Table of Contents

Introduction

Pokémon’s second expansion set, Fossil, marked a historic moment for the game as it completed all 150 of the original Pokémon existing in card form, with #151 Mew following shortly after as a promotional card. While it plays very similarly to the Base & Jungle format, Fossil brought a few unique cards that required players to make some adjustments to their strategies and deck lists. Let’s have a look at Fossil‘s most impactful cards.

Mewtwo (Promo)

mewtwo-wotc-promo-3

Although not technically part of the Fossil set, this Mewtwo was one of four promotional cards handed out to attendees of Pokémon: The First Movie in November 1999, one month after Fossil‘s US debut. (In Japan, it was out even before Fossil, so it’s definitely fair to consider it part of the Base–Fossil format.) Just as Energy Removal & Super Energy Removal define the Base & Jungle format, Mewtwo defines the Base–Fossil format, with all decks needing some kind of answer to it. Mewtwo’s strength stems from its Energy Absorption attack, which is strong for several reasons:

  1. It permits players to play more aggressively, drawing through their decks with Professor Oak and Bill, since discarded Energy cards can easily be recovered.
  2. It combos great with Computer Search, allowing players to easily threaten a Turn 2 Psyburn.
  3. It provides excess Energy cards to allow easy use of Super Energy Removal (and also Super Potion).
  4. It sets up easy Psyburn KOs on Hitmonchan, making the previously dominant Haymaker a now mediocre deck.

Ditto

ditto-fossil-3

Ditto was a rulings nightmare, but also just a very good card. With its unique ability to use Double Colorless Energy as two of any Energy, Ditto could easily use your best attacks against you. Because Transform also gave Ditto the same type as the Defending Pokémon, it could take advantage of Mewtwo’s Weakness to its own type, Psyburning it for a one-hit KO. While Ditto remained a great card for years, there were some clever ways to counter it, which I’ll discuss further down.

Muk

muk-fossil-13

Muk was the first card in the Pokémon TCG that offered a way to permanently disable Pokémon Powers. It paired well with Mewtwo, deactivating Mr. Mime’s Invisible Wall and also protecting it from Ditto. It came with noticeable drawbacks, like a two retreat cost and a weak attack, but some decks, like Rain Dance, are so helpless without their Pokémon Powers that none of these drawbacks even mattered.

Mew (Promo)

mew-wotc-promo-9

Originally released in the Fossil expansion in Japan, Wizards thought it would be more exciting to unveil the 151st Pokémon as a promotional card immediately following Fossil‘s debut. Serving as the most effective counter to the almighty Mewtwo, Mew’s Psywave offers a great response to Mewtwo’s Energy Absorption—all you’ll need for a knockout is a Psychic Energy and a PlusPower! If your opponent ever attaches more than three Energy cards, you don’t even need the PlusPower!

Psyduck

psyduck-fossil-53

It may do no damage, but given that most Base–Fossil decks run upwards of 30 Trainer cards, Headache easily shuts opponents down—as early as the first turn of the game!—often forcing them to end their turn without attacking.

The Decks

Below are ten of my favorite Base–Fossil decks. You’ll notice some are built similarly to those of the Base & Jungle format, but with Mewtwo added. In addition to these 10 decks, you can also play with the Venusaur and Clefable/Hitmonchan/Dodrio decks from the Base & Jungle format. Both of these decks need no cards from the Fossil expansion to be competitive in the Base–Fossil format.

Arcanine/Electrode

🏆 Top Deck 😃 Fun to Play

ArcanineDeck
Pokémon (19)Trainers (31)Energy (10)
4x Psyduck
4x Voltorb
4x Electrode
3x Growlithe
3x Arcanine
1x Gastly
4x Professor Oak
4x Bill
4x Computer Search
4x Item Finder
3x Lass
2x Switch
2x Pokémon Trader
2x Maintenance
2x Defender
2x Energy Removal
1x PlusPower
1x Gust of Wind
6x Psychic Energy
4x Double Colorless Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

You’ll rummage through your deck on the first turn, trying to get both a Voltorb and Growlithe benched before hopefully ending your turn with Psyduck’s Headache. Headache will prevent your opponent from being able to draw for more Pokémon needed to survive your upcoming Buzzap+Lass turn that leaves them facing a fully-powered Arcanine. Maintenance and Pokémon Trader help you preserve the cards needed to pull off this epic turn while you’re using Professor Oak.

