David C
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Ok, it might not be too advanced for him, but it's too advanced for me. Just wayyyy too much stuff in it. I'm looking for something a bit like Magic 3rd edition before everything got too creative. But it has to have combat, and I would prefer it be pokemon-based.

Or is there a limited set of pokemon cards I could go with that would be enjoyable? Maybe a slimmed-down game.

I have heroscape, but that sort of devolves into just playing with 'guys' ...which is a fun exercise in and of itself, but I want something new.
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Milki Kaplanski
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How about Adventure Time Card Wars? There are different starter sets and you can get random boosters as well, but it's definitely not necessary for good deck building (I never bought any). I recommend Adventure Time Card Wars: Doubles Tournament, as that set got enough cards for a good start (enough to play with 4 as well) and the game is definitely less complex than pokemon (I got it because Pokemon was too complex for my son and this was just right for both of us).

Hope you find something good for the two of you! :)
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callme DESDINOVA
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Don't be discouraged by the amount of info on the Pokemon themselves. The game is much more simple than Magic the Gathering has ever been. That being said, my experience with Pokemon is limited to the early sets. I know they added a couple things since then but I doubt they are more complex than the timing rules in Magic.

There was a set that came out recently and was made up of reprints of the original cards. That may be a good place to start. You may want to ask this question in the Pokemon forums.
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callme DESDINOVA
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By the way, how old is your son? Is he a proficient reader? Knowing these things will help everyone that wants to make a suggestion.
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David Winter
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There is a downloadable version of the game that teaches you to play, it's fairly straightforward with a little familiarity.
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Rafi B
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Pick up a Trainer Kit. Competitive players wouldn't touch them, but it's a perfect intro to the game (especially parents of interested kids). It comes with instructions on how to play first game with two reduced precondtructed decks. I tried to read the rules and was lost - I ran through the Trainer Kit game and basics became intuitive. Plus the price is right ($10 at most).

After that, there are preconstructed Battle Decks you can buy with better cards. Again, not good from a tournament perspective, but plenty for a kid new to the game. You'll then get a good sense of your kids wants to play more competitively, in which case you'll get stuck into the whole meta game, or if he just likes to collect them.

Here's a pretty good post with more details. The sub-Reddit is typically more experienced players so a lot doesn't make sense, but the beginner guide is great: https://www.reddit.com/r/pkmntcg/comments/4wnnk8/how_to_buil...
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Bryan
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Pokemon Master Trainer If you're willing to drop some money on an old out of print game, this one is pretty decent for kids. You can get it on ebay for around $80 or less if someone is selling it without doing their research. I just looked and saw a copy actually going for $30 (not sure if that copy is complete).
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Marc Nelson Jr.
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rafizzle wrote:
Here's a pretty good post with more details. The sub-Reddit is typically more experienced players so a lot doesn't make sense, but the beginner guide is great: https://www.reddit.com/r/pkmntcg/comments/4wnnk8/how_to_buil...


That's good advice.

I built a bunch of half decks for my boys and I to play against each other. I would buy two copies each of a few different theme decks, and then supplemented that with a big pile of random trainer cards from Troll and Toad. I left out the big crazy Pokemon and balanced them against each other.

Lately, they've been getting into the World Championship decks. These are preconstructed 60-card decks that (unlike the theme decks) actually work well. They have silver borders and aren't legal for tournament play - but that only matters if you're playing in official events.
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A couple of weeks ago my son expressed an interest in Pokemon, so I got 2 of the prebuilt battle decks. It was all double-dutch to me initially but I picked it up pretty quickly. There is a printed playmat included (as well as tokens) and it has all the (not too many!) rules laid out there. The decks are already balanced with all the cards you need, so you can get playing quickly. Honestly, I thought it would be a slog too because of the number of cards / sets available but the game itself is easy to learn and fun!
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The complexity of the Pokémon TCG has increased steadily over the years, but the core premise of being the first to KO six of your opponent's Pokémon still remains the same. I definitely agree with Rafi above; the Trainer Kit is the best way to learn the basics of the game. The deck focuses on dealing out damage straight-up, and keeps concepts like Powers and Abilities for later.

The Sun and Moon Trainer Kit is the most recent Trainer Kit. If your son has played the most recent games, the Pokémon featured in the kit should be instantly recognisable (not an easy feat when you consider there are now 800+ unique Pokémon...)
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Jerry Martin
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I agree Pokemon is rarely as complex as Magic.

If you stick with commons and uncommon there should be no issues.

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I'm really not convinced it has got more complex with time in any material way. There are very few concepts in the game currently that weren't always there.

I think two prizes for knocking out an EX and a single GX attack in the whole game are about all that's been added. Even the first series had Pokemon Powers, tools, items and so on. There are bits and pieces added of course but nothing significant.

I think it's a really good game for children. It promotes literacy, comprehension and basic numeracy and a little probability.
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I second the suggestion to get a Trainer kit. It comes with a slimmed down deck that's simple to play.

You can also always just remove parts of the game. When I would play with my son I would always forget about weaknesses and resistances, so we just stopped playing with those. You can also play without some of the more esoteric abilities on the cards.

I'm sure it unbalances the game, but depending on how old your kiddo is, that probably doesn't matter.
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raynbow wrote:
I second the suggestion to get a Trainer kit. It comes with a slimmed down deck that's simple to play.

You can also always just remove parts of the game. When I would play with my son I would always forget about weaknesses and resistances, so we just stopped playing with those. You can also play without some of the more esoteric abilities on the cards.

I'm sure it unbalances the game, but depending on how old your kiddo is, that probably doesn't matter.


