An Introduction to Pokemon’s Legacy Format


In the latest update of the Pokemon TCG’s online client, PTCGO, the Pokemon Company introduced a new format into the game, which is the Legacy Format. The Legacy Format uses cards from the Heart Gold Soul Silver base set through Legendary Treasures.

As of current writing, the Legacy Format is exclusively a feature of PTCGO. No plans have been announced for allowing Legacy Format for any series of Premier Events, although it is always possible that Legacy Format could pop up as a side event for an upcoming tournament or as an independent tournament outside of the organized play structure if someone chooses to organize such an event.

In this article I will be going over all of the basic things that you will need to know about Legacy Format. Most of this article will be a re-introduction to players on features of the Heart Gold and Soul Silver expansion sets as all of the Black and White sets are Expanded legal, so most players are already familiar with those.

The Legal Sets of Legacy

In total there are 16 sets legal in the Legacy format, five from the Heart Gold and Soul Silver era and 11 sets from the Black and White era. Call of Legends is actually seperate from the HGSS bloc, but it’s from that era nonetheless and rotated out of format with the rest of the sets.

Heart Gold and Soul Silver Era

  • Heart Gold & Soul Silver Base Set – February 2010
  • HGSS: Unleashed – May 2010
  • HGSS: Undaunted – August 2010
  • HGSS: Triumphant – November 2010
  • Call of Legends – February 2011

Black and White Era

  • Black and White Base Set – April 2011
  • Emerging Powers – August 2011
  • Noble Victories – November 2011
  • Next Destinies – February 2012
  • Dark Explorers – May 2012
  • Dragons Exalted – August 2012
  • Boundaries Crossed – November 2012
  • Plasma Storm – February 2013
  • Plasma Freeze – May 2013
  • Plasma Blast – August 2013
  • Legendary Treasures – November 2013

In addition to these sets, the Dragon Vault mini set and HGSS and BLW era promo cards are also part of the format’s legal card pool.

The format has 16 sets in it, which is a fairly large number, but it’s actually a smaller card pool than our current Expanded format, which will reach 22 legal sets when Fates Collide becomes legal for tournament play.

It’s amazing to think that the oldest set in this format, Heart Gold and Soul Silver was released over six years ago!

Legacy Follows XY Rules

The Legacy format follows current game rules that came into being with the release of the Kalos Starter Sets.

This means that the player who goes first cannot attack. Additionally, Pokemon Catcher is the version of the card with the errata, meaning that you must flip a coin when you use Pokemon Catcher.

Poke-Bodies, Poke-Powers, and Abilities

With the release of Black and White, Pokemon simplified the game by no longer printing Poke-Body and Poke-Power cards and instead combining both attributes under one new umbrella known as Abilities. While all three are similar in their general function, there are some minor differences between them that make for some interesting card interactions in the Legacy Format.

Here are how each term is defined in the rules (using the HGSS: Triumphant rulebook and the current XY rulebook).

  • Poke-Body – A Poke-Body is an effect on a Pokemon that is always active, as soon as that Pokemon is in play. The effect of the Poke-Body lasts until the Pokemon leaves play.
  • Poke-Power – Poke-Powers are usually once per turn powers on Active and Benched Pokemon, that you must choose to use. Most Poke-Powers are turned off if the Pokemon becomes affected by a Special Condition.
  • Ability – An Ability is an effect on a Pokemon that is not an attack. Some will be active all of the time, while some you will need to choose to use.

The most important thing to remember in regards to these are that they are three distinct categories from each other, and while all three are similar, they are not all considered the same thing, and these differences creates some unique card interactions in Legacy that players should be aware of.

The first interaction is the use of Hypnotoxic Laser versus Pokemon with Poke-Powers. Status Conditions were typically relegated to a few niche decks in the HGSS-on format that last saw Poke-Powers, so players who played during that time seldom had their Poke-Powers turned off because they were affected by a Special Condition. However, Hypnotoxic Laser is a very common inclusion into Legacy decks so having a Poke-Power turned off from Special Conditions will occur much more than during the HGSS-on era.

For example, players may try to use Celebi Prime’s Forest Breath or Smeargle’s Portrait after being hit by an opponent’s Hypnotoxic Laser on the first turn of the game, but those Poke-Powers actually wouldn’t work because those Pokemon would be affected by a Special Condition.


