What is Pokemon Card Trading Game? How to Play it?

Pokemon Trading card game often reffered to as Pokemon TCG or PTCG is a japanese collectible card game based on the iconic Nintendo Pokemon video game. The game was first published in 1996 in Japan by Media Factory.

Within a few years the game gained tremendous popularity and in 2016, it was the best selling strategic card game. Until now, the game has sold more than 26 billion cards worldwide. The is still very popular and people often trade their cards online with each other on eBay. There are also a number of trading cards websites which sell Pokemon cards.

Type of Pokémon cards

There are 3 different types of cards within the game.


The most important cards are of course the Pokémon itself. These consist of Basic Pokémon and evolution cards. The difference between this evolution can be seen in the upper left corner of the map.

Pokemon still releases new cards each year. Last year In February, Pokemon Ultra Prism Cards were released to masses. It is the fifth set in the Sun & Moon series of the Pokemon TCG.

Energy cards

Most Pokémon cannot attack without energy cards. For this, the type of energy must match that of the attack.

There are 11 different energy types under Pokemon and 9 different energy cards. Grass, fairy, metal, fighting, water, fire, psychic, lightning, and darkness all have their own type of energy cards. Dragons usually need two different types of energy for their attacks and in the case of a colorless Pokémon card, any type of energy can be used.

Each elite trainer box contains a set of 5 energy cards of each type. In the Evolutions set, there can be an energy card in a  booster

Trainer cards

Trainer cards offer the player extra options during the game. Some cards will help your Pokémon by, for example, reducing damage (Potion), but there are also cards that allow you to search in your deck for a specific card.

There are 4 types of trainer cards:

  • Trainer
  • Stadium
  • Pokemon Tool
  • Supporter

The parts of a Pokémon card

  1. Pokémon Type
  2. HP points / Life points
  3. Pokémon name / Card name
  4. Evolution level
  5. Attack-name, explanation, costs of the attack and the damage that the attack does.
  6. Weakness and resistance
  7. Withdrawal costs
  8. Card Type
  9. Trainer Type
  10. Map description
  11. Trainer rules

Build a deck

Below we describe the rules and tips that you have to take into account when building a deck.

  • A deck must always contain exactly 60 cards
  • You can have up to 4 cards with the same name in your deck. Basic energy cards are exempted from this.
  • You can choose the best one or two energy types. So you have the greatest chance that your energy cards match the attacks of your pokémon.
  • Make sure you have enough energy cards in your deck. 15 to 19 energy cards is a good number in most decks.
  • Trainer cards provide a large part of the possible success of your deck. Usually, 13 to 20 trainer cards are played in a deck
  • Then complete your deck with Pokémon cards until you have exactly 60 cards.

With each elite trainer box, a small guide is given. Here the new maps are explained and also tips for combinations with different maps. This can work very well to get inspiration for a new deck.

Do not want to build a deck yourself? You can  buy ready-made decks ! Exactly 60 cards and you can play right away.

Additional rules to take into account

  • The evolving of an EX Pokémon in a mega Pokémon automatically ends your turn, unless you have attached the associated Spirit Link Trainer Card to the Pokémon.
  • Some pokémon have an ancient trait effect directly under their name. Take advantage of this!
  • Some pokémon have two types, both of which apply to any weakness of resistance effects
  • You may only use a GX attack once per game
  • Different attacks have different effects, always read the trainers of pokéon cards

Starting a game

The game starts by flipping a Pokémon coin or normal coin. The person who wins the toss starts the game.

Pokémon coins are included with different products such as the  3-packs of the Sun & Moon set.

Shuffle the deck with exactly 60 cards and pick up the top 7 cards. Check if you have basic Pokémon in your hand. If you do not have a basic Pokémon, show your hand to your opponent and shuffle the 7 cards back into your deck. Then you take another 7 cards. If you do not have a basic Pokémon in your hand again, repeat this until you have a basic Pokémon in your opening hand. If your opponent has to shake his or her hand back into the deck, you can take an extra card.

When you both have an opening hand with basic Pokémon, choose the basic Pokémon you want to start with and place it face up on the playing field as active Pokémon.

