Duel (TCG GB)

From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
Jump to navigationJump to search

A duel (Japanese: 対戦 competition) is played with Pokémon cards in the Game Boy Color video games Pokémon Trading Card Game and Pokémon Trading Card Game 2: The Invasion of Team GR!.

The duels in these video games are based on the real-life card game from when the video games were released, in 1998 and 2001, respectively. These video games are different from the modern real-life game to some extent, since they don't feature cards, rules or practices introduced later.


The word "duel" is often used in Pokémon Trading Card Game and its instruction booklet.


In the instruction booklet of this game, this word is consistently written in lowercase. For instance:

  • "Before any turns are taken, you must choose your Active Pokémon — the one that will duel first!" (page 8)
  • "The following are commands you can use during duels and their uses: [...]" (page 15)

In the internal data from the American version of this game, this word is inconsistently stored as either "Duel" or "duel". However, the dialogue is entirely displayed in all-caps (such as "WOULD YOU LIKE TO DUEL MITCH?"), therefore those capitalization differences are not seen in normal gameplay. In the European versions of this game (which include multiple languages per cartridge, including English), the dialogue is not only displayed but also stored in all-caps.

Some examples of inconsistent capitalization from the internal data of the American version:

  • "For our practice duel, choose Goldeen." (Dr. Mason)
  • "Come again. I'll be glad to Duel you any time." (Aaron)
  • "I assume you would like to Duel? I only Duel at the Club." (Nikki)
  • "My duel with you was... quite fun!" (Nikki)
  • "Would you like to Duel Mitch?"
  • "Would you like to Duel Kristin?"
  • "Would you like to duel Matthew?"
  • "Would you like to duel Sara?"

Duel vs. battle

The word "battle" is occasionally used in-game. This includes the name of the Battle Center, which is the place in a Club where players can duel each other.

Here is another example:

  • "Draw 7 cards, and get ready for the battle!" (Dr. Mason)

Additionally, some predefined decks also use this word, such as the Heated Battle Deck and the Love to Battle Deck.

For comparison, the modern real-life TCG usually uses the word "battle" instead of "duel", as seen in the game rulebook. In the Pokémon Presents from August 8, 2023, the word "battle" was mentioned, specifically referring to duels in this video game.


Starting a duel

Against a non-player character

When the player talks to an available non-player character duelist, the game asks if the player wants to duel. The default selected option is "No".

There is also a mandatory practice duel against Sam in the first game, where all actions of the player are scripted. (in the second game, the practice duel is optional) Additionally, Ronald appears at some points in both games and challenges the player to a duel that starts automatically, without any input from the player. Once Ronald appears and talks to the player, the player does not have the chance to perform common tasks like editing the deck or saving the game before dueling Ronald.

Against another player

Two players may duel against each other using the Game Link Cable. The link duels are available at the Battle Center that is found in each Club. Before the duel starts, this text appears: "Press Start when you are ready." However, in reality, only one of the players is required to press Start, which causes the duel to start in both Game Boy systems. The player that presses Start first decides the number of Prize cards of the current duel, between 2 and 6 Prize cards. If the two players press Start exactly at the same time, the transmission fails. All multiplayer features, including the link duel, were disabled in the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console release.

First steps

When the duel starts, a screen with the opponent's face sprite and a short introductory text appears. The text contains the opponent's duelist class, name and deck name. For instance, if the player duels against Nikki, the introductory text is "Grass Club Master Nikki", "Flower Power Deck". At the start of the game, the decks of both players are shuffled and each player draws 7 cards from their deck, which are placed into one's own hand. The deck is shuffled automatically by the game, but the game text indicates that each player is shuffling the other player's deck.

Both players are required to have at least one Basic Pokémon card in their hand to start the game. If either player does not have a Basic Pokémon card, that player shows their hand to their opponent, then returns all cards from the hand into the deck, which is shuffled again and that player draws 7 cards again. If both players do not have a Basic Pokémon card, then the players take turns to show their hand to their opponent before each returns their cards to their deck. If both players need to shuffle, then the text indicates that the other player does the shuffling; else if only one player needs to shuffle, then the game text indicates that the player is shuffling their own deck. This action is repeated as often as needed, until both players have a Basic Pokémon card in their hand.