This of course won’t be difficult for players to remember, for the time being, as Legacy is only played on PTCGO currently and the program won’t allow the players to try to use their Poke-Powers when affected by a Special Condition.

garbodor-dragons-exalted-drx-54The other card to keep in mind is Garbodor DRX whose Garbotoxin Ability shuts off Abilities when it has a Pokemon Tool attached. The key wording there is that Garbotoxin shuts off Abilities, and not Poke-Bodies and Poke-Powers.

This means that you can actually build decks that use Garbotoxin in tandem with Poke-Bodies and Poke-Powers. It also means that if you have a deck that is based around using Poke-Bodies and Poke-Powers then you do not need to worry about having your powers shutoff by Garbotoxin.

One of the most interesting aspects of Legacy is that because of Garbotoxin, scenarios can come up where players need to decide on what cards to play in situations where there are Poke-Powers and Abilities that do similar things.

For example, when first hearing of Legacy Format, players might consider making a Blastoise BCR deck. If a player wishes to make a build based around Black Kyurem EX, then Blastoise is absolutely their choise for Energy Acceleration. However, if a player wishes to make a variant based around Keldeo EX as their primary attacker, and perhaps Suicune PLB as an alternate attacker, then playing Blastoise is actually the wrong decision, they should be playing Feraligatr Prime.


With only five sets from the Heart Gold and Soul Silver era available for play, there probably aren’t a lot of these situations, but when they do come up it’s worth considering the aim of your deck and choosing the absolute best card for your deck.

Legend Cards

One of the sets of Ultra Rare cards in the Heart Gold and Soul Silver Expansion sets are Pokemon LEGEND cards. LEGEND cards came in two halves, and had text that said that you needed both halves of a card to play it onto your bench. For example, Lugia LEGEND says, “Put this card from your hand onto your Bench only with the other half of Lugia LEGEND.”


While the original Lugia LEGEND and Ho-Oh LEGEND cards only gave up one prize card, all other LEGEND cards that were released in Unleashed, Undaunted, and Triumphant gave up two prize cards when they were knocked out. Additionally all other LEGEND cards were dual type cards, and were composed of two different Pokemon. Take for example Entei & Raikou LEGEND which is pictured below.


The biggest issue players run into with LEGEND Pokemon is being able to get both copies of the LEGEND in their hand at the same time. None of the Item based search is super effective at getting LEGEND cards into play. Dual Ball, Level Ball, and Heavy Ball all are unable to target LEGEND cards. Pokemon Communication requires a three card combo, needing one LEGEND piece, and some other Pokemon to send back into the deck in addition to the Pokemon Communication to search out a LEGEND piece. Ultra Ball is the best, as if you have one LEGEND piece then Ultra Ball can fetch you the other, although it is difficult to use two Ultra Ball to search out two LEGEND pieces without destroying your entire hand in most instances.

One common method for getting LEGEND cards out during the HGSS era was to use the Supporter card Twins when behind on prizes. Twins let you search your deck for any two cards when you were behind on prize cards. However, Twins is a situational card and doesn’t work in most styles of decks.

legend-box-undaunted-ud-75-ptcgo-1-312x441They did release a support card specifically aimed at getting LEGEND Pokemon into play and that is Legend Box. Legend Box lets you look at the top 10 cards of your deck and then if there are two different LEGEND halves in those 10 cards you can put the LEGEND Pokemon onto your bench and also attach all Energy cards you find there onto that Pokemon, and then shuffle the other cards back into your deck. This is a very powerful effect, and it can be used multiple times in a turn to give you many shots at it.

While this card is extremely powerful when it works, the card is inconsistent because of the low counts of each LEGEND Pokemon in your deck. Because both halves of the LEGEND Pokemon have the same name, a 2-2 line of the LEGEND is the most you could play in a deck.

indigo-plateau-triumphant-tm-86-ptcgo-1-312x441The other support card for LEGEND Pokemon is Indigo Plateau, a Stadium Card that adds 30 HP to all LEGEND Pokemon in play. These types of cards typically don’t see much play because as soon as they are countered your Pokemon are knocked out if they have damage in excess to their HP.

I don’t think LEGEND Pokemon will play much of a role in Legacy Format, as they are generally outpaced by the EX’s which were released during the Black and White bloc, but a few of them seem like they might be good enough for some fringe play.

Lack of Stadium Diversity

Players who play in the current Standard and Expanded formats are very familiar with the concept of a Stadium War being one of the sub games within a Pokemon battle, but during the Heart Gold and Soul Silver and early Black and White periods of the game, Stadium Cards were more seldom included into decks.

Luckily went M.I.A.

In the Heart Gold and Soul Silver era sets we have a total of 4 Stadium Cards: Burned Tower, Ruins of Alph, Indigo Plateau, and Lost World. The Black and White sets add 8 more with Pokemon Center, Skyarrow Bridge, Twist Mountain, Aspertia City Gym, Plasma Frigate, Virbank City Gym, and Frozen City. Promo Cards add three more Stadium Cards: Tropical Beach, Battle City, and Champion’s Festival.

This gives us a total of 15 Stadium Cards. For comparisons sake, Standard currently has 21 Stadium Cards (22 with Fates Collide) and Expanded has 33 Stadium Cards (34 with Fates Collide).

tropical-beach-black-white-promos-bw28For a lot of the early days of the HGSS-on era when I played most players simply did not play Stadium cards. The HGSS era Stadium Cards simply weren’t very effective cards and added little to the deck. The one exception was Tropical Beach, which showed up in Ross Cawthon’s The Truth deck and also showed up in Gothitelle EPO decks at Fall Battle Roads and Fall Regional Championships.

I would argue that Tropical Beach was vastly underplayed in the HGSS-on formats, and should have been included in most decks. It’s generally accepted now that Tropical Beach is terrific in most evolution and setup decks and that describes many of the decks that were played during this time.

Not only does Legacy have less available Stadium Cards, but the number of Stadium Cards that will commonly be played in deck is also less. Of the Legacy legal Stadium Cards the only ones that I expect to see heavy amounts of play are Skyarrow Bridge, Virbank City Gym, and Tropical Beach. Frozen City will also see play in some Plasma decks, but that’s about it. Other Stadium Cards may see some niche use, but will likely never play a big role in the meta game.

virbank-city-gym-plasma-storm-pls-126-ptcgo-1-312x441This essentially creates a three Stadium triangle that players need to be aware of. Of the three, Virbank City Gym is likely to be the Stadium Card that gives you the greatest advantage as the other two primary Stadium Cards can be used to an opponent’s benefit in most instances, while Virbank City Gym is only useful for decks that can make use of the Poison Status Condition.

Because of the lower Stadium diversity, players typically don’t play high counts of their Stadium Card, especially if they’re playing Virbank City Gym as that tends to be the most common Stadium Card and is a dead card against other decks also running the same Stadium as soon as the Stadium hits the field. Tropical Beach is of course an exception, as players may choose to run high counts of it to boost the consistency of drawing it on the first turn of the game.

Understanding Junk Arm

junk-arm-triumphant-tm-87-ptcgo-1One of the most important card staples of Legacy Format is Junk Arm, a card that was printed in the Triumphant expansion. It’s a functional reprint of Item Finder from Base Set. The card was consistently played as a 4-of in the HGSS-on format, and it will continue to see heavy usage in Legacy.

Junk Arm is a Trainer – Trainer card (which all became Item cards when Black and White was released) that says, “Discard 2 cards from your hand. Search your discard pile for a Trainer card, show it to your opponent, and put it into your hand. You can’t choose Junk Arm with the effect of this card.”

One thing to note with Junk Arm is that you can get back a card that you discarded with it, however you do need a target already in your discard in order to play it.

