(Rules Have been Revised for PPL Unplugged 2017! Please be considerate and try to have fun!)

How to Participate

All you need to participate is a deck of Pokémon cards, keen eyesight, and a love of Pokémon Battles! Gym leaders will be all over PAX, and can be identified by their bright green scarves. Approach them, challenge them to a battle, and if they deem you worthy, you’ll earn their badge!

Brief Rules

  1. HAVE FUN! This is supposed to be an enjoyable activity, please don’t get stuck in semantics or rules-lawyering!
  2. Wheaton’s law applies. We’re trying hard to make it fun for you. Treat us, and those around you, with respect, please! (NOTE: Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated. Unkind, mean-spirited, or harassing behaviour will, at the discretion of PPL admins, lead to you being banned from participating. BE KIND. THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL.)
  3. Any activity that helps enrich the experience is acceptable and encouraged! Cosplay as your favorite trainer, announce your moves to the public, and help us spread the word! This will not be a success without your enthusiasm!
  4. You are expected to provide their own deck of 60 Pokémon cards, and a way of keeping tack of Pokémon HP (with life counters, beads, etc.).
  5. Don’t use fake or banned Pokémon cards. If a leader suspects you’re using fake or banned cards, they may refuse to battle you. For a full list of banned cards, please see the In-depth Rules section.
  6. All cards in your deck must be from a Standard legal set, or have been reprinted in a Standard legal set. (Yes, this means your Potion from Base Set is still legal!) In addition, only 4 copies of each card name may be used. For example, you may only have 4 copies of a card named “Raichu” in your deck. See the In-depth Rules section for more information on what cards are currently in Standard and on exactly how many copies of a card you may have. 
  7. Gym Leaders are acting judges for all matches. If you have a rules question, or a weird card interaction, Gym Leaders will have the final say on all matters. Unfortunately, we will make mistakes and bad rulings, Gym Leaders are human after all. Please let us know if we get something wrong. We are committed to making this game as fair as possible, and appreciate your feedback!
  8. Gym Leaders may be challenged at most once per day (unless a rematch is accepted by the leader, but rematches may be turned down depending on the circumstances). This is just so that everyone gets a turn to play, and everyone gets a shot at the champ. This is also to ensure that leaders are able to enjoy PAX too. We want to encourage all of you to spend lots of time at PAX doing more than just playing Pokémon.

In-depth Rules


  1. Pax Pokémon League Unplugged will follow the Official Pokémon TCG rules, with a few notable exceptions. Draws will be decided by a Sudden Death game (restart the game, first player to take a prize card wins). If the Sudden Death game ends in a Draw, the entire match ends in a Draw. Matches are single games, not best-of-three or any other style. While the amount of prize cards on each player’s side of the field remains unchanged (6), players will only need to claim 4 prize cards to win the game. If a player has their Active Pokémon KO’ed and has no benched Pokémon, they lose the game. If a player can’t draw a card at the beginning of their turn, they lose the game. Official Pokémon TCG rules can be found in PDF format here. EX and GX Pokémon still grant two prize cards when KO’ed, so please be aware of this during deck construction!


  1. Deck construction must follow all official rules. Decks must contain exactly 60 cards, and at least one Basic Pokémon card. No more than four copies of a single named Pokémon card are allowed. There are exceptions in the case of Alolan Pokémon and Pokémon-EX/GX cards. As an example, you may have 4 copies of Raichu, 4 copies of Raichu-GX (if one existed), and 4 copies of Alolan Raichu.


  1. Banned cards: None!


  1. The following expansion sets will be legal in Standard at the time of PAX Unplugged 2017. XY Sets: BREAKthrough, BREAKPoint, Generations, Fates Collide, Steam Siege, Evolutions. SM Sets: Sun & Moon, Guardians Rising, Burning Shadows, Crimson Invasion. The following card mini/promo sets will also be legal: XY Trainer Kit-Pikachu Libre & Suicune, Sun & Moon Trainer Kit-Lycanroc & Alolan Pikachu, McDonald’s Collection 2016, Shining Legends, and Black Star Promos XY67-201, SM01-60, SM62-84, SM86-88, SM91, SM98, SM99, and  SM108-114.