The player is required to place a Basic Pokémon in the Arena; the Pokémon chosen is the Active Pokémon (the Pokémon that is the main lead, the one that is currently battling the opponent's Pokémon). Other Basic Pokémon may be placed in the Bench. There is space for 5 Pokémon in the Bench, plus 1 in the Arena, for a total of 6 Pokémon. The player must press B to close the hand screen when they are done placing Pokémon in the Arena and the Bench. After that, the Prize cards are placed in the play area. A coin is tossed: if heads, the player plays first; if tails, the opponent plays first.

Main gameplay

Each player draws a new card from the deck at the start of their turn. They may view the play area, use a Pokémon Power, use a card from their hand, use an attack, or retreat. The player may place one Energy card on a Pokémon per turn. Each Pokémon may evolve once per turn, and it is not possible to evolve a Pokémon on the same turn when it was placed. If the player evolves a Pokémon, all Special Conditions of that Pokémon are healed. The turn ends when the player uses an attack or uses the "Done" command.

Some actions require tossing a coin. In the first game, there is only a Pikachu-themed coin. In the second game, the player is able to collect various coins.

Ending a duel

A player may win the duel by getting all their own Prize cards, by Knocking Out the last opponent's Pokémon in play, or by letting the opponent finish all the cards in their deck, thus being unable to draw a card in their next turn. All the three victory conditions apply to both players.

A duel may also finish in a tie if both players achieve one victory condition at the same time. In this case, a Sudden Death match is played: it is a regular duel, but both players have one Prize card.


In both games, the player usually receives one or more booster packs when they win any duel. In Pokémon Trading Card Game, winning against the rival Ronald awards a Promotional Card instead. In Pokémon Trading Card Game 2, the player is sometimes required to duel with some characters that don't award any prizes, but this allows the player to duel against other characters. Other times, the player receives a coin as the prize for winning a duel.

Duel screens

Main duel screen

Main duel screen

The main duel screen is similar to the battle screen from the core series games. This screen displays the two Pokémon currently dueling, specifically one Active Pokémon from each duelist. The Pokémon's image, species, type, level, Energy cards attached and HP are visible in this screen. If needed, there is a symbol indicating when either Pokémon is affected by a Special Condition (such as paralysis, confusion, etc.) There is also a symbol with the number of Pokémon in the Bench and another symbol with the number of Prize cards available. There are six options in this screen: "Hand", "Check", "Retreat", "Attack", "Pkmn Power", and "Done".


These shortcuts are available from the main duel screen.

Shortcut Notes
B + up View the player's party
B + down View the opponent's party
B + left View the player's discard pile
B + right View the opponent's discard pile
Start View the description of the player's Active Pokémon
Select Press one or more times to switch screens, in this order:
  • the whole play area
  • the player's party
  • the opponent's party
  • back to the main duel screen



The Hand (Japanese: てふだ Hand) screen displays a list of cards in the player's hand. This screen is able to display 5 cards at most, but the player can scroll to see the next cards. The text "<player>'s hand" is seen at the top. There are numbers in the format "x/y", where "x" is the current card pointed by the cursor and "y" is the total number of cards in the hand. (for instance, "3/9" means that the player is currently pointing at the 3rd card and there are 9 cards in the hand) The name and level of each Pokémon is visible in the list. If the player points the cursor at any card, the card's image appears at the bottom of the screen. New cards are placed on the top of the hand.

All cards in the hand have two options: Play (Japanese: だす Take out) and Check (Japanese: しらべる Examine). If the player attempts to play a card can't be played for any reason, an error message appears.


The Check (Japanese: しらべる Examine) is a list with four options:

  • three versions of the play area: "In play area", "Your play area", and "Opp. play area".
  • the Pokémon Card Glossary

The play area screens can also be accessed by pressing Select multiple times from the main duel screen.

Play area

The play area

The "In play area" (Japanese: ぜんたいのば All places) screen contains the full play area, including both players. The "Your play area" (Japanese: じぶんのば Own places) and "Opp. play area" (Japanese: あいてのば Opponent's places) contains the same information, except zoomed in the player's play area or the opponent's play area, respectively.

The play area screens display the Active Pokémon, Bench, Prize Cards, Hand, Deck and Discard Pile. More specifically, it's possible to check how many cards are in the Deck, Hand and Discard Pile of either player. It's also possible to see the cards in the Hand and Discard Pile of either player, but it's not normally possible to see the cards in either player's Deck. (However, some cards like Poké Ball and Energy Search allow the player to see their own deck to pick a card, and then the deck is shuffled afterwards.)