Building a Draw Engine Around Junk Arm

As Junk Arm will likely be a 4-of in most of your decks in Legacy Format you will want to build your decks in a way in which you can leverage Junk Arm for your deck’s consistency. The way you do this is including cards in your deck that can be retrieved from your discard pile to give you an out to a Supporter card or an out to draw.

random-receiver-dark-explorers-dex-99-ptcgo-1There are a couple of cards that can do this. In the early HGSS-on era, players included Pokegear 3.0, which lets you look at the top 7 cards of your deck and choose a Supporter card you find there. While this card was good during its time, it was instantly outclassed by Random Receiver, which was released in Dark Explorers. Random Receiver has you reveal cards from the top of your deck until you hit a Supporter card, and then you put that Supporter card into your hand. With very little utility Supporters in the format, and almost entirely draw and search Supporter cards, Random Receiver will almost always get you a good out in most decks.

bicycle-plasma-storm-pls-117-ptcgo-1-312x441There are also a few new interactions with Junk Arm from later Black and White sets which players can utilize for consistency purposes. The first such combination is Bicycle, an Item card which lets you draw cards until you have 4 in your hand. Junk Arm and Bicycle combo excellently together, as Junk Arm allows you to play down your hand to maximize your draw from Bicycle.

Another new combo for Junk Arm is pairing it with Ace Spec cards. You can use Junk Arm to retrieve a Computer Search or Dowsing Machine to give you an out to a Supporter card. This isn’t the best use of an out, as it will likely destroy your entire hand, but some decks such as Weavile, Blastoise, and Flareon which all tend to run copies of Exeggcute PLF can utilize this very well thanks to Exeggcute’s Propogation Ability, which lets you put it into your hand from your discard pile.

Re-usable Ace Spec Cards

Speaking of Ace Spec cards, one thing that Junk Arm will allow is for players to get back their Ace Spec cards and re-use them without needing to use an attack to get them back. This could open up Legacy as a format where some of the lesser played Ace Spec cards see more play. During the original run of Ace Spec cards, and even in Expanded now, the majority of decks play Computer Search, while a minority play Dowsing Machine (and Dowsing Machine went down in play as time went on), while the other Ace Spec cards only saw play in a small niche of decks.

Tlife-dew-plasma-freeze-plf-107-ptcgo-1-312x441his could change in Legacy as cards like Rock Guard, Life Dew, and Scramble Switch become much more interesting when they can be retrieved multiple times in a game. Being able to play such cards multiple times during a game with any deck could open up new strategies built on the re-use of those cards.

Master Ball also becomes a more interesting card in Legacy, as it gives you a non-destructive search card that you can retrieve with Junk Arm and get any Pokemon with.

Tech Through Junk Arm

In the current Standard and Expanded formats we will tech many 1-of Supporter cards into our deck because we are playing VS Seeker as a 4-of, allowing us to get multiple uses out of these 1-of Supporter cards. This same phenomenom exists in Legacy Format, only for Item cards. As we are typically going to play 4 Junk Arm in our decks, we can get good use out of any Item card, even if we only play a single copy of it.

Here are some examples of 1-of cards and the types of way they could be used.

lost-remover-call-of-legends-cl-80-ptcgo-1Lost Remover, a card that removes a Special Energy from one of your opponent’s Pokemon and puts it into the Lost Zone can be used against Virizion EX/Genesect EX and Plasma decks, which like to retrieve their Special Energy cards from their discard pile, to not only remove the Energy from their Pokemon, but also to make sure they are unable to retrieve it with Shadow Triad or Raiden Knuckle.

Tool Scrapper, which lets you remove 2 Pokemon Tool cards that are in play, can be teched into decks to be repeatedly used to remove Tool cards from Garbodor DRX to shut off its Garbotoxin Ability, allowing your Pokemon to use their Abilities.

One of the more interesting tech cards for this format is Hypnotoxic Laser in decks that aren’t running Virbank City Gym. Since so many decks in this format choose to use Virbank City Gym, you can play a single copy of Hypnotoxic Laser to have an out for a little bit of a damage boost against decks that do play the Stadium.

Setup Pokemon

Most formats of the Pokemon TCG have a few Pokemon that players use to help setup their field. The current Standard format has Shaymin EX, Hoopa EX, Dedenne FFI, and Frogadier BPT as Pokemon that players use to setup their field. Expanded format adds in Jirachi EX into the mix. In this section I will cover the Pokemon that you can use to setup your field, draw, or strategy.

jirachi-ex-plasma-blast-plb-60I will start with the most recently released card, which is Jirachi EX, which is still legal in the Expanded format. Jirachi EX’s Stellar Guidance Ability lets you search your deck for a Supporter card and put it into your hand when you play Jirachi EX from your hand onto your bench. This allows you to use any Pokemon search card as an out for a Supporter card boosting the consistency of your deck. It does come at the cost of potentially giving your opponent two prizes, but Legacy Format is light on gust effects, and Jirachi EX still gives you a chance to win games that you might otherwise lose.

