Thanks to Pokemon Florida for this infomation.
What Do You Need to Play?
Well, you and your opponent each need your own deck of 60 cards, a coin to flip, and some counters to mark damage to your Pokemon. You can use pennies or whatever else you want if you run out of counters.
What's the Pokemon Game Like?
You and your opponent are Pokemon trainers, battling it out to see who's the greatest Pokemon trainer of all time! You and your deck of cards (those are your Pokemon and the abilities you have as trainer) will fight against your opponent and his or her deck.
You'll have one Pokemon, called your "Active Pokemon," fighting for you. You can have other Pokemon waiting behind the Active Pokemon on your "Bench." If your Active Pokemon loses the fight by getting Knocked Out, then you pick one of those Pokemon on your Bench to be your new Active Pokemon.
Object of the Game
You win the game if any one or more of these things occur:
You win if you collect all of your Prize cards. When you begin the game, each player sets aside six Prize cards. Each time you Knock Out one of your opponent's Pokemon, you take one of your own Prizes (not your opponent's!) and put it into your hand. You win when you take your final Prize card.
You win if your opponent's deck is out of cards at the beginning of his or her turn.
You win if your opponent has no Pokemon on the Bench to replace his or her Active Pokemon, and his or her Active Pokemon gets Knocked Out. That means there's no one for your Pokemon to fight against, so you win!
Starting the Game
Flip a coin to decide who goes first. You can use your special Pokemon coin, if you have one.
Shuffle your deck and draw a starting hand of seven cards. Put the rest of your deck face down in front of you.
You and your opponent each choose a Basic Pokemon card from your hands and put them face down. These will be your starting Active Pokemon.
Each player may, if he or she wishes, choose up to five Basic Pokemon cards from his or her hand and put them face down on his or her Bench (this is where Pokemon wait when they're not Active Pokemon).
After each player has put down his or her Basic Pokemon, put the top six cards of your deck face down in front of you. These are your Prizes, which you take when your opponent's Pokemon are Knocked Out. You can't look at a Prize card until you take it.
Then show your hand to your opponent, shuffle it back into your deck, and draw seven new cards. Your opponent can then choose to draw an extra card. If you still don't have any Basic Pokemon cards in your new hand, you repeat this process, but your opponent can draw an extra card each time!
Flip over all of the Active and Benched Pokemon that have been put on the table.
Energy Symbol Key
G - Grass
L - Lightning
C - Colorless
Fr - Fire
P - Psychic
D - Darkness
W - Water
Ft - Fighting
M - Metal
Playing the Game
Playing the Pokemon-e Trading Card Game is easy! Here's how it's done:
DRAW a card.
You begin your turn by drawing a card. (If your deck is empty at the beginning of your turn so you can't draw a card, the game is over, and your opponent wins.)
When you start a new game, the player who goes first skips drawing his or her first card.
Now DO ANY of these you want in whatever order you want:
PUT Basic Pokemon cards on the Bench (as many as you want).
Choose a Basic Pokemon card from your hand and put it face up on your Bench. You can have no more than five Pokemon on your Bench at any time, so you can put a new Basic Pokemon card there only if your Bench has four or fewer Pokemon on it. If your Active Pokemon gets Knocked Out (or leaves play for any other reason), you have to replace it with a Pokemon from your Bench right away (or you lose the game).
EVOLVE Pokemon (as many as you want).
If you have a card in your hand that says "Evolves from so-and-so" and so-and-so is the name of a Pokemon you already have in play, you may play that card in your hand on top of the Pokemon so-and-so. This is called "evolving" a Pokemon.
Example: Jake has a card called Grovyle that says "Evolves from Treecko," and he has a Treecko card in play. He may play the Grovyle card on top of the Treecko card.
You may evolve a Basic Pokemon to a Stage 1 Pokemon, or a Stage 1 Pokemon to a Stage 2 Pokemon. When a Pokemon evolves, it keeps all cards attached to it (Energy cards, Evolution cards, etc.) and any damage it might already have, but the old attacks and Poke-Powers and Poke-Bodies of the Pokemon it evolved from go away. All other things about the Pokemon go away, such as Special Conditions or anything else that might be the result of an attack some Pokemon made earlier.
Note: You can't evolve a Pokemon that you just played or evolved on that turn. Also, neither player can evolve a Pokemon on the first turn. And finally, yes, you can evolve a Pokemon on your Bench - that counts as "in play"!
ATTACH 1 Energy to one of your Pokemon (only once per turn).
Take an Energy card from your hand and attach it to one of your Pokemon in play, either your Active Pokemon or one of your Benched ones, but NOT both (put it under the Pokemon card).
Unlike most of the other things you can do during your turn, you may do this only once during your turn. Also, remember that you can attach an Energy card to a Pokemon on your Bench. After all, that's "in play," too!
