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Collecting to Combat – Learning How to Play Pokémon TCG

Beginners Guide Learn Pokémon TCG

This is the first in a weekly guide for beginners aimed at providing easy to understand tips on how to get started with playing Pokémon TCG. A dedicated collector, I haven’t played Pokémon TCG in over two decades so come along for the ride as I learn how to play Pokémon TCG. I’m no expert, hence the name of the series, so if you have any tips please get in touch!

Last week, The Pokémon Company won “Game of the Year” at the 2020 Toy Awards. What an incredible achievement to win with their first board-game release when up against more established products. I used to play Pokémon TCG as a child, yet haven’t delved back into the playing side of the hobby in over two decades. I’m not sure what it was about the Battle Academy receiving an award of this stature but I was finally prompted to purchase the box to learn to play again. 

I popped on Amazon UK and purchased Battle Academy for the very reasonable price of £17.49. Being used to Pokémon TCG products lacking supply across the board, it’s nice to just buy something simply without searching the aftermarket. I received the game and before she could say no, my girlfriend was playing with the included Pikachu deck struggling to cope with my mighty Charizard GX. I’ll stop talking about Battle Academy here, it is the perfect entry point for children to get started with playing Pokémon TCG and from an adult perspective, it was just enough to get me intrigued to start looking deeper into purchasing a playable deck.

Pokémon TCG Game of the Year

Starting to play Pokémon TCG from the standpoint of someone who focuses on the collecting side of the hobby the first decision I needed to make was whether I wanted to play with physical cards or via Pokémon Trading Card Game Online (PCTGO). The current situation in the world made this decision fairly easy, with the inability to play with others in person, the online game allows for battling diverse opponents to hone your skills.

With the decision to initially build an online deck, I sourced out the thousands of code cards I’ve accumulated over the last year and decided to put them to good use. In general, my pack luck leaves a lot to be desired, online booster packs are no exception. 

Pokémon Trading Card Game Online

With little knowledge on how to start apart from the themed decks available in the app, scouring the internet brought the League Battle decks to my attention. These are attractive deck boxes that were released last year including significantly more playable cards than the majority of theme decks. Pikachu is my favourite Pokémon, so I opted for the Pikachu & Zekrom Tag Team deck which happens to be one of the strongest pre-made decks in the current meta. By powering up the card from your very first turn you can then distribute energy efficiently between your Pokémon leading to aggressive and fast-paced battles – exactly the kind of gameplay that excites me. 

The great thing about buying a pre-made deck such as this one is the real value in the PCTGO code card found inside. This code card allows you to use the deck in-game and in-person by granting you access to all the cards from the deck in the app. I aim to build a Pikachu & Zekrom/Mew & Mewtwo GX deck which will build on the pre-made deck’s strengths and incorporate some of my favourite Pokémon so having these Pokémon in the app is key. 

League Battle Deck Pokémon

Trying to find a deck to purchase for beginners proved tricky, there’s so much information out there, and as someone who likes to jump into a game with the tools to succeed I quickly lost interest in the theme decks made for starting out.

This got me thinking, I’m a collector at heart and so many people have started collecting over the last year. Why not document learning the aspects of going through the gears with playing Pokémon TCG so that others wanting to start have a starting point and an experience to relate with.

Next week: How to select a starter deck. 

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John-Anthony Disotto – Ludkins Media Editor

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