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For all things Pokémon
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  2. Collecting Pokemon cards can be as easy, as hard, as cheap, or as expensive as you want to make it. I personally go for one of every English card released, but some people only go for certain sets, artists, Pokemon, types of cards, championship or promo cards, a card for each Pokemon, and so on. It's just what appeals to you. There's lots of ways to collect. So where do I start? Well, it depends on what your goals are. I've provided some tips for various audiences who have an interest in playing or collecting Pokemon cards: General Tips for Everyone Buying packs is a losing proposition, money wise. It's fun, but expect to lose money opening packs for valuable cards and reselling duplicates. The odds are purposefully not in your favor, and rare does not always mean valuable in the Pokemon TCG world, especially for newer sets. Buying lots from eBay will get you more cards for cheaper, but it's not advisable if you're looking for mint condition cards or several specific cards. YMMV. Buying cards you need from TCGPlayer or Troll and Toad is cheaper than buying packs of cards, but not necessarily cheaper than eBay lots or auctions. For newer cards that are still used in the Standard TCG format, usually card prices are not determined by rarity, but by how useful the card is in the TCG. Standard is by FAR the most popular TCG format, so skipping expensive cards now and picking them up a few months or years down the line when they are used less or fall out of Standard and into Expanded is a viable strategy. Exceptions to this rule include popular Pokemon, especially Charizard. Card stores can also be a great source for cards, but prices vary. People Who Want to Acquire Lots of Cards for Cheap or Want Large Collections Typically, the cheapest cards are from 2015 and newer. Sets released after Team Rocket (April, 2000) and before Primal Clash (February, 2015) are more uncommon than Standard Base Set (not 1st edition, shadowless, or additional), Jungle, Fossil, Team Rocket, and anything made in or after 2015. For bulk cards, the most expensive cards are going to be Base Set 1st edition cards, Shadowless cards, and any cards printed when Pokemon was least popular (2002 - 2007). People Who Want to Play the TCG With one caveat, the maximum number of cards with the same name you're allowed to have in a deck is four (4). This applies to trainers and special energy cards. For monster cards, even if you have four different Pikachu cards from different sets, you can only have four cards with the name "Pikachu" in your deck. For example, you can have four different cards named "Gardevoir" in your deck and four "Gardevoir GX" cards in your deck. You can have as many basic energy cards in your deck as you want. You must have 60 cards in your deck for it to be legal in tournament play. With those stipulations in mind: TCGPlayer and Troll and Toad are your friends. The cheapest way to build a deck by far is to buy singles. Research what you want to play, and then buy singles to make that deck. If you're patient, you may be able to get a better deal than TCGPlayer and Troll and Toad by looking on eBay for auctions of singles or of "playsets" containing four cards. Buy heavy duty sleeves with opaque backs for playing. I personally use Dragon Shield, but there are other good ones. A good set of sleeves will protect your cards and prevent you from having to replace cards. The Pokemon TCG (or any competitive TCG) frown upon marking cards, either accidentally or on purpose. As unprotected cards are played, they acquire wear and can become identifiable in a deck if they are not sleeved. This is, of course, considered cheating. Don't be a cheater. Consider buying a structured deck to learn the ropes of the game, or spend a little time playing Pokemon TCG Online, which is free. Both can help you get familiar with the game before playing against people at your local store or meetup. Buying a playmat can be helpful, but isn't required to play. Consider buying one Elite Trainer Box (ETB). Today's ETBs come with: Dice, which are used to count damage (1 = 10, 2 = 20, and so on). A package of energy cards to use for decks. Themed card sleeves, which are worse than Dragon Shield and other high-end card sleeves for playing, but are great for reducing damage to cards while they sit in boxes. A GX or Tag Team GX token. A GX attack can only be used once a game. When it's used, the token is flipped over to indicate that a player's GX attack has been used. New cards from Sword and Shield (as of right now) do not have GX attacks, but a GX token (of some sort) will still be required until cards with GX attacks are no longer allowed to be played. Burn and poison tokens. A code for redeeming the same ETB in the online game, Pokemon TCG Online. The online game can be a great way to play fun decks or test decks for cheaper than buying cards. People Who Want to Resell Welcome to the world of graded cards! With graded cards, you do have a better chance of breaking even or better if you get lucky and make good purchases. People do buy both vintage and modern graded cards. Cards with higher grades will sell quicker and for more money. However, grading cards is popular, and