PLAY Trainer cards (as many as you want).
When you want to play a Trainer card, do what it says, then put it in the discard pile. You may play only one Supporter card and only one Stadium card per turn.
RETREAT your Active Pokemon (only once per turn).
If your Active Pokemon has lots of damage counters on it, you might want to retreat it and bring in one of the Pokemon on your Bench to fight instead. But on most turns, you probably won't retreat.
To retreat your Active Pokemon, you must discard one Energy from it for each listed for its Retreat Cost. If there aren't any for its Retreat Cost, it retreats for free. (You'll read more about costs in the "ATTACK!" section.) Then you can switch it with a Pokemon from your Bench. Keep damage counters, Evolution cards, and Energy cards (other than the ones you had to discard) with the two Pokemon when they switch.
A Pokemon that is Asleep or Paralyzed can't retreat.
When your Active Pokemon goes to your Bench (whether it retreated or got there some other way), some things about it do go away - Special Conditions (Asleep, Burned, Confused, Paralyzed, and Poisoned) and anything else other than damage that might be the result of an attack some Pokemon made earlier. For more about Special Conditions, check out the Expert Rules section.
If you retreat, you can still attack that turn with the new Active Pokemon.
USE Poke-Powers (as many as you want)
Some Pokemon have special "Poke-Powers" that they can use when they're in play. (Remember, Benched Pokemon are "in play," too, so they can use Poke-Powers, if they have any.) Many of these Powers can be used before you attack. Each Poke-Power is different, though, so you should read carefully to see how each power works.
A Poke-Power isn't the same as a Pokemon's attack, so if you use a Poke-Power or Poke-Body, you can still attack!
When you attack, you place damage counters on your opponent's Active Pokemon (also called the "Defending Pokemon"). This is the last thing you can do during your turn. You are only allowed to attack once during your turn (if your Pokemon has two attacks, it can use only one of them each turn). Say the name of the attack you're using, and then follow the rest of the steps below!
CHECK to make sure you have enough Energy attached to your Active Pokemon to attack.
You can use an attack only if you have at least the required amount of Energy attached to your Active Pokemon.
Any kind of Energy - G, Fr, W, L, P, Ft, C, D or M - can count toward Colorless Energy requirements (C). But for the other eight kinds of Energy, only Energy of the appropriate kind counts toward Energy requirements of that kind. For example, you can use an attack with LLC next to it only if that Pokemon has at least 3 Energy attached to it, at least two of which are L Energy.
You have to have the required amount of Energy attached to a Pokemon to use its attack, but you don't have to discard those cards to attack. The cards stay attached to your Pokemon unless the attack says otherwise!
CHECK Weakness and Resistance of your opponent's Pokemon.
Some Pokemon have Weakness or Resistance to Pokemon of certain other types. (For example, Torchic has Weakness to W Pokemon.) Look to see if the Defending Pokemon has Weakness or Resistance to the Attacking Pokemon's type. The Defending Pokemon takes double damage from a Pokemon that it has Weakness to, and it takes 30 less damage from a Pokemon that it has Resistance to. When Benched Pokemon receive damage, do not apply Weakness or Resistance.
PLACE damage counters on your opponent's Pokemon.
When you attack, place a damage counter on your opponent's Active Pokemon for each 10 damage your Pokemon's attack does (written to the right of the attack name). If an attack says to do something else, be sure to do that, too!
Usually the attack doesn't depend on the order you do this in, but if it does, then this is how you figure it out! First, pay any costs (discarding Energy cards, for example). Second, apply any effects on the Attacking Pokemon. Next, apply Weakness and Resistance for the Defending Pokemon. Finally, apply any other effects on the Defending Pokemon.
CHECK to see if your Pokemon Knocked Out your opponent's Pokemon.
If a Pokemon ever has total damage at least equal to its Hit Points (for example, five or more damage counters on a Pokemon with 50 HP), it's immediately Knocked Out.
TAKE a Prize (if you Knocked Out your opponent's Pokemon).
Whenever you Knock Out your opponent's Pokemon, your opponent puts its Basic Pokemon card and all cards attached to it (Evolution cards, Energy cards, and so on) in his or her discard pile. You then choose one of your Prizes (you do this even if your opponent Knocked Out his or her own Pokemon, or if it is Knocked Out between turns!) and put it into your hand. After that, your opponent must replace his or her Active Pokemon with a Pokemon from his or her Bench. (If your opponent can't do this because his or her Bench is empty, you win!) If your Active Pokemon and your opponent's Active Pokemon are Knocked Out at the same time, the player whose turn it is replaces his or her Pokemon last. The player whose turn it is chooses his or her Prize last as well.
