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[[caption-width-right:225:The classic, remade for the new generation.]]

A trading card game based on the popular ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' franchise. As of June 2014, has 60 official English sets, with another one on the way in August. Recursively, the card game ''itself'' became [[VideoGame/PokemonTradingCardGame a pair of video games]], [[NoExportForYou of which only one left Japan]]. Really likes making people flip coins.

The starting game play is simple: the players draw their hands, and then set aside 6 cards to be "Prize Cards" of which the player can take one whenever they Knock Out an opponent's Pokémon, winning when they claim all six. The players then play any Pokémon they have (redrawing if they don't have any) and the game officially begins. In a given turn, the players can add Pokémon to their bench (up to 5), evolve their Pokémon (although they can only evolve one stage per turn), play Trainer cards that have various benefits, add an Energy card to one of their Pokémon, retreat their active Pokémon for one in the bench, or attack with their active Pokémon.

The game relies heavily on "Energy Cards", 9 (initially 6, later 8) cards representing the different Pokémon types (though there is an 11th Dragon-type with no Energy equivalent outside of Roaring Skies' Double Dragon Energy card, and the much earlier Colorless energy which has no Basic energy card, but serves as a "Wild Card", being fulfilled with the other energy types, as well as having the oft-reprinted Double Colorless Energy card), and the only cards the player is allowed to have more than four copies of in a deck. In general, a Pokémon of a specific type will have attacks that require Energy of that type, although some do have "Colorless" energy requirements, which can be fulfilled by any of the 11 types. Because the player is limited to only playing one Energy Card per turn, it's important for them to manage their energy distribution wisely, as a benched Pokémon that already has energy on it will be able to start fighting much quicker than one that doesn't. Stronger attacks will require more energy, with the strongest attacks requiring the player to remove one or all of the Pokémon's attached energy, limiting their use. Pokémon also have retreat costs, the amount of energy cards that must be removed in order to switch out for a Pokémon in the bench, which is also (usually) proportional to the Pokémon's power.

Notably, there was a period at the height of ''Pokémon''[='s=] popularity where schoolchildren would often own literally hundreds of these cards... but good luck finding even ''one'' kid who actually ''played'' them.

[[http://www.pokemontcg.com Can now be played (to a limited extent) online, though there's software to download first.]]
!!Provides examples of:
* TheArtifact: Pokémon Powers, due to predating abilities, maintained their original name for ''years'' before being split into Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies in Generation II and finally being renamed to a consistent "abilities" in the first ''Black and White'' set. Almost 9 years after their introduction!
* AwesomeButImpractical: The most valuable card from the initial set, Charizard, was hardly ever used in competitive play even in the early days. Only by using it in a combo deck strategy with Venusaur did it work on a practical level. Other similarly overpowered-yet-impractical cards have since been released.
** Charizard has traditionally been like this, with attacks that cause enormous damage (in the 100-300 range) but are way too slow to set up and usually have crippling drawbacks. However, Charizard cards tend to fetch high prices (despite their low competitive value) due to the big lizard's EnsembleDarkhorse nature combined with the "wow" factor of its damage output.
** There are several "huge" cards that are as big as a book, or are made of 4 regular cards. You cannot play these cards, but often, their stats are so awesome you wish you could. (For example, Shadow Lugia!)
** BoringButPractical: Ninetales, from the same set, could put out 50% more damage per turn, took one evolution instead of two, still had respectable HP, ''didn't'' have a ridiculous retreat cost, fit into the same types of decks, and... wasn't a flying, fire-breathing dragon.
** Cards with large numbers printed on it tend to fetch high prices among collectors, even though most of these cards have large downsides due to CompetitiveBalance. Chansey from the Base Set is like this (though at least it had some value as a DamageSponge for stall decks), sharing Charizard's [[PowerCreep then-high]] HP, as well as any Wailord card.
** Most EX pokemon that let your opponent take two prizes instead of one when they're defeated (the rules eventually changed so newer ones don't follow this). This is a generalization however; playing them when you have one prize left regardless is still a potent strategy, and some (though not all) EX cards really do have enough potency to justify it.
