– by Brendan Reid, Editor –
There’s a lot to be said about nostalgia. Even if your rose-tinted view is completely diluted, and the thing you are looking back on has aged terribly, that won’t matter, because you grew up with it, and it will always be perfect.
I’m glad to say that the Pokémon trading card game has survived this test of time. The game is fun as a stand alone strategy game, even if you have no connection to the Japanese pocket monsters at all. I have removed my nostalgia goggles and played a few unbiased rounds with a good friend, and can say with confidence this game is as much fun as you remember it to be.
In fact, it might even be more fun then you remember it to be, if you remember it at all. If you’re like me, when you were a kid you mainly bought the cards to collect them. You spent hundreds of dollars on booster packs, and when you finally got that holographic Charizard, you displayed him on your mantle piece to appreciate in value. Because, by Jove, that card would be worth a fortune one day.
Chances are you haven’t sold that card yet, because how could you? Charizard was a quintessential part of your childhood, not some commodity to be pawned off. And it’s a good thing too, because you’ll need him once you rediscover the game these cards were intended for.
This is a game that has aged very well. There is intense strategy behind every move you make, and it all boils down to the deck you decide to build. For those that don’t recall, there are four types of cards: Pokémon cards, energy cards, stadium cards, and trainer cards. The Pokémon doing all the heavy lifting, the energy cards power up their attacks, the stadium cards power them up even more, and the trainer cards are full of helpful tricks and traps. The rules are very simple, wherein you have a single active Pokémon that does all the attacking, and up to five benched Pokémon that can be switched in and out (provided you meet the energy cost to retreat your active Pokémon. Trust me, it all makes sense once you get going again). There are countless variables, and no two games are ever the same.
Do you rely on tricksters such as Jigglypuff or Clefairy to put your enemies to sleep and slowly whittle them away, or do you bust out that Snorlax and obliterate them with a body slam? Choose wisely, for you can only play one energy card per turn, and many attacks require an upwards of three. And no matter what you do, don’t discount those trainer cards. They can save your life in a jam, or throw a wrench in your opponent’s plans.
The game is wonderfully devious and strategic, and if you have a friend who still loves Pokémon as much as you do, I implore you to find a deck and start playing again. The more variety of cards you have the better the games will be, for you can rearrange your deck as you choose. That being said, having a simple starter deck will do fine as well, for a great deal of the game boils down to chance, the cards you draw, and the flip of a coin.
If you find yourself really getting into the game, you’re in luck, for there are countless Pokémon tournaments and events going on all over North America. You can use the Pokémon Event Locator to find them. Just be warned, players at those events will know exactly what they are doing, and may destroy you outright if you do not prepare a solid deck. Think of it as preparing to face a gym leader, where you must train up to emerge victorious. In fact, a lot about the trading card game can be rationalized if you relate it to the video games, and this easy comparison can make re-learning the rules much easier.
The Pokémon Trading Card Game has remained so popular for good reason. Once you start looking through the cards, you will recognize find friends old and new, and that feeling is just as satisfying as destroying the Gyarados your opponent worked so hard to get into the active spot. If you want to revisit your childhood, but are also looking for a brand new gaming addiction, give Pokémon cards another go. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling like Ash Ketchum all over again (but will undoubtedly do better then he did at battling).
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