Table of Contents
- 2007–2008: Gardevoir/Gallade’s Reign
- 2008–2009: The Format Gets Fast
- 2009–2010: Decks Get Their Finishing Touches
- 2010–2011: An Abrupt End for the Diamond & Pearl/Platinum Sets
- Playing the Diamond & Pearl/Platinum Format
- Decks & Tips
Throughout the history of the Pokémon TCG, the most eagerly awaited sets have always been those themed after newly released Pokémon video games. The TCG’s Base Set was itself modeled after the original Pokémon Red & Blue games, while Pokémon Gold & Silver on Game Boy Color served as the inspiration for Neo Genesis. These sets not only generate excitement by showcasing new Pokémon, they also mark important moments in the game’s history by introducing new mechanics and even new rules. Neo Genesis, for example, introduced Darkness & Metal-type Pokémon, as well as Baby Pokémon. Ruby & Sapphire (named after the third series of video games) was even bolder, creating powerful new Pokémon-ex and adding an entirely new 2-on-2 method of playing.
Most ambitious of all expansion sets, though, was 2007’s Diamond & Pearl. The 130-card set brought not just the usual new Pokémon, but also several big changes:
- Weakness was no longer a universal ×2, but instead an addition factor. Most Basic Pokémon had a Weakness of +10 or +20 to a certain type, while Stage 1 Pokémon possessed +20 or +30. Stage 2 Pokémon had the biggest Weaknesses, typically +30, but the most powerful Pokémon retained a ×2 Weakness.
- Resistance was also changed for the first time, from –30 to –20, remaining that way until it reverted back to –30 at Sword & Shield.
- Zero Energy attacks were added to the game. A hollow circle printed in place of an attack cost indicated an attack that required no Energy to use.
- Darkness & Metal Energy finally received Basic Energy cards, which, like other Basic Energies, were not limited to 4 per deck. (The Special Energy versions continued to be printed alongside their Basic counterparts until Black & White.)
- Supporters and Stadiums were no longer considered Trainers, but rather their own individual type of cards. Trainers still existed as a third type of card, the equivalent of Item cards today.
Pokémon-ex were phased out and replaced by Pokémon LV.X (pronounced Level X). LV.X Pokémon were similar to Evolution cards, but they kept the attacks, Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies of their previous Stage.
- Players would again draw a card if they played first (reversing the rule of the EX era), but could not play any Trainer, Supporter, or Stadium cards on this first turn. (This generally awarded the advantage to the player playing second.)
Seven sets bearing the Diamond & Pearl name were released between 2007–2008, followed by the debut of the Platinum set in 2009, which brought two additional new elements:
- The Lost Zone was introduced, which functioned as a separate discard pile where cards were permanently irretrievable.
- Pokémon-SP debuted. Pokémon-SP were Basic Pokémon that featured a small portrait of a noteworthy trainer from the Platinum video game. Pokémon-SP benefited from their own unique Supporter, Stadium, Trainer and Energy cards.
Platinum saw a total of four sets bearing its name, creating a total of 11 Diamond & Pearl/Platinum sets. In terms of gameplay, the Diamond & Pearl and Platinum sets are known for creating formats that enabled skillful and also drawn-out matches. In fact, in 2008, the single-game time limit in tournaments was raised from 30 to 40 minutes, since long turns and the rotation of Pokémon-ex made games drag on longer.
The long turns and skill-oriented nature of the Diamond & Pearl/Platinum formats were the result of cards that replenished players’ hands, leaving them with plenty of cards to play each turn. Not only that, but the most commonly played Supporters forced players to make two or three separate decisions. To get a better look at what it was like to play during the Diamond & Pearl and Platinum era, let’s break down the four competitive seasons that were composed mostly of these sets, starting with the first, 2007–2008.
2007–2008: Gardevoir/Gallade’s Reign
Format: EX Holon Phantoms–Diamond & Pearl: Majestic Dawn
The 2007–2008 season was the only full season to combine cards from the EX and Diamond & Pearl sets. During this overlapping format, strong new Stage 2 Pokémon from the Diamond & Pearl sets were able to harness the power of Double Rainbow Energy & Scramble Energy, ensuring they would not be out-sped by faster decks built around Basic and Stage 1 Pokémon.
The release of Claydol in Great Encounters only further strengthened Evolution-based decks and it didn’t take long before the card was in nearly every tournament-winning deck. Claydol’s Cosmic Power allowed decks to set up quickly and consistently. Since this Poké-Power could be used each turn, it also ensured that players could continue to develop their board throughout the game.
