Deckbuilding For Teaching Tournament Pokemon To A Child

by Ed ~ May 24th, 2012.

Petra Doing a Magic Trick at Battle Roads?

This BR season, I wanted to do some sort of OneHitKO Budget Challenge, but life took its toll, and I really didn’t do much Pokemon for a while. We hit up states, but we were fairly unprepared. Now that a new set is out and a new BR season is already upon us, my plans will have to wait for some other time.

What has happened, though, is that I think it’s time to teach my second daughter how to play Pokemon and get her in on some tournament play. This past weekend, I brought Petra (my second daughter behind Ava) to Battle Roads. Ava and I played, and Petra watched. She sat with me quite a bit, and she was excited each time I won. We cut the day short, when I dropped (which helped TAndrewT get second on the day). The whole thing sparked the idea to get her started on playing the TCG, but she’s only 5 years old. How can we pull it off?

This article won’t get too deep into my plans for Petra. I hope to get to that in a future article. I will, however, discuss a bit of what I did when Ava was getting into the game 2 and a half years ago.

What I did at the time was take a known deck and childproof it. I did everything I could to choose a deck that had a single goal and build it in a way that limited all the options. You might say that I wanted an “autopilot” deck, but to a 6-year-old (as Ava was at the time), even “autopilot” requires plenty of thought.

I chose Shuppet donk, because it was very straight-forward. The drawback was that it could have some very long turns. An opponent might not like that, but Ava would be learning about her cards and not worrying so much about her opponent’s.

The strategy here is simple. As soon as possible (hopefully first trainer turn), you set up a Shuppet that can do a bunch of damage. You attack, it goes back to your hand, and you promote something you don’t care about losing. If they can KO it, it’s not a big deal. If they can’t, then you’ve gained advantage. On every subsequent turn, you play Shuppet, load him up with damage adders, and attack. Your main attacker and its resources are never in danger, because they’re in your hand (there was no N or Judge at the time).

Again, you just set it up and repeat the attack until you win or lose. If you remember the format, you might notice that this build makes use of some fairly suboptimal cards (compared to other cards available at the time). Well, most of them are targetted at reducing options. Here’s the list.


14 Pokemon 38 Trainers 4 Supporters 4 Energy
2 Shuppet 4 Poke Turn 4 Buck’s Training 4 Psy
4 Crobat G 4 Super Scoop Up
4 Uxie 4 Poke Blower+
4 Unown R 4 Poke Drawer+
4 Pokedex
4 Plus Power
4 Quick Ball
2 Great Ball
1 Luxury Ball
2 Night Maintenance
2 Expert Belt
3 Energy Search


Just today, I stumbled upon this document that I built for Ava.  It’s what prompted me to write this article.  The point is that I’m going to have to do something similar for Petra.  She turns 6 next month, and I’d like to see if I can get her to play in a tournament before that happens.  It’s a fun goal to see if she can play at age 5.

I know this is rather geeky, but come on.  I’m a dad of 4 daughters, I’m a computer programmer, and I play Pokemon.  Who are we kidding?  I’m a geek.

To go with the above deck, I wrote up a play script.  Since I had limited the options, it was easy to explain what each card was for.  The idea here is that if you look at your hand, you’d go down this list until you found a card you had in hand.  Then, you’d do what it says.  Of course, you can’t use this script in a tournament, but you can use it to learn the deck.

Keep in mind that Plus Power used to attach to the Pokemon, so when you’d use Shuppet’s attack, it would return to your hand with Shuppet (and Expert Belt and its energy).


Ava’s Shuppet Deck Play Script in play order



Energy Search                   Play it to search your deck for a Psychic energy card (and put it into your hand).

Great Ball                            Play it to put Unown R on the bench.

Quick Ball                             Play it and see what you get.

Unown R                             Play it on the bench.  Then use its Retire PokePower to draw a card (discarding Unown R).  If you have to start the game with Unown R as your active Pokemon, you may need to attach an energy so that you can retreat him on your next turn.

Pokedex                              Play it to look at the top 2 cards of the deck and keep one (the other goes on the bottom of the deck).  If you already have Energy in your hand, you don’t need to choose to keep another energy with Pokedex.   If you already have a Shuppet, you don’t need to get another one.

