As a league leader, I help a lot of people, mostly young ones, but some older as well, get into the game, learn to play, etc. Typically the first few weeks at league are spent learning to play the game, and then building decks, learning what a metagame is, etc. After that process is sorted, though, the first question I typically get is:
“What am I going to need to play Pokémon, besides cards?”
Because I’ve been asked that so many times, and because I kind of get tilted about seeing people recommend bad products on various message boards, I decided to write this article detailing exactly what you need to get started playing, collecting, and trading Pokémon cards at a high level.
Before we begin: This is all my opinion. I’m sure you’re going to disagree with me, and I’m sure I’m being a snob. I’m not saying this article is the be all, end-all, these are just my opinions about the most superior accessories in the game. If you disagree I’d love to discuss and debate with you in the comments section. :)
Without futher ado…
I’m not certain that there are huge differences in brands of dice. Right now I’m rocking pink, 12mm Chessex in a 36pack block, as pictured to the right. There may be better brands, and I’ve heard of a few brands that promise more fairness in their rolls, but I’ve never really investigated it myself as it doesn’t really matter because I ALWAYS flip heads (fact).
Per the 2009-2010 tournament rules, you’ll also want to have a clear die, for flipping purposes (or you could just use a coin, but lets be serious). I rock two translucent, uncolored ones right now, but you could get away with one. I think the most you’d need in this format is four, but you could also just flip one four times, if you’re not as lazy as me.
Deck boxes are probably the most crucial accessory for a Pokémon player. Like dice, there really isn’t a whole lot of variety that I’m aware of. I know those Ultra Pro double deck boxes were super popular a while back, but I don’t think it really matters.
I personally use a Japanese Pokémon-themed one, like the picture above (except mine is roughly 1000x cooler because it features LUXRAY). The best place to buy such things, in my opinion, is http://www.hardrock-pokemon.com, but I’ll let you make your own buying decisions. Vote with your wallet, etc.
Deck boxes are pretty simple. They hold your deck. I just like the Pokémon themed once because they fit the cards snug and they’re stylish.
I use the one above (actually I just retired it and now use a Professor one thanks to PokéMathter), and it’s the absolute perfect size. It holds my deckbox, dice, pen (for match slips), and mascots (Luxray and Garchomp KIDS forever) perfectly.
I won’t spend too much time on it as, like I said, it’s not really all that important, but it’s a must have for me.
This is probably where the article gets a little controversial, if any CCG accessories article can be called that.
Sleeves are probably tied with deckboxes as to what’s most important. If you don’t play with sleeves you’re diminishing the shelf life of your cards greatly, there’s no denying that.
I personally only use KMC sleeves, and will only ever use KMC sleeves for the foreseeable future. They’re, in my mind, simply the best. I’ve used all the other major brands of sleeves, and KMC are without a doubt the finest I’ve found. They’re the best quality at the best price. What sets them apart from most other sleeves, in my mind, is that the borders are thicker, meaning that you won’t get the corners of your sleeves bent from shuffling roughly like you will with so many other sleeves.
I know everyone has their own opinion about what sleeve brands they trust, but to me, it breaks down like this:
KMC > Player’s Choice > Dragon Shields > Ultra Pro > Everything else.
The biggest margin in that chart, in my opinion, is between Dragon Shields and Ultra Pro. I honestly don’t understand why everyone loves Ultra Pro sleeves. They are consistently the worst quality sleeve I’ve ever used, and I’ve been playing various card games for the past 5 years or so. Unless you have some weird magic on your side that allows subpar sleeves to become great quality out of nowhere granted by a Genie that only gave you one wish (and boy did you mess up on that wish), never use Ultra Pro sleeves.
Binders aren’t really important for playing Pokémon, per se, but if you plan on amassing a collection of cards that you someday might want to exchange with other players for their cards, you’re probably going to want to pick one up.
There’s only really 2 tiers of binders: Monster Protectors, and everything else.
For those who don’t know, Monster binders are German-made high-quality binders that have padded, sewn-in pages that load from the side to prevent theft and accidental droppage. They come in 2 varities, one is made of a super durable, thick plastic and the other is a more stylish, lighter plastic. I currently have one of each and they’ve served me well for the entire time I’ve had them.
That being said, they’re super overpriced. I paid $25.00 for each of mine, and I think that’s a pretty decent price. Online you can find standard ones for anywhere from $20.00 – $40.00, depending on the area, color, etc. In hobby stores they’re likely to be much, much more expensive.
If you have the money and want to make a solid investment to protect all of your cards, they’re a very wise choice. However, I fully concede that they are ridiculously expensive when compared to other binders, even if they are of superior quality.
My name is Kenny Wisdom and I am a playmat addict. I currently have 4, and I’m always looking for good prices on more. I can’t help it, I love them. I love the design and I love that they protect my cards and give me a designated playing space. They help keep me organized and looking stylish as HECK.
They’re probably the most unnecessary product of all time, though. They do keep your sleeves cleaner as I said before, and there is some argument to be made that your sleeves won’t break as easily if they’re being slapped down on foam rather than a table, but I digress. Nobody NEEDS a playmat. I don’t need a playmat. I just can’t stop buying them.
One word of advice: I personally dislike the Pokémon branded playmats. They all have decent designs (except the Darkrai one with the zones outlined, UGH), but they’re much too thick, and when folded in with my other playmats they often get creases down the middle. This probably isn’t a big deal for you because your’e not as
special needs obsessive compulsive picky about it as I am, but be warned.
I think that about wraps up this article. Know of any obvious accessories I’ve missed? Disagree with me about something? Feel free to leave it in the comments.