Pokemon TCG


Pokémon TCG - Expanded Format's Banlist Explained

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Follow the list of cards banned from the Expanded format updated until 2023, and learn all about the reasons they are on this list, stories from the past about the WOTC era and other curiosities!

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translated by Romeu

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revised by Tabata Marques

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Today we're going to address a very curious subject that many people who play Expanded ask themselves: the banning of some cards within the format - “why are they banned?”; “What are the consequences of them remaining in the format?”.

Considering this, I will show what these cards are, the reasons that led to the ban, and its consequences.

Why were these Pokémon cards banned?


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Coming from the Black/White: Noble Victories block, Archeops has the ability Ancient Power, where each player cannot evolve their Pokémon from their hand into any in play.


Basically, it is a very unfair Control, as it should be noted that in Black/White, the use of evolutions in competitive decks was still strong. Mainly for those who had cards from the end of the block Heart Gold/Soul Silver with Prime cards and even with decks of Black/White evolutions, with Empoleon DEX 29 being one of the most famous.

Use Ditto Prism Star to your advantage

Another quick way to make it evolve is using the ability of Ditto ◇ LOT 154, Almighty Evolution, where you can put a stage 1 Pokémon in your hand for this Pokémon to evolve.

But wouldn't Archeops be stage 2 as it's considered to be in newer sets like Archeops SIT 147?

In the past, prehistoric Pokémon were considered to be "restored", as in the description of Archen NVI 66 in the upper-left corner of the card, and you can read that in Archeops NVI 67 it is considered "stage 1" .

The problem could be further compounded with Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick PRC 133, which I will mention further below.

Is the shiny version legal?

This ban not only applies to this card with this number, but also to its reprint in its shiny form, the Archeops DEX 110.


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Flabébé enters with its Evolutionary Advantage ability: if this Pokémon is the second to play in the first turn, it can evolve.

Seemingly harmless, right? Until you get to know the evolutionary line of this Pokémon, which are Floette CEC 151 and Florges CEC 152.

1) Floette CEC 151 has the ability Flower Picking, which if it is evolved from your hand directly from Flabébé, you choose a random card from your opponent's hand, and they that card back into their deck.

Its final evolution, Florges CEC 152, has the ability Flower Picking, which if it is evolved from your hand directly from Floette, you choose two random cards from your opponent's hand, and they reshuffle them into the deck.

Apparently docile, right? Wrong! Some control cards were strong at the time, such as Red Card XY 124 and Jessie & James HIF 58, and were the strongest drivers of this decision. Because:

1) The vast majority of previous Floette cards were average, and the only one that actually had the ability was Floette FLF 64 from X/Y: Flashfire, which only granted 20 more HP for Grass-type Pokémon.

2) The same goes for its final evolution, Florges, which had fair cards in the format.

What was the aggravating factor?

Looking back on the timeline of the events of Sun/Moon, before Cosmic Eclipselink outside website was released, there was the last special collection of the block, Hidden Fateslink outside website, where they released the card Jessie & James HIF 58, which has the effect of discarding two cards from each player's hand, but the opponent starts first.

Now suppose you're playing this in Expanded format, and you play Red Card XY 124 in the first few turns, and the opponent shuffles their hand into the deck and draws only 4 cards. From this, you already have the advantage.


You then play Jessie & James HIF 58 with your opponent with only 4 cards in hand and already lose two in the process. And then, in a very favorable situation on your first turn, on your second turn, you evolve Flabébé to Floette and activate its ability, shuffling a card from their hand into the deck, and then evolving it to Florges and activating its ability again and the opponent shuffling two cards from the hand into the deck, again on the other turn. It's pretty cruel, isn't it?

We also have Delinquent BKP 98, in which you can discard a Stadium-type Trainer card in play, and your opponent discards 3 cards from their hand.

Therefore, a ban was needed.


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Marshadow enters with its ability Let Loose: if this Pokémon is played from your hand to your Bench, you and your opponent shuffle your hands and each draw 4 cards.

But what was the aggravating factor?

The mere existence of Scoop Up Net RCL 165.

