Pokémon TCG Vs. Yu-Gi-Oh!: Which Game Is Easiest To Start

The card games of both Pokémon & Yu-Gi-Oh! have been around for years and developed enthusiastic, dedicated fanbases. Even today, new cards come out for each of the games, allowing both new and old fans to develop their skills or learn how to play with updated cards.

RELATED: Pokémon TCG: The 10 Strongest Fire-Type Cards, Ranked

With more & more opportunities for fans to join each of these fanbases– especially with games for both franchises released on the Nintendo Switch– there’s plenty of reasons to want to jump into the real-life card games. However, that raises the questions of where to start, and how easy each game is for new players to learn.

10 Pokémon: Easier To Summon

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Pokemon trading cards for Gyarados, Umbreon, and Magikarp

When it comes to Pokémon, the cards are pretty easy to use on the field, especially for the Pokémon themselves. In contrast, many Yu-Gi-Oh! cards have special requirements on how to summon monsters. Some cards can only be special summoned by factors like card effects.

Others, like any monsters from the extra deck, either require the player to have a card like polymerization in their hand or specific monsters to use together. In the case of Pokémon, it’s a lot easier to create a powerful Pokémon through evolution, since most evolutions just require the player to have the next stage in their hand to play it.

9 Yu-Gi-Oh!: Deck Size

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Yami Yugi drawing a card from deck in Yu-Gi-Oh anime

In the Pokémon card game, players are limited to having 60 cards in their deck; no more, no less. While this does give plenty of options for what kinds of cards can go in a player’s deck, having a high number of cards can also make it harder to get a card you need from a draw.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a lot more flexible with its deck sizes. Players can have no less than 40 cards and no more than 60 cards in their main deck and 0 to 15 cards in their extra deck. While 40 is still a high number of cards, it makes it a lot easier to draw a card that the player wants than if they had the max of 60 cards.

8 Pokémon: More Straightforward

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A player's hand in the Pokemon card game

With card effects and spell & trap cards that need to be set, it can be easy to forget how to use a card in Yu-Gi-Oh! during a duel. Some card effects are very helpful, but the requirements sometimes lead to a lot of reading and re-reading for players to not overlook any moves that could help their game.

RELATED: 10 Pokémon With The Highest Base Speed

Pokémon has fewer rules for Pokémon, trainer, and energy cards, so they are usually much easier to use and keep track of. Most of the time, the only rules that apply are how much energy is needed to perform an attack and how many cards of a certain type can be used on one turn.

7 Yu-Gi-Oh!: No Energy Needed

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Fire type energy cards for the pokemon trading card game

The Pokémon card game requires Pokémon to have a certain amount of energy cards attached to them before they can attack. This makes the construction of the player’s deck even more important because they need to have enough energy in their deck to perform attacks.

For Yu-Gi-Oh!, players don’t have to worry about having enough energy in order to perform an attack. All they have to pay attention to is if their attack points are higher than that of their opponent’s monster, then they can attack.

6 Pokémon: Better Pre-made Decks

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Pre-made decks for Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon Trading Card Games

When shopping for a first deck, the options can be a bit overwhelming for new Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! players. However, it can be easier to figure out what kind of deck you want for Pokémon than it is for Yu-Gi-Oh at times.

New Pokémon have more options that are new-user friendly, as many of their theme and battle boxes are designed after real decks that players used in championships, certain Pokémon video games, and even a Battle Academy pack. Yu-Gi-Oh! does sell starter and structure decks that can help players who don’t know how to build their own deck, but it’s harder to figure out what kind of deck a player might like since their themes are usually based on specific types of monsters that players may not know about.

5 Yu-Gi-Oh!: Card Types

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A small stack of cards from Pokemon and symbols for Yugioh card attributes

In Pokémon, most players know or quickly learn that the Pokémon cards show what types of other Pokémon they are strong or weak against in battle. This means it’s usually a good idea to have a variety of different types of Pokémon in a player’s deck so they have more possibilities of having the advantage over their opponent.

RELATED: Yu-Gi-Oh: 10 Tips To Building Kaiba’s Deck

However, in Yu-Gi-Oh!, players still have different types and attributes for monsters but most card effects tend to only affect their own monsters’ types rather than affecting their opponent. This makes it easier for players to plan out their decks since they’ll know what monster types they can work with, and their cards aren’t as reliant on what types of monsters their opponents have.

4 Pokémon: More Attack Options

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Pokemon GX trading cards Raichu, Charizard, and Mewtwo

While the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime might make new players think that their monsters will be able to perform specific, named attacks, this isn’t the case in the real card game. Monsters don’t have specific attacks at all. They just attack based on their attack points.

Pokémon is more like the anime and video games when it comes to attacks in the card game. Each Pokémon has certain attacks that it can use, and they may vary in damage & energy needed to use them. For those that might want to feel like they’re playing like a Pokémon trainer from the anime or games, they might find it fun to call out attack names.

3 Yu-Gi-Oh!: More Chances To Attack

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The field layout for a game of Yu-Gi-Oh in Legacy of the Duelist

Players are limited to only one Pokémon attacking at a time in the card game. They do have several other Pokémon sitting on their bench that they can apply energy cards to, but they still can only attack with one.

With Yu-Gi-Oh!, players can attack with any monsters that they have on the field as long as their monster cards don’t say otherwise and their opponent hasn’t used any spell or trap cards that keep them from attacking. That means they can have more chances to attack their opponent and win the game by depleting their life points.

2 Pokémon: Better Planning

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The field setup for playing the Pokemon card game digitally

Unlike in the video games, Pokémon players can see their opponent’s bench, so they can know what their opponent might hit them with. They’ll also be able to see which Pokémon their opponent has energy cards applied to on the bench, which might influence what Pokémon they bring out next.

This advantage can help players choose which Pokémon they might want to prepare with energy cards on the bench since they’ll know what’s coming to some degree. In Yu-Gi-Oh!, players can try to plan out a good sequence of cards to lead to victory, but unless otherwise stated by a card’s effect, they won’t really know what their opponent has up their sleeve, which can make plans fall apart.

1 Yu-Gi-Oh!: Better Defenses

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Pop-Up screen from YuGiOh Legacy of the Duelist to choose Attack or Defense position

When playing Pokémon, a player doesn’t have much defense available other than drawing items like potion cards that can help to recover some HP. Most of the time, they just have to hope that they can take out their opponent before their own Pokémon faints.

Yu-Gi-Oh! lets players defend their monsters and their life points a lot more. There are plenty of spell and trap cards that can negate attacks, destroy monsters who try to attack, or otherwise save life points. If players don’t have any cards like this, they can still turn their monsters to be set horizontally. This leaves their monster in defense position, where their opponent can still destroy their monsters, but their life points don’t take any damage, so they can stay in the game longer while they wait to summon better cards.

NEXT: Yu-Gi-Oh: Dark Magician & 9 Other Powerful Cards In Yugi’s Deck

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