Pokemon: trading card game has been around for over 20 years now. It has grown, developed and evolved (just like a Charmeleon into a Charmnder) over the years into a massively successful franchise. With 1000s of cards available, evolution chains, trainers, items, deck building, rare, holos, reverse holos, secret rares, V, Vmax and so much more it can be a daunting game to dip your toe into and has a whole language to get to grips with. Where do you start? Welcome into the arena Pokemon: TCG Battle Academy.
First - what is the Pokemon: TCG. It is a two player game in which two Pokemon trainers (players) take a set number of cards and battle it out with each other. Players will have an “active” Pokemon which will do the fighting and upo five benched Pokemon. On a player’s turn they will start by drawing a card. Cards include Pokemon, trainers, items and energy cards. Actions that can be performed include attaching one energy card to one Pokemon, evolving a Pokemon from its basic form to its next stage (or stage one to stage two), playing a single trainer card and item cards. Each Pokemon will have a set of attacks that it can perform and each of these attacks will require a set number and “type” of energy. Typically, water type Pokemon will need water energy to perform their attack. This attack will inflict damage to your opponent’s active Pokemon and if the amount of damage exceeds their health it is discarded. The opposing player must then place one of their benched Pokemon into the active slot. The attacking player draws a prize card. If the opposing player has no benched Pokemon they lose the game. If a player draws their sixth and final prize card they win.
Play passes to the next player and goes back and forth until one player is declared the winner.
This is, in my humble opinion, probably the best way to start playing this game. It comes with three pre-built 60 card decks to play with. Each of these decks is a different energy type. There is even a tutorial guide that walks you through the first few turns of the game and introduces the rules as you go. It is a perfect way to start playing the game and despite only having the three decks has a lot of replayability in the box. For someone new to the game or intending to play with a younger audience this is a fabulous way of introducing the game with minimal setup, rules teach and investment.
The game itself is a fun two player battle game. You will be planning your strategies, working out how best to power up your Pokemon with energy to do the maximum amount of damage. The trainer and item cards provided ways to search your deck, heal, bring out additional Pokemon, switch Pokemon and a host of other abilities. The strategy aspect is not overly complicated when thinking about TCGs as a genre, but for the target audience and the IP it seems to fit. You will be aiming to defeat your opponents Pokemon to win the game so you need to be happy with this element. The Battle Academy decks are fairly straight forward to play and have Cinderace, Pikachu and Eevee as the three “main” Pokemon making it an ideal starting point into the game.
The Battle Academy is probably the best way to start playing Pokemon: TCG. It is very accessible and easy to play. Myself and my 7yr old opened the box and started playing with the tutorial with minimal effort and got the rules down with relative ease. It provides an easy entry point into the game. It will help you to decide if this is the level you want to stay at or go down the collecting/building deck route and further expand the rules and gameplay.