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A Wild Raid Boss Approaches!

Trainers, the new Pokémon Raid Format has arrived!

Pokémon TCG Alternative Play Handbook. Features details on new formats, including the Raid format.

Earlier this year, the Pokémon Company officially recognized and introduced several new alternative playstyles for the Pokémon Trading Card Game in its Alternative Play Handbook.

Among these, the GLC format and the Raid Boss format are two of the advanced formats that have most players excited!

What is the Raid Format?

As previously reported, the GLC format was created and popularized by Andrew Mahone, one of the biggest names in the Pokémon community. To see the Pokémon Company canonizing Mahone’s format in such an official way is a big win for Mahone and the community at large!

In contrast, The Pokémon Company created the Raid format, and it stands in testament to Pokémon’s ever-growing creativity and resolve to, dare I say it – evolve -the Pokémon brand. It is a team-based game style that pits 1 to 5 players against a beefed up Raid Boss Pokémon.


First, players must decide which Pokémon they will challenge. Players may choose to use any of the V-Union cards or oversized cards. The handbook notes that some of these may be significantly more challenging than others, so choose wisely!

Once an opponent is chosen, players must build the raid deck for the boss. The handbook includes a list of recommended cards for the boss to use. However, players may opt to build their own deck completely. Once formed, this deck will sit face down next to the Raid Boss. Following this, players shuffle their decks and set up their board states as they would in the standard format.

Player Turn & Gameplay Changes

With a new playstyle comes new mechanics, rules and game states!


One example of change is the mulligan. In the standard format, when a player draws no basic Pokémon at the beginning of the game, they show their opponent their hand. Following this, they shuffle their cards back into their deck, and draw again. The opponent then draws one additional card for every mulligan that occurs.

In this format, should a player fail to draw a basic Pokémon, they follow the same protocol but the Raid Boss does not get to draw any extra cards.


In the standard format, a player may only play one supporter card during their turn. In the Raid format, this is still true. However, each player gets to play one supporter per turn, and all players will resolve their turn before the Raid Boss gets a turn. Basically, this means that the group may play as many supporters per turn as there are players in the group, each turn (4 players means up to 4 supporter cards!). Additionally, players may opt to play a supporter card in support of a teammate, rather than on themselves.

Player Damage

As players work through their turn and complete attacks, damage counters stack up on the boss. However, this damage does not take effect until the end of the Raid Boss’ turn.

Once all players have completed their turns, and the damage has been counted, the Raid Boss begins its assault on the players turn.

Raid Boss Turn

To begin, the Raid Boss will draw one card from its deck, and one additional card for each player.

Next, it resolves each card one at a time, including the effects of each card as it is played. For example, let’s say the Raid Boss first draws and plays Hop, whose effect is to draw 3 cards. It will then draw 3 more cards, play each of those in sequence, and then return to playing any cards drawn after Hop. Essentially, the boss can end up resolving a ridiculous number of cards each turn!

All energy drawn by the boss is immediately attached to it, and all attacks are powered by colorless energy. Any tool card or stadium drawn will replace any currently in play.

Raid Boss Attack

After resolving all of its cards, it begins its attack phase. In order to determine which attack a Raid Boss will use, players evaluate which attacks it has enough energy to use, and roll a dice to determine at random which one to use. Following the attack, discard the number of energy cards used for the attack.

This is where the real pain begins! The Raid Boss’ attack hits all players with full damage and effects, and the attacks can include GX attacks and VSTAR powers. These can be used repeatedly, which could absolutely wallop the player team!

Following this attack, the Raid Boss’ turn comes to an end. Any damage that was not healed during its turn will then be calculated.

We’re in the Endgame Now

When a player’s active Pokémon is knocked out, that player takes the prize cards that the attacker would normally take. This means a V or Vmax loss would cause the player to draw 2 or 3 cards, respectively. If a player does not have enough prize cards left to draw, they are out of the game. When all players are out of the game, the Raid Boss wins.

In order to come out victorious, players’ aim is to send all of the enemy’s cards to the Lost Zone. To calculate the number of cards to remove from play each turn, players divide the the damage on the Raid Boss by the number of players multiplied by 10, and then round this down.

Let’s crank out some numbers. Let’s say there are 4 players and that they did 420 damage to the boss during their turn. Our equation becomes 420 divided by (4×10). This yields 10.5. We round this down and conclude the turn by sending 10 of the Raid Boss’ cards to the Lost Zone. Phew.

This is a broad overview that covers the bulk of how to set up and play the new format. If you’d like to learn more, check out the handbook and try a few rounds!

While there have been many different formats for play over the years, the Raid format is certainly a very unique approach to playing the Pokémon TCG. Formats like expanded, GLC and others retain the same general feel of the game, but this one definitely shakes things up in a drastic way and I, for one, am here for it!

It has been super exciting to see The Pokémon Company working diligently to refresh the the game, and I can’t wait to see what they cook up next!

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