TCG Fakes Base Set Rebalanced (feat. Jungle and Fossil)

In a format with both reduced HP (by virtue of this being Base era) and reduced Energy costs (by virtue of your rebalancing), I think you could actually leave Potion in its current state of healing 30 damage and make it worth consideration. In this format, that's a fair amount of HP to get healed, especially considering you need to dedicate 1 or more deck slots to it to get significant mileage out of it. I think if you're going to dedicate deck spots to healing cards as opposed to any other card, the reward should match the investment, and 20 damage doesn't really cut it.

For Super Potion, I'd up it to 60 or maybe even 70, for the same reason.
@PMJ My biggest gripe with Potion & Super Potion is that they're essentially the same card. It's really not going to be "preference" to pick one over the other, one is definitely superior and it's probably Super Potion.

I wanted the "Super" category of cards to represent a different philosophy - though in reality there's only two of them (three if you count Super Energy Retrieval, unreleased in English until the Neo sets), and Super Energy Removal is definitely getting a rework, so that leaves only Super Potion. I want these cards to use discarding as drawback - something pretty normal for us today, but with a negative interaction with Professor Oak. This is one of the biggest experiments here, because I don't think this idea of competitive deckbuilding was explored before, and it might be extremely overpowered (or extremely useless, or just frustrating). But just in terms of math, I see a scenario like this:
1. Opening hand is Oak, Basic and five other cards, you put the Basic as your Active, that's 6 cards.
2. You draw a card, that's 7, you play Oak immediately, that's 6 cards and you draw 5, 11 cards.
3. Assuming you got the next Oak for the next turn, you need to keep at least 5 cards in your hand to continue drawing at the same speed.
You can see how, in theory, cards like Ultra Ball that discard 2 additional cards become burdensome for a deck that tries to maintain a healthy hand. And you still want to play Pokemon, Energies, all of that is eating into your hand size. In fact, when Magic's designers were asked why they don't make more cards that care about "hand size", they claimed it "stops people from playing their cards". I cannot completely disagree, but I've also ran a Magic Cube based on that mechanic and I know how to offset that effect. Professor Oak only cares about your hand size in a single moment, so you only have to make sure it's large in said moment. I think the thought process behind "I must choose which 6 of these 11 cards I play this turn" is pretty healthy. The point of an Oak deck isn't to dive for all the resources immediately, that's what Impostor is supposed to do.

So I'm changing the Potions. I was afraid healing 30 was too powerful in the early game, but you're right that a Potion needs to deliver some bang for the buck of including it at all. Super Potion heals 60, but you need to discard two cards to do it.

Super Broken Card Removal

There are quite a few cards in Base Set that warrant lengthy exploration, mostly due to their insane power level - so it is not surprising that we keep bumping into them over, and over again. I have talked about the “secret broken card”, which was Switch, and I’ve talked about the most broken card design-wise, which was Scoop Up. Now it’s time for, perhaps, the most broken card gameplay-wise, which is Energy Removal.

Nowadays, anyone can spot why Energy Removal is insanely broken. Attaching energy is slow, but Trainer cards are fast, so an Energy Removal simply puts you one energy ahead of your opponent, which often means a full turn ahead. Changing Energy Removal is really a no-brainer. But should it really just become a Supporter, or is the effect toxic enough to warrant complete change? (yes it is, I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t fooool)
Whether you’re attaching energy to your Pokemon, or discarding an energy from your opponent’s, the effect is roughly the same - you’re one energy ahead. There are, obviously, differences, and I have alluded to some previously. The one that’s apparent, is that you get to decide which energy the opponent loses, which can be much more damaging. Another is that you have to have an Energy card to attach it, whereas the only limitation to discarding is if your opponent has any. But perhaps the most important difference is that going down in Energy count, rather than up, greatly benefits the player who is ahead.
I have mentioned this - the difference of three Energies is much more important if you have 4 and your opponent has 1, than when you have 10 and your opponent has 7. If you’re attaching additional Energies, you’re slowly approaching a threshold where they won’t have any impact. If your opponent is forced to discard energies, they might be unable to attack at all. It also eats into their Energy supply, which might run dry quicker, forcing players to run additional Energies just in fear of getting them unexpectedly discarded.
This might persuade you that attaching Energies (accelerating) is healthier than discarding them, but Base Set doesn’t actually have any trainers that let you attach additional energies. That’s not terrible in itself, but do they have an energy-advantage card in the form of Energy Removal. You might be seeing where I am going with this.

I will be making Energy Removal a Supporter, but I will also reverse its effect. Now “Cooltrainer” attaches an Energy from your hand to a Benched Pokemon, much like today's Bede. I am not against the concept of discarding Energies as a punishment for abusing some mechanics, but I do not believe just straight-up Energy Removal should stay a card. Also, the artwork is Gen 2, but don’t tell anybody.


What about Super Energy Removal then? Well, it’s not really better. It has all the issues of Energy Removal, except you also need to remove one of your own Energies. This ironically made it more balanced, but definitely not enough to warrant keeping it as it is. Sorry, but I am kind of going to treat this one as a free spot, though it will also be an acceleration card.
Obviously we have just included a “staple” Supporter acceleration, so if we were to include another, it would have to be some form of contraposition, much like Oak and Impostor. The only two places left to accelerate from are deck and discard, and discard pile is an obvious choice here. This reminded me of “Patch” cards, fast Items that allowed you to attach an Energy from your discard to one of your Pokemon. In a format that I am trying to slow down this would be way too quick - but maybe we can include some clause that encourages fun deckbuilding.