the profit can be enough to support the hobby of buying more cards, but rarely much else. Unless a card is going to be a gem mint 10, cards worth less than $25-30 before grading are likely to lose you money. Most modern cards are not gem mint 10, even straight from the pack. Japanese cards are made better and tend to receive better grades. Popular Pokemon, such as Charizard, are exceptions because their cards tend to be more valuable. People Who Want to Collect the Rarest and Most Expensive Cards and Products Welcome to the world of graded cards, Japanese cards, AND sealed product! Japanese cards are much, much more difficult and expensive to collect for anyone outside of Japan. A majority of the rarest and most expensive cards ever printed are Japanese, and they have always gotten lots of exclusive cards. Many Japanese-exclusive cards are very pricey (over $100) or very limited, and most are pricier than normal promos that also saw a release in North America. Japanese cards are made better and tend to receive better grades. Other foreign language cards can be equally as difficult to collect for as Japanese cards, but are usually cheaper than English or Japanese cards. eBay is your friend, but also consider other avenues, such as other websites that may be in Japanese, sites that offer services that buy product in Japan and send it to you for a fee, or joining collecting forums. I'd recommend the Elite Fourum (http://efour.proboards.com/). The people on that board have lots of knowledge, means, experience, and clout in the hobby, especially for high-end Pokemon-card-related stuff. However, selling threads are not allowed there. Be prepared to pay a lot for shipping. People Who Want to Collect Only Certain Cards Some or all advice I have provided for other collectors can apply to you, depending on what you want to collect. I've provided some tips for various audiences who have an interest in collecting certain Pokemon cards: People Who Want to Collect Cards for One Pokemon It's Charizard, right? RIGHT? Everyone likes Charizard. TCGPlayer and Troll and Toad are your friends. If condition matters, use eBay or other sites that provide pictures of the card you want to buy. If you're patient, consider looking on eBay for auctions for singles. You might be able to do better on pricier (Cost > $5 or so) individual cards if you wait for auctions. If you want to collect Japanese variants, or Japanese exclusives, or other language variants, the information in "People who want to collect the rarest and most expensive cards and products" applies to you. Also consider making your own spreadsheet. Full lists of every card of a Pokemon aren't easily accessible, and if you want to get into Topps cards, CARDDASS, Artbox, Japanese variants, Japanese exclusives, other language variants, card sleeves, and other types of Pokemon Cards, your best bet is gathering all that information yourself. People Who Want to Collect Certain Sets Gettin' those childhood sets back, eh? If you want a quick fix, check on eBay for complete sets. Buying a complete set can be cheaper than buying all the cards individually. If you want to find the best deals: TCGPlayer and Troll and Toad are your friends. If you're patient, consider looking on eBay for auctions for singles. You might be able to do better on pricier (Cost > $5 or so) individual cards if you wait for auctions. If you want to piece a set together: eBay or other online marketplaces Card stores for singles People Who Want to Collect Certain Types of Cards, Like Promos or Championship Cards "I like life on hard mode." If you're patient, consider looking on eBay for auctions for singles. Consider making your own spreadsheet. Full lists of every card type aren't easily accessible. There are lists out there, but depending on your scope, they might be incomplete for your needs. Some of these cards can be expensive and rare, especially if you want to collect Japanese variants, or Japanese exclusives, or other language variants. The information in "People Who Want to Collect the Rarest and Most Expensive Cards and Products" may apply to you. People Who Want a Card for Every Pokemon *Pokemon theme song starts playing* Are you picky? If you are, use TCGPlayer, Troll and Toad, and eBay to get the cards you want. eBay especially if you condition matters. If you're not picky, a buying a couple card lots from eBay can put you well on your way to that complete Pokedex. If condition matters, use eBay or other sites that provide pictures of the card you want to buy. People Who Want to Collect Cards by a Certain Artist The information in "People Who Want to Collect Cards for One Pokemon" applies to you. Get your inner Bob Ross on and fill a binder with your happy Pokemon. People Who Want to Collect Cards That Look Like They've Been Through a War "I've seen some things, man." eBay lots. All day. Even when buying lots with good condition cards, you're bound to get a few. People Who Want to Collect Fake Cards China has entered the chat The best way to find fake cards is eBay (because some fakes are moderately valuable and have unique holo patterns), card lots (because lots usually contain a few fakes), cards shipping from China, and local places where lots of fake or knock-off items are sold. If an eBay lot looks too good to be true, it might be for you.
  3. FYI, I'm not a competitive player. If you're looking for information about competitive balance, go to Smogon. I'm also not a shiny hunter, and some mainline games are easier to catch shinies in than others. If you're either of those, YMMV. I'll update this list when I have time. Physical 3DS games: Detective Pikachu: An above-average point-and-click style adventure game that was released around the same time as the movie. It's short, but charming and funny. It was pretty well received. Pokemon Art Academy: Fun but different take on the Art Academy formula. Regular Art Academy is more serious, is more like taking drawing classes, and throws a lot at you quickly, while Pokemon's take on it is more about fun and it's easier, doesn't throw as much at you, and is more at the beginner level. The characters, of course, are easier to draw in the Pokemon version, but both will teach you drawing techniques. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity: This game has worse gameplay, fewer Pokemon, and worse dungeon variety, but a better story and better characters/character development than Super Mystery Dungeon. If you don't like Super Mystery Dungeon, this might be worth a look. Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire: Remake of Ruby/Sapphire. This one is my favorite mainline entry to date, and has good villains, plenty of postgame, and an asinine amount of legendaries that you can catch in the game. You could also easily train and reset a Pokemon's EVs without ever battling by playing minigames. Gamestop also released codes for all the mythical pokemon, so you could have traded for an entire living Pokedex in this game's heydey. Sadly, the GTS is no longer up, so you can't get the mythicals anymore. Regardless, if you care about getting as many Pokemon as possible in one stop, this is your game. For everything else, there's Pokedit. Pokemon Rumble Blast: An older Rumble game that plays nearly identically to Rumble World, but has more of a story and no Pokemon from X/Y. Pokemon Rumble World: The retail release gives you so much of the freemium currency that it's essentially just a normal game. This significantly improves it over the e-Shop version. This is the newer game, so it adds Pokemon from X/Y and mega evolutions. It is also the most polished. The only downside is Rumble Blast has more of a story. Gameplay-wise, both rumble games are the same. They're both action games, and your Pokemon have one or two moves they can use to defeat hordes of foes. Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon: Of the two Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games on the 3DS, this one has better the best gameplay, the most variety in the dungeons, and the most Pokemon. This one is also the more difficult of the two. It's mostly agreed that it's the better game of the two as well. Pokemon Sun/Moon: Third mainline game released on the 3DS. If you haven't played any 3DS Pokemon games, this game is pretty similar to Ultra Sun/Moon without as much postgame. I'd say skip these and buy Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon instead. Pokemon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon: Fourth mainline game released on the 3DS, and pretty much a remake of Sun/Moon with additional postgame content. The postgame is arguably one of the best in all of the generations because several noteworthy characters from games past make their appearance, and the Ultra Wormhole adds several hours as well. Gone are gyms, and instead you have Island Challenges, which some love and some hate. Also, no HMs, you have helper Pokemon to call for your HM needs. If you're looking for a traditional Pokemon game, this isn't it. Play OR/AS. If you're wanting something fresh, this is where I'd start. Pokemon X/Y: The first new generation of Pokemon games on the 3DS. Good, but basic Pokemon adventure. Not much post-game. The story is good, but not great, and your companions are irritating at best. Plus, Yveltal looks like flying bacon. YMMV. Digital 3DS games: It's worth pointing out that I attempted to play all of these games for free. Gameplay mechanics and experiences could be improved by spending some money on the games, but I'm reviewing