Getting Started

Last Updated: Fusion Strike (Jan 2022)
Under construction for Brilliant Stars update – thanks for your patience!

Greetings trainer! Welcome to the world of Gym Leader Challenge (GLC). GLC is a singleton Pokémon Trading Card Game format that is ripe with possibilities and strategies to explore. The rules of Gym Leader Challenge are simple:

  • Only one of each card with the same name per deck (except Basic Energy)
  • No Rule Box Pokémon
  • Only one type of Pokémon per deck
  • Black & White – on

However, mastering the format is no easy task. In GLC, resources are limited, which makes deck building and skillful in-game decisions critical to victory. Gym Leader Challenge is a rewarding gameplay experience that will have you wanting to refine your deck and battle again and again!

Unlike Standard Format, the largest barrier to entry for Gym Leader Challenge isn’t the cost of the deck. In fact, most Gym Leader Challenge decks can be obtained for less money than an Elite Trainer Box! (No, seriously). The biggest barrier to entry for GLC is card knowledge. The legal card pool for GLC includes all cards from 2011’s Black and White through the most recent Pokémon TCG expansions! That’s thousands of cards to consider! My goal in writing this article is to make it easier for players to learn about some of the best cards and strategies in Gym Leader Challenge. Let’s get started!

The Staples

You would think that being limited to a single copy of each card would make GLC decks inconsistent, but it’s not the case! There are hundreds of Supporters to choose from and countless Items to help you execute your strategy consistently.

Before we dive in here, I want to acknowledge that looking at lists of cards can be a little intimidating, especially if you don’t know what they all do. One of my favorite things to do is scroll through pkmncards.com and browse cards at my leisure! The website, developed by Adam Capriola, is an incredible Pokémon TCG database with excellent advanced search functions that will allow you to find the exact card you need for any situation. Wanna compile a visual list of every Supporter since Black and White? Here ya go. A list of every Item card? Simple. How about holo rare Water type Stage 1 Pokemon? Yep, they got that too. I cannot express how essential Adam’s pkmncards.com is to the GLC experience. If you haven’t used it yet, you’re truly missing out!

That being said, if you don’t wanna dig through every Trainer ever printed to find the good ones, here is a list of some of the most powerful Trainer cards that you are likely to encounter in Gym Leader Challenge.

SupportersItems
* Avery
* Ball Guy
* Bird Keeper
* Boss’s Orders
Lysandre
* Brigette
* Brock’s Grit
* Colress
* Copycat
* Cynthia
* Cynthia & Caitlin
* Erika’s Hospitality
* Gladion
* Gloria
* Guzma
* Hex Maniac
* Marnie
* N
* Peonia
* Professor’s Research
Professor Juniper
Professor Sycamore
* Raihan
* Rosa
* Sonia
* Tate & Liza
* Teammates

* Air Balloon
* Cape of Toughness
* Escape Rope
* Evolution Incense
* Evosoda
* Field Blower
* Fighting Fury Belt
* Float Stone
* Level Ball
* Muscle Band
* Nest Ball
* Ordinary Rod
* Pal Pad
* Pot Helmet
* Professor’s Letter
* Quick Ball
* Rare Candy
* Rescue Carrier
* Rescue Stretcher
* Revive
* Scoop Up Net
* Super Rod
* Switch
* Timer Ball
* Town Map
* Trainers’ Mail
* Ultra Ball
* VS Seeker

The Supporters and Items listed above are cards you might find in any Gym Leader Challenge deck, but some Trainer cards are only good in certain types of decks! Here are some Trainers that you’ll want to know about to become an expert in a specific type.

GrassFire
* Net Ball
* Revitalizer
* Turffield Stadium
* Aether Paradise Conservation
Area


* Blacksmith
* Fire Crystal
* Giant Hearth
* Kindler
* Magma Basin
* Scorched Earth
* Welder

WaterLightning
* Brooklet Hill
* Capacious Bucket
* Dive Ball
* Rough Seas
* Nessa
* Electropower
* Stormy Mountains
* Volkner
* Aether Paradise Conservation
Area
PsychicFighting
* Dimension Valley
* Fog Crystal
* Mysterious Treasure
* Spell Tag
* Brooklet Hill
* Focus Sash
* Karate Belt
* Korrina
* Martial Arts Dojo
* Scorched Earth
DarknessMetal
* Dark Claw
* Dark Patch
* Devoured Field
* Reverse Valley
* Metal Frying Pan
* Metal Goggles
* Metal Saucer
* Mt. Coronet
* Reverse Valley
ColorlessDragon
* Aspertia City Gym
* Cheren’s Care
* Winona
* Crystal Cave
* Mysterious Treasure
* Stormy Mountains

Though Special Energy are also limited to a single copy in Gym Leader Challenge decks, they tend to have a significant impact on the game when they come into play! Below are the strongest Special Energy printed since Black and White.

Special Energy
* Aurora Energy
* Blend Energy WLFM
* Blend Energy GRPD
* Burning Energy (Fire)
* Capture Energy
* Coating M Energy (Metal)
* Counter Energy
* Double Colorless Energy
* Double Dragon Energy (Dragon)
* Double Turbo Energy
* Draw Energy
* Hiding D Energy (Darkness)
* Horror P Energy (Psychic)
* Lucky Energy
* Mystery Energy (Psychic)
* Powerful C Energy (Colorless)
* Prism Energy
* Rainbow Energy
* Recycle Energy
* Speed L Energy (Lightning)
* Splash Energy (Water)
* Stone F Energy (Fighting)
* Strong Energy (Fighting)
* Triple Acceleration Energy
* Twin Energy
* Unit Energy LPM
* Unit Energy GFW
* Warp Energy
* Weakness Guard Energy

Sample Decks

Building your own deck is an amazing part of the Gym Leader Challenge experience, but not totally required to enjoy the intricate gameplay that GLC has to offer. Ultimately, your Gym Leader Challenge adventure can be as creative and unique as you want it to be! One of the most fun things you could do is stop reading right here, get a couple friends together and start building decks using the ruleset I’ve laid out so far with no spoilers. The sense of discovery in Gym Leader Challenge is part of the fun!

There is also something to be said for getting up to speed quickly, especially if you are trying to be competitive in Gym Leader Challenge! In the pages linked below, you’ll find my picks for the top Pokémon in each type with some example deck lists featuring them. Each of these lists is a good starting point, but should absolutely be changed and improved upon to your liking! Don’t settle here! Get to know your favorite type and feel free to play your favorite cards. That’s what it’s all about!

A note on Fairy type:

While Fairy is not banned from Gym Leader Challenge, it has been officially discontinued from the TCG. It is at a large disadvantage compared to every other type due to the fact it has two blocks less of cards to work with and is no longer being printed. Fairy type cannot quite keep up with the rest of the format, so I will not include it in this guide. If you’re still interested in Fairy, you can search the Tricky Gym Discord for some example lists, or take a look at all of the available Fairy Pokémon and make your own.