Hello CFB! Happy 2021-2022 season! Standard has shifted, TAG TEAMs are gone, and boy am I glad. I loved TAG TEAMs when they were first introduced, and had a ton of success with them as I talked about in my previous article right here:
After delving into the best TAG TEAMs, I was poised with the next question: what are the top cards of all time? Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re likely aware that we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of Pokemon. Not going to lie, that makes me feel a bit old, as I’ve been here for all of it, played pretty much everything Pokemon related, and even competed seriously enough to be the only Masters player ever to qualify for both TCG and VGC Worlds in 2016.
Having said that, there’s a lot of Pokemon cards out there. From Base Set through to Evolving Skies, and I didn’t personally play the first formats until Neo Genesis. However, I’ve definitely talked, read and engaged with a ton of players who did, and I came up with my own personal top 10 cards of all time. I’m sure there are some that no one will question, and others that, as you read, you’ll think “what is Pablo thinking?” I’d love to hear your thoughts and counter arguments as to why some of these cards do or don’t belong, and which ones I missed.
Without further ado, here they are:
This card was mistranslated from its Japanese counterpart, missing a crucial part dictating that its Mind Games Pokemon Power only worked when it was your Active Pokemon. The English card stated it could work from the bench, and thus it also stacked. This created an incredibly powerful deck by combining Lass (both players shuffle all their Trainer cards back into their deck), Cleffa’s Eeeeeeek attack to redraw seven and this Pokemon Power to prevent an opponent from ever playing a single Trainer card throughout a game.
Even though Wizards of the Coast knew the card was mistranslated, they never issued an errata, making Slowking an incredibly dominant and powerful deck for almost two years.
The most popular baby Pokemon in the TCG, as the baby rule introduced in the Neo sets gave players a way to combat the insane amount of hand disruption that was available during that era. Not only did Cleffa provide incredible draw power with its Eeeeeeek attack to give you a brand new hand to work with, but the baby rule made Cleffa very hard to be KOed as any attack against it had a 50 percent chance to fail. Combined with a Focus Band, Cleffa became a formidable card to help any deck get properly set up, even with cards like Slowking slowing the game down.
(Fun fact: that is one ‘e’ in the attack name for each card you got to redraw after utilizing Cleffa’s attack.)
I think this might be a controversial card from this list, but I’m fairly certain it belongs. The Wonder Tag Ability was an integral part of decks flowing properly during the 2017 and 2018 season, and quite simply, if you weren’t playing Tapu Lele-GX, you were doing it wrong. Tapu Lele-GX could help you set up early with Brigette or Lillie, find the game winning Guzma in the mid-late game or provide support by locking down your opponent’s hand with an N. This, plus plenty more uses, keeps Tapu Lele-GX a staple in Expanded to this day, and an essential Pokemon for any deck to consistently work during its prime. It could even become a solid attacker in a pinch, punishing other high Energy Pokemon and setting up some nice damage for your other Pokemon to clean up threats.
At first I had this card ranked much higher, but as I kept on thinking and analyzing over the other cards it ended up dropping a few spots. Nevertheless, Zoroark-GX is exactly what you would want out of any Pokemon card. Colorless attack cost, meaning it’s splashable with literally any other Pokemon. It’s Trade Ability provides card advantage, allowing you to find the cards you need, when you need them, and it stacks as well. And finally, the attack and synergy with Double Colorless Energy means it can be a formidable attacker that can be powered up in one turn. When Zoroark-GX was legal, the damage it dealt was more than enough to OHKO single prize Pokemon or 2HKO two prizers, especially with the help of Professor Kukui and Choice Band.
Zoroark-GX paired with pretty much every viable Pokemon from that era, combining with very aggressive Pokemon such as Lycanroc-GX, in a full control mode with Oranguru and Energy denial resources, along with more middle of the ground options such as Golisopod-GX or Garbodor. The card was only legal for Worlds 2018, as it was rotated just before Worlds 2019, but rest assured a Zoroark-GX deck would’ve likely won the 2019 World Championship had it been legal for it.
Another incredibly dominant Pokemon, and the last one to make the list. Gardevoir (7) was a step above Zoroark-GX in terms of raw power. It’s stats, 110 HP and 60 damage for PCC, were perfectly in balance with the power levels of the Diamond and Pearl era. It’s Poke-Power Telepass offered extra consistency by allowing you to play a second Supporter each turn, and it combined really well in the mid-late stages of the game with Judge, as its attack Psychic Lock prevented any Poke-Powers from being used during your opponent’s turn, shutting down the main consistency/draw engine at the time: Claydol.