After that, you can place up to 5 extra basic Pokémon facedown. (In total there can be a maximum of 5 Pokémon on your bank at the same time)

Determine how many price cards you want to play and place this number with the back side up in the price card zone.

Both players turn their active Pokémon and the Pokémon on their couch and the game begin.

Specially printed playing fields are included with the available starter decks.


You win if:

  • You have taken all your prize cards.
  • Your opponent no longer has Pokémon to bet.
  • Your opponent can not take a card from the deck at the beginning of his or her turn.

Play a turn

Course of the turn
Each turn starts with picking up a card from your deck. Then there are several actions that you can do in a turn. Below these actions are described in random order and how often you can do that within one turn.

  • You can put as much basic Pokémon on your couch as you want (there may be 5 Pokémon on your couch)
  • You can evolve as much Pokémon as you want. A Pokémon retains all attached cards and damage points as it evolves, status conditions such as paralyzed and poisoned are terminated by evolving your Pokémon. You can not evolve Pokémon on your first turn, nor can you evolve the same Pokémon twice within one turn.
  • In a BREAK evolution, you may use both the attacks and abilities of your Pokémon BREAK and those of the underlying Pokémon.
  • You may attach one energy card to one of your Pokémon
  • You can play as much trainer cards as you like in a turn but please note that you can only play one supporter’s trainer card and one stage trainer card per turn.
  • You may withdraw your active Pokémon once per turn for another Pokémon on your bank. (Each Pokémon has a retreat cost, displayed in colorless energy symbols.) The number of retreat symbols shows how many attached energy cards you have to throw away from that Pokémon to withdraw the Pokémon, then you can swap your active Pokémon with a Pokémon in your bank.
  • You can use your as much Pokémon’s abilities as you like. You may also use the Pokémon abilities in your bank.


Lastly, you are allowed to attack your Pokémon on your turn. Attack means that your turn is over and you can only perform actions in your next turn. You can also end your turn by passing your turn without attacking.

To use an attack from your active Pokémon, the attached energy cards of your Pokémon must match the energy symbols for the attack. For colorless energy symbols, every type of energy card is good.

For the other 9 symbols, that specific type of energy must be attached. The number of energy symbols for an attack indicates how many of those type of energy cards must be attached to perform an attack.

To calculate the damage, look at the number next to the attack and the weakness and resistance of your opponent’s Pokémon.

Some attacks have a specific effect that can cause damage to the attack. Calculate this first. The Pokémon of your opponent can be strong or weak against your attack. If the type of your Pokémon matches the symbol that represents the weakness of your opponent’s Pokémon, the attack will do more damage.

This can vary from 10 additional damage points to even double damage points. However, if the type of your Pokémon matches the symbol at the resistance of your opponent’s Pokémon, your attack will do less damage.

Once the final damage has been calculated, keep this up by placing damage points with the attacked Pokémon. When a Pokémon has received as much or more damage than the Pokémon HP points, the Pokémon is disabled and the winning player may take a prize card. If an EX or GX Pokémon is disabled, 2 price cards may be picked.

Status conditions
If there are Pokémon with status conditions, this creates an effect that takes place between turns. Below the different status conditions and what effects this entails.

  • Asleep & Paralyzed
    Rotate a paralyzed Pokémon with the top to the right and an asleep Pokemon with the top to the left. A sleeping or paralyzed Pokémon can not attack or be withdrawn. You flip a Pokémon coin between each turn. At the head the Pokémon wakes up again, with coin the Pokémon stays asleep.
  • Burned
    A Pokémon that is burned is indicated by attaching the burn counter to the Pokémon. In between each turn your Pokémon first gets 20 damage. Then you flip a coin. At the head your Pokémon is no longer burned, with currency your Pokémon stays that way.
  • Confused
    Turn a confused Pokémon face down. If a confused Pokémon attacks, you must first flip a coin. At the head, the attack continues without other effects. With a coin the attack does not go through and the attacking Pokémon gets 30 damage. You can eliminate confusion by withdrawing your Pokémon or by using a card that can eliminate it.
  • Poisoned
    A Pokémon that is poisoned is indicated by attaching the poison counter to the Pokémon. Your Pokemon will be damaged 10 times per turn.
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