Posted on November 05 2021
The Pokémon TCG is not merchandising. At least, not like a toy, a T-shirt, or any collector’s item. While, as a card game, it is an alternative way to experience the phenomenon around Pikachu and company, it is also one of the great pillars on which the millionaire franchise of The Pokémon Company stands.
And more importantly, for millions of fans, Pokemon’s card game is a different way to approach, share, compete and, above all, enjoy the same passion for Pokémon. Much more than an extension of the video game: a phenomenon by itself.
Let’s start from an absurd figure: as of March 2020, Nintendo itself confirmed that it had dealt 30.4 billion Pokémon card game cards around the world. To put it in perspective, in the case of distributing them in an equitable way, each inhabitant of the world would have at least four cards.
We know that the Japanese licensing machinery is terribly overwhelming and that the United States loves to compete and make Guinness Record collections. But, to establish ownership of its enormous global impact, and if we focus only on Europe, Pokémon’s card game reached a market share of 82% in 2018 in its own sector.
As an added reference, the total sales of strategic trading cards in 2018 amounted to the astronomical amount of 122 million euros in the Old Continent alone. To which must be added the quantities of Japan, the United States and the rest of the world.
Devastating figures that, as we will see, take it away from being a passing fashion and make it one of the most important bases and strengths -and priorities- of the Pokémon brand internationally. A success, however you look at it, that was born practically in parallel to the video games themselves.
What is Pokémon TCG?
It’s no surprise that Pokémon TCG was born in Japan as an extension of the increasingly popular Pocket Monsters games. However, the curious thing here is that the first cards and sets of cards appeared a few months after their release: Game Boy received the Red and Green Editions in February 1996, and by October of that same year you could get all the Pokémon in card form. Or, rather, almost everyone.
The first edition of Pokémon TCG was published by Media Factory, and although they were not the first collectible card sets (Bandai was very quick with his Pokemon Carddass series), they soon gained great popularity. In part by the collector element, but above all by its sensational way of reflecting through its rules the intense fights of coaches and the charisma of each creature.
Because the experience of playing Pokémon: The Trading Card Game came with a bit of fuss about the Magic phenomenon and other similar experiences, but it's wise way of bringing the best of Game Boy games to the mats made a difference.
That said, the rules of Pokémon TCG are simple: two players face off through the Pokémon. However, the ultimate goal is not to leave the opposing coach without
health points, but to gain six straight wins or leave him without Pokémon to use in combat.
Pokémon themselves, on the other hand, are turned into cards with their own attacks, health points, special abilities and, of course, depending on our hand -and if they have the right card- the possibility of evolving during the game and becoming even more powerful.
In Pokémon TCG, however, victory is not decided by brute force alone:
- On the one hand, as in the video game, Pokémon have their own kind and there is a balance of natures, so that, for example, Fire Pokémon inflict extra damage on Leaf and Water Pokémon. Closing the circle giving priority to Water over Fire.
- On the other hand, there is the luck factor, which is decided with the use of a coin. The fate will depend on who starts the game, the amount of additional damage that an attack does, and, in extreme circumstances, victory.
- As in the game, and this is one of the most brilliant aspects of Pokémon TCG, Pokémon in combat can take other kinds of damage: they can fall asleep, suffer paralysis, poisoning, or burn, and even be confused and hurt themselves. A complicated situation that can be solved with a good coin roll.
- In addition to the energy cards needed to perform actions, attacks or relays between Pokémon, there are the Trainer cards. A kind of effect that modifies the states of the Pokémon in play, cure them and even readjust the rules of the game.
As a result of the above, Pokémon TCG is a sensational and faithful way to take the game’s intense and fun turn-based combat beyond the consoles. Enjoy the phenomenon with other enthusiasts and, in the process, invite us to collect those fun of all shapes and colors.
A success that, logically, could not stay in the country of the rising sun.
When Pikachu and company came to the Western Game Boy they came wrapped up in their animated series and, in addition, by that mega popular card game that they liked so much in Japan.
And the truth is that Nintendo found the perfect ally for the latter: Wizards of the Coast, the people responsible for the Magic The Gathering phenomenon, translated, edited and released the first card sets in the United States and Europe. Everybody came out ahead.
At first we said that Pokémon TCG didn’t offer all the Pokémon, and it had its reason: from the beginning it was an open collection called to offer expansions, so gradually new themed packs were added. Something especially convenient when the Pokémon Gold and Silver video games and, by extension, a new generation of Pocket Monsters were announced and released.
Since then, the Pokémon phenomenon has always been wrapped up and grown in parallel with the Pokémon TCG phenomenon. Feeding each other and feeding the same passion. Fostering competitiveness and fascination for those creatures of a thousand shapes and colors among players of all ages. A flame that is still very much alive today.
If you are interested in Pokémon TCG, check our TCG section and choose your favorite one!