This card offered disruption, aggression, control and consistency all in one card. And to top it all off, it had access to extra HP and another Poke-Power with Gardevoir Lv. X, along with a branching evolution with Gallade, offering even more versatility and also type coverage.
The original, not the Ace Spec reprint, was so good that it makes sense that when they brought it back you could only play one, rather than four. When we all build a Pokemon deck, we need different cards at different times to execute our strategy flawlessly in order to achieve victory. Computer Search is essentially a wild card that lets you find whatever you need, when you need it. Despite it being only available during the first years of the Pokemon TCG, it makes sense that it has never been printed again in its original form given how powerful it is. Four copies of this card were played in pretty much every single deck, no questions asked, as targeted search for a resource you need will always be better than random card draw.
After the Ace Spec, this search for any card has always been conditioned to opponent’s taking KO’s (Teammates) or being behind in prize cards (Twins), and it was then printed in Supporter form with Red’s Challenge, but I don’t expect to ever see something similar to this again in the future.
If you’ve noticed up until this point, all the previous cards listed help your deck one way or another, to either set up your strategy or to block your opponent’s (or in the case of Gardevoir, both!). However, Rare Candy, before it received an errata, let you break one of the most important rules of the game: the conditions for evolving a Pokemon. Being able to bench a weak Basic Pokemon and immediately allow it to evolve into its Stage 1 or Stage 2 was completely broken at the time. Combined with the fact that this card existed at the same time as Pokemon like Pidgeot from FRLG, Blastoise ex, Dark Ampharos, Dark Tyranitar, Milotic and others, made it extremely valuable and playable back then and up until the errata happened where it became a Stage 1 skip rather than a rule breaker card.
I myself used this strategy of immediate evolution to almost win the 2005 Pokemon World Championships, as the 1-1 Milotic HL line I used was extremely effective at shutting down the residual damage from the Dark Tyranitar/Dark Ampharos, Rock Lock deck. My teammates and I kept the secret tech until that tournament, and I will never forget my opponent’s jaws dropping to the floor at the sight of Milotic popping out of nowhere and healing the whole field with its Healing Shower Poke-Power.
This card took the rule breaking to a whole other level, completely eliminating the Evolution restrictions and allowing either player to evolve their Pokemon freely. It’s no surprise that this card was heavily played and was a great balancing act to the overpowered Basic Pokemon being released at the time through the SP mechanic. I remember the format where this card was allowed very fondly, as it allowed for both Evolution decks and Basic Pokemon decks to thrive and be competitive, as opposed to future eras where it was one of the other.
As the name specifies it, Broken Time Space was quite literally broken, and even though it wasn’t necessary for every deck like some of these cards, the complete disregard of one of the main rules of the game is enough to put this card very high on my list.
Gust of Wind and later on Pokemon Catcher, let you target any Pokemon of your opponent’s at will. Obviously this is something that you must always take into account and prepare for, but depending on the format, this card usually singlehandedly wins games and to this date, its Supporter counterparts in Guzma, Lysandre and Boss’s Orders, are limited by the Supporter rule yet essential to winning games, as most of them come down to finding it to take your final prize cards.
Pokemon clearly realized the mistake of printing Gust of Wind again with Pokemon Catcher, and later versions of the card included the coin flip which we now all know and love. Having your pick on which Pokemon you get to attack on any given turn, without any restrictions, leaves very little room for comebacks if either player gets a small advantage and games simply snowball out of control from there.
Finally, number one in my list is probably the least “impressive” card in terms of complexity, strategy around it or even artwork, compared to all the previous ones. However, it’s that simplicity that makes this card stand out, printed all the way back in Base Set and still relevant in Expanded and Standard (albeit in its watered down form in Twin Energy).
Double Colorless Energy is similar to Rare Candy or Broken Time Space in that it let’s you “cheat” one of the basic rules of Pokemon, which is attaching one Energy per turn. Obviously not all Pokemon have Colorless attacks cost, but a ton of really good ones, including the top three Pokemon I listed earlier, could use it very effectively and became a primary partner for them.
Double Colorless Energy is, to me, the most simple, effective, powerful and best card ever printed. It will continue to win countless tournaments in Expanded, has been included in World Championship-winning decks more than any other card and has been essential to the Pokemon TCG since day one.
I’m sure you’ve finished reading this and there’s a ton of cards that popped into your head that could make your own personal list. I’m also sure there’s others that you might not even be aware of, depending on how long you’ve been playing the game for. And that, in my opinion, is something magical about the Pokemon TCG – how long it has been going for, and it’s not looking to stop anytime soon.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article, hope you enjoyed it and please, tweet at us at ChannelFireball what your top 10 cards of all time are. We’d love to hear from you! Until next time!