The 11 Strongest Pokemon Cards Of All Time

What Makes A Pokemon Card Strong?

While it may seem unfair at times, there are just some Pokemon cards that are stronger than others, like, A LOT stronger than others. So much so, that these cards may even be able to single-handedly change the tides of a game completely simply because the player top-decked it. Some are even so powerful that they are banned from competitive play, leaving the Pokemon TCG community scratching their head wondering how the Pokemon Company could ever release such an unbalanced card. But what makes a Pokemon card strong? 


While you could argue that factors such as a Pokemon’s health or its retreat cost can make it strong, the strength of a lot of Pokemon cards boils down to a single attack or ability that the Pokemon has coupled with the energy cost of said ability. Don’t get us wrong, the health of a Pokemon can definitely sweeten the deal as it can become awkward for your opponent to clear but more often than not these cards are praised for their ability to turn the game around with just a single ability. Players often determine the strength of a card by weighing up the cost of energy against the value of the action they are getting out of it and let’s just say, there are some pretty low-cost abilities that can completely change the game. So, it no particular order, let’s get into this list.

Different Kinds Of Rainbow Rare Pokemon Cards

#11 Mega Tyranitar EX

Mega Tyranitar EX is a dark-type card that comes from the 2015 set Ancient Origins. While it may be a mega Pokemon meaning that it is the only time the player will be allowed to mega evolve a Pokemon in the game, the sacrifice is made worth it by its one attack “Destroyer King”. This attack may sound pretty costly as it requires two dark energy and two colorless energy but it’s worth every single one. It does 110 base damage which is already a hefty blow, this is then scaled up by 60 for every damage counter on your opponent’s active Pokemon. This allows you to trap your opponent between a rock and a hard place if they have a damaged Pokemon in play. They are either forced to retreat their Pokemon if they don’t want the Tyranitar to blast through it or they sacrifice that Pokemon and give you a free prize card for the sake of saving some energy. Tyranitar is also especially useful if you can catch your opponent top-decking as the likelihood is, they won’t be able to retreat their active Pokemon.

Mega Tyranitar EX

#10 Claydol (13/106)

This card may come as a surprise to a lot of newer players in the TCG as it lacks that wow factor in terms of art. It doesn’t have any flashy borderless art, nor does it have any cool glossy finish, so what’s going on here? How on earth could this card be good? Well, in 2008, The Pokemon Company released the set Great Encounters which would make this Claydol the biggest dark horse in Pokemon history. It went from being a card that the average noob would just throw away to an absolute must-have in most decks. You see, this Claydol has the ability to called Cosmic Power which allowed the player to, once during every turn, put two cards from their hand into the bottom of their deck but draw until they have 6 cards in return. Also, did we mention that the Claydol could still attack after doing this? This made the Claydol an absolute card-generating machine and one that would allow you to rid of any filler cards you may be pulling from your deck. Of course, it has now been power-crept into oblivion but it was a silent killer in its hay-day.

Claydol 13/106

#9 Lysandre’s Trump Card

Remember how we mentioned cards getting banned from competitive play because they were just too overpowered… well Lysandre’s Trump Card was one of those cards. Released in the 2014 set Phantom Forces, players quickly realized the unbelievable value that this card had. It’s a trainer card that forces both players to shuffle their discard pile back into their deck. While at first glance that may not sound too crazy its power became very apparent very soon after its release. Oh, what’s that, you are getting absolutely steamrolled by your opponent and you’ve lost your win condition? Not to worry, Lysandre’s Trump Card acts as a complete reset button so that you don’t have to lose anymore. You know all that progress that your opponent just made after like 20 minutes of calculated play and making reads? Yeah… we’re just going to completely reverse all of that and give you all of your cards back. Hopefully, that does a better job of explaining why this card became so infuriating to play against.

Lysandre’s Trump Card

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#8 Mewtwo & Mew GX

This card was introduced among a bunch of other tag team cards in the Sun & Moon era, especially in the Team Up expansion. While there are a bunch of extremely viable tag team cards, none are quite as powerful as the Mewtwo and Mew GX. This card’s ability was as follows: “This Pokemon can use the attacks of any Pokemon GX or Pokemon EX on your bench or in your discard pile”. Now if it just allowed you to use the attack of the Pokemon on your bench the card would still be decent but nowhere near as powerful as the deal-breaker which is the fact that it allows you to use the attacks of Pokemon that have been discarded. This means that the Mewtwo and Mew can combo with a deck full of heavy-hitting EX and GX cards to make probably one of the most demoralizing decks known to man. There is no feeling worse than expending so many resources on clearing a big card only for your opponent to drop another absolute tank and the Mewtwo & Mew encapsulate this feeling perfectly.

Mewtwo & Mew GX Alt Art

#7 Cleffa (20/111)

Now let’s take it back about 20 years to the second generation of Pokemon when Game Freak seemed to still be finding their footing with the balancing of this game and would randomly drop the most game-breaking cards in the form of a 30 HP Cleffa. For a single colorless energy, this card allowed the player to shuffle their hand into their deck and draw 7 cards which if you’re low on cards basically reads as “here’s a fresh new hand for one energy”. Plus, the low cost of this ability made it so repeatable that players could just essentially flick through their deck in search of whatever cards they needed. Now, you may be thinking to yourself: “well it’s a 30 HP card so it’s not exactly hard to clear” but what if I told you, this demon’s passive ability meant that your ability to attack it was determined by a coin flip? That’s right, Cleffa’s passive means that every time your opponent attacks a coin must be flipped, if the coin lands on heads the attack goes through as normal, however, if the coin lands on tails, the attack is made void and your opponent’s turn automatically ends! Okay, but once you do finally attack you’re probably going to kill it right? Not quite. We almost forgot to mention that this card has no weakness and no retreat cost meaning that the player can just pull it back to their hand whenever they are sick of cycling through their deck.

