On this page you will find all terminology associated with the Pokémon TCG and their definitions. Please let us know in the comment section whether something is missing or incorrect, as we will add/fix it immediately.
Some Pokémon have an ability, which can be found on the card in a red font. Each ability can usually be used once per turn, but there are abilities that can be used multiple times in a turn. Some abilities are active constantly and don’t have to be activated by the player.
Abilities can be removed by other abilities or stadium/item/supporter cards. Once a constant removal of abilities is present, the player is subject to an Ability lock.
A special item card introduced in the Boundaries Crossed expansion that is currently only legal in expanded and Legacy. Because these items cards are so strong, there is only 1 allowed in a deck. In total there are 13 Ace spec cards to choose from.
Some Pokémon have an ancient trait which gives them additional abilities, for example Entei is able to hold two Pokémon tool cards with its ancient trait. Unlike regular abilities, ancient traits can not be shut down.
A deck that utilizes one set structure, although various players may have slight differences between their own decks of the same archetype.
Some attacks have an additional effect to them, either positive or negative. For example, a positive effect of Jolteon EX, is that its attack cause for basic Pokémon to no longer being able to attack it. An example of a negative effect is the effect on Volcanion EX’s attack, which doesn’t allow it to use the same attack again next turn. Pokémon Ranger can remove effects, but can not prevent them from happening.
Some decks do not stand a single chance to win against other specific decks. If a player is matched with such a counter deck, it is considered an auto-loss.
The first set to be released in a series of sets. For example, the XY base set was the first set to be released in the XY series.
The first Pokémon within an evolution chain. However, not all basic Pokémon can evolve.
Best card in the format.
Best deck in the format.
A Pokémon that remains on the Bench only to use its ability (e.g. Garbodor, Vileplume).
A player loses the game (early) when the active Pokémon is knocked-out, and there are no additional Pokémon on the bench.
When a certain amount of points doesn’t secure a spot in the top cut. For example there are five players with 30 points and one doesn’t make the cut or in other words, one of the 30s will bubble.
BREAK cards allow for an additional evolution, even for stage2 Pokémon. They are known to have unique attacks and abilities. They can be identified by their unique gold style of design.
Another term for dead drawing.
Some Pokémon or trainer cards can burn the opponent’s active Pokémon. When a Pokémon is burned, put two damage counters on the Pokémon between turns. After the damage has been applied, a coin flip will determine if the burn will be cured. If heads, the burn is cured, if tails the burn remains.
Automatically winning a round, usually because of having no opponent. Depending on when you get a bye it hurts your resistance. The best time to get a bye is the first round.
Some decks are not very well balanced in the Pokémon and trainer cards department, making the deck somewhat clunky. A clunky deck has an increased chance of getting a dead hand and having bad consistency.
Each player must have a coin when playing a competitive match for coin flips.
At the start of each game a coin toss determines which player can choose who may have the first turn. During the game coin flips can be applied for several events as well (e.g. attack effects, additional damage, special condition removal etc.).
The lowest of all rarity in the Pokémon TCG. Common cards have a circle in the right (or left) bottom corner.
Some Pokémon or trainer cards can confuse the opponent’s active Pokémon. If the active Pokémon that is confused attacks, flip a coin. If heads, the attack proceeds, if tails the Pokémon does 30 damage to itself. A Confused Pokémon is turned upside down.
How often you are getting good hands and constantly being able to draw cards. The more of a certain type of card you have in your deck, the higher the chance you will get that card when you need it.
Championship Points, the official points you earn at Play! Pokemon tournaments. You need to earn a certain amount of CP depending on your region and division to get your World’s invite.
The primary way of taking out your opponent’s Pokémon and win the game is by causing damage. If the same amount of damage (or more) is done as the amount of HP of the opponent’s Pokémon, it is knocked out. Abilities, trainer cards and tools may increase or decrease damage.
One damage counter is equivalent to 10 damage. If an attack states “put three damage counters on the active Pokémon” it is different from normal damage, as this type of damage can not be stopped or reduced, whereas normal damage can be.
The worst condition a card can be in. Damaged cards look horrific and are (often) not legal for official tournament play. Damaged cards also have the lowest value of all conditions.
A double colorless (special) energy. This special energy card provides two colorless energy and can be used for any type of Pokémon.
A double dragon (special energy). Counts as two energy like a DCE, but can only be used for Dragon type Pokémon. The DDE will also fill the role of any energy type needed for an attack, whereas the DCE only accounts for colorless type of energy.
When the player’s hand doesn’t allow the player to make any move, the hand is deemed dead.
A deck always contains 60 cards and is used for competing against other players. Each deck can only consist of 4 of the same cards. A deck can consist of Pokémon, trainer cards and energy cards.
