I don’t know what your plans are for this three-day holiday weekend, but in my house, I guarantee it’ll involve a lot of Pokémon. By now we’re all caught up on the latest Pokémon Sun and Moon reveals (from the recent trailer and Nintendo Direct presentation), but we’re having no problem biding our time until that game’s release thanks to some interesting developments in the trading card game.
Steam Siege, the latest Pokémon TCG: XY expansion dropped last month, and with it came the arrival of dual-type Pokémon. While the concept of dual-types is as old as Pokémon itself, this marks the first time they’ve been fully represented in the TCG.
Leading the charge is the glorious Volcanion-EX, a Mythical steam monster harnessing the twin powers of fire and water. Its “Volcanic Heat” attack does a massive 130 points of damage, with the drawback being it then can’t attack during the next turn. The card’s special “Steam Up” ability, however, allows you to discard a Fire energy from your hand to pile on an additional 30 damage to your opponent’s Active Pokémon, and 160 points of damage can easily knock out all but the heartiest of foes.
Other dual-types include the Dark/Metal Bisharp, the Fairy/Water Azumarial, and the Grass/Dark Shiftry (which we were lucky enough to pull from one of our booster packs), each with a striking two-color card background that makes them easily identifiable. Other Steam Siege heavy-hitters include the Xerneas and Yveltal BREAK cards, a crop of new EX Pokémon (including the Fairy/Psychic Shiny Mega Gardevoir-EX—another lucky pull), and Trainer cards like the Ninja Boy, which allows you to swap out an in-play Basic Pokémon with another Basic from your deck, with all the original cards Energy, damage, and other effects now attached to your new Pokémon.
The first of the two new theme decks, Gears of Fire, also features Volcanion, though, sadly, in his regular Fire-type state. This Fire/Metal deck also includes the Chimchar, Litleo, Ponyta, Meowth, Klink evolutions, with Trainers like Professor’s Letter and Energy Retrieval aiding with Energy distribution and Evosoda and the aforementioned Ninja Boy helping out with deck maintenance by assuring that you the right Pokémon in the right place at the right time.
Positioned opposite of this is Ring of Lightning, a Psychic/Lightning deck featuring Hoopa. Aside from having some positively terrifying card art, Hoopa helps dish out damage with his 130-point “Portal Strike” (which also causes the card to forfeit its attack next turn), but I’m actually really fond of its “Hyperspace Punch,” a more measured attack that does 20 damage each to two opponent Pokémon. Its support end is comparable to that of Gears of Fire, but I was pleasantly surprised with the included dual-type Galvantula, a Lightning/Grass evolution of the otherwise unassuming Joltik.
Though I’m not exactly a steampunk guy, I do dig the gear motif prevalent in the expansion, an element that’s even included on the bundled play-mats. And, while it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, Steam Siege does boast a satisfying array of new and returning cards with just enough tweaks to keep things interesting.
Of course, since this year marks the franchise’s 20th anniversary, there’s more than just a new expansion going on in the world of the Pokémon TCG. Each month sees a new featured Mythical Pokémon, complete with a video game distribution and special related merchandise. Chief among these are the Mythical Pokémon Collections, affordable TCG boxed sets that include never-before-seen foil promo cards of the Mythical of the month, 2 Generations TCG booster packs, a special code card for the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, and a collector’s pin.
The kids and I were lucky enough to get out hands on May’s Mythical Pokémon Collection: Darkrai, June’s Mythical Pokémon Collection: Manaphy, July’s Mythical Pokémon Collection: Shaymin, and, best of all, Augusts’ Mythical Pokémon Collection: Arceus. We’re also anxiously awaiting this month’s Mythical Pokémon Collection: Victini, which will be available at online and brick and mortar retailers later this month but can be purchased now via the Pokémon Center.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve still got cards to sort, decks to tweak, and a score to settle with my 11-year-old. His Gardevoir has had me on the ropes a number of times lately, but I’ve been working on a variant of the Trevenant BREAK/Aegislash deck that I have a really good feeling about.
Review materials provided by: The Pokémon Company International