Experts' corner

Igor Costa

Standardizing Standard

This time I'll be talking more about the Standard format.

11/09/2015 by Igor Costa

Ola novamente, 60cards! ("Hello again" in Portuguese.) I'm glad to be back writing my second article for this website. I hope you all enjoyed my last article. In this article, I'll be talking more about the Standard format, which is now relevant for all players because even North American players will be playing it for some of their City Championships. 

Since I wrote last, I have been visiting the United States to see my girlfriend. We traveled to Indiana together to play in the Ft. Wayne Regionals. I played a Toad/Bats list similar to the one I played at Worlds, starting off the tournament relatively strong with a record of 5-1-1. However, I ran into some hard matchups later in the day and didn't end up making Day 2. There were also a few changes I should have made to my list that ended up costing me some games. Here is the list:

Deck Breakdown 

3 Seismitoad-EX/2 Shaymin-EX/1 Mewtwo-EX

Seismitoad is, of course, your main attacker in this deck. You have Mewtwo there for backup and in certain situations where you need to deal a lot of damage, such as versus a stacked Yveltal-EX or an opposing Mewtwo. Mewtwo is obviously good against any Pokémon that requires a lot of Energy, like Giratina or Groudon. Normally I would play three Shaymin-EX in order to set up, but since the deck plays Super Scoop Ups, it's not necessary because you can reuse Shaymin.

4 Zubat/3 Golbat/2 Crobat

This is the same line that I played at Worlds. The reason for this is because your ideal field contains one of each stage: a Zubat, a Golbat, and a Crobat. This way, you can Super Scoop Up or AZ the Crobat and play the Golbat and Crobat right back down onto your board, getting 50 damage onto the field from the Bench.

Supporter Line

Aside from the basic draw Supporters, I included several one-of techs. At Worlds, I also played a Colress, but did not at Ft. Wayne. There are so many good disruptive Supporter cards right now. We have Hex Maniac to shut off Mew, Aegislash, Blastoise, Shaymin, etc. There is AZ to deny your opponent Prizes by picking up a damaged Pokémon-EX. I included Team Flare Grunt to deal with opposing Manectric and non-EX Yveltal. Xerosic is very good in order to give you the advantage in the mirror or against any opposing deck that uses Special Energy or Tools as a core part of their strategy.

4 Super Scoop Up

I think that Super Scoop Up is one of the best cards in the game. It's like a Max Potion and a Switch both in one card. You could go down to three of this card, but I like four just because it has the potential to be so powerful and game-changing.

1 Head Ringer

Before the tournament, I was considering whether I should play a Head Ringer or an Enhanced Hammer. At the end of the day, I wished I went with the Hammer, as Special Energy were in almost every deck, and there were multiple times in-game where access to a Hammer could have saved me, or at least greatly improved my board position.

4 DCE/4 Water Energy

In addition to playing four DCE, which is necessary in this deck and many others, I also like to have 4 Basic Water Energy. This allows me to avoid being destroyed by opposing Xerosic and Enhanced Hammers, and it also lets Seismitoad Grenade Hammer twice during the game more easily.

So there is the list I played at Ft. Wayne. Despite not making Day 2 after such a strong start, playing at a Regionals in the United States was an interesting experience. In Portugal, our Regionals are much much smaller, with about 40 Masters playing. In Ft. Wayne, there were 490! Because of this, the rounds take much longer to complete and organize, and there is much more downtime during the tournament where players are not playing or doing anything. I'm used to Regionals taking about 6 hours to complete. At Ft. Wayne, we were there from 8 AM to 11 PM! I have a new point of view on what it's like to play Pokémon in the United States.

Standardizing Standard

For the rest of this article, I would like to go through what cards are going to be played in Standard. In other words, this should function like a mini guide to which cards you need to build most Standard decks. I'll go through staples and what I think are some good techs, including the newest set, BREAKthrough.

Essential Pokémon:

3 Shaymin-EX

This is probably the most important Pokémon in the format right now. Drawing up to six cards when you bench it allows you to burn through your deck faster, accessing important setup cards in the beginning of the game and negating dead draws in the mid to late game. There is no fear of N in this format, but that doesn't lessen Shaymin's effectiveness. You could possibly get away with only two Shaymin.

