How To Play Pokémon: A Beginners Guide


Pokémon is a game that pretty much everyone has heard of by now, because it’s basically everywhere. Whether it’s the video games, the TV show, or now even a live-action movie with some well-known actors, you’ve probably heard of Pokémon. But some people don’t realize that shortly after the release of the first Pokémon video game, the Pokémon Trading Card Game was released, quickly becoming the highest selling trading card game of all time.


Whether you’re a complete newbie to the Pokémon series and discovering it for the first time, or you have been a lifelong fan and are rediscovering it since the release of the latest video game, you might not know how to actually play the card game that started it all. The Pokémon card game is a lot of fun to play, and as you’re probably aware, the cards are highly collectible and some can even go for thousands of dollars. The basic premise of the card game is simple, players draw cards from their deck and play their Pokémon, trying to defeat their opponent’s Pokémon, it seems simple right? Well, it’s a lot more complex than it first appears.

The Number Of Cards You Need To Play Pokémon


Each player needs a deck of exactly 60 cards in order to play the game. This deck should consist of a mix of energy cards, item cards, trainer cards, and of course some Pokémon. Within your deck you can only have up to four cards with the same name, and the only exception to this is energy cards, which you can have as many as you like.

Building a deck can be quite a labor-intense process, and you’ll need to do a lot of research to find the best Pokémon cards. If you’re completely new to the game you should probably pick up a starter set or two to set you on the right path and get you started.

How To Play Pokémon


Once you have your deck set up and ready to go it’s time to start playing, and the basic steps and principles of the game are pretty straightforward.

The first thing you do is decide who goes first. The best and fairest method is to flip a coin and the winner chooses whether to go first or not. The next step is to shuffle the decks and each player draws seven cards to fill their hand. The top six cards are set aside as prize cards and each time you defeat an opponents Pokémon you claim one of these cards. The first to pick up all six prize cards is the winner. Both players can place one basic Pokémon card facedown, this becomes their active Pokémon, plus up to five more basic Pokémon onto their bench.

If you don’t have any Pokémon cards to play, reveal your hand to your opponents and draw seven more cards. Every time you do this your opponent can draw an extra card.

Players can have up to six Pokémon in play at once, but only one active Pokémon in play. The rest remain on your bench, a row behind your active Pokémon. You can use these reserve cards to replace your active Pokémon once it is defeated, similar to how combat works in the video games. Both the active and benched Pokémon can be evolved and have energy cards attached to them.

How To Take Turns In Pokémon


At the start of each turn, the active player draws one card from the top of their deck, if you run out of cards in your deck and can’t draw on your next turn you automatically lose the game. The second phase is where more complex actions can be taken, and you can do any or all of the following if you choose:

  • Play any number of basic Pokémon from your hand to your bench.
  • Attach one (and only one) energy card to a Pokémon from your hand. This can be your active Pokémon or a Pokémon on your bench.
  • Evolve a Pokémon by playing a Stage 1, or Stage 2 evolution on top of a basic or Stage 1 Pokémon. A Pokémon can’t evolve the same turn it’s played, and can only evolve once per turn, unless an item card like Rare Candy specifies otherwise.
  • Play any number of item cards.
  • Play any number of trainer cards, except for supporter and stadium cards, which only let you play one per turn.
  • Retreat your active Pokémon to your bench by paying the retreat cost on its card in energy from your hand. You must then replace it with a Pokémon from your bench.
  • Use any number of abilities on Pokémon cards.

That’s the basics of the Pokémon trading card game. Of course, there are more complex strategies and guides to follow, but this is all you need to know to get started playing the game. So start collecting the best Pokémon cards now and building your decks, so you can begin playing and battling your very own Pokémon.

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