Your turn is OVER now.
Sometimes there are things to do after your turn is over but before your opponent's turn begins. After you do those things, your opponent's turn begins.
What Happens after Each Player's Turn?
After each player's turn, if either player's Active Pokemon is Poisoned, it takes damage; if it's Burned, it might take damage; and if it's Asleep or Paralyzed, it might recover. Then the next player's turn begins.
Why Are There So Many Different Cards?
One of the things that makes the Pokemon game different from other card games is that it's a trading card game. This means that there are lots of different cards that you can collect and trade with your friends. Also, you aren't limited to just playing the preconstructed decks you buy - you can use all of the different cards you have to create totally new decks! A lot of the fun of a trading card game comes from making different decks that use different strategies.
Glossary - Commonly Used Terms
Age Modified Swiss Pairing
As an adjustment to the Swiss Pairing method, players are paired both by record and age group. Players may be matched with players from other age groups if no other players in their age group have a suitable rating.
A Limited Tournament Format where players are grouped in smaller ‘pods’, usually of 8. Players open booster packs and secretly select and remove single cards from them, passing the remainder of the pack to the next player in their pod to make their selection. Players open and select from several packs this way, building their decks for the event from these cards.
When the number of players in a tournament is odd, the player with the poorest record in a round is given an automatic win. This win is called a bye.
A Title Event series where players compete with others from their city for the City Champion Title.
A 60 card deck constructed by a player and used for a Constructed Deck format tournament.
Large gatherings for the hobby game industry and/or consumers who enjoy hobby games. You can typically find Pokémon and other games to play at these conventions.
A pairing method where players are eliminated after a second loss. Players move to a losers’ bracket after their first loss. Any loss from the losers’ bracket means the player is eliminated. When all but one player has received a second loss, that last player wins the Tournament.
The rating system that POP uses to assign POP player rankings. It is based on the formula developed by Professor Arpad Elo. POP’s ELO rating system is similar to the system originally used in most competitive chess events.
A web -based utility that helps players find Pokémon Organized Play events happening near them. Leagues, Tournaments, and Premier Events like Prereleases can all be found using the Event Locator on the op.pokemon-tcg.com site.
The rules established by Pokémon USA, Inc. These rules must be followed at Tournaments by POP players, Tournament Organizers, Judges and others in order for the event to be a sanctioned event. The Floor Rules are located Here!
One of the award items that may be given to League players. These lapel pins resemble the Gym Badges earned by characters in the Pokémon video game.
A Premier Event open to all eligible players where players compete in different age categories to win invitations to the World Championship event. Gym Challenges are similar to Stadium Challenges except they usually involve a smaller number of players and result in a smaller number of winners who are invited to the World Championship.
A person who is well versed is the rules and strategies of the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) and who is responsible for administering the rules (including Floor Rules) of a Tournament or League event.
A casual event, often held in local trading card game retail stores or community centers, where the Pokémon TCG is played. Results for playing in these events do not count toward a player’s rating or ranking in the Pokémon Organized Play system. Most League events are organized and operated by third parties independent from Pokémon USA, Inc.
A person who organizes and administers a League. This person is usually a fan of the Pokémon TCG who wishes to conduct local events. League Leaders are third parties independent from Pokémon USA, Inc. They are not employees, agents or independent contractors of Pokémon USA, Inc.
Third parties independent from Pokémon USA, Inc., such as a local trading card game retail store, who are not employees, agents or independent contractors of Pokémon USA, Inc., and who allow Leagues to be held at their location.
Any tournament format in which all players receive the cards they will use in the tournament at the event. Players do not use cards from their collections for these events, but do get to keep the cards they use in the tournament.
A number of games played in a single round of a Tournament. Matches played during Swiss Pairings rounds are usually one game, while matches played during Single Elimination rounds are sometimes best two out of three.
A tournament format that allows use of specific card sets for deck construction. See the Pokémon Floor Rules for a list of the current legal card sets. All promo cards marked with a black star and numbered 001 or higher are also allowed.
A Title Event held annually where players compete in different age categories to become the National Champion in their age category.
Pokemon Organized Play ("POP")
Events such as Leagues, Tournaments and Championship events listed on this web site where fans of the Pokémon TCG gather to play, trade and discuss the Pokémon trading card game. Most League events are organized and operated by third parties independent from Pokémon USA, Inc. POP also includes the system of ratings and rankings of players administered by Pokémon USA, Inc., and the content of their Web site.
Pokémon Organized Play
Each Player is assigned a Pokémon Organized Play Identification Number (POP ID) that Pokemon USA uses to track that player’s ratings and rankings and identify them in their database. Players must have this number with them whenever they attend a Pokémon Organized Play Tournament event.
