Author Topic: Pokemon Card Game Questions  (Read 3728 times)


  • Bristles
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Pokemon Card Game Questions
« on: August 08, 2016, 11:58:02 AM »
I took my youngest daughter out for her birthday yesterday to play Pokemon Go. She totally geeked out over Pokemon with anybody and everybody that she encountered. She has watched all of the cartoons on Netflix and has been pouring over how-to-draw books and drawing all that she can and talking non-stop about Pokemon. We haven't even played the Go version all that much, that was just her second time out to play it. This may be her thing and now we are thinking about getting her some of the cards so she can play the game as it seems like the strategy aspect would be something right up her alley. I went on Amazon and Ebay and my wife looked the packs over at Walmart last night and we are both extremely overwhelmed. There are so many things that we don't know where to begin. I'm hoping there are others on here that are knowledgeable from either playing themselves or their kids.

1. First, there are so many different types of cards: XY, Black and White, Steam Seige etc. Are these all different games that you have to keep separate or are they different 'flavors' of the same game that you can mix and combine? Can you buy a pack of XY and play them with Steam Seige etc? There seems to be several varieties of the XY series. Are they able to be intermingled or do we need to decide which game/version we are going to play and stick with just that version?

2. What to buy? There are so many different packaging options that my head is spinning. So far I think we are going to get her a Trainer Kit to see if she even likes to play the game (but aren't set on this if this is not the way to start). That comes with 2x 30 card decks for around $10. Can those cards be used outside of that kit? Can other cards be added to that kit or are these kits stand alone? I also see that there are decks of 60 cards for $12-$15. But then I see that the card packs seem to be $3-$5 for 10 cards. So the decks seem like a deal compared to the packs but are they lacking playability if the packs cost more for the same amount of cards? Or is the cost difference the chance for the special cards? Then there are the Expert Trainer boxes. Are they better or are they trying to sell fancier cards? What about all the foils and holo cards offered in the fancy boxes with multiple packs inside. Are they worth the price for the playability?

3. Should I even look at buying a collection or large lot off of Ebay or Craigslist? It seems like there are some per-card deals out there but I'm worried about playability if all of the cards are junk or different or older versions from craigslist (from #1 above). Is it better to buy better cards in a collection for better playability to know what you are getting? There is a 225 card lot for $200 obo on craigslist right now (cards are listed and photographed). If the cards are ok (strength or whatever), is that a better way than buying decks or packs? I'm thinking playability here, not mustachianism here. We will decide how much we will spend on this as we get a better grasp on it. Tips to know what the 'good' cards are? Is that all based on $ value? Or is there another way to tell what makes a 'good' card, 'good'.

4. I collected baseball cards so I know there is value in the cards. Should I start from the beginning teaching her about the value or condition of the cards. I supposed part of this might come from if we pay $10 for a trainer kit or $25 to get a special foil card boxes or such. Right now we are more concerned about the game aspect for her but I could see where the value and condition could offer some good lessons. Especially going forward as she will probably ask for packs for presents if she gets into this like we think she will.

I know there are 4 bullet points with a hundred questions in there. We are pretty overwhelmed and looking for any direction we can get. Thanks!


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Pokemon Card Game Questions
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2016, 12:10:49 PM »
I'm not an expert as my kids just started collecting pokemon cards.
But if you've collected cards before, then you may be familiar with the idea of card inflation.
over time, each new set has higher average power in the stats like HP and damage.
It means that playing older cards will decrease your odds of winning against decks composed of newer cards.

But this doesn't really matter from a mustache POV.
just acquire the decks that look fun to your kid and play them at home.
definitely don't spend real money on this hobby.

generally, you want to buy the two player trainer deck to see if you find it fun.
if you do, then 1 theme deck with 60 cards can increase the fun.

yeah, my wife spent $40 on cards from craigslist.
I think it's good to buy a collection from some kid that grew out of it.
I'll probably have my kids sell their cards on CL when they're done with them.

you can try for another way to shop cheap packs.
i think many of the cards sold on there are fraudulent copies.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2016, 12:21:38 PM by tonysemail »


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Pokemon Card Game Questions
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2016, 12:38:59 PM »
First disclaimer: nearly every player of any trading card game out there has pissed away a hilarious amount of money on said game.  Especially adults with Real Jobs, but kids too.

I'd figure out what to do if your daughter is interested, but let her decide if she wants to do it and only pull the trigger if you get a solid yes.  If she's not enthusiastic about it, it's definitely not worth it (in dollars or in dealing with thousands of cards).

Second disclaimer: I'm sure we're in a bubble right now for Pokémon anything (due to the success and popularity of Go).  I checked eBay the other day, and the DS games HeartGold and SoulSilver (originally 34.99 games in 2010, remakes of Gold/Silver originally from 2000) are roughly $80 a pop at the moment.

I played the Pokémon TCG from about 1999 to 2001 (age 8 to 10), and Magic: the Gathering from 2003 to 2005 (age 12 to 14).  They are very similar in a lot of ways on a high-level overview (both published by the same company for a while), with Magic being far more advanced/geared towards adults.