With the effect of being able to return a Pokémon that is not GX or V, it exempts from EX, ex and “baby” Pokémon in general, making a vicious cycle without having to spend Judge FLI 108 as Trainer Card Supporter of the turn. Not to mention that it can be combined with Red Card XY 124 to affect the opponent later.

The ban also applies to the promo version, Marshadow PR-SM SM85.


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Coming from the block of X/Y: Flashfire, it enters with its ability Energy Grace: this Pokémon can be KOed at any time, and if you use this ability's effect, you can take up to 3 basic Energy from the discard pile and attach to one of your Pokémon in any way you like (except EX-type Pokémon).

Milotic was especially useful for the Pokémon Naganadel & Guzzlord-GX CEC 158 for its exotic energy cost of (P)(D)(C) in its attack Jet Pierce; and Gengar & Mimikyu-GX TEU 53 with a two-psychic energy acceleration for its Poltergeist attack or GX attack Horror House. There was also Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX PR-SM SM217 with the cost of three Psychic Energy for its Night Watch attack; and with the most famous at the time, the Moltres & Zapdos & Articuno-GX HIF 44 due to the tribute of (F)(W)(L)(C) from Trinity Burn.

In short, it couldn't be used in Pokémon EX, but it could be used in Pokémon GX and Pokémon V.

But what are its consequences in this regard?

Simple: Milotic's ability description says that it is KO'd to power up, and even if the opponent takes a prize card for that, there are other Trainers cards that can control the opponent's hand, such as:

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So in this kind of scenario, let's imagine a psychic control deck like Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX PR-SM SM217 where you can play any of these Trainers on the same turn:

1) You played Milotic.

2) Use the Lt. Surge's Strategy UNB 178.

3) In these 3 Supporter options, one can make another control play with another Supporter like Team Flare Grunt GEN 73 to discard Energy from the opponent's Active Pokémon and still play Ace Trainer AOR 69 to reduce your opponent's hand to 3 cards.


4) And then, with its attack, Night Watch deals 150 damage, and they choose two cards from the opponent's hand at random. These cards are shuffled back into the deck - leaving the opponent with only one card left in play.

So, how would the opponent fight back or get a response in the next few turns?


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Mismagius has the ability called Mysterious Message: this Pokémon can fulfill the draw power effect by drawing until you have seven cards in hand, and if it does, this Pokémon is Knocked Out.

This was one of the cases in which the card was banned within Standard itself, due to the extreme acceleration of draws it had, in Ultra Beast decks (mainly with Naganadel & Guzzlord-GX CEC 158).

To accelerate its evolution, it has the use of the Trainer Item card Dusk Stone UNB 167 that already breaks the evolution rule, making it explode with its ability, and with at least three Mismagius activating it, you used Beast Ring FLI 102, which if your opponent had 3 or 4 Prize cards left, you could take two Basic Energy and attach them to one of your Ultra Beast-type Pokémon. This made Naganadel & Guzzlord-GX CEC 158 strong due to its 180 damage plus its GX attack that drew two prize cards.

So, if in the Standard format, it caused this chaos, imagine the possibilities in Expanded. Even more so with hand control cards like Reset Stamp UNM 206, Ace Trainer AOR 69, N FCO 105, Roxanne ASR 150.


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Sableye has the attack Junk Hunt: If this Pokémon has a Dark Energy, it can recover up to two Item-type Trainer cards from the discard pile and put it into your hand.

At the time there was Item Finder BS 74 (which was later reprinted as Junk Arm TM 87) which was practically the basis for this attack, only the difference is that these old versions needed to discard two cards from their hand to do the effect and take only one Trainer card from the discard pile, which would later become the ACE SPEC we know, Dowsing Machine PLS 128.

But leaving the story a little, comes the Sableye's differential: it takes only Item type cards, and it and played a lot at the time to rescue Dark Patch DEX 93, which synergized with Darkrai-EX DEX 63. It was also useful for rescuing any Item in general, being able to enter any deck.


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Coming from the Sun & Moon: Ultraprism block, Oranguru has the Resource Management attack, which can cycle up to three cards from the discard pile to the bottom of your deck.