** EX Mega Evolutions are this in general; they have high HP and very strong attacks, but can't attack the turn they Mega Evolve, and usually have difficult Energy requirements for their attacks, sometimes paired with insane drawbacks. [[BreadEggsBreadedEggs Both of Charizard's Mega Evolutions are textbook examples]]. Because they (unsurprisingly) have attacks that deal 300 damage, [[http://pojo.com/COTD/2014/Jun/6.shtml some have noted]] that their unplayability prevents their price from shooting through the roof on the secondary market.
*** ''The Pokemon Company'' seemed to have noticed that last one hence why as of Phantom Forces they started to give Mega Evolutions a Tool called Spirit Links which allow them to Mega Evolve without needing to skip a turn. The only drawback is the inability to put on a different Tool on the Poke (unless you remove the Link afterwards, or have Theta Double like Mega Tyranitar EX) but it's a small price to pay in order to not lose your turn. On top of that Mega Pokemon started to receive much more efficient attacks in terms of energy costs and thus they skyrocketed to competitive relevance almost immediately.
* AwesomeMcCoolName: The Flashfire expansion's name in Italian (Fuoco Infernale) translates to "Hellfire". And it prominently features [[BreakoutCharacter Charizard]], making this even cooler.
* {{Bowdlerize}}: Some of the attack names were Bowdlerized; for example, God Blast was changed to Supreme Blast and Death Sentence was changed to Fainting Spell.
* CanonImmigrant: Flail, Destiny Bond and Nightmare started out in the TCG before appearing in the second generation. However, TCG Nightmare is only similar in an "affects sleeping targets only" clause with game Nightmare.
** After items gained actual appearances in ''[=FireRed and LeafGreen=]'', they all (bar [=TMs=]) appear as they did in the TCG.
** The crazy useful "dash" on the overworld debuted in the GBC game before it appeared in generation 3.
** The "Pokemon Power" mechanic, which was around since the card game started, is extremely similar to the Ability mechanic the games introduced in their ''third'' generation.
*** And in a case of reversal, starting with the Black and White expansion, [=PokePowers=] and [=PokeBodies=] were thrown out and replaced with Abilities.
* CloudCuckoolander: Imakuni? UpToEleven. And yes, the question mark is part of his name.
** As well as some card illustrations. Search "Pokemon Picasso Touch," and you'll be confused... Very, very confused.
* ColorCodedElements: [[NonElemental Normal/Colorless]] is white, [[PlayingWithFire Fire]] is red, [[MakingASplash Water]] (including [[AnIcePerson Ice]]) is [[WaterIsBlue blue]], [[GreenThumb Grass]] (including [[BigCreepyCrawlies Bug]]) is green, [[ShockAndAwe Lightning]] is yellow, [[BareFistedMonk Fighting]] (including [[DishingOutDirt Ground and Rock]]) is brown, [[PsychicPowers Psychic]] (including [[SoulPower Ghost]]) [[SupernaturalIsPurple is purple]], [[CastingAShadow Dark]] is black, [[ExtraOreDinary Steel]] is gray, [[OurDragonsAreDifferent Dragon]] is gold, and [[TheFairFolk Fairy]] is pink.
** [[PoisonousPerson Poison types]] were previously grouped in with grass types (which made some amount of sense, due to how many grass/bug types are also poison). At some point, they were moved into the Psychic category. The logic behind this seems to be "poison and psychic are both purple".
* ComebackMechanic: Most of the Pokémon-star cards had one attack that had pitiful strength but became overwhelming if the player is about to lose the game. Same with the additional attacks granted by the Mystery Plates in "Skyridge." A few attacks that have popped up here and there deal more damage the more Prize cards the opponent has taken, most notably Shaymin EX from "Next Destinies."
* ContinuityNod: The online simulator lets you give Lance's hairstyle to male avatars and Misty's hairstyle to female ones.
* CrackIsCheaper: Making a functional deck often costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Newer players can opt for so-called "Theme Decks" that run for about 10 dollars apiece but usually serve no actual competitive function and would most likely be destroyed by any professionally-made deck.