Essentially, this card provides one colorless energy, if one happens to be in your Discard pile and does not match the type of one of your Benched Pokemon. Is this strong? Might very well be, but I think the deckbuilding required to use it is worth it.

Feeling Blue

Originally, Blue was supposed to play the part of Cooltrainer, but it felt wrong to give a “positive” effect to a character associated with being quite negative. Also, I would not call him “Blue”, as that name wasn’t official until Gen 2 rolled out, leaving a much more neutral “Rival”.
Finding official artwork for some of these cards was difficult, as most of it seems to be dedicated to Gym Leaders. As Gym Leaders are a star of their own sets (and so is Team Rocket, in fact), I wanted to respect that and not include any of them on the cards. However, I have already released a card that broke that rule - Giovanni. Both a Gym Leader AND The Boss of Team Rocket, perhaps including him was a bit too hasty. I know, however, who fits the bill of an adversary character, who you just hate to see when you’re unprepared! Smell ya later.

Pokemon Flute must have been pretty hard to understand for kids back in the day - you get to put one of your opponent’s Pokemon from their discard pile, onto their bench. Given that the Revive card let you do that to your own Pokemon, but with a drawback, it almost seems like Pokemon Flute was designed to help your opponent, not you. Perhaps you could bring back a weak Pokemon, Gust them to the Active Spot and this way get a free KO? Even if that’s the case, that’s more frustrating than actually tactical.
Pokemon Flute was always associated with Pokemon that are Asleep, but Asleep is such a minor effect, that reportedly cards that removed these Special Conditions were removed from Base Set before release, and replaced by a single Full Heal. What Pokemon Flute’s final implementation in Base Set tells us, is that we can “bend the rules” of what Poke Flute is, and what we mean by “awakening” a Pokemon.
Let’s list some things, some general facts about Poke Flute. It lets us awaken Pokemon, yes, but it also lets us remove obstacles - “Pokemon obstacles”, if you will - from our path. It’s tied to progression, to the removal of stalling objects… this is an anti-stall item, and it deserves an anti-stall card.


By “stall” we are going to define effects and Abilities on our opponent’s Pokemon, as they are generally what discourages us from attacking. Everything from lowering damage, dealing damage back, Defender/X Defense and so on. Pokemon Flute gives you a turn of dealing pure damage and nothing else.
Today’s post was shorter than usual, but I am pretty proud of this card in particular - it reworks the entire card, yes, but without resorting to completely changing its theme. Even if it’s pretty niche, and possibly not all that playable, its existence in the format already makes an impact on what is and isn’t viable. Decks that focus on just one tactic need cards that counter them sharply - and I believe Pokemon Flute does that.
Everyone’s Favorite Rat

I don’t think this pair needs any introductions, so I won’t give them any. As for the Lightning type as a whole, I am quite excited to make more cards for it - the theme of “wildness” and “explosive tactics” sounds very fun to explore, and I hope I can make it equally fun to play.


I have to say, I was tempted by the idea of making Pikachu a card for every deck, even if it didn’t entirely fit. If undisturbed, Pikachu can draw you upwards of four cards, and it even discourages opponents from doing the initial 10 or 20 damage. Lightning likes to explode its own Pokemon for big gains, and I hope Battery can make Pikachu an interesting offer for many types of decks.


I wouldn’t say Raichu’s “iconic” ability is to switch a lot, but I am definitely taking that theme and running with it. I’ve expanded on that ability, and Raichu’s attack now combo with everything - retreating, switching, forced switching, and even your own Pokemon exploding.
The Boring Ones

Full Heal is a card that got a pretty major buff without changing anything about its wording. From the fact it’s no longer superseded by Switch, and that it can clear Special Conditions on Benched Pokemon, Full Heal is definitely a card that will be teched for and will find many uses. However, that’s not to say we cannot improve it a bit further. By adding a clause that also discards any effects on your Pokemon, we give it even more uses, and a bit of a tactical flavor.


Super Energy Retrieval returns to the Base Set, even though it was originally just a promo card and only got regularly printed in Neo Revelations. I am basing this format on the GBA game, so I intend to rework all of the cards from it, excluding the “GB” set, that includes Hearthstone-like cards with effects that are impossible to maintain in the physical game.
Again, I want to make a clear distinction between Energy Retrieval and the “Super” version of it, instead of having one be just a stronger version of the other.


Base Set had some ideas about recycling resources which, while they weren’t kept very long, we will try to expand upon. There must be clear rules as to which resources can be recycled, and how expensive it is to recycle them. In particular, we are going to put more pressure on energy recycling, especially since we are limiting effects that discard your opponent’s energies. If you can feel relatively safe with your energies, then you must also be careful about not running out of them.
We have got a bug problem

In today’s line-up we have two lines of familiar bugs, but sadly only one of them gets to finish evolving in the Base Set. This is a shame, since “evolving” is something both of these lines embody - while designing these, I wanted to make it clear that these evolution lines are about quickly building up and improving your hitting potential. The Beedrill line has fully tilted towards exploiting the Poisoned status, while the Butterfree line focuses on trapping your opponent and dwindling them down. Let us take a look at them side-by-side.


