Joining the Pokemon TCG Online Closed Beta
The online TCG game is currently in closed beta, which means that you can only play against other people and edit your decks once you've entered a code to get into the closed beta. However, there is some stuff that you can do without getting in the closed beta and I'll go through that first.
1. Go to pokemontcg.com and register an account if you don't already have one. The accounts for the TCGO are linked to pokemon.com accounts, so if you already have one there, don't make a new account.
2. If you have any codes, you can redeem them now. There are two types of codes, the ones you get from a premade theme deck and ones you get from booster packs. Codes from theme decks give you all 60 cards to use in the closed beta and also allow you to use the decks in the Trainer Challenge. Codes from booster packs are needed to get into the closed beta (Deck codes will not)
and they also give you some extra cards if you enter multiple booster codes.
You enter your codes in the Shop section. After you've entered it, click Shop again and choose one of the six sets. You will receive 20 initial boosters in the Closed Beta. Any additional booster codes you enter will only give you additional online booster (though it can be from any set).
Note: It takes the system a minute to acknowledge your access to the closed beta. If you want to jump into playing against people right away, click on the Trainer Challenge and let it load. Then click on Trading Card Game Online and it should let you in. If this does not work, exit out of your browser and return to the site.
And then you're in!
What You Can Do
1. Once you've entered any codes, try playing a few games in the Trainer Challenge to get familiar with how the system works. If you don't know how to play the Pokemon TCG, they have some excellent tutorials that can teach you how to play. The Trainer Challenge is a game mode where you can fight a total of 36 opponents with preconstructed decks. After every match that you win in the Trainer Challenge the system automatically takes out one card and puts in a replacement that's generally better. Each deck has 12 replacements that you can unlock. As for the decks themselves, everyone automatically gets decks based around the three Johto starters. In addition to the decks that you start with, you can also play with any of the theme decks that you entered the promo code.
2. After getting comfortable with how the system is set up, click on 'Trading Card Game Online' on the bottom to start playing in the closed beta. However, you can only access the closed beta if you've entered a code from a booster pack, otherwise you can only play in the Trainer Challenge. Now that you've gotten into the beta, click 'My Collection' at the bottom to load up what cards you have. Once that's come up, click on 'Packs' at the top to actually get your cards. You should have a deck or two waiting for you (depending on how many theme deck codes you've used) and also some booster packs. I suggest using Pokebeach.com to look at what set you want your booster packs to be from so you can try to get the cards that you want.
3. After you've opened all of you packs, go back to your collection and see what kind of deck you can with what you have. In all honesty, you probably won't be able to make much without trading but just see what you can do for now. The online game does have a surprisingly good deck maker in that you can specify a card or Pokemon type and the 'Deck Wizard' will automatically put together 60 cards from your collection to make a deck. I find that the system likes to put in some weird cards (especially trainers and supporters) so be sure to check its work. Once you have a deck ready, save it and you can start playing against other people or the computer with your newly made deck.
Q: How do I know which decks and booster packs have codes in them?
A: Only cards from the newest set, Black and White, have codes for the TCG with them. All three theme decks (Green Tornado, Red Frenzy, and Blue Assault) always have a code in them, but not all the boosters do. When you buy a booster pack, make sure that it has the TCGO icon on the back of the pack or it will not have a code included with it.
Q: Will I be able to keep my cards when the game gets out of closed beta?
A: Nope, in the fall when the TCGO officially launches, everyone's card collection will be wiped. However, all of your codes will become useable again, so be sure to hold onto them, even after you've gotten your codes.
Q: How do I trade cards with another player?
A: First both people who want to trade need to be online at the same time. The chat system in the TCGO is honestly pretty dinky so you'll probably want to work out the specifics of your trade via some other medium. Once you're ready, have one person make an offer to the other. All you have to do is have the other person accept the trade and then both players are good to go.
-Note: We've created a thread where people can post what cards they have up for trade here.
Q: Why didn't the game acknowledge my code?
A: It takes a few minutes to process. Just load up the Trainer Challenge, mess around in there for a little, and you should have access to Online Play soon.