Neopets: The Trading Card Game
The Neopets Trading Card Game (warning - the pages have not been updated in several years) was a real-world game users could purchase in stores and play with their friends. While no new expansions have been released in the past few years, the tie-ins on the site remain - and you can still purchase cards from online resellers.
I'd suggest not challenging Dr. Sloth.
The Neopets TCG consists of Neopets participating in "Contests" in four different arenas - Strength, Agility, Magic, and Intelligence. Players can use cards such as Items and Equipment to boost their skills in each arena; the winner of a particular contest can either draw a card or Bank it; the first player with 21 points in their bank wins.
While the official rulebook is available for download in PDF format, I'm going to cover the basics of gameplay for you here.
In order to play the Neopets TCG, you need to have two people, each with a deck (containing at least 40 cards), and a Basic Neopet stack (containing 10-15 cards). You'll also want a die, and a game mat. If you have a Starter Set, you'll automatically get everything you need for a beginner's game. If you wish to build your own deck, you can either follow the advice of the Deck Suggestions on the site, or build one up from scratch. If you build your own, make sure that you've got enough bankable points, and don't have more than 3 of any one card.
While I'd like to say the game mat isn't a necessity, in this game (unless you're an expert who could play it in your sleep) it unfortunately is. The mat identifies which piles are which, where the bank is, which arena is which, etc. If you don't have an official one, it's highly recommended that you make your own (even just drawing it out on a large piece of paper), to avoid any confusion.
I'll just make my own!
Once you've got your deck and Basic Neopet Stack in place on your mat (make sure they're all well shuffled!), both you and your opponent draw four cards from the top of your respective decks. After that, you both roll the die - whoever rolls higher goes first.
At the beginning of every turn, untap any of your tapped Neopets, and draw a card from the top of your deck. If you have less than three Neopets in play, you also draw the top card from your Basic Neopet Stack, and place it in the arena of your choosing. You then have the option of either playing cards from your hand (such as Locations or Equipment), tapping a Neopet to move it to a different arena, or starting a Contest.
I know what I'm going to do.
The majority of the action in the Neopets TCG occurs through "Contests". These can be held in any of the four arenas, and are affected only by the stat representing that arena; the contest may only be entered by Pets, Villains, or Heroes located in that specific arena. Each arena may only have one contest per turn, not counting special Villain contests. If it is your turn, you may start a contest in any arena by tapping one or more of the untapped Pets, Villains, or Heroes currently located in that arena. If your opponent does not have any cards currently located in that arena, you win by default.
If your opponent does have one or more cards in that arena, the contest begins in earnest. Each of you has the opportunity to lay an item card face down. Once both have been laid (or it has been stated that you are not laying one), they are flipped over and any effects take place. Each of you then rolls the die, and adds up your individual total: base stat + equipment + item + roll. Whoever has the highest total wins the contest; if it's a tie, both re-roll.
You may want to use numbers instead...
Note: If there is a Villain in an arena, it does not get any bonuses from Item cards or rolls of the die. See the description below for more information.
If you win a contest you started on your turn, you can either draw a card from the top of the pile, or bank an Item or Equipment card from your hand. If you win a contest started on your opponent's turn, neither of you may draw or bank a card.
A great number of actions in the Neopets TCG require you to "tap" a Neopet. What this means is that you turn the card sideways, to indicate that it's been tapped for this turn. All your cards untap (return to being right-side-up) at the beginning of your turn. A tapped card cannot be tapped again; if you tap to attach equipment, you cannot then use the tapped pet to enter a contest during that turn.
There are two ways you can win the game - either you fill up your bank with at least 21 points, or your opponent runs out of cards in their draw pile.
You are the champion, my friend ~ ♪
Types of Cards
There are several types of cards within the TCG - some are pivotal, some less so; a few were only released in certain expansions. You can only have a maximum of 3 copies of any one card in your deck.
Basic Pet cards are the first line of both attack and defence in contests. These cards each represent a solid-coloured Neopet (such as an Orange Blumaroo or a Red Koi), and sit in a pile separate from the rest of your draw pile. This pile consists of between ten and fifteen Basic Neopet cards. Each Basic Neopet card has a single element affiliation, and base stats in each area ranging from 1 to 9.
If you are not pleased with the Basic Neopet cards you currently have in play (you can only have 3 at any one time), you may take an untapped one, move it to the bottom of your Basic Neopet draw pile, and replace it with the top card from that pile. The new pet may go in any arena, and is tapped for this turn.
Unlike the Basic Pets cards, the Experienced Neopet cards are part of your main deck. During your turn, if you have an Experienced Neopet card in your hand that is the same species as one of your Basic Neopet cards in play, you may replace the Basic Neopet with its Experienced counterpart. The Experienced pet will be tapped if the Basic pet was; the Basic Pet goes back to the bottom of the Basic Pet pile. Typically Experienced Neopets have notably higher base stats than Basic Neopets, and some may have more than one element affiliation.
Items can be used in two different ways. The first is by playing it at the beginning of a contest - the points listed on the bottom of the card will be added to your Neopet's stats for this contest; after the contest, the Item is discarded. The second is to bank it when you win a contest. The number in the bottom left is the banking value - since you want to reach 21 banked points, it's generally good to have some items in your deck that are good for playing, and others that are good for banking.
Equipment, like Items, can be used in two ways. Like items, they can be banked and played - banking works much the same, but playing is different. On the upper-right of the card, you'll see that you need to tap a pet in order to attach the equipment. The pet tapped does not have to be the one you equip, but if you see an elemental affiliation in the corner, the tapped pet must be that element. The equipment stays attached unless another card's effect forces it to be discarded.
