A Parent’s Guide to Pokemon Trading Cards

I was eight years old when Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures created Pokemon. Yes, Pokemon has been around for a very long time and is one of the few franchises that not only spanned several media outlets (e.g. video games, TV/film, comics, and trading cards), but also maintained a loyal base base spanning generations. “Back in my day”, Pokemon was a franchise only geeks followed; however, with a son of my own now, I have learned that Pokemon is not only still relevant, but it is COOL.

Whether you are a parent with zero idea of what Pokemon is OR if you dabbled in Pokemon in the past (when there were only 150 of them, not 908), it will feel daunting when your child asks for Pokemon cards. When I arrived at a local store, I was flabbergasted by the sheer number of options: booster packs, trainer kits, battle decks, and tins. I didn’t know where to start. Even the name of the booster packs wouldn’t make sense to the average person–Astral Radiance? Chilling Reign? Shining Fates? Vivid Voltage? V, Vmax, V-WHAT, NOW?

What does this all mean, and what are the differences?

I. What’s Your Purpose?

Is your child asking for Pokemon cards to collect or battle? The original purpose of Pokemon cards is for two players to engage in a fun, interactive battle with their 60-card deck. The deck is compromised of Pokemon cards and supplemental cards to support them (e.g. energy, item, trainer cards).

In this case, it would make sense to purchase a battle deck–which generally comes with 60 cards selected to support battling. Yes, there will be lots of duplicates, but that is important when the primary purpose is for playing the game. It is best to start there and save your money on booster packs for until your little Pokemon trainer is ready to supplement since cards found in boosters may or may not support the team they have built.

If your child is more of a collector, booster packs provide wonderful variety and a fun surprise factor in each package. If your child is a fan of a certain Pokemon like Charizard or Pikachu, there are “oversized” card packages which come with a variety of items.

Booster Packs

[Last updated May 11th, 2022]

The latest booster pack available is Sword and Shield: Brilliant Stars; however, Sword and Shield: Astral Radiance will release in the United States on May 27, 2022.

Q: What are booster packs? They currently consist of ten cards, generally made up of Pokemon, an elemental card, a trainer or item card, and a code card. The code card allows people to redeem virtual cards–if that’s your thing. Cards are also designated a rarity via a circle (common), diamond (uncommon), and star (rare). Modern packs generally contain at least one rare and three uncommon cards.

Q: What are the types of rare cards? In this latest series, Sword and Shield, there are V cards. These are more rare, highly coveted cards, as the Pokemon tend to be stronger and come with full art. There are also VMAX cards, Pokemon that evolve from their V form, V-Union, four Pokemon cards combining into one larger card, and VSTAR, Pokemon new to the Brilliant Star expansion. The bottom line is that they are rare, powerful, and beautiful cards.

Q: Which Booster pack should I buy? Unless you are a hard-core collector, I recommend buying whichever pack is available and priced reasonably. You will notice many stores will selling “older” booster packs at a higher price because they are no longer in print. If your child simply enjoys collecting Pokemon, stick to the $3.99, current expansion booster packs. Pro Tip: If you child is looking for a certain set of Pokemon, you can actually view the card list (with pictures) at the Pokemon TCG site before purchasing. See sample links below:

2. Pokemon Kits, Tins, Battle Decks, Oh My!

Battle decks are generally recommended for those with the intent to play the game. They are sold primarily by Pokemon type, like fighting, grass, and water. Sample links below:

The various kits can be fun when you have a child who adores a certain Pokemon. While products may vary, they generally contain a foil card of that featured Pokemon, an oversized card of that Pokemon, booster packs, and any other collectible if listed. These make great gifts since they also include booster packs, so it is great for a player or a collector. Sample links below:

Tins are a nice touch since they can double as card holders. Sample links below:

Q: Do the oversized cards hold any value? Maybe, but only time will tell!

3. What Else Do I Need?

For a little collector, it’s important to protect the integrity of the cards, so some sort of protection is recommended. Depending on personal preference, you can store cards in tins, boxes, or in individual sleeves. For those that love to gaze upon their collection, a binder is the top choice. Sample links below:

For those that like to play the game, there are supplemental items like damage counters; however, outside of the 60-card deck, you could use household items like a coin, dice, or small flat objects.

Q: How do you play Pokemon TCG? Check out this link–How to Play Pokemon TCG. There are also an abundance of videos on Youtube.

4. Pro Tip: Watch Out For Counterfeits, Scalpers

If you are buying Pokemon cards for you kid(s), odds are you aren’t on eBay searching for a rare, out of print card; however, this does not mean you’re immune to scams. Like with most other coveted merchandise, there are scammers out there of all kinds. Some will sell you outright counterfeits. Scalpers will buy up all the cards and re-sell them at a ridiculous price. Some folks have even been know to re-package cards with only common cards, keeping the rare ones for themselves.

It is important to buy from a trusted source, such as licensed retailers. If you are on Amazon, just make sure the seller is a reliable one–such as any from The Pokemon Store. A note about reviews: some many give a poor review because of the cards their received. As long as you purchase from a reliable source, the odds of pulling rare cards are a gamble.

Finally, don’t forget to do you research. There is no need to pay double or triple to price for Pokemon cards. The average booster pack costs retail $3.99 USD. Shop around and even consider buying in advance of the holidays to avoid other shoppers, foaming at the mouths to get cards as well.

I sincerely hope this guide helps. Please share with us your experience with Pokemon cards–the wins and the woes–on our Boss Rush Facebook Group or our Boss Rush Discord by clicking this LINK or scanning the QR code below.

Sources: TCG Pokemon, Wikipedia, Bulbapedia

Image Sources: GameNerdz, Amazon, TCG.Pokemon

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