Everything you need to know about Pokemon Duel

Are you longing to be the very best, like no one ever was? Does catching Pokémon sound like your real test, and does training them seem like your cause? Convoluted '90s theme songs aside, if you're tapped into the exciting worlds of gaming and Pokémon, you're likely aware of Pokémon Duel, the latest endeavor by the Pokémon Company. But we wouldn't be totally surprised if you're tilting your head and stroking your chin in confusion. After all, Pokémon Duel kind of appeared out of nowhere.

After the success of Pokémon Go and right off the heels of the adorable Pokémon Sun and Moon, hardly any gamers were betting for Nintendo or its partners to unveil a new Pokémon title any time soon. Combine the success of these previously-released games with the hype surrounding the Nintendo Switch console, and it's little wonder why and how Pokémon Duel slipped under the radar. Despite its sneaky entrance into the Pokémon mobile game canon, the title offers a totally new Pokémon-hunting experience with a fresh and fun objective. If you're keen to learn more about the game before you dive in, we've got you covered with all you need to know.

What is Pokémon Duel?

Pokémon Duel is different than other Pokémon game out there…but it's also sort of the same. It's based on (the now-seemingly ancient) Pokémon Trading Figure Game, so at first it can seem foreign and kind of wrong to be utilizing tabletop elements like determining your fate with a roulette wheel, hopping about with a Monopoly-esque figurine, and collecting items like some sort of hoarder. But spend a little time with the game, and it all starts to feel more natural. Well, for the most part.

Tabletop visuals

One issue you may run into during gameplay is the way visuals are rendered. Pokémon Duel does draw the majority of its inspiration from that old relic of a trading figure game (which bit the dust back in 2009), and players should anticipate a fair bit of rigidity. Rather than everything translating smoothly across your screen, Pokémon Duel can feel a little clunky due to the static design of certain figures. Of course, if you're a diehard fan of tabletop games, then this might be right up your alley. If not, well, Pokémon Duel will definitely take some getting used to.

It's technically been out for a while

While Pokémon Duel burst onto the scene in 2017, leaving people with all sorts of questions about that title, the game was actually first released in 2016 under a different name: Pokémon Co-Master. Since it first saw success in Japan, very little marketing was done to push the game to Western regions, leaving players understandably confused when a brand-new Pokémon playable popped up in their applications store. Come on, Pokémon Company. Don't leave your fans in the dark next time.

Story mode is a little strange

As with most Pokémon games, a strong narrative is the crux that holds players up, guiding them along their journey toward ultimate mastery of their creature-catching skills. In Pokémon Duel, a story does exist, but it's kind of thin. The basic premise behind the game is simple. You're making your way to the Pokémon Figure World Championships, a massive competition the entire game is centered on, despite being a novice in the realm of Pokémon figures. Sure, it's kind of loose starting off, but the game seems to promise a turnaround.

Already amped up on the thought of securing the Jewel Tower, an island skyscraper given to the player who takes the tournament by storm, you encounter your first bump in the road. Following the same general structure of past Pokémon games, Pokémon Duel introduces a rival named Luca. However, he's surprisingly helpful, as he gives you the 101 on gameplay and the 411 on what Pokémon figures actually are. Hey, with enemies like this, who needs friends?

How do I play?

So how does this game work? What's the best way to play? Well, just approach Pokémon Duel like a standard, physical tabletop game. Users begin with the aforementioned Pokémon figures as opposed to actual monsters. Next, you'll compile your team of six Pokémon figures to go head-to-head with six of your opponent's. Seizing these figures (and your opponent's battle ground) is your main objective. "That's great and all," we can hear you saying, "but how do I do that?" Well, that's easy. Just make your way across the board. In total, there are about 28 different slots that your Pokémon can claim as their own. The number of spaces your figure(s) can move is determined by the aptly-named Move Points (or MPs). Players should be mindful to defend their own turf from intrusion while also encroaching on their enemy's. After all, this is war.

