The Pokemon trading card game has been a beloved hobby for generations of kids and adults. The cards depict the characters and attacks from the popular animated series, and are a fun way to battle friends or spend time with family. The game also includes a variety of Energy cards and Trainer cards that give players different strategies to try. New cards are released often, primarily to coincide with the release of a new season of the television show or the latest video game. New sets of boosters are usually called a “generation” or “series,” though kids may refer to them simply as “new cards.”
A typical Pokemon card contains the character’s name, its hit points (or HP), its moves and other important details. The HP is how much damage the Pokemon can take before being knocked out; the moves are its actions, and each move can do varying amounts of damage. The card will also list its weakness, resistance and retreat cost, which denote what types of moves or effects a Pokemon is weak to, whether it can take extra damage from certain attacks and how much you must pay to bring the Pokemon back into play.
Other information on a card may include the player’s and opponent’s names, the rules of the game, the set in which it was released and any special conditions that affect the Pokemon during the battle. These special conditions can be anything from being Asleep or Burned to Confused or Paralyzed, and are indicated by either turning the card (Asleep, Burned or Paralyzed) or putting a special marker on the card (Confused or Poisoned).
While some cards may have detailed descriptions of their use, most of them simply provide a basic outline. The top of the card contains the name of the card, and beneath that is a small table with all the information on the card. The first row outlines the card’s type: A basic card is a base, and then there are two rows that tell you which type of Pokémon it is. The second row tells you the Pokemon’s evolution level — for example, piplup is a basic and prinplup is a stage 1. The third row outlines its attack types and any other effects or costs associated with the card.
In addition to the standard card layout, some cards have holographic art on them, which is highly sought after by collectors. These are usually limited editions, and can cost ten times more than a regular card.
To create a new set of Pokemon trading cards, a team of designers, artists and playtesters work full time to come up with ideas for cards and ensure they are balanced for all levels of skill. The process involves three phases: coming up with the idea for a card, commissioning artwork and testing the cards with the current TCG rules. The playtesters, who range in skill from beginners to expert players, submit reports and have meetings, and the feedback can lead to changes such as lowering attack damage or bumping up HP.