Pokémon TCG Online is a free-to-play trading card game available on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac. It contains a single player mode called Trainer Challenge which unlocks three theme decks (Born of Fire, Crushing Current, and Hidden Depths), a free versus mode Psychic theme deck (Mental Might), and online tournaments. The game features daily rewards and Versus Mode prizes. Just remember to check your collection for unopened booster packs! I didn’t see any links from rewards to the pack so it took me some time to realize I had earned some boosters. Talk about a shot to the arm once I did! The filters in the game are great for Deck building and make organization much easier than a physical binder. The game’s mechanics follow the card game exactly. This means there are times you’ll mulligan a hand which doesn’t contain a basic Pokémon card. You think they could program the game to always draw at least 1 basic Pokémon, 1 Energy, and let the game begin! Still, this enforcement of realism does teach players all the mechanics of the physical game. Pokémon TCG Online requires an internet connection.
Time: You can play Pokémon Trading Card Game Online for as long as you want. Games usually take about ten minutes. A game can take as little as 1 minute if you defeat the one basic Pokémon your opponent has before they draw something else. The game has a timer which maxes out at 50 minutes (25 per player) and the game does punish taking too long to finish your turn by introducing a faster and faster turn timer on offenders. The game feels fair but flows less well than Hearthstone in terms of pacing animations.
Pros and Cons: The Pokémon Trading Card Game Online has all the fun of the offline version. You can trade your digital cards! It also has the same disappointments which occur in Magic the Gathering if you don’t draw any lands, or, in Pokémon’s case, Energy. Sometimes your draw is so bad you just take a beating. That’s true in any card game, yet I’ve always had issues with the lack of a mechanic to make the game more thrilling. Some cards fix this problem by allowing card draw or searching your deck for Energy. Still, you have to draw those cards too! The game is excellent at what it does mechanically and the rewards feel fair. Time and money spent feel like solid investments. My only real complaint is the trainer portraits don’t match the Pokémon aesthetic, which is off-putting. I’d expect an Anime rather than an American cartoon avatar. Not a big deal if you enjoy the gameplay, battle effects and music. My other complaint is user-friendliness. I would like the game to warn me when cards won’t do anything. I’m looking at you, Trainer cards! Read the fine print of every card. Trust me.
Overall Impression: If you love Pokémon or trading card games, the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online is a solid choice. It’s family-friendly, helps kids learn to play complex games, and doesn’t shout in your face to buy cards. If you don’t like Pokémon or TCG’s, then the Pokémon TCG Online isn’t for you.
- Think twice before playing Trainer cards - You can use 1 per turn. Make sure to read the fine print of each card because sometimes your Pokémon’s evolution is in your prize pool and isn’t available!
- Logging out of the game or closing it will not destroy your progress – Thankfully the Pokémon TCG Online has good connectivity, even with my poor Trainer Challenge matches will reload if you left or closed the app in the middle of a match. It does take time to load! So a live match against a player is probably lost when you’ve managed to return.
- Deck Building tip 101: have strong basic Pokémon cards – If you’re new to the game, just include Snorlax and Kangaskhan in your decks. They are strong Basics which can buy you time for your win condition or be your win condition. Also, the better your start is the worse off your opponent will be. I couldn’t quite get a good combo in the 1998 Pokémon TCG Gameboy game. So I beat the game using Hitmonchan and other strong basics to destroy weaker ones. The final Elite Four member didn’t even get a Dragonair out. The jabs were too much to take!
- Don’t play Expanded versus mode unless you have a great, new deck – I tried it out. First match I was crushed by two Alolan Ninetails GX. The opponent let me take five prizes just for fun. The theme decks are useless in the current meta unless you play in the Theme Deck versus mode.
- General Deck Building – You want about 24 Pokemon cards, 18 Trainers, and 18 Energy. This composition allows for several winning strategies, an excellent chance to draw into a helpful card, and enough Energy in case several of your Pokemon are knocked out or remove their energy. Always include card drawing cards and other Trainer cards which enhance your strategy!
I hope the review and tips help you out, dear reader! Team Rocket’s blasting off again!
Links: The App Store link is https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pok%C3%A9mon-tcg-online/id841098932?mt=8 and the home website and forum are at http://forums.pokemontcg.com/.
Disclaimer: I’m not being paid by The Pokémon Company or anyone else to write these tips. The only money I could make would be through advertising on this site or on YouTube at this point in time. I don't take responsibility for the content on sites linked to from this article.
by Brian Petrilli AKA Jalinon