The incomparable Pokémon Trading Card Game has already been treated to three expansions this year, with The Pokémon Company International unleashing a Triple Kick in Primal Clash, Double Crisis and Roaring Skies. That has steadily allowed players to devise new strategies by introducing Primal Reversion and Ancient Traits to the battleground, as well as expanding existing mechanics with new Pokémon-EX, Mega Evolution Pokémon, Trainer, Ultra and Special Energy cards.
That cycle only continues with Pokémon TCG: XY – Ancient Origins, with this latest expansion presenting more than 90 new cards for aspiring Trainers to add to their ever growing collection. Drilled down that welcomes 11 new Pokémon-EX that include three new Mega Evolution Pokémon (Mega Tyranitar-EX, Mega Ampharos-EX and Mega Sceptile-EX), as well as striking full-art Shiny versions of Primal Kyogre-EX, Primal Groudon-EX and Mega Rayquaza-EX.
Pokémon with Ancient Traits continue to benefit through appearing on half art cards, where The Pokémon Company International’s impeccably talented illustrators see their meticulously penned creations readily dominate the card’s overall presentation. Whereas beyond this the expansion promises 14 Trainer cards and two new Special Energy cards to inspire more tactical play.
It is Hoopa-EX that can be seen as the headline act within the Ancient Origins expansion, with the Mythical Pokémon to take centre stage in Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages which saw release in cinemas across Japan over summer. It can perform the special new Dark-type move Hyperspace Fury to deal a whopping 100 damage, and, once played to the Bench, the Scoundrel Ring Ability will allow players to search their deck for up to three Pokémon-EX to reveal to their opponent before being placed into their hand. This can result in a real power play, although you will have to secure the Hoopa-EX card to tap into such Mythical power.
As expected, you will have to rely on lady luck to uncover the card within Booster Packs. These blind packs continue to be a gamble, with the four packs that I opened resulting in duplicate Beldum, Relicanth, Malamar, Gloom and Baltoy – although saw some reward in Mega Sceptile-EX, Unown and a rather fearsome looking Golurk illustration. The random nature of such packs can still frustrate, but opens up the more collective nature behind Pokémon’s lure in encouraging players to trade with one another. Still, my hunt for Hoopa-EX continues…
Those new to Pokémon TCG’s competitive delights can rely on two new Theme Decks to help get them started. Named Iron Tide and Stone Heart respectively, these present you with 60 card pre-constructed decks that are expertly balanced to help newcomers learn the rules and exploit elemental weaknesses. From the importance of assigning Energy cards to deviously inflicting status effects, these remain the perfect entry point and deliver distinctly different flavours of what is to come.
Iron Tide leverages a deck riddled with Steel and Water-type Pokémon with Metagross leading the charge, with Registeel, Vaporeon and Gyrados helping to turn the tide of battle in your favour – as long as you aren’t stuck with Magikarp! Whereas Stone Heart, as the name implies, presents numerous Grass and Rock-type Pokémon with Virizion and Regirock front and centre, amounting to a deck capable of seeing your opponent’s team soon crumble under the threat of poison and paralysis.
As is now standard, Theme Decks and Booster Packs still come supplied with code cards that allow you to unlock their contents (or randomised cards) in Pokémon TCG Online. That welcomingly saves doubling the cost, and extends the experience for those that like to ensure that their tactically chosen decks can be readily challenged while on the go – without risk of a card going astray.
With more than 21.5 billion cards shipped to 74 countries around the world, Pokémon TCG continues to go from strength-to-strength. Ancient Origins may continue to rely on evolution rather than revolution, but delivers a sensational assortment of cards that will appeal to players and collectors alike. And, with Pokémon’s 20th anniversary looming, who knows what the next year will bring.
Pokémon TCG: XY – Ancient Origins launched on 12th August 2015, and is now available to purchase from retailers.