Pokemon Trading Card Game: A Basic Introduction - Gotta Collect 'Em All? | Fanboys Anonymous
Hello again readers! My name as you may or may not know is Chris Jester I have written a few articles here on Fanboys Anonymous before but this is the first article I will be writing on the Pokemon Trading Card Game!

For those of you who already know how to play the game, this is less for you and more for the people completely oblivious to the rules and its history. Still, I encourage you to read anyway, as I am sure there is something in there you will enjoy.

Unlock all cards on PTCGO without codes

My backstory in regards to the Pokemon Trading Card Game

I started playing the Pokemon TCG pretty quickly after it came out when I was in about the 4th grade. A classmate of mine noticed I had a Charmeleon notebook and gave me a Base Set Charmander card. My interest was piqued and I had my parents buy me some of the cards. At school, some of the kids would trade cards at recess. An older kid convinced me to trade him one of my first holographic cards (a Victreebel from the Jungle set) in a somewhat lopsided deal. This unfortunately happened frequently to many kids, so after a number of complaints, the school banned Pokemon cards. One day I brought my binder anyway with all of my rare cards and my teacher took it away. I was upset and my parents had to go later and pick it up for me.

My interest in the cards kind of died down a bit, but that is because I always thought they were just for trading! I had no idea there was a game you played with them until I found out my local Toys R Us ran a Pokemon Trading Card Game league. They ran ads for it on TV and in the store since it was a pretty big deal. You could collect badges just like the characters in the show and could even challenge the league gym leader. That went on for a few months and I learned how to play the trading card game from kids there and our league leader. Once she became pregnant and couldn't run the league anymore, it closed down and I stopped playing shortly afterward.

I ended up playing Yu-Gi-Oh! for a couple years and getting really into that. I can thank Yu-Gi-Oh! for sharpening my skills into a competitive card player. I have played numerous strategy games since then and I think if I never got into Yu-Gi-Oh! I probably would have never gotten back into Pokemon. So I quit Yu-Gi-Oh! after a couple years because I grew tired of it.

I didn't do anything strategy game wise for a little while and one day I'm about 21 years old and I'm getting the urge to play Pokemon again. My plan is to just buy a couple theme decks and play with my sister...no big deal. I bought a Steelix/Umbreon deck and a Espeon/Bellossom deck. We played those two decks for weeks. I eventually realized we need more decks to play against and even though I assumed there were no more leagues and the game was dead, one Google search later and it turns out there's a league 20 minutes from my house! This is super exciting and we start going the following Monday. The person who runs the leagues name is Heidi Craig. I find out later her son Orion is a former US National Champion and her other son Eric has gotten top 2 at the World Championships so I guess I was learning from the right family. She helps us with some promo cards of some of the better cards that were legal at the time to help make our decks better because frankly, one of the big problems with people getting into Pokemon is the theme decks are terrible. They don't teach you how to build a tournament competitive deck, you have to almost figure that out on your own. Luckily, I had people at my league to help. One of the days at league I play a guy named Casey, he is playing his Dilagachomp deck, I ask for a game he rolls his eyes smiles and says sure and beats me in like three turns. This motivates me to start building better decks and not get rolled next time.

Why does all of this matter to you?

The reason I am telling you all of this is to show you how great and helpful the Pokemon Community can be to a new player getting into the game and if YOU choose to get into the Pokemon TCG you are surely to run into the same kinds of helpful people. If you want to find a league or tournament near you just go here. Shorten the criteria to what applies to you and check it out. Pokemon events are very friendly to everyone of all ages and I'm sure you will have a great experience no matter what. If you do show up to a league, make sure whatever cards you are playing are legal for the modified format. While you are allowed to play cards from whatever set you like at league, you can not for premier events. Most if not all of the people at the league will be playing modified decks and the game is designed for certain cards to be played with other cards that were out at the time in mind so that one card or combination isn't too overpowered. For example, a deck from today's format would probably dominate any deck from any older format just because the Pokemon have more hp and do more damage than any cards before them. Also if you want to eventually go to tournaments and be competitive (which should of course be your goal) then you need to have a modified legal deck and you need to practice it before hand. There really aren't very many negatives about showing up with at least something at your local league. They'll help you from there.

