How a Rare Pokemon Board Game Got Fan Revival

A lesser-known Pokémon board game from 1999 has been completely revamped by fans to become the definitive multiplayer Pokémon experience.

The late 90s were a crazy time for the Pokemon franchise as it exploded in popularity. There have been a ton of different experiences of how the franchise can be used. While Pokemon spin-off games were at their peak during this time, few fans remember the incredibly unique Pokemon board game that provided what might have been the best multiplayer experience in the series.

Pokémon Master Trainer was released in 1999, allowing players to travel across the Kanto region while collecting Pokémon to challenge the Indigo board. The game is fairly simple mechanically, incorporating things like item and event cards that can give players advantages. While players can compete against each other, most gameplay is individual as each person forms a team that can challenge the Pokémon champion.

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A screenshot showing the Pokemon in the Tabletop Simulator version of Pokemon Master Trainer.

In the original version Pokémon Master Trainer, there are no other trainers or gyms to contend with. There are Legendary Pokémon that can be found deeper in the region, though they are often incredibly difficult to catch. Other than challenging the champion, players only engage in battle when they pass by another player. Even then, this is completely optional and can be declined by either player, which means trainer fights are quite rare.

The core gameplay involves traveling across the board to catch different Pokemon of different rarities. To catch a Pokémon, players must either use a Poké Ball item card or roll one of the numbers listed on the Pokémon’s token. Combat is also done by dice rolls, although players take into account a Pokémon’s power points. Rarer Pokemon can be found further down the board, though catching a Pokemon’s evolution line makes them more powerful.

Pokemon master trainer received a Johto-centric sequel that included all Pokemon from the first two generations, but there hasn’t really been a similar experience since. However, Steam users Mentize and cerotidinon used table simulator to bring this forgotten board game back to life with a massive amount of new content. The fan-made remake is perhaps the best way to have a Pokemon adventure with friends.

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One of the biggest companies that the table simulator The game involves adding all Pokemon from Kanto to Galar, as well as creating tables for almost all known regions. Players can add or remove the generations they wish to use with any region. Each plays a little differently than the others, with unique characteristics of video games and anime featuring game board mechanics.

The Pokemon Master Trainer game board

In particular, the original master trainer didn’t actually feature type matches, despite being a crucial part of the franchise. Fan Revival fixes this by giving Pokemon their proper types. Not only does this add much-needed complexity to normal gameplay, but it also forces players to think a bit more about how they build their teams. Strong Pokémon with high power points could reasonably be beaten by a team with the right types.

That being said, the fan revival retains the dice-focused gameplay, which leads to things being a bit RNG-focused. Features added from later mechanisms in the Pokemon the series end up helping with that. Mega evolutions, double battles, trainers, and even evil teams have all been added to the game, making it a much more complex game. Pokemon experience than before. While capturing and combat are still done with dice rolls, the added mechanics mean players have a bit more control over what happens.

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Updating the board game with modern Pokemon and mechanics has already reinvented the game, but those aren’t even the best changes from the fan revival. The coolest addition is how the product reinvents the objective of the game. Instead of just having to defeat the champion, players must collect eight gym badges from across the region. Gym leaders are all given teams of Pokemon that require strength and strategy to beat.

Fighting Gyms adds a bit of time to an average round of the game, but it goes a long way toward making the game feel like a Pokemon experience. This is something both the original and the revival do very well. Players feel like they are rivals with each other in their own adventures. It really captures the friendly competition that has helped make some of the game’s rivals so memorable.

Both the original and the table simulator version of Pokemon master trainer are a ton of fun to play. The game supports up to six players and is absolutely worth checking out for everything. Pokemon fan looking for a solid reimagining of travel from games to play with friends. While there’s certainly less strategy involved than in Game Freak titles or the collectible card game, traveling through tabletop regions and catching Pokémon is a ton of fun.

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