Standard format (TCG)
The Standard format of the Pokémon Trading Card Game is one of two formats used for officially-sanctioned Play! Pokémon events along with Expanded format. It was called the Modified format prior to the 2013-2014 season. It is also used in the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online.
The Standard format (then referred to as the Modified format) was introduced in 2001. Tournaments in the 2001-2002 season were played in a format that only allowed cards from the Team Rocket expansion on up through Neo Genesis (with the exception of Sneasel, which was banned). Since then, Play! Pokémon has continued to rotate out expansions once per year, usually after the World Championships, to keep the game fresh and, some speculate, to keep players buying cards. The 2009-2010 tournament season did not feature a rotation, and the rotation for the 2010-2011 season rotated out only four expansions, keeping roughly two years' worth of cards in the pool. Additional expansions are added to the current Rotation three weeks after they are released in the United States. Starting from 2016, they were added to the current Rotation on the third Friday in the month of release.
If a card in an Standard-legal expansion is a reprint of an older card, all prints of the card can be played in an Standard-legal expansion-legal deck (e.g. Aquapolis Energy Switch). However, some cards significantly differ in wording between older prints and newer prints (e.g. Pokémon Fan Club from Aquapolis compared to its Ultra Prism iteration); those cards cannot be used in sanctioned tournaments. The exception is cards that have received errata (e.g. Base Set Potion); all printings of cards with errata may be used in sanctioned tournaments.
In 2017, Mega Powers Collection was released as part of the Sun & Moon Series, which included new Full Art prints of cards from the previous XY Series. To prevent the said cards to stay legal in the Standard format longer than intended, the Yellow A symbol was introduced and marked on these cards. Yellow A Alternate cards have the same card number and expansion symbol of the original print with the exception of the letter 'a' added to the card number. As such, these alternate prints are only allowed in the same formats as the original prints.
Asian expansions on the other hand addressed potential card legality issues such as the one mentioned above by introducing Regulation Marks on cards from the beginning of the Sun & Moon Era. The regulation mark is a letter symbol found right next to the expansion mark of each card that identifies whether it is legal to use in tournament play. The letter starts with 'A' on Collection Sun and Collection Moon, and moves to the next letter upon each rotation. Subsequent prints of cards such as alternative art prints introduced in later sets would retain their original regulation mark, ensuring their rotation regardless of any future prints.
Regulation marks were later introduced on cards released by The Pokémon Company International in the Sword & Shield Series. The first set featuring regulation marks was Sword & Shield, whose regulation mark is 'D' in order to match Asian releases. The Standard format was also modified to link legality to regulation marks rather than expansion releases. The changes took place from 2022 season, which specifies cards marked 'D', 'E' or later as legal cards. The yellow A system was also eliminated in favor of regulation marks.
Foreign language cards
Prior to the 2009-2010 tournament season, foreign-language prints of cards could also be played without limit, as long as the user provided a local-language reference outside the deck. Starting with the 2009-2010 season, however, sanctioned events began to require players to play with cards printed in English or an region's local language (for example, players in the United States are restricted to English cards only, whereas players in Canada can also use cards in French). Some American players who had invested in Japanese versions of cards which were generally less expensive, voiced their displeasure with the change of rules, and as a result, the rules were amended for the 2009-2010 tournament season to allow up to 10% of a player's deck (six cards) to consist of foreign-language cards. Beginning in the 2010-2011 season, Play! Pokémon followed through with their initial plan to allow only English and local-language cards in premier events.
List of Standard formats
- 2001-02 — Team Rocket to Legendary Collection
- 2002-03 — Neo Genesis to Skyridge
- 2003-04 — Expedition to EX Hidden Legends
- 2004-05 — EX Ruby & Sapphire to EX Emerald
- 2005-06 — EX Hidden Legends to EX Holon Phantoms
- 2006-07 — EX Deoxys to Diamond & Pearl
- 2007-08 — EX Holon Phantoms to Majestic Dawn
- 2008-10 — Diamond & Pearl to Unleashed
- 2010-11 — Majestic Dawn to Black & White
- 2011-12 — HeartGold & SoulSilver to Dark Explorers
- 2012-13 — Black & White to Plasma Freeze
- 2013-14 — Next Destinies to Flashfire
- 2014-15 — Boundaries Crossed to Roaring Skies
- 2015-16 — XY to Steam Siege
- 2016-17 — Primal Clash to Burning Shadows
- 2017-18 — BREAKthrough to Celestial Storm
- 2018-19 — Sun & Moon to Unbroken Bonds
- 2019-20 — Ultra Prism to Rebel Clash
- 2020-21 — Team Up to Chilling Reign
- 2021-23 — Cards with a regulation mark or later
- 2023-24 — Cards with a regulation mark or later
In other languages