What is a competitive deck comprised of:

With all of the different archetypes surrounding the Pokémon competitive scene, deck prices could vary quite substantially. You would also see that generally the deck considered BDIF (Best Deck in Format) would always have a slight premium on its key Pokémon.

To fairly measure a generalized format outside of specific deck choices, we can look at the price of Trainer Cards. Almost every deck requires a large number of trainer cards, some decks having half of their 60 card limit being trainers.

What an average trainer line-up consists of:

Every deck will run on a skeleton of trainers that all serve a particular purpose. Trainer cards are what a deck uses to accelerate the pace and accuracy a deck requires to reach its win condition. In my personal opinion, these trainer cards consist of 4 categories namely:  

  • Drawing cards 
  • Hand Disruption 
  • Pokémon Search 
  • Gusting Effects 

Over time, there has been a wide variety of cards that achieve the above functions. And with multiple sets being released we also see reprints. If not, we will see a remodel. This is where TPCi takes the function of a card giving it a new name and face, for example Lysandre & Boss’s Orders. Both cards do exactly the same thing but only the latter is valid in standard play. 

What is the cost to play competitively then and now:

For each of the 4 categories above, I will go through an example of what the card was and its price tag in the Black & White era. I will then compare it to its counterparts within the Sword & Shield era. I made contact with some friends (and foes) from the old days to discuss what they remember cards costing back then and used it for this article.

Drawing Cards:

There has been one staple from the beginning of time when it comes to drawing, THE PROFESSOR. From base set, showcasing Professor Oak to our latest sets showing Professor Rowen. A card of this type has always existed.  

In Black & White this card was Professor Juniper. A staple in EVERY deck with the simple function of discarding your hand and drawing 7 fresh cards. At the time, these would sell for anywhere between $2-3. And you would be looking at playing 4 of them in most cases.

In the Sword & Shield era, we have been blessed with many versions of this card in the form of Professor’s Research. The card in essence does exactly the same thing its predecessor did. Due to the high volume of print runs, you can pick these up for $0.10 – $0.40. Most decks still play 4 of these today. But you would be able to essentially buy a playset of these for what you would have paid for a single copy in the past.

Hand Disruption:

With the inclusion of so many searching options (some cards even allowing you to search for any card you want) hand disruption became very important. Hand disruption would be in the form of a card that forces your opponent to shuffle their hands into their decks and drawing a new number of cards. 

In Black & White era the main card to play was N. This card was another mainstay in most competitive decks (if not all of them) and with its semi-limited print run, had the card going for $3-5. Considering you would also be playing 3-4 copies, made this a pricy addition to people getting into the game.  

In the Sword & Shield era, again, we have a couple of choices to choose from. Up for debate with the latest print of Roxanne, I would still claim that the most popular hand disruption for this era has been Marnie. The price of a Marnie would set you back $0.20 – $1.50 each. With a playset required in some decks. On average, similar to the professors, we could get a playset of Marnie for the same price as a single N.

Pokémon Search:

Finally! We have a like for like comparison of a card example. Ultra Ball has been a consistent feature in almost all popular decks since its inception during the Black & White era. It saw a hiatus during the Sun & Moon era but came back with a vengeance.  

In the Black & White era, an average copy of an Ultra Ball would set you back roughly $3.00 and decks needing 4 copies of this incredible searching card.  

In the Sword & Shield era, a copy of an Ultra Ball now costs roughly $0.15. With a playset of these costing less than a quarter of the price of 1 copy from Black & White.

Gusting Effects:

This topic is probably the most relevant of this article. For those who don’t know what a gust effect is, this is the ability to switch out your opponent’s active Pokémon with their bench. The name was tokened from the original card of this nature Gust of Wind from Base Set. Since then we have seen many trainer cards and Pokémon’s abilities do the same thing. 

There was a card that ran rampant over the Black & White competitive scene for a long stint. This trainer was Pokémon Catcher. This card saw so much competitive play, it was eventually deemed broken and received an errata, a very rare action for it’s time. It was later nerfed to require a coin flip to proceed with the action.  

During the Black & White era, a Pokémon Catcher would set you back $15-25 per copy. Every deck played a playset of these. This would mean that a deck would cost a minimum of $60 more to play with them included. In the current era, some complete decks would cost you a total of $60.  

In the Sword & Shield era, we have Boss’s Orders. A supporter card which does the same thing. But, with it being a supporter, it would mean that you can only use one per turn. A Boss’s Orders would set you back $0.40. Far less than its predecessor.  

In this section, I would like to add a third mention. The actual predecessor to the Boss’s Orders which is Lysandre from the XY era. Lysandre was the answer to the nerfed Pokémon Catcher and it saw a lot more play. A Lysandre in its time would cost you roughly $2 a copy which is still significantly higher than the Boss from Sword & Shield.

Blinging Out a Deck:

This article wouldn’t be complete if I left out all the magpies out there. It is quite popular for some players to “bling out their deck” showcasing their cards in its highest rarity. There’s an old saying, “if you can’t beat ‘em, blind ‘em”. There is quite a large disparity in this market as well when comparing new and old versions of these blinged out cards. 

Ultra Ball for example, the gold version of this card from Black & White would set you back roughly $244 per copy! Whereas the new version of the Gold Ultra Ball from Brilliant Stars, goes for only $18.

Professor Juniper in its full art treatment in Black & White would cost roughly $109 per copy. Where as the Professor’s Research: Professor Juniper promo full art is only $3.08.


In summation, getting into the competitive scene 10 years ago was a lot more expensive then it is today. Of course, we need to consider things like what the dollar rate was back then vs now but, that’s a conversation for another day. I think that with all of the reprints and so many different decks to choose from in the standard format. There has been no better time to get into the game like there is in the present.

This was an awesome trip down memory lane and I would like to thank those who contributed in rebooting my memory of some of the prices included here. Takes me back to things like Cities and Battle Roads. Where every 2nd deck was Darkrai ex or TDK (Thundurus, Deoxys, Kyurem) and the word plasma meant something in Pokémon.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.

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