15 Pokémon Cards That Had To Be Banned Before They Broke The Game

The Pokémon video games have had a ban list for their competitive tournaments since the beginning. The likes of Mewtwo, Mew, and the three Legendary Birds have not been allowed in most official matches due to the clear advantages they hold over their brethren in terms of statistics.

Each new generation of Pokémon games has brought a new crop of Legendary Pokémon that are all sent straight to the ban list.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game has fared a lot better in this regard, as very few cards have ever been officially banned in tournaments. There have been a few incidents, though, that have forced the hands of the creators of the game and made them force an edict that required certain cards to be banned in official tournaments.

We are here today to look at the cards from the Pokémon Trading Card Game that were banned from competitive play for being too strong, too versatile, or just being too weird.

From the Pikachu who requires a passport to the leader of Team Flare who will keep the match going on forever, here are the 15 Pokémon Cards That Had To Be Banned Before They Broke The Game!

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15 ____'s Pikachu

Pikachu has probably appeared on more Pokémon Trading Card Game cards than any other character in the series. It's fitting, then, that one of the cards that is universally banned in every format should bear the yellow mascot himself.

The card ___'s Pikachu has been banned almost since the day it was released. The reason for this is due to how hard it is to regulate its effect in an official match.

The reason the card is called ___'s Pikachu is that the player is supposed to write their name in the blank space. The "Birthday Surprise" attack deal more damage if it's the player's birthday.

The card is banned because no one wanted to have to deal with regulating the birthday aspect of the card. It would mean requiring the player to bring separate documentation (such as a passport or driver's license) in order to prove whether it was their birthday or not.

14 Forest Of Giant Plants

One of the main rules of the Pokémon Trading Card Game involves evolution. A Pokémon cannot evolve on the turn it is played unless you use a specific card that bypasses this rule, such as Wally. It can evolve on the following turn if you have the Pokémon's next form in your hand and can evolve again the following turn if you have its stage 2 evolution card.

Forest of Giant Plants was a dangerous card due to the sheer amount of power it offered to Grass-type decks. Forest of Giant Plants is a Stadium card (which means it stays on the field) and it offers the ability for all Grass-type Pokémon to be able to evolve on the turn that they are summoned.

The reason Forest of Giant Plants was banned was due to the speed at which it allowed more powerful Grass-type Pokémon to enter the field. You could get a powerful stage 2 evolution on the field on your second turn, which would give an advantage that your opponent couldn't come back from.

13 Ninja Boy

A lot of fans speculated that the Ninja Boy card would be placed on the ban list. It allows you to swap one Basic Pokémon you have in play with another one in your deck.

The new Pokémon will have all of the Damage Counters of the previous card, as well as all of its Energy and equipped Trainer cards. Ninja Boy allowed you to power up a weak creature on your bench by putting lots of Energy onto it and then switching it out for a powerful Basic Pokémon.

Ninja Boy wasn't banned in the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Instead, it was banned in Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. This is an online version of the game that can be played on most PCs.

It was banned for several weeks due to a glitch that allowed the new Pokémon to keep the benefits of some of the effects of the previous Pokémon that was switched out.

12 Ancient Mew

A lot of the card games that hold official tournaments (such as Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh!) will allow you to use foreign language versions of the cards. It can sometimes be cheaper to buy the French, Italian, or Japanese version of the card you want and pay for the postage and packaging than it is to buy an English copy.

The Ancient Mew card in the Pokémon Trading Card Game was banned from official tournaments due to the fact that it was written in a language that most people likely couldn't read. The text on Ancient Mew was written in Futhark Runic and Gothenburg Runic, which are two written languages from medieval times.  

It's due to the fact that the Ancient Mew is so different from the other cards in the game that it was banned. It avoided situations where a player could claim to understand the writing and would just make up whatever effect they wanted to use.

11 The Jumbo Unova Starters

The Pokémon Trading Card Game sells large booster boxes which come with a special card, coin, several booster packs, and a large version of the special card that you can use as a decoration.

There are three unique "Jumbo" cards that were created as part of a promotion that allowed you to personalize your cards. The three monsters were the Unova starters (Oshawatt, Snivy, and Tepig) which featured artwork that depicted their evolutionary forms. You could personalize these cards by giving each Pokémon a nickname and naming their attacks.

These cards are banned because they can only be bought in the Jumbo size, which makes them too big to fit with the rest of the deck.

They would likely still be banned if they were regular sized, as one can only imagine the horrors concocted by players who have the ability to name their attacks-- meaning that these attacks may be controversially or offensively named.

10 Archeops

The version of Archeops that was released in the Noble Victories set is one of the cards on the current Pokémon Trading Card Game ban list. This is due to its unprecedented ability to lock the opponent's progress.

Archeops' "Ancient Power" ability prevents either player from evolving any of their Pokémon. This can put the opponent into an unwinnable situation if their deck requires an evolution or Mega Evolution, as they won't be able to play the cards they need to overwhelm Archeops.

Archeops was made even more powerful when combined with a Supporter card called Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick. This allowed you to rescue a Fighting-type Pokémon from your discard pile and place it on the bench. You could now easily resurrect Archeops and use its ability again.

The wording of the Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick card means that you can play Archeops straight to the bench without needing to evolve it from its base form, so it might be quicker to find a way to discard Archeops and then bring it straight back with Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick.

9 Shiftry

It's entirely possible to start a Pokémon match with only one creature on the field. This can happen if you draw only one Basic Pokémon in your starting hand. It can be risky to proceed with one Pokémon, as the opponent will win if they manage to knock it out before you can play more to the bench.

This is the reason why the Next Destinies version of Shiftry was temporarily banned. Its ability to remove a Pokémon from the field made it possible to win the game within the first few turns.

When combined with the Forest of Giant Plants, it was possible to quickly bring multiple Shiftrys out onto the field. This would activate its "Gust Fan" ability, which allowed you to flip a coin and return an opponent's Pokémon to their deck if you got a heads.

It was possible to quickly remove all of your opponent's Pokémon and win the match early, as they would lose the game when they had none left on the field.

Shiftry would be unbanned when Forest of Giant Plants was banned.

8 Sneasal

Every card we have looked at until now was banned due to their ability being too unusual or being overly-strong in specific circumstances.

The version of Sneasel that was released in the Neo Genesis set was banned because it was simply too good at everything. Sneasel's "Beat Up" attack allowed you to flip a coin for every Pokémon on your side of the field (including Sneasel) and dealing twenty points of damage for every heads you get.

This meant that Sneasel could potentially hit the enemy for over a hundred points of damage in a single move that only required two Energy cards to use.

Sneasel lacked any sort of retreat cost and had no weaknesses, along with having a powerful resistance to Psychic-types. It was simply the best card in the game and it was one of the first entries on the ban list when it was introduced in the Modified Format of 2001.

7 Wormadom

If you have ever attended a major Pokémon Trading Card Game tournament that was sponsored by Nintendo, then you will likely have encountered the Professors.

These are the judges for each contest, who have been selected to act as the arbiters of the tournament. They are also required to wear large white lab coats, in order to make them look like the Professors from the games.

In order to reward these dedicated and hard-working Pokémon fans, the Professor's are allowed to take part in an exclusive Professor's Cup, which is a Pokémon Trading Card Game tournament. One of the rules for the Professor's Cup is that cards with a rarity above Uncommon are not allowed to be played.

The version of Wormadom that was released in the Secret Wonders set was banned in the 2002 North American Professor's Cup. This is because there is a version of Wormadom that is printed with the Uncommon rarity, which made it valid for the Professor's Cup, even though it is considered to be too powerful for that rarity.

6 Tropical Beach

When a Pokémon card is put on the ban list, it generally counts for every tournament around the world. The exceptions to this usually involve cards with misprinted text, though these are now resolved through errata rulings rather than simply just banning the card.

Tropical Beach is an example of a card that was banned in one region. You could not use Tropical Beach in any Japanese Pokémon Trading Card Game tournaments in 2013.

The reason Tropical Beach was banned was due to how awesome it was and its insane rarity. Tropical Beach is a Stadium card that allowed the player to draw cards until they have seven in their hand, which would then end their turn. This amount of drawing power would be incredibly useful for certain kinds of decks.

Tropical Beach was given away as a prize to people who placed within specific tournaments. This meant that it was an extremely rare promo card, which already brought its tournament-legal status into question. Japan was the only place that solidified its status as a banned card.

5 Slowking

The version of Slowking that was released as part of the Neo Genesis set was banned due to the fact that the English localizers screwed up the wording on the card and made it far more powerful than it was originally meant to be.

Slowking has a Pokémon Power called "Mind Games." This meant that every time your opponent played a Trainer card, you got to flip a coin in response. If you got a heads, then the Trainer card did nothing and it was placed on top of the opponent's deck.

The Japanese version of Slowking specified that "Mind Games" only worked when Slowking was your Active Pokémon. This wording was missing from the English version of the card.

You could now fill your bench with Slowkings and use "Mind Games" multiple times whenever the opponent tried to play a Trainer card. This offered the player an overwhelming advantage, which led to Slowking being put on the ban list.

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

Team Plasma was the villainous team in Pokémon Black and White and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. They received an entire archetype based on them in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, as there were specific Team Plasma cards that had a blue border and bore the symbol of the group behind the text.

One of the best Team Plasma cards was Hypnotoxic Laser. This card would automatically inflict the Poisoned status on the opponent's Active Pokémon and would also put them to sleep if you flipped a heads on a coin toss.

The fact that Hypnotoxic Laser was banned in the 2013 North American Professor's Cup was due to its rarity. It was considered to be too powerful for an Uncommon card, which was why it was banned. This was also a reaction to Hypnotoxic Laser being one of the most overused cards in the 2013 European Professor's Cup.

3 The Imanuki Cards

Those who played the Pokémon Trading Card Game on the Game Boy were likely surprised when they encountered a bizarre opponent called Imakuni. He was actually based on a real person, named Tomoaki Imakuni.

Tomoaki Imakuni is a musician who created some of the songs in the original series of the Pokémon anime. He was also a huge fan of the Pokémon Trading Card Game, which led to him creating several spoof cards that were given away for free in Japanese gaming magazines.

Imakuni has appeared on several cards over the years. These cards are also unique in that they have text on them that states that they cannot be used in official matches.

This is despite the fact that some of them are totally viable, such as Shining Imakuni?, which forces each player to turn all of their Prize Cards face up and turning their deck upside down so that you see what the next card you will draw will be.

2 Volcanion-EX

The Pokémon video games have featured a lot of powerful moves that force you to either wait a turn before it can be used or having to skip a turn after it has been used. Attacks like Dig and Fly remove the Pokémon from the field while they perform the move, while moves like Hyper Beam force the Pokémon to "recharge" after it has been fired.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game also has several attacks with force the Pokémon to miss a turn after using a specific attack. The version of Volcanion-EX that was released in the Steam Siege set had one such ability.

Volcanion-EX has a powerful move called "Volcanic Heat," which deals one hundred and thirty points of damage, but forces it to miss its next turn.

Volcanion-EX was briefly banned in Pokémon Trading Card Game Online. This was due to a bug that allowed "Volcanic Heat" to be used on consecutive turns without needing to miss one. The Volcanic Heat glitch was eventually fixed as part of the 2.40 patch update.

1 Lysandre's Trump Card

It might seem like a strange idea, but a card can be banned if it makes a match go on for too long. This has happened in other competitive card games, such as with Fiber Jar in Yu-Gi-Oh! and Shahrazad in Magic: The Gathering. 

These were cards that made matches go on for far longer than they should have, which can drag tournaments out and leave a lot of players feeling impatient.

This is one of the reasons why Lysandre's Trump Card was banned. It allows you to break one of the fundamental rules of the game, by allowing you to shuffle your discard pile into your deck.

This makes it a lot more difficult for you to lose a match by running out of cards to draw and can give the player access to all of the Pokémon and Trainer cards that had previously been used in the match.

If you managed to get hold of multiple copies of Lysandre's Trump Card, then you could perform this trick several times. You would have to face the wrath of every other player in the tournament, as they will likely want to beat you up if you keep prolonging the length of your match.


Can you think of any other Pokémon cards that were banned? Do you wish you could still play with any of these? Let us know in the comments!

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