Pokémon cards are the basis of all decks. Without them a player cannot play the game, since both players begin the game by placing a Basic Pokémon in the active position on the playing field. Each Pokémon card depicts a Pokémon from the video games. Each player may have up to six Pokémon on the playing field at a time: one “active” Pokémon and up to five on the bench (these are considered to be in reserve, but they can still affect gameplay). Each Pokémon card has a name, type, amount of Hit Points, level of evolution, attack(s), weakness, resistance, retreat cost, and flavor text. Some Pokémon have effects, called Poké-Powers or Poké-Bodies, that are not attacks but can affect gameplay; occasionally a Pokémon will have no attacks. From Diamond & Pearl onwards, each Pokémon's level is given next to its name, although not part of the name itself (e.g. Magnezone LV.48).
Most Pokémon feature attacks that deal damage to the opponent's active Pokémon, or occasionally, their benched Pokémon; still others perform different functions, such as manipulating players' possession of cards. The vast majority of these attacks require Energy, which comes in the form of Energy cards, though the occasional Pokémon may have an attack that requires no energy (these attacks typically are weak or perform a function other than damage). Once per turn, players can use one of their active Pokémon's attacks.
The two types of Pokémon cards are basic Pokémon and Evolution cards. Basic Pokémon are Pokémon that have not evolved, and can be played directly onto the Bench. Each deck must have at least one Basic Pokémon to be considered legal. In contrast, an Evolution card represents a Pokémon that has evolved. Evolution cards cannot normally be placed directly onto the field; they must be played on the corresponding Basic Pokémon. Stage 1 Pokémon evolve from Basic Pokémon, and Stage 2 Pokémon evolve from Stage 1 Pokémon. As a Pokémon evolves, it gains HP and can use Energy more effectively. Baby Pokémon cards, introduced in Neo Genesis, are a special kind of Basic Pokémon, sometimes distinguished by a Poké-Power called "Baby Evolution." Baby Pokémon have low HP, but their attacks have strange and sometimes very powerful effects. Baby Pokémon can evolve into another Basic Pokémon, specified on the card. When a Baby Pokémon evolves into what would normally be a Basic Pokémon, that Basic Pokémon counts as being an evolved Pokémon for the purposes of cards that affect Basic Pokémon and Evolution cards differently.
Variations of Basic, evolution, and Baby Pokémon cards have appeared in many sets, usually indicated with a word before or after the Pokémon's name.
Dark Pokémon, introduced in the Team Rocket set, have appeared primarily in expansion sets featuring Team Rocket. Stage 1 Dark Pokémon evolve from regular Basic Pokémon, and Stage 2 Dark Pokémon evolve from Stage 1 Dark Pokémon. Initially, they were characterized by having low HP but high damage. In EX Team Rocket Returns, this disadvantage was removed and Dark Pokémon were combined with the Darkness type. Instead, their weakness is that some Pokémon Tool cards cannot be attached to Dark Pokémon. Illustrations for Dark Pokémon have either solid-black shading or high contrast shading. Light Pokémon, the short-lived complement to Dark Pokémon, appeared only in Neo Destiny. They evolve in the same way as Dark Pokémon. Generally, Light Pokémon have high HP, but their attacks can help the opponent. Illustrations for Light Pokémon are often characterized by pastel colors, shining sunlight, and gradual shading.
Owner's Pokémon, introduced in Gym Heroes, belong to someone or something. Evolution cards with an owner's name must evolve from a Pokémon that also has that owner's name; for example, "Brock's Primeape" must evolve from a "Brock's Mankey." Like Dark Pokémon, Owner's Pokémon are restricted from certain Pokémon Tools. The "Rocket's" Pokémon are also counted as Owner's Pokémon and usually have no evolution.
