Introduction to the Pokémon Trading Card Game

Introduction to the Pokémon Trading Card Game

Who doesn't love Pokémon cards? They're collected, traded, and loved by fans all over the world. But, what about playing the game? You may have played the game back in the day, or maybe you've wanted to try playing but don't know where to start. Well the good news is that Pokémon is a fairly easy game to pick up, and I'm going to tell you how!

The Game Basics

A game of the Pokémon TCG is a lot like a battle in any main series Pokémon game. You, the trainer, use your Pokémon to battle against your opponent. The objective of the game is to defeat as many Pokémon as you can so your opponent loses the game. Here are a few basic terms you will see used often in the TCG:

Active Pokémon Your Active Pokémon is the Pokémon that you currently have out on the field. You and your opponent's active Pokémon battle each other, just like a single battle!
Bench Your bench is where your current "team" of Pokémon reside. You can place up to 5 Pokémon to the bench from your hand, and they can be switched with your active Pokémon if they retreat or are knocked out. Be careful though, because if your Active Pokémon and your bench is empty, you lose the game!
Energy Cards There are 10 types of Energy Cards that correspond with the different types of Pokémon. Your Pokémon need Energy in order to unleash attacks. You can attach one Energy Card per turn to either your Active Pokémon or any of your Benched Pokémon.
Trainer Cards These cards range in variety, such as Supporters, Items, and Stadiums. Each one is different, and each offers a different effect to aid you in battle! Supporters, however, can only be used once per turn.
Prize Cards Before the start of a game, you and your opponent place up to 6 prize cards from your deck to the side. If you defeat your opponent's Pokémon, you earn a prize, and if you win all of your prizes, you win the game!


Pokémon Cards

Let's take a look at this card from the Pokémon TCG!

At the start of every turn, we draw a card. Let's pretend it's our first turn of the battle, and we have this Litten in our hand. Since it is a Basic Pokémon, we can use it as our Active Pokémon right off the bat! If we have a Fire-type energy in our hand, we can attach it to Litten and use its Bite attack! We won't be able to use Litten's Flare attack until next turn, because you can only attach one Energy Card per turn. Once your Pokémon attacks, your turn automatically ends.
On our opponent's next turn, if Litten is hit by a Water-type Pokémon (not a Water Energy attack!), it will do double the damage because it's weak to Water. Yikes! Luckily, there's a way to defend our Litten, and that's by evolving!

If you look by this card's name, you will see that this Pokémon isn't a Basic Pokémon, but a Stage 1 evolution! As long as it's not our first turn of the battle, we can evolve our Litten into Torracat! Now Torracat's first attack will be much stronger, and if our flip of the coin is lucky, maybe we can even knock out the opposing Pokémon!
Every Pokémon card is different, and has its own unique functions in battle. Some have moves that require coin flips or a roll of the dice, and others have abilities that act as passive moves to be utilized at various points of battle. But, that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to different types of Pokémon cards. Let's go over some more types of cards you may even have in your own collection!


These cards are very unique. Not only because they're fun to collect, but when you use them in a TCG duel, you will be put at quite an advantage. Do you notice any similarities between this card and the Litten shown from earlier? That's right, they're both Basic Pokémon! That means you can play them upfront without any evolution. You don't have to have Charmander and Charmeleon to use this mighty Charizard EX! But be careful, because if your opponent knocks out your Pokémon-EX, they get to take two prize cards instead of one!

M Pokémon-EX

That's right, you can even Mega-Evolve within the TCG! Mega EX cards (stylized as M EX) are even stronger versions of their EX counterparts. They have devastatingly powerful attacks, but with even more costs. Just like how an attack ends your turn, Mega-Evolving your Pokémon-EX will immediately end your turn. You can avoid this however by using Spirit Link cards!


Pokémon-GX is an added addition from Pokémon Sun & Moon! Much like Z-Moves, a Pokémon-GX has a tremendously powerful attack that you can utilize only once during the entire game. But boy is it worth it, because these moves pack a punch. This Incineroar's Burning Slam GX does 200 damage! Different from EX is that these cards can be evolutions, as you can see by this Incineroar card that evolves from Torracat. And just like EX cards, if your opponent knocks it out, they get two prize cards.

Pokémon BREAK

Not every Pokémon has the benefit of having a Mega-Evolution. But that doesn't mean that Pokémon has reached their full potential! With BREAK cards, a Pokémon can evolve even farther than it had before. And the best part is that, unlike EX and GX cards, there's no cost to using them! They work just like normal evolutions, and give your Pokémon a huge boost.

Miscellaneous Cards

There have been many different types of TCG mechanics over the years, and if you have any old cards, you might have seen some of them. In Generation IV, there were LV.X cards, which were much like BREAK cards in that they were bonus evolutions for your Pokémon to use. In Generation III there were ex cards (not EX, it's lowercase!) that had ex-tra moves and abilities. Most of these types of cards have been retired from official TCG play, but you're free to collect them and battle with them on your own!


The Pokémon TCG is a fun, easy, and addicting game for all ages! If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments. If you want to get into the game yourself, try downloading the free Pokémon TCG app on your computer or mobile device, or go out and support your local card store! Most stores have special days where you can go and meet those who are also into the game, even if you just want to look and trade cards.

Good luck, and have fun!


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