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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Pokemon TCG Scarlet And Violet Expansion: The Best Cards We Pulled

The next Pokemon Trading Card Game expansion Scarlet and Violet–the first set themed around the newest Pokemon generation–arrives at the end of March, and it will introduce new Pokemon, new mechanics, and a whole new look to the long-running TCG.

The 258-card set features familiar faces from the Paldean region, from trainers to Pokemon to even a few locales featured as Stadium cards. A major change coming with the new set that longtime players will notice is the shift from yellow to silver borders, which marks the first time in the game’s history that cards outside of Japan will feature silver along the edges of the cards. The silver borders offer one extra benefit, however, as any holographic cards pulled from packs will also shine around the edges.

The Pokemon ex mechanic returns from previous Pokemon TCG sets, with 12 Pokemon receiving special “ex” cards with more powerful abilities. A few of those ex cards are further enhanced as “Tera Pokemon,” which add the extra perk of not receiving any damage unless they are in the Active Pokemon slot on the battlefield.

The Pokemon TCG Scarlet and Violet expansion will be available March 31 for prices ranging from $5 for a pack of 10 cards to $60 for premium box sets. We recently opened nearly 50 packs from the new expansion–including some from the Miraidon Elite Trainer Box. These are our favorite cards pulled from those packs.

Koraidon ex

One half of Scarlet and Violet’s legendary duo, Koraidon ex packs a massive punch for only three Energy–with the caveat that it can’t attack on the next turn. Thanks to its Dino Cry ability, the lack of attack isn’t all that bad, as it lets you pull extra Energy cards from the discard pile while forcing the end of your turn anyway.

Miraidon ex (Regular and Gold Variant)

While Miraidon ex also lets you hit for over 200 damage for three Energy–and disables the attack the following turn–the fact that it lets you search for two Pokemon to put on your Bench without immediately ending the turn is powerful. Also, since Tandem Cry is an ability and not an attack, you can do it while Miraidon sits safely out of the Active Pokemon slot.

(Oh, and check out that gold variant. Phew!)

Spidops ex

Spidops is an unexpected choice to receive the ex card treatment, as the spider Pokemon didn’t seem notable during the Scarlet and Violet journey. We can’t argue with its moves however, as its ability makes retreating more difficult for the opponent and adds 30 damage to its two-Energy attack at the same time. Spidops ex could be the surprising star of the set in the right hands.

Gyarados ex (Tera)

The only Tera Pokemon we were able to pull is the formidable Gyarados, one of the first Pokemon cards we’ve ever seen to require five Energy for a single attack. The fact that it does 360 damage if the opposing Active Pokemon has incurred any damage beforehand, however, puts that huge cost in perspective.

Great Tusk ex (Regular and Special Illustration Rare)

Paradox Pokemon from Scarlet and Violet will also feature within the cards, with the massive mammoth Great Tusk included in the mix. Its Bedrock Breaker attack’s secondary ability can be a game-changer, as Stadium cards are some of the most powerful in the game, while Gigantic Tusks is powerful but risky thanks to 50 self-inflicted damage.

Banette ex

Banette is the ghost with the most in this new set, as it’s the lone Ghost type to receive the ex treatment. Banette ex will thrive in early turns, as its ability to shut down Item use for a single Energy can stifle an opponent with ease. Once they horde enough useless Items, Banette can swing with Poltergeist and deal 60 damage for each Trainer card–including Items–in their hand. Five Trainers in the opponent’s hand will spell disaster for their Active Pokemon no matter who it is.

Toxicroak ex

If we’re being honest, Toxicroak ex scares the heck out of us. It’s durable with 250 HP, it can search for two cards every single turn, and it can inflict a Poison status that’s six times more effective than usual. That’s effectively a one-hit KO on any Pokemon with 180 HP or less, which is more than you’d think.

Fidough (Illustration Rare)

Fidough here doesn’t have the most notable attacks or abilities, though being able to absorb 30 damage for one Energy can give it some longevity. However, look how cute the lil guy is, with his head in the window looking at the bakery’s goods! Illustration rares have been a highlight since the Trainer Galleries began in the Sword and Shield era, and it seems this new set is continuing the tradition admirably.

Riolu (Illustration RarE)

Like Fidough, Riolu’s ability set isn’t going to win you any games. He’s a solid starting Pokemon, but with a second ability that can only be used three times, we expect he won’t see a ton of play. However, the absolute destruction Riolu has caused the room around him in this picture makes us laugh every time. The “yeah I did this, what are you going to do about it?” look on his face is the icing on the cake.

Toedscool (Illustration Rare)

What happened to Tentacool in Scarlet and Violet? Older Pokemon trainers remember this creature as a blue jellyfish with a really angry evolution, but now it’s pink with yellow spots and running around in the grass. It looks like if Tentacool was infected with cordyceps… The Last Of Us/Pokemon crossover confirmed?

Penny (Full Art Variant Rare)

Trainer variants featuring the characters in full-size art have been a staple of the Pokemon TCG for years, and Scarlet and Violet have some strong entries included in the set as well. Penny here needs no introduction to those who played the games, but her ability to recoup a Basic Pokemon and everything attached to it will add an element of spontaneity to your strategy should you wish to use her in your deck.

Miriam (Special Illustration Rare)

Miriam is the school nurse of the Uva Academy that sits at the center of Paldea, and one of the featured special illustration cards for trainers in the set. Her card’s power fits her profession, as the ability to shuffle five discarded Pokemon back into the deck–and then draw three cards right afterward–could be a healing salve should you find yourself fighting from behind.

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