If you’re like me, then your name is Philippe and you live in California.
If you’re slightly less like me, then you probably used to do the whole fake card thing, stopped, but then only recently got back into it. Well, what better way to get back into making fake cards than by going back to the site that started it all! Well, I mean, the modern version of that site, not the old version; I don’t update that site anymore, so that info isn’t very useful now.
As I’m sure you might have noticed, the card game has changed A LOT since the Wizards of the Coast days. Pokémon LV.X? BREAK Evolutions? Ultra Beast?? What the smeg is goin’ on here? It’s kinda scary stuff, almost like an daunting task to want to get back, right?
Well, don’t worry, your ol’ pal Uncle Nick15 is here to help explain everything. Hopefully by the end of this you’ll get a good idea of the kind of stuff you can do with this game and hopefully inspire you in new and exciting ways. That said, this page is still a work in progress, but I’m planning on covering all the different card types and styles. Anyways, let’s get crackin’!
Before I get into the weeds, I’m gonna make a quick assumption here: I’m gonna assume that you already had SOME degree of faking experience from back in the day, and were at least somewhat familiar with the kinds of blanks and materials we used back in the day. But that said, I’m also going to presume a baseline level of experience with faking which ends right around when PA! ceased updating in 2004, or maybe even before than, like during the end of the Wizards of the Coast era (around the Card-E era). So this information might be perfectly tuned to your level of experience, but it might also be too new or too old. I can’t account for everyone’s experience, but I’ll still try to keep things more generalized as possible for anyone trying to get back into faking after being out of the loop for so long.
This page breaks down card design into three broad categories:
- Card Styles — card styles are the main category of card design, which change every few years with the release of a new video game generation
- You can’t mix-and-match card styles; they are ultimately the core, fundamental category of blank design
- So the Original, Card-E, Diamond/Pearl, etc. blank designs are all “Card Styles”
- Card Types — card types are sub-categories of card designs, which technically can be a part of ANY card style
- Although many card types—such as Pokémon-ex, Pokémon-EX, Pokémon VMAX, etc—only appeared in a certain card style era, technically they can be a part of ANY card style.
- You’ve likely seen this before: Gym Heroes and Gym Challenge had “Owner’s Pokémon” card types which used the Original Card Style. So basically, unlike card styles, card types can be mixed-and-matched with multiple other card types.
- Ways to Evolve — because of these various card styles and types, various game and design rules have come along which affect how and IF cards of a certain style or type can even evolve to begin with.
- For example, Pokémon-ex type Pokémon can evolve from a non-ex Pokémon, while Pokémon-EX type Pokémon are ALWAYS Basic Pokémon cards but can in turn evolve into MEGA Pokémon-EX type Pokémon.
These core categories form the basis of the sections of this page:
- Card Styles and Blanks: this section covers all of the different card styles and therefore blank designs that have come about since the “EX blanks” that we originally released. As you can imagine, the cards have been redesigned MANY MANY times over the years, but the core elements have always remained the same.
- Card Types and Concepts: this section focuses more on the various card types that have existed over the entire history of the game, like Pokémon-ex, Pokémon PRIME, Ultra Beast Pokémon, etc… the idea is to show you what they looked like relative to their baseline blank in case you wanted to make those kinds of cards using other blanks (like a Base Set-style Mega Pokémon-EX)
- Ways to Evolve: this is more of a subsection to the Card Types and Styles section, covering the ways those card types were intended mechanically interact with one another.
That said, all of this is here to serve three major purposes:
- one, to get old timers up to speed on everything they’ve missed out on since the good ol’ days
- two, to get fakers acclimatized to the rules in order to maintain a high level of authenticity (and therefore believability)
- three, to learn the rules to therefore know how to properly break them
The latter is one of the driving forces of my own artistic career, which I first realized after reading about the concept from Calvin & Hobbes’ creator, Bill Watterson; he basically said that you can’t break the rules until you know what those rules are.
