Learn How To Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Part 5 – How To Play a Mulligan

In our articles on Pokémon, we’ve gone everywhere from SETTING UP OUR POKÉMON to ATTACKING OUR OPPONENTS IN POKÉMON. Now that we’ve got the BASIC of the Pokémon TCG down, we can start exploring the more intricate nuances of how to play the Pokémon Trading Card game.

For instance, how do you play a MULLIGAN in the Pokémon Trading Card Game? Also, does it have anything to do with playing a Mulligan in golf?

Playing Your Mulligan

You’ve begun playing your Pokémon TCG.

You’ve started the game by drawing 7 cards (which we call your DRAW CARDS). You place these 7 Draw Cards aside, face down.






YOU REALIZE – there are NO BASIC CARDS in your 7-card draw!
NOTE: At the start of the Pokémon Trading Card Game, you MUST HAVE at least one BASIC CARD (to play the game with).

What to do? Play your MULLIGAN!
Shuffle your DRAW cards BACK INTO THE DECK!
Draw another 7 (DRAW cards) <– MULLIGAN!

EVERY TIME you draw a MULLIGAN, your opponent can draw an ACTIVE Card!

Getting that EXTRA Card!

Each time you draw 7 cards (MULLIGAN), your opponent gets to draw an extra card.

NOTE: If BOTH players have a MULLIGAN, only draw cards for extra cards played OVER YOUR OPPONENT

(ie- player 1 has 3 Mulligans, player 2 has 4 Mulligans – player 1 has 1 fewer MULLIGAN, so gets to draw an extra card.)


Playing the GILLIGAN!

A GILLIGAN is the exact-opposite of a MULLIGAN, it can happen during golf when a player is asked to redo a successful stroke when requested by an opponent.

It’s a “play” best known in Golf, though it’s typically against the rules of formal play.




Is using the MULLIGAN Cheating?

It really depends if both parties are for it or against it,

If both players go along with it then “no muss, no fuss” – it’s then part of their game.

If one of the 2 players is against the MULLIGAN Rule, then you can NOT use it (and if you do – is cheating).

IN MY PERSONAL OPINION – it’s most definitely cheating. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it. It’s just a game, truth is – you tend to learn as much from losing the game as you do winning. Why give up that chance?




Learn How To Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Part 4 – Dealing With Special Conditions

Previously, we took a quick look at how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Including: How to SET-UP the Pokémon Trading Card game, How to PLAY the Pokémon Trading Card Game & How to ATTACK your opponents in the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

Once you’re finally playing the Pokémon Trading Card game, we can start getting into the minutia and handling of special conditions and events happening during the game. We’re going to start by exploring how players should deal with SPECIAL CONDITIONS occurring during the Pokémon Trading Card game.

What are SPECIAL CONDITIONS occurring during the Pokémon TCG?

SPECIAL CONDITIONS are the detrimental effects that can be applied to your ACTIVE Pokémon.

These include being:
1. Burned
2. Poisoned
3. Asleep
4. Confused
5. Paralyzed

These CONDITIONS occur between turns (in this order):
1. Burned
2. Asleep
3. Paralyzed

Dealing with a POISONED Pokémon

To deal with a Poisoned Pokémon, place a POISON Marker on the Pokémon that is poisoned. Takes on one DAMAGE COUNTER (10 Damage points) between each turn. It’s a great way to inflict extra damage on your opponents Pokémon.




Dealing with a BURNED Pokémon

Flip a coin between turns.

HEADS: The Pokémon takes on ZERO Damage.
TAILS: Place 2 Damage Counters on BURNED Pokémon.

BETWEEN TURNS: Place 2 BURNED Markers ( marker with Crossed Band-Aid) on Pokémon.
Burned Pokémon owner: FLIPS A COIN
HEADS: Pokémon NO LONGER BURNT (remove BURNED Markers)
TAILS: Pokémon remains BURNED!

Dealing with an ASLEEP Pokémon

  1. If Pokémon ASLEEP – turn card COUNTERCLOCKWISE
  2. FLIP COIN between turns.
  3. If card HEADS: Pokémon WAKES UP, back to normal.

