Pokémon have fully revealed the first bunch of cards from our February set, Sword & Shield! This will be the start of a new block featuring Gen 8 Pokémon and VMAX cards for the first time! Let's take a closer look!
In recent years we have more been used to seeing one or two cards shown at a time in Japan, so it was a great surprise to have close to a dozen high-quality English scans shown of the new cards at once.
The biggest reveal were the VMAX Pokémon cards, featuring Snorlax, Lapras and Meowth. While we were expecting the Gigamax and Gigantamax mechanic from the Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield video games to feature in this base set, it's great to see three of them at the same time to get more of a flavour of the mechanic.
For players of the game, there are no surprises here other than the beefy high HP's the cards have, with Snorlax VMAX rocking a record-breaking 340HP. They are effectively just Stage 1 cards similar to Mega Evolution EX cards, expect your turn doesn't end when you evolve them.
With them being Stage 1 cards (that need to wait a turn to be evolved), and their attacks seem more balanced than some of the recent Tag Team GX cards we have seen, they don't seem as overpowered as some might have expected.
We've only seen three so far, but the artwork on the VMAX cards is pretty striking. The first stores in Japan have been getting hold of these VMAX cards and they also seem to have their own rarity and special texturing, let's hope they bring them same designs over to the west when we get Sword & Shield base set on February 7th. We can also learn a bit more from the product description:
"17 Pokémon V and 12 full-art Pokémon V, including Zacian V and Zamazenta V
Four Pokémon VMAX, including Snorlax VMAX and Lapras VMAX
35 Trainer cards, including four full-art Supporter cards
One Special Energy card"
We've seen Snorlax VMAX and Lapras VMAX so far, and Meowth VMAX will be part of his own special promo box, so that leaves two more VMAX cards to be revealed for the set.
I wouldn't get too excited if you are a Charizard collector just yet, like with recent set previews and early card images, Pokémon would of definitely shown off Charizard-V and Charizard VMAX if they were included in the set. Likely they will be the poster childs of our 2nd or 3rd Sword & Shield sets in May and August of this year, similar with the Charizard-GX and Burning Shadows.
Pokémon also fully revealed the legendary mascots Zacian and Zamazenta, which were teased recently as jumbo cards in the Galar collection boxes. Some have been quite criticial of the art on the V Pokémon cards so far but they seem like a step up on some of the GX cards we've seen in recent months.
Both cards seem strong being basic Pokémon and rocking high HPs and solid attacks. Unlike Solgaleo and Lunala cards in Sun & Moon which were always Stage 2 Pokémon, and hard to get out in play quickly. It won't be a surprise to see these two gracing the tables in tournaments and casual events in the months following the set launch, especially considering Metal type Pokémon get an "Aqua Patch" style card to help accelerate energy to them faster.
Other cards shown include a couple of the English versions of the starter deck V Pokémon we saw in Japan recently, Tapu Koko-V, Regirock-V and Victini-V. As written above in the product description, these are the five Pokémon V cards (alongside Celebi-V and Keldeo-V) that won't be as a full-art in the set as they come from the starter decks. Perhaps in the future they'll get full art versions.
A bunch of other new V and non-V Pokémon were also shown in the press release, including the super-cute Galarian Ponyta and the powerful Stage-2 first partner Pokémon Inteleon. What's interesting to note with Galarian Ponyta is that it's resistance is -30 instead of -20 which has been the norm for the past decade or so in the Pokémon TCG.
Many of the Japanese cards revealed also have had their weaknesses changed around to shake up battles a bit and give players more options for deckbuilding, I can't wait to try these cards out when prerelease events start on January 25th, and the set launches proper on February 7th 2019!
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Stephen Kent - Ludkins Editor