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Getting Started, Guides, and Terminology

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Old January 5th, 2014 (12:29 PM). Edited March 16th, 2014 by donavannj.
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Getting Started, Guides, and Terminology

This thread contains a few guides related to the Pokémon Trading Card Game as well as a listing of terms used. To access any of the guides, please either use the floating box at the top right of the page or the links below to jump to the post for that guide guide. If you have any questions or if you would like to submit a guide, please PM me.

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Glossary of Terms

Getting Started*

How to Spot Fakes

Learn to Play

*Coming soon!
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Old January 5th, 2014 (12:29 PM).
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Glossary of Pokémon Trading Card Game Terminology

In this post is a list of both common and uncommon terminology used in the Pokémon Trading Card Game as well as terms used when talking about the Pokémon Trading Card Game. If you have any words or terms you would like to submit a definition for, please PM me with the word and its definition. Please note that some of these terms may be region-specific.


# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


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Active Pokemon: The Pokemon you are using to attack or take damage.


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Basic: Short for "Basic Pokemon."


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Catcher/Catchered: Short for the use of a "Pokemon Catcher" card.
Example: "I drew a catcher and decided to catcher out his Mewtwo EX for the revenge KO !"

Check: A card which makes an opponent unwilling to commit another card to the field.
Example: Landorus EX would make an opponent unwilling to bench Dark Deino.

Counter: A card which can be used to deal with a threat, strategically - i.e for deck building purposes.
Example: In general Terrakion NVI counters Darkrai EX.


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Damage Counter: A damage counter represents 10 damage in Pokemon TCG.
Example: Put 2 damage counters on the defending Pokemon (put 20 damage on the defending Pokemon.)

DCE: This an abbreviation for "Double Colorless Energy".

Deck out: When you or your opponent have no cards left to draw from your deck.
Examples: "I decked out my opponent using Devour with Durrant!"

Defending Pokemon: The opponent's Active Pokemon.

Donk: Your active Pokemon gets a knock out on the first turn on the Defending Pokemon and they have no Pokemon left on the bench. (Getting Donk-ed or Getting a Donk.)


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Failed search: When someone plays a search card and does not search anything out. Can be done with or without intention.

Format: A particular set period of time when cards from particular sets are legal for tournament play.


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Jank: An opinionated term used to describe card(s) that are considered worthless and not worthy of current tournament play.


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KO: Knock Out


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Meta or Meta-game: A term used to describe what cards are recently being played in current tournaments.

Mill or Milling: A term which originated from MTG (Magic the Gathering) of sending cards from your opponents deck or your deck to the graveyard.
Example: "I had 4 Durant in play and used the attack 'Devour' to mill 4 cards from my opponent's deck to the discard pile."

Modified Format: When certain sets are restricted from play due to rotation or through an agreement with said players choice.
Examples: "No Base Set cards allowed"
"Black and White on wards format"

Mulligan: When you draw 7 cards and draw no basic Pokemon in your opening hand.


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Net-decking: A term used to describe copying and building a deck exactly card for card from a deck list source.


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OHKO: One Hit Knock Out

Opening Hand: The first 7 cards you draw to start the game!

Out: A card which can be used to deal with a threat, tactically - i.e when you are playing against someone, so dependent on the situation.
Example: Terrakion is an out to Darkrai EX but if Darkrai EX holds Eviolite, then Terrakion EX is no longer an out.


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POP: Pokemon Organised Play

Pre-release: An event organised by Play!Pokemon which allows you to open booster packs and play a special event which involves using cards from the next set to be released, exclusively held within the 3 weeks leading up to a set's official release.

Pulling: A term used to describe when you open a booster pack.
"I just pulled a Mewtwo EX from a next destinies pack!"


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Revenge: To knock out an opponent's Pokemon after you lost a Pokemon to a Knock out yourself.

Rotation: When particular sets become no longer tournament legal.


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Scrub: A term which is very general to describe "a bad player" or not making the top cut of a tournament(s). *Moderator note: usually only used by snobby players. Not making Top-Cut does not automatically make you a bad player.

Sneak Peak: Also known as a Pre-release.

Sniping: When a Pokemon's attack deals damage to particular benched Pokemon.


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TCG: This is a common abbreviation for "Trading Card Game". - submitted by Renpuu

TCGO: The most popular term used when referring to the official Pokemon Trading Card Game Online client.

Tech: A single copy of a card which is down to the personal preference of the player.
"I run a tech copy of 'Tool Scrapper' as I can search it out with Skyla if I need it."

Top-cut: The final rounds of a tournament, after everyone has played in the round-robin portion of the tournament. It consists of the players with the best records after the round-robin stage, and can contain several different numbers of players depending on the size of the tournament.

Top deck: A term used to describe when a player is drawing the card(s) he needs.
Example:"I only had 1 card in hand and then I top decked the Professor Juniper ! Yes ! A fresh hand of 7 cards!"
"I top decked the Pokemon Catcher to catcher out his damaged EX to take my last 2 prizes for game!"

Tournament Format: The sets which are allowed to be used in tournaments due to rotations.


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Unlimited Format: When you can play ALL cards printed in a particular deck.


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Wiff/Wiffing: A term used to describe when you play a card and it does not go your way.
Examples: "I got a tails on a crushing hammer and I needed that to by time and prevent my opponent from attacking!"
"I got tails on a Super Scoop up! Now I'm stuck with this Pokemon in my Active position"
"I played a Professor Juniper to draw a fresh hand of 7 cards, but I did not draw the Double Colorless energy I needed for my Mewtwo EX to attack that turn!"


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X-Y-Z: Pokemon line ups used to describe X Basic, Y Stage 1 and Z Stage 2 within an evolution line.
Example: "I run a 4-2-4 of Charizard. So 4 Charmander, 2 Charmeleon, 4 Charizard"
"I run a 2-2 Blissey line. So 2 Chansey and 2 Blissey"


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Definitions submitted by renpuu, overlord drakow and donavannj. To get your definition included in this list, PM me. back to top of glossary
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Old January 6th, 2014 (1:10 PM). Edited January 6th, 2014 by donavannj.
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Hello. I notice a lot of people around here posting threads to ask if their card is fake or not. Maybe this will help out.

There are lots of fake pokemon cards out there. They vary in quality as well as content. I have seen everything from simple copies of real cards, to completely unique fakemon trying to be passed off as legitimate cards. So how do you know if your card is fake?

Best Ways to spot fakes:

Look at the back: Check the back first. The blue border line should be a deep, defined blue color. On many fake cards, the blue border line will be a lot lighter then it should be. Sometimes you may not even be able to tell it's a border.

The card on the left is real, and the card on the right is fake. (Picture from pokegym)

Energy icons: Do the energy icons look normal? In many fakes, the energy icon almost doesn't fit in the circle. Look carefully at the energy icons, this is one of the easiest ways to tell if it's real or not.

Should it be Holographic?: Many fakes are simply copies of real cards. Because of this, some fakes are not holographic. So if you have, for example, a Deoxys/Rayquaza legend card that is not holographic, it is a fake because there is no non-holo version of this card.

On the other hand, some fakes go the extra mile and add foil. If you have a common card or uncommon card with Gold writing, it is probably fake.

Material: Most fakes are made from different, and likely cheaper material. Sometimes, you'll be able to feel a difference right away. Same goes for foil. If the card has foil on it and it feels or looks different, it may be fake. Additionally, some people say if you put the card up in the light and you can see through it, it is fake.

Misprints: It would be nice to believe you have a rare misprint, but it's more likely that it is fake. Many fakes make simple spelling mistakes, sometimes even in the pokemon's name. Look out for those.

Size: If it is a different size then a normal pokemon card (with the exception of jumbo promos) it is most definitely fake.

Where do fake cards come from?
These are some places that fake cards may come from.

-Flea Market
-Trading with other people

What do I do if I got a fake card?

If you have any fake cards, I suggest you just hang onto them. They still display artwork just like other cards, albeit with low quality, and they're unique in there own special way. Just don't circulate them and don't use them to rip people off.

Hope this helps. =)
Old January 12th, 2014 (6:22 PM). Edited April 14th, 2015 by donavannj.
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Learning to Play

Hello, and welcome to the World of Pokémon! I'm here as your guide to show you how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game!

How Can I Learn to Play?

There are many ways to learn to play. In the past, many theme decks come with a rulebook inside the box, but nowadays that is simply not the case. I present to you a few of the easiest ways to learn:

1. The Tutorials Page at These go through all the basics in 12 tutorials, but they're targeted at children and can cut corners on explaining things.

2. Go out and buy a Trainer Kit. The most recent one is the XY Trainer Kit, which goes over the basics quite well and holds your hand through several turns of playing the game. This works best in combo with choice number 3.

3. Lastly, and probably the best available currently, is to buy one of the three XY Kalos Starter Sets, which have a basic overview of the rules on the backsides of the paper playmats that are included inside them, as well as overviews of the recent rule changes that have been made. This works very well when combined with buying a Trainer Kit deck.


When playing, can I mix sets, boosters, and decks? Or can I only use cards from a specific deck/booster/set to play?
This question has a simple yet complex answer. The short answer is yes, you can mix cards from any booster pack, set, or deck. The long answer is a "yes, but..." type answer, which I will explain in the next few sentences. For play among friends, you can mix together cards from any booster pack, set, or deck to create a new deck as long as both players agree to the sets allowed for use and both players agree on a rule regarding cards in languages one or both players do not speak. For casual play, it's common courtesy to use cards in a language you both speak. As for official tournament play, there's a list of sets you're restricted to for use, and that list changes every year as Play!Pokémon does what is called a "rotation", which is where they make old sets no longer usable in tournaments for a multitude of reasons, one of which is to keep official tournaments from getting dominated by the same cards all the time. The current list of sets that can be used in tournaments can be found in this thread here. There is also a special type of tournament called a prerelease where you can only use cards from a yet to be released set, as a prerelease tournament functions as a promotional preview event for a new set.

Which card is the best card?
There is no single best card, as every card has a counter. There are some that are more consistently successful than others, but the most successful card varies as new sets get released.

Where can I find a place near me to play?
You can use the official League Locator to find any officially registered tournaments and leagues near you.

I can't find anywhere near me that I can play? Is there another way I can play?
Yes, in fact, there are. There's the official online game at, which requires you to have a account to play. accounts are free, however, so it is possible to play the official TCGO for free. If you want to play against other players without being restricted by a "collection", however, you can play over at , though this requires having created a free account over at, and you have to create the decks you use on over at There is also Redshark, which was the dominant unofficial means to play, though the site that was at the core of its support,, appears to have shifted to the aforementioned Other means worth mentioning are the Lackey CCG Pokemon TCG packs and the Apprentice Pokemon TCG packs, both of which are download and play clients that require the use of a program like LogMeIn Hamachi to play others over the internet.

I keep losing whenever I play. How can I build a good deck?
There are several ways to define a good deck, be it a winning one or one that is oodles of fun to play. However, if you're looking for a formula to build a consistent deck, Rocket's Executive wrote up a guide two years ago on the basics to building a consistent deck that is still quite relevant today, and that is located here.

Hopefully this guide helps you as you learn to play. For any questions you may have that are not answered here, I suggest either creating a new thread in the main section of the Pokémon Trading Card Game forum, or by popping into the Quick Questions Thread located here.
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