Top 6 Pokemon Cards: Base Set

Updated on August 30, 2017
Jeremy Gill profile image

In-between Pokemon journeys, Jeremy studies forensics while working part-time.

The Base Set

Like many kids, I didn't even know how to play the TCG, I just enjoyed collecting and trading the cards. As an adult, I can better appreciate the strategic aspects of the game, and still love to scour through cards and find the best of the best.

What better arrangement to review than the original set? These cards established the trends that would prevail for years to come, from the Energy-burning but powerful Fire cards to the extra-Energy boosts from Water. Read on to discover the six best original trading cards!

Base Set Quiz

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Evolution Stages

Basic Pokemon can be played from your hand as you like.

Stage 1 Pokemon are evolutions that must be played on a corresponding Basic Pokemon.

Stage 2 Pokemon are further evolutions to be played on corresponding Stage 1 Pokemon.


6. Arcanine

Stage 1/ Fire

Arcanine's attacks come with a price, but the immense strength offered more than compensates:

  • Flamethrower (3 Energy) Torches foes for 50 but requires you to discard an Energy.
  • Take Down (4 Energy) 80 damage indeed takes down most foes in one blow, but forfeits 30 of Arcanine's own HP.

Capable of taking hits as well as landing them, Arcanine earned its place in many decks.


5. Blastoise

Stage 2/ Water

Blastoise also joins with a hefty 100 HP, as well as a stellar Poke-Power and attack:

  • Rain Dance (Poke-Power) Lets you transfer Water Energy between your Pokemon as you like, perfect for powering up Blastoise's attack..
  • Hydro Pump (3 Energy) Blasts for 40, plus an extra 10 for each additional Water Energy on Blastoise (up to a maximum of 60 damage).

Blastoise could rapidly bolster its own strength, or redistribute Energy to fresh fighters if it was about to perish, supplementing many Water teams.


4. Nidoking

Stage 2/ Grass

Another Stage 2 titan, Nidoking carries a solid 90 HP as well as two useful moves:

  • Thrash (3 Energy) Flips a coin. Heads deals 40 damage, while Tails lands 30 but inflicts 10 to Nidoking. Not incredible, but still a good way to finish off weakened Pokemon once you've used..
  • Toxic (3 Energy) Only nets 20 damage, but Poisons your opponent, dealing 20 damage instead of the usual 10 each round!

Nidoking adeptly dispatched opponents by badly Poisoning them, then ending them with Thrash.


3. Machamp

Stage 2/ Fighting

Yet another Stage 2 Pokemon with 100 HP, Machamp has two simple but awesome traits:

  • Strikes Back (Poke-Power) Retaliates with 10 damage whenever Machamp is hurt, even if it's knocked out!
  • Seismic Toss (4 Energy) Demands four Energy, but seizes an impressive 60 damage.

Between Seismic Toss and Strikes Back, Machamp decimated foes.. as long as you could afford its attack.


2. Charizard

Stage 2/ Fire

You knew he was coming. Perhaps the most famous Pokemon card of all time, Charizard brandished the highest HP and strongest attack of his age, plus a Resistance to Fighting:

  • Energy Burn (Poke-Power) Turns all Energy on Charizard into Fire, useful for multi-type decks.
  • Fire Spin (4 Energy) Requires 4 Energy to use and burns through 2 of them, but incinerates for 100, vanquishing any opponent in one hit (except another Charizard).

As long as you could replenish his Energy reserves, Charizard eradicated all opposition.


1. Gyarados

Stage 1/ Water

Not as famous as Charizard, Gyarados still displays the HP and power of a Stage 2 champion, yet only needs to evolve once. It also shares Charizard's Resistance to Fighting:

  • Dragon Rage (3 Energy) Scores a potent 50 damage!
  • Bubblebeam (4 Energy) Blasts foes for less hurt than Dragon Rage (40), and needs more Energy, but has a 50% chance to Paralyze opponents, forcing them to waste a turn.

A Pokemon that quickly evolves and unleashes fearsome attacks without spending Energy or taking damage, Gyarados nets today's top rank.

Which card do you prefer?

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Your Vote

Hopefully today's list highlighted some awesome Pokemon and let old fans revisit classic cards. These guys may not match the strength of modern Pokemon cards, but we can still appreciate the legacy they left and the place they held in our hearts.

Feel free to vote for your favorite, and I'll see you at our countdown of the TCG's first expansion: the Jungle set!


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