Gotta Catch ‘Em All: A Parent’s Guide to Pokémon

Back in March, I wrote about throwing Joss a Pokémon birthday party. It was a good time! I especially enjoyed making watercolor paintings of various Pokémon. Since then, I’ve reverted about half of my frames back to their former pictures. But there still are plenty of colorful Pokémon on our walls!

And Joss’s love for Pokémon shows no sign of slowing down. He adored Pokémon Camp in June and loves pouring through card info booklets and a giant Unofficial Guide to Pokémon I found at Goodwill. What’s more, we’ve started playing Pokémon Go on my phone. And honestly, I’m enjoying it, too. I had a rare evening alone a couple weeks ago and spent most of it wandering around our neighborhood, catching Pokémon. And enjoying the beautiful evening, too, of course.

So for this blog post, I wanted to share some resources for supporting your new Pokémon enthusiast. If your child has been into Pokémon for a while, you probably already know all about this – or they do.  I am by no means an expert! So this parent’s guide to Pokémon is mostly my list of things we’ve enjoyed and things I’ve learned about.

1. Pokémon Battle Academy

Although my brother collected cards as a kid, he never learned how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game, or Pokémon TCG. He did, however, buy Joss the Pokémon TCG Battle Academy set, which contains three Pokémon battle decks, a game board, damage counters, and all the instructions you need to learn how to play the game. It starts off easy, and you can add rules as you get more comfortable with it.

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And the game is a lot of fun! It also adds a nice dimension to card collecting – your cards aren’t all just sitting around in a binder somewhere. You can use them to build new decks, power up old decks, etc. Pokémon Battle Academy is a great place to start if you’re interested in Pokémon TCG.

2. Play! Pokémon

Some game shops around town offer free, weekly Pokémon TCG events. These are connected with Play! Pokémon. (OK, I’m still learning about this, so please refer to this page for more info: As part of Play! Pokémon, Pokémon sends the local shops lots of fun swag like card packs, posters, stickers, etc. For kids, all these freebies make it extra fun. You can sign up for a Pokémon Trainer Club account to keep track of your progress and earn points.

We’ve joined in the Saturday events at Dragonslayer Games a couple times. It’s next to Desi Wok so makes for a nice Saturday noon-ish outing. Most Saturdays, you can show up and join in a casual game. Every now and then, however, there will be a special tournament. We showed up during one pre-release tournament for the new Paldea Evolved card series, so couldn’t play that day. We went back a week or so later and had a nice time, although Joss got beaten pretty badly! It’s a good learning experience all around, and they do a nice job of explaining how things work.

Find an Event Near You

Check details, but here are some local game shops with Pokémon battle events. A lot of them also offer other card game events throughout the week, like Magic: The Gathering, Digimon, etc. Some even offer D&D!:

  • Wizard’s Asylum, 7165 S. Mingo Rd.: Sundays at 1 p.m.
  • Dragonslayer Games, 3944 S. Hudson Ave.: Saturdays around 1 p.m.
  • Dice Addiction, 4622 E. 11th St.: Tuesday Night Pokémon Tournaments from 7-10 p.m. $5 buy-in, so this may be for more serious competitors. Would be worth calling to see if they also have more casual games. (And their selection is impressive!)

Also check out Oinkers Island in BA and Alien Games in Jenks. I can’t find info on their websites/social media about Pokémon events, but it’s possible there are some.

3. Building Your Own Battle Decks

Once you’ve learned how to play Pokémon TCG, you may want to start building your own decks! Or, to make it easier, you can buy ready-made Battle Decks for about $10, which isn’t bad. Next time we go to Dragonslayer, they’ve said they’ll help us learn how to upgrade our Battle Deck to make it even stronger.

If you’re designing a deck from scratch, check out this page:

Although Joss has plenty of Pokémon cards, once we started building decks, we noticed that we were running out of useful Trainer cards or energy cards. Vintage Stock is a great place to go for cheap cards to help round out your deck. Just make sure that the cards aren’t too old if you want to use them for official games. Apparently they “expire” after awhile! But even expired cards can be used for casual games. I just wish I’d known before I purchased several presumably-expired cards.

