Your Journey Starts Here — A Guide to Standard in the New Season

We’ve rolled into a period of time in the Pokemon Trading Card Game where there’s no better opportunity than now to get ready for the 2019-2020 season of play. Delving into the competitive scene of any game is complex, especially with a new set coming out and a rotation of Standard format-legal cards to boot. If you don’t know where to start, that’s where this piece is designed to come in.

For those of you looking to go for that coveted World Championship invite this season, stay tuned until the end of the article. There, I briefly break down the cost and number of events you will realistically need to get an invite. I also show off a great list for Expanded if you don’t know where to start with that format.

Here at PokeBeach, our card links lead you straight to the best places to purchase said card on the web. Check it out on this Shaymin, for example.

The 2019-2020 Format Legal Trainer Cards to Get

Ultra Prism and any expansion onward, Black Star Promo cards SM94 and up, Detective Pikachu, and Dragon Majesty are all legal this coming season once the rotation hits August 15th 2019.

Trainer cards should be the focus of any post-rotation preparation, as there’s no “replacing” specific Pokemon. There will almost never be another Zoroark-GX and there isn’t anything close in the coming card pool. You will have to build decks around the Pokemon you’re stuck with. While the same might apply to Trainer cards, building decks becomes much easier when you apply the structure you’ve learned from past formats and edit that with the new pool of cards you can use. I recommend getting at least four copies of each of the bold Trainer cards listed below. Some of the non-bold ones are worth looking at too, but are more deck specific.

What We Lost

Broken Cards: Counter Energy, Double Colorless Energy and Guzma

These were some of the best cards ever printed. Counter Energy and Double Colorless Energy have no replacement other than the more balanced Triple Acceleration Energy, which only works on Evolution Pokemon. These rotations change the landscape of the Standard format and will shift the tide to decks that attack for a single Energy in most cases.

Guzma was a great card that can switch your Active Pokemon and pull your opponent’s Benched Pokemon into his or her Active Pokemon spot. Without a replacement, you may be forced to play Switch and Custom Catcher.


  • Custom Catcher will be in nearly every deck
  • Switch is more important than ever
  • The game will slow down without Counter Energy and Double Colorless Energy

Damage: Choice Band and Professor Kukui

Damage modifiers are important. They have been a mainstay of the game forever. Choice Band and Professor Kukui were extremely strong and there’s no real replacement on the horizon. The new Giant Bomb can fill in for them a bit, but it requires an opponent to hit your Pokemon, and for a lot of damage at that. Shrine of Punishment is another option that’s a little more feasible.


  • Damage is less malleable — you get what you get
  • Niche modifier effects may be more common
  • Shrine of Punishment may see play in Pokemon-GX-based decks

Recovery: Rescue Stretcher

One of the best recovery options ever. Rescue Stretcher was a must-have in almost every deck to return Pokemon from the discard pile. Without it decks will have to look to weird options like Lure Ball or Brock's Grit, for now. Another option is playing more of the Pokemon you want in your deck.


  • Pokemon recovery will be less popular, time for more Pokemon in decks (to use with Pokémon Communication)
  • if you want an instant recovery option Lure Ball is your only choice

Removal: Enhanced Hammer and Field Blower

I’m happy these are gone — it’s two less cards to worry about. The loss of Enhanced Hammer won’t be devastating as there aren’t many Special Energy of note in the new format. Field Blower leaving means you won’t need to play more copies of important Tool cards. For instance, a Jirachi-based engine can be comfortable with one or two Escape Board in the deck.


  • These losses are somewhat forgettable, it will simplify the game
  • Maybe Faba will see play in some fringe situations to counter Tool cards

Search: Great Ball, Nest Ball and Ultra Ball

Great Ball, Nest Ball and Ultra Ball are arguably the biggest losses from the rotation. The “Ball” cards we have are nerfed significantly. The only Item/Stadium Pokemon search cards that remain are Dusk Stone, Electromagnetic Radar, Friend Ball, Mysterious Treasure, Net Ball, Pokemon Communication, Cherish Ball, and Ultra Space. These are all Pokemon or type-specific, so they won’t be included in every deck like the rotating cards.


  • Decks must play more Pokemon for Pokemon Communication to function smoothly
  • Lightning and Dragon/Psychic decks improve because other decks regress without their own version of Electromagnetic Radar and Mysterious Treasure
  • The game slows down without Pokemon swarming the field on the first turn

Support Pokemon: Marshadow and Tapu Lele-GX

I’m very excited not to get hit with a Let Loose before I can play anything! Marshadow‘s disruption was a consistency card for many decks as it extended your turn without the cost of a Supporter or two-Prize Pokemon like Tapu Lele-GX.

Wonder Tag will be missed, decreasing the consistency of some decks.

But the format will have Dedenne-GX, which comes with the drawback of discarding your hand to draw more cards, and only one use of Dedechange per turn. I like where the card design direction is going, opting for a more slow and balanced approach while trickling in some speedier cards like Acro Bike to supplement the void.


  • Acro Bike, Judge Whistle, and PokeNav may see more play to supplement the consistency that these rotating cards provided
  • Dedenne-GX counts should increase in most decks
  • Supporter card counts will increase substantially to make up for these losses.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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