Tip: Rely on Gastly’s Lick as a way to damage Mr. Mime.

Dodrio/Fighting/Mewtwo

DodrioDeck
Pokémon (16)Trainers (28)Energy (16)
3x Doduo
3x Dodrio
3x Machop
2x Hitmonchan
2x Mew
2x Mewtwo
1x Mr. Mime
4x Professor Oak
3x Bill
3x Energy Retrieval
3x PlusPower
3x Gust of Wind
3x Super Energy Removal
2x Energy Removal
2x Item Finder
1x Scoop Up
1x Energy Search
1x Lass
1x Pokémon Center
1x Computer Search
8x Psychic Energy
7x Fighting Energy
1x Double Colorless Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

Machop & Hitmonchan hit Lickitung and Electabuzz for Weakness, while Dodrio allows you to easily retreat to your Psychic-type Pokémon to deal with Mewtwo.

Tip: Opt to open with Machop over Hitmonchan, as its lower retreat cost will allow you to quickly retreat if you encounter Scyther or Mewtwo. Preserve Hitmonchan for later in the game, once you are able to evolve one or two Doduo.

Dragonair Drought

Pokémon (20)Trainers (24)Energy (16)
3x Lickitung
3x Scyther
2x Dratini
2x Dragonair
1x Dragonite
2x Gastly
2x Chansey
2x Mewtwo
1x Mew
1x Mr. Mime
1x Slowpoke
4x Super Energy Removal
4x Energy Removal
4x Energy Retrieval
3x Professor Oak
3x Item Finder
2x Scoop Up
1x Gust of Wind
1x Mr. Fuji
1x PlusPower
1x Computer Search
10x Psychic Energy
2x Grass Energy
4x Double Colorless Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

A variant of the Lickitung Stall deck, this version has one additional way to remove Energy from your opponent’s board: Dragonair’s Hyper Beam. Though this attack has a steep cost of four Colorless Energy, launching it in combination with Energy Removal & Super Energy Removal, as well as Energy-clearing knockouts, will deplete your opponent’s Energy, leading them to eventually lose by deckout.

Dragonite/Dodrio/Hitmonchan

🤡 Fun to Play

Pokémon (23)Trainers (20)Energy (17)
4x Dratini
3x Dragonair
3x Dragonite
4x Kangaskhan
3x Hitmonchan
2x Doduo
2x Dodrio
2x Lickitung
4x Bill
4x Energy Retrieval
2x Professor Oak
2x Pokémon Trader
2x Item Finder
2x Lass
1x PlusPower
1x Gust of Wind
1x Super Energy Removal
1x Potion
13x Fighting Energy
4x Double Colorless Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

This multi-Evolution deck functions best when it can begin with several Fetch attacks from Kangaskhan. Fetch, along with some Tongue Wraps from Lickitung, enable the deck to set up a Dragonite & Dodrio on your Bench. From there, you can use Dragonite’s Step In to escape whatever status effects your opponent places on your Active Pokémon, then use Dodrio’s Retreat Aid to free retreat into whichever attacker suits the situation best. This duo is particularly effective against Lickitung stall decks, which rely on repeatedly inflicting Paralysis to eventually deck you out.

Lickitung Stall

🏆 Top Deck

LickitungDeck
Pokémon (15)Trainers (29)Energy (16)
3x Lickitung
3x Scyther
2x Mewtwo
2x Gastly
2x Chansey
2x Mr. Mime
1x Mew
4x Scoop Up
4x Item Finder
4x Super Energy Removal
3x Energy Removal
3x Energy Retrieval
3x Professor Oak
2x Computer Search
1x Gust of Wind
1x Pokémon Center
1x Mr. Fuji
1x PlusPower
1x Defender
12x Psychic Energy
1x Grass Energy
4x Double Colorless Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

Lickitung becomes even stronger in the Base–Fossil format, where it can utilize a variety of Psychic-type Pokémon that offer additional ways of dealing with Hitmonchan. These Psychic Pokémon also serve as a convenient counter to Mewtwo, ensuring decks cannot overwhelm you with early pressure from a quick Energy Absorption attack.