A game is lost when a player is unable to draw a card on his/her turn.
Trying to draw as much cards as possible to get the card you need.
All the cards that have been played or discarded from the player’s hand are stored in the discard pile, including knocked out Pokémon and removed item cards. Some cards allow the player to retrieve cards from the discard pile (e.g. VS Seeker).
Some Pokémon or trainer cards allow the player to disrupt the opponent’s play (e.g. removing energy or cards from your opponent). Some deck specialise in this strategy.
Knocking out lone / all of your opponent’s pokémon in play on the first couple of turns in the game.
Abilities or trainer cards that allow for drawing more cards in your hand (e.g. Shaymin EX’s Set up, Sycamore, N).
A card that can be attached to your Pokémon which allows you to use the attack equivalent to the energy cost of the attack.
To be able to attack most Pokémon have an energy cost. For example, Shaymin EX needs a DCE to use its attack “Sky return”.
A strategy that is applied to win the game by primarily removing your opponent’s energy.
Many Pokémon can evolve but have to wait a turn when placed on the bench. There are some Pokemon that can evolve directly and some trainer cards allow faster evolutions as well. Evolving your Pokémon is beneficial as the next stage usually has more HP and more damage output than its predecessor.
The Expanded format of the Pokémon Trading Card Game is one of two formats used for officially-sanctioned Play! Pokémon events. It was added to the Standard format in the 2014-2015 season. It allows a greater number of expansions than Standard format but is not as unpredictable in card combinations as Unlimited format. It is also used in the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online.
EX cards are strong Pokémon cards with usually more HP and damage than regular cards. When a Pokémon EX is knocked out, your opponent takes two prize cards instead of one.
A term used to search your deck for a specific type of card, some examples are Ultra Ball, which can fetch a pokemon, and Hoopa EX which can fetch you 3 EX Pokémon.
Fighting Fury Belt.
Some cards have a Full Art version which usually is rarer and more valuable than the normal version.
Good game! Usually stated by the winning player. The losing player might prefer to use the counterpart of GG, which is BG (Bad game!).
It is not legal but it happens a lot when you and your opponent can’t afford a tie and you and your opponent makes an agreement on prizes or board state to determine the winner in case of a tie. We do not condone this action because it is illegal to ask your opponent to scoop, but it is legal for people to scoop voluntarily.
Going back in
When a player uses a search item right after another so you dont have to reshuffle (e.g. Ultra ball then Level ball).
Introduced in the Sun & Moon series, GX Pokémon are deemed strong Pokémon and usually have more HP and damage potential than regular Pokémon cards. GX Pokémon are also the only Pokémon that can use a special GX attack, which can only be used once per game. When a GX Pokémon is knocked out, your opponent takes two prize cards. Unlike EX Pokémon which are always basic, GX Pokémon can also be Stage1 and Stage2 Pokémon.
When playing a competitive match both players are deemed to have a GX amulet to indicate of a GX attack is still available. If the GX attack has been used, the amulet will be flipped on its back to give an indication that no GX attack can be used from this point.
A player is “Hexed” when the opponent plays the supporter card Hex Maniac. The player will not be able to use abilities for one turn.
Some cards have a holographic addition to them to make them look better. These are usually rare cards but can also be included with any rarity or promo.
A rarity level added in the Sun & Moon expansion. Hyper rare cards are even rarer than Ultra rare cards, and usually have a rainbow type of color palette.
Intentional Draw, when both players decide to not play the match and agree on a tie, but a player can also offer an ID during a match. Reasons for IDing are: when both players already secured enough points for top cut, certain matchups that usually end up in a tie anyways like Greninja or Wailord Mirror, or when friends face one another and a loss will knock one out but both still have a chance for top cut with a tie.
Items can infinitely be played for several benefits such as “fetching” and draw support.
Not being able to play items from an ability or effect of attack. There are also other forms of lock in the game like Special Energy lock with Giratina-EX.
A voluntarily overseer that roams tournament areas to maintain a healthy competitive environment. When a conflict arises between players a judge can be called upon to decide in favor of one of the two players. To become a judge one must pass on a test primarily about the rules of the Pokémon TCG. More info on becoming a judge can be found on the official Pokémon website.
Knocking out your opponent’s Pokémon will earn you prize cards and will win the game if no prize cards remain. There are many ways of knocking-out Pokémon, Damage from attacks and trainer cards and effects are examples. There are other ways of winning games as well (e.g. mill, energy denial).
The newest format is the Legacy format. Even though it is the newest format, it contains the oldest cards. Not only are the old Black & White sets included in this format, the even older Heartgold & Soulsilver sets are included as well. This format is currently not used for official Play! Pokémon tournaments.
