WOTC-20 Pokemon Format Rules

Welcome to WOTC-20, a format for the Pokémon Trading Card Game designed and curated by players at gamesIRL! Wizards of the Coast (WOTC) produced the Pokémon TCG from 1998 to 2003, and WOTC-20 uses only cards from that era, with a limit of 20 Trainer cards per deck. Now you can play with cards from the original sets of Pokémon in a nostalgiac and skill-intensive format!

Please join our discussion group on Facebook: WOTC-20 Pokémon Center to share decklists, discuss the rules, and stay up to date on what's new!


Format Rules & Basics
  • Decks must be exactly 60 cards, and contain a maximum of 20 total Trainer cards.
  • Before starting a match, decide if coins will be used. By default, actual coins are used for all coin flips. If either player objects, dice are used for the entire match. Evens are heads, odds are tails.
  • When a player takes a mulligan, their opponent may draw up to one extra card per mulligan before setting up benched Pokémon.
  • EFFECTIVE 12/17/2020 In addition to normal mulligans, players may each take up to one additional mulligan even if their hand contains one or more basic pokémon. They still reveal their hand and their opponent still may draw up to one card for this mulligan.
  • During each players' first turn of the game, they draw a card at the start of the turn, may play any number of Trainer cards including one Supporter, and may attack. Players may not evolve any of their Pokémon on their first turn.
  • Supporter is a subtype of Trainer. Therefore, all Supporter cards are also Trainer cards. Supporters remain next to the active Pokémon until the end of the turn, when they are discarded.
  • Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies are subtypes of Pokémon Powers. Pokémon Powers which list “Special Conditions” that make them stop working and all Poké-Powers use the Conditions errata below. This makes older Pokémon Powers susceptible to Burn, and newer Poké-Powers immune to Poison.
  • Cards released only in Japanese are not legal, unless it is a functional reprint of an English card. Translations will be provided by a tournament official if needed.
  • Playing with reprints from after Skyridge is not advised, as the wording of these cards may not reflect their correct functionality.
  • There are no “official” rules for a Base Set – Skyridge format. The historic rulings from both Wizards and the Japanese organizers will be used as a starting point, but we will deviate from those rulings to create a better unified format. The head judge of a any event has final say in the event of a ruling issue or tournament procedure issue.
  • This format is designed to be fun and competitive, and all decisions will reflect this philosophy. Discussion of the rules is encouraged, and this page will be updated as the format evolves.

Legal Expansions
  • Base Set
  • Jungle
  • Fossil
  • Base Set 2
  • Team Rocket
  • Gym Heroes
  • Gym Challenge
  • Neo Genesis
  • Neo Discovery
  • Neo Revelation
  • Neo Destiny
  • Legendary Collection
  • Southern Islands
  • Expedition
  • Aquapolis
  • Skyridge
  • Wizards Best Promos
  • Wizards Black Star Promos #1 - #53

Banned Cards
  • Lass (Base Set 75, Base Set Two 104)
    Lass defined and warped formats where it was permitted. This card is excluded to prevent lopsided early turns that lead to non-games.
  • Super Energy Removal (Base Set 79, Base Set Two 108)
    The efficiency of Super Energy Removal kept a large number of strategies out of early formats.
  • Psyduck (Fossil 53, Wizards Promo 20)
    Simalar to Lass, being locked out playing the game by Psyduck’s attack can be a real headache.
  • Chaos Gym (Gym Challenge 102)
    This card leads to an undesirable amount of variance. Games where it is in play aren’t determined by skill.
  • Sneasel (Neo Genesis 25)
    The only card Wizards ever banned, and for good reason. The perfect storm of free retreat, a good resistance, amazing attacks, and natural synergies make this Pokémon an easy exclusion.

  • Ancient Mew (Misc. Promo)
    This card wasn’t designed for tournament play to begin with.

