Get Started in the Pokemon TCG with these Essential Tips and Tricks

Anyone interested in learning more about the Pokemon Trading Card Game can access Learning Pokemon's tutorial videos and blogs. It is based in a setting that has enthralled audiences all across the world for decades, making it one of the longest-running expandable games in the genre's history. The majority of us played Pokemon as kids and are now playing it again in a more relaxed, fun manner. 

Join us for a summary of what you need to know to rediscover it for yourself or take your children there.

To offer the most recent information, this guide is constantly updated.

Learning Pokemon TCG is a guide that teaches you everything you need to know to begin playing!

The Pokemon Trading Card Game is an incredibly simple game to learn, and it's worth doing regardless of age or experience - because it's incredibly fun. The Pokemon YouTube channel has created a series of quick, helpful videos that will teach you everything you need to know about the game's basic rules. These videos are included below, as well as text-based summaries with a bit more detail so you can refer to them later without having to rewatch the entire video.

A basic Pokemon, such as this Pikachu, is the first version of a Pokemon.

Each card has several important elements along the top:

  1. Beginning on the left, the word 'basic' denotes that this is a basic Pokemon.
  2. The name of the Pokemon, in this case Pikachu, appears next to the word basic.
  3. The HP (hit points) next to the number 60 on the top-right indicates how much damage the Pokemon can take before being knocked out.
  4. To the right of the HP is the Pokemon's energy type, in this case Lightning.

A list of attacks can be found below the Pokemon's artwork. You get to choose one of these attacks to perform each round, just like in the digital game. Tail Whap and Spark are the attacks of this Pikachu. The amount of damage done to your opponent's active Pokemon is shown to the right of each attack. Tail Whap would deal 10 damage in this case, and your opponent would place a token indicating 10 damage on their active Pokemon.

The energy cost is shown to the left of each attack. This indicates how many and what type of energy cards must be attached to a Pokemon in order for it to use that attack.

You can play one energy from your hand per turn by attaching it to one of your Pokemon. The various energy types found in the game are listed below.

The colourless icon to the left of the Tail Whap attack means you can use any energy type to perform this attack. Spark, on the other hand, necessitates the attachment of at least one lightning energy and one energy of any kind to Pikachu in order for the attack to be used. It is important to note that performing an attack does not require you to remove a large amount of energy in order to use it; you simply need to have it attached.

Some attacks, such as Spark, have additional text beneath the attack's name. When performing an attack with text underneath it, always follow the instructions provided. When Pikachu performs that attack, it deals 10 damage to one of your opponent's benched Pokemon (discussed later).

When you deal damage to an opponent's Pokemon that equals or exceeds its remaining HP, that Pokemon is knocked out. When a Pokemon is knocked out, move it and all associated cards to your discard pile. When you defeat one of your opponent's Pokemon, you receive one of your six prize cards. You win the game when you draw all six of your prize cards!

To a Pokemon TCG game, each player brings their own unique deck of exactly 60 cards. When you're ready to play, shuffle your deck and place it in the top right corner of your play area.

You draw 7 cards at the start of each game. This is referred to as your starting hand. You'll place a basic Pokemon in your active Pokemon spot and up to five on your bench from your starting hand. Take note that all of these Pokemon are positioned face down.

If your starting hand contains no basic Pokemon, shuffle it back into your deck and draw a new starting hand. This process is repeated until you have at least one basic Pokemon in your starting hand. Every time you repeat this process, your opponent draws one more card, so make sure you have enough basic Pokemon in your deck when you're building it!

Place the top six cards of your deck facedown to the left of the play area before beginning a game. These are referred to as your prize cards. You get to choose a facedown prize card to put into your hand every time you knock out an opponent's Pokemon (without looking at what it is first). You win when you draw all six of your prize cards!

To begin a game, flip a coin to determine who will be the first player. By flipping them face up, both players now reveal all of their starting basic Pokemon.

Below is an example of a pretty standard starting setup.

Now, at each turn, you will do the following:

  1. Draw a card.
  2. Do any of the following as many times as you want, in any order: Play a Pokemon, evolve a Pokemon, attach an energy card to a Pokemon, play a trainer card, retreat your active Pokemon, and/or use the ability of a Pokemon.
  3. With your active Pokemon, attack your opponent's active Pokemon. This concludes your turn.

There are two things to keep in mind here: you lose the game if you don't have any cards to draw at the start of your turn, and you can't play more basic Pokemon if your bench is full.

