Intro to the Pokemon TCG

Intro to the Pokemon TCG

Welcome to the Game

Welcome to the wonderful world of Pokemon – an amazing place filled with happy Pikachu flocking around and in this case, many great Pokemon TCG cards to look at.

Whether or not you’ve been a collector for a week or the nostalgic feels of the game has you feeling like a Butterfree or two is in your stomach for the past 25 years, this article is all about helping you get ready to play Pokemon! Since you might wanna know my credentials to write an article like this,  lemme introduce myself to all of y’all. My name is Zach Lesage, I’m a professional Pokemon TCG player, a YouTube partnered content creator, and I’ve been involved with the Pokemon TCG since 2005. I earned my first invite to the Pokemon TCG World Championships in the 2005/2006 season and I’ve most recently won the 2020 Players Cup II event! I’m beyond blessed in my life to be able to do full time Pokemon TCG, via coaching, writing, casting, videos, and sponsorships, and my goal is to use my knowledge to empower the community! That’s where this article tunes into everything – I can share my knowledge of Pokemon to help you make informed decisions with your purchases here at TCG Park! I’ll break this article into a few sections so feel free to read everything through or jump to the areas that you need some help with.

Choosing the Right Product

When it comes to starting off in the world of Pokemon, it might be daunting to choose a product because TCGPark.com has a great selection of Pokemon TCG products. Do you pick up a new VSTAR Collection Box? What about a Fusion Strike Elite Trainer Box? A few Pokemon Booster Packs?!?! Honestly, the answer depends on what you’re trying to do. Here are some current products that might work for a few categories:

New Player / Building a First Deck

The Collector

The Experienced Player

As you can see, we all play the same game, but there are products that are better for some than others. As a rule of thumb, look for pre-constructed decks / league battle decks for players who are new to the game / looking for a fully built deck. Trainer’s Toolkit products are great to help all players expand their collection of usable cards and upgrade the strength of their existing decks. If you already have a deck built, you can choose a Collection Box that features Pokemon cards that you might want to build a deck around. It could be Leafeon VSTAR or Jolteon VMAX – the choices are seemingly endless. Be sure to read up on some of my other articles or check out my YouTube videos to learn more about competitive Pokemon. If you’re more into collecting, sealed products such as Booster Boxes and Elite Trainer Boxes are the best! Collectors can leave those products sealed to possibly grow in value or open them up to have a chance to pull some amazing Ultra Rares. If you want to get into higher end collectables, older Pokemon TCG Singles might be the way to go. Be sure to look at all available products before making a purchase.

Building a Deck

If you’re starting off, I recommend picking up a League Battle deck, such as the Single Strike Urshifu VMAX League Battle Deck [https://www.tcgpark.com/product/single-strike-urshifu-vmax-league-battle-deck/], because that will give you a fully Standard legal deck to play. If you want to build your own deck, you need to follow a few deck building rules that you can find here: [https://assets.pokemon.com//assets/cms2/pdf/trading-card-game/rulebook/swsh8_rulebook_en.pdf]. Here are the most notable rules to follow:

  • Decks have to be 60 cards total. No less, no more – 60 cards
  • Decks need to have at least one Basic Pokemon
  • You are limited to four copies of each card, unless otherwise stated on the card itself

