Everything you wanted to know about Pokémon Trading Cards but were afraid to ask

As of October 2023,Pokémon trading cards have sold over 52.9 billion cards and that kids (and some adults) seem to love them.

What do we know about Pokémon trading cards? What are the basics?

The Pokémon media franchise started with the release of the their initial role-playing game Pokémon: Red & Blue for the Gameboy back in February 1996. In no time at all, it became a runaway success! It spawned several lucrative spin-offs including even more video games, anime, movies, manga in addition to their extremely successful trading cards.

We’ve previously gone over the story behind Pokémon, let’s take a further dive into the basics of Pokémon trading cards.

Pokemon Trading Card History

3 basic things that led to the creation of Pokémon trading cards:
1) the extremely successful launch of the Gameboy RPG Pokémon: Red & Blue game.
2) the incredible success of Magic the Gathering trading cards internationally.
3) card games were extremely popular in Japan at the time

With the success of the Pokémon RPG, the company wondered if there was any way that they could duplicate that success in other arenas, but in what? At the time, Magic The Gathering trading cards were extremely popular internationally. They realized that the path to further success lay in following Magic the Gathering into the trading card arena. It turns out that the Pokémon RPG lent itself easily into being developed into a trading card game, very similar to what Magic The Gathering had done with their cards. It was a much more simplified version of what Magic The Gathering was, more meant more for kids to collect and play.

By October 1996, they had released the first Pokémon trading cards, one of the first collectible card games developed in Japan. They were a runaway success. By March 1998, in the US alone they had produced over 499 million trading cards. By March 2000, that figure had grown to $4.25 billion internationally, growing up to $54.9 billion by October 2023.

Pokémon Cards: The Basics

Some Basics of Pokémon Trading Cards:
1. Pokémon is a role-playing game built around using a small team of “pocket monsters” (the original name for Pokémon) to battle the others till one becomes the best.
2. The Pokémon are divided into different types, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
3. At present there’s over 800 different types of Pokémon, quite a few not having been seen yet.
4. Trainers are the person who catches and trains different Pokémon.Their goal, to “catch ’em all!”
5. Trainers use Poké balls to capture Pokémon and train them in battle.
6. During training and battle, Pokémon learn a variety of moves that they can use in battle, grow stronger and level up in battle. They may evolve as well.
7. The original set of cards are called the base set.
8. Booster packs contain 10 randomly inserted cards. In the West, they contain 11.
9. In Pokémon trading card game, players use a 60 card deck that contains basic and evolved Pokémon, energy cards and trainer cards (which are used to help players knock out the opponents Pokémon, drawing cards and winning the game).
10. Younger kids (junior kindergarten to grade 1) tend to just collect and trade cards that they like or think are cool. As they get older and learn how to read, they may start to use the cards to play the Pokémon trading card game.
11. Since each pack of cards is different, players starting out may want to start with a theme pack, a pack of 60 cards that they can start playing (and training) with.
12. The whole point of the Pokémon trading cards game: building a powerful deck of 60 cards that will help you win battles against other trainers.
13. Every time a new season of Pokémon comes out, they release a new “generation” or series of trading cards.


Different Types of Pokémon Trading Cards:

1. Character cards: each Pokémon has a “type”, there’s 11 in total including Fire, Water, Psychic, Metal or Dragon.They’re also classified by how “evolved” they are (such as Stage One or Stage 2) from the markings on the the upper, left-hand corner of the cards.
2. Energy cards: these are cards needed to “power” your Pokémon through out the game. You’ll find basic energy cards in any pack you buy.You’ll also occasionally find special energy cards that will provide a different type of “boost” as a function of the type of Pokémon that you own.You can buy whole packs of energy cards for relatively little (I recently bought a pack of 50 for $5, an affordable entry into playing Pokémon).
3.Trainer cards: these are cards used for items, supporters and stadiums used during battle. You can see the special rules for these cards along the bottom.
4. Pokémon EX/Pokémon GX cards: These are cards which tend to have cooler illustrations (occasionally being holograph cards) and more powerful. What they are is indicated by the GX or EX on the cards right beside the character’s name. These cards tend to be coveted highly by younger kids because they look so cool.
5. Expansion/Booster Packs: these are new sets of cards within a generation or series of cards. While each generation/series tends to have anywhere from 100 to 2000 cards, it turns out that you can’t purchase them all at once, instead you can buy them in booster packs of 10 cards.+


Are your Pokémon Trading Cards rare?

To know how rare your cards are, just check the tiny symbol located at the bottom right corner of your cards.
1. Circle symbol: Quite common.
2. Diamond symbol: Quite uncommon
3. Star symbol: Quite rare (ie. Holograph cards always have star symbols on them).

Now that you know…

Now that you know the basics of Pokémon cards,  you can start becoming a full-on member of the Pokémon Community!

Welcome and catch them ’em all!

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