In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.
How to Play Stadium Cards in the Pokémon TCG
Stadiums are a powerful subset of Trainer cards in the Pokémon TCG, offering various abilities that often affect both players. Players can only activate one stadium per turn, and only one can be fielded at a time; if either player uses another, the first will be discarded (similar to Yu-Gi-Oh's original field spell rules).
But to compensate for their frailty, stadiums grant several tempting bonuses—which reign supreme? These are the 30 best stadiums in the Pokémon Trading Card Game!
30. Power Plant
Set: Unbroken Bonds
Power Plant offers an excellent anti-GX or EX tool, negating the abilities of all Pokémon EX or GX in play. These are Pokémon that grant opponents two prize cards when defeated, but compensate with devastating attacks and effects.
Use Plant to bring them down to size while avoiding the penalty yourself by either not running such cards, or using ones without abilities (only attacks).
29. Pokémon Contest Hall
Set: Rising Rivals
Contest Hall lets each player flip a coin on their turn, and if it's heads, they search their deck for any basic (unevolved) Pokémon, put it onto their bench, and can attach a Pokémon tool from their deck to it.
While a bit reliant on chance, this provides a brutal search for not only a basic card, but also an equipment to empower it. Opponents can use the effect as well, but since not all decks include tools, many can't access the entire ability.
28. Pokémon Pal City
Set: Battle Road
This Japan-only promo differs from most stadiums: its effect only happens once, and only you (not your opponent) can ever use it. Pal City lets you place any number of Basic Pokémon from your deck's top seven cards onto your bench, then shuffle your deck.
This is basically an upgraded version of the Great Ball card, and since it comes in the form of a stadium, it can remove any pesky stadium your opponent played.
27. Tropical Beach
This promo card was banned due to both its scarcity (only a few hundred exist) and power, letting each player draw up to seven cards once per turn. However, if they use this effect, their turn immediately ends and they can't attack.
Still, that's a formidable hand-replenisher, and you can use the effect after playing other Trainer cards to reap the most reward—just remember your opponent can as well.
26. Skyarrow Bridge
Set: Next Destinies
Frequently seen in 2014's world championship decks, Skyarrow Bridge reduces the retreat cost of all basic Pokémon by one. Remember, in the TCG, retreating doesn't spend your turn's action and removes status conditions, making it a powerful defense—although your opponent's basics will also retreat for less energy.
25. Brooklet Hill
Set: Guardians Rising
Brooklet Hill lets each player once per turn search their deck for a basic Water or Fighting-type Pokémon and place it onto their bench. That's another powerful search, and since it only works with two elements, the chances of it benefiting your opponent are slim.
24. Moonlight Stadium
Set: Great Encounters
Moonlight Stadium lets all Dark and Psychic-types retreat for free, an enormous benefit that shakes off debuffs and hides damaged combatants. Like Brooklet Hill, your opponent only gains an advantage if they also use one or both of the types. Definitely efficient, but pure-Psychic decks may instead prefer...
23. Phoebe's Stadium
Set: EX Power Keepers
Phoebe's Stadium reduces the retreat cost of Psychic Pokémon by two. While this isn't strictly as powerful as Moonlight Stadium, its chances of helping your opponent are even lower, making it the preferred arena for Psychic-only builds.
Plus, most Psychic-types are pretty quick, meaning you'll usually get free retreats with Phoebe's discount.
22. Fairy Garden
Another retreat-easing option, Fairy Garden lets any Pokémon with at least one Fairy energy retreat for free. Not only is this great for Fairy decks, it works just as well when pairing with other elements; just attach one Fairy energy to your other creatures and they'll gain the benefit too.
21. Rocket's Hideout
Set: Neo Revelation
Particularly for the early days it debuted in, Rocket's Hideout offers a tempting endurance boost, granting any Pokémon with "Dark" in its name (not to be confused with the then-nonexistent Dark type) an extra 20 HP. Later renditions of the card also grant the boost to any "Rocket's" Pokémon.
20 HP may not mean as much today, but was a hefty increase in the game's early days, especially for special Dark Pokémon (who had strong attacks but low HP).