I like starting my decks off by having a core focus / strategy before I commit to a whole 60 cards. Let’s take the Jolteon VMAX Premium Collection Box for example, you want to pair cards with it to complete the effect of Max Thunder Rumble. Max Thunder Rumble requires you to have existing damage on a Benched Pokemon to attack it for the Bench damage snipe. Looking through some Standard legal cards, Galarian Zigzagoon [Sword and Shield] and Inteleon [Chilling Reign] both have Abilities that can help fulfill that need. When I have complementary strategies, I start expanding on them by adding other cards that would pair nicely. Drizzle [Shining Fates] is necessary to Evolve into Inteleon, but it also allows you to have a fulfilling support Pokemon to search out Trainer cards. When it comes to Pokemon, you usually want to have four copies of the main cards in your deck and if it Evolves, three to four copies of those cards are needed too. When it comes to Pokemon you usually want to play 15-25 Pokemon in your deck. Trainer cards are necessary to search out your Pokemon and make your deck work! Having four copies of Quick Ball [Sword and Shield], multiple Professor’s Research [Celebrations], and a few Boss’s Orders [Rebel Clash] are common in most decks. Most cards in the Trainer’s Toolkit are viable options for most decks and will take 20-30 cards in your deck. In order to finish off the remaining cards in your deck, you’ll need to play Energy. I usually like playing a Special Energy that complements my deck, in this case Speed Lightning Energy [Rebel Clash] allows you to draw two cards each time you attach one to Lighting-type Pokemon. I also love having some Basic Energy in my decks too because there are usually Pokemon and Trainers that target Special Energy. Most decks will run 10-15 Energy cards total. I’ll share my most recent Jolteon VMAX [Evolving Skies] deck for you to use as an example. It follows most of the rules I’ve shared above, but some top tier decks have some unconventional card counts. Let’s check it out:

Jolteon VMAX Deck

Pokémon - 20
2 Galarian Zigzagoon SHF 151
4 Jolteon V PR-SW 183
3 Jolteon VMAX PR-SW 184
4 Sobble CRE 41
4 Drizzile SHF 99
1 Inteleon SHF 100
2 Inteleon EVS 227
Trainer Cards - 33
3 Marnie PR-SW 121
1 Cheryl BST 159
4 Level Ball BST 181
3 Elemental Badge EVS 147
4 Evolution Incense SSH 163
1 Fan of Waves CRE 226
3 Professor's Research CEL 24
1 Escape Rope BUS 163
1 Energy Search SSH 161
2 Boss's Orders RCL 189
2 Scoop Up Net RCL 207
4 Quick Ball SSH 216
4 Path to the Peak CRE 148
Energy - 7
3 Lightning Energy EVS 235
4 Speed Lightning Energy RCL 173

TDeckbuilding is like a work of art and it takes a while to build a perfectly crafted masterpiece. There will be ups, and there will be downs, but at least it’s all about Pokemon in the process. Remember that it’s all about having fun because it’s Pokemon at the end of the day.

How to Play TCG?

When it comes to playing the game, there needs to be an understanding that there are different outcomes that come with each game. You can win, lose, and sometimes tie games. Beyond having fun, most players are aiming to win each game because that usually correlates to your strategy working well. In order to win there are a few win conditions:

  • Draw all of your six Prize Cards
  • Knock Out all of your opponent’s Pokemon
  • Your opponent starts their turn with zero cards in their deck

Now that you know how to win, here is how you play the game:

  • Flip a coin to decide who goes first
  • Shuffle your deck and draw seven cards
  • Take a Basic Pokemon from your hand and play it face down as your Active Pokemon (if you don’t have a Basic, repeat steps 1 and 2)
  • Place six cards from your deck down as Prize Cards
  • Start the game

When it comes to playing the game, there are many things you can do during your turn. Drawing a card, playing down Pokemon, Evolving Pokemon, playing Trainer cards, attaching Energy, and attacking. Some cards have limitations per type, like playing only one Supporter card per turn, and other cards you can freely play, such as Item cards. Its best to understand the rules of the game as you learn and the Pokemon TCG Rulebook should have everything covered here: [https://assets.pokemon.com//assets/cms2/pdf/trading-card-game/rulebook/swsh8_rulebook_en.pdf]. Once you get the hang of it, the Pokemon TCG is like riding a bike! Start playing today!

Happy Testing

I hope your journey to this point in the article has been magical and that you’re all hyped to jump into the world of Pokemon TCG. My goal on this site is to use my 15+ years of experience in the game to help bridge all types of players into taking the next step. Whether that means picking up the right product, like the awesome Jolteon VMAX Premium Collection Box , or letting you know of the next hot deck, these articles are here for the Pokemon community. I’m not sure what I’ll write about next, but feel free to reach out to me if you have any articles you want to read about. Stay tuned for some great stuff coming up on the site and I’ll catch up with ya then! Until then, happy testing and let’s get it!

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Rediscovering Jolteon VMAX

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Standard vs Expanded – The formats of Pokémon TCG

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