Hello Pokéfans. I recently took a look at the Pokémon Champion's Path expansion, and the Elite Trainer box released as part of the supporting product range. Check out the review! My aim here is to provide a quick start guide to help new players learn how to play. Though this is entitled Pokémon Champion's Path How to Play Guide, it applies to the game generally.
What is it?
Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) is a collectable card game for two players. It's based on the long-running, and hugely popular Pokémon anime (and video game) franchise. Originally published by Wizards of the Coast in 1996, it is (since 2003) now published by The Pokémon Company. Over 30 billion cards have been sold worldwide since the games initial release. With more available each year!
The core concepts of Pokémon TCG will be familiar to fans of the video games. Like the video games, Pokémon TCG makes the player a Pokémon Trainer. Players can collect cards representing their favourite Pokémon from throughout the franchise's history, build a team, and battle it out.
Each year, new expansions and products are released, to increase the pool of available cards, and expand the game.
What do I Need?
A 60 card deck, and a way to track damage & status effects (such as Poison, or Paralyse).
A simple way to get started is to purchase a Theme Deck product. Theme Decks contain a ready to play 60-card deck and quick-start player guide. You could also try a Battle Arena Decks product, which contains 2 60-card decks. Allowing you and a friend to battle right away.
How do I Play?
Decide which player will start. Shuffle your deck, and offer it to your opponent to cut. Then draw the top seven cards.
Put one Basic Pokémon from your hand, face down in front of you. This will be your active Pokémon.
You may put a further five Basic Pokémon face down in a row behind your Active Pokémon. That row is your Bench and may hold no more than Five Pokémon at any one time.
If you have no Basic Pokémon in your opening hand, reveal your cards to your opponent. Shuffle them back into your deck, then draw seven more cards. Repeat this process until you can put a Basic Pokémon into your Active Pokémon slot.
Once your starting Pokémon are set, draw the top six cards of your deck. Without looking at them, lay them out, face down, besides your play area. These are your prize cards.
Both players flip over their Active and Benched Pokémon to start the game.
Play alternates between each player, who will take turns until a win condition is met. A turn consists of three phases: Draw a card, take actions, and attack.
Draw a Card
Draw the top card of your deck, add it your hand.
You can perform six different actions, in any order, during this phase.
- Put Basic Pokémon from your hand onto your bench.
- Evolve any number of Pokémon.
- Attach one energy card from your hand to one of your Pokémon.
- Play Trainer cards (You can only play one Supporter and one Stadium card per turn).
- Retreat your active Pokémon (Once per turn).
- Use Abilities.
Only your Active Pokémon can attack. Declare which attack you are using (sufficient energy must be attached to the Pokémon).
Check your opponents Active Pokémon for weaknesses and resistance, to work out the attack strength. Then apply the damage counters. (When calculating damage to Benched Pokémon, resistance and weaknesses are ignored).
If the attack knock's out your opponents Active Pokémon, draw one of your Prize cards and add it to your hand. Your opponent places the knocked out Pokémon and all attached cards into their discard pile.
The turn ends after the attack phase.
You will win the game in one of three ways:
- Claim all of your prize cards.
- Knock out all of your opponents Pokémon, that are in play.
- When your opponent is unable to draw a card at the beginning of their turn (because their deck has run out).
That's all you need to get started quickly. Each Theme Deck, Trainer Box, and Battle Arena product contains a player guide. This will cover everything you need to play a full game and includes a helpful Q&A section for commonly asked questions.
My favourite aspect of Trading/Collectible Card Games is deck building. You can create a deck of your own choosing, to create a personalised gaming experience. Here are the basic rules for Pokémon TCG deckbuilding:
- Your Pokémon TCG deck must contain exactly 60 cards.
- The deck must contain at least one Basic Pokémon.
- Except for basic Energy, a deck may contain no more than four cards with the same name.
A deck contains a combination of Energy, Pokémon, and Trainer cards. Stick to cards using up to two energy types and include at least 12 - 15 energy cards.
A basic strategy is to build a deck with a 20-20-20 split, of Energy, Pokémon, and Trainer cards. Those numbers can readily be changed, according to the specific cards you choose to play with.