Dealing with a PARALYZED Pokémon

  1. If Pokémon PARALYZED – turn card CLOCKWISE
  2. It will be unable to attack or retreat for one turn after it becomes Paralyzed
  4. PARALYSIS cured between turns (ie- that is if Pokémon PARALYZED since beginning of last turn)




Dealing with a CONFUSED Pokémon

  1. If Pokémon CONFUSED – turn card UPSIDE-DOWN
  2. FLIP A COIN before you ATTACK!
  3. If card TAILS: place 3 DAMAGE COUNTERS on CONFUSED Pokémon (and ATTACK does NOTHING)
  4. If card HEADS: Pokémon ATTACK successful

BUT IF: Attack involves COIN FLIP, flip for CONFUSION 1st
NOTE: Confused Pokémon can NOT retreat or attack!




How to HEAL your AFFECTED Pokémon

SIMPLEST METHOD: return Pokémon card to the BENCH “aka” RETREAT!

EXCEPT IF: Pokémon card is ASLEEP or PARALYZED (BUT can still be SWITCHED if use EFFECTS)

NOTE: If Pokémon affected by MULTIPLE conditions (that rotate the card), only the MOST RECENT applies!


Learn How To Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Part 3 – Attacking Your Opponents

Previously, we discussed learning how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

Now that we’ve set up the game, the next step is figuring  out how to start playing the actual Pokémon Trading Card game.

How to win at Pokémon?

Easy answer: Attack your opponents and beat them (which is pretty much how you win any game).

Attacking your Opponents in the Pokémon Trading Card Game

1. Attack Cost

To ATTACK your opponent, need the right amount & proper type of ENERGY.

The ATTACK COST is printed on the LEFT of its name and text. The COST is shown by a symbol(s) corresponding to one of primary types of Energy Cards.

COLORLESS Energy: can be fulfilled by ANY TYPE of Energy BUT…  all other types of Energy must be matched with their respective ENERGY cards. Is indicated by the WHITE STARS (of symbol)

Each symbol signifies ONE Energy Card that must be attached to the Pokémon in order to use the ATTACK.

COMPONENTS of ATTACK: name, text, cost, damage

NOTE: most attacks don’t require the player to discard their ENERGY Cards, though some of the more powerful ones do.







2. What are your OPPONENT’s WEAKNESSES?

Guess what? Most Pokémon (cards have a WEAKNESS  to a specific type. It will receive ADDITIONAL Damage if your Pokémon is of the type that it has a weakness to.

3. What are your OPPONENT’s RESISTANCE to?

Turns out that your OPPONENT will receive LESS DAMAGE from your attack if it’s RESISTANT to it. In the shown example – there is ZERO resistance shown to any attacks.

4. Inflicting DAMAGE to your OPPONENT!


This is what wins you the game, so better learn how to do it (and quickly)!

The ACTUAL DAMAGE that an attack inflicts will be on the RIGHT of the Attack name. In the posted example: the DAMAGE applied is: 30 if Electro Ball was used for the ATTACK.

The DAMAGE is inflicted on the “attacked” opponent’s Pokémon.

There may be ADDITIONAL effects (listed BENEATH Attacks) that can increase damage output.

NOTE: In a game, DAMAGE will be referred to as DAMAGE COUNTERS (each one representing 10 Damage). Can keep track with small flat objects, coins, dice etc.



5. What to do with DEAD Pokémon



To KNOCK OUT Pokémon:

When the amount of DAMAGE inflicted is GREATER THAN OR EQUAL TO HP of (attacked) Pokémon, the (attacked) Pokémon are KNOCKED OUT and DISCARDED into the owner’s DISCARD PILE (along with any ATTACHED energies, items and/or evolutions).


Once the KNOCKED-OUT Pokémon is DISCARDED, the (“winning”) player takes a PRIZE Card.

Once you have all your PRIZE Cards:

You WIN the game! Congrats!!!!!


What’s next?

What we’ve done so far:

Check out our next Blog on Learning How To Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Part 4 Handling Special Conditions.


