Subculture Spotlight: Diving Into The World of Pokémon TCG

The Pokémon franchise turns 28 this week, and to mark the occasion, we’re spotlighting the vibrant and ever-changing world of the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG)!

Having been around since the inception of the Pokémon franchise close to three decades ago, the game has since evolved and grown to include many new mechanics that did not exist in its early days.

In this two-part article series, THE MAGIC RAIN’s very own Pokémon TCG enthusiast Amos will be going through the basics of the game, and how to get into it beyond just learning about the rules. Keep reading to get started on your journey to be the very best!

Learning How to Play Pokémon TCG

Interested in learning the basics of Pokémon TCG? Depending on their personal preference and comfort levels, new players have a few different options they can choose from to get started.

Amos’s personal recommendation is learning to play the game in-person during a Pokémon TCG event. “Personally, I think learning the game in person during a teaching session is the best as the tutors can guide you through any and all questions you may have about the game itself and everything surrounding it.” Those interested in this method can click here to check out a full list of upcoming Pokémon TCG events in Malaysia.

You can also click here to read about our experience at a Pokémon TCG bootcamp!

If learn-to-play sessions aren’t readily accessible for you, you can check out these video tutorials officially produced by The Pokémon Company. Otherwise, you could also pick up the basics of the game by playing its online counterpart, Pokémon TCG Live (PTCGL) on PC, Android or iOS — or the new Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket coming to Android and iOS sometime this year.

Buying Pokémon TCG Cards

Once you’ve learned how to play, you’ll need to figure out where to buy the cards. Fortunately, Pokémon TCG cards can be bought virtually anywhere – from online stores such as Shopee and Lazada, to physical locations like 7-11, Toys ‘R Us, and of course, specialised hobby stores. A list of Malaysian card game stores that sell Pokémon-related products can be found here.

Pokémon TCG products are extremely diverse and may feel overwhelming to newcomers, but the main product you’ll be most likely to engage with are booster packs. A single RM20 booster pack would contain 10 cards, a game code card for PTCGL, and 1 energy card.

While booster packs may feature a variety of cover art, their contents are ultimately random, with a certain number of foil or holo cards guaranteed. Any booster pack from the Scarlet & Violet expansion onwards will contain 3 guaranteed holo cards, while any previous booster pack will contain 1 guaranteed holo card. These holographic cards are generally considered to be rarer than regular cards, and are a staple of the card collecting community.

Creating Your Pokémon TCG Deck

Now that you know how to play and where to buy new cards, you’ll next need to learn how to assemble a deck of 60 cards to start playing. A good starting point is, of course, a starter deck, which will be able to help you understand the basics of deck building, and comes with some of the accessories needed to play the game, such as dice and damage counters.

These decks are divided into 3 different tiers based on the complexity of the deck and its perceived strength and viability in an actual tournament setting.

  • Ex Battle Deck: The first tier, which is perfect for understanding the flow of the game as well as basic mechanics such as evolving, abilities and trainer cards.
  • Deluxe Battle Deck: Introduces other unique mechanics such as Radiant Pokémon, as well as featuring some cards that have great potential in the competitive scene.
  • League Battle Deck: Described by Amos as “basically a half tournament ready deck”, this deck is considered to be the best stepping stone into the game as it can be easily upgraded into a fully-fledged deck that can see huge tournament success.
The Mew VMAX League Battle Deck consists of cards that ultimately won the World Championship 2023

Engaging With The Local Pokémon TCG Community

Perhaps the most important part of getting into Pokémon TCG is simply getting to know and engage with the local Pokémon TCG community. The simplest method to do so is by joining your local card game or hobby store’s Facebook or Whatsapp group.

Most stores will have such groups to help their customers discuss the game, as well as for buying, selling or trading Pokémon TCG products. One of the largest and oldest Pokémon TCG Facebook groups in Malaysia is Pokémon @ Toysbar, which has over 15 thousand members.

Of course, before joining any of these groups, do note that each one has its own unique set of rules and code of conduct to prevent unruly behaviour, so be sure to brush up on the group guidelines before delving into any of these communities.

The 2023 Malaysian Pokémon TCG Regionals drew hundreds of players to Pavilion Bukit Jalil

Was your interest in Pokémon TCG piqued by this article? Stay tuned for Part 2, where Amos will share tips on how to get into the card game’s competitive scene!

In the meantime, sate your appetite for more Pokémon Day content with some Pokémon Oreos or a Gengar Sofuto!

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