Pokémon TCG League Cup tournaments are smaller events that give players an opportunity to earn Championship Points and practice their skills for larger competitions.
A pokemon that is a detriment when on the board, best example is Shaymin EX.
The “meta” is referring to what are the strongest strategies currently in the Pokémon TCG.
Playing a specific deck not because it is a good deck but to counter the predicted meta.
Introduced in the XY series, Mega EX Pokémon are an evolution of basic Pokémon EX and often contain even more HP and damage output than regular EX Pokémon. When you evolve a Pokémon EX to a Mega Pokémon EX your turn ends, unless there is a Spirit Link attached to the Pokémon EX, which prevents a turn end.
A strategy that revolves around discarding cards from your opponent’s deck.
The best condition a card can be in, which is a flawless card.
Sometimes players get matched up against players that use the same deck. Smart players include cards in their decks that would give them the upper-hand in mirror matches, especially if the deck is popular.
Making a mistake.
If your starting hand does not contain a basic Pokémon, you have to reshuffle until it does. For each re-shuffle your opponent is allowed to take a mulligan, which is an additional card to the starting hand.
A card condition almost as good a mint, but with some minor flaws (e.g. scuff marks).
Using an exact known list found online.
A player that is fairly new to the game and therefore not very skilled.
Knocking out your opponent’s Pokémon with a single attack (one-hit knockout).
A deck being able to set up faster than the opposing deck.
Paired Down/ Paired Up:
Being paired against someone with a lower or higher record than you. Being paired down hurst resistance for obvious reasons and being paired up helps your resistance.
Some Pokémon and trainer cards can paralyze the opponent’s active Pokémon. When a Pokémon is paralyzed, it can not attack or retreat. The paralyze can be removed by switching the active Pokémon or to use specific trainer cards. The paralyze condition is removed after the turn. A Paralyzed Pokémon is turned sideways (usually clockwise).
Pokemon Center Lady.
A form of shuffling by making a few piles of cards, mostly a pile of 6 so you can easily check if you have 60 cards in your deck before a match.
Four of the same cards is considered a Playset because a deck allows a maximum of four cards of the same name to be used.
Play! Pokémon (P!P)
The official tournament system which allows players to win various prizes.
A card condition with some minor damages. Cards in this condition are notably messed around with.
Some Pokémon and trainer cards can poison the opponent’s active Pokémon. When a Pokémon is poisoned, put one damage counter on the Pokémon between turns. The poison can be removed by either switching the active Pokémon, or use specific trainer cards.
The most awesome community platform for Pokémon TCG players and collectors, and also the site you are currently on!
Comporable to a Poké power or ability, but is always in effect and can not be activated whenever a player wants to. Poké body was used in some of the older sets of (e.g. Diamond & Pearl, Platinum series).
The term used for ability in older sets of the TCG. Poké power was used in some of the older sets of (e.g. Diamond & Pearl, Platinum series).
In a TCG match, each player starts with six prize cards. Each time a Pokémon gets knockout out, the player takes a prize card and puts it into his hand. The first player to run out of prize cards wins. Some Pokémon (e.g. EX and GX) give two prize cards when knocked out.
Cards that are rare have a star shape in the bottom right corner. Booster packs usually contain at least one rare card.
Also referred to as Hyper rare, Rainbow rare cards were introduced in the Sun & Moon set and have a rainbow color palette and are deemed the highest rarity in the S&M sets. Only Pokémon can be Hyper rare cards.
A big tournament in which winners can earn a lot of CP that can earn them an invite to the World’s Championship. As the name suggest, the tournaments are held in specific regions. Throughout the year there are a lot of Regional tournaments available around the globe, but mostly in the United States.
This happens when there is something wrong with the pairing and some players are paired with a different player for the round. Common mistakes are when a player is paired up with the same player they faced in a previous round, or when two players get a bye.
In tournament-terms, how often you win your games and how often your opponents win their games. The higher your resistance, the higher your standing will be compared to other players with the same record as you.
In Pokémon card terms, most Pokémon have a resistance to a specific type of other Pokémon. Resistance decreases the damage done to the Pokémon by 20 hit points.
Being able to know when, how, or if to play certain resources in a specific situation is an important aspect of a Pokémon TCG match.
Reverse holo cards have a holographic addition to them but not on the artwork as is the case with regular holo cards, but on the rest of the card. A booster pack usually contains one random Reversed holo card than can be a common, uncommon or rare card.
A deck that is not seen in the metagame. It is always fun to play rogue decks because it allows for creativity and gives you a surprise factor.
When several sets become illegal to use in the Standard Format starting on a certain date.
Using a particular card in a deck (e.g. running three Tapu Lele GX).
Scooping is another word for conceding during a game or before a match. Sometimes scooping to an opponent is smart to potentially fix the top cut in your favor.
