Pokemon Card Collecting for Beginners

Whether you grew up watching the Pokemon animated television series, you’ve played and loved the video games, or you’re just curious about what all the hype is about – Game Goblins is here to help you start your Pokemon Card collecting obsession – wait, we mean collection!

Before you get started, let’s go over the basic rules of the game and some tips for building a solid starting deck. In no time, you’ll no longer be a noob, but a full-blown Pokemon Trainer!   


What is Pokemon?

Okay, this may feel basic, but it never hurts to refresh yourself when you’re studying to become a Pokemon Master. The Pokemon Trading Card Game (or TCG as it’s fondly called in nerd circles) was introduced to the world in 1996 and it’s been a phenomenon ever since. The collectible card game is based on Satoshi Tjiri’s Pokemon universe and each card is characterized by a fictional creature – each with its own special abilities, skills and strengths. 

The catchphrase “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” applies to the card game just as much as it did the show, and human trainers (you) throw Poke Balls (collect the cards) to build their menageries (decks). You give your Pokemon commands and send them into battle against other Pokemon to sharpen their skills and level them up.

So your deck will comprise of many different Pokemon that you’ll battle against an opponent trainer. Once a Pokemon has taken sufficient damage, it passes out and the winning player gets a Prize card. So your goal is to knock out the other guy’s Pokemon and collect Prize cards!

Wanna find a local league? Game Goblins holds TCG events in the store that you can join!


Basic Rules of Pokemon TCG

Tradition dictates that you flip a coin to see who goes first in a Pokemon battle, but you can choose based on any number of criteria – age, who won or lost last, the first letter of your last name, etc. Then you’ll both shuffle your decks and draw seven (7) cards. 


Basic Pokemon

Player One will introduce one (1) Basic Pokemon to the field – remember there is no attacking during the first round! This Pokemon is known as the “Active Pokemon” and it will be the one attacking and being attacked. If your hand has no basic Pokemon, you will need to reshuffle your deck and draw new cards. If this happens your opponent gets to draw an extra card.

You may also keep what is known as a “bench” of up to five Pokemon that you can rotate onto the field throughout the battle. Evolved Pokemon cannot be played directly to the bench. Instead, you should lay down the basic (unevolved) version of the Pokemon and then lay the evolved version of the card on top of it.  


Performing Actions

Once the game is afoot, you can perform actions like:

  • Play a Basic Pokémon
  • Upgrade to an Evolved Pokémon
  • Send an Active Pokémon to the Bench and replace it with another card
  • Play an Energy card
  • Play a Trainer card

Energy Cards are cards that allow you to conduct attacks by “fueling up” your Pokemon with their element. There are several types of energy including Water, Grass, Lightning, and Fire. Every attack “costs” a certain amount of energy to perform, and you pay that cost with the energy cards.

Trainer Cards are actions you can take as the trainer to help your pokemon out. Some will allow you to heal damage to your Pokemon while others may allow you to recover a previously discarded card.


Deck Building

Now that we’re caught up on the rules it’s time to start building your deck! There are two main ways to go about this: Pre-constructed decks and building your own deck. Either way can work for you, but let’s look at the Pros and Cons of each method. 

Pre-Constructed Decks

This is obviously the easiest way to get started because your deck is balanced and created for you. However, you may not know that there are three (3) different types of pre-constructed decks:

  1. Theme Decks – these decks are widely distributed and easy to find, but they’re not always the best decks in the world. They usually contain lots of Pokemon and Energy cards but very few trainer cards which can put you at a disadvantage. Remember, you only have six (6) cards in your hand at once and if they’re all Pokemon and Energy (which you can usually only play once per turn) you have a lot of cards you can’t play. These are great learning decks for beginners but they won’t take you very far. 
  2. World Champion Decks – these decks were created to replicate the decks of actual TCG champions, which means they are fantastic decks! However, they are lined in silver and have marked backs to differentiate them from normal Pokemon cards. You can play with them at home and with friends, but official competitions and many leagues won’t allow you to play with them. 
  3. Battle Arena Decks –  These are our favorite decks. They contain a good mix of Pokemon, Energy and Trainer cards for a well-balanced deck.  


Building Your Own Deck

While many people like the convenience of a pre-built deck, countless others prefer to put their own personal touch on their decks. There are countless strategies for building your own deck, but most of them revolve around forming a strong core and developing a strong theme like Healing, Tanks, Energy Acceleration, or Weakness. 

You can build your personal deck from a combination of packs or supplement with strategic “singles.” You can buy singles from other collectors or on eBay or through specific subreddits – just be sure to THOROUGHLY vet and research each seller before buying. There’s nothing more tragic than paying for a card that’s obviously fake, misprinted, or that you never receive at all. 

We don’t have enough space here to fully go into how to truly build your deck but we love this Wiki on Reddit for its detailed and in-depth explanations. There are also a LOT of great YouTube tutorials out there. 


Sell Your Pokemon Cards

Once you start building your decks, you’ll inevitably end up with duplicates or cards that you no longer want or need. When this happens, you can sell them straight to us! Game Goblins will buy your Pokemon cards at competitive rates – check out our buy lists!

If you ever want to talk pokemon, find some local leagues or get suggestions on deck building drop by Game Goblins and chat with one of our professional nerds on staff. We’d love to help you get started!