3 Seismitoad-EX

Toad continues to be strong heading into this format. It's much easier to set up than Vileplume in order to lock Items, and it also boasts a high HP and at least some damage output. It retains most of its tools, even though it loses Hypnotoxic Laser.

3 Giratina-EX

Combined with Toad or in Metal, Giratina is very strong, as we just saw at Ft. Wayne Regionals. It's still fairly good in Standard because it doesn't lose too much.

4 Manectric-EX/3 M Manectric-EX

Manectric is a very powerful card in Standard, and it's not going anywhere any time soon. It trades well with Mega Rayquaza, and partnered with Regice, it's a very effective combo at locking out any other deck. It has a powerful support card in Rough Seas, and it's just a very consistent deck overall.

2 Aegislash-EX

Special Energy are a large part of both the Standard and Expanded metagame, so Aegislash will undoubtedly be around for a while. It's a card that requires your opponent to change their strategy just to deal with it, and it can be hard for them to deal with.

3 Gengar-EX

In Standard, with no Hypnotoxic Laser, Gengar is a lot better than before.

4-3 Trevenant line

Yet another Item-lock option which is pretty strong in this format.

3 Hawlucha

Fighting is still around, especially without Blastoise to overwhelm it.

3 Lucario-EX

Now that Landorus-EX is gone, Lucario is the main EX attacker of the Fighting deck. Also, Mewtwo isn't around to counter Lucario.

1 Mr. Mime

From the new set, it is just a reprint of the old one that blocks damage, but this time it's Fairy type.

4 Rayquaza-EX/3 M Rayquaza-EX

This deck is fast and hits hard. What more could you want? It's this season's rush deck.

1 Hoopa-EX

I recently realized just how great Hoopa is in so many decks. It's not quite as good in Standard without Keldeo, but it's still a great addition to any setup.

4-3-2 Crobat Line

I don't expect bats to lose their effectiveness anytime soon, and this line is a solid investment to have.

4/4/4 Lampent/Pumpkaboo/Joltik

Night Marchers have a lot of influence in Standard. The deck is cheap and easy to build, so it should always be an option for players.

4-4 Raichu line

With Skyfield, Raichu can be a real threat. I am not sure if you need three or four, but better safe than sorry.

2 Regice

This goes well in combination with Manectric and is a perfect counter to an EX-heavy format.

3 Unown

Unown is great in multiple decks like Vileplume, Vespiquen, and Night March. It adds consistency and has a double benefit for attackers that rely on the amount of Pokémon in the discard.

4-4 Vespiquen

As recently shown by Jimmy O'Brien's impressive run through Lancaster Regionals, Vespiquen will be a big deal in the coming months. It trades very well with EX decks, giving up one Prize to their two.

3-3 Bronzong

The backbone of any Metal deck. Bronzong gives Metal Pokemon Energy acceleration on the Bench.

3 Wobbuffet

A Wobbuffet start is very strong when your opponent only has a Shaymin or Ultra Ball in their hand, because they won't be able to set up under Wobbuffet's Ability.

Essential Supporters:

In general, decks will need to run more Supporters than previously. Since there is no N, you can't expect your hand to be refreshed in any way other than playing a Supporter. Therefore, if you want new cards, you'll have to play Sycamore, etc.

4 Professor Sycamore

Of course, you'll need this card. And you need four in almost every deck. (I wonder if they will make a full-art soon.) Discarding your hand for a fresh new seven is so good it easily makes Sycamore the best draw Supporter in the game.

3 Professor Birch's Observations

Unfortunately, the rest of the Supporter choices for Standard are a bit lackluster, so this is one of the best options we have. Birch lets you shuffle your hand into your deck. Then you flip a coin, and if you get heads, you draw seven. Tails, four. I explained in my last article why it's superior to drawing five with Shauna.

2 Shauna

Even though it's not as good, it's still another Supporter, so we will need a few for our decks. You probably won't run more than two in a deck, however.

2 Lysandre

Giving up your Supporter for the turn has never been easier with the addition of Trainers' Mail and Shaymin to the format, so Lysandre has only gotten more powerful. A lot of decks play two instead of one, because it is so often game-winning.

