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The Pokémon Trading Card Game (Pokémon TCG) is a collectible card game based on the Pokémon video game series, first introduced in Japan in October 1996, then North America in December 1998. It was initially published by Wizards of the Coast, the company that produces Magic: the Gathering.

Gameplay and rules Edit

The game is centered on the concept of the Pokémon battle. All Pokémon have attacks and hit points (HP); by doing damage to the opponent's Pokémon equal to its hit points, or greater than its hit points, the player can "knock out" the opponent's Pokémon, sending it to the opponent's discard pile. After, you collect one of six prize cards.

Victory conditions Edit

There are three different ways to win a game:

  • The first type of win condition is to retrieve a set of "prize cards." A number of cards (six cards for normal play and tournament status, and three cards for "speedy" play) are set aside from the top of each player's deck at the beginning of each game. Each time a player knocks out an opponent's Pokémon, he or she adds a prize card to his or her hand. Pokémon-ex cards, introduced in EX Ruby and Sapphire, are more powerful than their non-ex counterparts, but allow a player who knocks them out to take two prize cards instead of one or if a Pokémon has a card called 'Expert Belt' attached to it, the opponent also takes 2 prize cards when the Pokémon's Expert Belt is attached to is knocked out.
  • Second, a player loses if his or her active Pokémon (the one currently conducting battle) is knocked out and he or she has no other Pokémon in play.
  • Third, a player must draw a card from the top of the deck at the beginning of his or her turn, and therefore loses if there are no cards remaining in the deck at the beginning of the turn. This is a trend common to most trading card games.

Card types Edit

There are five types of Pokémon cards: Pokémon, Energy, Stadium, Supporter and Trainers. A dramatic rules change introduced in the [Diamond & Pearl set added Supporter and Stadium cards. Prior to this, these were special types of Trainer card. From the Diamond & Pearl set forward, these are a separate type of card, and, as such, no longer count as a Trainer card when a Trainer card is referred to in the game's rules and card text. A player's 60 card deck may only contain four cards with the same name, with the exception of Basic Energy cards and Arceus from the "Platinum: Arceus" set.

Pokémon cards Edit

Pokémon cards are the basis of all decks (which consist of 60 cards). Without them a player cannot play the game, since both players begin the game by placing a Basic Pokémon in the active position on the playing field. Each Pokémon card depicts a Pokémon from the video games. Each player may have up to six Pokémon on the playing field at a time: one or two (depending on your choice of play) “active” Pokémon and up to five on the bench (these are considered to be in reserve, but they can still affect gameplay). Each Pokémon card has a name, a type, amount of Hit Points, level of evolution, attack(s), weakness, resistance, retreat cost, and flavor text. Some Pokémon have effects, called Poké-Powers or Poké-Bodies, that are not attacks but can affect gameplay; occasionally a Pokémon will have no attacks. From Diamond & Pearl to HeartGold SoulSilver each Pokémon's level is given next to its name, although not part of the name itself (e.g. Magnezone Lv.46). There are four types of cards in the game: Pokémon, Energy, Stadium and Trainers. A player's 60-card deck may only contain four cards with the same name, with the exception of Basic Energy cards.

Most Pokémon feature attacks that deal damage to the opponent's active Pokémon, or occasionally, their benched Pokémon; still others perform different functions, such as manipulating players' possession of cards. The vast majority of these attacks require Energy, which comes in the form of Energy cards, though the occasional Pokémon may have an attack that requires no energy (these attacks typically are weak or perform a function other than damage). Once per turn, players can use one of their active Pokémon's attacks.

The two types of Pokémon cards are Basic Pokémon and Evolved Pokémon. Basic Pokémon are Pokémon that have not evolved, and can be played directly onto the Bench. Each deck must have at least one Basic Pokémon to be considered legal. In contrast, an Evolved Pokémon cannot normally be placed directly onto the field; they must be played on the corresponding lower-stage Pokémon. Stage 1 Pokémon evolve from Basic Pokémon, and Stage 2 Pokémon evolve from Stage 1 Pokémon. As a Pokémon evolves, it gains HP and can use Energy more effectively. Baby Pokémon cards, introduced in Neo Genesis, are a special kind of Basic Pokémon, sometimes distinguished by a Poké-Power called "Baby Evolution." Baby Pokémon have low HP, but their attacks have strange and sometimes very powerful effects. Baby Pokémon can evolve into another Basic Pokémon, specified on the card. When a Baby Pokémon evolves into what would normally be a Basic Pokémon, that Basic Pokémon counts as being an Evolved Pokémon for the purposes of cards that affect Basic Pokémon and Evolved cards differently. Variations of Basic, Evolved, and Baby Pokémon cards have appeared in many sets, usually indicated with a word before or after the Pokémon's name.