It's possible to see the face-down Prize cards that are available to be taken, but both players are unable to know which Prize cards exactly are available. When a Prize card has been taken, a green dashed outline remains that indicates an empty place which used to contain a Prize card.

The "In play area" screen displays the player's play area at the bottom and the opponent's play area at the top. This screen has a single triangle cursor that may point at any of the available places. If the player moves the cursor either to the bottom or the top of this screen, the player's or the opponent's party appears, respectively. The "Your play area" and "Opp. play area" have multiple options, with various black arrows pointing in the direction of the places affected by each option.

The "Your play area" screen" has three options: Your Pokémon (Japanese: じぶんのポケモン Own Pokémon), Your Hand (Japanese: じぶんのてふだ Own Hand), and Your Discard Pile (Japanese: じぶんのトラッシュ Own Trash). The "Opp. play area" screen" has two options: Opponent's Pokémon (Japanese: あいてのポケモン Opponent's Pokémon) and Opponent's Discard Pile (あいてのトラッシュ Opponent's Trash).



The party is similar to the core series. This screen displays the Pokémon cards currently in use by a given player. Each player has one Active Pokémon and at most 5 Bench Pokémon.

One's own party is accessible from these places:

  • In the "In play area" screen, move the cursor to the bottom of the screen.
  • In the "Your play area" screen, choose the option "Your Pokémon".
  • In the main duel screen, press Select two times. (see below)

The opponent's party is accessible from these places:

  • In the "In play area" screen, move the cursor to the top of the screen.
  • In the "Opp. play area" screen, choose the option "Opponent's Pokémon".
  • In the main duel screen, press Select three times. (see below)

The Active Pokémon is displayed at the top, with the text "ACT". All the Bench Pokémon, if any, are displayed below, with the text "BP 1", "BP 2", until "BP 5" at the end. All indicators up to "BP 5" are shown at all times, even if the player has fewer than the maximum number of 5 Pokémon on the Bench. The Pokémon's species, type, level, Energy cards attached and HP are visible in this screen. If needed, there is a symbol indicating when either Pokémon is affected by a Special Condition (such as paralysis, confusion, etc.)

If the player points the cursor to any Pokémon and presses A, that card is displayed.

In Pokémon Trading Card Game 2, the player may open a list of Energy cards attached to a Pokémon. This is accomplished in the party screen (either one's own or the opponent's), by pointing the cursor to a Pokémon and pressing Select. However, this is only doable if the player entered the party by using the "Check" command in the first place. If the player used the Select button to open the party, then pressing Select again switches to the next screen instead, and it's not possible to open the page listing the Energy cards.

The "Pkmn Power" screen is almost visually identical to this screen, except the name of Pokémon Power, if any, is displayed instead of the Pokémon's HP or Energy cards.


The Glossary (Japanese: ようごじてん Terminology dictionary) screen is the same glossary that is available from the PC in the overworld.


The Retreat (Japanese: にげる Run away) screens replaces the Active Pokémon with another Pokémon from the Bench. Some Pokémon have a Retreat cost, which is a number of Energy cards that must be discarded in order to retreat the Pokémon. Once a Pokémon retreats, any Special Conditions are healed. However, the Pokémon is unable to retreat if it is asleep or paralyzed.


050Diglett.png This section is incomplete.
Please feel free to edit this section to add missing information and complete it.
Reason: Double-check how the symbols "※" and "✗" are used in the Attack screen, in both games

The Attack (Japanese: ワザ Technique) screen contains a list of the attacks of the current Pokémon, their damage and their cost in Energy cards. The player is able to use an attack by pointing the cursor to it and pressing A. A Pokémon cannot attack without the required Energy cards attached to it. If an attack requires Colorless energy, then any type of energy may be used instead of Colorless. For instance, the cost of Charmander's Ember is FireColorless (1 Fire and 1 Colorless).

The damage listed is the HP taken from the opponent. However, if a Pokémon has a Resistance against the type of the attacking Pokémon, the damage dealt is reduced by −30. If a Pokémon has a Weakness against the type of the attacking Pokémon, the damage dealt is doubled. Many attacks have additional effects other than dealing damage, and some don't deal damage at all. In the Attack screen, the player may see a description of an attack by pointing the cursor to it and pressing Start. (There are also other ways to check a description of a card, such as the Hand screen when a Pokémon card is in the hand.)

