This past week's game of the week was the '99 (first) version of the Pokémon Master Trainer board game.

It was not the strategic challenge that I am used to, does anyone have any knowledge of variants to the game?

We personally came up with a few:

  • Type effectiveness: super-effective attacks do 1.5x damage against weak Pokémon
  • Gym leaders: NPCs that are needed to be defeated before entering new areas
  • Removal of the Trade Cards: they are horrible and mean
  • Raise (or remove) lower limit to enter Indigo Plateau: players enter the "final battle" far too unprepared

Does anyone else have any other variants?

4 Answers 4


In my circle we have played that game numerous times.

Some things that worked for us to adjust the 'strategy' of the game are:

  • EXP and LVL: if you have a lot of D6 lying around ( I buy them 18 at a time from our local dollar store) you can use them to track level on your pokemon. Then each time a pokemon wins more battles than they currently are in level you can roll the die up. Each level adds 1 to their power. We did this to try and balance the fact that it was fairly impossible to beat an elite four battle without having two +5 item cards.
  • Allow random battles: Instead of capturing being the only option when you land, allow the pokemon to fight. You roll two dice for the 'wild' pokemon and you can fight as usual. If the pokemon is 'defeated' you can place a marker on it. This marker acts as a permanent + or - 1 to catch. This adds a level of strategy because it may make more sense in the red area to try and defeat rather than catch first, however you better be sure you can get back to that square before someone comes in and snatches it up.

  • Allow rolls to 'ace': If a D6 is rolled in battle and rolls a six it can be rolled again. This helped again get around the fact that you needed +5 items to beat the final battle.

Now these things don't necessarily affect the strategy of the game, but it does lead to a more entertaining game and it does give incentives to use more than one pokemon. We found ourselves using the mystery dungeon or 'evolved combo' pokemon only and that was not fun. The level up system lets you use pokemon that are weak through to the end of the game.

The trade cards though 'horrible and mean' serve a very important purpose. They keep one person with a set of beastly pokemon from ruling the game. Without it you can easily get one person with three of the four mystery dungeon pokemon and that is more unfair than having one snatched from you.

  • I can't vote this answer up enough, thank you. We were trying to avoid LVL and XP, but your solution is excellent. I've got to do some thinking and discussing with my group about the trade cards; while I definitely see your point about someone getting all of the mystery dungeon pokemon, the more common example that I have encountered is someone losing their only good pokemon in trade for a Magnemite. With the LVLing I could see that being even more detrimental, someone losing their level 5 Dragonite in trade for a goldeen is patently unfair.
    – pandorym
    Apr 17, 2013 at 17:32
  • yes a bit unfair however there is just as much a chance to get it back the same way. Who knows. My group is not particularly competative. if you think that is bad, look up the game 'the new Dungeon' by TSR. It is old but the basic premise is to get a lot of treasure or beat up and take the treasure of the guy who did. i refuse to play it in my circles anymore because it gets so darn cutthroat near the end.
    – Pow-Ian
    Apr 17, 2013 at 17:35
  • We don't mind being cutthroat, and I'll definitely have to look up "the new Dungeon". The trade reminds me of the old Gamecube game Dokapon Kingdom, a Mario Party type game, where (in an attempt to retain balance) the game allows the person in last place to run around the board, stealing everything (coins and stars) from anyone they touch.
    – pandorym
    Apr 17, 2013 at 18:24
  • The New Dungeon TSR 1989 I got my copy at a yard sale about 17 years ago.
    – Pow-Ian
    Apr 17, 2013 at 19:43
  • If you allow rolls to ace, make the 6 roll still add only 5 - just so that you don't skip all the multiples of six.
    – Joe Z.
    Apr 18, 2013 at 13:37

I made up some of my own rules to play with my friends, they wanted to game the be more cuthroat, but I had to keep the game somewhat simple without adding more pieces. You can try it out, I haven't been able to try it out too much though.

Pokemon Master Trainer

Caleb's Rules

At the beginning of the game all trainers are randomly given a starter Pokemon. Before trainers show their Pokemon, trainers may challenge each other to a battle. All trainers can either accept or reject a challenge to a battle, but can only participate in one battle. If a trainer wins the battle they are able to add 1 or subtract 1 to their first dice roll. If a trainer loses their Pokemon is instantly revived. Play then goes off the player with the lowest Power Points as usual.

Basic Changes

  • Rather than 20 Power Points being needed to advance to the Indigo Plateau the requirement is 30 Power Points.

  • Trainers may only have 6 Pokemon at a time. If they have more than six Pokemon they put the chip aside and can trade it with another Pokemon in their party at any city.

  • Trainers can have a maximum of 7 cards in their hands at one time. If they have too many at the end of their turn they must give the excess to the player with the least Power Points.

    “There's a time and place for everything!” - Dad's stupid advice.

  • In order to win trainers must beat two Rivals. If a trainer defeats a rival, they take that card and hold onto it. They must then return to Vermilion City and attempt to defeat another rival.

  • All Trainers have the option to stop on a city, even if their roll goes past the city.

  • Trade cards give a trainer the option to trade with another trainer anywhere on the board.

  • Evolution: In order to evolve your Pokemon, you must have the evolution of that Pokemon. You may not play the evolution of a Pokemon without having the Pokemon that evolves into the final evolution.

