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Revision as of 16:16, 9 January 2011

This article is about the Trading Card Game itself. For the Game Boy game related to this game, see Pokémon Trading Card Game (game).
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The Pokémon Trading Card Game (Japanese: ポケモンカードゲーム, Pokémon Card Game), often abbreviated as Pokémon TCG, is a tabletop game that involves collecting, trading and playing with Pokémon-themed playing cards. It has its own set of rules, and uses many motifs derived from the games. There are cards for every species of Pokémon introduced before Generation V, as well as cards featuring characters, items and other themes of the series, each with a different use; artwork is provided by numerous artists.

The Pokémon TCG is a popular and steady aspect of the Pokémon franchise, played and enjoyed by many fans. Nearly 15 billion Pokémon Trading Card Game cards have been produced worldwide. It is part of the Play! Pokémon organized play along with the video game series.


Original back of Japanese cards

The Pokémon Trading Card Game made its debut in Japan in 1996, published by Media Factory. While other Pokémon card series existed before it, it was the first card game based on series. The first Pokémon TCG sets took inpiration from the then released Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue and initially featured illustrations by Ken Sugimori, Mitsuhiro Arita and Keiji Kinebuchi. The game's philosophy and basic rules started shaping, and new expansions began to release with many new artists contributing artwork. Three years later, in 1999, Pokémon TCG was introduced in North America by Wizards of the Coast with Base Set. Worldwide releases followed shortly.

New features constantly appear in the Pokémon TCG. With the release of Pokémon Gold and Silver, the neo series, a new series of expansions, started bringing the new Pokémon, as well as other new streaks, including two new elemental types of Pokémon cards into the game as well as Light and Dark Pokémon which would be discontinued until the EX Team Rocket Returns set where there would be Dark Pokémon ex. New series released on a similar pattern. The e-Card series pressumed upon the Game Boy Advance add-on e-Reader, with cards carrying a scanable surface, while the ADV series brought Pokémon-ex on the game. Most recently, the LEGEND series featured Pokémon LEGEND, two-parted cards with two Pokémon; and Pokémon Prime, Pokémon with powerful and/or tactical attacks and Poké-Powers or Poké-Bodys.

With the release of the EX series, the series corresponding to the Japanese ADV series, outside of Japan, Pokémon TCG started publishing under Nintendo, instead of Wizards of the Coast. Ultimately, starting with the DP series, The Pokémon Company also began distributing the card game in Japan, replacing Media Factory. Also starting with the DP Series came Pokémon LV.X, upgraded Level up versions of the Pokémon they were to level up from. Pokémon LV.X were to continue from the sets Diamond & Pearl to Arceus.

Notably, two Game Boy Color video games based on the card game were also released; Pokémon Trading Card Game in 1998, and its sequel, Template:Card GB 2, three years later. Only the former was released outside of Japan. Other media related to Pokémon TCG include several manga titles

How to play

Back of an English language card

Players must build a deck of sixty cards using a combination of various "Pokémon" cards (the main type of cards, used to battle), "Trainer" cards (cards with special effects) and "Energy" cards (cards that are required to perform most moves). To win, players must take their six prize cards by "knocking out" their opponent's Pokémon, i.e. reducing the HP to zero. Players may also win when their opponent runs out of Pokémon on the field, or if their opponent cannot draw a card at the beginning of their turn.

Unlike traditional card games which use a single deck of 52 preset cards, trading card games (TCGs) are constantly and continuously growing. New cards with new game abilities are released at a steady interval in order to keep the game fresh and alive. The only cost of TCGs, however, is that they force players to constantly keep in touch with the game, as well as forcing them to purchase new cards from newly released sets. Players who do not stay current run the risk of falling behind other players. The Pokémon TCG requires a deck of 60 cards for amateur or organized tournamental play. Shorter matches can be held with "half-decks" consisting of 30 cards instead. During a 60 card match, only four of any one card, excluding Basic Energy cards, are allowed in each deck. This is further limited to two of any one card in a half-deck match.

Fans have also created their own game rules and playing methods. There are websites devoted to providing alternative playing methods for fans.

Back of the current Japanese language card, since 2002

Card types

Wizards of the Coast (English) sets

Wizards of the Coast ran the game between 1999 and 2003

Wizards of the Coast (English) unreleased sets

Nintendo (English) sets

Nintendo has since taken over the TCG from Wizards


Other Merchandise

Media Factory/The Pokémon Company (Japanese) sets

Exclusive Sets

Exclusive Decks

Promotional Series

External links

On Bulbagarden forums

Project TCG logo.png This article is part of Project TCG, a Bulbapedia project that aims to report on every aspect of the Pokémon Trading Card Game.