The only change to Weedle was the removal of Retreat Cost. Caterpie, on the other hand, no longer Paralyzes - it achieves a similar effect by increasing the opponent’s Retreat Cost, making it a signature ability.


As you can see, both “cocoons” expand on the abilities of their predecessors. They both still feature the “Stiffen” ability, though this time it is reworked to reduce damage, instead of having an “all or nothing” flip. Both also feature direct upgrades to the attacks of their previous evolutions.


Finally, for now I can only present the Beedrill. Since Poison now persists on the bench, it obviously needed some Pokemon to exploit that. Beedrill not only targets Pokemon on the bench, but perhaps benefits from just having one opponent being poisoned, allowing it to swing for upwards of 60, before Poisoning the next one and hunting it down wherever it escapes.
Fight with Power

The Fighting Type consists of three in-game Types - Fighting, Ground and Rock. We’ve already seen the Ditto-Dugtrio line, which represents the Ground side of things, that being spread damage. The overarching theme of the TCG Fighting Type is ”efficiency”, usually taking the form of either reducing incoming damage or increasing your own. That’s the case especially with the actual representatives of the VG Fighting Type. And from these, the ultimate representative is obviously the Machamp line.


Machop is fine, with the very efficient 1-for-20 attack, so we are leaving it untouched, save for the usual Retreat Cost reduction.


Machoke gets a full lift, as previously it featured two negatively-interacting attacks - one that dealt less damage for each damage counter on Machoke, and another that dealt knock-back damage to Machoke. Now it’s the exact opposite - Machoke’s first attack increases further damage, while its second attack benefits when hitting damaged Pokemon, greatly discouraging the opponent from taking a one-two punch.


It’s unusual for a Stage-2 card to not get any major changes, but Machamp’s original “Strikes Back” ability is actually very fitting for the whole theme of “efficient combat”, punishing your opponent for trying to “trickle down” its HP. One damage counter was on the low side, though, as it wasn’t much more impressive than Poison. While the Evolutions set bumped it up to 3, I’ve bumped it up to 2, which I think is a respectable number. After reducing the cost of its attack and retreat cost, I think Machamp is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Fight Ice with Fire

In my experience, one of the most surprising Type interactions was Fire’s superiority over Ice. It makes some sense once you think about it, but it’s also worth noting that Ice Pokemon didn’t have a strong representation in the first generation, with only Jynx and Atricuno being weak to Fire, as other Pokemon only had Ice as their second type behind Water - nullifying the weakness. Weakness, I feel, is one of the most important mechanics of Pokemon TCG, and extreme attention must be placed on making sure that each deck has plenty of weaknesses that can be exploited. In that spirit, when tasked with rebalancing Jynx, I have immediately thought of giving her a Fire weakness, despite being a Psychic Pokemon card. How has she changed beside that?


Doubleslap sees a removal of the colored energy requirement for a generic, Normal-type move, but the attack remains identical. Meditate also remains only slightly tweaked, with an easier-to-pay cost and reduction to base damage. I think the original Jynx was in a fine spot, both as an early-game and late-game Pokemon.
I think you should apply to have this set added to Lackey when you finish it! I know, it’s a rebalancing of an existing set, but it’s the BASE SET for crying out loud, and they don’t have anything to represent the Wizards Of The Coast era yet, so I think this ought to qualify. I could put in a good word for you if you apply (for what it’s worth; I’ve never actually submitted a card to Lackey but thought it looked interesting). It would also give Lackey format a more diverse era selection and would allow more people to play your rebalanced base set format. Of course the set isn’t finished yet, but I think it’s worth a try.
I think you should apply to have this set added to Lackey when you finish it! I know, it’s a rebalancing of an existing set, but it’s the BASE SET for crying out loud, and they don’t have anything to represent the Wizards Of The Coast era yet, so I think this ought to qualify. I could put in a good word for you if you apply (for what it’s worth; I’ve never actually submitted a card to Lackey but thought it looked interesting). It would also give Lackey format a more diverse era selection and would allow more people to play your rebalanced base set format. Of course the set isn’t finished yet, but I think it’s worth a try.
Thanks! I haven't explored Lackey yet, though obviously I would be extremely happy to let people test this set once its done. The image quality is a bit crap for now, but I'm purposefully avoiding spending hours in editing software on ~200 cards until I get them all done AND after a couple of testing rounds.
This was also mentioned in the Discord and, as I've said then, while I would be flattered if people making future WOTC-era cards followed my new game rules, I am not sure if that's what everybody wants. I am removing quite a bit of what made Base Set-to-Neo special (even if (apparently), a lot of people hated it even back then) - no Supporters and insane speed. I am definitely open to the idea, and I'll bring back this topic once I'm finished.
Fine, I’ll do it Myself

A challenge with designing a set, or even a whole format, is very similar to one you’ll encounter when designing any other game - because that’s basically what you’re doing. You are sharing play pieces with a diverse arrangement of players and while, in your head, some pieces might be attractive, tests might show that players are unwilling to engage with them. There is no “trick” that lets you bypass gameplay testing and end up with a finished product, so even though many of these descriptions talk about concepts as though they’re final, I anticipate that many of these will change in the testing process (aka, when I unleash it on my friends).