If your active Pokemon is knocked out during either player's turn (usually by an opponent's attack), that Pokemon and all of its attached cards are discarded, and you must choose a Pokemon from your bench to become your new active Pokemon immediately. You lose the game if you cannot declare a new active Pokemon from your bench.

As your active Pokemon takes damage and approaches knockout, you should consider pulling it back and replacing it with a different Pokemon from your bench. This is known as retreating.

If you look at the bottom right of Mewtwo, you’ll notice the words retreat cost above three colorless energy symbols. This indicates the amount and type of energy you must discard from a Pokemon in order to move them to your bench. When you move a Pokemon to your bench, select one of your benched Pokemon to become your active Pokemon.

Take note of the words weakness and resistance to the left of the retreat cost. If a Pokemon has a weakness, they are vulnerable to attacks from Pokemon of the same type (that is, if the attacking Pokemon has the matching symbol on the top right of their card). If they have a resistance, they will take 20 less damage from Pokemon of that type.

You can play evolutions of your basic Pokemon as well as additional basic Pokemon on your turn! A Stage 1 Pokemon can be used on top of a basic Pokemon, and a Stage 2 Pokemon can be used on top of a Stage 1 Pokemon. This is known as evolving your Pokemon. When you evolve a Pokemon, all attached energy and damage from the previous version are transferred to the evolved Pokemon.

It should be noted that you cannot evolve a Pokemon in the same turn that it enters play. This means that if you evolved Charmander into Charmeleon, you'd have to wait another turn for Charmeleon to evolve into Charizard.

Decks include Trainer cards in addition to Pokemon and energy cards. Trainer cards come in a variety of forms, including items, tools, supporters, and stadiums.

Items that have an immediate effect are usually placed in your discard pile. You can play as many items as you want during your turn!

Tools are attached to your Pokemon and remain in play. While you can play as many as you want in a single turn, each Pokemon can only have one tool attached to them.

Supporter cards work similarly to items in that they usually have an immediate effect and are then discarded. The restriction is that you can only use one Supporter card per turn.

Stadium cards generally have an effect on both players and remain in play indefinitely or until replaced. There can only be one stadium card in play at any given time, and when either player plays a new stadium, the previous stadium is discarded. Stadium cards, like Supporter cards, can only be played once per turn.

Pokemon has five special conditions: asleep, burned, confused, paralysed, and poisoned. These conditions are typically imposed on a Pokemon as a result of an attack. All special conditions are removed when a Pokemon returns to your bench.

When a Pokemon is sleeping, mark it with a token or turn the card to the left. A Pokemon cannot attack or retreat while sleeping (unless retreated by a Trainer card or another Pokemon's ability). Flip a coin after your turn. If you get heads, your Pokemon will awaken. If they have tails, they sleep.

If a Pokemon is burned, mark it with a token. All burnt Pokemon take 20 damage at the end of each turn (yours and your opponent's). Flip a coin after taking damage from this condition. If you get heads, your Pokemon will no longer be burned. Otherwise, your Pokemon will be burned until it escapes.

When a Pokemon is confused, turn the card upside down to indicate it. After declaring an attack, confused Pokemon must flip a coin. If heads, the attack proceeds as usual. If the flip is tails, the attack is cancelled and the attacking Pokemon is dealt 30 damage instead! This condition lasts until your Pokemon is retreated, falls asleep, or becomes paralysed.

When a Pokemon becomes paralysed, mark it with a token or turn the card to the right. A Pokemon that is paralysed cannot attack or retreat on their next turn. At the end of your turn, this condition is removed.

If a Pokemon is poisoned, mark it with a token. Poisoning a Pokemon causes it to take 10 damage between turns. This condition will last until your Pokemon leaves.

Some Pokemon, such as Eevee, have special abilities. These abilities have a wide range of effects, so read the text carefully and follow it directly to properly resolve the ability.

And there you have it! 

You now understand the fundamentals of the Pokemon Trading Card Game. It's a simple but effective system that does an excellent job of simulating the experience of being a Pokemon trainer - and, at the risk of sounding archaic, this is a sensation we all fell in love with while playing Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue on Game Boy, and it's just as enjoyable now as it was then.

You'll need to start collecting Pokemon cards now that you know how to play the Pokemon TCG in order to find the various Pokemon you want to use! 

Check out our huge selection of Pokemon products to kick off your journey to catching them all and become a Pokemon Master!