Cleffa (20/111)

#6 Mew – Southern Islands

There are quite a few Mews that have the same attack that we’re about to discuss but it became commonplace in the Pokemon TCG following the Southern Islands Mew promo. This promo card introduced the attack “Rainbow Wave” which became a huge problem for a lot of players. Rainbow Wave allowed its player to select any type of energy attached to the Mew (apart from colorless) and deal twenty damage to all enemy Pokemon of that same type… including benched Pokemon. Also, this attack neglects any weakness or resistance meaning it will irrefutably deal twenty damage to your opponent’s bench. This meant that if you could make the reads on the kind of deck your opponent was playing you could just start to chip away at their bench effectively for free. Even in the case of being unable to read your opponent’s hand, you could still just use the attack to discover the type of Pokemon your opponent has on their bench and possibly even what exact Pokemon they have on their bench if you are a bit savvier to the meta.

Southern Islands Mew

#5 Mega Blastoise EX

Speaking of being able to chip away at your opponent’s bench for free, the Mega Blastoise EX takes it one step further. Coming from the now famous 2016 set Evolutions, the Mega Blastoise EX introduced the attack Hydro Bombard which dealt a base damage of 120 for three water energy. On its own that’s already not a terrible deal but what if I told you it allowed you to do an additional 30 each to two of your opponent’s benched Pokemon? Unlike the Mewtwo, there isn’t even any condition that your opponent’s Pokemon have to meet for them to take damage, the Blastoise can just blast them with 30 damage for no reason. Not to mention, considering this is a mega-evolved Pokemon, it’s pretty tanky and hard to clear, meaning that the Blastoise can possibly start killing your benched Pokemon if you’re not careful.

Mega Blastoise EX

#4 Mewtwo EX

It turns out that Mew and Mewtwo don’t have to be teaming up to be insanely strong cards and the Mewtwo EX proves this. Thanks to its attack “X-Ball” the Pokemon TCG meta upon this card’s release quickly devolved into a race to draw the first Mewtwo. This attack allowed Mewtwo to deal 20 damage multiplied by the number of energies on both Mewtwo and your opponent’s active Pokemon. Considering that the attack costs two colorless energy (which is ridiculously cheap) it basically had a base damage of 40. This attack allowed the Mewtwo to quickly blitz through any lead your opponent may have been establishing by dealing a quick 140 damage for relatively zero cost. Funnily enough, the only thing that was really effective at stopping a snowballing Mewtwo EX was another Mewtwo EX. However, once someone got the ball rolling with their own, it’s understandable if you are unable to cope with the damage that they start to ramp up.

Mewtwo EX

#3 Arceus V Star

Coming in as the newest entry on this list from the 2022 set Brilliant Stars, this card uses the new V Star mechanic in a pretty interesting way. A V Star ability is an ability that can only be used once in a game and in the case of the Arceus V Star, this is the ability to search your deck for two cards of your choice. While that may not sound extremely powerful at face value, the ability to pick two cards out of your deck for no energy cost leaves a lot of room for some amazing combo potential.

Arceus VStar

#2 Tapu Lele GX

When you think powerful Pokemon, I doubt the first thing that comes to your mind is a Tapu Lele, but you best believe that this Pokemon is a force to be reckoned with but not for the reasons you may think. Tapu Lele’s ability “Wonder Tag” means that once you play it from your hand onto your bench you can search your deck for a support card. This is an awesome way to affordably beef up your turn with card draw and a new Pokemon on your bench. As well as this, once your Tapu Lele is active it can use the ability “Tapu Cure” to restore two Pokemon on your bench to full HP.

Tapu Lele GX

#1 Shaymin EX

Coming out with the Roaring Skies expansion of Pokemon, Shaymin EX has one of the lowest damage attacks on this list and yet is still one of the most powerful cards in all of the Pokemon TCG, so what’s going on here? Well, thanks to its ability “Set Up” which allows its player to draw until they have six cards once they play Shaymin from their hand onto their bench, this card became essential for generating cards. However, its power doesn’t stop there. When this is combined with the attack “Sky Return” (which only costs two colorless energy) which deals 30 damage and means Shaymin can return to your hand along with all attached cards, Shaymin becomes an infinite card drawing machine.

Shaymin EX

Does A Card’s Strength Affect Its Value?

Believe it or not, a card doesn’t have to be some crazy secret rare or alternate art for it to be worth a decent amount of money. Of course, collector cards like the rainbow rares and the alternate arts are always going to be worth more, but the playability of a card definitely affects its value as its demand increases. For example, the Arceus V Star listed above is worth around £20 despite only being a V Star card and this is because of its viability in competitive play. So, if you have cards that you think are a little worse for wear but are still strong cards in the Pokemon TCG, you can definitely try selling them for a bit of quick change.

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