** On the casual side of the TCG, in terms of collecting, going for 100% completion of ''all'' of the released sets will be a serious challenge in terms of price. While the first few sets such as Jungle and Fossil (not Base Set, though) run for fairly reasonable amounts of money, other sets, especially those that are currently legal in competitive play and even first edition prints of the aforementioned older sets are hard to come by at a decent price. Certain sets, especially those from the original EX era, have secret rare cards that can run for hundreds of dollars in them, such as certain Gold Star cards. Collectors may attempt to mitigate these high costs by buying lots of assorted cards, but it would likely take a very long time to complete all of the sets this way, considering there have been thousands and thousands of individual cards released over 60+ sets (as of May 2016).
* {{Darker and Edgier}}: Compared to other cards, Pokemon Prime makes heavier use of shadows, and gives closeups of pokemon with them generally looking very serious, or sometimes downright evil. See [[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Lanturn_(Unleashed_86) Lanturn Prime]] and [[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Gengar_Prime Gengar Prime]].
* DistractedByTheShiny: Collectors put a premium on the "holo" cards, allowing the competitive players to easily trade one valuable card with little game utility for multiple (much more useful) trainer cards.
* GratuitousEnglish: The Japanese versions of the Mega Evolution cards in the XY series set has the Pokémon's attack name written across the card art in English...
* GratuitousJapanese: ...whilst the English versions of the same card have the attack name written out in katakana. Also counts as as [[SurprisinglyGoodForeignLanguage Surprisingly Good Japanese]]; while the Japanese cards' English attack names are a bit Engrish-y, the English cards' Japanese attack names are lifted right from the Japanese versions' attack text.
* HeadsOrTails: Each player has a coin of his or her own. Players flip to see who decides the starting turn order. Then there are several cards where the player flips his or her coin to determine the number of cards they draw from their deck, the amount of damage a move will do, and so on.
* InconsistentDub: Several attack names are translated differently from the video game series. This could be argued as {{Woolseyism}} in some cases--for example, a move called Confusion in the games causes confusion, but was renamed Psyshock in the card game, where it causes paralysis ([[DubInducedPlothole it was called Willpower in both cases in the Japanese games]]). However, others are just different for no discernible reason, such as a move called "Teeter Dance" in the video games and "The Hula-la" in the card game.
** It also doesn't help that the fifth generation games added a separate attack named Psyshock, a MindOverMatter shockwave that runs off of Special Attack and physical Defense.
* InstantAwesomeJustAddDragons: Dragon-types are the most "special" out of the regular elemental types; rather than having their own Energy type, each Dragon has attacks that typically use Energy from two "standard" types and have fairly strong effects or deal good damage to compensate.
* ItemAmplifier: [[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Magnezone_(Plasma_Gale_25) Magnezone]] has the effect "Double Brain" that lets the player use 2 Supporter cards per turn instead of the usual 1.
* JokeCharacter: Imakuni? is an incredibly weird guy. He has his own rap group to promote the series, specifically the card game, called [[TwoGuysAndAGirl Suzukisan]], which consists of him, an enka singer named Sachiko Kobayashi, and an American guy named Raymond Johnson (who also had TheDanza as a minor character in TheMovie of the anime) who speaks SurprisinglyGoodEnglish. He also makes some joke cards and does illustrations for serious cards. He has a blog at imakuni.com.
** Some cards that weren't intended to be humorous cards are these. For example, Slowpoke and Slowbro from Dark Explorers had terrible attacks/abilities. The former had to do 2 energy for 20 damage ''on a coin flip'' while the latter's ability can '''only''' attack if you have an even amount of prizes left, meaning that not only does Slowbro become useless after stealing a kill unless it manages to kill a Pokemon-EX, but it also can't attack at all until you have already taken a prize or you negate its ability. Additionally, Jungle Victreebel was another unplayable card, and even the Weepinbell it evolved from was arguably much better.
* JokeItem: The ''[[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Imakuni%3F_(CoroCoro_promo) Imakuni?]]'' card, which just confuses your own Pokémon... There's even [[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Imakuni%3F%27s_Corner_(Vending_S3) a card]] just to tell you that it's useless!
