Evolving the Trouble Theme Deck

The Trouble preconstructed theme deck from the Team Rocket set is perhaps the best of the theme decks. This is the deck that eventually evolved into my battle deck. It gives you a foundation for developing a strong Damage Swap/Psychic deck. It also gives you the opportunity to watch your deck evolve and see how making certain changes gradually improves the deck.

This article will show you how to turn your Trouble deck into a champion deck. If you are a new player, don't make these changes all at once. Instead, make a change, then play the deck a few times to see what's different. Also, you'll need to trade for the cards that you need, and for some of these cards, that may take some time.

Trouble, Unmodified

18 Psychic Energy
2 Dark Kadabra
2 Abra (TR)
2 Abra (BS2)
3 Drowzee (TR)
2 Gastly (BS2)
1 Haunter (BS2)
1 Jynx
1 Kadabra
10 Grass Energy
1 Dark Arbok
4 Ekans (TR)
2 Weedle (BS2)

2 Farfetch'd
2 Meowth (TR)
1 Bill
1 The Boss's Way
1 Gust of Wind
2 Potion
1 Switch

1 Full Heal Energy

The Modifications

1. Get rid of the junk cards.

Most theme decks include cards that obviously are meant to give you room to improve. This deck is no exception—Weedle, Farfetch'd and Meowth?!? That's 6 slots right there. Since you get only 6 trainers with the deck, replace these weaklings with Trainers. Suggestions: 2 Professor Oak, 1 Pokémon Trader, 1 Bill, 1 Gust of Wind, 1 Switch.

Also, as soon as possible, replace your Base Set 2 Abras with Team Rocket Abras. The newer Abras give you 10 more HP and one more attack. We'll eventually take out Gastly and Haunter as well.

18 Psychic Energy
4 Abra (TR)
1 Kadabra
2 Dark Kadabra
3 Drowzee (TR)
2 Gastly (BS2)
1 Haunter (BS2)
1 Jynx
10 Grass Energy
1 Dark Arbok
4 Ekans (TR)

1 Full Heal Energy
2 Professor Oak
2 Bill
1 The Boss's Way
2 Gust of Wind
2 Potion
2 Switch
1 Pokémon Trader

2. Go mono.

Take out the Grass and go all Psychic. As you become better at the game, you'll see that Dark Arbok is good but not great. By focusing on Psychic, you don't have to worry about drawing the wrong energy. Focusing on Psychic also allows you to beef up the forces you already have.

Dark Arbok, Ekans, and Grass Energy occupy 15 slots in your deck. This is plenty of room to add new Pokémon, and Trainers. Convert 6 Grass to Psychic Energy. Now is a good time to take out Gastly and Haunter as well. That leaves Abra/Kadabra/Dark Kadabra, Drowzee and Jynx. We'll max out these lines out with the new slots that you have.

Add 1 Kadabra, 1 Drowzee, 2 Chansey or Lickitung, 3 Jynx, 2 Full Heal Energy (great for removing status effects), and 2 Item Finder. The deck now looks like this:

4 Abra (TR)
2 Kadabra
2 Dark Kadabra
2 Chansey or Lickitung
4 Drowzee (TR)
4 Jynx
2 Bill
1 The Boss's Way
2 Gust of Wind
2 Item Finder
1 Pokémon Trader
2 Potion
2 Professor Oak
2 Switch
24 Psychic Energy
3 Full Heal Energy

3. Lighten up your forces.

By now, you've probably noticed that Kadabra's attack (Super Psy, 50 damage for (P)(P)(C)) is better than Dark Kadabra's (Mind Shock, only 30 damage, can't apply Weakness and Resistance, for (P)(P)). Also, you may have noticed that we haven't added an Alakazam yet. You have two cards to choose from: Alakazam and Dark Alakazam. Which should you choose?

Alakazam give you one of the coolest Powers in the game: Damage Swap, the ability to move any number of damage counters from one of your Pokémon to another of your Pokémon during your turn. Dark Alakazam, on the other hand, offers two decent but not outstanding attacks, and no Pokémon Power. There's nothing wrong with using Dark Kadabra and Dark Alakazam, but why use them when you can use Kadabra and Alakazam, and get a great power and a superb attack?

In this step, we'll remove Dark Kadabra and replace it with Alakazam. Alakazam is available only as a holo, and it's in high demand for its Power, so expect to trade two or more holos for each Alakazam. Also, by taking out Dark Kadabra, the deck no longer has any Dark Pokémon, so The Boss's Way is useless. Replace it with Pokémon Trader.

4 Abra (TR)
2 Kadabra
2 Alakazam
2 Chansey or Lickitung
4 Drowzee (TR)
4 Jynx
2 Bill
2 Gust of Wind
2 Item Finder
2 Pokémon Trader
2 Potion
2 Professor Oak
2 Switch
24 Psychic Energy
3 Full Heal Energy

You now have a decent, simple Damage Swap deck that provides both good offense (Kadabra and Jynx) and good defense (Alakazam, Chansey or Lickitung, and Drowzee's Long-Distance Hypnosis power).

4. Develop your own strategy.

Now that you have a Damage Swap deck, there are a number of paths your deck can take. Perhaps you want to do heavy damage. A good Pokémon for this is Wigglytuff. Perhaps you want to use damage to do damage. Several Pokémon have attacks that do damage based on the amount of damage on themselves. Tauros is one of the best of these. Perhaps you just want to stall.

You can also put more potential into your Trainers. The Trainers you should use will depend on your strategy. You should eventually upgrade the Potions to Super Potion, or even better, replace them with Pokémon Center. Other ideas include Energy Retrieval or Super Energy Retrieval to put Energy back in your hand; Nightly Garbage Run to put cards back in your deck; and Pokémon Breeder to evolve Alakazam faster.

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