Recently, I was invited by The Pokemon Company International to an exclusive early look at their new game, the Pokemon Trading Card Game Live. This game is scheduled for a limited access beta, exclusive to Canada beginning February 22, 2022, available on mobile, Windows and Mac. In this article, I’m going to cover my observations from this early demo I was able to view, share some marketing materials I was sent by Pokemon, and speak to the features and gameplay elements of this game.
If you read nothing else in this article, read this. It is very easy to get whatever cards you want in this game. PTCG Live will make the Pokemon TCG as accessible as it ever has been, and I am very excited for the potential growth and attention this will bring to the competitive world of the Pokemon Trading Card Game.
It is important to note, the Team Challenge-Season 3 Qualifiers are still running on the old game, the Pokemon Trading Card Game Online. If you’re planning to play in the Team Challenge, you should not migrate your PTCGO account to PTCG Live. Pokemon has yet to announce if the Team Challenge-Season 3 Playoffs will be played on PTCGO or PTCG Live. You will still be able to delay migrating your PTCGO collection while playing on the same Pokemon Trainer Club account. Your Pokemon Trainer Club account will be how you access PTCG Live, so you will want to make sure you have that set up and connected to your PTCGO account before playing.
Now let’s jump in!
After you get your account all set up, it’s time to jump into the PTCG Live tutorial. Now this may seem cumbersome for more seasoned Pokemon TCG players, but it is an easy way to familiarize yourself with how some of the gameplay may differ from that of PTCGO.
For starters, the game board looks a bit different. The deck and discard pile are next to each other, which admittedly feels a bit odd. But something I love to see is that Prize cards are now laid out as opposed to stacked in a pile on the board. This will make it much easier to interact with your prizes with cards like Peonia.
Professor Fir is who will be taking you through this tutorial, and this will be an excellent way for new and beginning trainers to learn the ins and outs of the Pokemon TCG. There are six parts to the tutorial, and you’re able to skip as many of these as you would like. They cover things such as attacking, evolving, playing trainer cards, attaching energy and more. It could be beneficial to complete these tutorials however, since upon completing them you are given eight different decks to use. These decks have lots of competitive cards in them, but remain straightforward and easy to use for any novice trainers.
There are lots of options as to how you are able to customize your avatar. You can change all pieces of clothing, hairstyles and skin tones. There are also customizable poses and catchphrases, which is easily my favorite part! On PTCGO, even just the four generic catchphrases like “You Have a Good Deck!” and “Well Played!” have become loved by the player base. There are now dozens of new phrases and poses that are selectable, and I’m sure many great memes will come of their inclusion in this game!
Building your own deck is incredibly easy in Pokemon Trading Card Game Live. The Deck Editor allows you to sort through your collection, and easily move cards to and from your deck list. You are also able to craft new cards directly from the deck builder, making it very easy to build any deck you want. There are multiple different sorting options and cards of the same name, but different rarities can now be grouped together. This is a feature I know some players have asked to have for a long time in PTCGO.
From the decks tab you will also select what your active deck is. This is the deck you will be using when you queue into a battle.
Now let’s get to the core of the game, playing against other players! It is worth noting that crossplay is enabled for this game, so you will be playing against trainers regardless of what platform they are on. There are three ways to battle other players, Ranked mode, Casual mode and friend battles. Friend battles are exactly what they sound like: the ability to battle versus someone you have added as a friend in the game.
There is also Casual mode, if you want to play without the stress that could accompany Ranked. Casual can be played in the Standard format, as well as the Expanded format. Cards from the Black & White and X & Y era will not be available for play upon release, so the Expanded (Beta) format will be playing in Sun & Moon on. This could allow for some interesting new decks and strategies to be viable, which otherwise aren’t as strong with the older two generations. I was told that full Expanded is coming eventually, but no concrete date yet on when that could be.
Of course the thing that myself and many competitive players are excited for is the Ranked Ladder! Battle against the best of the best as you try to earn points to increase your ranking. There are many rewards to unlock by playing on the Ranked Ladder as well, including digital currency, cards, packs, and avatar and deck cosmetics.
Speaking of rewards, we have to take a look at the Battle Pass! The Battle Pass will feature a Basic track available to all players, as well as a Premium Pass which can be unlocked by using Crystals. The rewards available on the battle pass included all three digital currencies (Coins, Crystals and Credits), booster packs, cards, cosmetic avatar and deck items and more. Some of the cards featured in these images include Mew V and VMAX, which is great to see! These cards are top tier in the current meta, so it should be very easy for players to build these previously expensive decks.
Pokemon TCG Live is totally free-to-play and has no in-app purchases. Earning the three different types of currencies can be done in many different ways, so let’s break down what the currencies are, and what you can use them on.
- Coins can be used to purchase cosmetics such as avatar items, deck boxes, sleeves and coins.
- Crystals can be used to purchase promo card bundles, decks and booster packs.
- Credits are used to “craft” cards you do not have in your collection. You will automatically receive credits every time you receive a card that you already have four copies of in your collection.
Perhaps the most controversial part of PTCG Live is the fact that player-to-player trading is not a part of the game. While I do understand people’s frustrations since I too enjoyed the trading aspect of PTCGO, this is very much a net positive for the community and player base. For example, right now if you want to trade for three Mew VMAX on PTCGO, you would need over 120 packs to do it. Fusion Strike codes cost around $.25 each right now. Meaning to get those three Mew VMAX online, it would cost you about $30. And that doesn’t even count the Mew V, Genesects or any other cards you may need for the deck. In PTCG Live, you will have to spend $0! You just need to save up your credits and play enough to earn more currencies. From what I am able to tell, it seems that the developers goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to build any deck you want, while still making you work for it just a little bit.
Before you migrate your PTCGO account over to PTCG Live, there are a few things you need to make sure you do. First off, try to get yourself to exactly 125 unopened booster packs. If you have at least 125 booster packs on PTCGO when you migrate to PTCG Live, you will receive 12,400 Crystals. That’s a lot of Crystals! From what I have seen, that will get you a long way towards getting plenty of cards.
The next thing I recommend trying to do is trading away any cards that you have five or more copies of. Whether you’re trading them away on the public trades or just giving them to a friend, these cards will not migrate over to your PTCG Live account since the game only allows you to have four copies of each card.
Something I am personally doing that may be worth your time to try as well is trying to obtain four of every card from the Celebrations expansion before I make the transfer. The reason for this is that I have about 200 Celebrations code cards that I have not scanned. My idea here is that every single code I scan will automatically convert to credits. This will make it incredibly easy for me to accrue a bunch of credits right away, making it easier for me to craft whatever cards I want. You could do this with any set theoretically, I just happen to have a bunch of Celebrations codes. And the set is also pretty small, making it easy to obtain four copies of every card.
That just about covers everything I was able to observe during the viewable demo I received for PTCG Live. I can’t thank Pokemon enough for inviting me to be a part of that viewing! I truly believe that this new game has the ability to grow the Pokemon TCG player base exponentially. Ease of access to cards is huge, but I think the biggest factor towards growth will be that this game is available on mobile devices. Not everyone has a laptop or computer to play PTCGO, but nearly everyone has a smartphone that will be capable of playing PTCG Live! I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
Until next time, keep playing Pokemon!