Forming a perfect partner for both Claydol and Double Rainbow Energy was the combination of Gardevoir and Gallade, which dominated throughout the 2007–2008 season. Empoleon and Bronzong, two Pokémon that each took full advantage of Scramble Energy, teamed up to give Gardevoir/Gallade a run for its money, but the consistency and power of Gardevoir/Gallade was too much for decks to handle. Top 4 at the 2008 US National Championships Masters Division included three Gardevoir/Gallade decks, with Gino Lombardi defeating Drew Holton in a Gardevoir/Gallade mirror match in the Finals.
Heading into Worlds, Gardevoir/Gallade was clearly the deck to beat. Norway’s Khanh Le found a way to do this by filling his Blissey deck with Cessation Crystal and Crystal Beach, shutting down Gardevoir decks along his route to the Masters Division Finals. There, he faced off against my Gardevoir/Gallade deck. Fortunately for me, my deck was equipped with plenty of ways to deal with his disruptive Trainer and Stadium cards, allowing me to win my second World Championship.
2008–2009: The Format Gets Fast
Format: Diamond & Pearl–Platinum: Rising Rivals
The 2008–2009 season saw the rotation of the remaining EX sets, creating a Diamond & Pearl-On format that rotated out both Double Rainbow Energy & Scramble Energy. Without these powerful Energy cards, Gardevoir/Gallade could no longer keep up with decks built around cheaper attacks, like Kingdra’s Dragon Pump.
Giving decks a boost of speed was Uxie, which brought one of the strongest Poké-Powers of all time into the game. Uxie made its way into every deck, including the trio of Azelf, Uxie and Mesprit aptly named “AMU,” which relied on Mesprit LV.X’s Supreme Blast to deal 200 damage. But the most pivotal moment of the 2008–2009 season was the release of the Platinum set, which brought powerful new Pokémon-SP into the game.
Pokémon-SP, which were all Basic (and LV.X) Pokémon, possessed their own set of Trainers that allowed them to be fast and disruptive, helping them overwhelm the slower Evolution-based decks of the format. (More on these Trainers later.)
Platinum wasn’t all about Pokémon-SP, though. Though these powerful new Pokémon seemed to have the upper hand against Evolved Pokémon, the Platinum set kept a level playing field by also releasing Broken Time-Space. This game-breaking Stadium allowed Evolved Pokémon a chance to keep up with the new, speedier Pokémon-SP, replacing Rare Candy in Stage 2 decks.
After Platinum‘s debut, SP decks quickly began winning tournaments. Kyle Sucevich’s SP duo of Infernape 4 LV.X / Luxray GL LV.X went on to win the US National Championships. But the dominance of SP decks would come to an end at the 2009 World Championships, when two Stage 2 decks squared off in the Masters Division Finals. England’s Sami Sekkoum brought a Flygon deck, while Steven Silvestro of the United States played a speedy Beedrill deck with Broken Time-Space. Silvestro’s Beedrill deck ended up being too quick for Sekkoum’s deck to handle and he became the 2009 World Champion.
2009–2010: Decks Get Their Finishing Touches
Format: Diamond & Pearl–Heartgold Soulsilver: Unleashed
The 2009–2010 season was unique in that it did not begin with a rotation of older sets. Instead, TPCi opted to stay with Diamond & Pearl-On. The final two Platinum sets, Supreme Victors and Arceus, were the first to join the format in 2009, each making major contributions. Supreme Victors further increased the power of SP decks with the release of Garchomp C LV.X, a card that had both a useful Poké-Power and a deadly attack that could KO a benched Claydol.
Similar to how the Platinum set released a carefully balanced duo of Pokémon-SP and Broken Time-Space, the Arceus set that immediately followed Supreme Victors released Spiritomb. Spiritomb’s Keystone Seal was a strong weapon against SP decks, which relied heavily on Trainers. It was also useful against Trainer-heavy Evolution decks, like the Beedrill deck that had won the 2009 World Championship, since these decks could not use Cosmic Power efficiently with a hand full of Trainers.
Things were further shaken up in early 2010 by the release of Heartgold Soulsilver, which for the first time since Base Set 2 in 1999 brought Double Colorless Energy back into the game. Already one of the strongest Pokémon in the format, Garchomp C LV.X now became even stronger, continuing its dominance throughout the remainder of the season. Garchomp C LV.X would be the star of Con Le’s US National Championship-winning deck and American Michael Pramawat even used Double Colorless Energy to revive 2008’s Gardevoir/Gallade deck at the 2010 World Championships. Pramawat fell just short of capturing the World Championship title, narrowly losing to Yuta Komatsuda’s Luxray GL LV.X/Garchomp C LV.X “Luxchomp” deck in the finals. Yuta’s clever inclusion of Dialga G LV.X offered him multiple ways to play around Spiritomb’s Keystone Seal, helping him become the first Japanese player to win the Masters Division since Tsuguyoshi Yamato in 2004.
