Players begin by having one player select heads or tails, and the other flips a coin; the winner of the coin flip will decide who goes first or second. The player going first cannot attack their first turn, unless the card says otherwise. (Dice may be used in place of coins, with even numbers representing heads and odd numbers representing tails). Players then shuffle their decks and draw seven cards, then play one Basic Pokémon onto the field. This Pokémon is known as the Active Pokémon and is usually the one that attacks and receives damage. If a player does not have any Basic Pokémon, they must shuffle and draw a new hand, and the opponent may draw one additional card. Once both players have at least one Basic Pokémon, they can play up to five more Basic Pokémon onto their “Bench” (representing the maximum-carry limit of six from the video games). Players then take the top six cards of their deck and place them to the side as Prize Cards. Play then begins with the player who won the coin flip.

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