This is one of the favorite cards for control decks that predominated for years in Standard and Expanded, and that caused countless headaches, even more so when managing cards that could discard opponent's resources like Crushing Hammer GEN 60 and even the Trick Shovel FLF 98. The most common is the use of Bellelba & Brycen-Man CEC 186 in these combos, not to mention it could do co-op combos with the first attack of Excadrill UNM 119, which cycles 4 cards back to the deck.


And with Oranguru UPR 114 and Sableye DEX 62 together in the control archetype, that's where the big problem with the attacks of both of them in recovering resources and being in an almost infinite recycling, which led to their ban, both in 2021.


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From the block of Sun/Moon: Lost Thunder, they come in due to their abilities:

1) Unown LOT 91 with the HAND ability means that if your hand has a total of 35 cards in possession, the game is automatically won.


2) Unown LOT 90 with the DAMAGE ability means that if all your Pokémon have 66 damage counters added together, you win the game automatically.

Example of this on video:


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Shaymin-EX is well remembered by players from the Black & White era because of its six-card draw power ability, similar to Crobat V DAA 104.

The problem is precisely because of the emergence of Scoop Up Net RCL 165, which, as I explained above: it collects the Pokémon in the game that are not GX or V, and as Shaymin is EX, it can circumvent this restriction, which led “One Hit Kill Turbo” decks to abuse it.

These are decks that consist of spending the entire deck to deliver a definitive blow to destroy your active Pokémon, using PlusPower BLW 96 with Recycle EPO 96, Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123, among others, with their attacks. These are usually Marshadow-GX BUS 80, Pheromosa-GX PR-SM SM66 and Latios-EX ROS 58.

In short, the banning of Shaymin-EX ROS 77 was due to the strength of Scoop Up Net RCL 165 for a steady stream of draw.

Why were these Trainer cards banned?

Banned Supporters


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Its effect is simple: the opponent reveals their hand and shuffles all Item-type Trainer cards there into their deck.

This at the time of the X/Y block and going into Sun/Moon was strong. In the first round, on the first player's first turn, they could also play Supporter cards (which was changed in Sword/Shield), and in that, whoever started first could get a Jirachi-EX PLB 60 or Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60 to activate its search ability of a Supporter card, and search for Ghetsis PLF 101 and sabotage the opponent's game.

Lysandre's Trump Card

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The card's effect is: each player shuffles all cards from the discard pile into the deck (except Lysandre's Trump Card).

This removes the win condition from the game by "deck out", which is one of the ways the game takes -- and in more annoying cases, if the player's deck has VS Seeker PHF 109, it can become an endless loop.

The only Pokémon that does the same effect is Celebi & Venusaur-GX TEU 1 with its GX attack, but only with its deck (which is fairer).

But does this apply to the Full Art version?

Yes! This also applies to any Lysandre's Trump Card PHF 118, regardless of artwork.


Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick

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The effect is simple: if you have that card in your hand, as the only one left, you can play it. If you do, you take a fighter-type Pokémon from the discard pile (it doesn't matter if it's basic or evolution) and put it on your bench, then draw 5 cards.

Then there's a problem: remember what I mentioned Archeops NVI 67 with the ability Ancient Power, where each player will not be able to evolve their Pokémon from their hand to one in play? Yeah... and that's precisely why this card gains strength.

But what are the other ways of using the card?

Just as this Pokémon became a good form of control, in the Sun/Moon block came more fossil Pokémon that also maintained this form of strategy:

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1) If Omastar TEU 76 is in play, it uses the ability Fossil Bind: if you have fewer Pokémon in play than your opponent, they can't play Item-Type Trainer cards from your hand - an “Item Lock”.

2) If Kabutops TEU 78 is in play, it uses its Ability Fossilized Memories: If this Pokémon is Active, your opponent can't play any Trainer Supporter-type cards.

Basically, you have:

- Archeops NVI 67 that doesn't let them evolve their Pokémon.

- Omastar TEU 76 which won't let them play Items if there are less Pokémon in your game.

- Kabutops TEU 78 that won't let them play Supporters.

Then, with some cards to "hold" the game and stall the opponent like Lillie's Poké Doll CEC 197 or Robo Substitute Team Flare Gear PHF 102 to perform their functions so that they prepare the Pokémon Research Lab UNM 205 to streamline the evolutions of fossils and their bases, and even with Steven's Resolve CES 145 to look for the Rare Candy PGO 69 and its evolutions, your deck is controlled.