The Diamond & Pearl set came out with a new idea: Lv.X cards. Lv.X cards would replace the previous EX cards. Lv.X's are considered neither Basic Pokémon nor are they considered Evolution Cards, but simply Pokémon Cards. They are placed on the Pokémon Card in which the name specifies (ex. Gardevoir to Gardevoir Lv.X). In turn, though, Lv.X cards are not "named" cards. That means that only 4 altogether including regular and Lv.X's are allowed. They can also only be placed when the Pokémon is active (not including effects of Trainers), but they can be retreated or switched out. Most collectors are interested in the holographic, Lv.X, or EX version of these cards. These cards should be kept in a binder to retain their value. Cards that are damaged or scratched will not be as valuable as one in better condition. HeartGold SoulSilver has replaced these Lv.X cards with Pokémon Rare Prime. These rare cards are considered normal Pokémon cards but are very powerful most of the time.

Energy cards Edit

Energy cards are attached to a Pokémon to enable it to attack. There are two types of Energy cards: Basic Energy cards and Special Energy cards. There are eight different Basic Energy types: Fighting, Fire, Grass, Electric, Psychic, Water, Darkness and Steel. Darkness and Steel Energy could only be provided through Special Energy cards until the Diamond & Pearl expansion set, where they became Basic Energy types. Basic Energy cards only provide one Energy of the specified type, while Special Energy cards have additional benefits and varying Energy provisions. Additionally, the amount of Basic Energy cards allowed in a deck is unrestricted, while Special Energy cards follow the standard rule restricting the number of cards with the same name in a deck to four.

Most attacks require a certain type and amount of Energy, depending on the type of attack and the Pokémon using it. If an attack requires Basic Energy, then that type and amount of Energy must be attached to the Pokémon, whereas if the attack has a Colorless Energy requirement, that requirement can be met by any Energy card. Colorless Energy is neither a Basic nor a Special Energy type and can be provided through both Basic and Special Energy cards. However, the Double Colorless Energy (released as the first Special Energy in Base Set) can count as only colorless Energy.

Each turn, the player can only put down one Energy Card. However, there are some Pokémon Cards and Trainer Cards that allow you to place more than one Energy down.

Trainer cards Edit

Trainer cards perform various functions to affect the game. Some can remove damage counters from Pokémon, remove energy from the opposing Pokémon, or revive Pokémon that have been knocked out. Before the Diamond & Pearl expansion, all cards that were not Pokémon or Energy were considered Trainer cards, though they have since been subdivided into categories: Normal Trainer cards represent items that directly affect the battling Pokémon, Stadium cards represent custom arenas that add a special mechanic to gameplay, Pokémon Tools are cards that help Pokémon cards in some way like power-ups in HP or attack power, and Supporters are special kinds of Trainers.

Most Trainer cards are simply classed as Trainer cards, which display no text in the upper-right corner. The player follows the directions on the card and then usually discards it. They were introduced at the very beginning of the card game's history, with the Base Set. Normal Trainer cards make up the largest number of Trainer cards by far, and can affect any part of the game, including other Trainer cards. They are often illustrated using computer-generated imagery, the most having been done by Keiji Kinebuchi.

Pokémon Tools, a subset of Trainer cards, first appeared in Neo Genesis. They are the card game's equivalent to Pokémon items, objects that Pokémon can carry around and use at will. Which Pokémon can receive the Pokémon Tool is specified on the card, and a Pokémon may not hold more than one at a time. Some Pokémon Tools can stay on the Pokémon until it gets Knocked Out, whereas some are discarded after a certain condition is met. Like ordinary Trainer cards and Stadium cards, Pokémon Tools are illustrated in CGI, mostly by Keiji Kinebuchi and Ryo Ueda. While Technical Machines can be considered a subdivision of Pokémon Tools, they are worded as a separate category. These are the most recently introduced of the current kinds of Trainer cards, starting in the Expedition set. Technical Machines, like Pokémon Tools, are attached to a Pokémon and either stay with the Pokémon until it gets Knocked Out, or are discarded after a certain condition is met. However, a Technical Machine will always have an attack as its text, and as long as the Pokémon holds the Technical Machine, it can use the attack provided on the Technical Machine instead of its normal attack. Illustrations for Technical Machines were once the domain of "Big Mama" Tagawa, but they are now exclusively done by Mitsuhiro Arita.