  1.  It is recommended that challengers who have a rules question, but do not want to reveal information to the gym leader they are currently challenging, seek out another nearby gym leader. For this reason, we encourage gym leaders and challengers alike to play near others. Playing in spaces like the Diversity Lounge will be essential to helping others, and receiving help yourself!


  1. Foreign Pokémon cards are allowed, as long as they meet the following criteria: all the cards have the same back, OR the entire deck is sleeved with fully opaque sleeves so that players cannot differentiate from the card backs. In addition, the cards must have been released in an English set for legal use in Standard, and the player using them MUST be able to provide a reference to the exact text of the card. (References could be a physical copy of the card in English, a card description on a site such as Bulbapedia, or from a copy of the Official Pokémon TCG Card-Dex.)
  1. Proxy cards are not allowed. You must actually have the cards in your 60 card deck.

We understand that some of you may disagree with our rule choices, but these were rules the PAX Pokémon League decided on after much debating and testing to keep the game fun and fair for both the challengers and the Leaders. So we hope you enjoy the League challenge as much as we all do! Note that we discuss and update the rules before each PPL, so watch our Twitter/Facebook accounts for announcements about rules updates.

123 Responses to Rules

  1. Nathan

    Is Snow Cloak allowed?

  2. Vic

    so for limited pokemon is it just one of those on the list that are allowed in a team or do you mean no multiples of any of those pokemon on a team?

    • Propriety

      For “limited” pokemon, it means you can have up to one pokemon on that list on your team.

      The second thing you said, no multiples of any pokemon, is also true, but it applies to ANY pokemon: it’s #4, the Species Clause.

    • Kai

      One of any pokemon on the limited list can be used. ie. You can have Manaphy, or Victini, but not both.

  3. Versuskid

    Species Clause: A player’s team may not contain two Pokémon with the same National Pokédex number.

    What? Does that mean that I can only have one Pokemon from Each of the different sets of games… Like one for Gold-Silver-Crystal, one for Red-Blue-Yellow, one for Ruby-Sapphire-Emerald, one for Firered-Leafgreen, one for Diamond-Pearl-Platinum, and one for Black-White?

    • Anon

      It means you can’t have for example a #641 Tornadus with a #641 Tornadus-T, or two #129 Magikarp. You could have a #129 Magikarp with a #130 Gyrados just fine, because they have different national pokedex numbers (129 and 130).

  4. Aj

    When you say no unreleased hidden abilities, does that include a pokemon obtained from japan? ie: a venusaur dvolved from a japanese bulbasaur who has overgrow from the japanese dreamworld.

  5. Bahamut Dragons

    Do we need to have a 3ds or does an old-school work?

  6. Tre

    Will everyone be moving up to Black & White 2 now that it has been released in the states or is everyone sticking with the original Black & White?

    • Propriety

      Gym leaders will be using Black 2 and White 2, but since Black/White and Black 2/White 2 are battle compatible, you can use whichever you wish.

  7. Anon

    For released/unreleased hidden abilities, does being available in-game count as released? The example for rule 14 explicitly calls out impostor ditto as unreleased, but I’m not sure if that was written with BW1 in mind. You can legitimately get an impostor ditto in BW2 (see for an example) even though you can’t get one through dream world.

    • Propriety

      You are correct, insightful Anon! Being available in-game of course counts as released. That was a leftover from last year. Imposter ditto is now available in the hidden grotto in Giant Chasm!

      The text of the rules has been updated to reflect this change.

  8. Pat

    The Wonder Launcher is on by default in the IR battle rules, but these rules don’t mention it at all. Is it allowed?

    • Propriety

      An astute observation! No, use of the Wonder Launcher is not allowed.

      It prolongs battles (which is bad because gym leaders are very busy) and takes the focus away from the Pokemon.

