Getting Started

2018 rotation

Getting Started in Pokémon Trading Card Game

Unsure about how to proceed in the world of Pokémon the Trading Card Game (PTCG)? You can check out our handy hints and tips to getting started below, or visit our blog for more inspiration and ideas!

Getting Started

The requirements to play PTCG are relatively simple: each player requires a 60 card deck. A deck usually consists of Pokémon cards, Energy cards and Trainer cards. A deck must have at least 1 basic Pokémon. The amount each of which will vary from deck to deck. A typical starter deck has about 24 Pokémon of various types and variety, 20 energy corresponding to their type and approximately 16 trainer cards.

A more competitive tournament level deck might contain a very focused list of 12-14 Pokémon, 12 energy and as many as 32 trainer cards! However the actual composition can vary wildly from deck to deck. The only minimum requirement is that there is at least 1 basic Pokémon in the deck.


These are your creatures that battle – knocking out an opponents’ Pokémon allows you to take prize cards which will win you the game. Meanwhile your opponent will be trying to knock out your Pokémon too! Pokémon typically start as a most basic form and can evolve to get bigger. Some Pokémon are extra powerful (-EX and Mega Pokémon-EX) or have attacks that you can only use once per game (Pokémon-GX) – so choosing the right creature to use is critical!.

Energy Cards

energy typesThese come in several types -for example; grass, water, fire or psychic. Different types of Pokémon require different types of energy to use their attacks. You can normally only attach one Energy per turn! Therefore, any way that you can attach more than one Energy per turn is a strong strategy to plan your deck around!


The most diverse of all cards, these allow you to find Pokémon, make your Pokémon better, get a new hand of cards or even make your opponent discard cards. The main types of trainers you will encounter are: Supporters, Stadiums, Items and Tools.


  • SupportersProf. Sycamore Supporter

    Supporters are other characters or people from the Pokémon world who will help you on your journey. For example Professor Sycamore allows you to discard your current hand and get a new hand of 7 cards. This is very useful if you need to get out of a tough spot! You can only play one supporter per turn.

  • StadiumsForest of Giant Plants Stadium

    These are different gyms or arenas in which Pokémon battles can occur. They provide an effect that applies to both players. For example Forest of Giant Plants allows grass type Pokémon to evolve rapidly. However this effect applies to both your and your opponents’ grass Pokémon! Each player can only play one stadium per turn. You can replace a Stadium with another, different, Stadium card or remove it with certain trainer cards or Pokémon abilities.

  • ItemsUltraball

    Almost every other trainer card is an item. These include the different types of Pokéballs allowing you to find Pokémon. Others let you re-use discarded Energy or even discarded Pokémon! Their effects are quite varied, but fairly straightforward to understand from reading the card! Many powerful decks typically contain several types of Pokéball.


  • ToolsFloatStone

    Tools are items that you must also attach to a Pokémon. Generally a Pokémon can only have one tool attached at a time and you cannot ‘replace’ it – once it’s on it’s stuck! (Unless something else removes it.) Tools usually make Pokémon deal more damage, become tougher or provide another bonus. An example is ‘Float Stone‘ which makes the Pokémon’s Retreat Cost equal zero – so it can retreat for free!

Next Steps

The easiest and best thing to do in order to get started is to download the free ‘Pokemon Trading Card Game Online‘ (PTCGO) software. This is a digital, online version of the card game which comes with a comprehensive tutorial as well as some decks for you to try out. You can play in tournaments to win more cards and expand your decks. It is an invaluable testing tool for experienced players also.

If you want to play with physical cards a good starting option is a Theme Deck – they include damage counters, a brief set of rules and of course a 60 card deck including energy, trainers and Pokémon. If you are learning with a friend there are also Trainer Kits which contain two 30 card decks and a getting started guide.

The next step is to get in touch with your local League – they will have experienced players who can help you get started. By playing lots of games and try different strategies you will be able to find what type of deck and Pokémon suits your style of play.

Finally there are many strategy & deck building articles on our wonderful blog!

Happy gaming!