Do not migrate to Pokémon TCG Live until you have read these tips

The new Pokémon TCG Live game board.

Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Ultimately, the goal of Pokémon TCG Live is to replace the decade old Pokémon TCG online as the way to play the hugely popular card game on the internet. However, as of today’s global beta, given the bugs and issues we’ve experienced, we strongly suggest you avoid it for now. However, if you are determined, then for the love of God, read on to find out what have to do first.

Pokémon TCG online (PTCGO) is, without a doubt, a wobbly old piece of software. Struggling to maintain internet connections on the tablet, and somewhat clunky to handle on the PC, it’s certainly fit for purpose, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. The intention is that this improvement comes in the form of Pokémon TCG Live (PTCGL). In various beta versions for the past two years, and delayed from its planned release in 2021, everyone can finally download it today, while PTCGO it remains available until the end of the beta version. It’s just, well, I wouldn’t be changing yet.

The main problem is migrating your account to PTCGL means never, never be able to log in again PTCGO. It absolutely warns you that this will happen when you opt to migrate, but it’s all too easy to overlook how dire the consequences of this are and how much there is to lose. Then when you do, you go from a relatively stable version of the game to one that I’m surprised The Pokemon Company saw fit to release worldwide.

Go spend your coins or they’ll be gone

Those who have been playing PTCGO for a while they will inevitably have a wobbly stack of Pokécoins they’ve earned, with which they can buy card packs and decorative items. migrate to PTCGL and, well, you’ve lost them. Apparently there is some sort of conversion to an amount of PTCGLit is the Crystal currency, but it is opaque and the two currencies are not equivalent. You definitely want to go to Online and spend as many as you can before they are lost.

You Have To Export Your Battle Decks Or They’re Lost

This one I had no clue about at all. While migrating your account to PTCGL brings across your card collection as well as some of your card boxes, sleeves and coins (although it’s not clear which won’t make it), and also acknowledges your pre-Sun & Moon cards (even though you currently can’t play them), it just won’t bother importing your personally created battle decks.

This is utterly mysterious, and frankly just damned stupid. Having missed this detail, every hand-built deck I’ve made is now just gone forever. And it’s not as if there’s an elegant solution for those who do know in advance.

In order to keep your own Battle Decks, you need to log in to PTCGO, and then export the text of your “deck lists” to a text file. To do this, go to Deck Manager, then View Deck, then Export Deck, which you can save as a .txt or Word file. You do this for every single deck, and then migrate your account to PTCGL. You can then copy this text into PTCGL’s Deck Editor, via the Create Deck – Import Deck menu options. But if you migrate first, there’s absolutely no way to extract this data from the old app. Given it’s apparently as simple as a text file swap, it’s beyond stupid this isn’t an automated process of account migration.

Building decks in PTCGL

Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

It Limits How Many Cards It Imports, And Destroys The Rest

When you import your account, it will only bring across a maximum of four of any card. Why? According to the FAQ, just because. Instead, more than four of anything you have in your collection is just burned for zero compensation.

This gets worse for ACE SPEC, Prism Star, and Pokémon Star cards, where you can only keep one of each. The same is true for each quarter of a Pokémon V-UNION card. Why? It just is.

There’s also the bizarre decision to only allow you to bring over 59 of any basic Energy type. 59!

Oh, and if you’re wondering how you can see the cards in your collection now, outside of deck building, you can only find them by…looking in the Shop? Yup, seriously.

The broken Battle Deck warning in PTCGL.

Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

It’s A Buggy Beta

It’s not like PTCGO was the world’s most reliable piece of software. Seemingly a butterfly farting near your wifi was enough for it to knock you back to the login screen, and its load times were…not impressive. But PTCGL just seems a cluster of issues right now. Sure, it’s a beta, so that’s understandable, but given importing your account to it means never being able to go back to the better version, it’s definitely information you’ll want to know.

One of the best features of PTCGL is the Battle Pass, which is a much more sophisticated version than the fortnightly unlockable items in its predecessor. However, most of the time as I use this new software, it just tells me it’s not accessible. It did this to me, in fact, right in the middle of the enforced tutorial, meaning I was locked up on a page I wasn’t allowed to leave, but couldn’t do anything with. I had to quit out and start over, right in the middle of the game’s apparent attempts to give me some Silver Tempest Lugia-based cards, and I honestly have no idea now if any of it worked.

After winning battles I’ve played since, I’ve wanted to see my progress. But I’m just getting told, “This feature is not available now.” Not impressive.

Also not impressive is finding, every time you open the app, that the game’s had to disable one of the key elements of the game’s new meta, Forest Seal Stone. These VSTAR-giving tools are a brand new mechanic for Silver Tempest, and one of them is already “banned from play” due to not working properly in PTCGL.

Oh, and possibly less important, the game’s new avatars keep changing themselves without warning, meaning the guy I’ve built to look a bit like my son keeps switching himself over to a really douchy pair of sunglasses.

The delightful Fuckle_Shuckle

Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

There’s No Functioning Swear Filter

Well, I just can’t wait for my eight-year-old to log in and play against Fuckle_Shuckle. Great work, everyone.

The New In-Game Currencies Are Bewildering

One of the very best things about PTCGO was that, despite the obvious billions that could have been made, it never allowed real-world money to be spent in-game. While its infrastructure was absolutely built around those code cards you get in Pokémon card products, those always feel like a bonus extra, never the reason you’d buy anything, allowing the online game to feel like a freebie.

Currently, the same is true of PTCGL, with no way to buy anything directly within the app. However, it seems unbearably inevitable, given the bewildering number of new currencies it sports.

You still have gold coins, which are gained by levelling up, completing quests, reaching Battle Pass tiers, and which can be “bought” with Crystals. Crystals are gained by, er, levelling up, completing quests, and reaching Battle Pass tiers. But they can also be spent on getting the Premium Pass for the Battle Pass, which allows you to, um, unlock more Crystals? Then there are Credits! These can be gained by—you guessed it—levelling up and achieving new tiers in the Battle Pass. But you can also recycle cards you gain over the new four-maximum limit for Credits, and then use them to buy individual cards in the Deck Editor. Confused? I think that’s the idea.

Of all of them, the only one you generally want are Crystals, so you’ll never guess which is hardest to come by. In by far the dumbest aspect, to unlock the Premium Battle Pass you need Crystals, which it suggests you gain by winning them in the Battle Pass, but they’re only rewarded in the…that’s right! The Premium Battle Pass.

It’s surely impossible that one of these madly overlapping faux-coins won’t eventually become available for a small cash sum. I hope I’m wrong, but, you know, capitalism. We’ve reached out to The Pokémon Company to see if they’ll share any plans.

The card gallery pages are now hidden...in the shop?

Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

Trading Is Gone

Honestly, I find this one of the most shocking changes, and certainly not one that you’re warned about when migrating. PTCGL has no trading option, which is just the biggest shame.

In PTCGO, if there were a particular card you really wanted or needed, you could look through the trading section to see what others would be willing to swap it for. If it wasn’t there, you could suggest your own trade, leave it up for 24 hours, and see if anyone would bite. It was a lovely online version of one of the key elements of any TCG, and it’s such a bummer to see it just entirely eliminated in the update. We’ve asked The Pokémon Company if it might ever come back.

You Will Eventually Have To Switch

There’s no hiding from it in the end. PTCGO is destined to be put to extinction As soon as PTCGL is ready to come out of beta. The Pokemon Company remains cautious about when this will be, but very open and clear that their time is almost up. The company promises that there will be plenty of warnings before the old version is shut down for good.

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