How to Build Decks in the Standard Format!

Hey everyone, it’s Treynor from PokeBeach again! My topic today is one that I think a lot of players have questions about, and it’s one of the most important parts of Pokemon TCG. That topic is deck building. With our new rotation, we lost a lot of the cards that were staples in our decks, and a lot of players have questions about how to build decks in the new format and what counts of cards to put in their decks.

Deck building is a skill in this game that takes practice and testing to accomplish well. It’s very easy to copy the deck lists of others, but when a rotation happens or if you have a new deck idea that you find very interesting, building your own consistent deck is a very important skill. It’s what separates the good players from the great ones, and being able to tweak your deck to include techs that you want to add is a big deal. We all have 60 cards in our decks, and knowing what to add and what to take out is very important.

We just had a rotation, and I find a lot of people asking how to build decks now. Eventually, after some time of seeing decks and building your own, you get your own “gut feeling” for how much of each card you should add. It’s like having a block of marble and trying to make a statue from it. People that are better at deck building spend less time trying to make that marble into the statue, whereas others tend to spend more time chiseling away.

This article is going to be your guide to the Standard XY-AOR format. I will discuss the main consistency cards that we have available, counts of those cards to place in to our decks, and I will be discussing one of my favorite cards right now, Hex Maniac. I will also post one of my most successful deck lists in testing.

Item-Based Draw Engines

One of the things I am anticipating with the rotation is that we are going to move more towards draw engines based on cards like Trainers' Mail and Acro Bike. Shaymin-EX is also still in our format, in addition to Ultra Ball. We can draw more cards in a single turn than we have been able to for a long time. Decks that want to discard cards, such as M Manectric-EX decks and Vespiquen decks will probably utilize cards like Acro Bike.

With large counts of both of these cards in our decks, we can draw through almost half our deck in the first turn! Most decks will most likely run at least two Shaymin-EX to maximize draw on the first turn. The first turn of each game is very important as it allows your deck to set up effectively to be more robust in the late game. Cards like Forest of Giant Plants allow you to quickly set up your attackers for later in the game.

Battle Compressor is another card that helps these discard-based decks, as it allows you to thin your deck out, leaving your deck full of only the cards that you need for the current matchup and for later in the game.

The problem with these decks is that without N in the format, it is very easy to deck out when you are ahead. Ace Trainer isn’t a reliable card to prevent you from decking out. Professor Birch's Observations is flippy and might save you. I’ve been close to decking out in a lot of games in testing, in fact, I almost decked out in my first game of Standard if it wasn’t for a lucky tails result on a Birch flip!

After getting that out of the way, I will describe our consistency cards in detail here and state how many of each card I feel that you should be playing in your deck. Of course, counts of cards will change based on the strategy of the deck. I hope you have read my previous article on the impact of strategy in the game, and the difference between static and reactive decks. Knowing what kind of deck you play is important to knowing how to build your deck! You don’t want to run an Item-based draw engine if you play Vileplume for example. Or run Acro Bike and Battle Compressor in your Raichu / Crobat deck when you don’t want to discard a lot of cards.

The Impact of Shaymin-EX and VS Seeker

Shaymin-EX allows a lot of cards to draw us more cards when they normally wouldn’t. I’ll describe some of those later, but I cannot stress how important Shaymin-EX is to the game right now. Ultra Balls become consistency cards. Hoopa-EX is another card that enables a lot of powerful combos that allow you to draw many cards in a single turn because of the ability to grab multiple Shaymin-EX with it.

Shaymin-EX also allows you to play Supporters that don’t make you draw cards in your deck. Cards like Hex Maniac and Blacksmith are good examples of these cards. Before Shaymin-EX, the only good way to draw cards was to play a Professor Juniper, N, or Colress. Now with Shaymin-EX and the Item-based draw cards I mentioned above, we have multiple ways to draw a lot of cards in addition to using a powerful Supporter during our turns.

I usually recommend fairly low counts of all these Supporters because of VS Seeker. This card is a fantastic consistency booster for almost any deck right now, giving you sustainability throughout the game. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide this sustainability in the opening turns of the game. You still need a Supporter card or Shaymin-EX to get your deck and your setup started. Once a Supporter is in the discard pile, your VS Seekers will sustain you for the remainder of the game and allow you versatility in what Supporter you want to play that particular turn.

Our Supporters

Supporters have always been the easiest way for us to draw through our decks. Rotation changes this a little bit, since we lose access to Colress and N, which were crucial staples in our decks during the Black & White era. We have Supporters that are worse than those, but I don’t feel like consistency will really be hurt in a format with Shaymin-EX, Ultra Ball, Acro Bike, and Trainers' Mail. With all those cards in our format, our Supporters being a little bit worse won’t make too much of a difference.

Now I will break down these Supporters and give my two cents on them, what they will do for your decks, and what counts of them you should play. Then, I’ll take a look a strong deck I’ve been testing for Standard that utilizes the many forms of draw power I talk about in this article, going over my card choices for that list and some of its matchups. Those of you struggling to build a consistent list for Standard should get some valuable information on the format and deck building.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

If you'd like to continue reading, consider purchasing a PokeBeach premium membership! If you're not completely satisfied with your membership, you can request a full refund within 30 days.

Each week we post high-quality content from some of the game's top players. Our article program isn't a corporate operation, advertising front, or for-profit business. We set our prices so that we can pay the game's top players to write the best content for our subscribers. Each article topic is carefully selected, goes through multiple drafts, and is touched up by our editors. We take great pride in our program!