In the world of Pokémon, you are a Pokémon Trainer! You travel across the land, battling your own monsters against other Trainers'. It might be an oversimplification, but in the Trading Card Game, your Pokémon's attacks do damage, and if the amount of damage is equal to or greater than the number your opponent's Pokémon can take, it faints. If you cause 6 of your opponents' Pokémon to faint, you've won!

While this seems pretty straightforward, attacks used in battle can sometimes have an additional effect on the Pokémon they target, causing us to apply special rules, called "Special Conditions", in a certain order that can be tricky to remember.

Today we're going to demystify these Special Conditions with super simple ways to remember them for both new and returning players!

Special Conditions are unique effects (often a result of an attack) that interfere with a Pokémon's normal state of being. These Conditions are Asleep, Burned, Confused, Paralyzed, and Poisoned.

Special shoutout to Flipside Gaming for these AWESOME Conditions tokens
they have available at their locations!

Pokémon Checkup

"Pokémon Checkup" is where we handle a Pokémon's Condition and see if it is still in effect. You might also hear this called by the older term, "Between-Turns Step", because—you guessed it—this takes place after a player's turn is complete, but before moving on to the next player's turn.

  1. Check for Special Conditions in order (see below).
  2. Resolve Abilities and Trainer cards that happen during Pokemon Checkup. (This can be done before Special Conditions, but you can't mix the two steps - they need to happen one at a time.)
  3. Check to see if any Pokemon are Knocked Out (due to what can happen between turns).

Special Conditions Order

Remember your Dear Aunt Sally and the Order of Operations (i.e. PEMDAS) from math class? Pokémon also follows an order when dealing with Conditions:

  1. Poisoned
  2. Burned
  3. Asleep
  4. Paralyzed

How can you remember the order? I like to use these mnemonic devices!

Peanut Butter And Pickles (is my Poison)

We think of this gross sandwich combination as our poison because Poison is the first Condition we need to resolve.

Pokémon Bring A Pal

With this phrase, we remember the Special Condition order because the words "POkémon" and "POisoned" both begin with the "PO" sound, while "PAralyzed" and "PAl" both start with the "PA" sound.

How do Special Conditions stop (i.e. Recover)?

  1. Evolve the Pokémon.
  2. Move the Pokémon to the bench.
  3. Use an item that cures the Condition.

Multiple Conditions

Some conditions can happen at the same time, and others never happen simultaneously.

Asleep, Confused, and Paralyzed: You can only have one of these at a time. If your Pokémon already has one of these Conditions and a new one happens, the newest one is the one that stays, replacing the former Condition.

Burned and Poisoned: Your Pokémon can be Burned or Poisoned at the same time. It can also be Burned or Poisoned at the same time while Asleep, Confused, or Paralyzed.

For example, your Pokémon can't be Paralyzed and Confused at the same time, but it could be Burned, Paralyzed, and Poisoned at the same time.

Let's dig deeper!


If a Pokémon is Poisoned, place a green Poison marker on it. (If you're using homemade counters, choose a counter that looks different from your others.)

During Pokémon Checkup, put one damage counter (10 damage) onto your Poisoned Pokémon.

You can't be "double Poisoned"—if your Pokémon gets Poisoned again, the new Poisoned Condition replaces the old one. No need to do do extra damage!


If a Pokémon is Burned, put a red Burn marker on it. (Again, if you're using homemade counters, choose a counter that looks different from your others.)

During Pokémon Checkup, put two damage counters (20 damage) onto your Burned Pokémon, then flip a coin. If you flip a heads, the Pokémon is no longer burned.

Like with Poison, you can't take double Burn damage if it gets burned again.


If a Pokémon is Asleep, it can't attack, or retreat back to the bench by paying a retreat cost. At the end of a turn, flip a coin—if you flip a heads, the Pokémon wakes up. If tails, it stays Asleep. To show that it's Asleep, point the top of the card to the left for AsLeep.


If a Pokémon is Paralyzed, it can't attack or retreat by paying a retreat cost. To show that it's Paralyzed, point the top of the card to the right for PaRalyzed.


A Confused Pokémon is flipped upside down, with its head pointed toward you, to show that it is Confused. Before attacking, you must flip a coin. If you flip a heads, the attack works normally. If tails, the attack does not happen, and three damage counters (30 damage) are placed on the Confused Pokémon.

Now that you've finished this mini refresh on Special Conditions, you can get back to your gameplay!