2010–2011: An Abrupt End for the Diamond & Pearl/Platinum Sets
Formats: Diamond & Pearl: Majestic Dawn–Black & White (2010–2011), Heartgold Soulsilver–Black & White (2011)
Though the following season’s rotation to Majestic Dawn-On retained 7 of the 11 Diamond & Pearl/Platinum sets, all seven of these remaining sets were rotated mid-season following the release of the Black & White expansion. Black & White marked the third time the Pokémon TCG’s Turn 1 rules had been changed, this time reverting to those of the Wizards of the Coast days, with no restrictions placed on the player playing first. With Stormfront Sableye still in the format, TPCi realized the format would quickly devolve into one based around Turn 1 wins if they didn’t do something. Rather than simply ban one card, TPCi avoided other potentially format-breaking combos by rotating out the remaining Diamond & Pearl and Platinum sets entirely, shifting to a Heartgold Soulsilver-On format in July 2011. With the US National Championships only a week later, players scrambled to learn an entirely new format, marking an abrupt end to the Diamond & Pearl/Platinum era.
Playing the Diamond & Pearl/Platinum Format
If you’ve read my previous articles, you may have noticed I prefer to recreate past formats based around blocks, which combine all similarly-themed sets of an era. (For example, the Expedition–Skyridge e-Card format and the Ruby & Sapphire–Power Keepers EX format.) This approach not only makes deck building more manageable by combining several past seasons into one, it also produces fun and balanced formats with a large variety of decks and strategies. Since the seven Diamond & Pearl sets and four Platinum sets each contain cards of similar power levels and that follow the same rules, they combine perfectly to form a Diamond & Pearl/Platinum block format. This 11-set format, beginning with Diamond & Pearl and ending with the final Platinum set, Arceus, is different from other block formats in that it actually recreates an official TPCi format from Fall 2009. Diamond & Pearl–Arceus offers players plenty of different decks and strategies to choose from and also enables what are quite possibly the most skill-based match-ups in the game, which are created by pairing two SP decks against each other. For these reasons, I recommend Diamond & Pearl–Arceus, which I call the Diamond & Pearl/Platinum format, as the best way to enjoy cards from the era.
Diamond & Pearl/Platinum Format: Legal Sets
The Diamond & Pearl/Platinum format, which I’ll abbreviate as DP/P, is composed of the 11 sets that followed the final EX set and preceded the Heartgold Soulsilver sets:
- Diamond & Pearl
- Mysterious Treasures
- Secret Wonders
- Great Encounters
- Majestic Dawn
- Legends Awakened
- Rising Rivals
- Supreme Victors
The following promotional sets and cards are also legal:
- Diamond & Pearl Promotional Cards (DP01–DP56)
- POP Series 6
- POP Series 7
- POP Series 8
- POP Series 9
- Victory Medal Promotional Card
Level X (LV.X) Pokémon
Before getting into any cards and strategies, let’s first go over Level X (LV.X) Pokémon, as they play a huge role in the DP/P format. The requirements for leveling up a Pokémon are very similar to evolving, though it’s important to point out that leveling up is not considered evolving. In order to level up a Pokémon into its LV.X card, the Pokémon being leveled up must:
- Be your Active Pokémon
- Have been in play for more than one turn (including not having already evolved this turn)
Like evolving, leveling up clears any Special Conditions or other effects of attacks on the Pokémon. Also similar to evolving, Level X Pokémon gain HP and their Weakness and Retreat Cost may change too. The difference between Level X Pokémon and Evolved Pokémon is that Level X Pokémon retain all attacks, Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies from their previous Level (the Pokémon directly underneath). It’s also important to note that Level X Pokémon are considered to have the same name as their previous stage. Uxie and Uxie LV.X, for example, are both considered Uxie cards, meaning you may not have more than four total of these two cards in your deck, a notable distinction from Pokémon-ex of the EX era.
Like all formats, the DP/P format has a few cards that get more than their fair share of play. Let’s review some of the most popular cards you’ll encounter when playing.
Roseanne’s Research is of course strongest during the first turns of the game, but unlike Basic Pokémon-retrieving Supporters from other formats, it remains useful on later turns because of its ability to also retrieve Basic Energy. You’ll want Roseanne’s Research—probably 4—in every deck you build, especially since it offers easy access to the the card-drawing Uxie.
Replenishing your hand to 7 cards, Uxie’s Set Up allows for explosive first turns, and also makes decks resistant to early losses. You’ll play Uxie in virtually every deck, with the only reason not to being the limited bench space some decks have. Uxie even has its own built-in solution for that, though, with its Psychic Restore attack.
