Back in the 90s, Pokémon still dominated the playground. It was what we watched every morning before school. It was what we played on handhelds with tiny screens. It was what we traded, in hushed back-alley deals akin to those we’d later go on to see in mobster movies. And although the games may be entering a bit of a controversial stage, the trading cards are still a massive success.
The card game was originally launched in 1996. That means this particular arm of the Pokémon franchise, published by Wizards of the Coast, is getting pretty close to thirty years old. Which are equal parts amazing and slightly depressing, if, like me, you remember it breaking out into the mainstream. While the mainline games have begun to seriously wobble in quality on Switch, the TCG has remained consistent, standing up alongside the other card game giants like Magic: The Gathering.
The good news is, like most of the big-name card games, the Pokémon trading card game has gone digital. So if you’re a fan of the accessibility of Gwent and Hearthstone but would rather collect adorable little monsters instead of fantasy creatures, you’re in luck. These digital card games were especially important in keeping the hobby alive during the COVID pandemic, but now they’ve blossomed into a way for people to take part even when they don’t have friends on the physical side of it.
How can I play Pokémon: The Trading Card Game?
It’s actually easier than ever to start playing Pokémon: The Trading Card Game. You don’t even need to buy any physical cards – although that might take a bit of the nostalgic excitement away from the process. To get started, just visit this link and follow the download instructions. Of course, if you want to play the old-fashioned way, that might require something a bit more complicated – friends. For a quick start, you can grab a battle deck pack. They include everything two players need to get going, and then you can obviously branch out into custom decks as your experience level with the game grows.
I’d say that playing the online version of the Pokémon TCG is probably the easiest way to get into the game. It can be surprisingly complicated – especially for younger kids – and playing the app walks you through the rules in a very concrete way that gets the basics taught quickly.
Pokémon cards are incredibly collectable, too. Just last year the rare Pikachu Illustrator card sold for over five million dollars. This is a particularly special case, but there are many cards out there which sell for thousands. There are special anniversary cards – like a Pikachu made out of solid gold. Misprints, limited runs, and all the usual suspects feature in lists of the most valuable cards. If you’re hoping to get into the hobby as a collector, you might have to sink quite a lot of cash into it first!
There’s a massive range of choices when it comes to buying cards. They’re stocked very widely in brick-and-mortar stores – even local corner shops still sell them in the UK, where you definitely wouldn’t see any other card games for sale. If you prefer to take your shopping online, there’s an almost infinite range of small businesses selling through Amazon. However, if you are going to buy through Amazon, I’d recommend looking up the business’s own websites first. Many small businesses increase the price of their stock on Amazon to compensate for some fairly extortionate seller fees. Buying direct from a smaller business often results in a cheaper purchase.
Pokémon: The Trading Card Game is a great experience for the whole family. Kids, parents, big kids. Whether you’re looking to actually play the game or just collect some cool cards, it’s got something to offer. Check out the online version of the TCG to get started, or grab a battle deck – either way, you’ll be on your way to Pokémon mastery in no time.
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