Shining Pokémon were introduced in Neo Revelation and appear in Neo Destiny. They are based on the "Shiny Pokémon", rare Pokémon with alternate color forms, introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver. They are incredibly powerful and rare, but require many different types of Energy to play. Shining Pokémon are limited to one of each kind per deck. Pokémon Star cards, introduced in EX Team Rocket Returns, are very similar, except that there is a limit of one Pokémon Star per deck, regardless of its name. Usually, Shining Pokémon and Pokémon Star are all Basic Pokémon, regardless of the species's stage of evolution in the video games.
Pokémon-ex, introduced in EX Ruby and Sapphire, are extremely powerful Pokémon that usually represent the last stage of evolution. Their HP and attack strength are usually far above that of their regular form. A disadvantage of Pokémon-ex is that when Knocked Out, the player who has done so takes two Prize cards instead of the usual one. The rest of the card game is balanced against Pokémon-ex as well: Some Pokémon do more damage to Pokémon-ex, some can prevent damage from Pokémon-ex, most Pokémon Tools do not work on Pokémon-ex, and some Trainer cards put Pokémon-ex at a disadvantage.
Pokémon LV.X, introduced in Diamond & Pearl, are more powerful versions of Pokémon. Like Delta Pokémon, they are not considered Pokémon of a different name. Pokémon Lv. X are played by putting them directly on the active Pokémon; however, as Pokémon LV.X do not count as either Basic Pokémon or Evolution cards, they do not "evolve" that Pokémon.
Most attacks require a certain type and amount of Energy, depending on the type of attack and the Pokémon using it. If an attack requires Basic Energy, then that type and amount of Energy must be attached to the Pokémon, whereas if the attack has a Colorless Energy requirement, that requirement can be met by any Energy card. Colorless Energy is neither a Basic nor a Special Energy type, though some Special Energy cards provide only Colorless Energy and do not enable type-specific attacks.
Most Trainer cards are normal Trainer cards, which display no text in the upper-right corner. The player follows the directions on the card and then usually discards it. They were introduced at the very beginning of the card game's history, with the Base Set. Normal Trainer cards make up the largest number of Trainer cards by far, and can affect any part of the game, including other Trainer cards. They are often illustrated using computer-generated imagery, the most having been done by Keiji Kinebuchi.
Pokémon Tools, a subset of Trainer cards, first appeared in Neo Genesis. They are the card game's equivalent to Pokémon items, objects that Pokémon can carry around and use at will. Which Pokémon can receive the Pokémon Tool is specified on the card, and a Pokémon may not hold more than one at a time. Some Pokémon Tools can stay on the Pokémon until it gets Knocked Out, whereas some are discarded after a certain condition is met. Like ordinary Trainer cards and Stadium cards, Pokémon Tools are illustrated in CGI, mostly by Keiji Kinebuchi and Ryo Ueda. While Technical Machines can be considered a subdivision of Pokémon Tools, they are worded as a separate category. These are the most recently introduced of the current kinds of Trainer cards, starting in the Aquapolis set. Technical Machines, like Pokémon Tools, are attached to a Pokémon and discarded once used. However, a Technical Machine will always have an attack as its text, and as long as the Pokémon holds the Technical Machine, it can use the attack provided on the Technical Machine instead of its normal attack. Illustrations for Technical Machines were once the domain of "Big Mama" Tagawa, but they are now exclusively done by Mitsuhiro Arita.
The first Stadium cards were from the Gym Heroes set. They initially were all themed on Pokémon Gyms and would benefit the Gym Leader. Later Stadium cards became locations within the Pokémon video games and sometimes areas completely original to the card game. Unlike other Trainer cards, Stadium cards stay on the field once played, unless another Stadium card is played or something happens that requires the Stadium card to be discarded. Stadium cards always provide the same effect to each player. Stadium cards are predominantly CGI (a few are hand-illustrated) and were once in the domain of Keiji Kinebuchi. Ryo Ueda now illustrates most of them.