Finding a competitive deck that fits your play style

You may have been playing an edited theme deck for a bit now and you may think its playable, but tournaments are an entirely different animal. You want to make sure your deck can stand up to whatever tier 1 decks are being played at the time if you want to have a chance at being competitive. You can find out what decks are being played by talking to people at your league and stuff but as well as doing some research of your own. Sites like sixprizes.com, heytrainer.org, thetopcut.net, thedeckout.com and of course here on Fanboys Anonymous are all good resources to learn more about the meta game, get sample decklists, and thoughts from experiences players. You can also connect with alot of people on the forums for some of these sites and that can be great for two reasons. You can connect with new people forging new friendships, and you can make connections so you are a step ahead on that "secret deck" for the next big event. Going to your first event without knowing anyone could potentially be awkward but if you have already made friends online before hand you will have alot more people to hang out with at the tournament and alot more fun when you get there. My first nationals I met quite a few people I had talked to online for the past year and it made the experience alot better. Oh also my friend Justin Sanchez won the National Championships that year as well. Can you imagine the excitement one would feel when you all play this game at such a high level and then a friend wins the US National Championships?! It's an un-real feeling and I was super happy for him. That is a feeling I would have never got to feel if I hadn't started playing this great game.


The Pokemon Trading Card Game Online, or PTCGO for short. Is the best way to play the Pokemon Trading Card Game aside from actually playing with friends in person. The way it works is very simple. You make a Pokemon Trainer Club Account, which you will need if you want to go to league or play in tournaments anyway. The account is free and takes ten minutes to make tops. Then you download PTCGO onto your computer. When it is finished you use your trainer club info to login and are given a starter deck to begin with. Here is where the cool part comes in. Every time you buy a product in real life, whether it is a theme deck or a booster pack it comes with a code for that product on the Online Game. If it's a booster pack you get a pack of the same type as the one you bought with different cards for the online game but nonetheless its two packs for the price of one! So every time you buy a pack of cards for your real life collection you get a pack for your online connection. This is a great way to play Pokemon with those friends you met online through the forums or if you don't have time to meet up with friends in person you can play over PTCGO. It's a really useful tool and it looks great. It also let's you practice the Pokemon Trading Card Game in your free time which is useful as you will need to budget how much time you have for play testing for big events. PTCGO lets things happen on your schedule in case you can't always make it to league or what have you. You can also earn promos for the Online Game from your league as well as earn additional cards and decks by playing through the game's single player mode. There are a ton of things you can do with PTCGO. Soon they are going to implement tournaments. It's definitely the band wagon you want to be jumping on right now.

Some new changes this year

Some big changes were made to the Pokemon Trading Card Game Tournament structure this year and I am going to go over them for you since you are new and may not understand what some of this means.

1) League Challenges: For those of you who did not play before this season this isn't too important but it is in a way. Before this season the entry level premier events were called Battle Roads. They still mattered to the competitive player because championship points were on the line, championship points are what every player needs to compete in the World Championships, if you hit 400 by the end of Nationals you are invited back to the World Championships. League Challenges will still have championship points but they are replacing Battle Roads, the difference is they will be held at League Locations Nationwide. Active Pokemon Leagues with a Tournament Organizer on Staff will be given the option to run a League Challenge at the end of each league season. League Challenges feature Swiss rounds and no top cut. It is up to the tournament organizer if they want to run single game Swiss rounds or best 2 out of 3. The main reason for doing this I believe is to draw more people into the local leagues to play and get more people interested in Competitive play so if you see one of these in your area. Check them out! You can find out where a league challenge near you is by using that link I provided earlier on in the article.

