Top 25 Most "Fun to Play" Competitive Cards of All Time! (25-16)
If you are reading this I assume you play Pokémon TCG competitively. However, this isn’t a chore to you, you play this game to have fun. But not every game you play is fun. To be more specific, not every deck or matchup is fun: sometimes you play one of those glorious back and forth games worthy of a Worlds finals and then there are those boring games with no interaction between the players.
This is due to the cards used in the decks. Cards can be complex and offer a lot of possibilities of usage or can be plain simple with only one function. There are cards that require a certain strategy and others that go auto-pilot and wreck the field by themselves. Sure, some cards are just powerful and there is no denying that it feels good to have power in our hands, but in competitive play you want to have control over that power and be able to switch gears and play around what your opponent is trying to do to stop you.
Let’s analyse this with an example: the current Blastoise deck.
I’ll just make one thing clear first: it’s going to sound like I’m bashing the deck when, in reality, I’m not. Not only do I think it is a powerful deck, I think it is a valid, safe choice (though too expensive for some) and it isn’t, by no means, overpowered in this format.
With that being said, Blastoise in the least interactive deck in Pokémon since Uxie and Sableye donk decks. Even Shuppet add more interaction and flexibility than this. I know, this is a bold statement by can you really deny it? Set up decks are much of a solitaire game than the other strategies in this game. Yes, even the old decks made you go auto-pilot mode due to the linear strategy of evolve and then OHKO stuff. Nostalgia may say otherwise, but that just what it is, nostalgia.
Blastoise doesn’t react to any play or plays around anything, playing it is just doing the same thing over and over again.
Don't get me wrong, it's not because I'm doing the same attack over and over again (in fact, most of the cards in this list use one attack during the whole game), it's the lack of interaction. What I'm doing is powerful, but is automatic. I don't change the way I play no matter what my opponent throws at me, nor does he expect any different from what I've been doing since the beginning of the game. Decks like Blastoise feel like I'm just a robot playing through a simple script.
Let’s put it this way: decks like these create the same game-sate no matter the situation or matchup.
What turns me down when playing these types of cards is the vulnerability: if what I'm doing is so automatic, everything I do is predictable and easily stoppable. There is not room to react and play around what my opponent is doing, no flexibility. It’s like being stuck in loop.
And please, don't talk about direct counters. They have a Garbodor in play? Get Tool Scrapper, take those tools out. Frozen City? Get another Tropical Beach. See? Automatic!
Want a way to make Blastoise fun to play? Don't use Scrapper against Garbodor or Beach against Frozen City. Now you have to make your energy drops count, now you have to control damage on the board, now you have to play around what your opponent is doing. That's interaction!
Again, I use my definition of fun, some players like to play this way and I've got to admit, there is joy in going through my entire deck and take all my opponents Pokémon in one turn (oh, Unlimited... You'll never be a viable format). So yeah, set up and then keep dishing out tons of damage throughout the rest of the game can be fun and is a pretty strong strategy.
Fun, interactive decks rely on interactive cards. Black Kyurem EX is simple in a way and the only interaction it has with the opponent is taking damage until it sums 180. However, there are cards that provide that kind of communication with what my opponent is doing and the decks that focus in those cards end up being much more enjoyable to play. Even if the strategy
The current Blastoise and BLS decks make an excellent example: both abuse energy acceleration to OHKO the opponent's Pokémon. However, how they achieve this and the cards they use to do so make one much more interactive than the other.
You will disagree with me, this is a personal opinion. Feel free to post your opinions and even your personal lists in the comments.
Without further ado, I present to you my top 25 fun to play Pokémon cards of all time:
25. Warp Energy
Special energy cards have always been interesting cards. They can add consistency to the energy portion of a list with card like Prism and Rainbow Energy or they can provide an extra effect to your normal energy drop. These last ones, while not strictly better as they do as different job than the energy type fixing ones, are without a doubt the most interesting and game-changing.
Cards like Warp Energy add value to an energy card in a way that when you play it you actually are playing your normal energy card with a free trainer card - not only you power up your attacker, you're getting a free Switch, Full Heal or even a Pokémon Circulator.
So, from those effects what is the most useful?
Well, one of these effects need to be present in list in one way or the other: switching effects.
Switching is always needed and although cards like Switch are ever present, 60 cards are not enough for every card a player would like to play. Being able to add this kind or flexibly to a deck feels great both in the deckbuilding process and in the actual game.
Warp Energy also provided a switching tool under item lock and created a combo with Bronzong G and Pokéturn. Such a flexible card has got to be fun to play.
24. N / Rocket's Admin
Flexibility is going to be a common theme in this list. I value flexible cards in competitive play and I think they provide the game situations I consider fun. Again, this is a list that reflects my personal opinion, these cards may or may not be what other players consider the most fun cards.
