Pokémon Trading Card Game
- This article is about the Trading Card Game itself. For the Game Boy game related to this game, see Pokémon Trading Card Game (game).
The Pokémon Trading Card Game (Japanese: ポケモンカードゲーム, Pokémon Card Game), often abbreviated as Pokémon TCG or just TCG, is a tabletop game that involves collecting, trading and playing with Pokémon themed playing cards. It has its own set of rules but uses many motifs and ideas derived from the video games. There are Pokémon cards for every species of Pokémon, as well as Trainer cards featuring characters, items and other themes of the franchise (each with a different use) and Energy cards to power various actions. 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. As of the end of March 2021, over 34.1 billion Pokémon Trading Card Game cards have been produced worldwide in 13 languages, and being sold in 76 countries and regions. 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.
The Pokémon Trading Card Game was originally published in Japan in October 1996 by Media Factory. While other series of collectable Pokémon cards existed in the past (such as the Pocket Monsters Carddass Trading Cards released in September 1996), 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 Pokémon Company International.
With the release of Pokémon Gold and Silver video games, the Neo Series (the second series of expansions), started bringing several new Pokémon into play. The Metal and Darkness 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 briefly with the release of the Neo Destiny expansion. 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 (the first series released by The Pokémon Company International instead of Wizards of the Coast), introducing the stronger 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 the Platinum: Arceus expansion. 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. With the release of the Black & White expansion, Poké-Powers (Poké-POWERs and Poké-BODYs) 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. The Dragon Pokémon type was introduced in the Dragon Vault expansion of the Black & White Series. M Pokémon-EX were introduced in the XY expansion and introduce the Mega Evolution mechanic featured in the Pokémon X and Y video games to the TCG. The XY Series also introduced the Fairy type Pokémon. Pokémon-GX was introduced in the Sun & Moon Series.
With the release of the EX Series worldwide, Pokémon TCG started publishing directly under Nintendo via its whole owned subsidiary The Pokémon Company International, instead of Wizards of the Coast. In 2006, 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 TCG. In 2011, the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online was introduced as a browser-based game but later became a downloadable game for PC, Mac, and iPad. Other media related to Pokémon TCG include several manga titles, such as the series How I Became a Pokémon Card.
How to play
- See the Appendix:Glossary for a definition of most the Pokémon Trading Card Game terms.
- Also see the Step-by-step Web Browser TCG Tutorials on Pokémon.com for a visual introduction to the card game.
The Pokémon Trading Card Game is a two player game for all ages. Each player builds a Deck of sixty (60) 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 "Attacks"). New cards and decks are constantly being released, and players may purchase "Booster packs" to integrate these cards into their own decks or purchase pre-made "Trainer kits" or "Theme Decks" that already have all the cards needed to play. The Pokémon Trading Card Game officially requires a deck of 60 cards for Standard or Expanded 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.
Who goes first?
A game of the Pokémon Trading Card Game is called a "Match". To begin a match, players need a Coin or a six-sided die (where the even number sides represent Heads and the odd number sides represent Tails). One player calls heads or tails, while the other player flips the coin or rolls the die. If the player calling the coin flip gets their choice (heads or tails), that player gets to choose which player goes first. If the player calling the coin flip does not get their choice, the player flipping the coin gets to choose which player goes first. The player who goes first is not allowed to Attack on that player's first turn.
After determining which player goes first, both players place their Shuffled deck face down on the upper right side of their respective half of the player area or "Field". The field is roughly split in half with each player utilizing the half closest to them. The players then each take seven cards from the top of their respective decks. These cards go into their "Hand". Players then place one Basic Pokémon from their hand face down in front of them toward the upper center of their half of the field as their "Active Pokémon". If they have more than one Basic Pokémon, they may place the rest face down directly in from of them in their "Bench". No more than five Pokémon may occupy a given player’s Bench at the same time. Evolved Pokémon count as only one Pokémon when in play on the field. If a player does not have any Basic Pokémon in their hand during setup, they must reshuffle all the cards in their hand back into their deck, and then draw seven more cards. Repeat this process until each player can play a Basic Pokémon as their Active Pokémon. If a player has to reshuffle to get a Basic Pokémon into play, that player’s opponent gets to take an extra card from the top of their deck and put it into their hand (one card per each reshuffle). Next, each player sets aside six cards from the top of their deck face down to the left side of their half of the field. These six cards are their "Prize cards". Finally, each player reveals (or flips over) their Active and Bench Pokémon.
A player’s turn consists of the following:
- First, draw a card from the top of that player's deck;
- Attach one Energy card to one of that player’s Pokémon in play (either Active or Bench Pokémon);
- Play Basic Pokémon to that player's Bench,
- Evolve any of that player's Pokémon in play;
- Retreat that player's Active Pokémon if the Active Pokémon can satisfy the Energy card retreat cost;
- Play any Trainer cards in that player's Hand pertaining to the rules on each Trainer card and then typically placing that Trainer card face up in the player’s "Discard Pile", which is locked on the right side of the player's field just below that player's deck (Starting with the Sword & Shield Series, the player who goes first cannot play a Supporter card on their first turn);
- Use any Abilities or Pokémon Powers that appear on that player's Active or Bench Pokémon, and
- Finally, "Attack" if that player has the appropriate Energy card(s) attached on that player's Active Pokémon. Attacking always ends that player’s turn. The first player to have a turn is not allowed to attack, but all other actions are allowed as described above.
Other than the first and last actions, players may perform any action in any order. Players alternate turns until one player wins the game.
Pokémon Attacks typically cause Damage or apply a Special condition. Special conditions have their own unique rules. Damage to all Pokémon in play is tracked with Damage Counters or dice. When the damage to a given Pokémon equals or exceeds that Pokémon’s Hit Points, it is "Knocked Out" and placed face up in the player’s Discard Pile along with any other cards that were attached to it (such as Energy cards). When an Active Pokémon is Knocked Out, the player's whose Pokémon was Knocked Out must replace the former Active Pokémon with another Pokémon from that player's Bench. At the same time, the player who Knocked Out his or her opponent's Pokémon gets to take any one of that player's remaining face down Prize cards and put that Prize card into that player's hand.
Winning a match
To win a match, players must:
- Take their six prize cards by knocking out their opponent's Pokémon by using Attacks to reduce the opponent's HP to zero.
- Players may also win when their opponent runs out of Pokémon on the field of play, which includes their Active Pokémon and Bench Pokémon, or
- If their opponent must draw a card from their Deck at the beginning of their turn, but they have run out of cards in their Deck.
On the bottom right corner of most cards, there is a small logo that indicates its rarity.
No symbol usually denotes a card that is part of a promotional set or a Basic Energy card.
Wizards of the Coast sets
Legendary Collection Series
In other languages
- Play! Pokémon Pokémon Organized Play
- Appendix:Glossary of TCG terms
- Category:Pokémon Trading Card Game for a categorized list of all articles related to the TCG
- Pokémon Trading Card Game Online
- Pokémon Card Game Rule Song
- Pokémon.com The official United States Pokémon TCG website
- Step-by-step Web Browser TCG Tutorials (on official website)
- forums.pokemontcg.com Official English TCG Forums
- Pokémon-Card.com Official Japanese TCG Website (Japanese)
|This article is part of Project TCG, a Bulbapedia project that aims to report on every aspect of the Pokémon Trading Card Game.|