Pokemon TCG, otherwise known as Pokemon Trading Card Game, has been around as long as the video games; both it and Pokemon Blue and Red debuted in Japan in 1996. It didn’t take long for the game to explode worldwide, and millions of fans spent an untold number of hours competing against friends at school, the park or essentially anywhere featuring a flat surface. Becoming a master player consumed people’s lives as they did whatever it took (even at great cost) to build the ultimate deck.

That said, The Pokemon Company graciously released Pokemon TCG Online for the iPad, and while some tweaks need to be made, it’s a cool way to enjoy your favorite game without carrying a bunch of physical cards. 

If by chance you’re a newcomer to TCG, these beginner’s tips will help you learn some of the rules, create a deck and earn free cards.

How to Build a Deck 

Ideally, you should pick a favorite Pokemon and make it the center of your deck. This goes much deeper than saying, “Pikachu is the best,” however. You should analyze the character’s strengths and weaknesses, and from there, add support cards with offense and defense in mind. Always build with a direction, and beyond that, avoid pulling in cards of too many energy types. This will make it tougher to receive the energy card you want. 

On that note, be mindful of the rules. Each deck needs 60 cards, and aside from basic energy cards, you can’t have more than four with the same name. In other words, kiss the dream of 40 Charizards goodbye. Sad, we know. 

From there, practice! Look for cards you don’t need and eliminate them. Even better, ask veteran players for some tips. The TCG community is so big that you’re bound to track down an expert willing to offer some pointers. 

Complete all of the Tutorials

This is without question the easiest way to learn the game. It’ll take a while to get through all of TCG Online’s tutorials, but on the positive side, you’ll earn tokens for your efforts. Now you’re ready to pit your deck against the computer in Trainer Challenge. Switch the difficulty to Easy and collect new decks faster.

Battle Players Online 

Beating up the AI may give you a false sense of confidence real players will immediately shatter. With this in mind, don’t hesitate to match wits and cards against fellow Pokemon players. It’s the best way to improve, but make sure you visit the Collections screen to open and tweak new decks you unlocked. 

Earn Free Cards 

The simplest way to score free cards is to log into TCG Online each day. The game will eventually award you a login bonus in the form of a Basic Orange deck and three booster packs. 

You’ll get an entire deck for finishing the Trainer Challenge after you beat 10 other trainers with it. Feel free to repeat this process for each deck you see, and continue beating computer opponents to permanently unlock these decks.  

Meanwhile, look at the Trainer Score bar during Trainer Challenges to earn more points facing the computer.  Receive a random booster when you earn over 30,000 points. Do this with every single non-player character (NPC) you meet in a league to earn up to three packs for 45 booster packs in total.  The quickest way to max out your booster packs is to play on Expert difficulty. 

Finally, there are free card codes you can enter. Use these codes for a water/normal Rallying Cry deck: FlashFire, PlasmaFreeze, FuriousFists, PlasmaBlast, PlasmaStorm and BoundariesCrossed. 

You can also enter DarkExplorers, DragonsExalted or NextDestinies for a Pokémon EX Hat. 

Earn as Many Tokens as Possible

Tokens are a form of virtual currency in Pokemon TCG Online. You’ll spend Tokens to purchase cards in the shop. A five-card mini booster pack, for instance, costs 95 tokens, while a themed deck will run you 500 tokens. 

The easiest way to get tokens, similar to free cards, is to log into the game every day. Most days this results in 15 tokens, but logging into TCG four straight days will produce a pack of cards. This carries over to multiplayer, where playing against someone else in a match that lasts longer than five minutes results in 10 tokens, regardless of whether you win or lose. On a side note, compete in Expert PvP battles that last five minutes or longer to score one token if you lose, and three if you win. 

We’ll have more Pokemon TCG Online tips next week. For now, download the game for iPad! 

Feel free to give us your best TCG tips.

Find tips for Pokemon TCG and other smartphone and tablet games at Modojo.