How To Play The Pokemon TCG
How To Play The Pokemon TCG

How To Play The Pokemon TCG In 2024 (Quickly & Easily)

The Pokemon TCG Is one of the largest Trading card games. This is a comprehensive guide on How to play the Pokemon TCG.

Maks Dereszewicz


The Pokemon TCG Game is the best trading card game in 2024. We have created a quick and easy guide on How To Play The Pokemon TCG.


What Is The Pokemon TCG
What Is The Pokemon TCG

Around the world, millions play the Pokemon Trading Card Game, making it the biggest of its kind! The best even battle it out in the Pokémon World Championships, proving their mastery.

In the Pokemon TCG, trainers battle with their cards to win. The game began in 1996 with the release of the Base Set. Pokemon cards are known everywhere. It's hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of them.

Every few months, new Pokemon Sets are released. These expansions are part of a series of sets with new types of cards. This gives the game a constant breath of fresh air.

What Is The Pokemon TCG

Before we begin, these rules are quite a lot to remember. I recommend playing the Free Pokemon TCG Live game. The game allows you to play against others and learn the game without spending money.

Each Player in the Pokemon TCG has 60 Cards in a deck. Taking turns to draw a card per turn, attacking, attaching energy cards and using support cards. Both players can have up to 6 active cards. 1 in the active position and 5 on the bench. Only the Pokemon in the active position can attack.

Pokemon TCG Rules

Also, on the board, you have a discard pile, 6 Prize cards and a hand. The discard pile is where used Pokemon and support cards go. Prize Cards are Pokemon cards that can be taken by knocking out Pokemon. You have 3 options to win the game. The most common way to win is by drawing all your Prize cards. You can also win when your opponent has no more cards in their deck to draw or no Pokemon in play in the active position or on the bench.

Pokemon TCG Board Layout
Pokemon TCG Board Layout

Each Pokemon card has a few attributes. All Pokemon have Hit Points (HP) representing how much health your card has before being knocked out. Below, you have the ability. Not all cards have this. An ability can be anything. Some Pokemon allow you to draw additional cards and some do extra damage.

Below is the attack. Attacks are how you win the game. Different Pokemon have varying attacks that deal damage. And require varying amounts of energy cards. Each Pokemon has a type. Each Pokemon type has weaknesses and resistance. For example, a Psychic type has a common weakness to Dark types but a resistance to Fighting types.

There are a few types of Pokemon cards. These are the main card types:

  • Basic Pokemon - Basic Pokemon are the cards you start with. You can only place a basic Pokemon on your first turn. In most instances, these cards are the beginning of an evolution chain.

  • Stage 1 Pokemon - Stage 1 Pokemon are the evolved versions of Basic Pokemon. In an evolution chain, these cards are powerful. They can be placed if you first have the Basic Pokemon.

  • Stage 2 Pokemon - These Pokemon are the strongest in an evolution line. They have more HP and inflict more damage. These only work on Stage 1 Pokemon.

  • Energy Cards - There are different types of energy cards. Each Energy card charges an attack. For example, Charmander needs Fire energy and Normal/Colourless energy to use his attack. You can attach 1 energy card per turn.

  • Trainer Cards - Trainer cards include Supporter, Item, Stadium and Tool cards. All of these cards fall under the class Trainer. They are essential to your deck by allowing you to take actions that benefit the team. This could be drawing extra cards, attaching more energy cards, forcing your opponent to switch cards etc.

Types of Pokemon Cards

Pokemon Card Attributes
Pokemon Card Attributes

In the Pokemon TCG, there are a few special cards. These cards have unique abilities and rules applied to them. For example, ex-cards offer a range of strategic benefits. But when knocked out, they are worth 2 Prize cards. Examples of these cards are

  • ex

  • Ex

  • Gx

  • Pokemon Legend

  • LV.X

  • Pokemon Prime

  • Pokemon Star

  • Mega Ex

  • V

  • Vmax

  • Vstar

Pokemon TCG Card Types
Pokemon TCG Card Types

At the beginning of the game, one player flips a coin. The winner of the coin flip decides who will go first and second. Each has different benefits and drawbacks. Next, shuffle your deck, then grab the top 7 cards!

Check if you have a Basic card. If you do, place them in the active position and bench face down. To start the game, both players reveal their active Pokemon and Bench. If you do not have a Basic Pokemon, reveal your hand to the other player. Shuffle the hand into the deck and draw 7 more cards. This is called a Mulligan. Every Time you do this, the other player draws an extra card.

Now, on your first turn, different rules apply. If you go first, you can’t attack or use support cards but can attach the first energy cards and get ahead in setting up your hand. If you go second, you attack first and use support cards but risk being behind in energy and evolution.

After this, you take turns with your opponent. In each turn, you can do the following:

  1. Draw a card

  2. Take Actions including placing basic Pokemon, Evolving, Attaching energy cards, Using Trainer cards, Retreating your active Pokemon, and Using abilities on your Pokemon card.

  3. Finally, you can attack. You don’t have to attack. You can’t always attack due to a lack of energy cards. But if you do. Then attacking is the last action you can take, so leave it last.

If your Pokemon gets hit, place damage counters on it, but watch out for weaknesses or resistances that change the damage. If it faints, discard it and your opponent grabs extra prize cards.

Now you keep attacking until someone wins through one of the three previously mentioned options.

Playing The Pokemon TCG

Pre-Built Build AND Battle Deck
Pre-Built Build AND Battle Deck

Picking the right deck is essential! They all have strengths and weaknesses and the best ones shift with new sets every few months.

Want to pick the perfect deck? Here's what I'd do:

  1. Check out the top decks online. Find out what cards the best players are using right now.

  2. Try them out for free on Pokemon TCG Live! You can build and play those top decks without spending a dime.

  3. See if you like one. Get a feel for how it plays and if it clicks with you.

  4. Buy the cards if you want to take it to the real world. For tournaments or in-person games, you'll need physical cards.

A good beginner deck for the Pokemon TCG at the moment is Roaring Moon ex. It is simple and fast to learn.

If you want to start playing in person straight away. You can purchase a pre-built Pokemon TCG Deck in stores. These will not win tournaments but will help you understand the game. And you can always upgrade them.

Picking A Deck

Standard Format vs Expanded Format
Standard Format vs Expanded Format

Pick your way to play! The Pokemon TCG has two main formats:

  • Standard: This is the main format, where all the official rules apply. It's also the only format with rotations, meaning older sets get retired after a few years to keep things fresh.

  • Expanded: In this format, you can use a wider range of cards from different eras, so you'll see some wild strategies and unexpected combos!

To see if a card is legal in Standard:

  1. Check the bottom corner for its regulation mark. It's like a little ID card for the card.

  2. Visit the Pokemon website. They keep a list of which regulation marks are still allowed in Standard, so you can make sure your deck is up-to-date.

Pokemon TCG Formats


Thank You for reading How To Play The Pokemon TCG. This game is so fun and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. For more articles on Pokemon cards click the button below.

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