Supporter cards were introduced in the Expedition set. Normal Trainer cards themed on Pokémon characters have since been assigned to Supporter cards instead. They are substantially more powerful than Trainer cards, but only one can be played per turn (as opposed to normal Trainers, which have no limit). Supporter cards tend to interact with the deck, such as finding a card of the player's choice from the deck and putting it in play, or drawing a number of cards. Because they feature Pokémon characters, the dominant artist for Supporter cards is Ken Sugimori, who designed the characters in the video games and anime. The illustrations for Supporter cards are always hand-drawn.
Fossil cards were first introduced in the Fossil set in 1999, though only Mysterious Fossil was introduced then and would be the only Fossil card until 2003, when it was joined by Root Fossil and Claw Fossil. Fossil cards are counted as Trainer cards while in the deck or in the player's hand, but when put into play, they also count as a Basic Pokémon. Because of this, they are the only tournament-legal Trainer cards with Hit Points (HP). All Fossil cards in play count as the Colorless type. While they can't attack, it used to be that there was no reward for defeating a Fossil, however this was changed with the release of the Diamond and Pearl sets. Certain Pokémon are required to evolve from these fossils except under special circumstances. For example, Kabuto, Omanyte, and Aerodactyl must evolve from a Mysterious Fossil card. Older Fossil cards were illustrated by Keiji Kinebuchi; newer ones are illustrated by Ryo Ueda.
|TCG type||Color||Video game type(s)|
|Psychic||Purple||Psychic, Ghost, Poison|
|Fighting||Brown/Orange||Fighting, Rock, Ground|
|Colorless||White/Light Grey||Normal, Flying, Dragon|
Most Pokémon have only one type. However, EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua introduced Dual-type Pokémon, which have two different types. All existing Dual-type cards have either Darkness or Metal as their secondary type, with the exception of certain Pokemon cards with the Daul Armor Poke-BODY, such as Medicham from the ex Crystal Guardians set and Armaldo ex from the ex Legend Maker set. Pokemon such as these can have multiple types when certain energy are attached.
Weakness and resistance are determined by the type of the attacking Pokémon (unlike the video game series, where they are determined by the type of the attack used). In older sets, Pokémon that are weak to another type take twice the base damage in an attack, while resistance decreases attack damage by 30 points. However, starting in the Diamond & Pearl expansion, Pokémon cards state how much more or less damage they take from an opponent’s attack if weakness or resistance applies.
If a Pokémon has two types, both of those types are calculated as far as weakness and resistance are concerned. For example, if a Pokémon has weakness to two types, and a Pokémon that is both of those types attacks, that attack will do four times its normal damage.
Early in the game, sets were released in seemingly random intervals, but ever since Nintendo took over the production of the sets, there has been a constant stream of 4 sets per year, released at 2.5 to 3.5 month intervals.
The current 38 released card sets are: Base Set, Jungle, Fossil, Base Set 2, Team Rocket, Gym Heroes, Gym Challenge, Neo Genesis, Neo Discovery, Neo Revelation, Neo Destiny, Legendary Collection, Expedition Base Set, Aquapolis, Skyridge, EX Ruby and Sapphire, EX Sandstorm, EX Dragon, EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua, EX Hidden Legends, EX FireRed & LeafGreen, EX Team Rocket Returns, EX Deoxys, EX Emerald, EX Unseen Forces, EX Delta Species, EX Legend Maker, EX Holon Phantoms, EX Crystal Guardians, EX Dragon Frontiers, EX Power Keepers, Diamond And Pearl Base Set, Diamond And Pearl: Mysterious Treasures, Diamond And Pearl: Secret Wonders, Diamond And Pearl: Great Encounters, "Diamond And Pearl: Majestic Dawn" And Diamond And Pearl: Legends Awaked". Another set will be released on November 5th, 2008, Pok'emon-Trading Card Game Diamond And Pearl: Stormfront''.