What about the Full Art version?

The ban also applies to the Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick PRC 158 card, regardless of art.

Jessie & James

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Each player discards two cards from their hand, and the opponent starts with discards first.

In the Sun/Moon era, you could play Supporter cards as the first player on your first turn, and with control decks, that was perfect. (Later, that rule changed).

Not to mention that there were combos with this card, like Weezing HIF 29 that with its ability Surrender Now that if it was tributed in the discards during the effect of Jessie & James, the opponent discarded one more card from their hand.

There was a warning during the Standard format when Cosmic Eclipse was released. This card had its ban, and of course, it could amend with other combos from other supporters, such as Lt. Surge's Strategy UNB 178, which in a hypothetical situation, could use three supporters at the same time: Jessie & James HIF 58 and Delinquent BKP 98 to destroy the opponent's hand.

What about the Full Art version?

The ban also applies to the Jessie & James HIF 68 card, regardless of art.


Lt. Surge's Strategy

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And speaking of the potential of the card above with multiple uses of Supporters, let's understand how it works: if you have more prize cards than the opponent, you can play three Supporter cards in the same turn (counting Lt. Surge's Strategy).

With that, the sky's the limit for this card's benefit, with the types of Supporters it can make in a turn.

In a situation where you have Lt. Surge's Strategy UNB 178, Welder UNB 189 and Boss's Orders RCL 154: You activate Lt. Surge's Strategy to use Welder to power up some Pokémon with two Fire Energy from your hand and still draw 3 cards from the top of the deck, and then end the game by pulling an opponent's Benched Pokémon to be targeted.

However, imagine if the deck has Magnezone PLS 46 with its ability Dual Brains, where you can play two Supporter cards at the same time? Therefore, you can use two Lt. Surge's Strategy UNB 178 and still have four more Supporters to use on the same turn!

The reason for being a strong card is precisely because of the abuse of Pokémon that can self-sacrifice to activate the card, such as Magneton CEC 69, Milotic FLF 23, Mismagius UNB 78 and Electrode-GX CES 48.

Hex Maniac

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Its effect is simple: until the end of your opponent's turn, all the Pokémon (both players') that are in play, in their hand, or in the discard pile, have no more abilities.

Hex Maniac bogged down many decks like Trevenant XY 55, which was a strong control on the X/Y block.


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As already mentioned above, it has the effect of discarding a stadium in play and then discarding three cards from the opponent's hand.

With the effects of control decks that wipe out the opponent's hand, such as the Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX PR-SM SM217 deck, it is an example that it would be too powerful.

And it could get worse if, for example, you set up a combo of Lt. Surge's Strategy UNB 178, Jessie & James HIF 58 and Delinquent BKP 98. There would be no more game for the opponent (this is one of several hypotheses that can happen in the game).

Are the variants considered banned?

Yes, the same goes for the cards Delinquent BKP 98a and Delinquent BKP 98b.

Banned Tools

Island Challenge Amulet

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Island Challenge Amulet causes the Pokémon GX or EX that has this tool attached to have a 100 HP reduction and if it is Knocked Out, the opponent takes one less Prize card.

Let's exemplify:

- If you're facing a Pokémon-EX like Mewtwo-EX NXD 98, with 170 HP, it has 70, but when knocked out, the opponent, instead of drawing two prize cards, will only draw one.

- If you are facing a Pokémon-GX, assuming a Tag Team, such as Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX CEC 156, with 280 HP, it only has 180 HP, and if it is knocked out, the opponent will draw two prize cards instead of three.

Does it also apply to the Gold Full Art version?


Yes! The card Island Challenge Amulet CEC 265 is also banned, regardless of the art.

Banned Items

Reset Stamp

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Reset Stamp causes the opponent to shuffle the cards in their hand and draw the equivalent of the amount of prize cards they took.

If you feel that N FCO 105, Ace Trainer AOR 69 or Roxanne ASR 150 are too strong, feel grateful for these Supporters, which can only be used once per turn. Unlike this Item that could be used as many times as you want!