Learn How To Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Part 2 – Playing the GAME

We’re talking about how to play the Pokémon Trading Card game

Previously, we discussed Setting up your Pokémon Trading Card Game.

Now that we’ve set up the game, the next step is figuring  out how to start playing the actual Pokémon Trading Card game.


Playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game

1. Setting up the Pokémon Trading Card game

2. Who’s on First?

To determine WHO GOES FIRST in the game, FLIP a COIN!

NOTE: The first player can NOT attack on their first turn.



3. Draw a Pokémon Trading Card

Do so at BEGINNING of turn.
NOTE: Mandatory


4. Bench your BASIC Pokémon Cards

Bench up to 5 cards (unless card says otherwise)

5. Use your ENERGY Cards

Attach one Energy Card per turn (unless card says otherwise) by placing it BENEATH one of your PRE-EVOLVEDPokémon.

NOTE: Can only attach ONE Energy card per turn (either ACTIVE or BENCHED Pokémon)

6. Use your TRAINER Cards

Trainer cards are Pokémon cards that allow you to do helpful things (and have descriptions of their effects on the cards)

TYPES of Trainer Cards:

  • Items – subclass of Trainer Cards, typically discarded after “power” is used in game.
  • Supporters – depict and feature people in the game (such as Trainers & Gym Leaders). They’re powerful trainer card variants  that wield mighty abilities that often allow you to draw, recover cards from your discard pile or search out specific ones from your deck. Players only allowed to play 1 supporter card per turn.
  • Tools – special items that can be attached to your Character cards providing special effects. Only one tool card can be attached at a time & if a Pokémon is attacked, the tool goes into the discard pile.
  • Stadiums – Represents VENUE in which Pokémon TCG is played, typically gives player an extra bonus or special conditions. Can only be one stadium card during your play.

Activating Trainer Cards:

  • can activate any number of ITEMS & TOOL Cards during turn
  • can activate only 1 SUPPORTER and STADIUM card during turn


  • AFTER card is used, goes to DISCARD pile
  • Pokémon TOOL Card can be attached to Pokémon (that does NOT have Tool attached) and then stays with Pokémon until Pokémon gets knocked out (and then BOTH get DISCARDED).
  • Pokémon STADIUM Card is placed HORIZONTALLY between both Player’s fields (and DISCARDED when NEW STADIUM Card comes into play).
  • There are special ENERGY cards used to provide energy and do other actions (listed on card).

7. EVOLVE your Pokémon

If you have a Pokémon card that is ACTIVE or BENCHED, you can EVOLVE the BASIC or STAGE 1 Pokémon card by placing an EVOLUTION CARD on top of it.

Example: BASIC card evolves to STAGE 1, which can evolve to STAGE 2.

NOTE: Can’t EVOLVE a Pokémon on it’s FIRST TURN.

Can’t EVOLVE a Pokémon card on 1st turn it’s played (either by BENCHING or EVOLVING them) unless they have an EFFECT.

8. Use an ABILITY

Some Pokémon have ABILITIES which can be used for SPECIAL EFFECTS. These are special attributes given to each Pokémon that they can use in battle. Many of these abilities act as a POWER UP by increasing. MOVE or a STAT. Others may introduce a 3rd-party effect such as a weather condition. Believe it or not. some abilities may even hinder a Pokémon battle.

ABILITY Examples:

Arena Trap: Prevents foe from fleeting.
Ball Fetch: Retrieves a Poké Ball from a failed throw.
Cloud Nine:Eliminates the Effects of weather.

NOTE: These ABILITIES are NOT ATTACKS, so may still ATTACK after using 1+ABILITIES. Be sure to announce your ABILITIES to your opponents so aware of what you’re doing.






9. RETREAT your Pokémon

Switch out your Pokémon for another Pokémon on your BENCH.

RETREAT COST – listed at BOTTOM of card where says RETREAT. Discard ENERGY attached to Pokémon, listed on card (only one RETREAT per turn).

* Symbols: represents HOW MUCH ENERGY needs to be attached to Pokémon in order to retreat.

If there are no * Symbols, Pokémon doesn’t need any energy to retreat (can retreat ANYTIME for FREE)

NOTE: Can only attach one ENERGY CARD to Pokémon per turn.