Some attacks have a "+" (addition) or "×" (multiplication) symbol next to the number of damage dealt, which increase the damage dealt by that attack. For instance, Blastoise's Hydro Pump's power is "40+", because its damage at least 40 and can increase with the addition of more Energy cards. The damage of Geodude's Stone Barrage is "10×" because it deals 10 damage times the number of heads.

The "" symbol in the first game and the "" symbol in the second game indicate that an attack requires discarding one or more Energy cards, such as Charmander's Ember. These symbols don't appear in the card description; they only appear in the Attack screen.

Pkmn Power

The Pkmn Power (Japanese: とくしゅ Special; an abbreviation of 特殊能力 Special Ability) screen is almost visually identical to the party screen above, except it's simply a list of Pokémon and their Pokémon Powers. There are no indicators for HP or Energy cards of any Pokémon.

The Pokémon Power is shown where the HP would be in the party screen. Unlike the party screen, the indicators at the left ("ACT", "BP 1", "BP 2", etc.) are only shown up to the current number of Pokémon in the Pkmn Power screen. For instance, if the player currently has only the Active Pokémon in addition to 1 Pokémon at the bench, then only "ACT" and "BP 1" are shown (other indicators like "BP 2" are not shown).

If the player points the cursor to a Pokémon and presses A, the description of the current Pokémon Power appears; if the Pokémon does not have any Pokémon Power, then nothing happens. Some Pokémon Powers require this screen to be used, such as Alakazam's Damage Swap. Some other Pokémon Powers don't require this screen, such as Blastoise's Rain Dance.

Whenever a Pokémon with a Pokémon Power is placed from the hand to the Arena or Bench (either as a Basic Pokémon or via evolving a Pokémon), the description of the Pokémon Power automatically appears. However, there is an exception: the Pokémon Power screen does not appear when a Pokémon is placed in the Arena or Bench at the start of the game, before the coin is tossed to decide which player plays first.


The Done (Japanese: おわり End) command ends the current turn without attacking. Sometimes, the player may have no other choice than ending a turn with this command, if they are unable to attack due to a lack of Energy cards, the effect of sleep or paralysis, or the effect of some cards such as Slowpoke's Amnesia or Eevee's Tail Whip.

Common features

Organizing the cards

The cards in the hand, deck, and discard pile are often shown without any meaningful order, but they are automatically sorted if the player presses Select. The cards in the deck are usually not visible to the player in the first place, except when the player uses a card which lets them check the deck and pick a card, such as Energy Search or Poké Ball). Pressing Select causes all cards in the hand to be organized by their index number, which displays the Energy cards first, then the Pokémon cards, then the Trainer cards. The Pokémon cards organized this way are separated by type and then by their National Pokédex number. All cards of the same name are listed together. Variations such as Flying Pikachu, Dark Slowbro, and Cool Porygon are listed directly after their normal versions. All evolutionary families are listed together, except for Eevee's family which is split so each evolution is found together with the cards of their own type. Pokémon cards with the same name are organized by their level.

Energy card limit

The games are only able to display the first 8 Energy cards attached to a Pokémon. If a Pokémon has 9 or more Energy cards, the 8th Energy card is replaced by a "+" symbol.

Special rules

Tutorial duels

In both games, the player may play against Sam in a tutorial duel, where all actions of the player must follow a script. This duel is mandatory at the start in the first game, but optional in the second game.

Great Rocket duels

In Pokémon Trading Card Game 2, the duels with some Team Great Rocket members have additional rules. Sometimes, the player must or must not have certain cards on their deck.

All these opponents are found in various places at the GR Island. When the player meets any of these opponents in the Challenge Hall, these rules are still in effect, except the deck requirements are ignored.

