Pokémon Trading Card Game/Basics

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Equipment[edit | edit source]

The Pokémon Trading Card Game consists of the following types of cards:

  • Pokémon Cards - these are cards representing Pokémon. They are further divided according to their stage of evolution.
  • Trainer Cards - these are cards representing various card actions.
  • Energy Cards - these are cards representing attack power.

A Pokémon card consists of several sections:

  • If the card is an evolved Pokémon, there is an indication of which card it evolves from. If the card is a Baby Pokémon, there is an indication of which Basic Pokémon card it evolves to.
  • There may be also one or more attacks. Within each attack there may be an energy cost, a base damage, and additional instructions.
  • There may also be one or more abilities (either Pokémon Powers in older Wizards of the Coast cards or Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies in newer Nintendo cards) on the card, with instructions on how to activate the ability, or what to do when the ability is activated. Usually Poké-Powers will be negated if a Special Condition is imposed on the card.
  • Near the top of the card, there should be a hit points section, representing the amount of hit points of the Pokémon, as well as its type(s).
  • Near the bottom of the card, there should also be an indication of weakness, resistance, and retreat cost.

There are also three broad categories of Pokémon cards:

  • Pokémon-EX - introduced in the EX Ruby & Sapphire expansion, these are special Pokémon that are more powerful than their normal counterparts, but are excluded from benefits of many Trainer Cards and Pokémon Powers and cause the opponent to draw two Prize cards when it is Knocked Out.
  • Pokémon ☆ - introduced in the EX Team Rocket Returns expansion, these are special Pokémon that have an ability that allows a losing player to catch up. However, there may be only one such card in a deck. These supersede the Pokémon in the Neo Revelation and Neo Destiny sets that had 'Shining' in their names.

There are also several types of Trainer cards:

  • Fossil Trainer Cards - Mysterious Fossil, Root Fossil, and Claw Fossil act as Basic Pokémon that have no attacks. Mysterious Fossil can become an Omanyte, Kabuto or Aerodactyl; Root Fossil will become a Lileep; Claw Fossil will become an Anorith.
  • Pokémon Tools - these are Trainer cards that are attached to a Pokémon. However, only one Pokémon Tool may be attached to any Pokémon at a time.
  • Stadium Cards - these are Trainer cards whose effects are persistent until another Stadium card is played.
  • Supporter Cards - these are Trainer cards that are placed next to the Active Pokémon, played at any time during the turn after being placed, and discarded at the end of a turn. Only one Supporter card can be played on any turn.
  • Technical Machines - these are Trainer cards that give Pokémon additional attacks. They are discarded at the end of a turn.

The basic equipment required for the Pokémon Trading Card game is a deck of 60 trading cards, of which no more than four of the same Pokémon or Trainer cards with the same name are in the deck (even if the cards themselves are not identical). Although primarily designed for two players to compete head to head, the rules can be appropriately modified to incorporate more players.

Setup[edit | edit source]

Similar to the RPGs, a player's field consists of, besides the obligatory deck and discard pile, a space for the active Pokémon and five spaces for the bench. In double battle variations, two spaces are used for active Pokémon and four are used for the bench.

At the start of play, each player draws seven cards to form a hand, and must place a Baby or Basic Pokémon, or a Fossil Trainer card face-down in the active Pokémon space. If a player has more Baby or Basic Pokémon, they may place them face-down on the bench. If a player is without a Baby or Basic Pokémon (or a Fossil Trainer card, but not the Clefairy Doll), the hand is shuffled back into the deck, and a new one is drawn. However, the opponent is entitled to draw an extra card (this process is repeated until both players have active Pokémon). If neither player has Baby or Basic Pokémon, nor Fossil Trainer cards, neither are entitled to draw extra cards. Each player must also set aside the top six cards from their deck, known as the prize cards.

When all this is done, all of the Pokémon in play are flipped face up, and the game begins in earnest.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

At the start of each turn, except for the first player on their first turn (starting with EX Ruby & Sapphire), a player must first draw a card. If the deck is empty at the start of their turn, the player immediately loses. A turn is divided into several phases:

Main Phase[edit | edit source]

After drawing a card, the player may do any or all of the following:

  • As long as there is an empty space on the bench, a player may place a Baby or Basic Pokémon, or a Fossil Trainer card there. Under normal circumstances there are five spaces on the Bench in a single battle and four in a double battle or in an earlier-standard single battle in which Narrow Gym is in play.
  • If a player has an evolved Pokémon card in their hand and the corresponding pre-evolved Pokémon card in play, the player may evolve the Pokémon by placing the evolved Pokémon card in the same space as the corresponding pre-evolved Pokémon card. However, Pokémon may not evolve on the first turn, nor may Pokémon evolve in the same turn that the pre-evolved form was played.
  • A player is entitled to play as many Trainer cards as they wish. The directions on the card are followed, and the card is discarded (unless otherwise indicated). However, note the following restrictions:
    • Only one Supporter card may be played per turn.
    • With the EX Ruby & Sapphire expansion, only one Stadium card may be played per turn (although it would make no sense to play more than one Stadium card before anyway)
    • With the EX FireRed & LeafGreen expansion, the player moving first may not play Supporter cards on their first turn.
  • If a player has an Energy card in their hand, they may attach the Energy card to any of the Pokémon in play. This can only be done once per turn, unless otherwise indicated.
  • A player is also entitled to retreat their active Pokémon and switch it with a Pokémon on their bench. To do so, the Pokémon must pay a retreat cost by discarding the appropriate amount of energy, as indicated on the Pokémon card. This can only be done once per turn.
  • A player may also activate the abilities (either the Pokémon Powers of earlier cards or the Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies of newer cards) of any of their Pokémon in play.

