under construction The Pokémon Trading Card Game is easy to play, but hard to master. The series has a massive following and is considered to be one of the biggest card games released, with over 15 billion cards being printed. This is a guide on how the Pokémon Trading Card Game is played.

How to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game


Cards are the heart of the Pokémon TCG. There are many different types of cards, which we will list here.

Pokémon cards

The Pokémon TCG revolves around these cards. This is the blood of the TCG, and without it, you would be nothing (obviously).

There are many different types of Pokémon cards.

Basic Pokémon

These are the cards you need to begin with. These cards are usually the first in an evolution line. For example, a basic Pokémon might be a Charmander. These, however are mostly weak and bad Pokémon (there are exceptions). Luckily...

Stage 1 and Stage 2 Pokémon

...Pokémon can evolve. Stage 1 Pokémon can be evolved from Basic Pokémon and are much more powerful. They are useful cards to have. For example, a Stage 1 Pokémon would be a Charmeleon.

But there are even better cards. These are Stage 2 Pokémon, which are one of the most powerful card types. I say one of, because there are more powerful cards... which I'll discuss later. But you want these cards in your deck (I'll explain below). An example would be a Charizard.

More powerful cards

There are many more powerful Pokémon cards. But that is another topic. Basically, they are amped up versions of stage-2 Pokémon. There are many, so here's a nice, long list of them.

And for the sake of stuff, here are some not-so-powerful Pokémon card types.

Energy cards

Without energy cards, you might as well throw your cards at the your opponent so it can deal some damage. Energy cards are the fuel for your Pokémon. They cannot attack without them. There are many Energy types, each one having a different Pokémon type on it. (Pokémon types are explained below).

Trainer cards

Trainer cards are special cards that can cause bonuses and extra opportunities for you. You'll need a few of these in your deck. They can switch out Pokémon with no cost, (will explain below!!), heal your Pokémon and other useful stuff. Use them well.

Pokémon card types

In the Pokémon main series games, each Pokémon is sorted into types. Currently as of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, there are 18 Pokémon types in the games.

In the TCG, there are 11 types. Not every type in the game has its own type in the TCG. These types "join together" to form other types, per se.

These are the 11 types that are in the TCG.

TCG type Type in the Pokémon games
Grass Bug, Grass
Fire Fire
Water Water, Ice
Lightning Electric
Psychic Psychic, Ghost, Poison
Fighting Fighting, Rock, Ground
Darkness Dark
Metal Steel
Colorless Normal, Flying,
Dragon Dragon
Fairy Fairy

These types work well against others. This is called the Pokémon's weakness. Some Pokémon have resistance against other types. These can be seen on the card itself.

Building a deck

A deck is a 60-card set of cards that you use to battle other players. There can only be 60 cards in the deck. Any more or any less will not be a deck. ONLY 60 CARDS!

Cards you need

You will need the cards mentioned above. You will have to have at least a few trainers, 25 or so Pokémon, and lots of energy cards. It is completely customizable, as any card can be used against your opponent.

Decks made out of your personal card collection are called Construction Decks.

Where to buy?

You can buy booster packs to add to your card collection. These packs have random cards, and if you're lucky, you might get a strong Pokémon. Booster packs cost from $3-$12.

Too lazy to rip through hundreds of booster packs? Well, you can buy a pre-made deck, called a Theme Deck. These packs have certain Pokémon placed in them so you don't have to do the hard work. However, these decks aren't usually good; you might have to edit it to improve it. On the plus side, it contains all the things you need. Theme decks cost from $10-$23.

You can also buy tins, metal cans that hold lots of Pokémon cards ($15-$30), and Pokémon boxes, literally boxes with cards ($20-$40). You can also buy individual cards, which can be as cheap as $.50, to expensive as $300!


Don't have time to play a fullblown game? You can play with a half-deck, which has 30 cards instead of 60! Just make sure the other player is playing with a halfdeck.

These are usually sold as Trainer Kits, ranging from $10 to $25.

The Match

The Match is the Pokémon game. This is the meat of the TCG, and it is important you learn everything so you don't screw up!

Things we need

First, you'll need cards. Because it's the TRADING CARD Game!

Not only will you need cards, but you will need coins or dice. Coins come with Theme Decks and Boxes, and dices come with Boxes. These will be useful for affecting Pokémon. You can also buy them individually.

