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The most powerful Pokémon cards 2024

An expert ranking of the most powerful Pokémon cards in the TCG - from Mewtwo to Zoroark, here are the strongest Pokémon cards in the world.

Mew and Mewtwo, a pair of the most powerful pokemon, leaping into the air, while bright light shines around them

Not all Pokémon TCG cards are created equal – the most powerful Pokémon cards of all time are capable of changing the game completely. Many make your average cards look like useless deck-filler, and some even need banning to control their immense powers. Some are loved, while others are infamous for their devastation.

One of the greatest joys of the trading card game is building a collection of pocket monsters. Many players come to the game just to chase tantalising shinies, look for rare Pokémon cards, and rip open packs from the latest Pokémon TCG expansions with giddy excitement. But even if you’re determined to catch ‘em all, once you’ve learnt how to play Pokémon cards, you also want to win. To do that you need the best Pokémon cards out there. It’s time to talk tactics – and to talk about the strongest Pokémon cards of all time.

Here are the most powerful Pokémon cards ever:

One of the most powerful Pokemon cards, Zoroark-GX, with art of a wolf-like creature attacking with its sharp claws

Zoroark GX

A versatile, KO-ing monster

Something of a staple of Expanded format decks, Zoroark GX has become a familiar face in Pokémon battles since its release in the Shining Legends expansion. Its Trade ability, which lets you discard a card to draw two more, is especially useful for removing duds from your hand and finding key Trainer cards. Use them to boost its already-powerful Riotous Beating attack, dealing 20 damage for each of your Pokémon in play, and be knocking your opponents with ease.

Capable of dealing massive damage through straightforward abilities that complement a variety of decks, many builds that couldn’t cater to Zoroark became largely obsolete when this Pokémon came along. Others focused entirely on countering it, but, either way, Zoroark came to dictate the game. The power creep of newer sets has since meant players can no longer rely on Zoroark for a comfortable win, but it’s enjoyed unmatched longevity, and sheer popularity as the go-to powerhouse-Pokémon for years.

One of the most powerful Pokemon cards, Claydol, with art showing its spinning in attack


A critical card draw engine

If any Pokémon has earned the mantle of single-handedly carrying every deck of which it was part, Claydol would be the clear winner. Released in 2008’s Great Encounters, the Pokémon was so critical to the meta, if you didn’t have a Claydol to stick in your deck, your opponent was guaranteed to run rings around you. Its Cosmic Power ability let you discard two cards to the bottom of your deck, and refill your hand up to six cards.

A fantastic draw engine, Claydol let you churn through cards, getting rid of the poorer showings, and slowly amassing the best of the bunch in a single hand. All of your opponent’s focus would be drawn to this one Pokémon, as they desperately try to prevent you from recycling, letting you quickly finish them off. Later releases tempered Claydol’s abilities, and it never regained the same importance as those earlier years. But when Claydol shined, it really shined.

Shaymin EX, one of the most powerful Pokemon cards, with art showing Shaymin surrounded by sparkling colours

Shaymin EX

A fast, runaway threat

Released as part of the Roaring Skies expansion, Shaymin EX quickly became a standard card in Pokémon battles everywhere. Very similar to other famed Pokémon Uxie, its Set Up ability lets you fill your hand with up to six cards when played to your bench. Hugely useful for quickly boring through your deck, handing yourself an advantage, and swarming your enemy before they have a chance to catch up.

Shaymin EX is all about speed, instantly tilting the balance of play in your favour, which must be quickly leveraged before your opponent can recover. It quickly became a prized card among professional and amateur players alike, but was banned from official Pokémon TCG Expanded format tournaments in 2020, because using Set Up ability in conjunction with the Scoop Up Net card (which allows you to place a Pokémon GX card back into your hand) was deemed to be too powerful a combination.

Mewtwo and Mew tag team Pokemon card, showing two of the most powerful Pokemon leaping into the air

Mewtwo and Mew GX

Has every attack in your deck

Mewtwo might be a stalwart of Poké-power, but there’s one thing that’s always better than a single Pokémon in your hand: two, in a single card. Introduced during Sun & Moon’s Team Up expansion, Tag Team cards feature two famous Pokémon in a potent duo. There are a lot of competent tag team options out there, but none match the sheer power of Mewtwo and Mew-GX.


Strongest Pokemon Cards - the pokemon card Slwoking from Neo Genesis

Neo Slowking

A mistranslation catapulted this Pokémon to infamy

Slowking, from the set Neo Genesis became an unstoppable force due to an epic translation error. Its Mind Games ability, which shut down your opponent’s Pokémon trainer cards on a coin flip, was intended to only work when Neo Slowking was your active Pokémon. However, thanks to the misprint, it could be used from the bench.

