Pokémon trading card game captures experience

Chris Miller, Reporter

The official Pokémon Trading Card Game Online card simulator captures the experience of playing with and collecting Pokémon Cards almost perfectly.

The PTCGO is a free downloadable card game simulator for PC found on the official Pokémon site.

The PTCGO is a card game simulator that allows players to battle with, collect, and trade virtual Pokémon Cards with its online community, similarly to how fans of the card game would in real life.

All that’s required to get started is to set up a free Pokémon Club Account to log into the game. Once logged in, newcomers are automatically given new starter decks to test out as well as a tutorial showing how to play the game. Even for veterans of the game, the tutorial itself is worth going through because each stage in the tutorial has rewards for completing them. The rewards range from coins, tournament tickets, and Pokémon Card packs.

The coins act as currency for the PTCGO store. Players can buy virtual packs and other goodies with their hard earned coins, as well as spend them on coin-entry tournaments to earn tournament tickets.

Coins can be earned daily via login rewards, challenge rewards, and the random prize wheel that spins after every completed battle.

Tournament tickets are, as the name implies, entry costs to enter into online tournaments to earn card packs. Tickets can be bought from the online store off of the official Pokémon site.

Thankfully, tournament tickets can be easily earned by daily login rewards and won randomly from the prize wheel that’s spun after every completed match.

Card packs are what players will be spending most of their time earning. Virtual Pokémon card packs can be obtained numerous ways.

The first and easiest method is to buy real-life Pokémon Trading Card Game packs. Each real-life pack has 10 cards in it as well as an extra card with a redeem code to unlock a virtual card pack for the PTCGO. These redeemed packs are all tradable as well as each card found inside.

The second way is to buy packs from the online game store with earned coins. These packs, however, only have five cards in them instead of the normal 10. These packs are trade locked meaning the packs themselves, as well as the cards inside, cannot be traded at all.

The third and final way to obtain card packs is to earn them. Players can earn packs via login rewards, battles, challenge rewards, and tournament prizes. All earned packs are trade locked except for packs earned from tournaments.

There exists a community-driven economy for PTCGO. This economy is driven by the value of card packs and rare cards. Cards have different rarities and worth, as do packs. When making public or private trade offers, it’s important to stay up to date on the ever-changing economy.

Thankfully, there are chat rooms on the PTCGO, as well as forums, that discuss this very subject so newcomers can learn quickly.

Game-play wise, the PTCGO delivers on its promise to simulate playing with real cards on a virtual platform. Cards are beautifully animated and even show off card rarity clearly.

The user interface is simple and easy to learn. There’s even an option to turn off card animations like drawing and shuffling to speed the game up if the player chooses.

While the PTCGO gets collecting, playing with, and trading virtual cards right, it does have some fatal flaws. The most notable flaws are coin flips, glitches, and scammers.

Oftentimes, players will have to flip a virtual coin to activate various effects such as attacks and to deal with status conditions. The game will almost always land on tails. This is increasingly frustrating combined with the fact that landing on heads is crucial to getting out of annoying status effects like sleep or to even attack with some Pokémon. This RNG, or random number generator, coin flip mechanic breaks the game and often results in the tails recipient losing because coin flips rarely land on heads.

Glitches are another game-breaking issue that often plagues the PTCGO. With every new patch to the game comes new glitches that ruin the experience. Sometimes the glitches will hinder a player from playing all together.

The most recent patch has fixed most of these bugs, but new ones almost always appear.

The final major flaw is the oversaturation of scammers. This isn’t so much the fault of the game or the developers, but it still ruins the experience for many new players.

The publicly posted trades are often flooded with scam trade deals that a veteran can recognize as a bad deal right away, but newcomers who are unaware of the current virtual economy often fall prey to these scams and lose good cards.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game Online does a fantastic job of simulating the real-life card game experience, but it does so with many flaws. The flaws, while very prominent, shouldn’t hinder new players, however.

Collecting virtual cards is surprisingly addictive and so is showing off hard-earned super rare cards.

The fact that the game can be played completely free and good cards can be earned with time and patience make the PTCGO worth the time to play.

Whether someone is a trading card game enthusiast or not, he or she can still have a blast collecting a super-rare Pikachu and destroying an opponent with it.