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How to Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game

How to Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game
Do you remember Pokémon? Ash, Misty, Brock, Team Rocket, Pikachu, Charmander, Gastly, etc. Gosh! There are so many to remember. How about a Pokémon battle at home? I am sure you're up for one. Plentifun explains the rules on how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game, and enjoy that fierce Pokémon battle right at home.
Vibhav Gaonkar
The game was first published in North America by Wizards of the Coast in 1999. However, with the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Game Boy Advance video games, The Pokémon Company took back the card game from Wizards of the Coast and started publishing the cards themselves.
All of us know Pokémon mostly by its cartoon series that was screened on Cartoon Network. Pokémon is a creation of Satoshi Tajiri, and its rights are owned by the famous Japanese video game company Nintendo. Pokémon also became a famous video game and a trading card game later. The video game was first launched for the Game Boy under the genre of role playing video games, and was developed by Game Freak.
Pokémon is Nintendo's second-most popular and lucrative video game after its Mario franchise. Apart from trading cards, Pokémon was also merchandised into anime, manga, toys, books, and other media. Kids did and still do enjoy playing Pokémon cards, as they actually let you battle with other Pokémon, and are quite similar to the game and the T.V. show, including special powers and attacks.
Understanding the Types of Pokécards

There are 3 basic types of cards in the game. Let's take a look at the function of each type.
Energy Cards
Energy cards in Pokémon are used to attack or retreat. There are 9 basic types of energy cards which include the following:
  • Grass
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Lightning
  • Psychic
  • Fighting
  • Darkness
  • Metal
  • Colorless
Colorless energy works like a wild card in Pokémon. Use it in place of any other energy you require; for example, if you need 3 fire energy cards to power up an attack on your opponent, but you have only 2 and a colorless energy card. You can pair it up with the 2, and use the 3 to make an attack.
There are also some special energy cards which are like boosts. Some might help you substitute a basic energy card, while others might solely provide all the energy required to make an attack.
Trainer Cards
These cards impart special powers. There are 5 main types of trainer cards:
  • Item
  • Supporter
  • Stadium
  • Pokémon Tools
  • Technical Machines
Items are mostly potions that affect the Pokémon cards in play. They have a variety of powers, which include healing of Pokémon, swapping active Pokémon with another one on the bench, devolving a Pokémon, and getting more trainer cards or new Pokémon cards from your deck. These cards can be used as many times as one wishes to use them in a turn.
A supporter card directly affects your deck. It will either instruct you to draw more cards or a specific set of cards from your deck. At times, a supporter card might also instruct each player to draw a certain number of cards from their respective decks. Only one of such cards can be played per turn.
Stadium cards affect the overall picture of the game. Some cards may instruct healing of Pokémon, or some may instruct flipping a coin and acting as per instructed, irrespective of the outcome. For instance, a stadium card might say; "Once during each player's turn, the owner of the card may flip a coin until he/she gets a tails. For each heads the player draws a card."
Pokémon Tools
These are cards that can save a fainting Pokémon, and are perfect 'table turners'. These cards can do wonders, from reducing damage to reflecting an attack. So beware of your opponent using such a card any time during the game.
Technical Machines
These are cards which can be equipped by a particular Pokémon. They increase the Pokémon's health (hit points), and also impart newer stronger attacks.
Pokémon Cards
The most fundamental cards of the game, Pokémon cards, as seen in the cartoon, include various types:
  • Grass
  • Fire
  • Psychic
  • Steel
  • Dark
  • Thunder
  • Water
  • Fighting
  • Normal
The Pokémon cards are further divided into various stages. For instance, there are basic Pokémon, Stage 1 Pokémon, SP Pokémon, Lvl X Pokémon, and so on. Each of these stages possess different levels of power and skills. But each category/stage has certain weaknesses too.
Pokémon Card Setup
Pokemon Card Setup
Pokémon Trading Card Game Rules
  1. Start with shuffling all the cards in your deck. In the game, each player has a deck of 60 cards, ½ of which are energy and trainer cards.