You will also damage counters. These register how much damage your Pokémon has taken. There are also Burn and Poisoned counters (will explain below!)These can be found in Theme Decks and Boxes.

When you have all these things, the game can begin!

Who goes first?

To decide who goes first, have one player choose heads and the other choose tails. Then, flip the coin. If the coin is heads, then the player who got heads gets to play first. However, the player who goes first cannot attack until his second turn.

You can also use one dice, with even numbers being heads, and odd being tails.

Setting up your cards

First of all, shuffle your deck. Then place it in the lower-right hand side of your Field (see below).

Match setup

Match setup image coming soon!

On the left side are your six prize cards. On the lower middle side are your Benched Pokémon. On the upper middle side is your Active Pokémon. On the upper right side is your Discard Pile, and under it is your Deck. You hold your hand with your hand.

Drawing the cards

Draw seven cards from the deck into your hand. Now you will have to choose which Pokémon to send out.

Choosing your Basic Pokémon

Choose the Basic Pokémon in your hand. Then place it into the Active Pokémon slot face down. You may only have a basic Pokémon in the active Pokémon slot. No Stage 1 or Stage 2 Pokémon!

If you don't have a basic Pokémon in your hand

If you don't have a basic Pokémon in your hand, then you must put your current hand back into your deck. Then reshuffle it and draw seven more cards. Choose a Basic Pokémon there, but if you still don't have a Basic Pokémon, repeat the steps mentioned before.

Benched Pokémon

You now have six cards in your hand. If you have any extra BASIC Pokémon, you can place them face down in your Benched Pokémon area. You may only have five Basic Pokémon in the Bench.

Prize cards

Finally, draw six cards from your deck and place them in the prize card area. You may not change them in any way. They must be placed face down, and your opponent must not know which cards they are.

Finally, turn over your benched Pokémon and active Pokémon face up.

Your turn

It is now your turn. These are the things you should do in order.

Drawing a card

First, draw a card from your deck and place it into your hand.

Attaching energy cards

Attach any energy cards into their respective Pokémon. Colorless Pokémon can use any energy card. Colorless energy can be any card.

Evolving Pokémon

Basic Pokémon cannot evolve on the turn they were placed on. Evolve a Pokémon by placing the Stage 1 Pokémon on the Basic Pokémon, the Stage 2 Pokémon on the Stage 1 Pokémon, or the Pokémon-EX card on the Stage 2 Pokémon and vice versa.

The Bench

The bench is where the Pokémon you are not currently using stay. You may switch Pokémon in and out of the bench.

Retreating your Pokémon

Switching your Pokémon into the bench is called retreating. It costs a certain amount of your energy cards to retreat your cards. The energy card(s) you use to pay the price of retreating go into your discard pile. Then place the retreated Pokémon into the bench and replace it with one of your benched Pokémon.

Playing Trainer cards

Trainer cards are very useful as explained above. You can play any trainer card in your hand, and then you can just follow the instructions on the card. Then, put the trainer card you used in the discard pile.

Abilities and PokéPowers

Abilities and PokéPowers are special things that change a gameplay aspect. Not all Pokémon have them, but it is recommended you play them now. Follow the instructions on the description.


Now it is time to attack. Remember, once you attack, your turn is over. Choose an attack you want to play.  If you have enough energy cards, you can use this attack and damage the other Pokémon!

Damaging the other Pokémon

Check how much damage the move you did caused, and place the respective dice or damage counters on the other Pokémon. For example, if a move did 20 HP of damage, then place two 10" damage countesr on the opposing Pokémon. 

Knocking out the other Pokémon

Once the damage dealed is higher or equal to the opposing Pokémon's HP, then the other Pokémon is knocked out! Take one prize card from your opponent and place it in your hand!! Once all 6 Pokémon are knocked out, and all prize cards are taken, then you win!!

The opponent must placed the knocked out Pokémon into their discard pile. Then they must place a Benched Pokémon into the Active Pokémon area.

This also applies to you if your Pokémon is knocked out!!

Other effects

Pokémon can have other effects.

Rinse and repeat

Winning the match

One by one

Taking the prize cards

Types of cards

Pokémon types







Holo rare


Shiny rare-holo
Rare holo Lv.X
Rare Holofoil LEGEND
Super-rare holo
Pokémon EX

Secret cards

Promotional cards

Card sets


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