Card Styles and Blanks
So as you might remember, we had blanks covering Base Set up until the Nintendo eReader EX-era Blanks, which covered the Card-E era from EX: Ruby & Sapphire up to around EX: Team Magma vs Team Aqua. But since then, many new card blank types have come and gone. I’ve also included a card which best exemplifies the blank; they’ve all been pretty much sourced from PKMNcards.com or Bulbapedia, although some of them were ones I created myself (such as any Japanese-language examples). For the sake of getting a good idea of what the card blank looks like, I’ve tried to choose cards which have a good variety of open space but also a variety of attacks, but I’ve also stuck with a single type so you can see how the same type is reflected across the different types. I’m also covering each blank in broad strokes focusing on its baseline design, so I won’t cover some of the more nuanced subset blank designs, such as Team Magma/Aqua versions of the blanks. Those details will be in the following “Card types and style” section.
Just as a friendly reminder, these were the blank card design styles we had back in the day:
|EX Blanks, post-eReader Version
|BONUS! Wizards Alpha Blanks
All of these blanks can currently be downloaded at PokemonCardResources, except for the SwSh Blanks, which you can download here on PA! (courtesy of aschefield101). That said, we’ll be focusing on making new fakes using the SwSh blanks, so maybe download the SwSh Blanks pack when you’re ready to start.
Card Types and Concepts
Whew doggies! A lot has changed since the good ol’ days… the most we had to contend with was Pokémon-ex, and those were wild new concepts back then! But now there’s so many different types… where does one begin??
Well fortunately, in an effort to even help myself understand what kinds of card types exist and are worth making fakes of, I’ve gone through every single set and documented all the different card designs which might complicate things a bit more than your classic “Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2” card. I will say, however, that despite all these wild varities and concepts, that classic “Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2” style remains the backbone of the game… so if you remember how to make cards in that format, then you’re already ahead of the game relative to someone else making fakes!
But anyways, here’s my comprehensive guide to the various card types. To clarify, each entry is formatted like:
- Set Name: Card type/feature
- Sometimes the “Card type/feature” name will have a link, usually to Bulbapedia and an article that I may or may not have had help in writing
- This is where I’ll explain what this type or feature is or does
- DESIGN: this is where I’ll explain what you need to consider when actually designing such a card (such as requiring extra icons, change of colors, etc)
|Team Rocket, Neo Destiny: Dark Pokémon, Light Pokémon
|Gym Heroes, Gym Challenge: Owner’s Pokémon, 1st Version
|Neo Destiny, Shining Legends: Shining Pokémon
|Pokémon-VS: Owner’s Pokémon, 2nd Version
|Aquapolis, Skyridge: Crystal Pokémon
|EX/ADV Block: Pokémon-ex
|EX Team Rocket Returns: Pokémon ☆
|EX Delta Species: δ Delta Species Pokémon
|Diamond & Pearl: Pokémon LV.X
|Diamond & Pearl: Free Attacks
|Mysterious Treasures: Held Items
|Platinum: Pokémon SP
|HeartGold & SoulSilver: Pokémon Prime
|HeartGold & SoulSilver: Pokémon LEGEND
|Black & White Next Destinies: Pokémon-EX
|BW Boundaries Crossed: ACE SPEC cards
|BW Boundaries Crossed: Team Plasma cards
|XY: Mega Pokémon
|XY Primal Clash: Ancient Trait
|XY BREAKthrough: Pokémon BREAK Evolutions
|Sun & Moon: Pokémon-GX
|SM Crimson Invasion: Ultra Beast cards
|SM Ultra Prism: Prism Star
|SM Team Up: Tag Team-GX
|Sword & Shield: Pokémon V and Pokémon VMAX
|SwSh Vivid Voltage: Amazing Pokémon
|SwSh Battle Styles: Rapid Strike, Single Strike
PHEW!! It took a while, but that basically covers some 15-20 years of Pokémon TCG card-type evolution (no pun intended), though there may still be one or two minor card types I might have missed.
One important note I need to make about these card types is that, while there is some level of internal consistency within the types, there isn’t much connection or lineage between them. Like, there are several different special card types that allow opponents to draw two prizes upon a knock out, but they otherwise have zero mechanical connection between them. Heck, there are TWO card types with “Ex” in its name, but are technically and mechanically separate card types; for instance, Pokémon can evolve to a Pokémon-ex (though nothing can evolve FROM them), while Pokémon-EX are all Basic Pokémon and can only evolve to Mega Pokémon-EX. Furthermore, Trainer cards which say something like “Search your deck for a Pokémon-ex card” aren’t applicable to Pokémon-EX (or any other special Pokémon type for that matter), so this also creates a temporal limit to the usefulness of those cards.
Then there’s the whole interaction part, like which card can evolve into what… which I’ll cover below.
Ways to Evolve
Because of these different card types and styles, they may actually affect how a card can evolve, IF it can even evolve to begin with. This section covers exactly which card can be placed onto what.
- Basic (only; they generally can’t evolve into anything else)
- Basic Shining Pokémon
- Basic Pokémon ☆
- Basic Pokémon-ex
- Basic Pokémon-EX
- initially; in later sets they were made to evolve into Mega Pokémon-EX, but means that unless a Mega Pokémon-EX exists for it, it won’t evolve into anything
- Basic Pokémon-GX
- Basic Tag Team-GX
- Baby > Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2
- Prime Pokémon are neither special nor different than normal cards, they just look different. So a Phanpy can evolve into a “Prime” Donphan, only because it’s just a regular Donphan.
- Crystal Pokémon are normal Pokémon—whether Basic, Stage 1 or 2—other than the fact that they are Colorless-types and have the Crystal Type ability.
- Delta Species Pokémon are normal Pokémon, just with varying types. There is no prerequisite that a Pokémon needs to share types with its evolutions.
- Formes—like “Alolan XXXX” or “Galarian XXXX”—are part of a Pokémon’s name and therefore affect evolution.
- Subsets include:
- Owner’s Basic > Owner’s Stage 1 > Owner’s Stage 2
- this includes Pokémon SP and Team Aqua/Magma forms, but NOT Team Plasma forms
- Dark Basic > Dark Stage 1 > Dark Stage 2
- Light Basic > Light Stage 1 > Light Stage 2
- Owner’s Basic > Owner’s Stage 1 > Owner’s Stage 2
- Assume both “Baby > Basic”, Owners, Dark and Light Pokémon, etc etc evolution concept applies to everything below as well.
- So if a “Baby Misty’s Azurill” ever existed, then it could only evolve into a “Basic Misty’s Marill”. Same with “Baby Dark Igglybuff” only evolving into a “Basic Dark Jigglypuff”
- Basic > Stage 1 Pokémon-ex
- Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2 Pokémon-ex
- There were Basic Pokémon-ex, but Pokémon-ex basically represent an end form to which nothing can evolve from.
- To be specific, if there was ever an Bulbasaur ex, that would be it. Similarly, a hypothetical Ivysaur ex would NOT be intended to evolve from from that “Bulbasaur ex“, only from a normal “Bulbasaur”. The same goes with Venusaur ex, which would’ve only been intended to evolve from a normal Ivysaur, not an Ivysaur ex. This is because the “ex” is part of their name.
- If you wanted to invent an entire line of Pokémon-ex like that—Bulbasaur ex, Ivysaur ex, Venusaur ex—then they would need to specifically state “Evolves from Bulbasaur ex” and “Evolves from Ivysaur ex“. However, given that players expect Pokémon-ex to evolve from normal Pokémon, this might cause some confusion.