GR Grass Fort

GR Lightning Fort

GR Fire Fort

GR Water Fort

GR Fighting Fort

GR Psychic Stronghold

Colorless Altar

Team GR Castle

Comparison with the real-life game

  • In the Game Boy games, all decks must have 60 cards. There are no half-decks (30-card decks), unlike in the real life game.
  • In both the real life and the Game Boy, both players reveal all their Active and Benched Pokémon at the same time at the start of the game. This is accomplished in the real life by placing the Pokémon cards face-down at first, and then turning them all up at the same time when both players are ready. In the Game Boy, the act of placing cards face-down at the start is not mentioned in-game; instead, there is simply no option to see the opponent's Pokémon while the player is placing their own Pokémon.
  • Only in real life, if one player takes a mulligan, the other player may draw a card.
    • That is to say, if a player has no Basic Pokémon card in their opening hand at the start of the game, that player shuffles their opening hand back to their own deck and draws a new opening hand, which is referred to as "taking a mulligan". In the real-life game (but not in the Game Boy), the other player can choose to draw a card when this happens.
  • In the real life, some Special Conditions involve turning a Pokémon card sideways or upside-down. In the Game Boy, all Special Conditions are simply indicated by different symbols, without turning the Pokémon card in any way.
  • The real-life Pokémon Trading Card Game rulebooks often use the word "battle" instead of "duel". The word "duel" is often used instead in the video game dialogue, as well as the instruction booklet.


  • In the Japanese version of both TCG games, the attack text is the same as in the moves from core series, with the addition of the Pokémon level. For instance, "トサキントLv12のつのでつく!" ("Goldeen Lv12's Horn Attack!").
    • In the English version of the first game, the attack text is worded as "<Pokémon> <level>'s <attack>!" (for instance: "Goldeen Lv12's Horn Attack!") which is a direct translation from the Japanese text, as opposed to the core series which uses the format "<Pokémon> used <move>!" (for instance: "Goldeen used Horn Attack!").



TCG GB duel.png TCG GB2 duel.png TCG GB hand.png TCG GB attack.png TCG GB retreat.png TCG GB check.png
Main duel screen (GB1) Main duel screen (GB2) Hand Attack Retreat Check
TCG GB play area.png TCG GB play area - player.png TCG GB play area - opponent.png TCG GB Pokémon list.png TCG GB powers.png TCG GB2 energy screen.png
Full play area Player's play area Opponent's play area Party Pokémon Powers Energy cards attached
to a Pokémon (GB2 only)
TCG GB drawing.png TCG GB arena.png TCG GB coin toss.png TCG GB link.png TCG GB prizes.png TCG GB wait prizes.png
Drawing a card Placing a card
in the Arena
Tossing a coin Starting a link duel Choosing the
number of prizes
in a link duel
Waiting while another
player chooses
the number of prizes


Types and stages (large sprites)

TCG GB2 grass.png TCG GB2 fire.png TCG GB2 water.png TCG GB2 lightning.png TCG GB2 fighting.png TCG GB2 psychic.png
Grass Fire Water Lightning Fighting Psychic
TCG GB2 colorless.png TCG GB2 trainer.png TCG GB2 energy.png TCG GB2 basic.png TCG GB2 stage 1.png TCG GB2 stage 2.png
Colorless Trainer card Energy card Basic
Stage 1
Stage 2

Types (small sprites)

TCG GB grass small.png TCG GB fire small.png TCG GB water small.png TCG GB lightning small.png
Grass Fire Water Lightning
TCG GB fighting small.png TCG GB psychic small.png TCG GB colorless small.png TCG GB rainbow small.png
Fighting Psychic Colorless Rainbow
(GB2 only)

Stages (small sprites)

TCG GB2 basic small.png TCG GB2 stage 1 small.png TCG GB2 stage 2 small.png
Stage 1
Stage 2

Special Conditions

TCG GB asleep.png TCG GB confused.png TCG GB paralyzed JP.png TCG GB paralyzed INT.png TCG GB poisoned.png
Asleep Confused Paralyzed

Play area sprites

TCG GB deck.png TCG GB discard pile.png TCG GB prize.png TCG GB bench card.png TCG GB bench empty.png
Deck Discard Pile Prize card Bench card Bench space
TCG GB2 deck.png TCG GB2 discard pile.png TCG GB2 prize.png TCG GB2 bench card.png TCG GB2 bench empty.png
Deck Discard Pile Prize card Bench card Bench space

Other sprites

TCG GB HP white.png TCG GB HP black.png TCG GB pluspower symbol.png TCG GB defender symbol.png TCG GB food counter.png TCG GB bench symbol.png TCG GB prize symbol.png
(no damage)
PlusPower Defender Food counter
(GB2 only)
Bench Prize cards

In other languages

Language Title
Japan Flag.png Japanese 対戦 competition
France Flag.png French Duel
Germany Flag.png German Duell
Italy Flag.png Italian Duello
Spain Flag.png Spanish Duelo

See also

Project Sidegames logo.png This article is part of both Project Sidegames and Project TCG, Bulbapedia projects that, together, aim to write comprehensive articles on TCG-related video games. Project TCG logo.png