Luxury Ball                          If you don’t have an Uxie in your hand, play it to get Uxie.  If you have Uxie in your hand but don’t have Shuppet or Crobat G, you can go get a Shuppet or Crobat G.

Buck’s Training                  If you haven’t played a Buck’s Training yet, play Buck’s Training to draw 2 cards.  It also causes your attack to do 10 extra damage.  Remember that you can only play 1 supporter per turn.

Crobat G                              Put it on your bench to add 1 damage counter to the opponent’s benched Pokemon with the fewest remaining HP (or target their active if you think you can knock it out it before you attack).  Remember that Crobat has a free retreat, so put him active to start the game and whenever you are forced to bring up someone from your bench (like after you attack or get knocked out).

Poke Turn                           Use this to return Crobat G to your hand.  Then you can play Crobat again (which adds another damage counter to one of your opponent’s Pokemon).

Poke Blower+                    Play it and flip a coin.  If heads, put a damage on the opponent’s benched Pokemon with the fewest remaining HP (or target their active if you think you can KO it before attacking).

Shuppet                               Shuppet is your main attacker, so play him if you don’t already have a Shuppet in play.  When you attack with Shuppet, you can put Shuppet, Energy, Expert Belt, and all the Plus Powers attached to Shuppet back into your hand so that you can play them all again next turn.  Remember to put Crobat as your active Pokemon when you return Shuppet to your hand.  You should not need to have 2 Shuppets out.

Psychic Energy                  Attach this to the Pokemon you plan to attack with this turn.

Expert Belt                          Attach this to the Pokemon you plan to attack with this turn.  You can NOT attach more than 1 Expert Belt to each Pokemon.

Plus Power                         Attach this to the Pokemon you plan to attack with this turn.  You CAN attach as many Plus Powers as you want to your attacking Pokemon.  If you do not attack, you will have to discard the PlusPowers at the end of your turn, so be careful.

Night Maintenance         Play this to put 3 Unown R (or less if you don’t have 3) from your discard pile back into your deck.  You can also use this to return an Energy card to your deck if you have 2 or more energy in your discard pile.

Super Scoop Up                Play it and flip a coin.  If it is heads, you can return one of your Pokemon to your hand, and play it on the bench again.  Use this on Crobat G to add a damage to a Pokemon, or use it on Uxie to your hand to draw more cards.

Poke Drawer +                  If you have 2 in your hand, play both to search the deck for any 2 cards.  Otherwise, just play it to draw a card.

Uxie                                       Play it on your bench to draw until you have 7 cards in your hand.  Try to play all your other cards first, so you can draw more cards.  Uxie is also a good attacker.  When you attack with Uxie, you can put Uxie, Energy, Expert Belt, and all the Plus Powers attached to Uxie on the bottom of your deck.  Remember to put Crobat as your active Pokemon when you return Uxie to your deck.


On the second page, I wrote up tips about what to do when starting the game and what to do when attacking.


Starting the Game (choosing your starting Pokemon)

If you have Crobat G in your hand, place it face-down as your active Pokemon.  He has free retreat, so when you are ready to attack, you can retreat Crobat G and attack with Shuppet (or Uxie).


If you don’t have Crobat but you do have Shuppet in your hand, it is okay to start with Shuppet as your active Pokemon.  Then you will be ready to attack with Shuppet.


If you don’t have Crobat or Shuppet, it is okay to start with Uxie as your active Pokemon.   Then you will be ready to attack with Uxie.


If Unown R is the only Pokemon in your hand, you will have to use him as your active.


After you have placed your active Pokemon, put all the Unown Rs you have face-down on your bench.  If you don’ t have any Unown R to place on your bench, you will want to have something on your bench (so you don’t lose if your active Pokemon is knocked out).  Shuppet is good to put on your bench.  Crobat G is also a good choice.


If you go first (and can’t play trainers and supporters on the first turn of the game)

You can Retire Unown R from your bench to draw cards.


If you have energy in your hand, you can attach it to Shuppet and use his Fade Out attack, but make sure that you have a Crobat G on your bench if you do this!


If you want to attack with Shuppet, but do not have any energy or a Crobat G on your bench, you can use Shuppet’s  Hypnotic Gaze attack to put the defending Pokemon to sleep.


