Happy Pokémon Day! Yes, on this date—February 27th—back in 1996, the original Pokémon titles launched in their native land of Japan. And now, some 21 years later, we continue to celebrate this beloved (and long-lived) franchise. While there are many ways to commemorate today’s big anniversary—you may, for example, notice festive party hats on the Pikachus you encounter in Pokémon GO—my personal picks happen to be tied to two brand new product releases.
Equally as enduring as the original video game series, the Pokémon Trading Card Game too continues to grow and evolve like the titular Pocket Monsters themselves. The most recent edition brings this TCG into the island realm of Alola.
The Sun & Moon expansion includes over 140 cards, with 40 of those being never-before-seen Alolan Pokémon. Also included are 11 Pokémon-GX cards, which arrive with a brand new game mechanic. Similar to the Pokémon-EX of the previous expansion, GX ‘Mon have more Hit Points and stronger Attacks.
Better yet, each has a special GX Attack; think of this as the TCG equivalent of the video games’ Z-Moves. However, each player may only use a single GX attack per game, and this must be denoted by flipping over a special GX marker. Plus, if an opponent knocks out a GX Pokémon, he earns two Prize Cards.
In addition to the introduction of the GX mechanic and the new Alolan variants of old Pokémon favorites, Sun & Moon also tweaks the classic Burned status. As of this expansion, Pokémon with this Special Condition will automatically receive two damage tokens in-between each turn, then flip a coin. If it lands on heads, the Burned Condition is removed from the Pokémon in question.
The easiest way to get in on all this amendedPokémon TCG action is by picking up one or more of the three Sun & Moon Theme Decks, each representing a new Alolan starter. Forest Shadow, for example, relies on the fan-favorite Rowlet evolutions. My son was quick to discover that using a mix of Energy Retrieval, Hau, and Professor Kukui Trainer cards and the Shiinotic’s Illuminate Ability, he was able to cherry-pick his deck for the cards needed to evolve into Decidueye and unleash its massive Brave Bird Attack.
My daughter, meanwhile, was more than happy with her Roaring Heat deck. She was delighted to discover that, in addition to her beloved Litten, it also included both the Stuffel and Sandyghast evolutions. This hybrid Fire/Fighting deck hits hard, especially with the Torracat and Incineroar evolutions—the latter of which can deliver a solid 200 points of damage.
This left the Water/Lightning deck Bright Tide for dear old dad. While Popplio isn’t exactly my starter of choice, this deck does serve nicely to counter the crazy damage delivered by the other two. There are ample opportunities to confuse your opponent’s Pokémon, and with a little skillful card manipulation, you can employ Cloyster’s Guard Press to soak up damage and Primarina’s Sparkling Aura to deliver a nice 100-point shot while also healing 30 points for itself.
Our blind booster pulls weren’t so hot this time around, but we did manage to score a handful of notable cards. I was pleased with the Rotom Dex, a Trainer Card that lets you reshuffle your Prize Cards back into your deck. (I am notorious for having that one card I need to win sequestered over in my Prizes.) But my kids couldn’t get enough of Pyukumuku—which lets you transfer damage from a Knock-Out back on its attacker—and the glorious Taurus GX.
If your resident Pokémon Masters aren’t exactly into the tabletop game, take heart; a new line of figures has been released to coincide with today’s festivities, and they are the perfect collectibles for fans young and old. These premium statuettes, known as the Gallery Figures collection are exclusively available at PokemonCenter.com, and, at only $16.99 each, they are surprisingly affordable.
The first series includes dynamically posed characters seemingly caught in the middle of their signature Attacks. Pikachu brings the pain of the iconic Thunderbolt, while Eevee slides by using Swift. Mew summons the telekinetic assault of Psychic, while my boy Magikarp uses—you guessed it—Splash.
Each comes in premium packaging, making them great for display in or out of the box, and more entries into this exciting new line will be available later this year. Head over to PokemonCenter.com to pick up your favorite, and to peruse all the other amazing wares from The Pokémon Company International.
How are you celebrating Pokémon Day 2017? Let us know in the comments, and share your merrymaking, favorite memories, and other family fun using the hashtag #PokemonDay via social media.
Review and promotional materials provided by: The Pokémon Company International