Forget-Me-Nots: My History With The Pokemon Trading Card Game


Before we begin today’s article, I would like to give my regards to everyone at for being so kind as to let us use a handful of their images. If you are at all interested in the subject we will be discussing today, definitely jump out to their site via the link above.

Formalities aside, we’ve all had a history with Pokemon. However, not all our histories are the same. Sure, both Chris and I (as well as just about every other kid our age) watched the Kids WB TV series for at least the first few seasons, yet whileChris has reminisced of his past experiences playing the various games for Nintendo’s handhelds, the teen version of me was much more busy collecting Pokemon trading cards to drown in the games. Sadly enough, my hobby was probably much more expensive in the long run. It still baffles me that my brothers and I actually managed to scramble up enough money and trading tactics to collect every single card from the Base, Forest, and Fossil sets.

Don't ask me where they all went. I couldn't tell you.

I suppose one of the ways we justified spending so much to obtain every single card was convincing ourselves that the rare ones would be worth something in a few years. But in all honesty, it was just a stubborn sense of self-satisfaction that came with “catching ‘em all” that we were really after. Unfortunately, shortly after our victory over the first three sets, before we could even take a sigh, the Rocket, Gym Hero, and Gym Challenge sets came immediately after that. After that, it was Neo. Then there was EX, and it went on and on from there.

But this went way beyond the collecting aspect because we did play the game as well. Yet even after we completed collecting an entire set, and could theoretically create decks with the greatest potential possible, a new series would come along with cards far more superior than their predecessors, rendering all the cards we collected before, if not flat out written out of the rules, completely obsolete. It was a marketing system that couldn’t be beat.

For example, here is a Promo Mewtwo from the First Movie...

And here is Mewtwo ex from several years later. Same attacks. Same energy cost. Yet greater HP and Damage

Yet despite difficulties to keep up with trends, my memories of the Pokemon Trading Card Game have been generally positive. It was one of the few activities of my childhood in which all my younger siblings and I had a common interest, something that is scarcely found nowadays. It wasn’t a very complicated game by any means, and there was always a good amount of luck involved, yet it didn’t matter because it was easy to learn and teach newcomers, and aspect that, I can say from experience, Magic the Gathering seriously lacks. So with that, I would like to take a look at my past and show just a few of my favorite cards over the years.

First Generation: Mr. Mime

Mrs. Ketchum would be proud.

The fundamental rule about the Pokemon card game that separated it from the video games is that players are highly encouraged to chose a team of only one or two elemental types, seeing as the game worked on an energy card system (not much different from mana in Magic The Gathering) in order to instigate attacks. Back in the day I made numerous decks and experimented with all elements, but I always found my Psychic Decks came out the most effective. While the majority of Psychic pokemon had low HP, they made up for it with the most unique attacks and abilities that were best at throwing your opponents off guard.

Take Mr. Mime here: Only 40 HP? You’d think most high-level pokemon could wipe it out in a single hit. However, it has a Pokemon Power (a special ability that bends the rules) called Invisible Wall that renders all attacks higher than 20 hit points completely useless. Up against a Charizard, a Gayrados, or a Richu? No problem? Just bring out a Mr. Mime, and your opponent’s ace in the hole immediately becomes useless.

Rocket/Gym Leader Generation: Sabrina’s Kadabra

Every bit as intimidating as the Kadabra from the show.

Seriously, when Ash fought Sabrina’s Kadabra in episode 22: Abra and the Psychic Showdown, that was probably the first point in the whole series where I genuinely felt there was a legitimate threat in Ash’s journey to be the best. The first time I was like “Dang bro! There is NO WAY he can beat this thing. I can’t wait to see how he pulls it off.” (Technically he never did, which was kind off a letdown.) So imagine my excitement when I saw that the card representation of said Pokemon had it’s own deal breaking move. Here is one that isn’t even that hard to get. This is an uncommon card that you get two of just by buying a Sabrina Starter Deck. What’s better is that Sabrina’s Abra can be evolved right away and have its extremely effective attack ready with one psychic energy. Life Drain has a 50-50 shot of bringing your opponent’s Pokemon down to 10 HP in a single attack. And it isn’t affected by opponents with resistance against Psychic, which may likely be present if you’re facing any normal type Pokemon. If you’re up against a heavy hitter with 70+ HP, with a little luck this could be a game changer. Then you evolve to Sabrina’s Alakazam to finish the job.

Neo Generation: Unown

You let one ant stand up to you, and they'll all stand up.

Another fundamental rule of the Pokemon card game was that you could have up to four Pokemon of the same name in one deck. This worked excellently with the Unown, because each of them had its own unique Pokemon Power. Here was an instance in which you had lower level Pokemon that, alone, wouldn’t seem like much of a threat, but together become an almost impenetrable force. The four Unown I used were the following: A, whose ability increased every Unown’s Hidden Power attack with every damage counter on him; I, which could summon another Unown still in my deck onto the field; Q, giving me a 50-50 shot of avoiding every single attack onto any Unown every turn; And X, with the potential to give my Hidden Power attack an unlimited amount of damage, dependent on how lucky I am. If all of these abilities are in play at once, I cannot tell you how frustrated my opponents will get.

EX Generation: Deoxys

Yet another way to mess with your opponent's head.

This was just about the last generation of Pokemon Cards I invested in, but boy was it a crazy one. Deoxys was one of those cards of a Legendary Pokemon that actually lived up to its title as a Legendary Pokemon. Its Poke-Power (the successor to Pokemon Power in later generations), Form Change, worked surprisingly a lot like how the Pokemon itself changed forms in the game and in the movie, Destiny Deoxys. I was able to switch out my Deoxys on the field with any of its other three forms in my deck at any time. I would start off in his Defense Form to trickle my enemy down little by little while keeping my HP up, then when my opponent was weak enough, switch out to his Attack Form to deliver the final blow. If the defending Pokemon had a resistance against Psychic or some other special effect in play that would negate my damage, than I could switch to Speed Form and use Swift to bypass my opponent’s defenses. And with all the separate forms safe in my deck, my opponent would be hard pressed to predict my next attack.

My career as a Pokemon Card Trader ended not long after that, but boy was it fun while it lasted, and that’s really all that mattered to me. I couldn’t care about being the best, especially in a situation where masters are genuinely determined on how much money you are willing to depart with. But how about you guys? Any particular cards, elements, or strategies you found most effective? Leave a comment and let me know. In the mean time, I have some weird Egyptian guy challenging me to a children’s card game for the fate of the world.

Card images courtesy of

Can’t get enough about Pokemon? Then check these articles out:

5 Aspects of Pokemon That Make No Sense

The 10 Best Pokemon Moves Ever

Triple Feature: Pokemon The First Three Movies


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1 Comment

  1. I was almost the opposite of everyone when I was younger. Once I moved to Fort Knox and found everyone playing Pokemon on Gameboy and carrying around binders with cards, I stuck with telling them it was stupid. A few years later in fifth grade my brothers’ future wifes’ brother got me into pokemon. It was a love – hate relationship because he had all the cards and I was just picking it up and buying cards. He always had one deck I could never beat which was simple. He focused around gyrados. I eventually beat him a few years ago my senior year because of his limited energies and dumb magikarp couldn’t evolve.
    I enjoyed the topic and it brought back all of those great times with Pokemon. Sadly he gave into fads way too easily went into phases. Before Pokemon was Magic, then after it was Yugioh…Thank you

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