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Pokemon TCG Special Conditions — How They Work

Special Conditions are a crucial part of many meta decks in the current Pokemon TCG landscape. Here's what you need to know about every condition in the game.

In the Pokémon TCG, the goal is ultimately to attack your opponent’s Pokémon, eventually damaging it enough to KO it and take a prize card (or multiple). But some attacks also have Special Conditions that can shake up the gameplay.

In the past few metas, Special Conditions didn’t show up all too often so you may not be totally aware of what these do or how they work. Here is a quick overview of how Special Conditions work in the Pokémon TCG.

General Overview of How Special Conditions Work

There are multiple Special Conditions in the TCG:

  • Asleep
  • Burned
  • Confused
  • Paralyzed
  • Poisoned

When a Pokémon is affected by a Special Condition, you can indicate it with a status marker (either one specifically made for that condition or a random item you and your opponent both agree to use to remember).

Pokémon can only be affected by one Special Condition at a time in most cases. Once that Pokémon finds a way to retreat to the bench, the Special Conditions are removed. Evolving a Pokémon or using certain cards or attacks can also remove the condition.


Snorlax asleep pokemon tcg card

When a Pokémon is Asleep, it can’t attack or retreat. To indicate it’s Asleep, turn the card sideways.

After each turn, the player must flip a coin. If heads, the Asleep Pokémon wakes up and is no longer affected by the Special Condition. If tails, the Pokémon is still Asleep. If you evolve or retreat the Pokémon using a card, it’s also no longer asleep.


Centiskorch pokemon tcg card

When a Pokémon is Burned, place a marker on the card. Then, flip a coin between turns. If the coin lands on heads, the Pokémon doesn’t get damaged but remains Burned. However, if you get tails your Pokémon gets two damage counters. This amount can be increased with certain attack effects and other cards.

After the damage is added, you will need to flip another coin. If you get heads, your Pokémon is cured, keeping the damage it already sustained. If tails, you remain Burned.


Psyduck pokemon tcg card from Sun and Moon

Confused Pokémon are turned upside down. You can still attack but you’ll have to flip a coin. If heads, the attack works as planned. But if you get tails, you’ll get three damage counters on your own Pokémon and no attack happens.

The Pokémon will remain Confused unless you retreat. You can retreat as usual.


Raichu in the Pokemon TCG

A Pokémon that’s Paralyzed can no longer attack or retreat for one turn. Turn the card sideways to indicate this. After the end of your turn, your Pokémon will return to normal and no longer be Paralyzed.

If you want to un-Paralyze your Pokémon during your current turn, you’ll need to use a card to retreat it, including items like Escape Rope and Switch Cart.


Dragalge card in pokemon tcg

The final Special Condition is Poisoned, one of the most common. When a Pokémon is Poisoned, one damage counter is placed on the afflicted ‘mon between turns. There are certain cards that will increase the amount of counters placed.