2 AZ

I think that AZ is a very good card in almost every deck. Being able to heal your Pokemon or deny your opponent's Lysandre-Shaymin-KO play is excellent.

1 Teammates

While Teammates won't go in every deck, it is great in some, especially decks that have many low HP Pokemon that can be easily knocked out early in the game. It also goes great in combination with Battle Compressor and VS Seeker.

1 Flare Grunt

It is always good to have this card around as an option, although it is only played at certain times.

2 Hex Maniac

Most decks will probably only need to play one of these, but might as well have two in case Ability decks become very popular again. Against some decks (like Aegislash or Giratina), this will be the only way you can attack, so two will be necessary.

3 Blacksmith

Fire-types got a huge boost in the new set with the release of their own Special Energy, which reattaches itself to the Pokemon if it was discarded by an attack. Of course, there's always Giratina and Enhanced Hammer, but it's still a nice buff. Fire-types will probably see a boost in playability during Cities.

4 Judge

It was good back in the day and without N, it will be good again.

3 Brigette

Searching your deck for three Pokémon in the form of a Supporter can boost consistency in some decks. 

2 Fisherman

This card is good in decks that use a lot of Energy or discard it often.

3 Giovanni's Scheme

This is an interesting card and provides a lot of versatility with the two options it gives. You can use whoever is best for the situation.

4 Korrina

The backbone of Fighting decks.

3 Wally

As I said, Trevenant is a strong Item-lock option, and this helps get it out turn one.

2 Archie's Ace in the Hole

Putting a Stage 2 Water Pokémon straight onto the Bench obviously paired extremely well with Blastoise. However, there are other options, like the new Empoleon.

Essential Items:

4 VS Seeker

Almost every list should play a maxed-out VS Seeker count. It adds so much consistency, it's impossible to exclude.

4 Ultra Ball

You've got to get your Pokemon on the board before you do anything!

4 Trainers' Mail

It goes without saying why this is necessary. It's too good not to have!

3 Acro Bike

More setup Item cards, yay!

3 Mega Turbo

Help power up all of those Megas.

2 Head Ringer

Two is a fine amount to have, as most decks won't play more than that anyway.

2 Enhanced Hammer

This is kind of the same deal as Head Ringer. Two is usually fine.

4 Crushing Hammer

Energy-removal will always be good, and if you want to play this card, you should just max out the count.

4 Super Scoop-Up

I talked about my opinion of this card in my Toad deck, so of course I view it as essential.

1 Super Rod

Finally, it's back! This helps decks that discard Energy or use a lot of Pokémon.

3 Float Stone

With BREAKthrough, we get Float Stone back, which is great for a lot of decks. Even though we don't have Keldeo, it's still a great Retreating option for Pokémon with high Retreat Costs, or like Wobbuffet, who aren't meant to attack but just stay in the Active position for the beginning of the turn.

3 Muscle Band

All the Muscle Band you'll ever need. 

3 Hard Charm

This is a less popular card recently, but it is still nice to have around.

2 Switch

Most decks won't play more than two of this card if they play it at all, but some decks need it to get out of sketchy situations.

1 Escape Rope

Escape Rope is a great alternative to Switch because it forces your opponent to also switch and do it first.

4 Battle Compressor

This is mainly used in Night March and Vespiquen, but other decks play it as well, such as Metal and Yveltal in order to discard Basic Energy.

3 Level Ball

This is a great setup card that we just got back. Decks like Vileplume and Vespiquen use it frequently.

1 Sacred Ash

Sometimes you need to call some Pokémon back to battle!

2 Revive

With the loss of Mew-EX, this becomes more necessary in order to make sure Night March has enough attackers.

3 Manectric Spirit Link/3 Rayquaza Spirit Link

Both necessary in their respective decks.

Essential Stadiums:

3 Sky Field

This will allow you to build decks like Rayquaza and Metal.

3 Dimensional Valley

Lets Pumpkaboo attack in Night March.

3 Fighting Stadium

A powerful support card for Fighting-type Pokémon.

2 Silent Lab

Similar to Wobbuffet, this Stadium negates so many important Abilities, which makes it very useful in some decks.