Remembering that it only lasted at the time of the Standard format, in the Sun/Moon phase when it was released in Unbroken Bonds and the Pokémon Company already realized the damage it would cause in the Expanded format, banning it soon.

Is the Gold Full Art version banned?

Yes! Reset Stamp UNM 253 is also banned, regardless of artwork.

Red Card

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Red Card makes your opponent shuffle their hand into the deck and then draw only 4 cards.

It's basically a Judge FLI 108 that only affects the opponent and still being an Item card, that is, using it as many times as you want. You can already see the damage.

Chip-Chip Ice Axe

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Chip-Chip Ice Axe basically looks at the top 3 cards of your opponent's deck, and then chooses one of them. The opponent shuffles these two cards back into the deck, and then that chosen card is placed on top.

And what is the danger of this? Do you know about Durant NVI 83 and Durant BST 10 decks that make discards from the top? Now, your discard precision will be even more effective, without the randomness factor, and it even makes the situation worse if those Durant have Cursed Shovel RCL 157 equipped with them.

Puzzle of Time

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Banned in 2019, it is an Item that effects either solo or combined with another card, which are:

1) If you play only one of these cards, you look at the top 3 cards of your deck and arrange them however you like.

2) If you play two Puzzle of Time, you can take any two cards from the discard pile and put them in your hand.

Because its second effect is extremely strong, both for resource recovery like a Special Charge STS 105, even a VS Seeker PHF 109 and beyond, even reusing ACE SPEC like the Computer Search BCR 137 and Dowsing Machine PLS 128, ended up being banned.

Banned Stadiums

Forest of Giant Plants

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If Forest of Giant Plants is on the field, both players who have their grass Pokémon can already evolve them as early as the first turn they put that Pokémon into play on their turn.

Seemingly innocent, an evolution accelerator, right? Wrong! Because there are two Pokémon that favor each other: Vileplume BUS 6 which with its ability, if it is the active Pokémon, does not receive damage from basic Pokémon; the Vileplume AOR 3, which prevents the opponent from playing any type of Item-type Trainer cards, even if that Vileplume is on the bench.


This stadium had already been banned for a long time due to the potential for evolution with some grass Pokémon that could cause problems, which was the case with Shiftry NXD 72 due to its ability Giant Fan, where it evolved from Nuzleaf that turn, you flip the coin, and when heads, you choose an opponent's Pokémon, and that Pokémon and all cards attached to it are shuffled back into the deck.

The peculiar case of Blaine's Quiz Show

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During the 2019 Pokémon Worlds event, there was a controversy surrounding this card: it was banned because of its effect, which makes a player take another card from their hand, placing it face down and speaking to their opponent any of those attacks from that Pokémon; and after that, your opponent should guess which Pokémon was based on the described attack. If they hit, they will draw four cards, but if they miss, you will draw that amount for yourself.

The problem came from the issue of language differences between Pokémon attacks in different countries, problems that the player Stéphane Ivanoff complained to the organization of the event as soon as he noticed that this would be a snowball.

As an argument, he mentioned Pokémon Lillipup and Gliscor, which have the same attack, the so-called "Collect", but which have different spellings in the English and French translations; which would force the player to speak and know different languages and would require the presence of a translator in all matches of the tournament, creating yet another bureaucracy between referees and those involved in the process.

With that, the card can be used informally in other competitions, but within the Worlds, at least, it is practically “banned”.

Championship award Cards: careful notes

"But Rodrigo, they are legal, there's no reason for them to be considered as banned cards!"

Yes, indeed and I entirely agree. However, the problem in this case is that they are not necessarily banned, but they are won in elite championships, that is, in the Pokémon Worlds, in specific positions, and generally these cards are too expensive, and not everyone can have access. This in a way, quotes, would make them invalid for the game, especially those from first, second and third place rankings, such as Victory Medal and Victory Cup.

Within the early days of the TCG, at the time of Neo, we had this prize card, for example, and of course, in addition to being Japanese (which cannot be used in Western tournaments), it is a prize card that even in Japan cannot be used, and we're talking about Secret Super Battle No.1 (aka No.1 Trainer).

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Champion’s League: 2005 & 2007

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Championship Arena

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Victory Medal

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Victory Cup

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Tropical Wind

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Tropical Tidal Wave

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Tropical Beach

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This card has the same effect built into Snorlax VIV 131, making the card more accessible to the public, and cheaper.

Champions Festival

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Note again: they are not banned, but due to the rarity and difficulty of finding them and that few have access to these cards, it is practically impossible to see them in game. So, it's not uncommon, but they're not totally unplayable.

Trainers unbanned: Wally and Lusamine

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On February 4, 2021, The Pokémon Company decided to revoke these two cards back to the Expanded format, as Lt. Surge's Strategy UNB 178 is banned, they have lost their brute force resource acceleration.

Cards banned during the Wizards of the Coast era


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Straight from the Neo Genesis expansion, Sneasel had his second attack, Beat Up, for two dark energies, which at the time were considered special energies that did 10 more damage against the opponent's Active Pokémon, in which they played the coin for each Pokémon in play, that being 20 times the damage.

He was banned because of his "power level" which was above common in that format, even more so because he could easily deal 240 damage plus 20 damage with dark energies, giving a total of 260 of damage!

Furthermore, Dark Pokémon at the time had no weakness and still had no retreat cost.


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Also from Neo Genesis, Slowking had the ability Mind Games, in which if the opponent tries to play a Trainer card, they flip a coin: if tails, that Trainer has no effect, and it is returned to the top of the player's deck. same (this ability cannot be activated if the Slowking is asleep, confused or paralyzed).

He was banned because of his control effect and also because of something curious that happened because of the bad translation from the eastern version to the western one.

Given the very important omission of the part in emphasizing that Slowking needed to be the active Pokémon, there was this confusion and the banning.

Imakuni? Doduo

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For those unfamiliar with Imakuni, he is a well-renowned artist in Japan, having a series of Pokémon cards in his honor.

And on one of those cards, there's this Doduo with the ability Poké Power (as it was called at the time), it was something very exotic to be taken seriously, as you had to do the following:

”When this Doduo retreats, hold this card and play it as hard as you can because Doduo is fleeing. Throw the card horizontally with a snap to get the most distance!”

Literally, you're damaging the card like it's some sort of X-Men's "Gambit". It's inconceivable to do that kind of attitude in the TCG, even more so in the competitive scene.

And this can get even worse with your attack:

”From the moment you use this attack, you must start singing a song. (While the song is being sung, the game continues.) When the song ends, this attack does 30 damage.”

Let your imagination be free to imagine the most hilarious situations that can come out of it. Obviously, the card is banned.

Birthday's Pikachu

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As a promotional card from CoroCoro in Japan and then came to the west, and later with a reprint in Sword/Shield: Celebration with _____'s Pikachu CEL 24, in celebration of the franchise's 25th anniversary, ”Birthday's Pikachu” has its attack: if the birthday kid is playing this card on that day of their birthday, this Pikachu can hit 30 + 50 damage if it hit heads, but if it's tails, it does 30 damage to the Pokémon. And if you declare the attack outside your birthday, it's only 30 damage.

Well, the problem is that many children lied about their birthday to make the attack stronger, so to avoid these problems, this Pikachu was banned.

Ancient Mew

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Featured in the movie Pokémon the Movie 2000, the villain Lawrence III (Jirudian or Gelarden, in Japan), in the wreckage of his ship, picks up his card on the ground, which was precisely this Ancient Mew, and moments before the film, when he welcomes Ash, Tracey, Misty and Melody as prisoners, along with Zapdos in the recent capture, Misty asks what kind of man he was to treat such Pokémon that way, and he mentions that he started this obsession through a card from Mew. That same card.

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The card itself to be acquired was guaranteed only in the first week of the release of the film, in the United States, and then in the following weeks, promos of the Kanto birds were given. In Japan, they were distributed in flyers with a ticket to see the film on July 17, 1999.

However, to find the translation parts of the card's hieroglyphs, it was necessary to have the 1999 CoroCoro (a famous magazine in Japan).

In short, his Psyche attack cost two psychic energies to deal 40 damage.

And as it is a more decorative card, it is not legal for tournaments.


What did you think of the information? Did you know some reasons for bans and why? Feel free and comment below.


Until next time!