Hello all, as @Easy brought up in a previous a thread a few of us have taken to this game quite a bit. The online game reflects the paper version very well with all the mechanics in place. The pace of the game is fairly quick and rather than being tempo focused it uses more combo based decks in its meta. So I thought i'd put together a short starter guide for anyone who wants to get into it or play it in their spare time.
Shout out to @smather for the title
The game can be downloaded from the pokemon website here and can be played as a guest but i'd advise creating an account on the website first. The game can be played in paper form (of course), on PC, iOS and Android the last two being tablet only.
Decks, packs and other in game items
In game items can not be purchased in game full stop. All in game items that are purchased are done so with tokens that you can earn via various means but the best ways seem to be to just log on each day to get consecutively better rewards, complete daily challenges, complete trainer challenges and win matches.
If you want to purchase packs with wonga you have to buy the paper product which work in the following way:
- Booster packs have a code inside which will give you a redemption code for an online randomised booster pack of the same level.
- By same level I mean that booster packs have 2 different types of codes in them green and white. Green codes are pulled from packs containing a reverse holographic / normal rare pack and will give you the equivalent online. White codes are found in packs that give holo rare / EX & GX / Full Art Holo / Break / Secret Rares and again will give you the equivalent type of pack. Both code cards weigh different amounts so that packs can't be weighed to find the more expensive cards with more holographic print.
- Theme decks are a like starter decks and good for expanding your collection quickly. They come with a static code that will replicate the deck on your online account.
- Blister packs that contain promo cards will come with a code to replicate the promo card and the promo coin found in the pack if it contains one.
Once you've signed up, downloaded the client and logged in you'll be presented with a tutorial which you'll have to complete. This will teach you the core gameplay so I won't go into the mechanics and everything after this point i'll expect you to know these.
When finished you'll likely want to dive right into VS mode but i'd advise against that as your cards at this point will be limited unless you've bought a tonne of packs before hand and redeemed them all. The best thing to do is to start your Trainer Challenges.
Trainer challenges have 3 tiers and plenty of deck types to beat. Each AI opponent can be beaten with 1 deck but beat them with 4 different decks (represented as stars) and you'll receive a free booster pack. You may not have 4 pre-built decks at this point so win as many as you can before progressing to the next challenger and you'll earn product and tokens based on the challenges the game sets you as you move along.
As you play your account's pre-built decks they will level up with each win and new, more powerful cards will be added to the deck / your collection.
Once you've progressed through the challenges and built up a card collection you'll notice that play has been evolving and becoming less static so you'll want to start building your own decks. Your initial deck types will likely be determined by what colours your best or most consistently strong creatures are in. Below are a few tips to starting out.
Trainers are the best cards in the game. Some types of trainer you can play once and some you can play as many as you want. They don't have a cost however and allow you to setup many plays in the game, they are the backbone of the TCG and should have the most time spent on them when it comes to balancing.
Pokemon are necessary to win, you have to output damage somehow. Meta decks run absolutely minimal (around 4 - 6) but incredibly strong EX / GX pokemon. From the outset we're likely to run more as you collect more powerful Pokemon you want to aim to trim your deck to around 12 or less creatures. I personally run 16 at the moment but i'm constantly adding more and less based on what strength my collection of creatures is at.
When starting out you need to consider evolution lines. You can only play basic pokemon directly onto the field but these will be your weakest creatures unless you have some special EX / GX cards so we have to consider the amount of creatures we should play in each point in the evolution line. I follow the following rule of thumb:
Stage 1: 2-2, 3-3, 3-2, 4-4, 4-3
Stage 2: 1-1-1, 2-1-2, 3-2-3, 4-2-4, 3-1-3, 4-1-4
The numbers reflect each stage and how much of that stage you should have based on how many of the creatures you want to play and how you judge their power levels based on your strategy to win.
For example a classic stage 1 line would be Pikachu and Raichu. If I highly value This evo line but feel Raichu is a tad expensive energy wise and I have 3 copies of each i'm likely going to put a 3-2 in. 3 Pikachu and 2 Raichu. That will make it comfortable enough odds for me to have the basic necessary to execute the evolution and I won't swamp my hand with expensive stage 1 Raichus.
On the other hand you may have a core Stage 2 evolution line that I enjoy playing like myself in the form of Popplio, Brionne and Primarina. The costs of the abilities on these scale nicely in power level and cost plus their health numbers arn't too bad for pretty basic cards. I will run a 3-2-3 of this evolution line because I want to get out of the gates early with it and keep enough consistency to try and reach a comfortable 2 Primarina creatures without over extending and sitting with excess evolutions in hand.
Don't forget some of your creatures may end up as your prize cards so making sure you have access to more of the core creatures is a strong move when you begin playing.
Energy should be kept to a minimal amount at all time. Trainers can seek energy from the deck, recycle it from the graveyard and even attach it directly in some cases. You want to have enough to pull but you don't even want to come close to swamping yourself with energy. I like to run around 16 energy cards at the moment but the meta will have you running around 8 to 11 based on the build. You ideally want to minimise these as much as possible to fit stronger and more varied trainers in.
When starting out play Standard, the sets that are available in standard you'll still find in the shops and it's the most balanced format. As you gain a broader selection of cards you can dip into other formats which, as you can imagine with a large card pool makes the game very different. The sets available in standard are:
- Primal Clash
- Roaring Skies
- Ancient Origins
- Fates Collide
- Steam Siege
- Sun & Moon
- Guardians Rising (Out in May)
The Golden Rule
The golden rule in any TCG. Do not exceed 60 cards at all, ever, under any circumstance. You will never succeed with 61+ cards as you're watering down your chances of pulling your best cards and not all cards are equal no matter how much you convince yourself that they are. This is a trap that new players fall into frequently with any TCG and by going over their minimum deck limit they never pull anything of substance and therefore lose.
Play 1v1 versus a person. Does what it says on the tin.
Yes tournaments exist! Isn't that great They also cost Tickets. Tickets are earned in similar fashions to tokens but are used to get you into these events. Higher level events with better prizes cost more tickets and they start all the way from the theme deck level to legacy level. The further you progress the better prizes you'll get so when you're feeling ready they can be a great way to boost your account.
The most effective way to gain higher level cards is to work the trade market. You can setup private trades with friends or individual users and you can even setup a public listing that people can make offers on. An excellent feature that a lot of people may not be familiar with but it tries to emulate the feeling of turning up to your local game store and showing off your folder to barter for cards you need.
Hopefully this all makes sense to anyone. I've of course skipped the in game mechanics here but it's better to learn as you play the game. The game can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it and even though there is a grind it's nowhere near as hefty as hearthstone's, you'll be earning rewards constantly but of course buying paper product will accelerate your collection much more quickly. If anyone has any questions I will answer as much as I can and if anyone would like to know more about the paper product and what to buy just let me know.