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What is the best way to play the Pokémon trading card game? A primer on the rules, setup, and gameplay.

The Pokémon franchise, which debuted in Japan in 1996, has delighted fans with its famous “pocket monsters.” Keeping up with Pokémon has definitely lived up to its slogan: “Gotta catch ’em all!” from animated television shows and movies to video games, stuffed plushes, and toys.

However, trading cards are a staple in the world of Pokémon, and with 1008 Pokémon to collect, it may take some time before you fill up your Pokédex and begin battling.

The Pokémon trading card game is enjoyable for people of all ages. Here’s what you need to know to play Pokémon, whether you’re playing with a friend or competing in an official Play! Pokémon event.

What are the fundamentals of Pokémon?

The goal of the Pokémon trading card game is to assemble the most powerful Pokémon deck possible and battle by taking turns using attacks and abilities to defeat your opponent. According to the official Pokémon website, two players play at a time, each with a deck of 60 cards.

The length of each Pokémon match is determined by how quickly you can defeat your opponent, but play time can range from minutes to over an hour. Pokémon trading card game tournaments can last up to 12 hours.

The Pokémon trading card game has three types of cards, according to the official Pokémon website:

Character card dissection

Character cards feature actual Pokémon. Each Pokémon has a type, which is one of eleven in the trading card game. Bulbapedia defines the following types:

Fighting Psychic Grass Fire Water Lightning Colorless Darkness
Fairy Metal Dragon
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Although there are 18 types in video games, this is condensed for the trading card game, with Ice being classified as Water and Ghost as Psychic.

There are also two moves on the card, which can be attacks or abilities. The amount of damage for each attack or ability will be shown to the right of these. Any additional damage or impacts will be listed below the individual move.

Each Pokémon will be classified as either a basic, a stage 1 or a stage 2 Pokémon. These represent the stage of evolution of a Pokémon. A piplup card, for example, is considered “basic” (because it is the first in the evolution line), prinplup is “stage 1” (because it evolves from piplup), and empoleon is “stage 2.” (since it evolves from prinplup).

On the card, you’ll also see the Pokémon’s hit points (or HP), which indicate how much damage it can take before being knocked out. Its weakness, resistance, and retreat cost will also be listed.

Weakness indicates which types of Pokémon are vulnerable to and whether additional damage is dealt per move. Resistance indicates which types of damage your Pokémon will take less of.

If you want to bring your active card back and swap it out, the retreat cost comes into play. To pay, enter the amount from your energy card.

The explanation of energy cards

Energy cards can be attached to your character cards to increase the power of your attacks. They are placed beneath the character card and remain there until removed by an effect or action.

The attack cost will appear next to the attacks and abilities, indicating how much and what type of energy is required to perform a move.

You can only attach one energy card per turn that corresponds to the corresponding energy symbol of the attack cost. A colourless energy symbol is a wild card, which means you can use any type of energy card to carry out the attack.

According to the official Pokémon website, there are nine different types of energy cards:

Grass, Fire, Water, and Lightning
Psychic Against the Darkness
Fairy Made of Metal
The energy cards are discarded when a Pokémon is retreated.

Supporter cards can only be used once per turn, but they can be very useful in a game by providing extra benefits such as healing damage from a Pokémon or allowing you to discard and redraw your hand.

Once played, stadium cards remain active, and only one stadium can be used at a time. Every stadium card has its own set of rules. If you want to change the stadium’s name, it must be something other than the one that is currently in use. When a new one is added, the old one and its effects are removed.

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Getting the Pokémon trading card game started
Decide who goes first when starting the Pokémon trading card game. This can be accomplished by using a coin flip or rock-paper-scissors. The winner gets to choose who goes first. You cannot play a supporter card or attack on your first turn if you are the first player to take a turn.

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