When RETREAT Active Card, must choose a BENCH Pokémon to switch places with – this becomes your new ACTIVE Pokémon.

All ENERGY cards used to RETREAT, must get placed into DISCARD PILE. Retreating a Pokémon card removed all SPECIAL CONDITIONS.

10. Attacking your Opponent

The LAST THING you can do during your turn is: ATTACK your opponent’s ACTIVE Pokémon using yours. After that, your tun ends.

Check out our next Blog on Learning How To Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Part 3 Attacking your Opponent!


Learn How To Play the Pokémon Trading Card Game: Part 1 – Setting up your GAME

In attempting to learn how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG), you ended up more confused than you were trying to figure out Calculus in college. In attempting to write this article on HOW TO PLAY the Pokémon Trading Card Game blog article, I’ve ended up more confused than I was before I started reading up. Thankfully, I was able to consult with my 10 year old niece Miranda, who seemingly has a  PhD in Pokémon in her pedigree. Admittedly, I am still a bit confused, but definitely a little less so. Let’s hope that I can help you learn how to play the Pokémon trading card game without too much hassle.

Learning how to play Pokémon Trading Card Game will be presented in 4 steps/articles:

  1. Setting up your Pokémon Trading Card Game
  2. Start Playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game
  3. How to Attack your opponents in the Pokémon Trading Card Game
  4. How to deal with Special Conditions when playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game


Part 1: Setting up your Pokémon Trading Card Game

1. Create your Pokémon TCG Deck

Deck should have EXACTLY 60 cards, no more, no less UNLESS they agree to start with less (though still need to be the same amount for each player).
The DECK should have 1/4 to 1/3 of the cards as ENERGY CARDS.





2. Shuffle Deck

3. Flip COIN to see who goes first

NOTE: First player can NOT attack on 1st Turn.




4. Draw 7 cards from TOP OF THE DECK

Place them aside, face down
For sake of article, let’s call these 7 cards your DRAW CARDS.

5. From your (7) Draw Cards, find your BASIC Pokémon Cards.

A Pokémon card’s BASIC status is designated by the BASIC box on the top-left side of the card (see in above image).

NOTE: If there are no Basic Cards in your (7-card) DRAW cards, shuffle them back into DECK & draw ANOTHER 7 cards. We call this a MULLIGAN. Every time you do this, your OPPONENT can draw an extra card.

6. Pick your ACTIVE Pokémon

If you have (at least) one BASIC Pokémon in hand, place the one you want as your Active Card FACE DOWN a few inches in front of you

7. Pick your BENCH cards.

If you have more BASIC Pokémon cards in hand (besides your ACTIVE Pokémon card), you can place them beneath your ACTIVE Pokémon card as your BENCH.
NOTE: you can. only have up to 5 cards on the BENCH at any one time.

8. Draw your 6 PRIZE cards.

Draw your 6 PRIZE cards.Place these PRIZE cards in a pile on the side FACE DOWN.

NOTE: Do NOT look at your PRIZE cards.

NOTE 2: Each time you KNOCK-OUT an opponent’s Pokémon, take a PRIZE card (from your own deck)

To WIN: you win when you run out of PRIZE Cards (for a shorter, quicker game – use LESS cards)

SPECIAL RULE: If you knock out EX/GX Pokémon, you can draw 2 PRIZE cards (rather than just one)

9. Finish Pokémon Card Game Set-Up

a) DISCARD Pile below deck – place FACE-UP (doesn’t really matter)

b) ACTIVE Card – place FACE-UP

c) BENCHED Card – place FACE-UP



10. Play until someone wins

To WIN: you win if you TAKE-OUT all of your PRIZE Cards.

NOTE: If your opponent has to draw a card BUT CAN’T (because ran out of cards in deck OR IF knock out all the Pokémon on their playing field), then you win!


What’s next?

Now that  you’ve set-up your Pokémon Trading Card game, it’s time to learn HOW TO PLAY the Pokémon Trading Card Game.

Click HERE to learn HOW TO PLAY the Pokémon Trading Card Game.