 3 or 4 copies of a stadium is usually plenty to enure that you get one in hand and have a back up if someone knocks your stadium out.
Does it have to be exactly 20 T & S cards? Of course not. You may throw in more, especially if you deck’s strategy is speed or if you try to heal and “tank” your big Stage 2 pokemon. Gym Leader Logan’s Regional Championship deck had only 18, while Gym Leader Joel’s 3 gym decks have 21, 23 and 32. It really depends on the deck.
Test your deck over at least 5 or 6 games without making any changes. If in every game you hold the same T & S cards in your hand without using them, then swap them for something different. If when you play, you can’t get the pokemon you want, then add cards like Bebes Search, Professor Elm’s Training Method, Luxury Ball or Pokemon Communication. Don’t know what else to add? You can never go wrong with cards that heal/remove damage counters.
Here’s the most important tip, especially for new players. Don’t forget to play your T & S cards in your hand during your turn. Younger and newer players often get so focused on attacking once they have one of their good guys up, they forget about the cards in their hand that can help set up the pokemon on their bench. One fully set up pokemon may get you a couple of prizes, but three fully set up ones may win you a game. Remember, the Pokemon card game (much like chess) is not just about what you will do on this turn, but also about what you will do 3 turns from now and how you’ll counter your opponent during those turns.
Check back on Wednesday for Tip #3. See you there!