Why You Should Buy a ‘Pokemon Trading Card Game’ Trainer Kit

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Pokemon TCG Alolan Sandslash and Alolan Ninetails Trainer Kit, Image: The Pokemon Company
Pokemon TCG Alolan Sandslash and Alolan Ninetails Trainer Kit, Image: The Pokemon Company

With last week’s release of new Alolan Pokemon into Pokemon Go (for some players anyway), this is a great time to talk about the latest Pokemon Trading Card Game (TCG) Trainer Kit which features Alolan Sandslash and Alolan Ninetails. Trainer Kits are my favorite Pokemon TCG kits for both game newbies and experienced players alike, and here I’ll explain why.

Trainer Kit Components

The Alolan Sandslash and Alolan Ninetails Trainer Kit contains:

  • 60 Pokemon Cards (Split into two balanced 30 card mini-decks)
  • Two Guided Game Booklets
  • Double-sided Playmat (with advanced rules on the reverse)
  • 16 Damage Counters
  • 2 Special Condition Markers
  • Pokemon Game Coin
  • Illustrated Deck Box
  • Code for Pokemon TCG Online
Pokemon Trainer Kit Components, Image: Sophie Brown
Pokemon Trainer Kit Components, Image: Sophie Brown

How Much Does a Pokemon Trainer Kit Cost?

Trainer Kits usually cost around $10, but older, rarer kits do start to increase in price. Right now you can pick up the Lycanroc and Alolan Raichu Trainer Kit for under $9 and the Alolan Sandslash & Alolan Ninetails kit for around $11, while older Trainer Kits like Latias & Latios or Sylveon & Noivern now sell for upwards of $20/$30—so avoid these unless you’re buying for a collector.

A Trainer Kit will give you 60 cards for your $10 plus all the extras listed above. The closest comparison in terms of price is the Three-Booster Blister Pack which costs around $13 and contain 31 cards plus a Pokemon Game Coin. This means that Trainer Kits generally work out as much better value, especially for new players looking to grow their collections, but you won’t get rare cards in them like you might from other booster packs and kits.

What Makes Trainer Kits Great for New Players?

Pokemon Trainer Kits are primarily starter kits for new players and contain everything needed to play a basic game right out of the box. The key components are the Guided Game Booklets. There are two of these booklets, one for each player, and they take you through a basic game step-by-step using the cards in the kit. Playing through one of these guided games will let you try all the basic actions you will take during a game of Pokemon TCG including drawing cards, playing Pokemon on your bench or making them Active, attaching energy, evolving, and attacking your opponent.

Example Pages from the Guided Game Booklet, Image: Sophie Brown
Example Pages from the Guided Game Booklet, Image: Sophie Brown

Once you have played the guided game through and begin to feel more confident, you can flip over the playmat to read a more thorough set of rules. These include playing other card types such as Trainer Cards, using Abilities, retreating Pokemon, and using Special Conditions. The reverse of the mat may appear a little overwhelming at first, but by reading it after playing some guided games, you will see how the extra cards and abilities slot into the basic game.

My eight-year-old also had some thoughts on what makes Trainer Kits great for new players. He liked that the decks included lots of energy cards and were balanced against one another to make them fair for new players. He was impressed that the Trainer Kit allows you to evolve your Pokemon, often more than once, and that this feature is included in the guided game to help new players understand how it works. Finally, he liked that the kit included a player mat to help new players understand how to lay out their game and that the kit also included extra items like damage tokens that are needed during a game.

The Playmat During a Game Using the Guided Game Booklets, Image: Sophie Brown
The Playmat During a Game Using the Guided Game Booklets, Image: Sophie Brown

What Makes Trainer Kits Great for Experienced Players?

To start, it’s worth saying that Trainer Kits obviously won’t offer as much value to an experienced player as they will to a new one. Items like the guided game booklets and the player mat are likely to be wasted on experienced players who simply won’t require them, and my son found that most of the cards he received in this kit were duplicates. However, in many cases that is no bad thing, as extra energy cards or items such as potions are always worth having when building new decks and duplicates allow players to trade with their friends or even sell in order to make some extra cash.

So let’s look at what experienced players will gain from this box. First, and most obviously, there’s the Pokemon cards themselves. Each Trainer Kit has two featured Pokemon whose cards are included (along with a foil variant of the same card) and because the decks are standardized instead of random as in most Pokemon TCG kits, experienced players can check them out in advance and then decide if they want any of the cards they contain. My son was very pleased to receive several of the cards in this Trainer Kit including Diggersby, Malaster, and Hua. The extra damage tokens and Pokemon coin are also great to have spares of because they are the parts of your collection most likely to go missing.

My Pokemon Fan Opens the Trainer Kit, Image: Sophie Brown
My Pokemon Fan Opens the Trainer Kit, Image: Sophie Brown

Simply put, Trainer Kits won’t give you anything mind-blowing. There are no rare Ex or Gx cards to be found here, but they will give you a lot of cards for your money, which is particularly useful when creating new decks.

Other Pokemon Kits and Why You Should Buy a Trainer Kit

Just before Christmas, I discussed the wide range of Pokemon card kits and packs on the market and. These have stayed pretty much the same for many years now with only the theming changing, so check out that post if you want some insight into what is available.

For me, Trainer Kits represent the best bang-for-your-buck when it comes to purchasing Pokemon cards, especially if buying for newbies or for kids, where quantity is often prized over quality. They are pocket money priced and also make excellent gifts, although I’d recommend checking with parents before buying one for other people’s kids, as owning even a small number of Pokemon cards usually leads to the desire to start collecting them—ask me how I know…

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

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