The first Stadium cards were from the Gym Heroes set. They initially were all themed on Pokémon Gyms and would benefit the Gym Leader. Later Stadium cards became locations within the Pokémon video games and sometimes areas completely original to the card game. Unlike other Trainer cards, Stadium cards stay on the field once played, unless another Stadium card is played or something happens that requires the Stadium card to be discarded. Stadium cards always provide the same effect to each player. Stadium cards are predominantly CGI (a few are hand-illustrated) and were once in the domain of Keiji Kinebuchi. Ryo Ueda now illustrates most of them.

Supporter cards were introduced in the Expedition Base Set. Normal Trainer cards themed on Pokémon characters have since been assigned to Supporter cards instead. They are substantially more powerful than Trainer cards, but only one can be played per turn (as opposed to normal Trainers, which have no limit). Supporter cards tend to interact with the deck, such as finding a card of the player's choice from the deck and putting it in play. Because they feature Pokémon characters, the dominant artist for Supporter cards is Ken Sugimori, who designed the characters in the video games and anime. The illustrations for Supporter cards are always hand-drawn.

Multi-type cards Edit

There are also some cards that are two card types in one card. Examples include the "Clefairy Doll" Trainer card in the Base Set, which can be played as a Pokémon card, or special Pokémon that can, rather than battle, be attached to other Pokémon as Energy cards. Certain Unown cards are both Pokémon and Pokémon Tools.

Fossil cards were first introduced in the Fossil expansion on September 29, 1998, though only Mysterious Fossil was introduced then and would be the only Fossil card until 2003, when it was joined by Root Fossil and Claw Fossil. Fossil cards are counted as Trainer cards while in the deck or in the player's hand, but when put into play, they also count as a Basic Pokémon. All Fossil cards in play count as the Colorless type. Certain Pokémon are required to evolve from these fossils except under special circumstances. For example, Kabuto, Omanyte, and Aerodactyl must evolve from a Mysterious Fossil card. Older Fossil cards were illustrated by Keiji Kinebuchi; newer ones are illustrated by Ryo Ueda. Pokémon with more than one type were in the Delta TCG sets. These Pokémon were two different types. They also had abnormal types. For example, a Pokémon that would normally be a fighting type may be a fire type in the delta species.

Pokémon types Edit

A simplified type system was used for the trading card game. Instead of 17 types of Pokémon, only nine exist. Seven were in the Base Set, and Darkness and Metal types appeared when Pokémon Gold and Silver introduced the Dark and Steel types. The types usually follow this pattern:

TCG type Color Video game type(s)
Grass Green Bug, Grass,(Poison)
Fire Red Fire
Water Blue Water, Ice
Lightning Yellow Electric
Psychic Purple Psychic, Ghost, Poison
Fighting Brown/Orange Fighting, Rock, Ground
Dark Black Dark
Metal Silver Steel
Colorless White Normal, Flying, Dragon

Notes: Starting with the Diamond & Pearl expansion, Poison-type Pokémon in-game are now Psychic; they were previously Grass. Additionally, some Dragon-type Pokémon have been found as Fire as well as Colorless.

Most Pokémon have only one type. However, EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua introduced Dual-type Pokémon, which have two different types. All existing Dual-type cards have either Darkness or Metal as their secondary type, with the exception of certain Pokémon cards with the Dual Armor Poké-Body, such as Medicham from the EX Crystal Guardians expansion, which can have multiple types when certain energy are attached.

Weakness and resistance are determined by the type of the attacking Pokémon (unlike the video game series, where they are determined by the type of the attack used). In older sets, Pokémon that are weak to another type take twice the base damage in an attack, while resistance decreases attack damage by 30 points. However, starting in the Diamond & Pearl expansion, Pokémon cards state how much more or less damage they take from an opponent’s attack if weakness or resistance applies. If an older card is Modified-legal (meaning that there has been a reprint in the current Modifed format), use the newer card as a reference, even if the older card is being played.

If a Pokémon has two types, both of those types are calculated as far as weakness and resistance are concerned. For example, if a Pokémon has weakness to two types, and a Pokémon that is both of those types attacks, that attack will do four times its normal damage.

The Pokémon Platinum Base Set introduced Pokémon SP cards, a variant of trainer specific Pokémon cards from older sets, that reintroduced the 'double damage' weakness standard from older sets without a base number next to the type weakness while adding an actual 'x2' to avoid confusion by newer players (ex: Infernape SP has a weakness of 'Water x2', meaning a Water attack that deals 30 points of damage deals 60 instead). Only Pokémon SP cards would maintain this 'double damage' standard, while remaining non-SP Pokémon would simply have normal weakness calculations. With the introduction of the HeartGold/SoulSilver Base Set in 2010, all weaknesses on Pokémon cards revert back to taking twice the damage, with the same 'x2' written next to each weakness. Similarly, the second set under this block, HS Unleashed, also reintroduces the concept of dual-type Pokémon cards- in this case, the LEGENDS cards for the three legendary beasts of the Johto region Suicune, Raikou, and Entei. Each LEGENDS 'pair' features two of the three beasts battling together, giving each card dual-types (ex: Suicune/Entei LEGEND being a Water/Fire Pokémon card) and subsequently dual-weaknesses under the new 'double damage' printing (ex: Raikou/Suicune LEGEND having "Fighting/Electric x2" weaknesses).