Tip: If you are in danger of decking out before your opponent, use Mr. Fuji shuffle a Pokémon (and Energy if necessary) to regain the deck lead on your opponent. If your opponent is playing passively, you can even use multiple Energy Absorption attacks with Mewtwo, giving yourself more cards to shuffle in after you retreat Mewtwo.

Revised on 5/8/2022: –1 Mr. Mime, –1 Slowpoke, –1 Gust of Wind, +1 Scyther, +1 Chansey, +1 Psychic Energy

Moltres Stall

🏆 Top Deck

moltres-deck-base-fossil
Pokémon (13)Trainers (31)Energy (16)
4x Lickitung
3x Moltres
2x Chansey
2x Mr. Mime
1x Scyther
1x Mew
4x Professor Oak
4x Energy Removal
4x Super Energy Removal
4x Scoop Up
4x Energy Retrieval
4x Item Finder
3x Pokémon Center
2x Computer Search
1x Gambler
1x Full Heal
13x Fire Energy
3x Psychic Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

A Lickitung Stall variant, this version focuses on dedicating its extra Energy cards to Moltres in order to mill additional cards off the top of the opponent’s deck with Wildfire. A 4-4 ER/SER line leaves your opponent struggling to attack, while four Scoop Ups and three Pokémon Centers give you plenty of ways to heal. Together, these Trainers allow you to deliver Wildfire after Wildfire until your opponent’s deck reaches zero.

Rain Dance

🌠 Iconic Deck

RainDanceDeck
Pokémon (12)Trainers (34)Energy (14)
4x Squirtle
1x Wartortle
3x Blastoise
4x Articuno
4x Professor Oak
4x Bill
4x Computer Search
4x Pokémon Breeder
4x Energy Retrieval
3x Item Finder
2x Switch
2x Super Energy Removal
2x Maintenance
2x Super Potion
1x PlusPower
1x Gust of Wind
1x Lass
14x Water Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

With 70 HP and no Weakness, Articuno was the partner Blastoise always wanted. Articuno’s Freeze Dry sets up any Pokémon with 80 HP or less for a two-hit KO, while Blastoise’s Rain Dance provides plenty of extra Energy for Super Energy Removal & Super Potion.

Tip: Use Maintenance before playing Professor Oak, preserving cards like Item Finder & Energy Retrieval for later in the game.

Mewtwo/Electabuzz

🌠 Iconic Deck

MewtwoElectabuzzDeck
Pokémon (11)Trainers (33)Energy (16)
4x Mewtwo
4x Electabuzz
2x Mew
1x Rattata
3x Professor Oak
3x Computer Search
3x Bill
3x Energy Removal
3x Super Energy Removal
3x Gust of Wind
3x Item Finder
2x PlusPower
2x Lass
2x Scoop Up
2x Super Potion
2x Energy Retrieval
1x Mr. Fuji
1x Energy Search
9x Psychic Energy
6x Lightning Energy
1x Double Colorless Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

Consider Mewtwo/Electabuzz the new Haymaker for the Base–Fossil format. This deck utilizes Mewtwo over Hitmonchan, giving yourself access to the almighty Energy Absorption attack. Mew (and your own Mewtwo) both give you a way to deal with an opposing Mewtwo.

Tip: Use Rattata’s Bite along with a PlusPower for an easy KO against Ditto.

Wigglytuff/Magmar

🏆 Top Deck

wigglytuff-magmar-deck-fossil
Pokémon (15)Trainers (29)Energy (16)
4x Jigglypuff
3x Wigglytuff
4x Magmar
4x Scyther
4x Professor Oak
4x Bill
4x Energy Retrieval
3x PlusPower
3x Item Finder
3x Energy Removal
2x Super Energy Removal
2x Gust of Wind
2x Lass
1x Super Potion
1x Computer Search
12x Fire Energy
4x Double Colorless Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

You can pair Wigglytuff with a variety of Pokémon, but there’s perhaps no better partner than Fossil’s Magmar, which boasts two useful attacks. Smokescreen buys turns needed to set up Wigglytuff and a full Bench, while Smog allows you to apply pressure against pesky Lickitung decks. With 4 Energy Retrieval, the deck can survive Super Energy Removal and eventually sustain an attacking Wigglytuff.

