What Are Supporters in the TCG?
In the Pokémon trading card game, supporter cards are powerful trainer card variants based on characters throughout the Pokémon video games. They wield mighty abilities that often let you draw, recover cards from your discard pile, or search out specific ones from your deck, but to balance their overpowered effects, each player can only use one supporter per turn.
These impressive abilities are as crucial to winning as your team members themselves, as they can drastically increase your hand or pull needed cards, but with hundreds of options available, which trainers reign supreme? These are the ten best supporters in the Pokémon TCG!
10. Pokémon Center Lady
Or Nurse Joy, as the anime fans would call her. Either way, Pokémon Center Lady forgoes the usual draw or search effects of most supporters. Instead, she offers one of the best recoveries in the game, healing up to 60 damage from one of your Pokémon, while also removing any special status conditions it may be suffering. This handily rejuvenates your active creature when retreating or evolving aren't available to remove its debuffs.
When a Pokémon faints in the TCG, not only does your opponent gain a prize card and get one step closer to victory, you also lose all the energy you invested in that Pokémon. Keep your monsters alive longer to make better use of their energy with this potent nurse.
Love 'em or hate 'em, energy cards are a crucial resource mechanic akin to Magic: The Gathering's land cards. Without them, you won't be able to use your Pokémon's attacks, and you can only attach one every turn. Thus, you never want to have a hand without an energy to play, or you're "wasting" your potential energy gain for that turn.
Cilan helps by finding three basic energy cards from your deck, guaranteeing you'll have fuel for several turns. Sadly, the chosen units can't be special energy cards, but three for one is still a terrific deal, and you're welcome to mix and match energy types as you like. This also mills out several energy cards from your deck, increasing your chances of drawing trainers, items, and Pokémon in future turns.
Like many supporters, Mars helps you draw more cards, in this case, two. You're spending one to get two to improve your overall hand size, and Mars's next effect discards a random card from your opponent's hand, offering some rare hand disruption potential. Since your opponent doesn't get to pick which card they lose, you can very well remove their unplayed evolution cards or other needed tricks and drastically interfere with their strategy.
7. Bianca/Professor Birch
Although released in different expansion packs, Bianca and Professor Birch provide essentially the same effect: you simply draw until you have six cards in your hand. This can really save you from a lagging "dead hand," and you can purposefully exploit the tactic by casting a bunch of cards, then playing Bianca/Birch to refill your arsenal.
Since you can place as many Pokémon onto your bench in a single turn as you like (up to the maximum of five), simply fill your bench, attach energy and any item cards you may have, then watch your hand magically refill to a brimming capacity.
Almost identical to Bianca and Birch, Cynthia shuffles your hand into your deck, then draws six cards. Bianca, Birch, and Cynthia will all have your hand end up to six no matter what, but Cynthia gives you the option of shuffling unneeded cards back into your deck, affording you more chances to hopefully draw something better. Definitely a great card worthy of the Sinnoh champion.
5. Volkner's Philosophy
Yet another card similar to our last two, Volkner's Philosophy gives you the option of discarding a card, then lets you draw up to six, yet another way to replenish your hand after a big turn.
Since the discard here is optional, you can play Philosophy exactly like Bianca/Birch if you like, but using the effect helps you toss out unwanted cards. It also slightly stocks your discard pile, providing fuel for other discard-oriented cards that may be able to recover your trashed unit.
4. Professor Juniper/Sycamore
Identical to the original Professor Oak trainer card, Professors Juniper and Sycamore both discard your entire hand, then draw you seven cards. That's an amazing refill that stocks your hand with an abundance of new tricks to harass foes.
Try to save Juniper and Sycamore for when your hand's running low and you really need those extra draws. Also, remember to bench your Pokemon and attach your energy prior to the effect to prevent having to immediately spend cards from your new hand.
A great card for your first or second turn, Kiawe's biggest downside is that playing him will immediately end your turn (meaning you can't attack). However, his awesome effect searches your deck for up to four Fire energy cards and attaches them to one of your Pokémon!
Remember, players can normally attach one energy each turn; acquiring four (five if you used your regular equip beforehand) in one move can get you leagues ahead in the early stages of the battle, offering your best moves from the get-go. Kiawe's ability also increases your chances of drawing non-energy cards, which is probably what you'll want now that your Fire ally is loaded with fuel to burn.
Since supporters have such powerful effects, ideally, you'll have one to play on every turn. Scott helps guarantee this by pulling up to three supporters/stadium cards from your deck in any combination. This loads up on as many other supporters or fields as you like, and since you get to choose which you draw, you'll be able to access the ones you most need. Of course, you'll have to wait until your next turn to use another supporter, but you can activate any stadiums you find immediately.
Scott's ability to find supporters and stadiums helps, but many decks simply don't use stadiums while all use energy, meaning Steven's ability to search out one supporter and one basic energy from your deck all the more helpful.
It's as simple as that. The Hoenn champion finds you both an energy and a supporter, two types of cards that you'll definitely want in any type of deck. I'll use Steven in just about any format he qualifies for, and he's a great gift for young fans.
Future of Supporter Cards
With their enormous effects and searches, supporters offer amazing card-drawing potential you rarely see in a trading card game, and learning which to include in your deck list and when to play them remains a crucial aspect of mastering the game.
As we eagerly await Nintendo's next batch of Pokémon trading cards, these ten should get you well on your way to victory. But for now, vote for your favorite ace supporter, and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill