The Pokémon Trading Card Game (abbreviated as PCG or Pokémon TCG) is a collectible card game, based on the Pokémon video game series, first published in October 1996 by Media Factory in Japan. In the US, it was initially published by Wizards of the Coast; Nintendo eventually took over publishing the card game alongside the video games in June 2003.
Players assume the role of a Pokémon trainer and use their Pokémon to battle their opponents’. Players play Pokémon to the field and attack their opponent’s Pokémon. A Pokémon that has sustained enough damage is knocked out, and the player who knocked it out draws a Prize card. There are usually six Prize cards, and the primary win condition is to draw all of them. Other ways to win are by knocking out all the Pokémon the opponent has on the field such that the opponent has none left, or if at the beginning of their opponent’s turn there are no cards left to draw in the opponent’s deck.
Players begin by shuffling their decks and drawing seven cards, then playing one Basic Pokémon onto the battlefield. This Pokémon is known as the Active Pokémon, and is usually the one that attacks and receives damage. If a player does not have any Basic Pokémon, they must draw a new hand, and the opponent may draw one additional card. Once both players have at least one Basic Pokémon, they can play up to five more Basic Pokémon to their play field, known as the “bench” (representing the six maximum carry limit from the video games). Players then take the top six cards of their remaining deck and place them to the side as their Prize Cards. They then flip a coin (or roll dice) to see who goes first.
Play alternates between players who may take several actions during their turn, including playing new Basic Pokémon, evolving their Pokémon, playing Trainer cards, playing energy cards, and using non-attack Pokémon abilities. A player may also retreat their Active Pokémon, which switches the Active Pokémon with one that is currently on the bench. At the end of their turn, a player may use one of their Active Pokémon’s attacks, provided the prerequisite amount and types of energy are attached to that Pokémon. Game effects from that attack are then activated and damage is put on the defending Pokémon (some attacks simply have game effects but do not do damage). This damage may be modified depending on whether the defender has a weakness or resists the attacker’s Pokémon type. If the final damage exceeds the defending Pokémon’s HP, it is knocked out, and the active player takes a prize card and ends their turn.