I am mentioning this, because today’s card - Chansey - is a controversial one, at least in my head. I do not believe that, from two cards in the set that are “allowed” to have 120 HP, one of them should be a Basic. Additionally, its original abilities focus mostly on stalling, save for a pretty expensive attack. Any Pokemon should either be designed as a center-piece of a strategy, a supporting piece for a strategy, or something universally useful. The original Chansey is none of these things, as its ability was mostly to soak up a bunch of damage, and then get Scooped Up. I don’t mind having Chansey as a “damage sponge”, but its abilities and/or attacks must work together to deliver that strategy, instead of having a coincidental combo with a card that we’ve already removed.
Another thing to mention is that I have created a “wishlist” of effects I want to include. One of these effects is the ability to remove Special Conditions from your Pokemon. Chansey, due to its correlation with Pokemon Centers, seems like a great place to include some healing abilities. With these two things as our guiding principles, I can finally unveil the new Chansey.


Chansey isn’t an offensive Pokemon at all, but it’s a stalling machine in its own right, an anti-Condition tech, and an obvious combo with moving damage counters, all at the same time. I am still not sure if this damage-swapping strategy won’t turn out to be massively overpowered, but again, this is what testing is for - there’s no reason to get obsessed with theory before anyone got their hands on the cards.


When designing the drawbacks on each card, I’ve ran into a somewhat repetitive pattern of either discarding cards, or discarding energies. As I’ve mentioned multiple times, the latter isn’t even that great of a drawback, but the former isn’t great either, especially in large quantities. Not every deck lends itself to frequent discarding, and there are not a lot of cards in the format that abuse the discard pile anyway. I thought about this especially in the case of Computer Search - I wanted to keep some additional cards that included drawbacks related to card advantage, but I wanted for the card to remain universal. This is where the concept of “shuffling back” as a drawback came to me - it’s used infrequently in the regular game, which favors discard heavily, but it’s neither better nor worse than discard. While discard allows you to “filter” your deck and see more cards faster, shuffling back allows you to maintain them in the deck, possibly to get them later. Ultimately I’ve decided on using both, in different situations - and since there is no “Super Computer Search”, the more generic shuffling effect feels better on a card like this. But, what about the text itself?
Computer Search is obviously overpowered, letting you discard two cards for any other card in your deck, but I don’t hate its concept. Consistency is important, and some cards can become very underused just because of their lack of consistency - especially Item cards.
The issue with some Item cards is that they can be very polarizing - they’re extremely useful when you need them, but equally annoying when they’re completely useless. You cannot include a lot of tech Items in your deck, or else it’ll damage the core of your deck - but you want to draw them when you need them. It’d be very useful to have some form of “jumpstart” card - one that can transform itself into any item, from the most generic ones, to the most niche ones.


I don’t think this card would be printed nowadays, as effects that pull Trainers are usually limited to Supporters or include failure clauses, like coin flips or a limited selection of cards. I believe my Items “behave” enough to keep this card balanced.
Last Lap

It’s hard to believe, but these two lines cover the last two rare Pokemon in the whole set. Yes, the rare-side of Pokemon is done, and all that’s left is some cleaning up of unfinished commons and uncommons. That also means there’s just 16 cards left before the whole set is finished. Yes, some of these are tricky, but I am positive I can present them all this week. The work has already started on Fossil/Jungle, some of it was already hinted before, especially in case of Pokemon that don’t fully evolve in the Base Set. Fossil and Jungle combined are just around 90 unique cards, mostly Pokemon - that’s less than Base Set. Can I finish the format before the end of the month? I don’t want to rush things, but I am definitely excited to continue.

A Ton of Responsibility

I don’t know if Magnemite and Magneton’s “signature ability” is to explode - I always felt that’s more the case with Graveler. Nevertheless, I really don’t want to change cards just because I feel like it - if an effect works and is relatively unique, I have no reason to switch it out completely. As such, I left these two with the ability to explode, but tinkered a bit to make sure it isn’t as simple of a choice.


Before the change, these Pokemons’ explosions dealt normal benched damage to all Pokemon. I shifted these effects to Ground Types, but my initial idea of combining explosions with targeted bench damage just didn’t sit well with me. I invented a compromise - it’s technically spread damage, but both players choose how to distribute it. As such, it takes a bit more skill and planning to find that ideal time to explode, essentially making it “kind of targeted”.

Dragon’s Den

The Dragon Type definitely has a problem - it is very special, and yet it is delegated to the TCG Normal Type. There is only a single line of Dragon Pokemon in Generation 1, and it goes unfinished in the Base Set, but we still need to decide what to do with them. Their original attacks aren’t very impressive, and it’s difficult to build strategies around Normal-type Pokemon, when they’re supposed to be for everyone. However, if one was to make a strategy based on a Normal-type Pokemon, the Dragonite line is a prime candidate.
Fossil Dragonite’s effects include free switching - which we don’t like - and coin flips - which aren’t very imaginative. Two factors made me change the line completely - one, I wanted to borrow from the future’s designers, by centering the Dragon’s “gimmick” around using different Energy types; and two, my wishlist included an attack that allowed you to attach an energy from your hand to one of your Pokemon. With all of these combined, we have a Pokemon line based on Energies, and a pretty powerful one at that.


