Types of Cards
Basic Pokémon are the foundation of all decks. Without them a player cannot play the game, since both players begin the game by placing a Basic Pokémon in the Active position on the field. Each player may have up to six Pokémon on the playing field at a time: one “Active” Pokémon and up to five on the bench. Each Pokémon card has a name, a type, and an amount of Health Points (HP). All Pokémon feature attacks; these typically deal damage to the opponent’s active Pokémon, or occasionally, their benched Pokémon; however, an attack may also perform different functions, such as drawing cards, inflicting Special Conditions, or altering the opponent’s board state. The vast majority of these attacks require Energy, which comes in the form of Energy cards. Abilities are not attacks but simply effects that either are activated under certain conditions, or remain in effect as long as the Pokemon with the Ability remains in play.
Basic Pokémon are Pokémon that have not evolved, and can be played directly onto the Bench. In contrast, an Evolved Pokémon cannot normally be placed directly onto the field; they must be played on top of the corresponding lower-stage Pokémon. Stage 1 Pokémon evolve from Basic Pokémon, and Stage 2 Pokémon evolve from Stage 1 Pokémon. As a Pokémon evolves, it gains HP and its attacks change, typically becoming more powerful. Baby Pokémon are a special kind of Basic Pokémon that have low HP but attack with strange (sometimes very powerful) effects.
Variations of Basic, Evolved, and Baby Pokémon cards have appeared in many sets, usually indicated with a word before or after the Pokémon’s name. Secret Rare Pokémon cards are some of the rarest cards. They are usually represented by a shiny holo foil and a gold outline. These cards include Shiny Pokémon, Trainers, alternate-art Pokémon, and some rarer Mega evolution cards.
Energy cards are attached to a Pokémon to power that Pokémon’s attacks. Typically, only one Energy card may be played per turn. There are two main categories of Energy cards: Basic Energy and Special Energy. Basic Energy cards are used only to fulfill costs for attacking and retreating, while Special Energy cards have additional benefits. Most attacks require a certain type and amount of Energy. If an attack requires a certain type and amount of Energy, then that type and amount of Energy must be attached to the Pokémon.
Trainer cards perform various functions to affect the game: healing Pokémon, discarding energy from the opposing Pokémon, or retrieving cards from the discard pile are some key examples. Trainers are subdivided into categories: Item cards directly affect the battling Pokémon, Stadium cards affect the entire field, and Supporters are like more powerful Items, only one of which can be played per turn.