Pre-constructed Deck (or, Theme Deck)
60 fixed Pokémon trading cards that have been selected by Pokémon USA, Inc. and packaged as a ready to play deck.
Premier Event or Premier Tournament
A high profile Pokémon Organized Play Tournament, such as Prerelease Events, Gym Challenges, Stadium Challenges and Title Events. Results for playing in these events count toward a player’s Rating and Ranking in the Pokémon Organized Play system.
Premier Tournament Organizer ("PTO")
An independent third party that organizes and operates a Premier Tournament and who is not an employee, agent or independent contractor of Pokémon USA, Inc.
A tournament where players have access to cards from an upcoming Pokémon TCG release, usually a week or two before that release is available for retail sale.
A person well versed is the rules and strategies of the Pokémon TCG and has passed a required test. Professors are fans of the Pokémon TCG who want to contribute their time at League Events and tournaments to teach new players the Pokémon TCG. They also may judge at these events. Professors are third parties independent from Pokémon USA, Inc. who are not employees, agents or independent contractors of Pokémon USA, Inc.
The position an eligible player’s rating puts them when compared to the ratings of other eligible players. This way we can determine how many eligible players in a group are rated higher or lower than a particular player. The rankings page posts your city, state, country or worldwide ranking in all category you are rated in.
The classification of an eligible participant in Pokémon Organized Play based upon the number of points the participant earns by playing in sanctioned tournaments. A player’s rating fluctuates as they win and lose matches in sanctioned tournaments. Separate ratings scores are saved for the Modified format and Unlimited constructed deck format. A single Limited rating combines the ratings points earned in Booster Draft, Sealed Deck or other Limited events. There is also an aggregate combined ratings score.
A Limited Tournament Format where boosters are opened one at a time and shown to all players. Players select cards in turn one at a time. Several packs are opened and players builds their deck for the event from the cards they have selected.
All of the matches being played at one time during a tournament. Each player participates in one match during each round of a tournament A tournament consists of a number of rounds.
An event that the Tournament Organizer determines run according to the Floor Rules. Only results of play at sanctioned events count toward a player’s rating and ranking.
A Limited Tournament Format in which players receive and open several booster packs and build their decks from these cards.
Any tournament held on the same day as a larger event – often picking up players after the ‘main event’ has concluded.
A pairing method where players are eliminated when they lose. Swiss Events may shift to Single Elimination finals after a number of rounds. The last remaining undefeated player is the winner of the tournament.
A Premier Event open to all eligible players at which players compete in different age categories to win a limited number of invitations to the annual World Championship event. Stadium Challenges are similar to Gym Challenges except they usually involve a larger number of players and result in a larger number of invitations to the World Championship.
A Title Event open to all eligible players from the same state where players compete in different age categories to win the State Champion Title for that age group.
The suspension of privileges of POP, including use of the POP ID Card and participation in tournaments, Leagues and POP ratings and rankings. POP is above all designed to be fun, safe and fair for everyone involved. Accordingly, Pokemon USA reserves the right to suspend any POP player from participating in POP if they determine that any of these values may be compromised or that suspension is in the best interests of POP or other POP participants.
Matches for tournaments are set up using the Swiss Pairing Method. In this method, all players in a tournament play in each round against an opponent with a similar win/loss record. Players are not paired against opponents they have previously played. In a purely Swiss event, the winner of the event is the last player to have an undefeated record.
Theme Deck Challenge
A Theme Deck Challenge is a non-sanctioned tournament where less experienced players are offered the opportunity to play with new Preconstructed Theme Decks rather than boosters to play in the event. By playing in a Theme Deck Challenge, players are afforded a more simple play format, where they don’t have to build a deck from cards they have never seen before, making this an ideal format for younger, or less experienced players.
A Premier Event, such as the City Championship, National Championship or World Championship, generally attended by more players than other Tournaments, where players from different age categories compete for a title for their age group. Results for playing in these events count toward a player’s rating and ranking in the Pokémon Organized Play system.
Tournament Management Software. This is the program used by Tournament Organizers to administer sanctioned tournaments.
This is a central document that outlines the general rules of tournament organization and administration. Players and Tournament Organizers will find this information extremely useful.
A generic term for competitive POP events.
The rules and restrictions on card selection and deck construction, as specified by the tournament’s format.
An independent third party that organizes and operates a tournament and who is not an employee, agent or independent contractor of Pokémon USA, Inc. As used herein, the term "Tournament Organizer" includes Premier Tournament Organizers, but not League Leaders.
A Tournament Format allowing the use of all authentic Pokémon TCG cards ever printed. All but a few promos are also legal for play.
The ultimate Pokémon Organized Play event of the year. A Title Event usually held annually, where players compete in different age categories to become the sole World Champion in their age category.