Pokémon For Dummies: How To Play Pokémon With Cards?

December 13, 2022 · Your Playmat
Pokemon tcg for dummies

Board games have always been a great way to spend your free time and entertain yourself. The modern board game market offers many options. There are duels, for a company or for one person. There are also complex board games for which you need to think through your tactics and plan your actions. These kinds of games need at least 1 hour to learn the basics.

So, one of the top-rated franchises, among which there are board games, is Pokémon. This game is a board game in the genre of duel combat. Both children and adults can play this game. But it takes some time to master this game.

This article is for those who consider themselves dummies in playing Pokémon TCG. Stay tuned and hurry to hunt all Pokémon.

Pokémon Trading Cards Game Rules

basic pokemon cards in hand

At first glance, it may seem that the Pokémon universe is simple, and it's easy to play with these cute monsters. But the reality is much more complicated and unpleasant. Although the Pokémon card game is a dual battle, learning how to play this game is not so easy.

To do this, you must remember many rules and sequences of actions that will guide you during the game. Our guide will feature the classic version of the Pokémon game that most players enjoy. But remember that there are other game versions, and the rules may differ.

1. Build A Deck

According to the rules of the Pokémon card game, you need to build your deck to play. To do this, you need to have no more than 60 cards. The deck should contain basic Pokémon and their evolutions, Trainer, and Energy cards. 

A little later, we will tell you how to build an effective deck for the game. In the meantime, let's continue learning the game rules.

2. Lay Out The Cards On The Board

So, once you've built your first deck, you can lay out the cards on the battlefield. To do this, you will need 4 (in some cases 6) bonus cards. These cards must be face up, and you can take them if you kill your opponent's Pokémon. These cards should lie on the field the rest of the time.

Important information for Pokémon beginners! You can take 1 bonus card for 1 killed opponent's Pokémon. But if their Pokémon is EX or GX (protect those collectables with sleeves and playmats), you can take 2 prize cards.

You can only take 7 cards in your hand. Once you have the cards in your hand, you can look at them and choose your basic Pokémon. You can only have 5 basic Pokémon cards on your field. If you want to free your hand, you can remove up to 5 basic Pokémon from the hand to the bench. Then, with the help of Trainers, you can complete the cards in your hand with each turn.

So let's check it out! Your battlefield should have 4-6 bonus cards. You should also have 7 cards in your hand. From these seven cards, you can choose all basic Pokémon and put them on the bench. Now you need to choose your basic Pokémon to fight. Once you select it, you can place it on the field and wait for your opponent.

But! You'll have to put all the cards into one deck if you can't find a basic Pokémon in your 7-card hand. Then shuffle the deck and look for the basic Pokémon again. For each such shuffle, your opponent will draw one bonus card.

This can make the game much more difficult, as you can only win if:

  • You will defeat all the opponent's Pokémon, and they will not have Pokémon left on the bench or in their hands;
  • You will collect all the prize cards;
  • You will force your opponent to deplete his deck completely.

Pokémon TCG Gameplay Flow

pokemon tcg flow

To start the game, you must flip the dice or a coin to decide who goes first. After you decide who will take the first turn, you will have many actions that you can take during your turn. But remember that the last action is an attack. You can use it if you have completed all the previous actions. If you decide to attack, you can’t use the other actions. The attack will end your turn.

Step 1: Draw A Card

Your every turn in the game begins with drawing a card. It doesn't matter who goes first. Each player must draw one card from the deck into their hand at the start of their turn. Once you draw this card, you can play it or keep it in your hand. Everything is up to you.

Step 2: Put Your Basic Pokémon On A Bench

Now you can take the next step. To do this, look at the cards in your hand. If you have a basic Pokémon, you can place it on the battlefield. This will be your active Pokémon. If you have more than one Pokémon in your hand, you can examine their characteristics and choose the best one.

You can place on the bench the rest of the basic Pokemon. Remember that there can only be 5 Pokémon on the bench. And you can hold as many cards as you want in your hand. You can't put a Pokémon on the bench and just put it in your hand again. You must use a special Trainer card with the appropriate effect to do this. So always choose your Pokémon wisely and judiciously.

You should consider that there are special cards that can change the conditions of the game. Sometimes, you can have more than 5 Pokémon on your bench. But to do it, you must find the appropriate Trainer card and use it.

Step 3: Use An Energy Card

While not of much interest among Pokémon collectors, Energy cards carry a lot of weight for players. With Energy cards, you can charge up your Pokémon and attack other monsters on the battlefield.

On your next turn, after selecting your Pokémon on the bench or the active field, you can use 1 Energy card. You can only use 1 Energy card for Pokémon. But this rule can alternate if the Pokémon's ability, Trainer card, or other circumstances allow you to do so. Otherwise, you can only use 1 Energy card to charge one Pokémon per turn.

You can use an Energy card on any Pokémon, either on the bench or on your active Pokémon. Always plan ahead when placing an Energy card and review all possible steps. As far as saving Energy cards, when you evolve your Pokémon, your Energy cards are on that Pokémon. If your Pokémon is dead, all Energy cards, Trainers, and other abilities are discarded. If your Pokémon is going to die, you can put it on the bench. In this case, all Energy cards and other effects remain with that Pokémon (unless you have to pay a retreat fee).