* LethalJokeCharacter: The original Baby Pokemon from the Neo and e-Card sets, especially the ones from the Neo sets. At first glance, they look pretty bad, especially due to their horrific HP and the fact that you don't necessarily have to use them in order to use their "evolved" forms. However, they often proved to be nasty annoyances due to their Baby Pokemon Powers, which caused every single attack - even those that don't inflict any damage - to have only a 50% chance of succeeding (if the attacker flipped heads). Combine the original Baby Pokemon Power with Focus Band, and one would have a whopping ''seventy-five'' percent chance of having to deal with the Baby Pokemon again the next turn. To make matters even crazier, the Babies usually had troublesome attacks that only cost one Colorless Energy and they had free retreat. After Ruby and Sapphire were released, all new Baby Pokemon were Basic Pokemon, and no longer had to be attacked on a coin flip. However, especially destructive Babies like Cleffa (which was like a Professor Oak that DIDN'T discard your hand that you could re-use, potentially multiple times thanks to the Baby Pokemon rule) were so influential on the game that they were "reprinted" 10 years later in the Heart Gold/Soul Silver sets; however, these new versions weren't anywhere near as chaotic as their G/S/C era counterparts, as they were only impervious to damage if they were asleep.
** Exeggcute from Plasma Freeze also looks pretty terrible with only 30 HP and one attack that is bad, even for a Basic Pokemon. However, its ability, Propagation, allows it to come back from the discard pile if it is ever discarded, which makes Exeggcute extremely manipulable in combos that involve discarding cards to deal extra or reduce damage or draw extra cards.
* LethalJokeItem:
** ''[[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Flute_(Base_Set_86) Pokémon Flute]]'', a Trainer card where you choose one of your opponent's discarded Pokémon and put it on his bench. It seems like it would only help your opponent, until you realize that it actually has several uses: You can combine it with Gust of Wind, using the former to revive a Pokémon with very low HP and using the latter to force the opponent to switch to it. Then you could effortlessly kill the poor Pokémon AGAIN and score another prize. You can also use Pokémon Flute to fill your opponent's bench with low level "junk" to prevent them from playing their intended Pokémon.
** There are some extreme examples from Team Rocket Returns, a set with crazy-sounding names such as "Pow! Hand Extension," "Surprise! Time Machine," and "Swoop! Teleporter" - all cards that would break every format they were legal in.
* LoopholeAbuse: Each time someone tries it and is caught by a judge (or the opponent calls a judge over), it's recorded and a ruling given in case it happens again. As of date, there are over 300 cases of this. There haven't been any cases nearly as extreme as Chaos Orb in [[MagicTheGathering Magic]] though.
%%* LuckBasedMission
* LuckManipulationMechanic:
** [[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Sabrinas_ESP_(Gym_Heroes_117) Sabrina's ESP]] lets you re-flip coins.
** One Victini's Victory Star Ability allows a player to take a do-over on coin flips related to their Pokémon's attacks once per turn (and it actually means "once" - multiple Victory Star Abilities don't stack).
* {{Mana}}: Energy cards. Most attacks will require at least one. Unlike traditional Mana, though, it isn't consumed unless the attack you use says otherwise (like the Charizard at the top of the page).
* NonNaziSwastika: One of the game cards, the Koga's Ninja Trick card, originally had the symbol on it in mirror image until people complained and it was altered.
* PinkGirlBlueBoy: The Beginning set for the Black and White expansion is split into a "boys" set and a "girls" set. The boy set is black and contains cool-looking Pokemon; the girl set is bright pink and contains cute-looking Pokemon. Obviously, though, there's nothing stopping you from buying a set of the opposite gender.
* {{Portmanteau}}: Approximately three quarters of all competitive deck themes are the names of the central Pokémon of the deck put together. The remaining quarter either involve too many important Pokémon to avoid a confusing portmanteau or becomes associated with something among tournament players before a portmanteau name is formed.
