A Basic Introduction to Pokemon Cards

My experience with Pokemon cards is linked entirely to my younger cousin. He brought me into the game while I was in Middle School. He had a large supply of the cards and always had a better deck than mine. I could seldom beat him and I fell out of favor with the game with him as my only opponent. Years later he gave me his collection and I gained a huge supply of cards that I didn’t fully understand. To this day I still have a large amount of Pokemon cards however it costs money to have Pokemon cards accurately valued and I’m not sure I have any cards worth a decent amount to justify it. Anyway that’s my experience with the game, now for a brief introduction.

Goal in Pokemon

In Pokemon both players seek to win 6 Prize cards, which are 6 cards removed from the deck face-down at the start of each game. To win a prize card the player must knock out their opponent’s Pokemon. To do so, the player must reduce the HP stat of that Pokemon to 0. Hence victory goes to whoever can knock out 6 enemy Pokemon first.

Card Types in Pokemon

Basic Pokemon


Your troops in Pokemon are not surprisingly the near 800 characters from the franchise. Each Pokemon card has:

  • An HP stat
  • 1 or more Attack Moves
  • A Retreat Cost
  • A Possible Weakness
  • A Possible Resistance

Some Pokemon also have effects called Pokepowers or Pokebodies that are constant effects while they remain on the field.

Evolved Pokemon


In Pokemon you play your stronger Pokemon by evolving your existing basic or stage 1 Pokemon. To evolve a Pokemon you place the later stage Pokemon on top of the earlier one. However you cannot evolve a Pokemon the turn you play it (Without special effects).

Energy Cards


In order to launch the attacks of your Pokemon you need to use energy cards. These cards act as resources you attach to your Pokemon on the field. You can play energies from your hand once per turn on one Pokemon each turn (not counting special effects). Some energy cards provide additional effects when played.

Trainer Cards


Trainer cards offer support to your Pokemon, yourself and provide various supportive and disruptive effects. (Think Spells in Yugioh or Sorcery in Magic)

The Field

In Pokemon you control 1 active Pokemon and up to 5 Benched Pokemon. You can switch your Active Pokemon with a Benched Pokemon by paying the active Pokemon’s retreat cost (which involves sending that many attached energy cards to the discard pile). If at any point you have no Pokemon on your field you automatically lose the game.

Turn Order

In Pokemon you start by drawing a card, then you have the option to use Trainer cards, evolve your Pokemon, use Pokepowers, or pay the retreat cost to switch your Pokemon. After that you can launch an attack using your Pokemon, after which your turn ends.


I don’t know anything about the current meta-game of Pokemon. My cards are almost entirely from the older sets and I find them under-powered compared to the new cards I see released. Despite this, I find it a very fun game especially for any fan of the games. I know I love having a deck for my favorite Pokemon even if that deck cannot compete in meta (or even be legal to, since Pokemon like Magic only allows the use of the most recent sets for their standard). Anyway, before I start to ramble, I’ll stop here. You can find the full rules for Pokemon here.

Next game to talk about is Naruto!


2 thoughts on “A Basic Introduction to Pokemon Cards

  1. “My experience with Pokemon cards is linked entirely to my younger cousin.” Wow, no mention of your dear dear friend who actually taught you how to play? That hurts man.


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