Every few sets, new types of cards are introduced to the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Several of these include: Dark Pokémon (Team Rocket); Owners' Pokémon and Stadium cards (Gym Heroes); Darkness-type and Metal-type Pokémon, the second generation, and the new Pokémon Tool card (Neo Genesis); Shining Pokémon (Neo Revelation); Light Pokémon (Neo Destiny); Supporter cards and Technical Machines (Expedition); Crystal-type Pokémon (Aquapolis); Pokémon-ex (EX Ruby & Sapphire); Dual-type Pokémon (EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua); Pokémon-* (EX Team Rocket Returns); Delta Species Pokémon and Holon's Pokémon (EX Delta Species); Pokémon Lv.X, the separation of Trainer, Supporter and Stadium cards, and the addition of Metal and Darkness as Basic Energy types (Diamond & Pearl); and most recently, the new "Pokémon with Items" in Diamond & Pearl: Mysterious Treasures.
These changes, along with yearly format rotations, make for a constantly evolving game.
A League Leader may assist in organizing the league, while a League Owner is the one officially in charge of the league, reporting to the Organized Play program any results and/or problems every seven weeks. The leagues run in yearly cycles, based on a certain aspect of one of the Pokémon Game Boy or DS games: the current cycle is based upon the Sinnoh league area.
Prereleases are organized just before each set is released. Usually, they are run on the two weekends before a set is released in stores to the public. At prereleases players are given booster packs from the judge and must construct a 40 card deck, with only 4 prize cards, using only the cards pulled from the packs and the judges provide the energy, but not special energy cards.
POP runs a season for these tournaments, which allows players to earn larger prizes and play in a more competitive environment in comparison to League. These range from City and State Championships, all the way up to the Pokémon World Championships, the single invite-only event of the year. Players can earn invites to the World Championships by winning or ranking high at National Championships, having a good Premier Rating (based on the Elo rating system, which allows players to win or lose points at any Battle Roads or higher-level event), or by qualifying in the Last Chance Qualifier. The World Championships is a two-day tournament, with one eventual winner in each age group; the winner of the Masters Division age group is generally noticed as the best player in the world for that season.
Some of these methods are only used in the USA, as PUI and POP are based in the USA, but they are represented by local distributors who provide the Organized Play program to their own country.
This was the first World Championships under POP. It took place in Orlando, FL during the weekend of August ??-?? in 2004.
This was the second World Championships under POP. It took place in San Diego,CA during the weekend of August ??-?? in 2005.
This was the third World Championships under POP. It took place in Anaheim, CA during the weekend of August ??-?? in 2006.
The Top 4 in each age group were the following -
1st - Jason Klaczynski (US) - Mew Ex/Manectric Ex
2nd - Jimmy Ballard (US) - Eeveelutions 3rd - Jeremy Maron (US) - Nidoqueen
4th - Yuta Komatsuda (JP) - Metagross/Dragonite
1st - Hiroki Yano (JP) - Lugia Ex/Blastoise Ex/Steelix Ex
This was the fourth World Championships under POP. It took place in Hawaii during the weekend of August ??-?? in 2007.
The Top 4 in each age group were the following -
1st - Tom Roos (FL) - Absol Ex/Jirachi Ex/Jolteon Ex
2nd - Steffen From (DK) - Flygon Ex 3rd - Tsuguyoshi Yamato (JP) - Empoleon
4th - Yuki Akimura (JP) - Scizor Ex
This was the fifth World Championships under POP. It took place in Orlando, FL during the weekend of August ??-?? in 2008. There was 128 players in Masters, ??? players in Seniors, and ??? players in Juniors. The format used for the 2008 Worlds Championships was HP-on, which means any cards from Holon Phantoms or after was legal for use in the tournament.
The Top 4 in each age group were the following -
1st - Jason Klaczynski (US) - Gardevoir/Gallade
2nd - Khanh Le (NO) - Blissey
3rd - Gino Lombardi (US) - Gardevoir/Gallade
4th - Jimmy O'Brien (US) - Empoleon/Bronzong
1st - Dylan Lefavour (US) - Empoleon/Bronzong
2nd - Paul Atanassov (CA) - Blissey
3rd - Nicholas Kolibas (US) - ????????
