The Pokémon franchise was founded in Japan in 1996 and delights fans with its famous “pocket monsters”. From animated TV shows and movies to video games, stuffed animals, and toys, keeping up with Pokémon definitely lived up to its slogan, “Got to catch ’em all!”
But a staple in the world of Pokémon are its trading cards, and with 905 Pokémon to collect, it may take some time before you fill up your Pokédex and start the battle.
The Pokémon TCG is fun for all ages. Whether you’re playing with a friend or at an official Play! Pokemon event, here’s what you need to know to play Pokemon.
How many Pokemon are there? We counted every generation of Pokemon, including Arceus.
Just curious?We’re here to answer your everyday questions.
What are the basics of Pokemon?
The goal of the Pokémon TCG is to build the most powerful Pokémon deck and battle it out, using alternating attacks and abilities to defeat your opponent. Two players play simultaneously, each with a deck of 60 cards, according to the official Pokémon website.
The length of each Pokémon match depends on how quickly you can defeat your opponent, but playtime can be as little as a few minutes or more than an hour. Official Pokémon TCG tournaments can last over 12 hours.
According to the official Pokémon website, there are three types of cards in the Pokémon TCG:
- character cards
- energy cards
- trainer cards
Disassemble character cards
The actual Pokemon is on the character cards. Every Pokémon has a type, one of 11 in the trading card game. The types according to Bulbapedia:
Although there are 18 types in the video games, for the trading card game this is condensed, e.g. e.g. ice under water or spirit is classified as psychic.
Additionally, there are two moves on the card, which can be attacks or abilities. To the right is the amount of damage for each attack or ability. Any other damage or effects are listed under the individual move.
Each Pokémon is classified as Basic, Level 1, or Level 2. These indicate the evolutionary stage of a Pokémon. For example, a Piplup card is considered “Base” (since it is the first in the evolution line), Prinplup is “Stage 1” (since it evolves from Piplup), and Empoleon is “Stage 2” (since it evolves from Prinplup ). .
Also on the card is the hit points (or HP), which indicate how much damage a Pokémon can take before it becomes Knocked Out. Also listed are its weakness, resistance, and retreat cost.
Weakness shows which types your Pokemon is weak for and whether extra damage is dealt each turn. Resistance indicates which types your Pokémon take less damage from.
If you want to bring back your active card and trade in a different one, this is where the retreat cost comes into play. To pay, add the specified energy card amount.
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Energy Cards Explained
Energy cards can be attached to your character cards to boost attacks. They are added under the character card and remain there until an effect or action removes them.
Next to the attacks and abilities is the attack cost, which tells you how much and what type of energy you need to make a move.
You can only equip one energy card per turn that matches the corresponding energy symbol of the attack cost. A colorless energy symbol is wild, which means you can add any type of energy card to perform the attack.
According to the official Pokemon website, there are nine types of Energy cards:
Once a Pokémon retreats, the Energy cards are discarded.
Understand trainer cards
There are three types of Trainer cards, each providing a different benefit:
Item cards are played during your turn. You can add as many as you like before attacking. See the card for instructions on how to use it. A Pokémon tool card is a special item card that can be attached to your character card and give it a special effect. Only one Pokémon tool can be attached at a time. When a Pokémon is attacked, the Tool card is discarded.
Supporter cards can only be played once per turn, and they can really help in a game by providing additional benefits such as: Such as healing damage from a Pokemon or being able to discard and redraw your hand.
Stadium cards played once remain active and only one stadium can be played at a time. Each stadium map has its own rules. If you want to change the stadium, it must have a different name than the one currently playing. As soon as a new one is added, discard the old one and its effects.
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Setting up the Pokémon TCG
When you start the Pokémon TCG, you decide who starts first. This can be done with a coin toss or rock-paper-scissors. The winner decides who goes first. If you are the first player to act, you cannot play or attack a supporter card on your first turn.
Shuffle your deck and draw the top seven cards. To start, you need a basic Pokemon in your hand. If you don’t, you must mulligan.
If you mulligan, show your opponent your hand and shuffle it back into the deck. Then draw seven new cards from the top. Repeat this until you have at least one basic character card in hand.
Your opponent can choose to add a card to their hand for each mulligan you take. If both players have mulligans, subtract the higher amount from the lower total and draw the remainder. For example, if player one has three mulligans and player two has four mulligans, player one may draw an additional card into his hand.
Once both players have Basic Pokémon, place the cards facedown on the playmat’s active spot. If you have more than one Basic Pokémon in your hand, you can put up to five cards on your Bench.
Before you officially begin, place six face-down prize cards onto your deck from the top.
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How to play Pokemon, step by step
To start, flip the Active Pokémon cards and the Benched Pokémon cards face down. Each player’s turn consists of three parts:
First, draw a card from your deck. From there you can decide what actions you want to take, such as:
- Play a Basic Pokémon
- Evolve a Pokemon
- Attach an energy card
- Play a trainer card
- Retire your Active Pokémon
- Use your Pokemon’s abilities
You can do as many of the following actions as you like before finally deciding to attack your opponent’s Active Pokémon. When attacking, make sure you have the right amount of energy cards for the turn. Tell your opponent what attack you are using. Then add up the damage and additional effects.
The amount of damage a move deals is listed to the right of the attack name. Your opponent should add damage counters to their card for the specified amount of damage. Damage counters aren’t removed from a card even if the Pokémon evolves or is benched. The counters can only be removed if the Pokémon is healed, knocked out, or completely removed from play.
If a Pokémon has total damage equal to or greater than its HP, it falls unconscious. Remove the card and associated cards to the discard pile.
Switch turns until all of a player’s Prize cards are taken or all of their Pokemon are knocked out. The player who stopped or got all the prize cards wins. A player can also win if their opponent has no other cards in their deck at the start of their turn.
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Active vs. Benched Pokemon
When playing the deck, the character cards can be placed in the active or banked area of the playmat.
An Active Pokémon is used to attack your opponent’s card. Only one card can be active per player at a time.
The bench houses the other basic Pokemon on your team, which can be swapped out in the active spot. A player can have up to five Benched Pokémon during a game. If your Active Pokémon is Knocked Out or you choose to Retire it, move another Pokémon from your Bench to the Active Spot.
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How to evolve a Pokemon
During a game, you can evolve your Pokémon to give it the advantage of stronger attacks and higher HP. To evolve your Pokémon, start with a simple evolution line character card, such as B. Eevee.
From there, select the level 1 card from the evolution line. A Level 1 Pokémon evolves from a Basic Pokémon. A level 2 Pokémon evolves from a level 1 Pokémon. A Pokémon cannot use the moves from its previous evolution, only the moves and abilities listed on the evolved character card.
You can’t evolve a Pokémon if its card was just benched, and you can only evolve it once per turn. Also, you cannot evolve on your first turn.
Once a Pokémon has evolved, it keeps the damage counters and Energy cards attached to it. However, if there are attack effects or special conditions on Pokémon, such as E.g. being confused or poisoned, this disappears as soon as it is evolved.
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How to earn prize cards
Each player sets aside six prize cards, which are awarded to the opponent after winning a round. For each round win, the player usually receives a prize card from their opponent’s deck.
Depending on the card, a player may receive more or less than one prize card. The player who gets all of their opponent’s prize cards is the winner of the game.
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