Dratini includes my wishlist attack, which I hope makes it a playable opener in many decks. Even if not, it prepares the line’s future, more devastating attacks. Dragonair cashes in on running multiple Energies, by having it’s simple flip-attacks enhanced by the amount of different Types of Energies you’re using. Oh, and instead of guaranteed damage on tails, it heals instead, making it both more random and more fun.
With the rares finished, it is now time to finish up all the Trainer cards. With only three left, the "gray" side of the set is completed and I expect to release the entire set on Sunday.

The ol’ Switcheroo

I’ve sat down to work on a card named "Item Finder" and realized that, just a while ago, I re-made Computer Search into a card that finds items. Yet, I haven’t placed that effect on the literal “Item Finder” card. That’s not great. I’ve moved that effect onto “Item Finder”, making it a card that, unsurprisingly, finds items.


Now that that’s out of the way, the original Item Finder’s effect also needs consideration. Pulling any Trainer from the Discard pile is obviously too strong, no matter how many cards you’d have to discard from your hand. Pulling only Supporters would be better, but this effect cannot exist on a fast, non-Supporter Trainer. That said, we do not yet have a Trainer card that interacts with Supporters, and Item Finder was often used to bring back the original Professor Oak and draw a ton of cards. Perhaps we can capture the spirit of that card by having a Supporter search in the format.


I always liked Random Receiver, because it made for a strong, but not overly consistent Supporter search. It makes for an additional consideration when deckbuilding, and it’s just overall a good card with the effect we’re looking for.

Bad and Worse

The following two Trainer cards were perhaps the most challenging to redesign, and for completely different reasons. That’s why I’ve left them for the very end, perhaps hoping that having a more well-rounded base of Trainer cards I’m happy with will help in determining which gaps need to be filled. But for a start, I had a card that didn’t fill any gap, wasn’t really too strong, but I wasn’t sure about it anyway.

The “Doll” cards always struck me as difficult to interpret. Their design is pretty obvious - they’re meant to eat an attack, essentially stalling the game for one turn. What ends up happening, however, is that players either stick them in stall decks, or just make entire decks around recycling Dolls and never letting your opponent take any prizes. We’re not having any of that - but the “Doll” concept isn’t really broken in any way. Sure, it allows another thing that I’ve tried to remove - double switching - but I have to accept that this concept will always exist, whether because of cards like Dolls, or just self-Knocking Out your Active Pokemon. I have tried many iterations of changing the card, but I wasn’t happy with any of them. Ultimately, I decided to simply reword the card into a clearer template, and change the name to a more appropriate “Poke Doll”.


The problem with Lass was pretty obvious - if both players are to shuffle all of their Trainer cards into their decks, then it heavily favors the player that’s ahead in setting up. A card which “successful usage” results in one player being left with a brick hand and unable to play the game isn’t conducive to great gameplay. And yet, that’s not to say there shouldn’t be any Trainers that let you manipulate your opponent’s hand - sometimes that’s your only option to prevent a loss on the next turn. In a format without a lot of non-Supporter draw, messaging your future moves and bluffing becomes a part of the game again, you have to prepare your current board state for your next turn. So if there is a tactical hook, there is space for a card that allows for that tactic to flourish.
I wasn’t very happy with Judge’s or Marnie’s four cards, especially since they can be used very early in the game to make your opponent’s first turns pretty dreadful. The number I settled on was six - Lass can be used both as a regular refill of your hand, or as a counter to your opponent’s future plans.

@Yaginku I enjoyed reading your posts so much, when I realized you're currently working on this - in 2021!?! - I actually created a forum account! Keep up the great work!

Rebalancing the base set has been a pipedream of mine (and certainly many others) forever.
More specifically in my case, I envision a full set of 151 Pokemon (redundancies eliminated), only using art by Ken Sugimori (which would mean pulling a few images from outside Base/Jungle/Fossil).

Quick question - are you willing to share any of the art files you're using to create your cards? I'm most interested in the "blanks" or templates you may have created.
Thank you very much! This is basically a set of 151 Pokemon, there's only going to be a few repeats, and I'm trying these repeats as additional mechanics.
I'm not currently using any graphical template, but Magic Set Editor 2 with the template that can be found here. It's not ideal, but lets me work fast and I'm planning on using actual templates and GIMP once I'm happy with the entire format.

As for today's cards, I have 2 of the last 3 Pokemon lines, meaning there's just 9 Pokemon to do - expect a pretty big post tomorrow.

Rat is short for "Ratthew"

My goal with Rattata and Raticate was similar to the lines I’ve done previously, but pushed even harder in the direction of “choosing to evolve”. Rattata is truly a beginner Pokemon, so it needs to be a somewhat weak, but yet still a well-rounded Pokemon that can work on its own. Raticate, on the other hand, needs to be almost completely different from its basic card - if you’re choosing to stick with Raticate, it needs to be a deliberate choice.


Rattata’s 1-for-20 was already on the strong side for basic attacks, yet it was balanced as it would never hit for weakness. I let Rattata keep this Bite attack, but wanted to give it an additional one to meet the goals I’ve described above. An ability to not just draw, but choose your draw is rather strong for its price and fits the concept of an early-game Pokemon.