Attack Phase[edit | edit source]

After the main phase, a player may choose to use their Pokémon to attack an opposing active Pokémon. To do so, it must have enough energy cards to satisfy the energy requirements of the attack, as indicated on the attack. If the defending Pokémon is a Baby Pokémon, a coin is flipped before anything else is done, and if it lands tails, the attack phase ends. Otherwise, the attack is performed. The turn immediately ends after the attack phase.

Many attacks do damage to the defending Pokémon. In this case, the damage is applied against the opposing Pokémon's hit points. To keep track of the amount of damage a Pokémon has accumulated, damage counters are used, with each damage counter representing ten hit points of damage to the Pokémon.

Weakness and Resistance[edit | edit source]

When damage is applied against a defending Pokémon, the type of the attacking Pokémon is compared to the type of the defending Pokémon. If the attacker's type is listed among the defender's weaknesses, the amount of damage applied is doubled. However, if the attackers' type is listed among the defender's resistances, the amount of damage applied is reduced by 30 points (ie. three damage counters). (Resistance will be 10 in an earlier-standard battle in which Resistance Gym is in play.) If the attacker is of more than one type, all of the types are compared. Thus, it is possible that the defender is weak to one of the attacker's types while resistant to another, in which case the weakness is applied before the resistance.

A Pokémon that receives collateral damage from an attack will never have weakness or resistance applied to it. However, weakness and resistance are considered when collateral damage from a failed attack as a result of confusion is done in an earlier-standard battle.

Status Effects[edit | edit source]

Some attacks may also have additional directions, in which they are followed. Among the most common of these directions is to inflict a status effect on a Pokémon. Status effects are automatically removed if the Pokémon is moved to the bench.

There are five main status effects:

  • Burn: A Pokémon that is burned is indicated by the presence of a burn counter. At the end of each turn, a coin is flipped. If it lands tails, the Pokémon receives 20 damage (two damage counters). As this is collateral damage, no weakness or resistance is applied. A Pokémon may not be "doubly burned" - no more than one burn counter may be placed on a Pokémon, and no more than 20 damage is applied from burn damage unless stated so by the attack or pokebody of the attacking pokemon.
  • Confusion: A Pokémon that is confused is indicated by turning the card upside-down. When a confused Pokémon attempts to attack, a coin is flipped. If it is heads, the attack proceeds as normal, and if it is tails, the attack fails, and the active Pokémon receives 30 damage (20 before the EX-series expansions) instead. The damage from a failed attack is considered collateral damage: no weakness or resistance is applied.
  • Paralyze: A Pokémon that is paralyzed is indicated by turning the card sideways. Paralyzed Pokémon may not attack or retreat during their next turn, after which the Pokémon automatically recovers.
  • Poison: A Pokémon that is poisoned is indicated by the presence of a poison counter. At the end of each turn, the Pokémon receives 10 damage (one damage counter). As this is collateral damage, no weakness or resistance is applied. A Pokémon cannot be "doubly poisoned" - no more than one poison counter may be placed on a Pokémon, and no more than 10 damage can be applied from poison damage unless stated so by the attack or pokebody of the attacking pokemon.
  • Sleep: A Pokémon that is asleep is indicated by turning the card sideways, in the opposite direction of the direction of paralysis (such a direction is determined by convention). Sleeping Pokémon may not attack or retreat during its turn. At the end of each turn, a coin is fliped, and if it lands heads, the Pokémon wakes up.

A Pokémon may only be affected by one of consuion, paralysis, or sleep at a time. If a confused, asleep, or paralysed Pokémon is inflicted with another of these three status effects, the new effect replaces the old one. A Pokémon inflicted with any status effect may not use any abilities other than Poké-Bodies unless stated so.

Knockouts[edit | edit source]

When a Pokémon runs out of hit points, the Pokémon is knocked out, and the Pokémon, and all of its associated cards, are discarded. When a Pokémon is knocked out, the attacker may choose any prize card and add it to their hand. A player wins if all of the prize cards are taken. It is possible for two or more Pokémon to be knocked out at once, and it is also possible for two players to take their last prize cards at the same time. In this case, the match goes into overtime, where the next knockout determines the winner.

If a Pokémon-EX is knocked out, two prizes are collected. If a Fossil Trainer card is knocked out, no prizes are collected.

Whenever a player's active Pokémon is knocked out, it is replaced with any Pokémon from the bench. If a player does not have any Pokémon on their bench when their active Pokémon is knocked out, the player automatically loses.

Energy costs[edit | edit source]

A series of type icons indicate the various energy costs throughout the game. For energy costs to be fulfilled, a player must have the appopriate energy cards, which provide the desired energy. There are several types of basic energy, one corresponding to each icon (except the colorless icon). These match their corresponding icons. Any energy card will match colorless icons. For example, on the EX Delta Species Latias δ, 1 Lightning Energy, 1 Metal Energy, and three other Energy of the player's choosing (1 if Delta Aura is in effect) are required to use Extra Crush (the requirement that your opponent have Pokémon-ex in play notwithstanding). For other types of energy, directions on the card will indicate the types of icons they match, as well as any effects of the Pokémon who have them.

Note that there may be cases where energy must be discarded, but a combination of energy cards will exceed (and not exactly match) these conditions (for example, discarding a single energy but only double energy cards are attached). In this case this will suffice.

Double Battles[edit | edit source]

In a double battle, two Pokémon are active, while four remain on the bench. There is one additional rule in double battles: during a double battle, both active spaces must be occupied to the best of the player's ability (thus, a player with two active Pokémon and an empty bench does not automatically lose if one is knocked out - but will if both are knocked out). No other rules change, including the one-energy and one-retreat limitation.