Revised on 7/14/2022: –1 Grimer, –1 Muk, +1 Jigglypuff, +1 Wigglytuff

Wigglytuff/Mewtwo

WigglytuffDeck
Pokémon (17)Trainers (27)Energy (16)
4x Jigglypuff
3x Wigglytuff
3x Mewtwo
2x Gastly
2x Chansey
1x Mr. Mime
1x Mew
1x Scyther
4x Professor Oak
4x Bill
3x Energy Removal
3x Item Finder
3x PlusPower
2x Computer Search
2x Gust of Wind
2x Super Energy Removal
2x Energy Retrieval
1x Super Potion
1x Mr. Fuji
12x Psychic Energy
4x Double Colorless Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

Able to one-hit KO Hitmonchan, Mewtwo is a great Pokémon to cover Wigglytuff’s Fighting Weakness. But Mewtwo is just one perk of running Psychic-type Pokémon with Wigglytuff! You’ll also gain access to Gastly, whose Energy Conversion attack can help you recover Double Colorless Energy cards to rebuild Wigglytuff.

Tip: Use Energy Removal & Super Energy Removal to prevent attacks that would knock out your fragile Gastly following its Energy Conversion attack.

Also consider: 1/1 Muk over Mr. Mime & one Chansey

Revised on 7/14/2022: –2 Scyther, –1 Grimer, –1 Muk, –1 Computer Search, –1 Super Energy Removal, –1 Gust of Wind, –2 Switch, –3 Grass Energy, +2 Jigglypuff, +1 Wigglytuff, +2 Chansey, +1 Mr. Mime, +1 Professor Oak, +1 Bill, +1 Super Potion, +3 Psychic Energy,

Fun Match-Ups

Here are some of my favorite Base–Fossil match-ups to play. Each of these is close to even, so they serve as a fun way to try the format out with a friend.

Tips for Playing Against Mewtwo

With most match-ups pairing two Mewtwo decks against each other, the first player to use Energy Absorption will generally be at an advantage since they can then use Gust of Wind to knock out any other Mewtwos. However, there are a few effective ways to deal with your opponent powering up Mewtwo first:

  1. Send a Mew active and slam down a PlusPower to Psywave for a one-hit KO.
  2. Play Super Energy Removal on Mewtwo, then use Energy Absorption yourself, threatening a KO. (Your opponent will often respond the same way, in which case whoever blinks first by missing an SER surrenders the KO.)
  3. Attach an Energy card to a benched Ditto, threatening a knockout next turn with a Double Colorless Energy. Your Ditto will be vulnerable to Gust of Wind, so consider an attack like Smokescreen or Thundershock to give Ditto a better chance at surviving until next turn.

Tips for Playing Against Ditto

Ditto is another popular card in the Base–Fossil format and you can exploit it in one of three ways:

  1. Once you’ve accumulated 50 damage on your opponent’s active Ditto, use Gust of Wind to send it to the Bench, disabling Transform and scoring an immediate KO.
  2. Send up a low HP Pokémon to score easy KOs against Ditto, since Ditto will inherit its low HP. (A Rattata works as a clever anti-Ditto card.)
  3. Lower Ditto’s HP to 50 with Sleep or Paralysis, disabling Transform. (For example, you can KO a Ditto holding 40 damage by hitting Heads on Electabuzz’s Thundershock.)

If you’re playing Ditto yourself, you’ll want to deal with any low HP Pokémon before you attack with it. If your active Ditto has accumulated 50+ damage and is only surviving because the Defending Pokémon has high HP, you’ll usually want to play a Scoop Up before your opponent has a chance to score a fancy KO.

Heading into 2000

rockets-sneak-attack-team-rocket-16

1999 marked only the first full year of the Pokémon TCG outside of Japan. Surprisingly, the game’s interactive and skill-based nature took a steep and year-long decline beginning with the Team Rocket expansion in 2000, when one powerful Trainer card all but took over the game.


Base & Jungle | Base–Fossil | Base–Team Rocket