Sets Edit

With the release of HeartGold SoulSilver Base Set on February 10, 2010, there are currently 44 different Pokémon TCG sets released in English and 45 released in Japanese. These sets have a vast range of sizes, from Fossil (the smallest at 62 cards), to Aquapolis and Skyridge (both the largest, with 182 normal cards, 182 reverse-foil cards and four box toppers - 368 cards in total). Only twelve of these sets (Diamond & Pearl: Majestic Dawn and all subsequent sets) are legal in the current Modified Format, under which all major tournaments are played. A rarely played format is Unlimited, in which all cards released in English are legal (except oversized cards such as large box topper cards).

Early in the game, sets were released in seemingly random intervals, but ever since Nintendo took over the production of the sets, there has been a constant stream of four sets per year, released at 2.5 to 3.5 month intervals.

The current 45 released expansions are: Base Set, Jungle, Fossil, Base Set 2, Team Rocket, Gym Heroes, Gym Challenge, Neo Genesis, Neo Discovery, Neo Revelation, Neo Destiny, Legendary Collection, Expedition Base Set, Aquapolis, Skyridge, EX Ruby And Sapphire, EX Sandstorm, EX Dragon, EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua, EX Hidden Legends, EX FireRed And LeafGreen, EX Team Rocket Returns, EX Deoxys, EX Emerald, EX Unseen Forces, EX Delta Species, EX Legend Maker, EX Holon Phantoms, EX Crystal Guardians, EX Dragon Frontiers, EX Power Keepers, Diamond & Pearl Base Set, Diamond & Pearl - Mysterious Treasures, Diamond & Pearl - Secret Wonders, Diamond & Pearl - Great Encounters, Diamond & Pearl - Majestic Dawn, Diamond & Pearl - Legends Awakened, Diamond & Pearl - Stormfront, Platinum Base Set, Platinum - Rising Rivals, Platinum - Supreme Victors, Platinum - Arceus, HeartGold and SoulSilver Base Set, HeartGold and SoulSilver - HS Unleashed, HeartGold and SoulSilver - HS Undaunted, and HeartGold and Soulsilver - HS Triumphant.

Every few sets, new types of cards are introduced to the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Several of these include: Dark Pokémon (Team Rocket); Owners' Pokémon and Stadium cards (Gym Heroes); Darkness-type and Metal-type Pokémon, the second generation, and Pokémon Tools (Neo Genesis); Shining Pokémon (Neo Revelation); Light Pokémon (Neo Destiny); Supporter cards and Technical Machines (Expedition); Crystal-type Pokémon (Aquapolis); Pokémon-ex (EX Ruby & Sapphire); Dual-type Pokémon (EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua); Pokémon-* (EX Team Rocket Returns); Delta Species Pokémon and Holon's Pokémon (EX Delta Species); Pokémon LV.X, the separation of Trainer, Supporter and Stadium cards, and the addition of Metal and Darkness as Basic Energy types (Diamond & Pearl); Pokémon With Items (Mysterious Treasures); Trainer cards of which two can be played at once (Stormfront); owner-specific Pokémon SP (Platinum) , Pokémon LEGEND (HeartGold and SoulSilver Collection) and Pokémon PRIME which replace Pokémon Lv. X ("HeartGold and SoulSilver Collection") These changes, along with yearly format rotations, make for a constantly evolving game.

External links Edit

Official Pokémon TCG site Edit

Unofficial Pokémon TCG sites Edit

  • PokéGym has Pokémon TCG news, scans and event gallery, information, trading community and a massive forum for discussion of the Pokemon TCG.
  • PokéBeach Includes high-quality image scans from all sets, regularly updated Pokémon and Pokémon TCG news, a forum, a Pokémon TCG chat room, card translations, and other TCG-related content.
  • Pokepedia Comprehensive, searchable Pokémon TCG database. Has a decklist builder, trader base, event mapper, and more.
  • SixPrizes is a site dedicated to high-level strategy content, and is currently the only known Pokemon TCG site with subscriber-only ("underground") content.
  • HeyTrainer is a site dedicated to high-level strategy content, as well as free deck analysis, information, and social boards. Operates as both a forum and a blog.

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