Pokemon Trading Card Game

Game Overview: Born in 1996, during the hay days where the market was flooded with trading card games.  Twenty plus years later only a few have survived and the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) is one of them.

Pokémon TCG is based on the Japanese anime and video games that are popular across the globe.  At the time of this review, 86 different sets have been released.

When playing Pokémon TCG, you play as a Pokémon trainer who has built a deck of 60 cards to battle it out against another player/trainer.  The decks will include different Pokémon characters, energy cards, and trainer cards.  The goal of the game is to defeat the Pokémon that your opponent has put into the battlefield.  Each time you defeat one, you get a little closer to victory.

Box Contents: While there are many ways to obtain Pokémon cards, the most popular is buying a single booster pack of cards that contains 10 cards.  You will find six common cards, which includes a single energy card, 3 uncommon cards, and 1 rare card.    

Certain rare cards are the ones that both collectors and Pokémon TCG players are after.  They may be highly collectible and worth money on the secondary market or makes the perfect card to build a deck around or enhance a previously built deck.   

The Pokémon themselves you find in the booster pack will be fall into one of ten categories:

·         Green Pokémon Cards-Nature

·         Red Pokémon Cards-Fire

·         Blue Pokémon Cards-Water 

·         Yellow Pokémon Cards-Lightning

·         Purple Pokémon Cards-Psychic

·         Orange Pokémon Cards-Fighting

·         Black Pokémon Cards-Darkness

·         Silver Pokémon Cards-Metal/Steel

·         Pink Pokémon Cards-Fairy

·         White Pokémon Cards-Colorless

          

Clarity of Rules: The rules for the game will not be found in a single booster pack.  You would need to either find them online, purchase a starter kit that would include them, or just learn from someone that already knows the game.  We were able to learn it by getting paper mats with different sets we purchased which included the rules on the back side and some additional reminders of game play on the board side.

I do think that people may be intimidated by the rules and not knowing anything about Pokémon does cause some additional challenges.  While the rules are pretty straight forward in how you play the game they could never cover all of the special situations that come into play from the different cards.  The text of each card is what drives the game which constantly changes with each new release.

Game Play:  When setting up the game, you take 7 cards into your hand.  You must have a basic Pokémon to put into play.  If you do not and after showing your opponent, you reshuffle your deck and draw 7 more cards until you do.  Each time you shuffle and redraw your opponent is allowed to draw an extra card.

A player’s turn is broken down into three different parts.  The first part is simply drawing a single card from your deck.  Part two includes multiple actions that you are allowed to take.  These include:

·       Placing a basic Pokémon onto your bench.  Up to five Pokémon are allowed on your bench at a time.

·        Evolve a Pokémon that was already in play at the start of the turn.  Evolving is one of the ways you make your Pokémon stronger by having the different evolutions in your deck.

·         Attach a single energy to one of the Pokémon in play.

·        Play Trainer Cards.  The trainer cards allow you a one time ability to manipulate the standard rules or change the overall rules of the game until the card leaves play.  The only restriction is that you can only play one supporter card and one stadium card per turn.

·        Use abilities that are found on certain Pokémon that would be in play.

·       Retreat your active Pokémon.  Generally there is a cost to do this and you must be able to pay this by removing energy from the Pokémon.  If you can’t, you are not able to retreat.  In addition, you also must have a Pokémon on your bench to replace your active Pokémon.

 

The third and final part is attacking your opponent, if you are able to.  Each active Pokémon will have different attacks available to them and each will have an energy cost. The text for each attack will explain what it does. Some will simply take health away from the opposing Pokémon.  Some may place a special condition on the other (or both) active Pokémon.  This includes putting them to sleep, burning them, confusing them, paralyzing them, or poisoning them.  One thing to keep in mind during attacks is that certain Pokémon will have a weakness against other Pokémon which may multiply the damage they have taken.   

Winning the game can occur in one of three ways.  If a player must draw and their draw pile is empty, if you do not have any Pokémon in play to replace your active Pokémon after it has been defeated, or if you have taken all of your prize cards.  Taking your prize cards is the most common way to win. Most Pokémon allow you to take one of your prize cards once they are defeated.  If you defeat some of the more powerful cards, you are able to take 2 and sometimes even 3 prize cards.

Replay Ability: With so many cards available in the Pokémon TCG world, the replay ability is endless with what you can do with the cards.  With the decks themselves, you have 60 cards and how the cards come out will really change how you play the game each time with that particular deck.

Appropriate Audience: The game is set at ages six and above.  While I have no concern that a six year old could play the game, the need to read is very important here along with the comprehension of what is being read.  To fully appreciate the game, the kids probably should be a little older than that.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: Simply being a TCG drives many people away from using Pokémon cards as a game.  This is because of the need to buy more and more cards to get those specialized cards you are looking for.  When you buy a single pack, there may not be card that would even see the deck you are building.  When you do stumble across one of those rare cards, it is exciting though.  You can always go to the secondary market to buy cards but may end up paying a lot of money there as well.

The need to build a deck is also something I do not like.  While others do like doing this and trying to figure out synergies and how cards work together, including my son who plays with me.  I simply do not have the time to sit down and figure out decks and how they should work together.  I found my love for this game through pre-constructed decks that match up with 4 championship decks from the Pokémon World Championships each year.  That is the perfect situation for me.  Very strong and mostly even decks where I don’t have to chase down cards and are very competitive once you figure out how they work.   

Another thing to note is that with each release of the next wave of Pokémon TCG, the cards get stronger and stronger.  That means the older versions of cards have no way to compete with the cards that are being released now if you wish to mix them.  In addition, new abilities are added that players will need to learn and understand.

Despite some negatives, the game itself is very well thought out and it is quite amazing how the cards work together and how with each release players identify different strategies and different sets of cards that are very competitive.  This by itself makes this game something I always enjoy whenever I play it.

Add-ons/Other Releases: There are so many that they can’t be mentioned here.