The next setup Pokemon which was played heavily during State Championships, the National Championship, and the World Championship in 2012 is Smeargle UD/CL. Smeargle has the Portrait Poke-Power which lets you look at your opponent’s hand, choose a Supporter card that you find there and use the effect of that Supporter card as the effect of this Poke-Power. Smeargle allowed for some speedier engines allowing players to play multiple Supporter cards on the first game giving decks a lot of draw power.

The better art Smeargle.
The better art Smeargle.

Towards National Championship, Smeargle was being played in decks in counts of 2-4. Smeargle became so popular that some players found success at tournaments like the National Championship by barely playing any Supporter cards themselves to deny their opponent’s Portraits, while taking advantage of using Portrait themselves against opponents playing normal counts of Supporter cards.

Smeargle can be played around by discarding Supporter cards from your hand and keeping a Supporter out with Junk Arm or Random Receiver available. This can be a risky strategy though in Legacy Format because Ghetsis is legal in the format, and it can be used to wipe out a player’s hand, shutting off their draw if they try to play around Smeargle in such a way.

Finally, there are a pair of Baby Pokemon that can be used for getting setup. The first is Pichu HS, which has the Playground attack, which lets you search your deck for as many Basic Pokemon as you want and put them on your bench and then your opponent can search their deck for as many Basic Pokemon as they want and then put them on their bench as well. Since Pichu also benefits your opponent, you won’t want to play it in most decks. The time when you want to play Pichu are when you are confident that your strategy is so good that you don’t care if your opponent gets setup, because your strategy is so much stronger than their’s when you both get setup.

cleffa-heartgold-soulsilver-hs-17The second card is Cleffa HS/CL, which has Eeeeeeek, which lets you shuffle your hand into your deck and draw six cards. This is a good hand reset which can really help you setup when you’re maximizing what you’re doing before you use the attack.

It’s important to remember that  Baby Pokemon are a special class of Basic Pokemon and these special attributes help make them very playable. The first special attribute of Baby Pokemon are that they have no attack cost, meaning you can use an Energy card to retreat into them and still attack with them in the same turn.

The other special attribute is that they have the Poke-Body Sweet Sleeping Face, which says, “As long as this Pokemon is Asleep, prevent all damage done to this Pokemon by attacks.” This combos well with their third special attribute, which is all of their attacks put them asleep. This means that you have a 50% chance of your Baby Pokemon staying asleep headed into your opponents turn which can make for a wasted turn for your opponent.

Baby Pokemon are a little more susceptible in Legacy than they were in HGSS-on because Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym now exists, giving a solid out for knocking them out while they’re sleeping.

The Lost Zone

gengar-prime-triumphant-tm-94-ptcgo-1One of the more interesting game mechanics in the Legacy Format is the Lost Zone, a game mechanic that was abandoned after the release of the Black and White. The glossary in the HGSS: Triumphant rulebook defines the Lost Zone as follows:

Lost Zone – A card sent to the Lost Zone is no longer playable during that match, and is placed face up anywhere out of play.

The complete removal of cards from play is a great mechanic that I wish Pokemon revisits sometime in the near future. Could you imagine how many less complaints there would be about Standard format if there was a way to put Night March Pokemon into the Lost Zone?

There are 15 cards (counting Darkrai & Cresselia LEGEND as one card) that interact with the Lost Zone in some way. Most of the mechanic involves sending Pokemon or Energy cards into the Lost Zone, both yours and your opponent’s.

magnezone-prime-triumphant-tm-96-ptcgo-1For example, Magnezone Prime’s Lost Burn attack does 50 damage for each Energy card you put in the Lost Zone off of one of your Pokemon. Gengar Prime has the Catastrophe Poke-Body which puts your opponent’s Pokemon in the Lost Zone if they’re knocked out when Gengar Prime is Active. It also has an attack, Hurl into Darkness, which lets you look at your opponent’s hand and put a Pokemon you find there into the Lost Zone for each Psychic Energy attached to Gengar.