Raticate's defining attack is the "Super Fang", which can deal upwards of 60 damage. That sounds impressive, but most often it will hit for 20-40, which is not as impressive. Don't get me wrong, I like the attack and it's great on a Pokemon that will never hit for weakness, but it definitely needs a lower price - so low, in fact, that a single Double Colorless Energy is enough to power it.
Next, giving Raticate a Bite attack identical to Rattata's Bite is just a low blow. Raticate is a glass-cannon, meant to be a sneaky attacker that compensates low health with strong attacks. I gave Raticate an auto-retreating attack, to let it mix-in with more tanky Pokemon.

I have no clever name for this segment, so here's the Staryu-Starmie line


Not every Pokemon needs to scale Mount Everest with its awesomeness - some are absolutely fine as jumpstarts towards their evolutions. Staryu’s attack is very respectable, so the changes to the card are minimal.


The original Starmie, while not bad, definitely paled in comparison when late-game Pokemon hit the board. With no gimmick behind it, it was a pretty mediocre stall Pokemon. The Evolutions set reworked Starmie as a Pokemon that returns Energies - and I like that concept, as this effect isn’t yet used here, and fits a Water Pokemon. It’s old “Recovery” attack was reworked to heal a set amount of health, retaining some of its stalling capabilities.
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Today’s post is massive for two reasons - one, it features 9 cards, many requiring some explanation. Two, these 9 cards are the last 9 cards in the Base Set, meaning the entire set is now done.
That’s obviously not the end of work. I want to perform a balance pass, tweaking some of the numbers and making sure they’re all in line. Once that’s done, I will compile all of the images into a single, easily-shareable poster. While that could be called the “1.0” of Base Set Rebalanced, it’s only the beginning of work for the entire format, leading up into Jungle and Fossil. Stay tuned and, meanwhile, let us check all of today’s cards.

End of the Line

In the last remaining 9 cards, we have the last complete Pokemon line to showcase, and that’s Dewgong line.
With Dewgong, the topic of Ice Pokemon comes back onto the table - while not the only one possessing that type, I would argue Seel and Dewgong are somewhat of a representative line, and that’s definitely the case in the TCG with their “Ice Beam'' attack. Ice has a couple of offensive strengths, though it is primarily known for Dragon’s weakness to it, being the only type with such an advantage in Generation 1. Well, we’ve already given the only Dragon in the set a “gimmick”, mainly because there is no separate Dragon type to speak of. If “Ice” cannot target Dragon types specifically, then it can target the gimmick, extending its usefulness across the entire game.
However, this requires some carefulness. Why I partially like the gimmick I gave the Dragonite line, is because it works well with something I already want to happen, which is the usage of multiple types of energies in a single deck. If we introduce a Pokemon that exploits that mechanic and it is strong, it can revert the game back to single-type decks. So I dropped my initial idea of “discarding an Energy that doesn’t match the type of the Pokemon using it”, and instead introduced something simpler.


Dewgong retains its Aurora Beam, which is just a bit weaker than 3-energy attacks on 3rd-stage Pokemon. The Ice Beam’s damage is definitely strong against the Dragons, but it’s mildly effective against any type of deck, while not completely undermining the usage of multiple energies.

Things come back to Normal

These two cards are the Normal-type Pokemon that got a huge facelift, while getting to keep one of their core attacks.

The original Farfetch’d(’s?) attack of “Flip a coin to do 30, either way you can’t use this attack anymore” did not strike me as very balanced, and not just because “30 or nothing” is the type of wild randomness I don’t appreciate. I had a much bigger problem with the concept of using an attack once, and then letting a Pokemon rot on your Bench, having only one, rather useless attack. I went to solve that problem first, giving Farfetch’d the ability to Fly but, instead of doing what future Fly attacks did (flip a coin for the attack to even succeed), I let it literally fly back up into your hand, resetting the single-use penalty and even healing itself. As for the Leek Slap itself, I made it a bit less wild, by giving it basic 10 damage. This Farfetch’d is much, much stronger and I’m curious if it’ll make it into any decks.


The original Porygon suffered from a lack of damage-dealing attacks and incredibly low health, even if its effects were actually quite interesting. How to bring an effect into the game that can create interesting gameplay scenarios, but is too weak to be considered playable on its own? The solution is to stick it next to a very universal and strong effect, that’s always good. My wishlist included a Pokemon with an ability to draw “up to 3 cards” once each turn - a great effect for Impostor decks, which is meant to elevate them to my current perceived level of Oak decks. That leaves us with one spot for a Conversion attack, and I decided to keep the one that switches your opponent’s weakness, for it is much more useful than changing your resistance. With a bit of damage added on top, it’s ready to be a tech that is actually useful.


Last Changes

Original Onix’s Harden wasn’t actually that bad, allowing you to prevent small amounts of damage with little effort. However, I felt like a cooler idea would be to scale that effect with the amount of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon, creating somewhat of a “reverse-spread” effect. Hopefully with this wording, the calculation happens at the time of the attack, allowing your opponent to create counterplay with Bug Catcher, or simply not playing additional Benched Pokemon. As for the second attack, Onix’s 10 damage always struck me as particularly low for a Pokemon of this type, so I’ve improved it to 20, albeit with a higher cost.


