How to Play Pokemon the Trading Card Game

Here is a tutorial to teach you how to play Pokemon cards, the 2 player card trading game that is fun for all ages.

Below is a step by step guide to help you master this game:

Each player must first of all build a deck of 60 cards out of a combination of different cards which will be covered below. The card types are as follows:

'Pokemon Cards' - these are the main cards. Pokemon cards have 4 stages:

  • Baby - these are a stage lower than basic Pokemon and simply represent baby Pokemon in the game
  • Basic - These Pokemon have not evolved and are just adult Pokemon
  • Stage 1 - These are Pokemon that have evolved from Basic Pokemon
  • Stage 2 - These are pokemon that have evolved from Stage 1 Pokemon

'Trainer Cards' - these cards have special effects. Trainer cards are the support cards within the game, giving the player the ability to perform actions such as searching through their deck, drawing cards and other attributes. Trainer cards are a one use item and must be discarded after being played.

There are several types of these support cards:

  • Item - The player is allowed to use as many of this type of card as he likes during his turn. They have a large range of effects which prove useful at all stages of the game.
  • Stadium - This type of card affects the field of play. When it is used it remains in play for the duration of the game unless another Stadium card is played, or another card dictates that Stadium Cards are to be discarded.
  • Pokemon Tool - These cards act as held items. When a tool is attached to a Pokemon it provides the player or that Pokemon a status increase. Only one tool card can be held by each Pokemon, and once attached to a Pokemon cannot be removed without being specifically directed.
  • Supporter - A player may only play 1 Supporter card per turn. They are more powerful versions of ordinary Item Cards.

'Energy Cards' - these are required to attack your opponent and can only be used once per turn.

There are 2 types of Energy Cards:

  • Basic Energy Cards - These are basic attacking cards which provide an energy type attack, or a colourless attack.
  • Special Energy Cards - These ards provide more than one energy type, or may have other effects such as healing abilities.

Normal play requires a deck of 60 cards however shorter matches can be played with 30 cards instead.

Each game is refered to as a 'Match'. To figure out who goes first a coin is flipped and the winner gets to choose which player goes first. The player who goes first cannot attack on their first go.


After the coin toss both players place their deck face down to their right. The match area in between the 2 players is known as the field. The field is split in 2 with each player occupying their respective half.

Each player draws the first 7 cards from the top of their deck which forms the players hand. Each player then takes a basic Pokemon from their hand and places it face down in the middle of their half of the field. This card represents their active Pokemon. If a player has more than 1 basic Pokemon card they can place these remaining cards in front of them to form a bench (like substitutes in football). The only caveat to this is that the bench is not allowed to have more than 5 Pokemon in it at any one time. Evolved Pokemon only count as 1 slot on the bench. If a player doesn't have any basic Pokemon then that player must re-shuffle his hand and draw again, however if this occurs the players' opponent is allowed to draw an extra card for his hand.

Next, each player draws a further 6 cards which are placed face down on the left side of the field which then become the Prize Cards.Finally, each player then turns over their active and bench Pokemon cards.


Each player's turn has a number of elements to it. These are as follows:

  • The player must draw a card from the top of his deck
  • Take an Energy Card and place it with one of the Pokemon cards - this can be either your active or bench Pokemon.
  • Play basic pokemon to the bench.
  • Evolve any of their Pokemon that are in play
  • If the active Pokemon can satisfy the retreat cost of the Energy card then the Pokemon can be retreated
  • Play any Trainer Cards that you may have, following the instructions on the card and then discard them face up below the players deck.
  • If the players Pokemon have any abilities or powers, the player is allowed to use them
  • If the player has an Energy Card that allows an attack associated with their active

Pokemon, then attacking is allowed, however as previously stated, this is not permitted on the first turn of the game

It should be noted that apart from the first and last actions listed above that any action can be performed in any order. The turns continue until one of the opponents defeats the other to win the match.


Pokemon attacks either cause damage or have special conditions associated with them. Special conditions have their own rules and are specified on the card as to what these rules are.

Damage to Pokemon is recorded using Damage Counters, or alternatively dice. Once the damage that has been dealt is equal to or greater than the health of the Pokemon, that Pokemon is deemed to be Knocked Out. When a Pokemon is Knocked Out it is placed face up in that players discard pile, under the deck, along with any energy cards or other cards that have been attached to the Pokemon.

When a Pokemon has been Knocked Out, the player losing the Pokemon must replace that Pokemon with one from his bench. The attacking player takes one of his opponent's Prize Cards as a reward for achieving a Knock Out. This Prize Card is then added to that player's hand.

Win condition

A match is deemed to have been won when one of the following conditions have been met:

  • All the opponent's Prize Cards have been claimed (This is done by defeating the opponent's Pokemon to claim them)
  • If the opponent runs out of Pokemon - ie has no more active Pokemon and does not have any Pokemon in his bench to play with)
  • If the opponent is unable to draw a card from his deck at the beginning of his turn.

I hope that this tutorial has helped to instruct you on how to play Pokemon cards!

Back to the guide list