  9. puddlesA1

    Can you use white and black kyurem?

    • Propriety

      Nope! Kyurem in all its forms is banned. Sorry, that should be specified on the rules page. I’ll update it. 🙂

  10. Pat

    Moody should be banned. I’m confident this was just an oversight, but I thought it was worth demonstrating, so I used an Octillery with Moody against the Rotation Master at PAX East 2013. Here’s the result:

  11. Anoni

    Is species clause actually enforced? I saw a post on the forums about someone using a team of all stunfisk, and no one seemed to bat an eyelash.

    • Propriety

      In the past, we’ve made exceptions for novelty teams made up of entirely one pokemon (all Stunfisk, all Shuckle) because they’re fun and, frankly, kind of hilarious, and people haven’t abused them.

      We’ll revisit this rule in the future, I think, maybe make exceptions for novelty teams. I mean, if you want to have a team of six Bidoof, yes please. :B If you have a team of six Salamence, on the other hand… I might look at you askance. >.> There’s definitely a discussion to be had.

      • Anoni

        So a team of, say, three feebas, two rattata and a sunkern would not be ok because they’re not all the same pokemon?

        • Propriety

          We’ve added an exception to the species clause to address this. Basically we’re only allowing exceptions for teams of all one species, and even then it’s up to the discretion of the gym leader as to whether to accept the battle (if it’s something they don’t think is fair, they can refuse to battle you).

  12. kalai

    Can you challenge everyone even if you are not going to be there all three days?

  13. Pat

    You may want to change the term “Dream world Abilities” to “Hidden Abilities” since A) The Dream World will be shut down in January and B) The Hidden Abilities will be accessible through other means like Pokemon Hordes and the Friend Safari.

    • Propriety

      This rules page is out of date and will be substantially updated within the next month. The gym leaders are working on figuring out our rules for X and Y as we speak!

  14. Phillip

    Just curious, are other speed boosting pokemon banned?

  15. How many Gym Leaders do you have to defeat to challenge the Elite Four?

    Also, could you in theory challenge everyone each day?

    • Propriety

      You have to acquire eight badges to challenge the Elite Four, just like in the game! Though… there are actually six members of the Elite Six at PPL East! (you only have to defeat four of them to challenge the Champ though, just like in the game!)

      Yes, in theory, you could challenge everyone each day! Though I will tell you, that is EXTREMELY difficult… there are a LOT of gym leaders, and they’ll be wandering around all over the place! ;D

  16. Tre

    Does the ability effect spore fall under the sleep clause even though it is not a move?

    And is it illegal to have multiple pokemon holding the same item?

    • Propriety

      My ruling would be that Effect Spore would fall under the part of the rule that says “A Pokémon forced by an opponent to use more sleep moves does not break this clause,” since Effect Spore is triggered by your opponent attacking you, and you have no control over it. So if you put an opponent to sleep (say with Sleep Powder), and they switch out and attack you, and Effect Spore triggers, putting them to sleep, that’s fine, because that was caused by your opponent’s attack, not yours.

      Of course if the situation is flipped (your Pokemon puts an opponent to sleep using Effect Spore first and then they switch out), you can no longer use Sleep Powder to intentionally put any of their pokemon to sleep. If Effect Spore then triggers again on another Pokemon… well, you just got really lucky!

    • Propriety

      Oh, and no, it’s not illegal to use the same hold item.

  17. Jeff

    Just to confirm.. these are 6v6 battles? and I’m only going to be there 1 day.. what if I can’t find all 8 gym leaders? D:

    • Propriety

      Like in the games (or, more accurately, the TV show), each Gym Leader is different! Aside from the above League-agreed-upon rules, each gym leader sets the rules for their match. You may be playing 4 v 4, or first to three KOs, or double battles, rotation battles, triple battles… it’s up to the leader how they want to run their gym!

      If you’re only attending PAX one day, getting eight badges can be tough, but it’s definitely not unheard of! We have had a few people (though VERY few) challenge the Champion on Friday, which means it’s possible to complete the challenge in one day. But it’s not easy! Do the best you can. Earning however many badges you can is its own reward! And since we’ll have raffles all three days this year, if you complete your MegaBingo card, you can enter a raffle and potentially win a cool prize, even if you don’t collect eight badges!

  18. James

    Hey guys,

    As I read I saw that there are banned and limited Pokemon but you left some of the legendary trios off the list. Seeing as in regular tournaments the trio Pokemon are usually legal, is it ok if we use these legendary trios? Such as: Entei, Raiku, Suicune, Moltres, Zapdos, Arcticuno, the Regi’s, etc.

  19. Stephen

    I noticed that there is no item restriction except for soul dew. Does that mean we have can have multiple of the same item? (i.e. Leftovers, Life Orb, etc)

  20. Stephen

    Nevermind, I didn’t check all the comments. Sorry!

    • Propriety

      No problem! It’s been asked before so it’s a good question, and we will address it next year. Sorry for the confusion.

  21. James

    Hey guys, new question. Seeing as there are more than eight gym leaders and more then four elites, will we just have to beat that many? Or do we have to challenge and defeat all of em? Either way I’m eager to meet my challenges head on xD

    • Propriety

      You need to collect 8 Badges to challenge the Elites, and collect 4 Elite Emblems to challenge the champ.

      You don’t have to challenge all of them! You’re free to try, though. It’s not easy! ;D

  22. Guthy

    there is no requirement for them to be Kalos born is there?

    • Propriety

      Nope! We think that’s silly; many of our gym leaders battle with Pokemon that are old friends from many games ago! You can use pokemon that were born in any region.

  23. Daniel

    How/where can I challenge the Pax League?

    • Propriety

      The PAX Pokemon League is run at PAX East and PAX Prime, and we’re working on expanding to PAX Aus and PAX South! To participate, you have to attend PAX and look for gym leaders wearing bright green scarves. If you spot one, you can challenge them to a battle using your copy of Pokemon X or Y for the 3DS!

      That’s all there is to it!

  24. Joey

    How do we know which hidden abilities have been officially released?

  25. Yoav

    Just wondering, do the pokemon have to be Kalos native? like born in Kalos?

    • Propriety

      No! You can use Pokemon born anywhere you like!

      We don’t want to keep people from using their favorite Pokemon, even if they come from past games. 🙂

  26. Grimmsley

    so are the new uptodate bans in effect? swagger agieslash only one batton pass?

    • Propriety

      I think you’re referring to bew Smogon bans? We don’t really follow Smogon rules. We may revise the rules in the future as the gym leaders test out new things, but for now they’re staying the way they are. 🙂 The PPL is about having fun, not necessarily about winning all the time, so use whatever Pokemon/moves make you happy!

  27. Kizul Emeraldfire

    So, hypothetically-speaking: if you make exceptions for ‘novelty’ teams (id est, teams of all one species), would an all-Magikarp team be allowed due to its sufficient hilarity? 😀

    (I’m guessing too that, sadly, I wouldn’t be able to do a team of five Magikarp and one Gyarados, because 1.) it wouldn’t be an all-one-species team (even though Magikarp evolves into Gyarados—thereby technically making them related; and 2.) this would break the “only one of each species” rule as well.))

    • Propriety




      (I don’t know, all magikarp + one gyarados might be funny enough to get a pass from the Leaders. But how would you… I don’t… WAT)

  28. Volchic

    For pax south, will we be using ruby/saphire?

  29. Brett

    I guess I had better find a replacement for Blaziken, good thing I wasn’t too attached to it

    • Propriety

      Only Speed Boost Blaziken is banned! We hate banning stuff, so we did a lot of testing, but we just found that Speed Boost Blaziken is too darn good. And Mega-Blaziken is neigh unbeatable. It just wasn’t fun to play against. 🙁

      Hope you can find a suitable replacement!

  30. Ryan

    Quick question – if this league is Singles, why is Dark Void banned? Spore has better accuracy and is available to more Pokemon.

    • Propriety

      The League is not necessarily entirely singles! ;D

      (That said, I will bring the Dark Void-in-a-singles-match question to the Leaders for consideration!)

      • Volchic

        Dark void is only available to darkrai, (with exception to sketch) and he is on the banned list

        • Propriety

          Well, as you point out, you can get it on a Smeargle using sketch!

          Though yeah we will probably revisit this rule in our next rule revision (which will occur for ORAS).

  31. Louis


    …can I battle you?

  32. Stanley

    Can I use combination of water absorb and surf????

  33. Axol

    How do you feel about speed boost Combusken?

    • Propriety

      I personally have no strong feelings about it (other than I think it looks cute). 😉

      You can certainly use it on your team, though! As long as it doesn’t suddenly decide to evolve into Blaziken on you. 😛

      • Axol

        One other question. Since the rules have been updated, will leaders/E4 all be on ORAS, or will challengers be needing to have backup team members in case of non-XY megas?

        • Propriety

          Leaders/E4 at South will be using ORAS, so you should feel free to use whatever you like. Leaders will also be prepared with alternates if a challenger asks to battle in X/Y.

  34. Christian Monsegue

    There’s no steps to avoiding Swagger + Thunder Wave + Substitute + Leftovers Klefki? Oh boy are people going to be in for a hell of a bad time.

    • Propriety

      Our rules do preclude endless battle movesets. While this isn’t exactly that, I can tell you gym leaders will be disinclined to give you a badge if you try to force them to spend an hour Struggling themselves to death. :/ Remember, earning a badge means proving yourself to the leader, not just winning.

  35. Justin

    Is the event pokemon “contrary serprior”allowed

  36. James R. Frotten

    So just to confirm, both Item Clause and Forced Level 50 are in effect for Pax East 2015?

    • Propriety

      Item Clause will be in effect this year, yes, though gym leaders can’t check every team. We’re trusting you to follow the rules.

      Forced Level 50 is easier, it has always been in effect because we use that Flat battle setting. 🙂

      • James R. Frotten

        Darn, that makes sense. I was hoping I could use some level 1 pokemon for funsies but I’ll come up with something else, instead 🙂

        • Propriety

          Yeah, if you try to use Level 1 pokemon, the game will just auto-level them to Level 50. They won’t be trained, though! So they probably won’t do very well in battle.

  37. Ryan Kelley

    Is it okay if I 6-0 every gym leader? I don’t want to make it unfun for them but I’m just completely amazing at pokemon. There is little I can do about my sheer talent.

    • The Boss

      Certainly there have been matches where leaders get floored. Our goal isn’t to crush all who oppose us at PAX. That said, if you’re as good at pokemon as you say, make it more interesting for yourself. Come at us with a theme team, or a weird strategy! Personally, I think stomping AIs is great, but beating real people like you would be the games lacks a certain….. thrill.

      Or, if youwanna make it your goal to knock us out with your favorites, bring it on!

  38. Chu

    Why does it specify shaymon land form but not sky form, and why can’t you the soul dew as an item I don’t know what it does.

    • Propriety

      Previously, Gym Leaders agreed to include Shaymin’s Land form on the Limited List. They did not include Sky Form Shaymin on the Limited List.

      For Prime 2015, the Limited List does not apply, so you don’t have to worry about it.

      Soul Dew is a held item that raises the Special Attack and Special Defense of Latios or Latias by 50% when held. This large boost makes Latios or Latias very powerful, and not much fun to play against, so we do not allow it.

  39. Nintendaddy

    Can you use moves like fissure and sheer cold?

  40. Shadowkiller499

    I’m looking for clarification, but when it says the item clause is removed for prime 2015 does that mean two of the same item are allowed or not?

  41. Ruby

    is the pax Pokemon thing also at Pax Seattle?

    • Propriety

      IT SURE IS! The PAX in Seattle, a.k.a PAX Prime, had the very first PPL a.k.a PPL Prime! PPL Prime actually took place again this past weekend (the 28th-31st of August), so you might have just missed it!

  42. 1) Now that Hoopa’s been released, is it still banned (looked at older comments and wanted to check)?

    2) Can Pokemon from older games transferred via Pokebank still be used (i.e. They don’t have the hexagon next to their information)?


    • Propriety

      Both excellent questions!

      1) For East, we’re considering adding Bound Hoopa to the Limited List, and Unbound to the Banned list. Playtesting, research, and discussion is still ongoing! For South, Hoopa was banned because, at the time South rules were finalized, Hoopa had not been released! Gym leaders have been notified and we may alter that decision, so you can keep an eye here or on our twitter feed if we do.

      2) We don’t care about the hexagon! You can use any of your Pokemon, no matter from which generation they’ve been transferred!

  43. jim

    Question: is there a way for me to join your league? Like as a leader? I’ve been wanting to join something like this for a while and this looks like a lot of fun! Or is there a cap that’s already been set/met?

    • Propriety

      Hey there, Jim!

      Anybody can be a leader! If you’re planning to go to PAX, keep an eye on this website (or our twitter or facebook feeds) a few months before PAX. We put up a call for leaders including a Leader Application form that you can use to apply!

  44. Haku

    What is this where is this and if this is an online event how do I join

    • Propriety

      Hello Haku! Thanks for expressing interest!

      The PPL is not an online event! It’s an alternate reality game played at PAX (a convention which occurs four times a year in different cities in the US and Australia). To participate as a challenger, you have to attend PAX and look for leaders in green scarves. You challenge them to battle in person!

      Anybody can be a leader! If you’re planning to go to PAX, keep an eye on this website (or our twitter or facebook feeds) a few months before PAX. We put up a call for leaders including a Leader Application form that you can use to apply!

  45. Haku

    And how do you become a gym leader

  46. Haku

    Or champion or elite 4 bc this sounds cool

  47. Daniel

    I’m excited about this event, I’ve read the rules, but I have doubt on the land trio (Entei, Raikou, and Suicune) and the bird trio (Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres) which they are not listed either in the banned list or the eligible list.

    • Propriety

      You are free to use the Legendary birds/dogs as you like! We’ve found they don’t tend to be a huge problem, and we want people to be free to use their favorites in battle as much as possible, so we try to keep the banned/limited lists very sparse!

      (Note the second list is not an “eligible” list, it’s a “limited” list, AKA you can only have one of those pokemon on your team, at max.)

  48. Xander Gruver

    Can I use Platinum or Black or White? Also, are 2 turn attacks allowed (Like Fly)?

    • Propriety

      Hello Xander! Unfortunately, because the more recent games aren’t backwards compatible, you can’t use Platinum or Black/White to participate in the PPL. Most of the gym leaders will have their teams on the more recent games.

      You CAN absolutely use 2 turn attacks though! 🙂

  49. Xander Gruver

    I don’t have Pokemon X, Y, Alpha Sapphire, or Omega Ruby. I don’t even have a 3ds, though I wish I did. Also, does progress that I made in the game matter. (Like do I have to have the 8 badges?)

  50. RedSoxFan0711

    Clarification on this year’s rules:

    I have Moon, but are we using Gen 7 Pokémon only or can we use things we transferred from the Bank from other generations/games?

  51. Cate

    Are we exclusively using Gen 7 this year or can we use Pokémon we transferred front Gen 6 with the Bank?

  52. Miror Z

    I see that besides the Extreme Evoboost clause, there is no baton pass clause limiting the number of pokemon knowing baton pass on a team or other baton pass/stat increasing move combination bans. Is this in fact the case, that smogon’s baton pass clause it NOT used? (I’m not complaining. I actually hate that rule as it ruins creative teams. I just want to make sure). Thanks!

  53. LunaRose

    Is Mega-Diancie potentially going to be un-banned given that its now available and they balanced it out in comparison to how OP it was in ORAS?

Leave a Reply to Propriety Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *