It was announced that the Pokémon TCG Live beta is going to become available globally before the end of the year! Here in Germany, it’s been available since September, so I’ve been playing a decent amount already. If you’ve read my previous review, you know I haven’t been a big fan, but the most recent update improved the game by a lot. In its current state, I think PTCGO is still better gameplay wise, but there are solid reasons to play on Live instead, so I’ve been using both recently.
I’ve been getting a lot of the same questions about the game from friends and people online, so thought it would be a good idea to write down the most important things you should know when starting to play in the beta. Let’s get right into it!
Most importantly, you do not need to migrate your PTCGO account to play on Live. You can start a fresh collection on Live with the same login you use for PTCGO, and any progress you make on Live will be retained once you decide to bring over your PTCGO collection at some later point. However, the game pushes you to migrate your collection during the first time logging in, so be careful and read everything before clicking on buttons! Once you migrate your account to Live, you cannot go back to PTCGO with it, which also means you cannot participate in the Team Challenge. Only migrate if you are 100% sure about it!
There are 3 different in-game currencies on Live: Coins, Crystals and Credits.
Coins are pretty common, but can only be used to buy cosmetic items like deck boxes and sleeves, so they don’t have any effect on your card collection.
Crystals are rare — you can collect 60 per day by completing your daily quest. They can be used to buy packs in the shop, and to unlock the Premium Battle Pass. More on how to spend them later, but basically they are used to get a few extra packs every now and then.
Credits are the most important currency, as they can be directly exchanged for the cards you want. You earn credits through the Battle Pass, and by receiving cards that you already have 4 of in your collection. If such cards would be added to your collection, they are automatically converted instead.
The Credit cost of a card is determined by its rarity. You can find a list of the different values here. When an extra card is traded in, you receive between 1/4 (lower rarity cards) and 1/2 (higher rarity cards) of its exchange value.
The Battle Pass is the main way you acquire packs and cards. It updates with every new expansion and includes a bunch of different rewards on its way to completion. You progress through the Battle Pass by finishing daily quests and winning games on the ladder. The two daily quests combined contribute almost 1 full tier of the Battle Pass, while a win is about one tenth of a tier.
The Premium Battle Pass costs 600 Crystals, but reimburses almost all those Crystals if you get far enough. If you plan to play regularly enough to finish the Battle Pass, there is no reason to not upgrade to the Premium Pass.
How To Use Your Resources
Initially, the game gives you multiple semi-competitive decks that include a lot of staples, so building some kind of competent deck is not difficult. Currently, Hisuian Zoroark VSTAR and Blissey V are the best free-to-play available decks. To build a different deck, you need on average about 7k Credits, for which you’ll need to buy and redeem code cards.
The by far best set to open is Celebrations. As mentioned above, you earn Credits by opening cards that you already have a playset of, which won’t happen for a while when opening main expansions. Celebrations however is tiny, so you can collect 4-ofs rather quickly. In addition, all cards in the set count as Rare or above, and as such provide much more Credits than cards in other sets. Cards from the Classic Collection are even better, giving out Credits equal to Ultra and Secret Rares, while being much easier to pull than “real” Ultra / Secret Rares. Even when not factoring in the ease of completing a set, Celebrations packs have about 10x the value of a regular pack!
After redeeming 200 Celebrations packs, you should have about 80k Credits available. If you go up to 400 packs (the maximum per set you can redeem), you can get up to 200k Credits. At 6-8k for a new deck, those Credits will last you quite a while. At the time of writing, you can get 200 Celebrations packs for $30 on PoTown Store (+ 5% off by using any of your favorite content creator’s promo code, code Limitless should work as well). I’d expect the price to rise as we go into global beta, but overall it should be a decent deal for what’s maybe years of new decks. You can probably find codes for even cheaper on places like Cardmarket or various facebook marketplaces, if you don’t care about instant delivery and are willing to type out the codes yourself.
For the same reason, do not spend Crystals on any of the Bundles or main sets from the in-game shop! Instead, go to the “Expansions” tab, select Celebrations, and buy the 6 pack bundle for 1120 Crystals whenever you have enough of them. This is easily the most Credit value you can get out of your Crystals. Don’t even look at the other offers, they aren’t worth it.
I would recommend trying out the mobile version of the game, which in my opinion is quite well made. I wasn’t initially sold on the idea of playing Live on my phone, but really enjoyed it when giving it a try, and am now using it quite regularly. The user interface makes sense, and gameplay feels pretty good for a mobile game. Playing on there explains many of the rather awkward aspects on the desktop version (which hopefully will be further optimized and evolve away from the mobile focused user interface).
One difference with the game compared to PTCGO you will notice when switching over is the quality of games on the ladder. In the beginning, you will be playing against mostly the pre-constructed decks, or some non-competitive combinations of them. Once you get into Great League, you will start finding competitive matches more frequently, but it will take about 50 games of mostly wins. I hope this will get better once more people play the beta, but don’t expect to hop into Ranked and get meaningful Regionals testing done immediately.
I hope this quick article was helpful for some of you! Once the beta is available in your country, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. The game does still have its issues, but overall it’s not bad, and you can use it alongside PTCGO. If you think I forgot something important, let me know and I’ll add it to the article!