4. Pokémon Go

I know, I know, we’re late to the Pokémon Go craze. But it’s been fun to get into it, and it’s something else to do while you’re waiting around somewhere besides scroll social media. It also helped keep Joss occupied when we went to watch Tulsa Tough recently, on both Saturday and Sunday. I don’t think we would have lasted more than five minutes otherwise. He’s not quite into the cycling scene yet.

Philbrook is a nice place to go if you’re playing. There are several Poké-stops in the gardens. And it’s one of my favorite places to be, so now I can say, “Joss, let’s go to Philbrook and catch Pokémon,” and it’s a lovely way for us to spend an afternoon. (He does also enjoy their other outdoor activities, like building forts, swinging, etc.)

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The Pokéstop by our office 🙂

If you’re just starting out playing Pokémon Go, here are some helpful things to know:

  1. You can earn Pokémon coins by leaving your Pokémon to defend a gym. We went several weeks being frustrated, thinking you had to spend actual money in order to get Pokémon coins, which are useful for buying in-game items. Your Pokémon returns to you after no more than three days, so there’s not really a downside.
  2. Click the binoculars icon on your home screen! We ignored this for several weeks, and when I finally checked it out, we had lots of free items waiting! You get special tasks to do from spinning Poké-stops, global promotions, etc.
  3. When you catch a Pokémon, you get “candy” for that specific type of Pokémon. Collect enough candies, and you can evolve that Pokémon. They can also be used to make your Pokémon more powerful or to teach it a new attack move. Be patient! Don’t necessarily feel like you have to evolve a Pokémon right away as soon as you have enough candies. You may want to wait for a more powerful one!
  4. You can transfer Pokémon to “the Professor.” This grants you one candy per transfer and is a good way to keep your Pokémon storage from getting too full. Don’t feel like you have to keep every Pokémon you catch.

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Am I looking for more ways to get Joss spending time on a screen? No. But it is a fun game, and something we can do together, preferably while walking around the neighborhood.

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Utica Square is a great place to spin Poké-stops!

5. Where to Watch

Again, not trying to encourage more screen time, but there are a ton of Pokémon series and movies. Not to mention YouTube channels where YouTubers open new card packs, etc. Joss has watched quite a few of these card-opening videos (and even tried making a couple himself), which has definitely helped him learn more about the cards. For awhile, I was worried that if he ever started trading cards, he could get ripped off easily. But these YouTube channels have really taught him which cards are valuable, etc., so I feel like he could hold his own. Although he doesn’t really trade, anyway.

There’s even a free Pokémon TV app with a large collection of shows. But if you don’t want to download another app, most streaming services have at least a series or two.

6. Books

You can purchase any number of Pokémon handbooks. They give details about various Pokémon, like height, evolution, characteristics, etc. Joss loves these. They don’t make the most interesting reading material as a read-aloud, but we have made use of them on a road trip or two.

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In addition to the handbooks, there are a ton of book series, including manga, picture and chapter books, coloring books, etc. We have enjoyed this flip book chapter book collection, and this graphic novel set. We do have a Pokémon cookbook, but the recipes were a little too involved for me, so we’ve only used it once.

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7. Games

I have zero expertise in this. However, my brother did buy Joss Let’s Go Evee for his birthday for the Nintendo Switch. The fun thing is that the game is very similar to the Pokémon game boy games my brother used to play as a kid. So it looked kind of familiar! But I’m pretty sure there is a long list of Pokémon video games you can get for any gaming system.

OK, hopefully that helped! If Joss continues in his love for Pokémon, no doubt I’ll look back on this in a year and realize just how much I didn’t know. 🙂 Let me know how you and your kid enjoy engaging with Pokémon in the comments.

Sotw Parents Guide To Pokemon Pin

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