This card is almost the definition of flexibility. Good on the first turns of the game and even better on the late game? Yes please!
This entry can be considered to be composed of two cards. Not due to the different names because the card text is exactly the same. Their impact on the game? Only almost the game.
And why is that? Well, they originated in two completely different formats.
You get N'd to 1? That is a bad situation but at least you can pray to rip a Juniper, Colress or even a Bicycle from the top.
You get Admin'd? Either you have an engine online (i.e. Pidgeot) or there are few to none cards who can nullify such a powerful effect.
On the other hand, N is a reliable card now has the supporter line has much more draw power when compared to the 2005/2006 lists when most supporters searched for only one specific resource.
What both of them do is to provide a reliable recovery card. Being able to come back from a bad start to benefit from playing a slower deck with a more complex strategy makes the game more fun and diverse. Here's to the two cards who granted us a reliable a fun way to make comebacks.
23. Claydol (Great Encounters)
Doesn't this card have a special place in everyone's heart? You're right... Not everyone. There are those who didn't play when this weird doll was legal.
Pidgeot was the first dominant Pokémon base engine the game has seen. Bird Jesus was beloved in the TCG way before it was the prophet of the Helix religion.
That bird was powerful. Claydol? This guy was miles better!
First of all, Claydol is a stage one. This makes it faster to get out and, since it doesn't need a Rare Candy, makes it viable to both Stage 1 decks and even basic-only decks.
Also, Claydol fill your hand, it doesn't search for just one particular card. Pidgeot is good when you need a specific solution but when you try to set up you need more than one card, you need a hand filled with resources. Claydol provides just that, it draws a large number of cards giving you lots of options.
Lastly, filling your hand does when wonders when interacting with cards like Judge or Team Gallatics Wager: it lets you use them without the drawback and lets you escape out of them.
It even prevents you from decking. Claydol is a fun card and a great card overall.
22. Warp Point
Escape rope is a good card but it doesn't cross your mind when you think of the top fun cards to play does it? Well, times are different.
In slower formats with no other form of forcing your opponent to switch out their active. A lot of starter Pokémon and stallers which were often successful make a few attacks and even full turns go to waste. Not only that, most attackers had high retreat cost and there was no Float Stone, no Keldeo, no Darkrai, only Switch.
Warp Point provided a solution for a heavy retreater, status conditions and even took those pesky staller Pokémon out of the way. There were a lot of games where it a single Warp Point would change its entire course.
Nowadays it's easier to retreat and to manipulate your opponent’s board so Escape Rope doesn't seem as valuable. Back then, Warp Point was a lot of fun to play!
21. Jirachi (Deoxys)
I am not a big fan of most starter Pokémon. Even though they are valuable in the first turns of the game, they turn into obsolete cards as the game progresses. What I do like, though, is a starter that can both help setup and be useful during the rest of the game.
Jirachi is a mini engine. Unlike most starter Pokémon, it doesn’t get you basics, energy, or even an evolution card for the setup, it helps get the resources you need: setup stuff in the early game and those important trainer cards in the late game.
The wishing star Pokémon is limited to the top 5 cards of deck making it good but not broken. It has nasty draw back that revolves around a coin flip and relying on pure luck is never fun. What makes it a really fun card to play is how you get around that problem.
The tool Jirachi can use are useful in many situation in any deck making the whole Jirachi package a staple since its release.
Island Cave is a counter stadium in an era with powerful hate stadium like Desert Ruins and Battle Frontier. In this case, it wakes up Jirachi letting you use its power again by simply attaching any energy card.
Heal Energy is the case above with a more direct approach: attach it, heal it.
But, isn’t this a waste of energy attachments? All this on a starter Pokémon?
Well this card with a ridiculous name makes it all worth it: Swoop! Teleporter.
This lovely card trades a Pokémon you don’t need for another basic directly from your deck keeping everything on it. What does this mean? Your Jirachi can suddenly become you main attacker or evolve directly into a main attacker. This is exactly as if your main attacker was active all the time and gained a sweet new power.
This whole interaction of cards to get your deck flowing quickly made Jirachi one the most fun to play cards.
20. Double Colorless Energy
A weird entry for this list, sure, but this card has singlehandedly made a long list of Pokémon viable since its release.
Many cards have provided more than one energy but they all had drawbacks. This one is a simple and balanced. It’s a powerful card, sure, but not unbeatable as the kind of speed it provides is hampered by colored cost
It made colorless cost really matter, it added an element of unpredictability to the game. It was a great choice of an energy to be reprinted in the present format. DCE needs no more introduction.