As you flit from place to place, you may run into danger. Like bumping shoulders with the high school bully as you wiggle through a crowded hallway, your figures will eventually encounter your opponent's, which means the battle is on. Here is where Pokémon Duel essentially throws away everything you currently know about Pokémon. Creature types, specialized attacks, and effectiveness don't come predetermined. Instead, they're all decided by that infamous roulette wheel, typical to tabletop titles. Spinning a higher attack secures a win for you, and you can successfully take the spot you were originally trying to land on.

Fingers crossed that luck is on your side, because if it isn't and you fall short of sweet victory, your Pokémon figure will be kicked out of the battle arena and sent off to the valley of the rejects, also known as the PokéCenter. There, the losing figure is sequestered until its health boosts back up to a playable level. It could be quite some time before you see your figure return to your deck. Fortunately, however, only two figures can stay there at a single time. The one waiting the longest gets to taste freedom first.

How do I know which figures to choose?

Setting up your six-wide squad can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. In Pokémon Duel, Pokémon figures are divided up into four tiers: common, uncommon, rare, and EX, which is essentially this game's equivalent of legendary status. What's different about these figures, as opposed to the actual Pokémon monsters we all know and love, is typing. Types hold hardly any clout in this game, so it shouldn't be the biggest factor you consider when assembling your team. However, despite the drawings being completely random, if you're stuck in your old ways, you can keep an eye out for sprinters like Murkrow and Vigoroth. You can also find most of the Eevee-lutions, such as Jolteon and Leafeon, who are adept at rushing. Then there are battlers—like everyone's favorites, Pikachu or Goodra—that put up a great fight. Finally, there are also defense figures, like Liaron or Meowth, that will valiantly defend your ground from intruders.

A more sure-fire way to create a killer line-up in Pokémon Duel is by looking at figures' stats, especially Move Points. The higher a figure's MPs, the more spaces you can move on the board. This, in turn, boosts your chances of occupying your opponent's area and gaining the win in battle. Another statistic you'll want to bookmark in your mind is the attack ratio, which you can look at in your figures' data disks. A Pokémon can be insanely powerful in doling out attacks, but if their number of misses is also sky-high, it can be a warning sign to steer clear of adding them into your Duel rolodex. And be extra careful around red disks. This means the figure has a 33 percent chance of missing every time it enters a battle. Yikes!

You can also power-up your Pokémon by getting really good at fighting or by using boosters (which can be purchased with the in-game currency gems, and those can be purchased with real-life money or by winning battles and completing daily missions). Boosters are a great thing to have on standby in case you ever want to strengthen your deck. But keep tabs on your spending if you do end up shelling out cold, hard cash, as it can be difficult to stop.

Crack (some of) the roulette wheel mysteries

Pokémon Duel has a brand new combat system, and it's based entirely on colors. Where in past Pokémon games, players could choose their attacks, Pokémon Duel utilizes the spin-the-wheel randomness that has become the tabletop title standard. Here's how things go down before you face-off against another player. You spin, your opponent spins, and then you must decide if doing battle is worth it. If you've got the upper hand, and if the luck gods are smiling upon you, you can dive straight in and hopefully nab a win.

In the attack system, certain colors can beat out others. It's kind of like a rock-paper-scissors, only with the rainbow. And though it's easy to assume there's absolutely no science behind the spins, there actually is a structure behind the smoke and mirrors of Pokémon Duel's battle wheel. So let's dive into the specifics. There are five colored attacks on the wheel. Red attacks yield a miss. Blue allows you to guard yourself from an opponent's move. White attacks are number-based, unfortunately, whereas purple attacks can dole out the damage more intensely than white ones. And finally, gold attacks are incredibly effective.