My grandma spent a stupid amount on Pokémon cards for me, and I spent a stupid amount on Magic (luckily quitting when I got my first job or else things could have really gone off the rails).  No idea what my grandma spent on Pokémon (truly don't want to know, I know my parents weren't happy about that), but I was probably north of $1k on Magic.

Third disclaimer: I'm not familiar with the way the new stuff works, but going on how it was in the past and how Magic works, these are my answers to your questions:

1. My guess is that anything recent is compatible with each other, but older cards may not.  There may be certain cutoffs where rule changes/etc make the different "eras" of cards not able to intermingle.  Again, this is a guess, the truth could be a lot different.  Look into this.

2. It looks like the three kinds of packs you're seeing are Trainer Kits (starter pack, basically), prebuilt decks (60 cards, ready to play), and booster packs (10? cards).

The Trainer Kit looks like it's two decks of 30 cards.  This is an introduction to the game, with small decks to help learn (normal decks are 60 cards).  It's probably the best way to learn the game, but the cards it comes with probably aren't great and wouldn't be all that useful for future decks.

Prebuilt decks are 60 cards put together in a playable deck with a particular theme or strategy.  These might be OK, but generally are looked down upon by more experienced players (who all roll their own decks), and are not usually great value (may only have one or two "rare" cards).

Booster Packs are a random assortment of cards of particular rarity (for example: each pack might have 6 "common" cards, 3 "uncommon" cards, and 1 "rare").  These are where you get your "good" cards, but it's all a crapshoot and you have a pretty good chance of opening the pack and getting only 0-1 cards that are useful for you.

None of them are particularly great value, but typically once someone is established, all they will be buying are booster packs, as they will want to create their own decks. 

The best way to handle this would be to have her play with a friend that already has cards, using decks the friend has already made.  Then she'd figure out what she likes and buy her own cards to make her own decks.  That's of course not possible if you don't already know anyone into it.

3. Those bulk packs could be OK, but they could also be total junk.  If you don't know what you're looking at, it's probably best to pass on those.  If you knew someone that knew what they were looking at, you could enlist their help.

4. The "collectible" side and the "playing the game" side are rather different.  Street value of anything in any preconstructed deck of any kind is basically zero, so if you care about collectibility, you'd only be interested in the booster packs.  If she's not into the collectible side of things, there will likely be valuable cards that aren't useful for her particular deck, so she could trade those for equivalent valuable cards that are useful to her.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Pokemon Card Game Questions
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2016, 05:33:57 PM »
Only first generation pokemon appear in pokemon go. To keep the cards in sync with game, buy older 1st generation cards. Pokemon x/y etc etc all have new, different pokemon. I would recommend starting with a big old lot and having fun with it. If you enjoy, maybe just down the rarer original pokemon.

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  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Pokemon Card Game Questions
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2016, 08:26:44 AM »
It might be worth asking if she wants the cards just to collect them, or if she genuinely wants to play the game. If she wants to play, it would be very worthwhile to see if there is any sort of league or meetup or something for other players. You might even go to popular GO locations and ask around. Reason being, it's no fun to play if you have nobody to play with. In fact, if you can find a community of people who play the game, they might be able to give you the best guidance on the game in its current state.

I played years and years ago (circa 2001) and it's very near and dear to my heart because that's how I met my  (now) husband. But I know the game has changed a ton since then (new publisher, new rules, etc.). I had built a fairly good deck 2002 that I tried to play competitively on a whim several years later, and I got obliterated. So I think finding a local community would be your best bet.

I would say grabbing a Trainer deck/kit would be worthwhile as well. They're fairly inexpensive and do a very good job teaching the basics of the game--but you're not going to find any rare cards in them. However, the cards in the Trainer kit are probably compatible other cards, and any deck will have a mix of common and rare cards.

Now if she just wants to collect the cards, your best bet is going to be just buying lots of cards inexpensively off craigslist or eBay or whatever. And ultimately, once she learns more about the game and strategy and wants to continue, you might to source specific cards off eBay or craigslist--it's way more inexpensive then opening packs and packs of cards and crossing your fingers you'll get the cards you'll need. But there is definitely something to be said for the rush of opening a new pack of cards. For many years after I stopped playing, I would buy a pack once or twice a year just to relive the experience.

