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Pokémon Trading Card Game

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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 video games. There are cards for every species of Pokémon, as well as cards featuring characters, items and other themes of the franchise, each with a different use. The artwork for the cards is provided by numerous artists.

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


Original back of Japanese cards

The Pokémon Trading Card Game was originally published in Japan in 1996 by Media Factory. While other Pokémon card series existed in the past, this was the first card game based on the Pokémon series. The first Pokémon TCG sets took inspiration from the then released Pokémon Red, Green, and Blue video games and initially featured illustrations by Ken Sugimori, Mitsuhiro Arita and Keiji Kinebuchi. Soon 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 the Base Set, and worldwide soon after. In 2003, Wizards of the Coast's license was transferred to the The Pokémon Company by Nintendo.

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 into play.Two new types of Pokémon cards were also introduced, along with Light Pokémon and Dark Pokémon. These were eventually discontinued to prevent confusion with the Darkness type, but returned in with the release of Neo Destiny. The e-Card Series used Game Boy Advance add-on e-Reader to display Pokédex data about the Pokémon, play a minigame, play various tunes in a Melody Box, or activate a special attack for that Pokémon. The EX Series was released next, introducing Pokémon-ex into the game. The Diamond & Pearl Series brought Pokémon LV.X, which were stronger, "Leveled-up" versions of final evolutions. Pokémon LV.X essentially replaced Pokémon-ex and continued until Platinum: Arceus. The HeartGold & SoulSilver Series featured two more types of card, Pokémon LEGEND, two-part cards with one Pokémon on each card, and Pokémon Prime, Pokémon with powerful and/or tactical attacks and Poké-Powers or Poké-Bodys. With the release of Black & White, Pokémon Powers (Poké-BODY and Poké-POWER) were combined into one mechanic and renamed Abilities. Pokémon-ex returned as Pokémon-EX in the Black & White Series starting with the Next Destinies expansion. M-Pokémon-EX were introduced in XY expansion and introduce the Mega Evolution mechanic featured in Pokémon X and Y to the TCG.

With the release of the EX Series worldwide, Pokémon TCG started publishing under Nintendo, instead of Wizards of the Coast. Several years later The Pokémon Company replaced Media Factory in distributing the cards in Japan starting with the Diamond & Pearl Series.

Two Game Boy Color video games based on the card game were created; Pokémon Trading Card Game was released in 1998 and worldwide in 2000, and its sequel, Pokémon Card GB2: Here Comes Team GR!, was released three years later. Pokémon Card Game: How to Play DS was released in Japan in 2011 and taught players how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game. In 2011, the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online was introduced as a browser-based game but later became a downloadable game for PC and Mac. Other media related to Pokémon TCG include several manga titles, such as the series How I Became a Pokémon Card.

How to play

Back of an English language card
Main article: Glossary (TCG)

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:

  • 1.) Take their six prize cards by "knocking out" their opponent's Pokémon by using various attacks to reduce the opponent's HP to zero.
  • 2.) Players may also win when their opponent runs out of Pokémon on the field, which includes their Active Pokémon and Bench Pokémon, or
  • 3.) If their opponent cannot draw a card from their deck at the beginning of their turn.

New cards and decks are constantly being released and players may choose to integrate these cards into their current deck or use pre-made decks. The Pokémon TCG requires a deck of 60 cards for standard play, though 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.

Many fans have also created their own game rules and playing methods and have websites devoted to providing alternative playing methods. These rules and methods are not allowed in Play! Pokémon competitions.

Card types

Main article: Card types

Pokémon card

Trainer cards

Energy cards

Miscellaneous card information

On the bottom right corner of most cards, there is a small logo that indicates its rarity.

  • Rarity Common.png (Common)
  • Rarity Uncommon.png (Uncommon)
  • Rarity Rare.png (Rare)

No symbol usually denotes a card that is part of a promotional set or a Basic Energy card.

Wizards of the Coast sets

Wizards of the Coast were the western distributors of the game between 1999 and 2003

Generation I

Original Series

Generation II

Neo Series

Legendary Collection Series

e-Card Series

Promotional series

Unreleased sets

Nintendo sets

Nintendo has since taken over the TCG from Wizards

Generation III

EX Series

Generation IV

Diamond & Pearl Series

Platinum Series

HeartGold & SoulSilver Series

Call of Legends Series

Generation V

Black & White Series

Generation VI

XY Series

World Championship sets

Promotional series

POP Series

Black Star Promos

McDonald's Collection

Japanese sets

Back of the current Japanese language card, since 2002

Exclusive sets

Exclusive decks

Promotional series

See also

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.