The Rules for the Pokemon Training Card Game

by Colby Stream

The Pokemon Trading Card game is played between two players (or "trainers"); the cards represent Pokemon, which attack each other until one person wins. The game is played on a table with the players facing each other; they take turns laying cards, attacking and collecting prizes. To play you must have your own deck of Pokemon cards, which you can buy at card stores or online, and a basic knowledge of the rules.

Beginning the Game

The game begins with each player shuffling his own deck and drawing seven cards. Each player lays down an active, basic Pokemon -- one that can be played without the help of any other cards. If a player doesn't have an active Pokemon, he shows his hand to the other player, reshuffles and draws seven new cards; this process is repeated until he has an active Pokemon. Each player may then lay down up to five basic Pokemon, face down, in a place called the "bench." Each player draws six extra cards and lays them face down, without looking at them, on the table; these are "prize cards." Next, flip a coin to decide who goes first.

Turn Options

The player winning the coin toss draws a card to begin her turn; she now has several options. She can use any energy, trainer or Pokemon power cards in her hand, provided she follows the rules and directions on that card; only one energy card may be played per turn. Additionally, she can "evolve" an active Pokemon as long as it's not her first turn and the Pokemon has been in play for longer than one turn. A Pokemon is "evolved" by setting the new Pokemon card on top of the Pokemon from which it is evolving. She may also lay a basic Pokemon face down on the bench if she does not already have five cards there.


A player attacks as the last action during his turn. He may only attack with his active Pokemon -- that is, the Pokemon that is on the table (not on the bench). Pokemon can have up to four different types of attacks; some of these attacks require the player to attach one or more energy cards. A Pokemon can only use one type of attack per turn, and that attack must have the appropriate energy card(s) attached. The player must announce that he is attacking, the type of attack being used and how much damage it causes. He may also end his turn without attacking by announcing this to the other player.

Damage and Effects

After a successful attack, the player attaches a damage counter to her opponent's Pokemon for every 10 damage dealt. For example, if her Pokemon does 10 damage, she will attach one damage counter to her opponent's Pokemon. Additionally, she may perform any other action that the attack allows; this might mean paralyzing or putting the opponent's Pokemon to sleep, for example. A Pokemon becomes "knocked out" when it receives more damage counters than its Hit Point total. The attacking player removes one of her "prize" cards from the table if she knocks out her opponent's Pokemon. A Pokemon from the bench replaces her opponent's knocked-out Pokemon, and it becomes his turn. The first player to knock out a predetermined number of her opponent's Pokemon wins.