Some cards allow for any card to be put into the Lost Zone. For example, Relicanth CL’s Prehistoric Wisdom has you choose a card from your hand and put it into the Lost Zone to draw three cards. Mime Jr.’s Sleepy Lost attack puts the top card of your opponent’s deck into the Lost Zone.

Of course there is Lost Remover, which we mentioned as a possible tech card to be retrieved with Junk Arm which puts a Special Energy card attached to one of your opponent’s Pokemon into the Lost Zone.

One of the more interesting features of the Lost Zone is that there are also cards that are able to interact with cards that are in the Lost Zone. One of these cards is Lucario CL, whose Dimension Sphere attack does 30 damage plus 20 more damage for each of your Pokemon in the Lost Zone.

mew-prime-triumphant-tm-97-ptcgo-1-312x441The most commonly played of these cards was Mew Prime, whose Lost Link Poke-Body let you use the attacks of any Pokemon in the Lost Zone as its own as long as you met the Energy requirements. It also had the See Off attack which let you search your deck for a Pokemon and put it into the Lost Zone.

Mew Prime was used in tandem with Gengar Prime to use its Hurl into Darkness attack, with Vanilluxe NVI and Unfezant BLW to copy Vanilluxe’s Double Freeze attack to paralyze the opponent’s Pokemon and then use Unfezant’s Fly attack on turns where you took a knockout, as a heads on Fly would prevent all damage done to Mew by your opponent’s attacks on their next turn. Finally, it saw its best success at the US National Championship and World Championship when paired with Accelgor DEX, copying its Deck and Cover attack.

lost-world-call-of-legends-cl-81-ptcgo-1The Lost Zone also brought with it a fourth win condition. In Call of Legends the Lost World Stadium card was released, which says, “Once during each player’s turn, if their opponent has 6 or more Pokemon in the Lost Zone, the player may choose to win the game.”

Lost World decks were actually one of the most hyped pre-release decks that the game has seen. The deck wasn’t as dominant as expected, potentially because of the early rotation, but I do know some players did have moderate success with the deck during the National Championship in 2011.

Gengar Prime is the only real Pokemon that can make use of this card as part of a winning strategy. I could potentially see a Gengar Prime/Dusknoir BCR deck develop where you spread damage in the early game, and then take knockouts with Sinister Hand while Gengar Prime is active to put a bunch of your opponent’s Pokemon into the discard pile.

Cards to Know About From Heart Gold & Soul Silver Era

In this section I will be covering key cards from the Heart Gold and Soul Silver era that I think it is important for players to know about. I won’t be covering every every card that is playable from these sets, only the most important cards. I am only covering Heart Gold & Soul Silver sets for this section because all of the Black and White era cards are legal in the Expanded format, so players should be well aware of them.

In this section I will also repeat cards that have been mentioned in other sections of this article for people who may have skimmed over earlier sections.

Baby Pokemon: Cleffa and Pichu

Cleffa’s Eeeeeeek attack lets you shuffle your hand into your deck and draw six cards, and then it puts itself asleep. Its Sweet Sleeping Face Poke-Body prevents all damage done to Cleffa from your Pokemon’s attacks when Cleffa is a sleep, so if you flip well enough with Cleffa you can setup your field across multiple turns while drawing with Cleffa while still denying your opponent prizes.

pichu-heartgold-soulsilver-hs-28-ptcgo-1-312x441Pichu’s Playground attack lets both you and your opponent (you first) search your deck for as many Basic Pokemon as you like and then put them onto your benches. Like Cleffa it puts itself asleep and has the Sweet Sleeping Face Poke-Body. This attack is a double edged sword as it lets your opponent get their field setup as well, so you only want to play this card in decks where you’re confident that your strategy will be more powerful than your opponent’s when both decks setup.

One big weakness of these two setup Baby Pokemon in Legacy Format compared to their original format is that you can no longer attack going first. That means if you go first, you won’t be able to use them to setup your field, so you can’t entirely rely on them as your setup engine as you could in the past. Additionally, Sweet Sleeping Face is a weaker Poke-Body to have in a format where Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City Gym is so prevalent.

Pokemon Collector

Pokemon Collector is a Supporter card that lets you search your deck for three Pokemon and then put them into your hand. This was a common Supporter card that players aimed to use on the first turn of the game to get their pre-evolution Pokemon into play. This card fell out of favor in most decks when we began to get stronger Item search cards and the format moved more towards using Basic Pokemon.