20. Frozen City
Set: Plasma Freeze
Though limited to Team Plasma decks, this terrain skillfully cripples foes. While active, attaching energy to any Pokémon gives them two damage counters (20 damage) unless they belong to Team Plasma. Many Pokémon need at least three or four energy to access their best moves, letting Frozen City deplete half their health just by prepping such moves.
19. Chaos Tower
Set: Fates Collide
This unique stadium offers two different effects, one to each player, and you choose which way it faces when it enters the field. One side prevents a player's Pokémon from becoming confused or poisoned; the other protects them from sleep and paralysis.
Unlike many of today's effects, you can run Tower in any deck type. Opponents will get some defenses as well, but they won't matter if you're playing decks that don't use those statuses anyway. You can also safely run burns, as neither of Tower's sides defends against them.
18. Parallel City
Like Chaos Tower, Parallel City grants each player one of two effects (both negative this time), with you choosing its orientation on arrival. One player can't have more than three Pokémon on their bench (and discards down to three if needed); the other has their attack power from Grass, Water, and Fire Pokémon reduced by 20.
With the second side effective against the three traditional starter types, you'll be shielded against many themes. But if foes are running something else, you can still limit their bench with the first side (just make sure you don't use Grass, Water, or Fire in this case).
17. Fighting Stadium
Set: Furious Fists
Fighting Pokémon have always emphasized brute force over tricks, and their turf caters to this strategy, simply boosting the damage of all Fighting attacks by 20 (before weakness and resistance are applied).
That little bit of power can mean the difference between defeating an opponent or having them survive to beat you. Plus, even if you're unlucky enough to face a rival Fighting team, you can always swap Stadium into your side deck in traditional best-2-of-3 formats.
16. Scorched Earth
Set: Primal Clash
Scorched Earth lets each player discard a Fighting or Fire energy from their hand once per turn; if they do, they draw two cards. Not only does this increase overall hand size, it's a great way to spend excess energy (you can only attach one every turn anyway), potentially nabbing a new item or supporter at a critical moment.
Once again, since the ability only works with two elements, odds are your opponent won't be able to duplicate the effect.
15. Dawn Stadium
Set: Majestic Dawn
Whenever a player attaches an energy from their hand to a Grass or Water Pokémon, Dawn Stadium removes a damage counter and any special conditions it had. 10 healing per trigger isn't much but adds up, and removing special conditions can really save you against status decks. Remember you can gain the effect by attaching any energy type; you just need to equip to a Grass or Water combatant.
14. Sidney's Stadium
Set: EX Power Keepers
Elite Four member Sidney provides an excellent shield for Dark teams, preventing all Dark Pokémon from suffering sleep, confusion, or paralysis status effects. That's three barriers in one and likely won't protect enemy teams; just remember poison and burns are still fair game.
13. Steel Shelter
Set: Phantom Forces
As great as Sidney's Dark defenses are, this stadium provides even-better Steel (or Metal, as the TCG calls it) protection. Each Steel Pokémon in play can't be affected by any status conditions, an amazing benefit that really disrupts debuff-oriented foes.
As icing on the cake, playing Shelter also removes any status effects currently affecting Steel-types, meaning it's never too late to reap its rewards.
12. Sunyshore City Gym
Set: Rising Rivals
Volkner's gym provides two powers for Electric-types: their attacks aren't weakened by enemy resistance and they themselves have no weaknesses. Weakness and resistance add a luck-based element to any match that can ruin even the best of decks; twisting these factors to your advantage offers a huge benefit for Electric players.
11. Rough Seas
Set: Primal Clash
Once per turn, Rough Seas lets each player heal all their Water and/or Electric Pokémon by 30 damage! That's a significant recovery, especially since it also rejuvenates benched allies—be sure to retreat as needed to maximize healing.
10. Dimension Valley
Set: Phantom Forces
Dimension Valley reduces the cost of Psychic attacks by one colorless energy. That's a powerful and speedy tactic for aggressive powers, and yet again, since only one type can partake, opponents are often left in the dust. Just be sure your cards have colorless slots for Valley to discount; it can't reduce the price of attacks with only Psychic symbols.
9. Martial Arts Dojo
Set: Unbroken Bonds
Martial Arts Dojo very rarely helps your opponent because it requires a specific energy type (Fighting) and doesn't work with Ultra Beast cards. But any non-Ultra Beast with at least one Fighting energy deals an extra 10 damage with its attacks, or an extra 40 if your have more prize cards remaining than your opponent!