If you do not have a Shuppet, but you do have Uxie and an energy, you can attack with Uxie.  If you have a Crobat G on your bench, then you can Psychic Restore Uxie and put him on the bottom of your deck (and make Crobat G active).  If you do not have Crobat G, then you can do Psychic Restore and choose to not put Uxie on the bottom of the deck.


If you had to start with Unown R as your active Pokemon, you probably can’t do anything this turn.  If you have energy, you can attach it to Unown R, so you can retreat him on your next turn.



Usually, your turn should start out with Crobat G as your active Pokemon.  Then you can play Shuppet on your bench, attach energy, PlusPower, and Expert Belt to Shuppet.  Then retreat Crobat G (for free), bring up Shuppet, attack with Shuppet, return him to your hand (and all the stuff attached), and bring Crobat G active.  Then, on your next turn, you can do it again.  If you don’t have Shuppet, Uxie can do something similar.


Shuppet is your main attacker.  You want to attach one energy, a bunch of PlusPowers, and one Expert Belt to Shuppet.  Then, when you attack, you do a lot of damage and Shuppet (and all the things attached) return to your hand.  When you return him to your hand, you want to put Crobat G as your active Pokemon.


If you can not attack with Shuppet, you can use Uxie as your attacker.  You want to attach one energy, a bunch of PlusPowers, and one Expert Belt to Uxie.  Then, when you attack, you do a lot of damage and Uxie (and all the things attached) may be place on the bottom of your deck.  When you put him on bottom of your deck, you want to put Crobat G as your active Pokemon.


You should not need to attack with Crobat G or Unown R.

You may have to use an energy to retreat Unown R if he is active.  This should only happen if you start the game with Unown R as your active Pokemon.


Last night, I experimented with a new deck for Petra. It’s not as simple as Shuppet. Yeah, there is a Fade Out Dunsparce HS 41 out there, but Plus Power doesn’t work the way it used to.  I came up with another cheap donk style deck, but the complexity is a bit higher on this one.  I’ll have to put more work into making it “autopilot” better if I want to build a script for it.

Do you have a kid that is just starting out in the game?  Do you remember teaching a young kid how to play?  Leave a comment about your experiences!

Category: Teaching Pokemon | Tags: , , , ,
  • My almost-five-year-old son (who plays daily with his eight-year-old sister and me, and plays at league most Sundays) participated in a few PRs for Dark Explorers.  The biggest thing I learned was that I should’ve just hid his Sandile cards.  He insisted on Sand Diving at every opportunity, and therefore would never evolve or attach more energy once there was a Sandile active.

    I won’t be taking him to any more tournaments for a while, though, because he needed more attention than I had anticipated (he would be bothered by little things that his opponents didn’t do that we do when we play at home, like putting Juniper on top of the discarded cards after the card’s played).

    I really like the idea of the “script”; I’m going to borrow that with my son.  Great article!

    • Ed

      I was thinking the same thing, and I went through the Jumpluff, Empoleon, Cinccino, and Zoroark ideas.  I forgot about the Round attacks, though.

      I threw together a Zoroark deck that has really exceeded my expectations.  I don’t know if it’s great for a 5-year-old’s first deck, but it can really work well.  Reply back if you want to talk about it more (since your daughter is doing something similar), and I’ll email you.

      • I’d love to get some suggestions for the ‘ark deck.  My daughter’s been doing just-okay with Zoroark/Absol, and I’m not planning on buying a playset of Darkrai EX anytime soon.  

        I’d forgotten about wave Cinccino.  I wonder if a 2-2 split of wave vs. smooth coat would confuse my son overly much.  Hmm…

        • Ed

          Alrighty, Joe, I sent you an email.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve seen some kids younger play (not well, but play).

    Empoleon decks work. Aerpoleon or KingdraPoleon works well for this sort of thing.

    Or Durant. Durantworks.

    • i think durant could be used JUST so they can see different decks.

    • empoleon would probably work the best for a beginner deck.

  • any thoughts on how to teach PARENTS to play?

    • Ed

      That’s funny!

      Yeah, step 1 is to convince them that they want to learn.  Until then, they’ll just keep complaining that it’s too complex.  If they commit to it, then they’ll quit making excuses.

      The Pokemon Trainer Challenge (the single player online game) is a good way for anyone to learn, though.