When I first started this blog in 2015, I focused on the game’s very first formats, breaking each of the game’s initial expansion sets into their own individual chapters of the game’s history. Since then, I’ve covered subsequent eras chronologically all the way from the Neo sets of the early 2000s to the XY sets of 2013–2016.

While I covered later blocks in a single article, the original articles of the Base Set era each still covered a single set. Since each of these articles was covered as its own format and concluded with deck lists and tips for playing, it created a multitude of similar Base-on formats from the same era. This became excessive as I realized that this many formats could leave new players confused as to where to start. Additionally, the very first formats (Base Only and Base & Jungle) are very limited in their amount of viable decks. (Each of them is dominated by a single deck.)

There is a third issue with the Base Only and Base & Jungle formats which is the result of those two things: they are rarely played. I didn’t want to mislead any players looking to get into playing retro formats into thinking they could find communities playing these formats. For example, while the Base–Fossil format has dedicated community of players, it’s rare to find groups of players enjoying the Base Only or Base/Jungle formats. It’s for all of these reasons that I decided to condense my Base Only, Base & Jungle and Base–Fossil articles into one. In this process, I kept all of the history intact—in fact, I actually expanded on it—but ultimately I steer players towards playing Base–Fossil, a better, more complete and more popular format.

I now break the Base-on era into four distinct formats for playing:

  1. 2002’s Base–Neo (this would be considered the true full block for the Base-on format)
  2. 2000’s Base–Gym (all Gen 1 Pokémon sets)
  3. 2000’s Base–Rocket
  4. 1999’s Base–Fossil

Ideally, I would break Base-on into three formats, with Base–Rocket being the oldest sub-block of the Base-on formats. However, to do this would be doing everyone who loves great formats a disservice. That’s because the Base–Fossil format plays much differently than the Base–Rocket format that immediately followed it. Though Base–Rocket added only one new set (Team Rocket), this set completely warped the game.

With all that said, you, the reader can of course enjoy retro Pokémon in any way you please! And if you’re dedicated enough that you want to play the earliest era of Pokémon set by set and experience the history gradually (like those who lived through it did), I kept my deck lists archived for the earliest formats. You can view them here: Base Set Decks & Base & Jungle Decks.