The online version of the Pokemon Trading Card Game serves as a fantastic gateway for new players. You’ll learn the gist of the game within minutes of playing the tutorial with the AI. Once you get past that, it serves as a robust platform that allows you to play against the AI or online matches with others around the world.
Best of all, you don’t necessarily have to buy physical cards or online codes to gain access to more digital cards. While you’ll certainly have a massive leg-up if you do, the game gives you many opportunities to unlock cards for free. It’s not unreasonable to earn enough coins to unlock one theme deck or multiple booster packs every day by playing the game in an optimal way.
Here’s the most efficient path to take in order to get as many cards and decks as you can in the most efficient manner!
When you start the game, it will give you a few hundred coins for free. I believe it gives you 200 coins, which is just enough to buy one booster pack. Don’t do that!
Instead, start by playing in the Trainer Challenge. This is the game’s single-player campaign where you face off against the AI. Using the default water, fire, and electric decks, defeat each opponent on the ladder until you reach 500 coins. Where you can, choose the deck with type advantage against the AI for the easiest routes to victory.
While I don’t remember exactly how long it took me to earn 500 coins, it shouldn’t take very long to get there.
Unlock a Theme deck with the first 500 Coins you earn
Once you’ve got 500 coins, head over to the in-game shop. Under the decks section, buy a deck. If you have ambitions of playing in the Standard mode someday with a custom deck, I would recommend sticking to the decks from the Sword & Shield era. Basically anything from Inteleon/Cinderace/Rillaboom and up. Everything in these decks will be eligible within Standard play until the rotation hits in August/September 2022.
If you’re not too worried about building a custom deck for Standard play someday, pick any deck you want. Anything from here will be much more effective in battle than the pre-made decks that come with the game. Having this Theme deck will be crucial to earning more coins and booster packs!
Still unsure of which one to start with? Here’s a shortlist of decks to consider from the Sword & Shield era!
- Charizard: Easily the most popular deck in Theme matchmaking. Partially cause it features one of the most popular Pokemon. However, it’s also one of the most fun decks to play with! Charizard has the potential to hit incredibly hard if you play your cards right!
- Inteleon: One of the best modern counters to the Charizard deck. I main this one online for the sake of having type advantage against the abundance of fire decks. Also a fun deck to use!
- Rillaboom: Rillaboom hits insanely hard and Whimsicott can brush aside anyone with a lucky coin flip! Grass is weak to fire though, so it will be an uphill battle against the common fire matchup. Still totally possible to win though!
At some point, I’ll look into writing more detailed reviews on theme decks. For now, give these ones a look!
Earn four stars on every opponent in Trainer Challenge to unlock booster packs
Admittedly, this is a bit of a grind. However, these are fairly easy wins to obtain from the AI. Before progressing further in the ladder, make sure to get four stars on every opponent. You can do that by beating them with four unique decks. You can do this with the fire, water, and electric decks the game gives you, as well as the Theme deck you just purchased.
Earning four stars against an opponent will net you one random booster pack. Earning four stars against every opponent in the league will net you an additional set of booster packs (I think it’s four, but I can’t remember for certain). Completing the Trainer Challenge in its entirety will net you over 40 booster packs, which amounts to over 400 cards for use in Standard and Expanded play someday!
I know that playing against the computer can get stale. Bounce between this and the activity I’m going to suggest in the next paragraph.
Compete in Theme versus battles to earn coins, booster packs, and more!
This is where the money is at! Every day, you’ll have the ability to earn hundreds of coins, a few booster packs, and a few event tickets by completing the daily versus rewards. Enter each battle with the Theme deck you purchased and give it your all!
Unlike Standard and Expanded play where custom decks dominate the space, you’ll be battling other decks of roughly equivalent power. Even as a relatively-new player, your chances of success are decently high.
The daily versus rewards ladder provides players with handsome rewards for your first 12 wins every day. Along the way, you’ll earn hundreds of coins and possibly a few booster packs. Even if you don’t get to 12 every day, just a few wins should be enough to earn a few hundred coins and possibly a booster pack or two.
Furthermore, the game has a longer ladder that you can progress through with each win. This gives you even more opportunities to earn coins, booster packs, and rare cards. Since this ladder runs for a few weeks, pace yourself accordingly. And if you don’t complete the whole thing, the rewards at the bottom of the ladder are still worthwhile.
Cash in your Event tickets to partake in Theme tournaments
If you’ve got a spare 30 minutes or so, you can use your Event tickets to join an 8-player single-elimination tournament. Tournaments give players the opportunity to earn even more rewards, such as coins and booster packs. These pay out even better than standard versus matches, though participation is limited by the number of tickets you have.
Again, for new players, I strongly suggest entering theme tournaments. Everyone here is playing with decks that are roughly equal in strength, giving you more of a fighting chance. Even if you lose right away, you’ll still be earning a decent amount of stuff each time you enter.
Mo’ money, mo’ Pokemon!
By focusing on theme battles and thoroughly completing the Trainer Challenge, you’ll fairly quickly earn a steady stream of coins and booster packs to expand your library. When I was grinding hard, I was making enough to unlock one deck per day. Even when I was playing shorter sessions, it was totally attainable to earn enough coins for a booster pack.
What will you do with your earnings? My ultimate goal was to purchase enough theme decks and booster packs to build a library of cards I could use for custom decks in Standard matchmaking. That said, Theme matchmaking is a great way to play and there’s no shame with enjoying the game that way while investing in more theme decks.
Whatever you choose to spend your coins on, get that bread and have fun doing it!
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