  2. Once done shuffling, draw the top 7 cards from your deck and keep them face-down until the game begins. These are the cards in your hand.
  3. Next, draw your 'prize' cards. These are the advantage cards that you get when you defeat one of your opponent's Pokémon. Draw 6 cards from your deck and place them on your left, neatly split and arranged. (Refer to illustration)
  4. Now, put the remaining deck at the top right of your position, exactly opposite to the prize cards.
  5. After the opponent has set up his/her cards, it's all okay to start. Begin with hunting for a basic Pokémon card in your hand of 7 cards. Look for as many as you can. Once you find one, keep it in the play area face-down as your active Pokémon. In case there isn't any basic Pokémon in your hand, mix the 7 cards in the deck, shuffle and draw 7 cards again.
  6. You can put up to 5 basic Pokémons from your hand to your bench face-down.
  7. To decide the opening player, flip a coin. Once decided, flip your active and bench Pokémon cards face-up and start playing. Keep your hand, prize cards, and deck always face-down.
  8. On each turn, a player can either draw a new card from the deck or play one from his/her hand. A player can't have more than 7 cards in his/her hand.
  9. When playing from the hand, the player has to draw a card. If the card drawn is a basic Pokémon, the player can place it on the bench. If an energy card is drawn, he/she can attach one card per turn under any of the benches or active Pokémon. You can also use trainer cards, if you luckily have one. These cards have their own advantages, as discussed above, and are self-explanatory.
  10. Apart from using cards, you can do a lot of things with your active or bench Pokémon. On your turn, you can evolve your Pokémon (this can be done only after the starting player's 3rd turn). You can use a special power that your Pokémon has, or you can simply retreat a Pokémon who has taken a lot of damage. Retreating Pokémon costs you energy cards, so think wisely.
  11. Finally, you can attack your opponent if you are in a position to do so. The requirement to attack is specified on each Pokémon card. You need the amount of energy cards required to attack.
  12. When attacking, always look at the opponent Pokémon's weakness element. If the opponent has a weakness to the elements that your Pokémon possesses, he stands a chance to receive more damage.
  13. The second important thing when attacking is to take a look at the resistance element of the opponent Pokémon, if he has any. If the Pokémon you're fighting with is resistant to your attacks, your Pokémon's energy would go futile. So always think twice before you begin to attack.
Other Conditions and Injured Pokémon
  • If, unfortunately, your Pokémon gets knocked out, you will have to discard it in your Discard Pile.
  • When battling a Pokémon, use damage counters to record the amount of damage to avoid confusion of any sort.
  • Dealing appropriately with your injured Pokémon is very important. If a Pokémon is poisoned, put a poison marker on that one. After each completed turn, put 1 damage counter on the poisoned Pokémon.
  • Sometimes, due to a psychic attack, the Pokémon might fall asleep. Flip a coin between turns; if it's heads the Pokémon wakes, if tails it cannot retreat or attack. The card for a Pokémon who's asleep is turned to the left.
  • Your Pokémon might also get confused at times. Flip a coin before you attack; if heads the Pokémon recovers and uses the attack normally, if tails, put 3 damage counters on the confused Pokémon, and the attack is useless. Sometimes, there are attacks that also require flipping coins. In such cases, flip for the confusion first, and then for the attack.
  • If a Pokémon is burned due to a fire attack, put a burn marker on it. Flip a coin; if heads, the Pokémon takes no burn damage, if tails, put 2 damage counters on it.
  • When dealing with a paralyzed Pokémon, always remember that such a Pokémon can't attack or retreat on that particular turn. Although, after the turn ends, it returns to normal. A paralyzed Pokémon card is turned to the right.
  • An injured one needs to be healed. The best way is to return them to the bench. If you luckily have a suitable trainer card which fully heals a Pokémon, use it wisely.
Alright folks, that's it! You are all good to play Pokémon Trading Cards. Always buy original playing cards, as they include all the new and rare Pokémon. Gotta catch 'em all!