If you’re a Pokémon fan, chances are, you’ve probably either watched the anime or you’ve played the video games and run into a gym leader. In case you haven’t, a Gym Leader is someone that defends a “Gym” with one particular type in the Pokémon world, be it psychic, ghost, dark, grass and so on. Some popular Gym Leaders include Volkner, Candace, Brock and Misty. In the TCG, there’s a format, created by Andrew Mahone AKA TrickyGym, called Gym Leader Challenge where you, yes YOU, can build a deck around 1 type and become a gym leader yourself! In this article, I’ll be giving a crash course on how to get started in the format.

Rules of the Format

Before we get into the deck talk, we should probably know the rules of the format. As mentioned before, your deck may only contain one type of Pokémon, so pick a type that you resonate with the most! If you love water types, pick Water! If you love lightning, there’s a deck out there for you!

Next, this format is singleton, meaning that you may only have one copy of any given card, with the exception of basic energies. Furthermore, cards with Rule Boxes (things like ace specs, prism stars, Pokémon V, GX, VSTAR, VMAX, etc) are NOT allowed in the format.

Lastly, the card pool, or the legal cards allowed, are cards from Black & White – onwards, with a short ban list that you can find here. Each deck will be 60 cards and games will be played with 6 prizes. In general, rules follow the most recent Pokémon TCG rules!

Let’s Build a Deck!

Now that we’ve gotten the rules out of the way, let’s build a deck together! There are currently 10 types in the Pokémon TCG but today, we’ll be focusing on one, the most beginner friendly one: Grass! Grass has a ton of support in Gym Leader Challenge from recovery cards like revitalizer from Generations, great search cards like Net Ball from SM Lost Thunder, Grotle with the Sun-Drenched Shell ability from Brilliant Stars to Shaymin with the cute Flippity Flap move from Shining Legends. We’ll be focused on a more linear build of grass with a ton of energy acceleration and heavy hitters. Let’s dive into the stars of the show!

For new people, the Torterra line from Brilliant Stars is a must have for any grass GLC deck. As mentioned above, the Grotle from Brilliant Stars has the Sun-Drenched Shells ability, which lets you search for any grass Pokémon in your deck and put it into your hand. This makes finding your other support Pokémon like Rillaboom significantly easier.

Rillaboom with the Voltage Beat ability from SWSH base allows you to search your deck for up to 2 basic grass energy and attach them to 1 Pokémon in play. Once paired with Venusaur with the Jungle Totem ability from Shining Legends, an ability that doubles the amount of grass energy in play, you’ll have strong attackers powered up in no time!

fantastic gym leader challenge Pokémon
grass type for gym leader challenge

Speaking of attackers, let’s talk about one of your damage dealers could be! Zarude from Chilling Reign serves as both a great support Pokémon with the Pack Call attack and a powerful attacker with its Repeated Whip attack. For 3 colorless, Zarude does a base 60 and 20 more damage for each grass attached to it. Combined with Rillaboom’s acceleration and Venusaur’s ability to double the amount of grass energy in play, Zarude can do up to 140 damage before you even attach for turn! While you power up a Zarude, you can attach for turn onto it or even start powering up a Torterra and threaten an Evo Press, which does 50x each evolution Pokémon you have in play for a max damage output of 300 damage! Paired with its 190 base hp before Pokémon tools, Torterra is another attacker that you’ll be glad to have on your team.

Rounding Out Your Deck

After we establish some of our Pokémon, we’ll need some good trainers to play alongside them. With the release of Paldea Evolved came the stadium Artazon, which allows you to search for a basic Pokémon without a rule box and put it onto your bench. This is perfect for a Gym Leader Challenge deck, and will help accelerate your support Pokémon and attackers into play!

great gym leader challenge stadium

There are other great trainers too! Timer ball can help you find 2 evolution Pokémon with 1 card if you flip heads twice. We’ve got cards like Brigette to help you accelerate basics into play as well! As for draw supporters, Colress is another must have, allowing you to draw a card equal to the number of benched Pokémon in play on both sides of the board, letting you draw up to 10 off of 1 card.

Time to Jump In!

The card pool may be overwhelming to people new to the format and even seasoned Pokémon players, but even so, I’d highly recommend giving this format a try! If you ever don’t know what a card does, it’s never a problem to ask your opponent to read their card.

I’ll leave a reference to Andrew Mahone’s grass decklist at the end of this article to help you get started on your journey. The possibilities are endless in this format and I’m sure you’ll have a blast embarking on your journey as a real-life Pokémon Gym leader! We even hold GLC events on a regular basis at Owl Central Games. Check out our next upcoming Gym Leader Challenge, and you too could become our official Gym Leader!

Andrew Mahone’s Grass GLC Deck
  • 1 Bulbasaur DET 1
  • 1 Ivysaur DEX 2
  • 1 Venusaur SLG 3
  • 1 Grookey SSH 11
  • 1 Thwackey SHF 12
  • 1 Rillaboom SHF 13
  • 1 Pinsir MEW 127
  • 1 Roselia DRX 12
  • 1 Roserade DRX 15
  • 1 Shining Genesect SLG 9
  • 1 Turtwig UPR 6
  • 1 Grotle BRS 7
  • 1 Torterra BRS 8
  • 1 Zarude CRE 19
  • 1 Escape Rope BST 125
  • 1 Evolution Incense SSH 163
  • 1 Field Blower GRI 125
  • 1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
  • 1 Level Ball BST 129
  • 1 Nest Ball SUM 123
  • 1 Net Ball LOT 187
  • 1 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
  • 1 Quick Ball FST 237
  • 1 Rare Candy PGO 69
  • 1 Revitalizer GEN 70
  • 1 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
  • 1 Super Rod BKT 149
  • 1 Timer Ball SUM 134
  • 1 Ultra Ball BRS 150
  • 1 VS Seeker PHF 109
  • 1 Float Stone BKT 137
  • 1 Luxurious Cape PAR 166
  • 1 Artazon PAL 171
  • 1 Turffield Stadium CPA 68
  • 1 Avery CRE 130
  • 1 Ball Guy SHF 57
  • 1 Boss’s Orders BRS 132
  • 1 Brigette BKT 134
  • 1 Colress PLS 118
  • 1 Cynthia UPR 119
  • 1 Gladion CIN 95
  • 1 Gloria BRS 141
  • 1 Guzma BUS 115
  • 1 Iono PAL 185
  • 1 Marnie CPA 56
  • 1 N FCO 105
  • 1 Professor’s Research BRS 147
  • 1 Teammates PRC 141
  • 11 Grass Energy XY 132
  • 1 Herbal Energy FFI 103