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What is the Theme Format in Pokemon TCG Online?

Pokemon TCG Online, or PTCGO, features a number of different ways to play. The different formats vary wildly in how competitive they are and how enfranchised you need to be to compete. Trainer challenges, playing against AI opponents with preconstructed decks, are the most friendly to beginners, but the Theme format is the next best way to play for beginners and a great way to grind out rewards for even deeply enfranchised players.

The Theme format is, as the name implies, a format that employs the use of theme decks. Players start the game with a free theme deck, can unlock their starter decks for play in the theme format by completing trainer challenges, and they can spend trainer tokens (at 500 each) to purchase more powerful theme decks straight from the shop. Players can take any of these theme decks into the Theme queue, where they’ll be matched up against other theme decks– guaranteeing a relatively “fair” experience as everyone is on equal footing (or, at least, as equal as any given theme deck is, which I’ll get to further below).

A Rewarding Experience

While there are many reasons to consider playing the Theme format, one of the biggest reasons is the rewards. Just playing in the theme queue will net you pokemon tokens, experience, and more, but if you spend some tickets to play in a Theme tournament you can potentially earn some substantial rewards. First place in a Theme event will neet you two packs from a recent set, one random pack, and 200 bonus trainer tokens (getting you almost halfway to acquiring a new theme deck all on its own). Even if you don’t place first, you still have a very good shot at earning runner-up rewards that are more than worth your time.

A (Mostly) Fair Way to Play

The siren call of rewards is one thing, but for me the biggest draw of the Theme format is just how fair it feels. Since everyone is on more or less the same power level, a match comes down to a more classic combination of luck and skill– combining your knowledge of how to play a given deck with pure luck of the draw. This means that it’s rare for you to come away from a Theme match feeling anything but like you played your best. However, there are still some notable power disparities to keep in mind.

Not all theme decks are created equal. While luck of the draw and knowhow can take you very far with literally any of the decks, even the unlocked starter decks that you earn in the trainer challenge, there are some serious powerhouses hiding in the shop for those 500 tokens. Among these, Relentless Flame is my personal favorite as a deck designed to power out some seriously strong evolutions in the form of Charizard and Nidoqueen. These two engine cards can bring a win with little effort while other “starter” theme decks struggle to piece anything together.

Pick a Powerful Theme

I will be doing deep dives on each of the best theme decks in the format, but if you want to enter the format with the best chance of winning you should strongly consider the most powerful “meta” theme decks. While each of the decks can be competitive, the best option for your 500 trainer coins are any of the top five:

Charizard Theme Deck

Storm Caller

Unseen Depths

Relentless Flame

Soaring Storm

You genuinely can’t go wrong with any of these, as they all feature powerhouse cards that can stomp many of the lesser theme decks without much effort. The question really comes down to your own personal preference in Pokemon or typing- my inner five year old still loves Charizard with a burning passion (pun intended) so Relentless Flame and the aptly named Charizard Theme Deck both make me happy.

1 thought on “What is the Theme Format in Pokemon TCG Online?”

  1. How can I use my “mental might” theme deck in the trainer challenge. I only have the water, electric, fire decks. However I have the mental might deck unlocked.

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