- Basic > Lv.X
- Basic > Stage 1 > Lv.X
- Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2 > Lv.X
- Technically Lv.X is not an evolution, but it does also represent an end form to which nothing can evolve from
- That said, I guess it’s possible for a Lv.X Pokémon to evolve—say a Lv.X Pikachu evolving into a plain ol’ Raichu—seeing as Lv.X is not an evolution nor part of its name, therefore technically a Raichu evolution card is still being placed on a Basic “Pikachu” card. But there were never any Lv.X cards made which could be placed on a Pokémon which could then evolve, so this concept has never been tested.
- Basic Pokémon-EX > Mega Pokémon-EX
- Only Mega Pokémon-EX have ever existed, and have therefore only been designed to evolve from Pokémon-EX and be Pokémon-EX themselves.
- However, there is no theoretical reason why normal “Mega Pokémon” can’t exist on their own, or evolve from other card types. Therefore, it’s possible for either a Basic, Stage 1 or Stage 2 to “Mega Evolve”, as the card itself will specifically state what you can place the Mega Pokémon Evolution card onto (for example, “Put M Pidgeot-EX on the Basic Pokémon-EX”)
- The plan for this is to simply do normal Mega Evolutions, like how they were in the video games; like a normal Kangaskhan evolving into Mega Kangaskhan.
- Theoretical Mega Evolution forms include (but aren’t limited to):
- Basic Pokémon-ex > Mega Pokémon-ex
- Basic > Stage 1 Pokémon-ex > Mega Pokémon-ex
- Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2 Pokémon-ex > Mega Pokémon-ex
- Basic > Mega Pokémon
- Basic > Stage 1 > Mega Pokémon
- Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2 > Mega Pokémon
- Basic > BREAK
- Basic > Stage 1 > BREAK
- Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2 > BREAK
- BREAK evolutions represent an end form to which nothing can evolve from
- They only seem to evolve from normal Pokémon, not Pokémon-EX or Mega Pokémon.
- Ruling-wise, BREAK evolutions only simply append extra attacks to the existing Pokémon, so it’s theoretically possible for there to be a Pokémon-EX BREAK… but that’s really overdoing it.
- That said, I MIGHT, just for shits-and-giggles, make a perfectly legal but completely balls-out nonsense Pokémon card which is a Mega Pokémon-ex BREAK, as in:
- Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2 Pokémon-ex > Mega Pokémon-ex > Mega Pokémon-ex BREAK
- This would be so friggin’ crazy, BUT absolutely and totally game legal. Maybe it’ll involve Team Rocket’s unrestrained genetic engineering program.
- Basic > Stage 1 Pokémon-GX
- Basic > Stage 1 > Stage 2 Pokémon-GX
- Like with Pokémon-ex, there are Basic Pokémon-GX, they just can’t evolve as Pokémon-GX represents an end form
- Basic Pokémon V > VMAX Pokémon VMAX
- Kinda redundant name, but… the first VMAX is the stage, the second VMAX is its type.
Of course these rules are only here if you want to focus on authenticity and rule accuracy. But if you want to make a Shining Pokémon evolve into a Mega Pokémon LV.X, go for it; don’t let me stop you! That’s the fun of making Pokémon fake cards: your dream cards can come to life.
But that said, you can kinda see why the Pokémon TCG, after the end of one generation and the start of the next, tends to basically toss its previous card types down the Memory Hole; they want you to keep moving with the game instead of trying to hold onto what happened in the past. I’m not here to debate whether this is good or not, just that, clearly there is a temporal limit to the relevancy of these cards. But then again, I guess this happens all the time in healthy card games; afterall, when was the last time Magic: the Gathering made a card that utilized Flash?
So Far, So Good…!
This is all I have to share with you for now… there’s still a LOT to cover in getting you up to speed. But I wanted to at least get some foundational work set up so that I can use it to build off of later.
That said, perhaps my next major task for this page is to provide picture examples of the various blank styles and card types, so you can understand what I’m actually on about.
Until then, hopefully I’ve given you some new stuff to chew on, so that you might be better prepared to get back into the faking game. Sound good? Good times.