Pokemon TCG Damage Counter Rules

Count those damages.


pokemon tcg damage counter rules

Some Pokemon moves and abilities involve putting some chip damage to the opposing Pokemon teams, which is more commonly known as damage counters.

In case you don’t know how damage counters work, you need to know all here is everything you need to know about all Pokemon TCG damage counter rules.

Mastering the basics of damage counters will allow you to understand how certain Pokemon cards work, as well as keeping track of the remaining HP of your Pokemon after inflicting damage counters.
Before we get started, we need to let you know that this article is a part of our series about how to play Pokemon TCG

So, if you want to grasp the rules of the game, you can check out our section about the latest Pokemon TCG rules.

All Pokemon TCG Damage Counter Rules

According to the official Pokemon TCG rulebook, a damage counter represents the amount of damage received by a Pokemon.

Pokemon Tcg Damage Counter Rules
Dice or markers are used in many Pokemon TCG tournaments. (Credit: The Official Pokemon YouTube Channel)

In casual and competitive games, damage counters are usually tracked by attaching dice or markers to the receiving Pokemon.

Damage counters can come from the following sources:

  • The actual damage from a Pokemon move
  • The effect of a Pokemon move
  • Abilities
  • Special Conditions (Burned, Poisoned, and Confused)

To make damage calculations more convenient in Pokemon TCG, all damages in the game are always divisible by 10, making damage counters easier to track with dice and markers.

If a Pokemon deals damage counters through an ability or a move’s additional effect, each damage counter is equivalent to 10 damage.

Let’s use this Ninetales card from the Obsidian Flames as an example. If you look at the effect of its Nine-Tailed Dance move, it can put 9 damage counters to one of your opponent’s Pokemon.

Nine Tailes Card Pokemon Tcg

Since 1 damage counter is equal to 10, this means Ninetales’ Nine-Tailed Dance will inflict 90 damage.

Damage Counters vs Normal Damage Done by Moves

All types of damage received by a Pokemon is included on its damage counter regardless of its source.

However, damage counters from the base damage of a Pokemon move is affected by the weakness and resistance mechanic.

For instance, we will make this Froakie attack a Chimchar using its move Flop, an attack that deals 10 damage, which is equivalent to 1 damage counter.

Froakie Card Pokemon Tcg

Now, take a look at the lower left corner of this Chimchar card. It says this Pokemon has a 2x weakness to Water-type Pokemon.

Chimchar Card Pokemon Tcg

Froakie is a Water-type Pokemon, which means Chimchar will receive twice the damage done by Flop. So, Chimchar will take 20 damage instead of 10, making Chimchar having 2 damage counters.

In other cases, damage counters from the effect of a Pokemon ability or special conditions work a bit differently in the sense that they are not affected by weakness and resistance.

For example, Flutter Mane from Temporal Forces has an attack called Hex Hurl that deals 90 move damage, plus an effect that puts 2 damage counters to the opposing bench Pokemon.

Flutter Mane Card Pokemon Tcg

Hex Hurl’s 90 damage can change depending if the receiving Pokemon has a weakness or resistance to Psychic-type Pokemon. 

On the other hand, Hex Hurl’s effect of putting 2 damage counters will always be the same regardless of the receiving Pokemon’s weakness or resistance.

Removal of Damage Counters

Some Pokemon and Trainer cards have “healing” features by removing an amount of damage counter to a Pokemon.

Notable examples include Potion and Radiant Tsareena.

Potion Card Pokemon Tcg
Radiant Tsareena Card Pokemon Tcg

In a Nutshell

Pokemon TCG damage rules can be quite confusing to some new players. Nevertheless, we conclude that damage counters in general are the amount of damage a Pokemon receives regardless of the source.

When applying damage counters, don’t forget that if the damage comes from a move’s base damage, it will always be affected by the receiving Pokemon’s weakness and resistance, as well as other effects of Pokemon abilities and moves.

Fortunately, most cards from the latest sets, particularly those from the Scarlet and Violet era use the term damage counter less frequently, as these cards now specify the exact amount of damage that can be dealt from move and ability effects.

With this knowledge at hand, you can now make critical decisions when leading your Pokemon into battle, either by using damage counters offensively or making a retreat to prevent your opponent from scoring knockouts.

Did you find this article useful? If you have any questions and comments about Pokemon TCG damage counter rules, feel free to share them through the comments section below.

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From his man cave in the Philippines, Celsos hoards a box full of Pokemon cards. He loves everything about Pokemon, but he also enjoys other things like playing video games, reading Tolkien's books, and writing. He currently works as the editor and writer for PokeCard HQ.


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