In the Pokemon TCG, there are a number of resources that you need to consider, but it all comes down to a numbers game. Your deck must contain 60 cards and determining the correct split of Pokemon, Energy and Trainer cards is the key to a successful game. When first starting out, especially if your goal is to jam some kitchen table games with friends, an even 20/20/20 split is perfectly acceptable and even recommendable!
All you need to do is find which Pokemon you want to build around, make sure you have an appropriate amount of Wnergy to supplement them (try starting out with only one or two types to begin with so this can be as simple as possible) and pick Trainer and Item cards that best benefit your chosen Pokemon. We always recommend embracing personal preference and creativity when it comes to friendly kitchen table games, as you can always have more fun embracing your love for individual cards and effects.
At a certain point, however, you may begin to notice that you’re drawing too much energy, your Pokemon are not quite performing as well as they could or your Trainer cards don’t seem to be pulling their weight. At that point, it’s time to further consider how you’re splitting up your deck’s resources. Increasingly, competitive Pokemon decks run fewer than the “base” 20 Energy (as little as half that base if they have other ways to gain resources or guarantee consistency), and then further supplement their strategy with even more powerful Trainer cards and toolbox Pokemon.
So what allows you to run less Energy and more power? As noted above: card advantage and consistency enablers. For example, Professor’s Research lets you dump your hand for a new fistful, generating a fresh batch of resources for you to play off of. Marnie does much the same while offering a weaker version of the effect for your opponent.
In a Fire-focused deck, Welder lets you throw down energy for “free”, replacing both itself and the Energy it drops while quickly upping your firepower and drawing into even more fuel. Finally, there are a number of strong search cards that guarantee that you can find your key Pokemon, such as Quick Ball or Pokemon Communication. By running effects like these, you can afford to run less energy without sacrificing deck effectiveness.
The exact number of cards you switch out is something that we highly recommend you experiment with. Pay a few games swapping out four to six Energy for some of these consistency enablers and see what feels right, then you can start considering other ways to power up your decks. After that, you can more strongly consider specific deck archetypes that you want to build towards, something that we’ll be covering in our next Introduction to Pokemon TCG article!