Essential Energy

4 Double Dragon Energy

4 Double Colorless Energy

8 Metal Energy

8 Dark Energy

10 Water Energy

6 Lightning Energy

4 Strong Energy

6 Fighting Energy

4 Burning Energy

8 Fire Energy

4 Rainbow Energy

Non-Essential Pokémon:

3 Yveltal-EX

Even though we lose Darkrai-EX in Standard, Yveltal is still a powerful card even without the support Dark Cloak brings. It seems like Darkness-types will never really leave the format.

3 Yveltal

The non-EX version of the legendary bird is the best support available to the EX. Without Dark Patch, it's a good way to accelerate Energy in the early game and to stall/recover in the late game.

3 Camerupt-EX

This guy does 50× the amount of Fire Energy you discard from all of your Pokémon. If you discard a Burning Energy, you an just reattach it after the attack.

4-4 Team Magma's Camerupt

Once a turn, you can attach a Fire Energy from your discard to this Pokémon. Such synergy.

4 Sceptile-EX/3 M Sceptile-EX

With the rise of Fire Pokemon, Sceptile might not be that widely played but who knows? It might be worth having around, as it has potential.

1 Lugia-EX

This format's splashable "X Ball"er, although it's not as good as Mewtwo was.

2 Tyrantrum-EX

This deck popped up rather unexpectedly at Regionals. I wasn't even aware of this card until I saw it played in Ft. Wayne. I am not sure how good it will be in the coming months, but it might be worth adding to your collection.

3-3 Aromatisse

Fairies aren't really in a great position right now, but a toolbox Aromatisse deck could have potential.

1 Xerneas-EX

A decent attacker that goes in Fairies.

3 Mewtwo EX

I think the one that attacks for a DCE is probably better, but neither are as good as the old one.

3 M Mewtwo-EX

Psychic Infinity is similar to X Ball. The major difference is that it's on a Mega and doesn't include Weakness. It's still a good attack and could be paired with Aromatisse.

2 Xerneas

The non-EX legendary is great for setting up the board. If you play Fairies, you may even want three.

2 Empoleon

From the new set, this card adds 20 damage to all of your Basics' attacks. I see this being primarily played with Toad, but it could also go with Miltank, Hawlucha, etc.

3 Miltank

Decent with Bats, Vileplume, and Empoleon.

4 Eevee

Eeveelutions are back in a big way!

2/1 Flareon/Jolteon

This is really all you need to use Eevee effectively in any deck.

1 Regirock

This can OHKO Manectric, so it might be useful to have around.

3-3-3 Vileplume line

In my opinion, Vileplume is not the best Item-locking option out there as long as Toad exists. Item-lock is always good regardless, so it is still a card that is worth having.

Non-Essential Supporters:

1 Pokémon Center Lady

This isn't good in every deck or anything, but it is definitely nice to have around. It's not a bad card by any means, but you won't need to play more than one in any deck.

1 Ace Trainer

Not necessary in most decks, or maybe even at all, but I think it might have potential. Judge is mostly better than it in common situations, but it could be interesting.

4 Skyla

There's still a place for Skyla in this upcoming format!

Non-Essential Items and Stadiums:

3 Sceptile Spirit Link/3 Mewtwo Spirit Link

If you play those Megas...

2 Faded Town

I'm not sure how good this stadium really is, but it might become better as the format evolves.

2 Silent Lab 

Again, this stadium is usually kind of an afterthought but has certain useful situations.

2 Parallel City

This is a very interesting card out of the new set, and will likely be good, probably played in Giratina/Toad decks. It has two sides, one that limits your Bench to three, and one that reduces the damage done by Grass, Fire, and Water Pokemon by 20.

4 Forest of Giant Plants

When this stadium was released in combination with Vileplume, it became much easier to set up the Stage 2 than it was before.

3 Fairy Garden

If Fairies do come back, you will need this to make the deck operational.


It's impossible to make a definitive list of what cards will impact the format, but I hope this is a good starting point for new players. If you have access to these cards, or even most of them, you should be able to build most good decks in the format. We are still at the beginning of the season, and Standard is very new. Anything could happen! Additionally, you don't need every card on this list, of course, but it will allow you to have many more options. Let me know in the comments if you can think of something I missed, or see potential in a card I overlooked. Thanks for reading and I'll talk to you again soon!


[+12] okko


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