We’ve been taking more of an interest in Pokémon recently thanks to the popular mobile app Pokémon Go. We’ve watched the TV show on Netflix, have a couple small figures, books and Tanooki always wants to know which new Pokémon I’ve hatched from eggs on my phone at the end of my work day.
Rather than pursue more screen time I’ve since spent some time looking into Pokemon trading cards after seeing some at a friends house on a visit. I found 100 assortment cards online and gave them to Tanooki for his birthday present. We loaded them into two plaster tins for safekeeping when traveling and also to protect them from one of our cats who only tends to shred papers of personal value when he wants attention.
I brought them with us on one of our days out and then quickly realised that I didn’t know how to play – the actual card game is more complex than I had anticipated and we were soon faced with some difficulties just trying to have some fun with the cards. We pressed on, built some decks and came up with some loose rules for a fast game that also incorporates basic scorekeeping and maths.

I had some sets of role-playing dice that I had sequestered away for playing Hero Kids but brought a bag with me the next day. Our rules go like this:

  1. Make a deck, it can have anything in it, but we will only play cards that have one or more basic attacks on them, so discard anything that’s a support card, energy card etc.
  2. Keep your deck face down
  3. Each player draws a card from the top of the deck and turns it face up
  4. The youngest person goes first and attacks.
  5. Look at the maximum number an attack can be on your card and choose your dice accordingly. For example, if your Minun attacks for a maximum 70 hit points, you roll 1D6 as your base dice and 1D10 to add to that number, if your Pokemon only attacks as high as 20 then use a twenty-sided die instead.
  6. Take it in turns to battle, keeping score to the side like so.
  7. Once your hit points are depleted, the card is out of play.

We track scores in Notes on the iPad, so that I can show Tanooki how I’m doing the maths and subtracting from the overall hit points.

It’s not perfect, but it’s enough to keep us engaged and it’s fun to teach him how the various dice from my RPG days works.
Bonus – the hit point system has carried on to our playing outside after dinner and before bed. Tanooki bounces on the trampoline with a foam sword while I ‘attack’ him from over the net with a pool noodle. The noodle has 110 hit points, and each sword hit attacks for 10. After 11 hits, the noodle is defeated and it’s time for bed. It’s a nice way to manage expectations and time limits.
Extra Bonus – on the day I bought the dice, Tanooki took it upon himself to roll to decide how many bites of his food he would eat – and gamed himself into finishing his dinner.

Insert quarter – you just played yourself.