them from a "I'm a cheapskate like ol' Philosoraptor" viewpoint. Pokemon Picross: One of the better picross games out there, free or paid. It has a $30 cap that, when you spend that amount, will make the premium currency free. From then on, you only need to wait for Pokemon skills to recharge. However, if you don't spend any money, Picrites are finite and operate as the game's currency. Each area, additional mode, energy gauge expansion, and Pokemon slot costs Picrites. The energy gauge determines how many squares you can complete in each puzzle. It can be leveled up five times; the first four increase the number of squares you can complete by 100 (up to 400), and the fifth lets you complete an infinite number of squares. If you do not have a level 5 gauge, 100 squares recharge every 100 minutes. If you play for free, as long as you can stand waiting to complete puzzles after your energy gauge runs out, this can be a great game, albeit another very, very slow one. Pokemon Rumble World: A freemium game that hopes that you are impatient and impulsive enough to spend money on "Poke Diamonds" to unlock new areas or to bypass the wait times required to go to an area. The player travels to each area by hot air balloon, and each balloon needs a certain amount of time to "reinflate." The shortest wait time is 30 minutes, and the longest is twenty hours. If you decide to play this game for free, your progression will be slow and only get slower as you continue playing. Everything else I said about the physical version of this game applies here. Pokemon Shuffle: Another freemium game that is a match three puzzle game, similar to Puzzle & Dragons or any other match three where you switch the position of one block/item for another. In this one, you can switch one block/item on the screen with any other to make matches in a 6x6 grid. Hearts are used to play stages, and one heart regenerates every 30 minutes for a maximum of five. In later stages, enemy Pokemon deploy disruptions to change friendly blocks/items into unhelpful ones, prevent new blocks/items from falling, or change your blocks/items into something else, which can be both interesting and fun as a gameplay mechanic, but also incredibly frustrating. This is where the freemium mechanic comes in. Poke Gems can be purchased with real money to buy hearts, which let you play stages, or coins, which let you delay opposing Pokemon from deploying disruptions, remove an entire block/item type from the grid to make matches easier, obtain additional moves, mega evolve your Pokemon immediately, or increase experience. As you get further in the game, it becomes increasingly difficult if not near impossible to clear stages without power ups, which leads you to spend more time replaying the Meowth stage for coins or spend money. I both love and hate this game, so it's hard for me to recommend. I hope that one day it'll get a full retail release on a future console that removes the freemium aspects of the game like Rumble World did.
  4. For those who don't know, I may or may not be into Pokemon. Just a little. I got Red and Blue for my birthday in elementary, and I've been hooked ever since. I plan to use this club and blog as a meeting place for fellow Pokefans on the site and as a brain dump for the knowledge I've gained about the series over the years, especially the cards. There are lots of cards out there, and very little general information about what is valuable, rare, or unique outside of the efour boards. The goal is to provide basic information for cards you're likely to see on eBay or in the wild. As of this post, I own a majority the Pokemon cards available in English. It's a collection decades in the making, and when I get any spare change, I usually throw it at cards. I've also played most of the games and own plenty of merch. I'll be the first to admit that I don't have the most stuff or most knowledge out there, but I hope that what I do know helps someone looking to get into Pokemon or helps people identify common or rare and valuable items. I also hope that other people will participate and share any knowledge they have to provide expertise in areas I lack.

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