I’m a brave geek. So brave I will admit that before I was hooked into Magic: the Gathering, I played the Pokemon Card Game.
While mostly thought of as a game for children, it’s completely playable by adults. My husband calls it my “gateway drug” as learning the mechanics of it is what formed my interest in Magic years later.
In an attempt to get me interested in Magic, we began playing back with the base set of Pokemon, back in December of 1998.
Players of the game are the trainers and play Pokemon to the field to attack the opponent’s Pokemon. When a Pokemon’s HP (hit points) are reduced to 0, the Pokemon is dead (aka knocked out). The player then takes a prize. The game ends when all prize cards are taken, if the opponent runs out of Pokemon on the field, or if there are no more cards left to draw in the opponent’s deck.
All players must begin with a basic Pokemon in hand. If they don’t, they must mulligan until they do. Players can also have up to five Pokemon on their bench and one in the active field. Players use energy to for Pokemon attacks, which do a set amount of damage to the opponent’s Pokemon. There is no casting cost for bringing out a Pokemon, but there is a retreat cost. Unlike Magic, Pokemon creatures can retreat and be “protected” from harm while on the bench. There are also trainer cards, stadium cards, and various supporter cards that add different elements to the game. (I like to think of them as the predecessors to instants, enchantments, etc. in Magic.)
Pokemon have types (grass, fire, water, psychic, etc.) and thus, weaknesses and strengths. For example, grass is weak against fire and will take double damage from fire Pokemon. Grass is strong or resistant to water, which decreases damage by 30 points.
Overall, I enjoyed playing the card game. The “collecting” fever with the cards/Pokemon is certainly an issue, but you can still play a decent game without having the best of the best cards. Quite a few “common” cards are powerful enough to kick some butt. It served as a nice introduction into card games in general. If your kiddos like Pokemon and aren’t quite ready or interested in Magic, this game certainly makes an excellent transition.