I wish I had more specific guidance for you, but my knowledge is more than a decade out of date. I don't even know most of the Pokemon anymore, let alone the intricacies of the card game.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2016, 08:37:17 AM by Inaya »


  • Bristles
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Re: Pokemon Card Game Questions
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2016, 04:01:10 PM »
I'm posting to update our experience in case anybody else is interested. I picked up a trainer set for $10 on the way home after posting this question. It was 2 half decks of 30 cards that included a scripted game in order to learn how to play and how things work. This went over REALLY well with my daughters. My youngest, 9, is the most into Pokemon and my oldest, 12, really loved the strategy part of the game. The middle liked it, but being the middle, she was more concerned about losing 4 times in a row :-) They quickly grew a bit bored with the trainer's half decks as it was so limited in play. So I ordered everybody in the family their own themed deck. For the kids I got a version that included 1 pack of cards for $15 each and my wife and I regular decks for $13 each. This was a bit more expensive for us as we needed to have 2 decks to play the game, and to stem fights. But it is a game that brings face to face family interaction and strategic thinking so we deemed it worth it. We have been playing the game like crazy since we got the decks. Even the neighbors are getting in on it. My oldest also found out that another friend plays and they are wanting to get together to play now. These theme decks aren't the best as they are heavy on 'not very good' Pokemon and light on Trainers. But a good value and they are easy to play if a neighbor comes over.

There are definitely 2 aspects to these cards: collecting and playing. The "collectible" cards are all sparkly with foil, holograms, reverse holograms, full art etc. They are generally the exact same cards, ability wise, just blinged out. So if you are simply looking to play the game, these $20-$30-$50+ cards aren't needed at all. Every year they put out a set based on the decks of winners of the Pokemon World Championships. Looking through their card lists, they aren't using the sparkly cards. They mainly use the 'Trainer' cards that allow you to look through your deck or perform certain tasks that help you get the Pokemon you built your deck around into play. A handful of actual Pokemon character cards are used but looking on ebay, most of those can be purchased, in their regular versions, for less than $5 each. Many of the seemingly powerful Trainer cards can be had, 4 of them for $1-$2 with shipping included. It seems that having 4 of many individual cards is desired to improve your odds of drawing one out of your shuffled deck of 60. These low prices seem to come about from dealers opening cases of cards looking for the rare & sparkly cards and end up with a ton of 'other' cards left over that they are nearly giving away to create space. So it seems that buying exactly what you want off of ebay seems to be the way to go to build your decks. Packs are generally around $4 for 10 cards. If I can buy cards I really want for 25 or 50 cents each, that is a better deal. Even if it means spending $2-$5 for a few of the good Pokemon if you choose to go the deck building route. Once we get a better handle on the game, we could spend $10-$20 on some select trainer cards and we could build our existing theme decks up really good. At least for playing among ourselves. If we played competitively outside of our sets, we would most likely lose to those with more powerful Pokemon that aren't included in the theme decks.

Opening packs are fun, and I'm sure we will get some as presents or a treat from time to time but they are not the most efficient way to actually play the game. But I remember the fun of opening packs when I collected baseball cards as a kid but damn, $4 a pack? You could almost buy half of a box for that when I collected cards!

The box sets seem like just a way for them to make more money. They do things like putting 4 packs in a box with a special sparkly card or two for $20-$25. 4 packs would normally sell for $16 so they are selling those couple of sparkly cards for $4-$9. But I suppose they are special or something. Sometimes they include a plastic figurine, over sized card (that can't be played) or a pin, which I guess would be ok if a kid really wanted it but it seems like you are just overpaying for the packs to get extra junk.


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Pokemon Card Game Questions
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2016, 05:51:59 PM »
If they intend to play for fun with kids at school, be warned that kids (9-12 year olds) will often make up new rules to slant the game to "win" your kids best cards. (e.g., sucker them by stating they know the rules)  I have seen this happen a few times, now...  So be prepared for someone to come home missing their "best" cards..

In other words -- opening packs is fun,   playing can be fun, but keep the money low.


  • Bristles
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Re: Pokemon Card Game Questions
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2016, 09:46:56 AM »
Nearly every penny of my discretionary spending between 8 and 18 went toward collectible card games, but I have no regrets!  It was a great way to make friends, learn about bartering, and amuse myself for countless hours.  Also... I didn't have much money during those years!

Now that I'm all grown up and have real income, I don't buy cards anymore.  I definitely support my kids saving up their spare change to buy them.  Our sons 9th birthday was this week, and when he got a box of pokemon cards, every kid at the party immediately got ridiculously excited.  They made him stop unwrapping the other presents until they checked every card in the box!

When we moved from Ohio to Utah, on the first day we arrived in an unfamiliar city, he had half a dozen neighbor kids gathering around to check out his collection.

As far as what to buy, for the first purchase I'd suggest buying 'decks' rather than random cards.  I think they run about $13/deck, and come out of the box ready to play.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Pokemon Card Game Questions
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2016, 10:44:11 AM »
I may have missed it in your post -- how old is your daughter?

All three of my kids play. The older ones started around age 6 with a small deck that we inherited from their cousin.

It has been tons of fun. They saved their allowance and bought decks from Target. It was really fun for my kids to pick out the decks from Target themselves.

I personally would let it be more child-led. It's great fun and the money lesson for us has come in the form of saving up money for something you really want. My kids value cards for their attack points (or whatever they're called) and special powers.

Things happen to cards. Older kids trick you. At camp there were even counterfeit cards (photocopies!!) but the younger kids fell for it. An entire deck got run through the laundry and was completely ruined. In my opinion best to keep the money low and let your child lead.