WOTC-20 Card Errata
  • EFFECTIVE 10/14/2020 Magby (Neo Genesis 23) Balance Errata.
    Sputter will now read: “Until the end of your next turn, ignore all Pokemon Powers that were not being ignored when you used this attack. (Pokemon Powers already being ignored come back, and Pokemon Powers of new cards will take effect.)”
  • EFFECTIVE 10/14/2020 Goop Gas Attack (Team Rocket 78) Balance Errata.
    Goop Gas Attack will now read: “Until the end of your next turn, ignore all Pokemon Powers that were not being ignored when you played this card. (Pokemon Powers already being ignored come back, and Pokemon Powers of new cards will take effect.)”
  • Grimer (Team Rocket 57) Translation error.
    Poison Gas applies poison to the defending pokémon, not sleep.
  • Metal Energy (Neo Genesis 19, Aquapolis 143) Templating update.
    Metal Energy only reduces the damage from attacks (as written on the Expedition printing.)
  • Darkness Energy (Expedition158) Translation error.
    Damage from the Pokémon Darkness Energy is attached to only adds damage to the defending Pokémon.
  • •Scizor (Neo Discovery 29) Translation Error.
    Scizor's attack should read: "Flip 2 coins. This attack does 20 damage plus 20 more damage times the number of heads."
  • •Mew (Promo 47) Translation Error.
    On a heads, Psycock should Paralyze the defending pokémon, not confuse it.
  • •Clefairy (Base Set 5, Base Set Two 6) & Clefable (Jungle 1, Jungle 17, Base Set Two 5) Translation Error.
    Metronome only ignores the copied attack's energy cost. You must still do anything else required to use the attack, such as discarding energy cards.
  • •Giovanni's Pinsir (Gym Challenge 24) Translation error.
    Snapping Pincirs adds 20 damage on a heads, not 10.
  • “The Condition Errata” (Various Cards) Templating update.
    All Pokémon Powers and Poké-Powers that list “Special Conditions” which make them stop working now read: "This power stops working and cannot be activated while [This Pokémon] is Asleep, Burned, Confused, or Paralyzed." Additionally, if an effect from an Attack, Pokémon Power, or Trainer lists all of the original Special Conditions (Confusion, Sleep, Paralysis, and Poisoning) it now also lists Burn.
  • Slowking (Neo Genesis 14) Translation error.
    Mind Games should read: "Whenever your opponent plays a Trainer card, if Slowking is your active Pokémon, you may flip a coin. If heads, that card does nothing. Put it on top of your opponent’s deck. This power stops working while Slowking is Asleep, Burned, Confused, or Paralyzed."
  • Blaine’s Charizard (Gym Challenge 2) Translation error.
    Roaring Flames should read: "Discard all Fire Energy cards not used to pay for this attack’s Energy cost. This attack does 20 damage plus 20 more damage for each Fire Energy card discarded this way."
  • Dark Vileplume (Team Rocket 30) Misprinted card.
    Dark Vileplume has a weakness to Fire, not Fighting.
  • Umbreon (Neo Discovery 13), Murkrow (Neo Genesis 24), and Houndour (Aquapolis 87) Templating update.
    Feint Attack’s last sentence should read: "This attack’s damage isn’t affected by Weakness, Resistance, Pokémon Powers, or any other effects printed on the chosen Pokémon."
  • Unown D, Unown M, and Unown N (Neo Discovery 47, 49, 50) Translation error.
    These Unown’s Pokémon Powers should only reduce damage done to your Pokémon with Unown in their name.
  • Raichu (Skyridge 27, Skyridge H25) Templating update.
    Zzzap shoud read: This attack does 20 damage to each Pokémon with a Pokémon Power (yours and your opponent’s). Don’t apply Weakness or Resistance.
  • Dark Golbat (Team Rocket 7, Team Rocket 24) Templating update.
    Sneak Attack does not apply weakness and resistance.
  • Umbreon (Skyridge 32, Skyridge H30) Templating update.
    Dark Gaze should read: As long as Umbreon is your Active Pokémon, each player can’t use any Poké-Powers of benched Pokémon or choose to activate any Pokémon Powers of benched Pokémon.
  • Houndoom (Aquapolis 15, Aquapolis H11) Templating update.
    Dark Impact shoud read: Your opponent can’t use any Poké-Powers of the defending Pokémon or choose to activate any Pokémon Powers of the defending Pokémon until the end of that player’s next turn.
  • Aerodactyl (Skyridge 1) Templating update.
    Ancient Wind should read: Once during your turn (before your attack), if Aerodactyl is your Active Pokémon, you may ignore all Pokémon Powers that don’t require an activation to use until the end of your turn. (This includes all Poké-Bodies.) This power can’t be used if Aerodactyl is Asleep, Burned, Confused, or Paralyzed.

  • PKMNcards search engine PKMNcards is a must-use card database for deckbuilding and card info. The “Sets” tab is also great for getting a top-down look at any of the WOTC-20 sets listed above.
  • Jason Klaczynski's Blog 3-time World Champion Jason Klaczynski outlines the early years of competitive Pokémon. This blog include amazing documentation on the early formats, and is a great springboard for decklists and metagame knowledge.
  • The Rules Compendium Last updated in 2003, this is a time capsule that chronicles the rulings doled out by Wizards of the Coast, and was used for years as the de-facto guide for sanctioned tournaments.