Dropping weakness and resitance is good for premade decks I think. They really seem to be about disrupting any meta-gaming group think.
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Mike Bialecki
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I have quite a bit of experience with this.

I started teaching my daughter how to play Pokemon when she was five. She couldn't read, and I had to keep reminding her of what she needed to do when her turn came up, but she could follow the turn structure and did pretty well.

Now she's six and can read the cards, which has given her greater confidence and control over her own turns. I still have to remind her about the difference between Burn, Paralyze, Poison, and Confuse. And I still have to remind her of weakness and resistance. But in the end, although she can't play the game on her own with a friend, she handles herself pretty well with minimal help against me.

The simplicity of the game comes in the idea of "Active Pokemon." You'll only ever have one Pokemon to really worry about during your turn. Either you attack your opponent's active pokemon with it or you don't. As the opponent, there's no decision in the matter. There is no choosing a defender. So turns are: Draw a card, play an energy, maybe a trainer, and attack. I think it is a much simpler game than Magic. Magic seems easy until you start getting flooded with keywords with no on-card explanations and you have to decide what to attack with, what to attack, what to defend with, etc. There's a lot of decisions to make.

As mentioned a few times, the Trainer Decks are fantastic. Each trainer deck is a ready-to-play legal 60 card deck to play a full 6-prize game. However, it is designed to be broken down into two balanced 30-card decks so that two players can play a shortened 3-prize game. The current trainer deck available at Target and stores like that is the Pokémon TCG: Sun & Moon Trainer Kit Lycanroc & Alolan Raichu Card Game. For $7.95 on Amazon, it's a steal.

Edit: Oh yeah, the Trainer Deck comes with tokens and a play-mat with nice bullet point descriptions on how to set up the game, how to win, and what to do on your turn as well as spaces for your active pokemon, benched pokemon, draw pile, discard pile and prize pile. I had mine laminated.

Edit #2: Dang. I didn't thoroughly read all of the other responses. Sorry for the redundancy.
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Another great way to get a feel for the game would Pokemon TCG online. Go to the Pokemon website and from there you can download the online TCG game on to your computer. Play online against the AI a few times and you'll have a better idea of the flow of the game.
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David C
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Grognard1914 wrote:
By the way, how old is your son? Is he a proficient reader? Knowing these things will help everyone that wants to make a suggestion.



Man, Thank You everyone for the responses. Apologies that I couldn't follow-up yesterday during the day, poop kinda went into the fan at work.

He's 6, borderline ADHD, and gives-up on reading nearly instantaneously---but can totally do 4-5 letter words (kids level 1 books are reasonably doable for him). Does math pretty decently though.

Most of reading is finding the motivation though, like everything in life. I can't remember the last time I read a book cover-to-cover, but if reading is what stands between me and making something work...

I digress.
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callme DESDINOVA
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I've played Pokemon with 8 year old kids without any problems. I think I played with a 7 year old and I it was a little more difficult for him. I'm having trouble remembering as it was a long time ago. You may have to do most of the work for a 6 year old. On the plus side, this may motivate him to want to learn to read. As you said, motivation is important.

There is a lot of good advice in the posts above for getting started. I can't comment on the products except to say the advice fits with my past experience with CCGs. I like the idea of starting without the weaknesses and resistances. They are easy to forget and can lead to some frustrating match-ups when remembered. I've experienced both recently when relearning the game. I would add them in latter.
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Chris C
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+1 for getting the Pokemon online game to learn how to play. It had just come out way back when my son was getting into Pokemon. We had told him he had to learn the game before spending any more money on cards. At first I was perplexed but the online game made it easy to learn and my son picked it up very quick. The next step would be the standard pre built decks sold in stores as they offer a good game with the right amount of synergy built into the decks. A step up would be then looking into the "world Championship" decks as these are the more complex synergies to play and have the 'cool' cards (they have different card backs so can't be used in regular play though). At some point you can start to try deck building with any bulk cards you have or by customizing the basic decks.
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Melissa
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Pokemon was actually one of the things we used to get my son reading. First of all, he was motivated to read the cards. Also, there are lots of beginning reading books out there with Pokemon. My son doesn't struggle with ADHD, though, and I think he was a more like 7 or maybe 8 at the time.
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Jesse Smith
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bippi wrote:
Ok, it might not be too advanced for him, but it's too advanced for me. Just wayyyy too much stuff in it. I'm looking for something a bit like Magic 3rd edition before everything got too creative. But it has to have combat, and I would prefer it be pokemon-based.

Or is there a limited set of pokemon cards I could go with that would be enjoyable? Maybe a slimmed-down game.

I have heroscape, but that sort of devolves into just playing with 'guys' ...which is a fun exercise in and of itself, but I want something new.


For the past year I've taught at least one kid a week (usually more) how to play Pokémon...it's a struggle with some of the non-readers, but it's actually a pretty easy game to grasp the basics.

As has been suggested, pick up a Trainer Deck. Then you'll both play with a 30 card deck instead of 60. Game goes faster and it may hold his attention better. Plus if you put the cards in order, you'll be able to help him since you'll know what cards he has.

If you want to learn, I strongly suggest using the Online Game - it's free. Run through the tutorials and you'll be up and running.

Feel free to message if you have any questions, but know that I am aweful at checking GeekMail on a regular basis.
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David C
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There's a pokemon 'trainer' set that's pretty good and I highly recommend it. Some of the additional rules about retreating get a little tricky, but overall a 7-year-old handled it.

I wanted to update this thread many moons later and say, "Yeah, pokemon worked". He reads at a 2nd grade and 3 month level.

Going forward though, he mostly just likes to have the cards and confetti them all over the house, while the game portion could use some work on sportsmanship. Overall though, pretty good.
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