Pokemon Communication

This card is an Item card that lets you swap out a Pokemon from your hand for one in your deck. It can be good for conserving your Pokemon without discarding them, but it is generally outclassed by Ultra Ball in most decks. Since you need a Pokemon in hand to make use of the card, it works best in decks playing lots of Pokemon, which for the most part would be evolution decks.

Pokemon Reversal

This card is one of our gust options in Legacy format. It is the same exact card as the errata’d Pokemon Catcher, which lets you flip a coin, and if heads switch one of your opponent’s benched Pokemon with their Active Pokemon. These two cards are the universal gust effects of Legacy Format that can go in almost every deck. While the coin flip is a downer, with Junk Arm in the format you can play lots of these in the game, increasing the chances you have to get a hit in a game.

Professor Oak’s New Theory

professor-oaks-new-theory-heartgold-soulsilver-hs-101-ptcgo-1-312x441Professor Oak’s New Theory, or PONT for shorthand, is a Supporter card that lets you shuffle your hand into your deck and draw 6 cards. This was one of the most popular draw cards during the HGSS-on era, and will likely continue to be a popular inclusion in Legacy decks. The reason PONT is so popular among players is because it is a good Supporter card to see in all stages of the game, it comes with no drawbacks, and always gets you a decent number of cards.

It’s kind of amazing how much difference one card makes. Players seem to be completely adverse to playing Shauna, which is one less card, but loved PONT when it was last legal in Standard.

Shaymin UL

shaymin-unleashed-ul-8Shaymin has a Poke-Power called Celebration Wind that lets you move any Energy card attached to any of your Pokemon to any of your other Pokemon when you play Shaymin from your hand onto your bench.

It saw success in the HGSS-on format as a means to move energy that was accelerated from Pachirisu CL to Zekrom BLW as part of the turn 1 donk deck ZPS(T), as well as a means for moving Energy around in Mewtwo EX oriented decks such as Celebi Prime/Mewtwo EX and Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX.

The card is very powerful as it allows you to completely switch up your strategy in the middle of the game by shifting your Energy to new Pokemon as well as to maximize any stray Energy attachments from earlier in the game allowing any previous attachments from not becoming sunk costs.

Dual Ball

dual-ball-unleashed-ul-72-ptcgo-1-312x441Dual Ball was the most popular search card in the Big Basic decks that arrived with the release of Next Destinies and Dark Explorers. One of the things that can make Dual Ball better than a card like Ultra Ball is that Dual Ball is able to be retrieved with Junk Arm and be used without having to discard more cards from your hand beyond the two from Junk Arm.

The card lets you flip 2 coins, and for each heads search your deck for a Basic Pokemon. The math on the card is fairly simple, you have a 25% probability of getting 2 Pokemon, a 50% probability of getting 1 Pokemon, and a 25% probability of getting 0 Pokemon from the card. That gives you a 75% probability of getting at least 1 Pokemon from Dual Ball.

Smeargle UD/CL

The better art Smeargle.
The better art Smeargle.

Smeargle UD saw a rise to power starting in the HGSS-NXD format after Sky Arrow Bridge was released in the set. Sky Arrow Bridge allowed you to retreat your Smeargle for free, as it has a 1 retreat cost, allowing you to use Smeargle to aide your setup and then retreat into your attackers.

Smeargle has the Portrait Poke-Power, which lets you look at your opponent’s hand and use it as the effect of this power. Playing a single Supporter in a turn is already powerful, so playing two or more in a turn using Portait Poke-Powers is obviously very powerful. Being a Poke-Power will allow Smeargle to be a great setup Pokemon as it can be used effectively when going first, while a Pokemon like Cleffa cannot because it needs to use an attack for its setup effect.

Portrait can be played around by using Junk Arm for Random Receiver, but in Legacy Format this line of play can be punished if your opponent plays Ghetsis.

Vileplume UD

vileplume-undaunted-ud-24Vileplume UD is effectively the same card as Vileplume AOR, although its Item Lock effect, Allergy Flower, is a Poke-Power instead of an Ability. Like Vileplume AOR, Vileplume UD prevents both players from playing Item cards when Vileplume is in play.