* PowerCreep
** The bar is raised with each generation. It's gotten to the point where the best decks when the TCG started some 15 years ago (like Haymaker, for example) would be absolutely unplayable against ANY legal deck today that has seen any play. Compare Slowbro in the 1st-generation [[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Slowbro_%28Fossil_43%29 Fossil]] to Slowbro in the 5th-generation [[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Slowbro_%28Dark_Rush_17%29 Dark Rush]], for instance.
** Interestingly, Trainer cards have more subject to the opposite, as mechanics were introduced to limit the number of powerful Trainer cards a player can use. A "premium" class of Trainer cards called Supporter were created, of which you may only play 1 per turn, so modern decks don't play at the same breakneck pace that allows players to dig through half their deck in a turn. The strongest card effects were limited to Ace Spec cards, of which you may only have 1 in a deck - not one copy each, but one Ace Spec, period. None of the cards in these two categories overlap, however.
* PromotionalPowerlessPieceOfGarbage: ''_____'s Pikachu'', where you are supposed to write in your name and birthday, and if it's your birthday, then you can flip a coin to potentially do more damage. Banned pretty much from the start to avoid complications such as actually having to verify the birthdate is correct. In actuality, this card was only a non-playable promotional piece back in Japan. The most common theory is that they simply didn't catch on when bringing it overseas and hastily banned it to fix the mistake.
** ''Ancient Mew'', which came with movie tickets to ''[[Anime/{{Pokemon 2000}} Pokémon: The Movie 2000]]'', doesn't even look like a proper Pokémon card on the front or back (and once deciphered, has rather poor stats, anyways), and thus can't be used.
** Some of the promo cards you win in the game from the Cups, such as Farfetch'd and Mankey, have the EXACT SAME STATS as their alternate (and easier to get) cards. Only real difference is their art and level descriptions. Unless you're going for full completion, you should probably skip any Cups giving them as prizes.
** The promotional cards received by participating in pre-release tournaments are identical to the card in the set except for a shiny stamp reading "Pre-Release" indented into the lower-right corner of the illustration (or a shiner stamp reading "Staff", if you were one of the people helping run said tournament). In EX series sets and the most recent sets, the stamp is replaced with the set's logo.
* RockPaperScissors: The Trainer cards "Misty's Duel" and "Team Galactic's Wager" makes the players do this. [[ZigZaggedTrope Zig-Zagged]] on Misty's duel, where players have the option to flip coins in case of the very unlikely chance the opponent "''[[TheDevTeamThinksOfEverything does not know how to play Rock-Paper-Scissors]]''"
* RuleOfCool: One card - ''Flashfire'' Mega Charizard X - seems to have been designed with this in mind, as it's a [[InstantAwesomeJustAddDragons Dragon-type]] version of BreakoutCharacter Charizard with the strongest attack in the game, to the point of being AwesomeButImpractical. Mega Charizard Y and the Dragon-type Mega Rayquaza aren't too far off, having equally damaging attacks but lacking the whole "fan-requested typing" vibe.
* SeriousBusiness: Valid in the real world with tournaments, but taken to near-Anime/YuGiOh levels of extremes in the video game adaptations.
* ShoutOut:
** The online simulator lets you give [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII Aerith]]'s hairstyle to female avatars.
** Dialga EX from ''Phantom Forces'' has the attacks [[VideoGame/ChronoTrigger Chrono Wind]].
* StandardStatusEffects: Akin to the games, they can be put to sleep, confused, paralyzed, poisoned, or burned.
* StockSubtitle: ''[[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Generations_%28TCG%29 Pokemon TCG: Generations]]'', a 2016 expansion that commemorates the ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' franchise's [[MilestoneCelebration 20th anniversary]].
* SuddenDeath: This is played with only one prize card, so whoever grabs the prize card first wins.
* SupernaturalIsPurple: The Psychic type is represented by the color purple.
* ThemeDeck: Beginner play encourages specializing in one or two types in order to more effectively meet energy card requirements, although in advanced play one finds that there are enough special energies that can count as multiple types and ways to search energy that sticking to any one type isn't as necessary, avoiding CripplingOverspecialization.