    Example: Bob has a Nidoking and a Nidorino but not a Nidoran♂. So until he catches a Nidoran♂ Bob will be unable to play his Nidoking.

  • If you catch the evolution of a Pokemon you may put the chip aside until you can evolve one of your Pokemon. This chip will not count to your party of six.

  • Type Bonuses: When battling a trainer you gain 2 attack power when battling a Pokemon that your Pokemon would be “Super Effective” against. All Pokemon have one type, this has no effect on catching Pokemon.

  • Catching Pokemon: If a trainer fails to catch a Pokemon on their first try the trainer must then roll a dice, and if the dice lands on a 2 or 3 the Pokemon escapes, and a new tile is shuffled into the spot. If a 6 is rolled the Pokemon attacks the trainer, and if the wild Pokemon has an attack power greater than your lowest attack rated Pokemon it faints that Pokemon.

  • If two trainers roll a tie one player has the option to swap their Pokemon for a different one. The player whose Pokemon has the higher Power Point count may choose another Pokemon of theirs to battle with and then battling continues. Pokemon cannot be swapped in if they are fainted.

  • If your Pokemon is fainted in battle you can play a potion to roll for a 1 or 2 to instantly revive them and continue the battle. If a 1 or 2 is not rolled you discard the potion, your Pokemon faints and can choose another Pokemon or attempt to run from battle.

  • Running from Battle: When a trainer initially challenges you to a battle you are unable to run, however, after the first Pokemon is fainted you may either continue batting or you can attempt to run with a dice roll or a Poke Doll. If you roll a 1 or a 6 you may escape the battle. Trainers that initiate a battle may never run from the fight, and battle only ends for them if they defeat all of a trainers Pokemon or their opponent escapes.

    “There's no running from a trainer in battle!” - Every Pokemon game ever.

  • Assisting In Battle: If two trainers are in battle other trainers may assist in battle if the are at least three spaces away from the trainers in battle. This help can be rejected by the trainer. Trainers assisting another trainer may add one additional Attack Bonus card, and cannot use potions or Poke Dolls to assist a trainer. A trainer in a city cannot help another trainer. Trainers cannot assist Rivals on the Indigo Plateau.

  • I really like a lot of these suggestions.
    – Pow-Ian
    Feb 20, 2014 at 12:39
  • A lot of these from from the Johto version of this game, see hasbro.com/common/instruct/…
    – Bae
    May 11, 2015 at 2:38

No Cinnabar Island 20 point trigger! You need the following Points worth of Pokemon to fight each gym leader:

  • 5 (Pewter City) The leader has 1 random pink pokemon + 1 addition D6
  • 10 (Cerulean City) The leader has 1 random green pokemon + 1 additional D6
  • 15 (Vermilion City) The leader has 1 random blue pokemon + 1 additional D6
  • 20 (Celadon City) The leader has 1 random red pokemon + 1 additional D6
  • 25 (Fuchsia City) The leader has 1 random pink pokemon + 2 additional D6
  • 30 (Saffron City) The leader has 1 random green pokemon + 2 additional D6
  • 35 (Cinnabar Island) The leader has 1 random blue pokemon + 2 additional D6
  • 40 (Viridian City) The leader has 1 random red pokemon + 2 additional D6

To fight a leader, land in that town and pull the specified color Pokemon from the box. You battle as normal with the attack cards and such. The leader, who may be rolled by an opponent (selected the same way you select the final rival), rolls 1 D6 plus the specified number of additional D6s. If you win, you get that city's gym badge. If you lose, your Pokemon is knocked out and the opponent who rolled for the leader draws two items. Either way, return the leader's Pokemon to the box. Run out of Pokemon of the correct color? Use the color above and one less D6, else a color below and one more D6. For more flavor, you can try to make sure each leader has a Pokemon of the appropriate type.

You need the eight badges from defeating the leaders to go to the Indigo Plateau. Before you begin put Gengar, Haunter, and Gastly in Lavender town. If you land there, roll to catch Gastly. Land there again: Haunter, then Gengar. Everyone gets to reference a chart that lists the pokemon in order by attack power and shows what color area you can find them. In addition, you could add the ability to battle wild Pokemon instead of capturing them. Defeat the wild Pokemon and it goes back in the box and of course is replaced by a face down of the appropriate color.


My Ideas

  1. Full Party Battles: The battle plays as normal until a Pokemon faints, the attack boost cards go with it, then the user of it uses a different Pokemon, and the users can switch Pokemon at any time after an attack and before the next one. The loser gets teleported to the last town/island/city the loser has been to, then he/she rolls a die if he/she rolls a 1 or 2, nothing happens, they all stay KO, 3 or 4, the weakest 50% are healed, 5 or 6, everything is healed.
  2. Double Battles: Only usable once both trainers have at least 2 Pokemon, you use 2 Pokemon at the same time and now you have even less rng with these 2 ideas because of the choices, of course you can do both at the same time.
  3. 6 pokemon limit: self explainatory, if you get more than 6, the 7th goes to the side of where your sitting, and you can swap them around, now this actually requires you to keep upgrading to even go to the indigo leauge, so you cant just have 8 pink pokemon and go to the leauge and get rekt hard
  4. Permanent Evoloution: If you get an evolution of something you already have, permanently use the evolved form, youll still get the bonus, and the power points will be normal power points + (previous power points / 1.5)

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