Easily retrieved by Roseanne’s Research, Unown’s Quick Poké-Power allows players an easy way to retreat to their ideal attacker on the first turn. Quick can also be used mid-game to turn Uxie into a free retreater, allowing you to retreat for free after leveling up.
Unless you’re winning a very one-sided game, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to use Cynthia’s Feelings to draw a new hand of eight cards. In a pinch, you won’t always hate drawing four cards, as Claydol or Uxie can complete the job of refilling your hand.
Similar to Uxie, Claydol’s Cosmic Power replenishes your hand, but can be used each turn. By allowing you to first place 1 or 2 cards on the bottom of your deck, you can stow weak cards to draw more. Claydol is a great addition to any deck, though some decks can suffice with just Uxie.
There’s no Pokémon Communication or Ultra Ball in the DP/P format, meaning your primary way of retrieving the Evolved Pokémon you need will cost you your one Supporter card per turn. Though Bebe’s requires you to shuffle a card from your hand into your deck, this rarely hurts since your hand is easily replenished by Uxie and Claydol.
Luxury Ball is the only Trainer (remember, Supporters aren’t Trainers in DP/P) that can retrieve any Basic Pokémon or Evolution card, making it one of the best Trainers in the format. Since drawing a second Luxury Ball is useless, though, you won’t want to play more than one in decks that don’t have a way to discard cards.
You’ll love seeing Call Energy in your opening hand, especially when playing first, since you aren’t allowed to play any Trainers or a Supporter. Call Energy turns what would often be an unproductive first turn into a productive one, allowing you to end your turn with two Basic Pokémon on your Bench.
A lot of the decks in the DP/P format attack fast, so if you’re relying on Evolved Pokémon, you might forfeit too many prize cards before being able to respond with your own attack. Broken Time-Space helps these otherwise slow decks keep up, not only allowing you to more quickly evolve into your strongest attackers, but also get Claydol in play earlier. The difference between winning and losing is often how quickly one player can get Claydol in play!
Spiritomb’s Keystone Seal slows the game down, helping buy turns for you to build and evolve your Pokémon. Conveniently, its Zero-Energy Darkness Grace works toward the same goal, allowing you to end your turn by evolving one of your Benched Pokémon.
One of the most frustrating things in the Pokémon TCG is prizing an important Pokémon. Azelf’s Time Walk spares you this misfortune, not only letting you retrieve an elusive Pokémon, but also reporting to you what all of your prizes are.
SP Decks: Key Cards
While SP decks use several of the cards above, such as Roseanne’s Research and Uxie, they also have their own unique cards. Below are the most common cards you’ll see in decks based around SP Pokémon.
Cyrus’s Conspiracy single-handedly allows SP decks to function smoothly, searching out virtually everything they need to maintain pressure on the opponent. The card is powerful enough that most of the time you play it, you’ll be seeking out another another one to play on the following turn. Cyrus’s Conspiracy biggest strength comes from offering access to any one of the four powerful “Team Galactic Invention” Trainers listed below.
Energy Gain is the driving force behind the quick damage Pokémon-SP are capable of. SP decks frequently devote their first Cyrus’s Conspiracy to searching out an Energy Gain, enabling a Turn 1 attack.
Many times, players will need an early Set Up from Uxie to get something going. If you’re able to deny this key Set Up with Power Spray, you can all but end the game on an early turn, overwhelming your opponent with the quick attacks SP decks are capable of. That doesn’t mean Power Spray is only good early in the game, though; part of the skill of the DP/P format is knowing what moments to save Power Spray for.
SP Radar allows your Cyrus’s Conspiracy to function like an SP version of Bebe’s Search. Though you’re required to a shuffle a card from your hand back into the deck, you’ll rarely mind, as Cyrus’s Conspiracy fills your hand with extra cards.
Easily accessible with Roseanne’s Research, Crobat G is one of the few Pokémon-SP that can be played in a variety of decks, not just decks built entirely around Pokémon-SP. Crobat’s Flash Bite helps put opposing Pokémon within KO range, while Poké Turn allows you to deliver multiple Flash Bites with the same Crobat. With free retreat and 80 HP, you won’t mind being forced to open with it, either.
Though SP decks will only devote a single spot to Bronzong G, the importance of its Galactic Switch Poké-Power cannot be understated. Galactic Switch helps you keep Energy in play when you’re planning to return a Pokémon to your hand via Poké Turn, and it also ensures your Energy attachments never go to waste, as simply placing Energy on any Pokémon-SP keeps your options open on future turns. One of the most challenging aspects of playing against SP decks is constantly being prepared for the variety of attacks they can deliver via Bronzong’s Galactic Switch.
Decks & Tips
Now that we’ve covered the most common cards you’ll encounter in the DP/P format, let’s move on to the fun part: decks and tips.