This means that if you're already winning, Dojo practically guarantees your victory by offering a monstrous increase to Fighting attack power. Your other types benefit too as long as they have at least one Fighting energy.
8. Pokémon Plaza
Not only is this card only available in Japan, but its oversized nature means it was never meant to be tournament legal. Pretty easy to see why: once fielded, Plaza prevents all Trainer cards other than stadiums from being activated!
Casual players can avoid the trap by building a Trainer-light deck or using their cards before activating Plaza, but foes will be caught in its brutal net.
7. Giant Hearth
Set: Unified Minds
Once per turn, Hearth lets each player discard any card from their hand to tutor add Fire energy from their deck to their hand. This is similar to Scorched Earth, but with only one matching type, it's less useful to opponents. And since you can discard any card (energy or otherwise), you're never locked out of the effect.
Remember, many Fire Pokémon detach energy to increase attack power; Hearth provides consistent fuel for maximum damage.
6. Chaos Gym
Set: Gym Challenge
This classic arena has players flip a coin whenever they play a non-Stadium Trainer card; if heads, the effect proceeds as normal. But if tails, not only does the player lose their card, their opponent can use it (they still need to pay any costs involved).
Sure, this depends on chance, but it's brutal when your opponent fails the coin flip, simultaneously denying them a card while stealing it yourself. Like with Plaza, build around the effect by either running few Trainer cards or simply playing as many as possible before activating Chaos.
5. Black Market ♢
Set: Team Up
Cards like Black Market with the prism symbol (♢) can only have one copy in your deck, and they're sent to the Lost Zone (removed from play) if they would be discarded. However, to compensate, prism stadiums are unaffected by items and supporters, making them especially tricky to remove, and offer incredible power.
In this case, whenever a Dark Pokémon faints from damage caused by an opponent's attack, that opponent takes one fewer prize card. This means that as long as you control Black Market, your regular Dark allies can perish as much as needed without you losing, and your GX and EX warriors become less risky. But it doesn't work if you faint from burn, confusion, or poison damage, only actual attacks.
4. Wondrous Labyrinth ♢
Set: Team Up
Like other prism cards, you can only have one Labyrinth in your deck, but it's immune to the effects of items and supporters. Labyrinth increases the cost of attacks from non-Fairy types by one colorless energy.
In Fairy decks, you'll avoid the penalty while severely crippling opponents, and it's especially ruthless alongside energy-removing attacks or support cards.
3. Thunder Mountain ♢
Set: Lost Thunder
Thunder Mountain is Electric's version of Dimension Valley, reducing the cost of Electric attacks, but as a prism card, it's better shielded against removal. Plus, this time the price decreases by an Electric energy, not just a colorless, a superior discount that satisfies Electric slots and lets you better utilize special cards like Double Colorless Energy.
2. Life Forest ♢
Set: Lost Thunder
Grass specializes in healing, with perhaps its best example being Life Forest. Once per turn, Forest lets a player heal 60 damage from one of their Grass Pokémon and remove any special conditions it had.
Sure, this only targets one unit at a time, but 60 health plus status removal is an outstanding recovery that really increases longevity. While it's often best to tend to your active Pokémon, you can choose benched allies when desired.
1. Heat Factory ♢
Set: Lost Thunder
Heat Factory functions like an upgraded Giant Hearth, letting both players discard a Fire energy once per turn to draw three cards. That's an incredible amount of card advantage, increasing your overall hand size by two with each trigger. Between your natural draw per turn and Factory's three bonus draws, you're practically guaranteed to have excess energy to activate the ability each turn.
A staple in my own Fire decks, Factory is surprisingly cheap for such a competitive stadium, costing less than two dollars!
Using Stadiums in the TCG
Stadium cards are undoubtedly powerful tools for your deck, but think carefully about when to use them. For example, if you go first, sometimes it's better to save a stadium for your next turn to prevent your opponent from removing it if they play one on their first move.
While you can only play one stadium per turn, you can benefit from multiple in the same round; you could use a previously-activated Giant Hearth, then discard it to play Heat Factory ♢ and trigger its effect. But for now, as we await Nintendo's next set of stadiums, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill