Pokemon card games

How to Get Started with the Pokémon Trading Card Game

Pokémon Trading Card Game was launched in December 1996 and since then, its popularity has been unstoppable. It has even surpassed the fame of Pokémon video games. Young generations all over the world simple adore it.

On the other hand though, the game is not an easy one to play; surprisingly it has some complexity and tactical depth which is why many end up just collecting the cards instead of playing with them. Yes, Pokémon Trading Card Game could indeed be intimidating, but know that you are not the only one feeling this.

Studying the basics of the game will make your learning curve a much easier ride. Below is good starting point to get you on your way to understanding the mechanics.

The Basics

Just like in the video games, Pokémon TCG is pretty much similar.

Below are the types of Pokémon cards in the game:

  • Darkness
  • Colorless
  • Fairy
  • Dragon
  • Fighting
  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Grass
  • Psychic
  • Metal
  • Water

Hit Points determines the health of the Pokémon and some of them only be played by evolving their lower evolutions. You can only have 4 of each card with the same name in your deck but you can have additional ones if the Pokémon has a prefix or suffix.

Energy cards are important as they are used when your Pokémon attacks. Each attack uses a certain amount of energy; the better the attack, the higher the cost of energy needed. Your deck should have any amount of Basic Energy cards but you can also have Special Energy cards. These Special Energy cards typically have special effects such as Warp Energy which allows you to switch your Pokémon when you attach it or Rainbow Energy which can be used as any type of Energy.

There are also Trainer cards that come in different kinds. First are Item cards you can use any amount per turn and have typically simple effects. Next are Supporter cards which have useful effects such as manipulation of your hand. These cards which are based on characters from the games and other prominent characters can be used once per turn. Then there are the Stadium cards. When you place these cards on the table, they have an overall effect that affects both players cards, such as increasing damage from Water Pokémon.

Winning the match can be done through several ways:

  • Prize Cards – At the start of the game, each player places the top 6 cards from their deck face down on the table as prize cards. A player wins if he collects all 6 cards.
  • Deck out – A player loses the game if he runs out of cards in his deck.
  • Defeated Pokémon – The game is won if a player defeats the Pokémon his opponent and there are no Pokémon on the player’s bench to replace it.
  • Time Limit – During official event, the winner is the player with the least amount of prize cards when the time runs out.

The Flow of Play

Each turn starts from drawing a deck from your deck. Then, do the following actions in no particular order:

  • Put any number of Basic Pokémon from your hand to your Bench until you have 5 on your Bench.
  • Make your Pokémon evolve. Remember though that you can’t evolve a Pokémon on the turn you played it except for some Trainer cards and abilities.
  • Deploy abilities. Some of the Pokémon’s abilities are activated when you play the card, while others activate when you wish them to. There are some though who have an always active abilities.
  • Attach one Energy from your hand per turn.
  • Retreat your Pokémon. You may switch the active one with a Pokémon from your Bench.
  • You can use Item cards and Pokémon Tools any number of times during your turn but don’t forget that Supporter cards are only used once per turn.
  • Keep on attacking.

Always bear in mind that your turn ends when you attack so make sure that you have pretty much done everything you want to do before you attack. You also have the option to end the turn without an attack either through the effects of other cards or by your choice.

Deck Building

There is really no perfect advice when it comes to building your deck. No decks are similar; each of them varies according to your style of play, whether you want to be a more strategic player or more on the offensive side.

There are only 60 cards in each deck but there is no limitation when it comes to how many Trainer, Pokémon or Energy cards you want to have, other than the limit of no 4 cards with the same name in a deck. Theoretically, you can have 26 Trainer Cards, 30 Energy and 4 Pokémon cards if you prefer so.

Before you make a deck, think first what you want to do with it. For example, focus on trainer cards that will allow you to search for the cards you need to win. Also, avoid filling up your deck with Pokémon because that will prevent you from doing what you want it to do. Focus on just a few evolution chains and species and start working from there.

Click here to read more tips on how to build a competitive deck.

Pokémon Trading Card Game Formats

There are two different formats in official competitive play:

  • Standard Format – This is the main format and in rotation yearly. All card sets from XY BreakThrough onwards are legal.
  • Expanded Format – It allows for more open play, allowing for all cards from the Black & White series onwards. It rotates in time just like the Standard does, but it is far more flexible.

These two formats are responsible for making the game fresh and avoid players from relying on specific strategies. For example, Shaymin EX from Roaring Skies was legal in Standard Format from 2014 up until September 2017. It was also a staple of so many decks however players have to look for new strategies now since it can no longer be used in Standard.

Card games are one of the best game genres ever created. Click here to read more articles about this amazing game.

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