This meant players could load up their bench with numerous Slowking, making it extremely likely that any trainer cards would make it through their psychic blockade. Wizards of the Coast were reluctant to errata any cards in this period, and refused to make an exception here. So, despite the obvious error, Neo Slowking dominated competitive play from 2000-2002, when it was finally banned.

Cleffa, one of the most powerful Pokemon cards, with art of a small pink lump with pointy ears, sitting on a table next to balls of yarn


Nobody puts baby in the corner

Back in the good old days of second-generation Pokémon , the best players in the world wouldn’t be seen without the humble Cleffa. Although a cutesy, baby-type, pink blob, don’t be fooled by its cuddly appearance. Cleffa could stall an opponent with ease. Its passive ability lets you flip a coin anytime your opponent attacks. If the coin lands tails, the attack is cancelled, and your opponent’s turn ends.

And its basic attack, hilariously entitled “Eeeeeeek”, lets you shuffle your hand into your deck, and draw seven new cards. Cycle through your deck for an optimum hand, all the while preventing your opponent from landing a hit. Combined with no weaknesses, and no retreat cost, it’s easy to see why Cleffa was unrivalled in the early days of the Pokémon TCG, and isn’t half bad, even now.

Mewtwo leaping into the air while sparks fly around it, as seen in art for one of the most powerful Pokemon cards

Mewtwo EX

The ultimate attacker

The most iconic of all the powerful Pokémon, Mewtwo has been a staple of the franchise since Generation I. The Mewtwo EX card quickly came to dominate the TCG’s meta when it released as part of the Next Destinies expansion, and with good reason. Unmatched in strength, the only way to defeat a Mewtwo EX was to play one of your own. Battles soon descended into Mewtwo fights, as players tried to hold out long enough to play their version of the card before their opponent.

Years later, after a lot of bittersweet sentiments, Mewtwo EX doesn’t hold the same unrivalled prestige it once did – but some players still think the card is viable for deckbuilding. Regardless, Mewtwo EX defined the TCG’s meta when it was top of the pile, and has become something of the poster boy for powerful Pokémon cards.

One of the strongest Pokemon cards, Lysandre's Trump Card, with art of a trainer commanding mechanical flying Pokemon

Lysandre’s Trump Card

Wiped out a wincon

Although not a Pokémon, Lysandre’s Trump Card certainly deserves a mention. Infamous and widely hated, it didn’t take long for this support card to be deemed a little overpowered. Forcing each player to shuffle their entire discard piles back into their decks, Lysandre’s Trump Card effectively eliminated the possibility that a player would run out of cards, which would otherwise mean victory for their opponent.

With an entire win condition removed from the game, matches descended into players racing through their decks as fast as possible, discarding frivolously in the knowledge that everything would eventually be reset. It’s no surprise that Lysandre’s Trump Card was banned from competitive Pokémon TCG tournaments in 2015 for unbalancing play.

Mega Gengar EX, one of the most powerful Pokemon cards, with art of Gengar on a colourful background

M Gengar EX

Turns your enemy’s moves against them

M Gengar EX becomes a particularly powerful ally if your opponent has something beefy on the board. The Phantom Gate ability lets you choose an attack your opponent’s Pokémon can perform – Mega Gengar can now use this attack, giving your rival a nasty taste of their own medicine.

With a reasonable retreat cost and HP count, there are plenty of reasons to play M Gengar EX. And while it’s not currently on any banlist, M Gengar EX is one of the pricier Pokémon cards in this guide.

Tapu Lele GX, one of the most powerful Pokemon cards, showing art of the pink and black Pokemon

Tapu Lele GX

An amazing support Pokémon card

Tapu Lele GX has some helpful abilities for healing your Pokémon and dealing damage, but its Wonder Tag ability is the main event when it comes to power. When Tapu Lele GX joins your bench during your turn you can search your deck for a Supporter card. Then you can reveal that Supporter and add it to your hand – a helpful way to give your turn a boost.

Being able to search your deck can come in very handy, and Tapu Lele can help you find the perfect card you need at the right time. Of course, there are other search-friendly cards in this guide – just check out the power on our next entry.

Arceus VSTAR, one of the most powerful Pokemon cards, showing art of the Pokemon

Arceus VSTAR

The latest and greatest

Coming from the Sword & Shield: Brilliant Stars Pokémon TCG expansion, Arceus VSTAR is one of the newest entries to this list. Many VSTAR cards may seem like lesser versions of their VMAX cousins, but they offer powerful one-off VSTAR powers in the place of massive health and damage.

Arceus VSTAR in particular lets you search your deck for any two cards and put them in your hand. The possibilities for your deck are limitless here – but choose your moment wisely, as you can only use a single VSTAR Power in a game. Given this card only came out in 2022, it’ll be interesting to see how its power evolves with future sets.

Of course, more Pokémon cards are printed each year, so before long the monsters on this list may be surpassed by the next hot thing. Check out the newest Pokémon set to keep one eye on what’s about to come up.