Important Tournament Procedure Changes Coming to the Pokémon TCG

There is a very important change that has just been made to the Pokemon TCG tournament guidelines. Already in place, these changes are going to be a major change in tournament play. All of the changes focus on penalties, when they are given, and the severity of the penalty.


There are two big changes:

  1. Single prize card penalties are gone and there are now 5 levels of penalties.
  2. Prize card penalties no longer result in your opponent picking up their prize cards.


Let’s dive deep into each change, one by one:

Important Pokemon Tournament Procedure Changes Inbound!

Reworked Prize Card Penalties

Single prize card penalties have been removed, and in their place, a new 5 tier penalty system has been introduced. The new penalties are (in order):

  1. Caution
  2. Warning
  3. Double Prize Card
  4. Quad Prize Card
  5. Game Loss

Let’s take a look at when and how each penalty is given starting with the caution:

Caution Penalty:

A caution is merely a judge or organizer notifying a player that they did something wrong. It’s followed up with an explanation of the correct procedure as well as a notification to the player that a repeated offense may result in a higher penalty.

Warning Penalty:

A warning is similar to a caution with a key distinction being that warnings are reported to Pokemon Organized Play by the head judge/organizer of the event. It’s still considered a minor penalty, but is meant to be issued on the second offense after a caution. Younger, or less experienced players may receive 2 cautions before a warning, but on the third offense a warning will always be issued.

After warnings, the penalties are much more severe, so a warning is usually accompanied by the issuing professor confirming that the erring player is aware of proper rules and procedures. Additionally, the player is informed that a repeat offense may result in an escalated penalty.

Double Prize Card Penalty:

Double prize card penalties are primarily given during two scenarios:

  1. When a mistake was made that significantly affects the game AND there is no clear way to resolve the issue.
  2. When a warning has been given and a quad prize card penalty would be too harsh.

The important takeaway here is that a mistake of high enough severity may not receive a caution or a warning at all, and instead result in a double prize card penalty.

If the opponent only has one or two prize cards remaining at the time, the game is over immediately with the opponent winning. The opponent cannot decline this or any other penalty.

Quad Prize Card Penalty:

The quad prize card penalty is used when a mistake causes a severe impact on the game state, but a game loss would be too harsh. It works similarly to the double prize card penalty, but is reserved for more severe mistakes.

Game Loss Penalty:

The game loss penalty is the most severe of all the penalties. It is given when a player makes a mistake that results in an “irreparably broken game” in which play is unable to be continued. It can also be used for other major procedural errors or problems. (Think behavior outside of the match.)

When a game loss is issued during an active game, the game is recorded as a loss for the player receiving the penalty. In some (extremely rare) cases, both players may receive a game loss penalty simultaneously. If that occurs, a game is not considered a tire, but is recorded as a loss for both players with no winner.

All penalties, including the game loss penalty, may be awarded between rounds. If that occurs, the penalty will be applied to the players next game.

A few example penalties

Now if you’re reading this and wondering what counts as a minor mistake and what counts as a severe mistake, no worries. We’ll clear all that up in this section:

For starters, at regionals, internationals, or worlds, all mistakes are automatically considered tier 2. This means that double prize cards will be the default penalty at that level of play. Harsh, but fair.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about some of the errors which could result in a major penalty:

  • Drawing an extra card.
  • Shuffling a deck mid-game without the use of a card effect.
  • Playing more than one energy card in a turn without the use of an effect that allows you to.
  • Insufficiently randomizing your deck.
  • Failing to set up prize cards at the beginning of the game.
  • Taking of a prize card without knocking out a pokemon.
  • Taking too many prize cards after knocking out a pokemon.
  • Forgetting to put damage counters on a pokemon from a mandatory effect, such as poisoned.
  • Using an ability when a card prevents its use.

The Other Big Change: Prize Cards are No Longer Picked Up

Prior to this rule change, a prize card penalty resulted in your opponent picking up their prize cards.

Now however, things will work a bit differently: Your opponent won’t pick up their prize card but instead be given a prize card penalty slip. This slip will be handed out by a professor after a double or quad prize card penalty has been issued and serve as a reminder that the player needs to pick up less prize cards to win the game.

At the end of the match, the player must sign the prize card penalty slip and turn it in alongside the match slip.

Why is this a HUGE deal?

There are 3 big reasons why the prize card voucher is such a big deal, and they are actually 3 different cards!

  1. N
  2. Counter Energy
  3. And Counter Catcher

Previously, taking a prize penalty gave you access to counter catcher, counter energy, and N. Theoretically, you could make an error on the first round, and force your opponent to draw only a 2 card hand with N. It would completely screw over your opponent, and almost result in getting a benefit from making an error!

This has actually happened before, and this rule change (voucher vs picking up prize cards after a penalty) prevents all that from happening.

So Remember!


  • Don’t pick up prize penalties!


  • Errors like drawing a card are now double card penalties.


What do you think about this rule change? Let us know in the comments below!