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Pokémon Trading Card Game
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Pokémon Trading Card Game

The Pokémon Trading Card Game was first introduced to North America in 1999, and in Japan at an earlier date (exact date unknown). It is a collectible card game based off the famous Pokémon video game. At the time, it was published by Wizards of the Coast, the company most famous for .

However, with the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Gameboy video games, Nintendo took back the card game from Wizards of the Coast and started publishing the cards themselves. The latest incarnations of the card games is known as Pokémon-e Trading Card Game, the cards of which are compatible with the Nintendo e-Reader.

Table of contents
1 Video Game Releases
2 Game Concepts
3 Sets
4 External links

Video Game Releases

On December 18, 1998, Nintendo released a Gameboy Color game called Pokémon Trading Card. It was a game based on the original Pokémon games, but with trading cards instead of actual “monsters”. This title was released in North America on March 31, 2000 and in Europe on December 8, 2000.

A second Gameboy game, called Pokémon Card GB2, was released in Japan on March 28, 2001. A North American release is unconfirmed.

Game Concepts

(The following is for the initial card game release.) The Card Game is actually pretty easy to learn. You have three types of cards: Pokémon cards, which are the actual Pokémon from the Gameboy games; Trainer cards, which act as support cards; and Energy cards, which are the energy source for each of the attacks the Pokémon have.

Pokémon cards were the actual Pokémon from the video game. You could have only six Pokémon at a time out, with only one being active and the other five being “benched” Pokémon. If a Pokémon was removed from the bench, you could place another from your hand into play, but only if there was less than five Pokémon on the bench. The rules of the Pokémon TCG can be easily extended as to allow multiple battles such as the two-on-two battling found in Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.

A simplified type system was used for the trading card game: instead of 17 types of Pokémon, only nine exist (with Darkness and Metal introduced with the Team Rocket and Neo expansions):

Many Pokémon have one and only one type (some are now beginning to have two), and unlike its video game counterpart, the type of the Pokémon and not the type of the attack that a Pokémon uses is used to determine weakness and resistance.

Later expansion sets featured Dark Pokémon, Pokémon that were darker than their normal versions. These Pokémon were often used, story-wise, by evil trainers or evil organisations such as Team Rocket. There were also “gym leader” versions of Pokémon that had stronger attacks and higher HP, but also required more energy. Light Pokémon, representing Pokémon that were exceptionally good, as well as Shining Pokémon, which parallels the shiny Pokémon introduced in the Pokémon Gold and Silver video games and often requires energy cards of three different types to be effective. There are also Pokémon EX cards that are more powerful than their normal counterparts, but incur greater consequences should they be knocked out.

Pokémon featured attacks that would reduce the HP of the opposing active Pokémon. These attacks required Energy and they came in the form of Energy cards. The attacks would require certain color energy depending on the type of attack and the Pokémon using it. There were initially seven types of energy cards, including Fighting, Fire, Grass, Lightning, Psychic, Water, and Double Colorless energy.

Trainer cards were support cards that allowed you to do something to enhance the game. Cards like Potion and Super Potion removed damage from your Pokémon to keep it from being knocked out as easily. Others allowed for searching your deck for Pokémon, removing energy from the opposing Pokémon, and reviving Pokémon that has been knocked out. There are many other types of Trainer cards.


Pokémon trading cards are loosely grouped into sets. Most sets is roughly grouped into the following order, with cards in the same group following alphabetical order:

In general, more evolved Pokémon tended to be rarer than their less evolved counterparts.

Here is a list of all the sets:
Set Name Set Size (Japan) Set Size (North America) Release Date
Base Set 102 102 January 19, 1999 in North America
Jungle 48 64 June 16, 1999 in North America
Fossil 48 62 October 10, 1999 in North America
Base Set 2 N/A 130 February 28, 2000 in North America
Southern Islands 18 18 February 28, 2000 in North America
Team Rocket 66 83 April 24, 2000 in North America
Gym Heroes / Gym 1 ??? 132 August 14, 2000 in North America
Gym Challenge / Gym 2 ??? 132 August 14, 2000 in North America
Neo Genesis / Neo 1 96 111 December 16, 2000 in North America
Neo Discovery / Neo 2 56 75 July 7, 2000 in Japan / June 1, 2001 in North America
Pokémon *VS 141 N/A July 19, 2001 in Japan
Neo Revelation / Neo 3 57 64 November 23, 2000 in Japan, September 21, 2001 in North America
Pokémon *Web 48 N/A October 20, 2001 in Japan
Neo Destiny / Neo 4 - Darkness to Light 112 113 March 9, 2001 in Japan / February 28, 2002 in North America
Legendary Collection N/A 110 May 24, 2002 in North America
Expedition / Card-E 1 128 165 December 1, 2001 in Japan, September 15, 2002 in North America
Aquapolis / Card-E 2 and Card-E 3 ??? 182 March 8, 2002 (Card-E 2) and May 24, 2002 (Card-E 3) in Japan / January 15, 2003 in North America
Skyridge / Card-E 3 and Card-E 4 ??? 182 August 24, 2002 (Card-E 4) and October 4, 2002 (Card-E 5) in Japan, May 12, 2003 in North America
EX - Ruby and Sapphire / ADV1 100 109 January 31, 2003 in Japan / June 18, 2003 in North America
EX - Sandstorm / ADV2 53 100 April 18, 2003 in Japan / September 15, 2003 in North America
EX - Dragon / ADV3 84 97 June 25, 2003 in Japan / November 24, 2003 in North America
EX - Team Magma vs Team Aqua / ADV EX1 132 95 October 24, 2003 / March 31, 2004 in North America
EX - Hidden Legends / ??? ??? 101 ???/ June 18, 2004 in North America
Wizards of the Coast Promos N/A 53
Wizards of the Cost - Best of Game Promos N/A 9

The differences in set sizes were usually attributed to the North American version having holographic and non-holographic versions of the same cards, as well as the reinclusion of Energy cards and the inclusion of cards from other sets.

Cards were available either as prebuilt theme decks, the favored method of distribution in Japan, or booster packs, the favored method of distribution in North America.

Base Set 2 and Legendary Collection were both North American re-release expansions, expansions that only included cards that have been previously released in other expansions (or the Base Set). Pokémon *Web is similarly a Japanese re-release expansion.

The Expediation, Aquapolis, Skyridge, and all EX sets are compatible with the e-Reader.

External links