Cards that are considered highly rare and “hidden” usually outside of the original set count (e.g. 111/110).
When a player attacks Pokémon on the opponent’s bench it is called sniping.
Your active Pokémon can have multiple special conditions which can be caused by both attacks and trainer cards (e.g. burned, paralyzed, poisoned, confused).
Special energy not only provide the Pokémon with energy to attack, the contain an additional benefit. For example, Strong energy give fighting type Pokémon an additional 20 damage.
Attacking multiple Pokémon on your opponent’s bench at the same time.
To protect Pokémon cards during and outside of play, cards are best put into protective sleeves.
The Standard format of the Pokémon Trading Card Game is one of two formats used for officially-sanctioned Play! Pokémon events along with Expanded format. It was called the Modified format prior to the 2013-2014 season. It is also used in the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online.
A card that is placed in the center of the game, which contain various effects and abilities. When another stadium card is played, the old stadium card is removed. A stadium card can not be removed with the same stadium card. There are several other ways to remove stadium cards with attacks and trainer cards. An example of a stadium card is Rough Seas, which allows for both players to heal 30 damage from their water and lightning type Pokémon.
Purposely playing slowly to run-down the clock, illegal in tournaments. In the rules it says you have to make an action every 15 seconds.
A major item of trade in steady demand. In the Pokémon TCG this accounts for trainer cards that are used in every single deck.
Regular Pokémon start as a basic Pokémon. When they evolve, they become a stage 1 Pokémon. Some Pokémon can evolve a second time which consequently makes them a stage 2 Pokémon.
Supporter cards are trainer cards that may only be played once per turn. Because of this constraint, supporter cards are often more impactful than item cards, which can be played infinitely.
Although not saliently present in the game as item lock or ability lock, some cards/items can cause for a supporter lock (e.g. Sableye, Exeggutor). Hence, no supporter cards can be played when this lock is in place.
To quickly be able to constantly get out multiple lines of your attacker out at once (e.g. Passimian).
The system used in Play! Pokémon tournaments to determine your opponent in each round, before top cut. Your opponent is determined by how many wins and losses both you and your opponent have. No player can play the same opponent twice during Swiss rounds.
Either taking a lot less damage from an attack or being able to consistently heal off any damage done to a Pokemon. Tanks usually can do lots of damage, but are slow.
Pokémon can be played both in real life and online. To play online there is an official Pokémon TCG Online app that can be used on desktop, android and iOS.
A specific card added into a deck to be used only for a specific matchup. For example, adding Vaporeon with the ability that all your Pokémon are also water type Pokémon, is a tech card specifically implemented in the deck for a matchup with Volcanion EX.
Tier 1 Deck
A tier 1 deck is considered to be part of the top in the meta. A tier 2 deck is still deemed good, but obviously not as good as a tier 1 deck.
A condition a player might be in after losing games and not being able to draw cards that are needed or winning any coin flips. Players that are in Tilt mode often make irrational decisions and are easy to beat.
A term used for decks that includes Pokémon to counter certain decks, a good example is the Decidueye GX build with Rainbow energy.
Can be attached to both active and benched Pokémon for various benefits. Fighting Fury Belt is an example, which grants an additional 40 HP and 10 more damage to the Pokémon it is attached to. There are several ways to remove tool cards, Field Blower is an example.
The highest ranking players in the tournament’s Swiss rounds play each other in a best-two-out-of-three single elimination game to determine the winner of the tournament, which usually is a top 8.
Drawing the right card, the exact moment you need it, also applied when you have a dead hand putting you in top deck mode every draw.
In addition to Pokémon and energy cards a deck consists of several trainer cards. Examples of trainer cards are supporters, items, and stadiums. Trainer cards can have several benefits for you or several detriments for your opponent. Some trainer cards are used in every single deck which are also known as “Staples”.
Something bad, like a trash deck or a card being trash.
An in game mechanic for searching any card in your deck (e.g. Talonflame’s Aero Blitz attack, Teammates, Computer Search, etc.).
A Pokémon always consists of a specific type. For example, Charizard is a fire type Pokémon.
Even rarer than rare. Ultra rare cards are considered some of the rarest and strongest cards in the game (e.g. EX and GX).
The 2nd lowest of all rarity in the Pokémon TCG. Uncommon cards have a diamond shape in the right bottom corner.
Almost all Pokémon have a weakness to a specific type of other Pokémon. Weakness multiplies the damage done to the Pokémon by 2. There a multiple ways of removing weakness, a Pokémon tool card named Weakness policy is an example.
Not being able to draw a certain card.
The biggest tournament held once a year. Players need to earn a certain amount of CP depending on your region and division to get your World’s invite.