Villains may be evil - but they can definitely be on your side! If you wish to play a villain card, you'll need to make sure you have a pet with the right element in one of your arenas. If you do, you can then place the Villain in the arena of your choosing. They enter contests the same way as basic and experienced Neopets, by tapping. Unlike Neopets, though, Villains cannot have Equipment or Items attached to them, and do not get the die-roll bonus. A Villain will stay in play until it is defeated, at which point it is discarded.
If there is a Villain located in an arena, it must be defeated in an individual contest before either player can start a standard contest in the arena. When the Villain is defeated, the winner may not draw or bank a card.
Heroes are the opposite of Villains - they generally require a pet (or two!) to be tapped, can have Equipment and Items attached, and are automatically discarded (along with their equipment) at the end of your turn.
Something Has Happened
These cards can vary wildly, and are best summed up by "Do what the card tells you to".
Location cards are placed in a specific arena, and affect only that arena. Each arena can have a different Location, however, there may not be more than one Location per arena. If you wish to replace the arena's current location, you'll have to play another Location card in it.
Fate cards have two variations - Curses and Quests. Curses are generally used on one of your opponent's Neopets, while Quests are generally applied to your own Neopet. The possibilities are varied, much like Something Has Happened cards, and each card outlines its specifics in the text.
Over the course of the game's existence, several different expansion sets were released. Each one followed a certain theme, adding more variety to the game.
This set, the original release, was the only one without a direct "theme". It was also the largest set, containing 234 different cards. These cards included such venerables as the Malevolent Sentient Poogle Plushie, the first appearance of The Darkest Faerie, and Siyana of Talador - before the name was changed to Altador.
This prize was positively magical!
Battle for Meridell
This set, based on the second of the Meridell Wars, was the first expansion released for the Neopets TCG; it was also the only one (besides the Base Set's starter pack) to have premade decks created for it. It also introduced Location cards, which had not been included in the Base Set. This set included the Blumaroo Court Jester, best known for his appearance on an avatar, and the Draik Sentinel, which featured a Grey Draik - a colour combination that would not be released for years.
Return of Dr. Sloth
This set came out long before the plot related to it did - the delay actually became a bit of a running joke; the game The Return of the Return of Dr. Sloth was a direct allusion to the discrepancy. The set also included a card for Neopet v2, as a reference to a much older Dr. Sloth plot.
The dazzling Ylana Skyfire first appeared here!
This expansion didn't really coincide with a plot - although it did tie in somewhat to the Volcano Mystery, a logic puzzle that preceded it. It included such interesting cards as the six-element Rainbow Pteri and the evil fire faerie Eithne.
Be careful with exotic treasures...
Hannah and the Ice Caves
Curse of Maraqua
Arm yourself - we're off to war!
The Lost Desert expansion, which was released before the plot, was notable for almost revealing too much. When players began looking closely at some of the card images on the site - such as Qasalan Tablets - they were temporarily taken down.
This set is notable in the fact that is connected to two different events - the Darkest Faerie PS2 game, and the on-site Altador Plot. It also contained a type of card seen in no other sets - the Constellations, twelve cards that represented the guardians of Altador.
Travels in Neopia
This set was notable for containing no original cards - it was, instead, a "best-of" set, featuring re-releases of some of the best cards from previous releases.
Goin' on-a 'venture
The Haunted Woods expansion was set to coincide with the Tale of Woe plot; a number of the cards offer more insight into the back story in their captions. Some notable cards include Ilere of the Woods, Sophie and Ghost Meepit.
Not everything that's lost wishes to be found...
On a few different occasions, promotional TCG cards were released - and not all of them are listed on-site. Some of them were available in the (now defunct) Islandberry Cereal, some were released in TCG Starter Sets, and others came through McDonalds Happy Meals.
While the game itself was played only in the real world (unfortunately, as an online version would've been quite fun), there were a number of ways it was integrated into the site over time.
Foremost among the tie-ins were the highly sought-after Prize Codes, one of which was contained in each booster pack. Users would go here and type in the code they'd received. Rather than receiving a pre-set prize, you'd then be given options, with three total possibilities. They were represented by the following symbols:
Your first option would pop up with one of the symbols. You could either choose to select the prize (and not view the other options), or forgo it to see the next one. Once a prize was passed on, though, you would not be able to go back to it. If you passed on both the first two options, you were obligated to choose the third.
Typically, one would skip the Neopoints options, hoping for a TCG or Paint Brush symbol. Even the Rotten Apple would be preferable, as a number of the possible prizes from this symbol were exclusive (some are even worth more than Paint Brushes now!). A full list of the TCG exclusive prizes (excluding the cards) can be viewed here.
Some of the available prizes from the codes were digital versions of the TCG cards, which could be placed in your TCG Album on the site. At one time, they could not be removed once they had been placed in the album, but it is now possible to do so by clicking on the card and selecting the "remove" option. These digital cards are not publicly linked on your userlookup. While you can view other's albums, it requires manually entering their username into the URL - here's Snarkie's if you'd like to try.
Still waiting for these to come to me...
Hubrid's Hero Heist
The premise of Hubrid's Hero Heist is that Hubrid Nox has stolen all the heroes from the Neopets TCG; you control a nameless Poogle Apprentice who is attempting to save them. The game is still available in the Neopets Game Room; our guide with full level maps can be found here.
Alas, poor Hubrid... I knew him well.
There are seven different TCG-related avatars, four of which are still available.
Awarded to users who won the Staff Trading Card Game Tournament guessing game.
Released: October 21, 2003
TCG - Wanna Play
Awarded to users who won the Battle For Meridell Trading Card Game staff tournament.
Released: March 10, 2004
TCG - Return of Dr. Sloth Champion
Awarded to users who won the real life Return of Dr. Sloth release tournament and to those who scored enough points in the staff tourney guessing game.
Released: July 10, 2004
This article was written by: Suzuka