In fact, gold attacks are special, and they will beat out purple, white, and blue attacks. White attacks are offensive, and they'll trump lower-damage white ones. Purple attacks are status effect ones, able to snuff out lower-starred purple and white assaults. However, your purple attack will tie with similarly-colored moves that have the same star amount. Finally, blue attacks are defensive, and they'll beat purple and white attacks.

Yeah, you might want to spend a little time memorizing all that.

Evolution is pretty simple

While a lot of Pokémon Duel requires patience to overcome the learning curve, there are a few things that feel a bit familiar. One of those is evolution, which comes pretty easy after understanding the ground rules.

So in Duel, an evolution must be owned before it can be performed. It's a bit of a bummer and sounds kind of backwards, but it's actually beneficial to you in the long run. Rather than including an evolution in your deck right off the bat, you can earn stat bonuses by taking the slow-and-steady route of evolving your Pokemon. (And you remember how important strong stats are for battling!)

The first step is to locate your base Pokémon in your deck, then hit "Edit Figures" to place your evolution. This puts everything in order to make the evolution possible. Next thing on the agenda is kicking off the actual process, which can be accomplished most easily by defeating an opponent using the Pokémon you want to evolve.

However, there's one very important element to remember. You should evolve earlier stages first for added efficiency. For instance, if you have a Charmander and a Charmeleon, start by evolving Charmander and work your way up. This way, you'll get more bang for your buck in battle.

Earn more gems in Quest Mode

As previously mentioned when discussing boosters for your Pokémon, gems are extremely beneficial to your success in Duel. Gather up more of these helpful little dudes by tapping the star symbol right before you enter Quest Mode. This allows you to access additional stage challenges, which means (if you complete them properly) you can get your hands on more gems. Easy peasy!

WaitWins are an additional way to claim victory

"What the heck is a WaitWin?" you ask? Well, it's a pretty ruthless way of grabbing a victory for yourself. If you're cool with stripping your opponent of all their gameplay options (which, granted, sounds a lot harsher than it actually is), a WaitWin will soon be yours. Removing these options renders your opponent useless. They have no access to their spawn point, and they can't use any of their Pokémon figures to battle. Put them in this precarious position by closing off your enemy's points at the corners of the board, and be sure to squash any of their Pokémon that you cross paths with. Successfully completing these two malevolent mini-missions leaves you as the only active player. You'll win by default and be granted a WaitWin at battle's end.

Don't miss out on daily missions and rewards

In its apparent mission to modernize the Pokémon tabletop trading game, Pokémon Duel incorporated one beloved element seen in almost all free-to-play mobile games: daily rewards. After logging in for the day (or waiting 24 hours), players are gifted with free gems. The best part is, no additional gameplay is required to secure these gifts. Simply load up the game and reap the benefits. If your schedule doesn't permit hours and hours of gameplay on a given day, this is a fantastic way to still feel like you're making progress. The gems will always be waiting for you and don't expire.

If you have a little more room to rack up some play time, daily missions are even more rewarding, as they offer additional loot if you hit the basic requirements. These missions could involve playing a particular number of a certain style of game. Reach that target and expect to pick up some seriously sweet in-game swag. However, unlike gems, gifts received through missions do expire and are not automatically added to your Duel account. Be sure to accept the items in your inbox and use them up within 30 days to make the most of your once-a-day endeavors.

Transfer with caution

We've all been there before. You're rushing out of the house, keys and a coffee in one hand, your outgoing mail and unprotected smartphone in the other, when your worst fear comes true. With one fumble, you drop your phone face-down on the pavement, and the screen shatters into enough splinters to represent every living human on the planet. You prepare your wallet for a replacement phone, but you wonder what will happen to your data. Luckily for you, transferring all your precious memories is relatively simple, and Pokémon Duel is no exception…well, apart from one tiny detail.

Players are able to transfer their Duel accounts from one device to another, but moving from an iOS device (like an iPad or an iPhone) to an Android wipes away all of your gems and money. Before making the leap, ensure that you put those to good use so it isn't simply cash and effort down the drain.