It’s pretty clear to anyone that Drowzee and Hypno are both Pokemon with heavy ties to putting their opponents to Sleep, yet none of them actually possess that ability. Hypno will come a bit later, but I’ve simply switched Drowzee’s Confuse Ray for a Hypnosis.


Cleaning Up

The following Pokemon are commons that received no changes, save for the typical removal of Retreat Costs. With Ponyta, Sandshrew and Voltorb, the set is complete.

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Balance Pass

As mentioned, I have performed a "Balance Pass", where I took a look at every card and checked if it didn't stand out from the rest. It feels to me like the Base Set designers took much care in properly balancing the numbers, but not as much care in balancing the effects - as such, I think I had a good baseline to work on. However, there were still a few attacks that, in hindsight, stood up as particularly strong or weak. Here's a list of changes:
• Nidorino: First attack cost reduction.
With the standard being 3-for-40, having an attack that maybe hits for 40 on coinflips wasn't fair. 2 energy for an average of 30 is strong, but unreliable.
• Nidoking: First attack cost reduction.
Nidoking also suffered from having a 3-for-30 attack, even on its original card. While Wartortle had a 3-for-40 attack, Nidoking needed a coinflip to achieve that and had a chance to hit itself in the face.
• Venusaur: First attack cost decolorized.
Simply to follow the conventions of making costs easier to pay.
• Blastoise: First attack reworked. Second attack decolorized, damage decreased.
Blastoise sees the biggest changes in here. As I was reworking Blastoise, I didn't notice it was actually the weakest of the original trio - even if the ability made it the strongest overall. I gave Blastoise the ability to reach the coveted 80 damage, albeit for a great cost.
• Gyarados: First attack cost increase.
Counting damage for each Benched Pokemon puts Gyarados's damage range in the 50s. Paying just 2 colorless for that is rather cheap.
• Alakazam: Second attack damage increase.
Alakazam had the same problem that Blastoise had - weak attack, probably to offset the ability. I brought it up back to the level of other attacks.

Release v1.0

The following images contain all of the pictures of the version 1.0 cards, including a print-friendly version. (Thanks @CardPone for upload!)

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Welcome to the Jungle

With the Base Set completed, we can now move on to the two expansions that exist in the tentatively-named “GameBoy Format” - Jungle and Fossil. We are going to tackle them one-by-one, following their release order, which means I now invite you to explore the Jungle set with me. The good news, both of these expansions combined together make up less than a 100 cards, which is smaller than the entire Base Set. Also, the most problematic category of card - Trainers - are severely underrepresented. I hope both of these factors will help me in delivering the cards in speedy fashion. Speaking of…

The Lonely Ball

The Jungle expansion features just one Trainer card - the Poke Ball. It’s a classic card, that stayed with us throughout the game’s history - and throughout that history, it was always classically terrible.
50% chance for no effect at all is just terrible - sure the upside is really strong, but not strong enough to risk an empty draw. Our Base Set players won’t have that many Trainers to choose from, so it’s important to make sure each of them has a place in the metagame. I hope my twist on the classic Poke Ball is both useful and thematic.


This Poke Ball is definitely stronger than some of the future balls, such as Nest Ball or Quick Ball, which search exclusively for Basic Pokemon and come with downsides to boot. However, I believe it is quite thematic, especially the “show your Pokemon, then try to capture it” part. I want Poke Ball to be a staple in decks, just as it’s a staple in the franchise.


I think it’s fitting to start exploring the Jungle set by finishing up some of the evolution lines that were left incomplete in the Base Set.


You might recall that the Pidgey-Pidgeotto line featured an increasingly powerful “Whirlwind” attack that grew in damage and bonus retreat cost between both Pokemon. Pidgeot, naturally, features the ultimate form of Whirlwind, including damage to both Pokemon and blocking their retreat altogether.
The original Pidgeot also featured a “Hurricane” attack, which remains unchanged here. I had a hard time evaluating this attack - on the surface, the idea of nullifying someone’s development in the early game with one attack sounds awfully strong, while it’s an annoyingly weak attack when it has no place to land. However, I thought more about the dynamic this attack brings into the game, as you can see an upcoming Stage-2 Pidgeot from a mile away. Once you do recognize the danger, it adds an additional layer of tactics, where you try to spread out your energy to avoid a major blow. Punishing decks that go all-out on a single Pokemon is also a feature worth mentioning. That’s why I decided to keep the attack.


Dodrio is yet another card whose identity remains largely unchanged, and that’s of the “Retreat Aid” ability. Fittingly, it’s like having the “Retreat Aid” card active at all times and it’s an inoffensive effect. It might seem like the changes to Retreat Cost has left this ability underpowered, but on the other side of the coin it’s now much more common to achieve that coveted 0-retreat cost.
As for the attack, I wanted it to continue Doduo’s legacy as a “flipper” attack. I think flipping for each of Dodrio’s heads until it fails is rather thematic, but we’ll see how it plays out in reality.


The “Agility” attack always struck me as particularly annoying, letting you get a free turn of damage unless your opponent had some way of countering that effect. The replacement I’ve introduced is rather experimental, as it still allows you to avoid all damage, but also choose which Pokemon (or Poke Doll) takes it. It might even be equally annoying to deal with, but definitely introduces more tactical ideas that just preventing all damage.
As for the second attack, I did not go with anything experimental, as I wanted to preserve the same energy costs as Ponyta’s.