2) Swiss Match Play and Single Elimination Changes: For this next season of Pokemon and for every season following it for the foreseeable future States, Regional, National, and the World Championships will have Best 2/3 Swiss rounds with a 50 minute time limit. Also due to the changes in Swiss rounds all events will have a Top 8 cutoff. Larger premier events will have a two day split. Players who make it into the second day of play will play additional Swiss rounds the following day to determine if they make the top 8 cut.

3) Tournament Entry Fees: Beginning this season as well Entry Fees will be implemented to any player in the Masters division. Masters division players are 15 and above. Fees will be determined by the tournament organizer running the event and will be posted with enough time prior to the event for the attendees to prepare. All entry fees go to prizes for the tournament and travel rewards later on so don't worry this is a very good thing! Younger players will not have to pay entry fees but will most likely not be open to the same prize payouts.

4) Travel Stipends: Those Championship Points I mentioned earlier? Yeah they are good for more than just an invite to Worlds this year. Finishers in the top 100 of Championship Points after Spring Regionals will be given travel stipends for their trips to Worlds. Payouts are as follows.

1st–16th: Travel Award and a $300 Travel Stipend
17th–30th: $750 Travel Stipend
31st–60th: $500 Travel Stipend
61st–100th: $300 Travel Stipend

These are all very exciting changes for those of us currently playing and has sparked some more fire under alot of the players I know as well. Of course not everyone is happy by the decisions naturally but the majority seem to be and as the saying goes you can't please everyone. This is definetly a very exciting time to get into the Pokemon TCG and I encourage everyone to do so!

But how do I play?

I've given you loads of information about the competitive scene of Pokemon but you still don't know how to play do you? No worries I'll give you the basic rundown and then you can start practicing on PTCGO, they have loads of tutorials and you should pick the game up pretty quickly after that. A game of Pokemon starts with each player drawing 7 cards from their 60 card deck. Then you look through your hand and check to see if you have a basic Pokemon. It will say Basic in the top left corner. If you do place it face down on the field this is your active Pokemon. Your opponent will do the same. If you don't you show your hand to your opponent and shuffle it back into your deck. You repeat this process until you have a basic Pokemon to

place on the field. Then he or she gets to draw a card for each mulligan you had but only after you lay out prize cards. Which is the next thing you do. After choosing your active Pokemon you and your opponent lay down six prize cards, these represent the six Pokemon you carry with you in the video games. When you take six prize cards you win the game. So to recap you draw 7 cards, each of you chooses an active Pokemon, you each place six prize cards, you then resolve all mulligans, and then bench any other basic Pokemon onto the "bench" that you wish. Each Pokemon that gets knocked out gives up one prize card. Unless they are a special powerful kind of Pokemon called a Pokemon EX that gives up two prizes. A game of Pokemon ends when one of three conditions are met.

1.) You take all your prize cards.

2.) You knock out all of your opponents Pokemon on the field.

3.) Your opponent can't draw a card to start their turn. This means they have "decked out"

Shiny Pikachu available in X and Y click here to find out how
What's a basic Pokemon?


I would like to thank each and every person who has taken the time to read my backstory and my experiences in the Pokemon Trading Card game as well as all of the information at hand here for how YOU can get into this great game. I urge anyone who has never played the game to at least give it a chance! Make a Pokemon Trainer Club account download the game and play it for a bit. It can be really addictive and you can meet alot of great people if you take the next step to go out to events and meet people. Sign up for forums, follow my articles here as I will have tons more Pokemon TCG related stuff for you guys and if you have any questions please leave a comment below or tweet at me @chrisjester89. Please like the article and share it with your friends and check out all of the other great articles we have here on the site. There is something for everyone. Also if you ever wanna play a game on PTCGO with me again tweet at me. I'm always up for a game of Pokemon. Thanks again for reading!

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