Comparing Different Styles of Play in the Pokémon Trading Card Game

While the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) does have an overwhelmingly aggressive meta (most effective tactic available), it doesn’t mean you need to play it that way. In fact, plenty of Pokémon TCG players excel because they use a non-aggressive playstyle.

In this post, we’ll go over the three main playstyles in the Pokémon TCG:

Charizard, the poster boy for aggressive playstyles in the Pokemon TCG

Aggressive – The Meta Playstyle

Right now, the aggressive playstyle is the most popular. You’ll see tons of deck builds and strategies in which the primary tactic is to OHKO (One Hit Knock Out) your opponent’s Pokémon.

This style of play became popular back when EX cards were introduced and still remains a top strategy with today’s GX cards. If you play with this playstyle, you’ll be looking to do the following:

  1. Base your deck around Pokémon capable of dishing out 250 damage
  2. Make those Pokémon your active Pokémon and power them up asap.
  3. Then, destroy the enemies Pokémon before they have the chance to retaliate.

It follows the idea of the best defense is a strong offense, but it’s not without its weaknesses as we’ll discuss when talking about the playstyles which counter it below.

Wailord, a staple for defensive Pokemon Trading Card Game Decks

Defensive – A Good Counter for the Meta

One of the major weaknesses of the aggressive playstyle is its dependence on drawing a large number of cards quickly. This is exploited by the defensive deck, which simply seeks to outlast the opponent and whittle down their cards until they lose from drawing too many.

The best example of this deck is the Wailord decks which popped up within the last couple years. These make it a point to simply outlast your opponent, soaking damage from his attacks and quickly healing your Pokémon back to full health on your turns.

Additionally, you’ll be employing cards which force your opponent to draw and discard their cards. It can be a hard, but rewarding playstyle as you watch your opponent realize they’ve run down to their last few cards, and won’t be able to kill your Pokémon in time!

Grass type pokemon like Venosaur often feature attacks with statuses and abilities that are perfect for disrupting your enemy!

Disruptive/Status Effects – A fun, but unpopular playstyle

Back in the day, using status effects and disrupting your opponents strategy was the meta. Now, it’s fallen out of favor, but that doesn’t stop it from being fun! This Pokémon TCG playstyle is focused on using status effects to simultaneously prevent your enemy from attacking and do damage over time.

Your goal with this style of deck is to discard your opponent’s energy, force them to switch their active Pokémon, and utilize any tool in your arsenal to prevent them from executing their strategy.

While you’re doing that with your trainer cards, your Pokémon will use their abilities to confuse, poison, sleep, and place other status effects on your opponents pokemon.

This playstyle may not be the easiest to pull off, or the most consistently effective, but the joy you’ll get when you’ve frustrated all your opponent’s efforts is worth it.


Ultimately, these are just the main playstyles, and broad overviews at that. Because the Pokémon TCG is so diverse, players can combine any number of tactics to create their own unique playstyle. Let us know how you like to play the TCG in the comments below!