The lack of gust effects available in Legacy Format increase Vileplume’s power, as you don’t have to worry as much about Vileplume being stuck in the active position. Pokemon Reversal and Pokemon Catcher are both Item cards so they cannot be played, and there is no Supporter card that can gust a Pokemon in Legacy Format. This leaves a few cards, such as Genesect EX with its Red Signal Ability, and Ninetales with its Bright Look Ability as cards that can bring Vileplume active. Even if Vileplume gets sent active, this Vileplume is easier to retreat as it has a 2 retreat cost, allowing you to attach a Double Colorless Energy to retreat it. This changes the dynamic from Vileplume being able to be countered by every deck if they so choose to, to Vileplume really only being countered by a few specific decks.

There is Bellsprout TM which can bring Vileplume active with an attack, but that will unlikely find itself into decks unless Vileplume were to become an dominant force in the meta game.

Sage’s Training

sages-training-undaunted-ud-77-ptcgo-1-312x441Sage’s Training is a Supporter card that lets you look at the top 5 cards of your deck, and then choose 2 to put into your hand and then discard the other 3.

This card is probably outclassed by more recent Supporter cards, but it does work very well in Vileplume decks, as after you evolve into Vileplume, you will have dead cards left in your deck, and Sage’s Training can get you only the good stuff remaining while discarding the dead cards you see with it.

Junk Arm

junk-arm-triumphant-tm-87-ptcgo-1Junk Arm lets you discard two cards from your hand and then retrieve an Item card from your discard pile. I covered it extensively above, and won’t rehash that much as there’s so much to say about the card, so scroll up and read the Junk Arm section to learn more about the card.

Junk Arm is the best card from the Heart Gold & Soul Silver bloc of sets and will be a 4-of in the majority of the decks in Legacy Format. Vileplume decks are pretty much the only decks that you wouldn’t want to play Junk Arm in. It’s essentially the VS Seeker of this format, a card so powerful that it gets played in every deck.


twins-triumphant-tm-89-ptcgo-1-312x441Twins is a Supporter card that you can only play when you are down on prizes. When you play Twins, you can search your card for any two cards.

It works best in slower setup decks, such as Stage 2 decks, allowing you to get the exact cards that are of best for executing your strategy. As soon as you go down in prizes, Twins gives you an automatic out to Rare Candy and your Stage 2, making it an excellent means for getting them into play. It works especially well in Vileplume decks where you are aren’t necessarily worried about getting setup fast, but rather achieving some type of setup at some point in the game that gives you perfect control with how the rest of the game will go.

These are the big cards to know about from the Heart Gold & Soul Silver era that will effect deck building on a large scale. There are many great Pokemon in the sets that could be used for strengthening other decks, or forming decks of their own.

Should You Buy Legacy Cards for Organized Play?

My advice is that you shouldn’t invest in Legacy Cards if you’re solely looking at getting the cards in case Legacy becomes part of the organized play circuit. There have been no plans announced for any Legacy Format tournaments in real life, and most likely it will remain an online only format as far as organized play goes. Additionally, if they were ever to incorporate Legacy tournaments into the organized play system it would likely come with a re-release of the cards in some form to give new players access to these cards at an affordable cost.

However, if you would like to buy the card to build Legacy decks to play for fun in real life then it can be worth the cost. Additionally, if Legacy gets popular enough, it seems somewhat likely that organizers and even Pokemon themselves could host Legacy side events at tournaments like Regional Championships, the National Championship, and the World Championship.


And that will end our introduction to Pokemon’s Legacy Format. So far in the games and online tournaments I have played in Legacy I have found the format to be enjoyable. It will be interesting to see what type of interest Legacy Format garners in the longterm, and if that support for the game allows for tournaments of some kind (official or unofficial) to be hosted in the future.

As of right now, Legacy Format seems to be a mixture of old school HGSS-on decks and decks like Darkrai EX, Plasma, and Virizion EX/Genesect EX that were strong towards the end of the Black and White bloc infused with some HGSS twists.

In the coming weeks, months, and years(?) we will take a look at various Legacy decks and discuss the format further in addition to our coverage of the Standard and Expanded formats.

Featured Image Credit: Holly’s Critters on Deviant Art

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