The year was 1999 and children all across North America finally got their hands on the very first Base Set of Pokémon cards. The Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) was originally published in Japan in 1996 featuring illustrations by Ken Sugimori, Mitsuhiro Arita and Keiji Kinebuchi. Taking inspiration from the release of the Red, Green, and Blue Game Boy video games, the Pokémon TCG mirrored characters from the extremely popular television show. As of today, almost 15 billion Pokémon cards have been produced worldwide.
The Pokémon TCG is a two-player game in which each player builds a deck of 60 cards. These cards are comprised of a combination of “Pokémon cards”, “Trainer cards”, and “Energy cards”. A player may hold no more than 7 cards in their hands at any time. Only 5 Pokémon cards may actively be in play on the “Bench”.
Pokémon cards feature a particular Pokémon character with their name, type, and skill/attack details. Pokémon all have a particular “Hit Point” (HP) number that ranges from 30 to 250. Also printed on the cards are rarity, expansion set, set number, and Pokédex entry number. This information corresponds with how valuable a card may be.
Energy cards power Pokémon attacks. A Pokémon cannot use an attack unless is has the required energy cards. There are 9 basic energy cards in the form of fighting, fire, grass, lightening, psychic, water, darkness, metal, and fairy. Special energy cards provide more than one type of energy or have additional effects such as healing, extra damage, or colorless energy.
Trainer cards can be used in conjunction with Pokémon and Energy cards. Although they do not have direct attacking power, they allow the player to do useful things like draw new cards, search through their deck, or other special effects. The main types of Trainer cards are: Item, Stadium, Supporter, Rocket’s Secret Machine, Pokémon Tool, Goldenrod Game Corner, Ace Spec, and Technical Machine.
At the end of the game, a winner is determined by whomever can reduce their opponent’s Pokémon HP to to zero, exhaust their opponent’s resources, and prevent their opponent from drawing from their deck at the beginning of their turn. Since games may last quite a while, half-deck games are sometimes recommended. Brand new Pokémon cards and expansions sets are constantly being released for an exciting and ever changing game.