4th - Curran Hill (US) - Gardevoir/Gallade
1st - Tristan Robinson (US) - Toxicroak/Scizor
2nd - Takuto Itagaki (JP) - Gardevoir/Gallade
3rd - Simone Zucchelli (IT) - Gardevoir/Gallade
4th - Noah Lawson (US) - Gardevoir/Gallade
Some recent events suggest that PCL also has the ability to override PUI on any Organized Play related changes anywhere in the world. Without specific knowledge, however, this is a somewhat speculative statement.
The OTC is a new distributor of the Pokémon Trading Card Game in Hong Kong that started up in June 2005, and runs POP tournaments using the American rulings. However, it has the same policy as the previous distributor (Trandy's Creation) of banning Japanese cards (which supposedly can be used in regular tournaments with appropriate reference), causing huge discontent amongst the local players. Up until December 1, 2005, the company had held one tournament with only 16 participants. In contrast, the HKPMA (Hong Kong Pokémon Alliance) is an experienced group that has been running 2 to 4 tournaments every year since 2000. Initially those tournaments followed American rulings, shifting to Japanese rulings after the introduction of Japanese Pokémon Card Players Rule Ver 1.0 in Summer 2003. The HKPMA later on established a new branch organization, HKPCL (Hong Kong Pokémon Card Laboratory), to manage tournament matters, including the organization of tournaments, ruling support, staffing and documentation. To prevent the confusion between the 2 different rulings, HKPCL makes ruling clarifications on a regular basis, and sometimes writes articles in the PokéGym Forum to raise people's awareness.
The OTC is a new distributor of the Pokémon Trading Card Game in Hong Kong that started up in June 2005, and runs POP tournaments using the American rulings. However, it has the same policy as the previous distributor (Trandy's Creation) of banning Japanese cards (which supposedly can be used in regular tournaments with appropriate reference), causing huge discontent amongst the local players. Up until December 1, 2005, the company had held one tournament with only 16 participants.
In contrast, the HKPMA (Hong Kong Pokémon Alliance) is an experienced group that has been running 2 to 4 tournaments every year since 2000. Initially those tournaments followed American rulings, shifting to Japanese rulings after the introduction of Japanese Pokémon Card Players Rule Ver 1.0 in Summer 2003. The HKPMA later on established a new branch organization, HKPCL (Hong Kong Pokémon Card Laboratory), to manage tournament matters, including the organization of tournaments, ruling support, staffing and documentation. To prevent the confusion between the 2 different rulings, HKPCL makes ruling clarifications on a regular basis, and sometimes writes articles in the PokéGym Forum to raise people's awareness.
Recently, the PCL received a threat that made them cancel the rest of their Spring Battle Road tournaments, the threat is currently unknown.
Held in May 2008, the UK Pokémon TCG National Championships was held in London, a much more popular choice of venue location for the majority of players who were mainly based in the South East of England. In 2006 around 70 players were invited to play in each age group, with approximately 55 players per division in 2007. The prizes have included Nintendo DS consoles, televisions and invites to represent the UK in the World Championships. The 2008 UK Nationals was the first event of its kind in the country to be open to all players and required no qualification for entry.
Smaller City Championships, and for the first time in 2006 UK Pokémon Regional Championships, are held between November and April. These were held in Hull, London, Bournemouth, Manchester and Glasgow.
The game is most popular in the southeast of England, but leagues can be found all over the country - including Glasgow, York, Manchester, Leicester, Norwich, Harlow, London, Bournemouth, Exeter, Crawley, Rainham and many more.
The bans that WotC placed were removed when Pokémon Organized Play took over the game. Their only limitation is that cards must have the normal English or Japanese card back to be playable. Because of this, the only banned card is the promotional card Mew (commonly known as "Ancient Mew"), because it has an irregular card back and its text is in a hieroglyphics-like code. In addition, the cards printed in the promotional World Championship Decks are not allowed in any competitive events. These cards are supposed to be printed as a promotional item, and not meant to help people collect large numbers of rare and valuable cards that were played in these decks.