19. Jirachi EX (Crystal Guardians)
Power lock is powerful. In the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 formats it was more than powerful.
This little guy could perform a mini Psychic Lock, the attack that dominated 2008, for as little as 1 energy. Sure the damage was nothing write home about but even a few damage counter per turn can add up quickly when you have your opponent under a lock.
To make this card better, Jirachi has no weakness and has a second attack that deals good amount of damage. This is important because Jirachi is a suitable to fight another psychic types without fearing the eminent KO. In PLOX mirrors, this was a powerful tech due to those little characteristics: it could withstand a PLOX, lock back dealing the same amount of damage and deal as much as 100 damage if needed.
What makes this card more interesting is how this ability works: Jirachi is quick and effective only when your opponent has something going. This means two things:
- Jirachi is good comeback card.
- Jirachi does not overwhelm your opponent in the early game which would make it unfair.
This is definitely a fun card to play.
18. Chatot MD (Majestic Dawn)
Another starter Pokémon? Am I contradicting myself?
Not quite. Chatot is not a starter, Chatot is a lifesaver.
Free retreat, 0 energy costing attack an easily searched, this Pokémon could hit the field any time and save you from an unplayable hand.
I also had a great timing. This card was released in the PLOX dominated era (2008) and proved to be a good solution for one sided games. The perfect type of counter: it doesn’t win you the game, it gives you a fighting chance.
Chatot survived a Psychic Lock powered by Double Rainbow Energy and could even force Gallade to flip two prizes (also if using DRE) just to KO a Pokémon that was neither crucial for setup or attacking.
Even after that era, this little bird was heavily used in all kinds of decks. It provided insurance with the cost of only one spot in the list and thanks to its free retreat, it wasn’t a bad opener.
To make this guy even more useful its second attack could buy you time with its second attack. It wasn’t overwhelming, sure, but it was a viable option especially after the reprint of Double Colorless Energy in HeartGold & SoulSilver. It even lead to hilarious situations where a Spriritomb (Platinum: Arceus) would be permanently stuck until you desire to stop the lock.
This little musical parrot saved too many games from being on-sided. It has all the right to be on this list.
17. Scramble Energy
Let me explain again: one-sided games are boring, interactive, back and forth battle are fun. This simple energy would single-handedly turn games around in a way that players had evaluate if it was worth it take a prize that turn or the next.
3 energy of any type was just too much. It powered up pretty much anything in the DP era and made non-EX attackers viable in the EX era. It was powerful enough to put the losing player in the driver’s seat.
One interesting mechanic this card brought was prize manipulation: either to give up prizes to activate Scramble or to give up a prize to deactivate your opponent’s Scramble, staying ahead for too long usually came back to bite you. Yes, Scramble Energy was that good.
And what is more fun than stealing a game when your opponent thought he was sure to win?
16. Yanmega PRIME (Triumphant)
A dominant card in the worst format in a long time? Oh boy…
First of all, that format wasn’t bad. People always relying on Pokémon Reversal made it look bad. The HGSS series add the best diversity of trainers and mechanics the game has seen in a long time.
Those sets had just bad luck. They were playable alongside the dominant decks from Stormfront and the SP gang which overshadowed the whole series completely and even when they were rotated out, Black & White came along with the power creep to overshadow it again almost instantly. All the great mechanics and balanced Pokémon from second generation remake sets were forgotten.
This was one of the most interesting and powerful Pokémon from that era. This bug turned your hand size into a resource, a mechanic only seen in subpar variation of the Extrasensory attack. Being able to attack with no energy made it a fast and consistent attacker thanks to cards like Judge, Copycat and even Magnezone Prime.
This was a major factor when considering how fun it is to play Yanmega. The “hand game” makes you consider what cards to use and what cards are better off in your hand since its size matters now. It also makes your opponent play that game with you by trying to put its hand size out of reach or low enough that if you want to attack, you have to waste your hand.
Its attacks were well suited for a dominant card. The fact that you can hit an opposing Yanmega for 70 and then snipe it for the remaining 40 damage seems like a genius design. It almost makes me believe that this game has people thinking a bit before printing cards.
The standard HP for a competitive stage 2 was 140, at the time, enabling Yanmega to KO them in two hits. Also, the sniping was able to KO benched babies but was short to KO most basics that needed to wait a turn to evolve and to snipe KO. A truly balanced card that was sure to provide fun gameplay. And despite the whole Pokémon Reversal Crying, it did!
If only there was someone designing cards like this, imagine how fun this game would be. We can only dream.
That is all for today. In the next part I’ll introduce you to the 15 most fun competitive cards to play in all time. It will include perhaps the most famous (and even infamous) cards of this game as well my absolute favourite cards of all time.
Until then, stay awesome.