Clefable features the same ability that I’ve previously removed from Clefairy - the ability to draw cards as a compensation for failed flips. I felt like this ability would be much more balanced on an evolution, requiring more set-up than simply presenting a Basic on the bench.
I have also kept Metronome, as a fun attack that might get quite a bit of usage as a cheap counter to strong Pokemon.
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The first two Pokemon expansions feature something that, nowadays, we might consider a pretty advanced and rare concept - putting off-color attacks on Pokemon of a different Type. It’s a feature that, even today, appears rather sparsely. Jungle and Fossil are pretty selective about it, as the only Type to appear as an off-color is Psychic, and only on two Evolution lines as well. The concept that “Psychic” is the only Type that’d appear sporadically on differently-Typed Pokemon might seem limiting, but I’m about to run with this theme and make these four cards much more prominent. However, they are staggered between both expansions, so today you will only see one side of the whole story.


Exeggcute escapes with minimal changes. Having an auto-sleep on a 1-cost attack is pretty strong, and the second attack is just Bulbasaur’s attack.


Exeggutor sees a total overhaul of its attacks. Originally, the “Psychic” side simply allowed it to retreat for free, which is not a great effect for investing a different Type of energy. Meanwhile, “Big Eggsplosion” was similar to the attack I now gave to the Poliwrath line - since we want to separate effects into Types more neatly, that effect does not fit on a Grass-type attack.
My goal with the new Exeggutor was to have two lines - Psychic and Grass - with distinctive attacks, that can be used separately or together. Psywave is the heavily-damaging one, meant to put your opponent in a vulnerable state, where Leech Seed can be used to heal whatever damage Exeggutor takes back.


Fossil insists on giving Pokemon attacks that search for their own copies and put them on the Bench - and in the case of Oddish, that attack was weirdly more expensive than others. We now know these effects need to be cheap and effective - so I gave Oddish a twist in the ability that allows it to search for any Basic Pokemon or energy.


Gloom remains unchanged on all fronts, even retreat cost - it’s a fine card that continues with the line’s trend of exploring every possible Special Condition.


The original Vileplume had an even worse version of the Ability we already gave to Ivysaur. I decided to keep Petal Dance, while giving it my usual flipping equalizer. For the second attack, I came up with something as hilarious as it’s terrifying, only possible because of the rule changes to Asleep Pokemon. Flipping for each Pokemon will probably get annoying, but it creates a really amazing combo with Base Set Haunter and, besides, your opponent gets to wake up first.
Even though you, dear reader, probably know a couple of Base Set cards, I am pretty sure you would share my experience of reading yet another Jungle or Fossil card and reacting “huh, I didn’t know that existed, but I can see why nobody played it”. So many of these Pokemon have very uninspired attacks, clearly longing for some sort of niche they could fulfill to become useful. It might seem like I am quite eager to rework these cards completely and put my own ideas on them as though they’re blanks, it’s actually the opposite - it pains me to remove the identity of the original card, because I don’t want this format to just be a conglomeration of my own ideas. Sometimes, however, I don’t have a choice, as there’s no improvement to something that’s simply boring and unappealing.

The Fat Lads

Snorlax is a Pokemon that’s pretty iconic for his very specific role in the games, acting as a roadblock due to its sleeping habits. However, in the TCG, the ability that’s given to it is one that prevents it from going to sleep. Not to mention, the card itself is pretty terrible, being yet another Basic with massive Retreat Cost and a single, expensive attack. Each Basic must be at least somewhat useful as your first, frontal Pokemon, though it’s obvious that Snorlax’s retreat cost cannot be any lower than 2. With that in mind, I reworked Snorlax into a roadblock it deserves to be.


It would be a pretty major thematic fail, if the format had a card called “Poke Flute”, but that card would have no interactions with Snorlax. Snorlax blocks the way by preventing a lot of damage, but also putting itself to Sleep. The Body Slam attack became a bit cheaper, but its largely unchanged.


Lickitung sees changes meant to embolden its iconic ability of Paralyzing tongue. That attack became more expensive, but also more dangerous, with a rare guaranteed Paralyze. Lickitung was always a great disruptor, and it retains that ability going forward.


I love me some cats, and I especially love the Meowth’s then-iconic “Pay Day” attack, which was translated into the TCG as a card drawing engine. The early Pokemon cards were visibly afraid of using attacks as means of gaining card advantage, which we now know to be the exact opposite of reality - attacks have to provide a lot of advantage, because they are the most expensive tool in the game.


I made Meowth’s attack cheaper and removed the coin flip, creating a guaranteed draw on a damaging attack. I also retained that attack on Persian, giving it an evolved effect, stacking with the likes of X Attack.

One of the Worst


Marowak’s attack “Call of Family” was recognized as one of the worst attacks in the history of the game, letting you put a single Fighting Pokemon from your deck onto your Bench - for three energy. I gave it back a ton of that energy, by letting you set up any amount of Benched Pokemon for nearly free. As for the Bonemerang, I tried many ideas here, trying to make it live up to its “Boomerang-ness” with Bench damage. I decided to keep it simple and just let it spread some damage, although in limited quantities.
As for the Cubone, I changed its Rage attack so it alludes to its signature “storyline”. I also massively improved Snivel, as cheaper and more frequent Retreats make this type of effect pretty easy to work around.