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Everything You Need to Know About Pokémon TCG Online

Pokemon TCG Online

Like millions of kids around the world, I’ve been collecting Pokémon cards since primary school. It wasn’t until much later I discovered the true power of these 2.5 x 3.5-inch laminated cards. They form the tools to play an exciting, strategic game that keeps you thinking on your feet and one step ahead of your opponent. This is the case for many young trainers who just wanted to find a Charizard or Dialga in those shiny foil packs they got with their pocket money. However, even fewer have taken on opponents in the fierce arenas of Pokémon TCG Online.

pokemon battle scene

PTCGO takes the thrill of the game online. With players around the world, you will pit your decks against each other in the standard ruleset. For those who know how to play, skip on. Do stay around for a quick summary of how to put your Empoleon and Golduck to good use!

The aim of the game is simple, use your Pokémon’s attacks to do damage on your opponent’s, turn by turn. Do this until you have collected six prize cards by knocking out the opponent’s active ‘mon (take two if it’s a super-powerful GX card!) – as you take each prize card you can use it in your hand to affect the game. Energy cards must be attached one per turn before attacking, with different attacks requiring varying amounts and types of energy. For example, Boldore’s ‘Headbutt’ needs exclusively Fighting-type energy with an energy of any kind. Whereas, Incineroar’s ‘Darkest Lariat’ needs two Fire-type energies with a third energy of any kind.

A PTCGO Battle Scene with an Active Pokémon, Bench Space for Five Others and Unplaced Cards in Hand

Supporter and item cards spice up the gameplay even further. With cards allowing you to attach energies, retrieve long fainted Pokémon from your discard pile, or even switch your opponent’s active Pokémon with one from their bench at your choosing. This keeps the strategy kinetic and can turn a game around in a second.

pokemon deck manager

All of this is explained much better than I can in the online game’s tutorial, which can be repeated at any time to brush up on your understanding.

That accessibility doesn’t stop there – the game comes with three starter decks to give you an introduction to the game which can be used in any game mode. An offline ‘Trainer Battle’ arena lets you hone your skills with the starter decks to earn coins and booster packs. This will allow you to expand your arsenal of cards and build your own custom decks with the very handy deck wizard, which optimises your card selection for your most powerful ‘mons. Coins can be spent in the store on booster packs to find rare and super rare cards. Don't forget the whole 60-card decks that can be played across the game.

If you still like thumbing your way through a nice deck of physical cards bought with a crisp £10 note form your nana, the Pokémon Company have included exclusive codes in all physical booster packs that unlock a digital pack that can be opened in the game. You won’t get an exact card-for-card replica unless you’ve bought yourself a playable 60-card deck from Zatu. These boxes of cards contain codes that let you use the exact collection in your online play, including the box art and game coin that’s included.

The Deck Manager Where Purchased Decks Can Be Reviewed and Custom Decks Can Be Built and Edited

While venturing into the world of online matches can be daunting, the Pokémon Company have taken steps to continue the theme of accessibility. Game modes are split into Standard, Expanded and Themed. The first two use custom-built decks. The former limiting card selection to exclude rare and super rare cards. This restricts the domination of over-powered decks. However, this does also limit card selection for new players who may struggle to fill a 60-card deck with the Pokémon permitted in the game mode. Themed mode, on the other hand, uses the starter or purchased decks that have been curated to give a balanced gameplay experience. This mode is by far the easiest to enjoy, win and grow.

pokemon trainer challenges

Playing and winning is the most rewarding way to grow in the online game. VS rewards earn you coins, packs to find powerful GX and V cards, and entry tokens to 8-players events where more lucrative and rarer rewards can be found. All of these allow you to grow your collection of cards and build better, more powerful decks. However, with any game that features an in-game currency, pay-to-win is always present.

The Versus Reward Tree Creates the Opportunity to Expand Your Arsenal by playing and Winning

Any matchup of Expanded or Unlimited games are dominated by over-powered decks that feature laughable amounts of super rare cards. Thus rendering the experience unplayable. It seems impossible that the size and rarity of these decks can’t be achieved through chance or trading even the rarest cards. Boosters can be purchased using in-game currency that can be bought on a credit card. Then either opened en-masse or traded on the market for over-powered cards.

The story isn’t just the symptom of any game that features an in-game currency that can be artificially inflated using a player’s own money. It is the effect of the Pokémon Company trying to keep their property relevant and competitive.

pokemon VS rewards

It appears the company believes that the best way to keep their brand exciting is to introduce more and more super-powerful ‘mons. The ones that can wipe out a whole deck with one move. That or mega evolutions that tip the scales away from strategic gameplay that is challenging and rewarding. I can assure you, there is nothing rewarding about one-shotting the elite four with a mega Charizard.

The Store Uses Game Currency to Purchase Booster Packs or Playable Decks as well as Cosmetic Items

I believe the solution lies in storytelling. Building a world and lore that is enriching and interesting. A universe that can be explored by the player. A world that reflects overcoming the challenges we face in everyday life. The world can stretch across many titles. Even return to the interesting story that made Diamond, Pearl and Platinum so engaging. Telling stories about the creation of time, space and life. All whilst introducing the Pokémon that made such concepts possible.

Pokémon Trading Card Game’s adaptation to the digital age is a fun, rewarding strategy game. It offers up an expansive pool of international players to keep matches coming thick and fast. All whilst providing a challenging solo game for casual players. The graphical design is simple but charming. By far, this is one of the best online adaptions of a board game there is. Even if it suffers from the pitfalls of most market-place games in its category.

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