Step 4: Retreat Your Active Pokémon

So, during a fight, your Pokémon will sometimes have to leave the battlefield to avoid dying. But in the classic anime, Ash changed his Pokémon several times per battle only by ordering them. You can't do that in the game. Unfortunately, you will have to pay for the retreat.

According to the Pokémon card game rules, the retreat fee is one or more Energy cards placed on your Pokémon. In some cases, Pokémon do not need the payment for retreat. You can also avoid retreat fees if you have a special Trainer card. It allows the player to swap active Pokémon with any Pokémon on the bench for free.

Retreating is a critical mechanic in any combat card game. You will have to use this ability more than once during the battle. It is crucial to choose the right Pokémon and Energy cards so that you can win the battle.

Step 5: Evolve Your Pokémon

Do you remember how cool Pokémon looked that were evolutions of their classic versions? These modified versions have always delighted our children's minds. And each of us wanted to get one for ourselves. Now you have such an opportunity. During combat, you can apply evolution cards to your Pokémon in the following way:

  • Basic Pokémon;
  • Stage 1;
  • Stage 2.

However, it's not enough to just put an evolution card on your Pokémon. There are some rules that you have to take into account. So, you can only evolve the same Pokémon once per turn. But the number of Pokémon you will evolve depends on your choice. Also, you cannot evolve a Pokémon on its first turn or if you go first at the very beginning of the game.

Step 6: Use Trainer Cards

Trainer cards are one of the most important cards in the card game. They can:

  • Apply beneficial effects;
  • Heal your Pokémon;
  • Swap your opponent's Pokémon for the Pokémon of your choice;
  • Reveal all enemy cards;
  • Allow you to take more cards in your hand, etc.

Trainer cards are assistants that provide an unlimited number of valuable features. But you need to find such a card in the deck.

As for their use, everything is simple. According to Pokémon cards rules, you have three types of Trainers:

  • Item;
  • Support;
  • Stadium.

You can use the Item any number of times during your turn. But you can only use a Support or a Stadium once per turn.

There are also Tool cards for Pokémon. You can use such a card once per turn and must attach it to a Pokémon. If your Pokémon can’t fight, you must remove the effect from it.

Step 7: Attack

So, it's time for the final step in your turn. You can attack your opponent. The attack is the most complex step, as it has many nuances and factors that you should consider.

So, to attack, you need to have the right amount of Energy. Almost every Pokémon has several types of attacks that need from 1 to 4 Energy cards. Thus, even if you do not have the most Energy, you can always deal a small amount of damage to your opponent.

Most attacks need specific Energy cards. But some of the strikes need colourless Energy. This means that you can use any Energy card, and it will work.

Also, when attacking, you must consider the resilience and susceptibility of Pokémon. So, some Pokémon cards will be resistant to a specific type of Pokémon, while others may be able to be vulnerable to others. You consider these numbers when calculating the damage dealt to you or your opponent.

Also, remember that attacking ends your turn. We should also mention that a Pokémon's special abilities are not attacks and you can use them before hitting. Special abilities are under the ability sign.

There are a massive number of attacks that can inflict various effects. Some kind of attack can kill a Pokémon with one hit. Another attack can put the Pokémon to sleep without dealing any damage. And some attacks can completely remove several tens of HP from the attacker. Always consider these factors before attacking. Weigh all your chances to come to victory as quickly as possible.

According to rules of card game, Pokémon have different conditions like:

  • Asleep. The Pokémon is sleeping. It cannot attack or retreat;
  • Confused. You must flip a coin. If it is, you can attack normally. If it is tails, you get 30 damage HP;
  • Poisoned. Your Pokémon gets 10 damage HP every turn;
  • Paralyzed. The same as asleep, but it’s valid for the next turn;
  • Burned. Your Pokémon gets 20 HP of damage.

These conditions can only be removed by tossing a coin. If it's tails, the state continues. If it’s head, your Pokémon will bounce back. You can also get rid of all these conditions if you put your Pokémon on the bench.

Pokémon's special conditions can be a great help in combat and certain tactics can also be built on this. You can get your opponent's Pokémon asleep, so they can't attack. This way, you can use many attacks in a row without damaging your Pokémon. This tactic is especially useful if you're playing against Pokémon that can kill your monster in one hit.

It is worth noting that using tactics with special conditions does not give a 100% result. The thing is that before removing the condition, your opponent must toss a coin. This means that your chances of success will be 50/50%.


As you can see, playing Pokémon is quite complex TCG game as it can take a whole day to learn its rules. But by learning the rules of Pokémon card game, you can always have fun with your opponent.

Also, a huge variety of cards will give you the opportunity to build a wide variety of decks. This means that you will need to constantly think of new exciting tactics and you will not get bored of the game.

But to make your battles always interesting, you should learn how to build the deck and follow the game rules.


How Mane People Can Play Pokémon TCG?

2 people can only play Pokémon. The duel game completely repeats the fights from the classic anime.

How Long Does One Pokémon TCG Fight Last?

Everything will depend on you and the assembled deck. In some cases, the battle can last up to 30 minutes, and sometimes the battle takes place for an hour or more.

What Should You Pay Attention To When Choosing A Deck?

When choosing a deck, pay attention to the basic Pokémon and the Trainers that will interact with them. But don't forget the Energy cards you will use to charge your blows.

Is It Possible To Play Pokémon TCG Without Basic Pokémon?

No, your fight must start only with the basic Pokémon. You cannot become an adult first and then become younger.