As the Pokémon brand celebrates 20 years since it first launched in Japan, the accompanying Pokémon Trading Card Game arrived ever so slightly later in October 1996. The Pokémon Company’s Tsunekazu Ishihara has shared how he had been working hard on its creation when Pokémon Red and Green had released, and, as time has passed, it has charted a similar evolutionary path as that which the video game series has seen.
When Pokémon X and Y introduced the world to Mega Evolution and Fairy-type Pokémon, those significant additions were soon reflected in Pokémon TCG: XY. But, the Trading Card Game strode in an unforeseen direction late last year when it introduced the new BREAK Evolution mechanic in Pokémon TCG: XY – BREAKthrough.
Described as a special new kind of Evolution, Pokémon BREAK retain all attacks, Abilities, Weakness, Resistance and Retreat Cost of their previous Evolution but gain extra attacks, Abilities, HP changes and, potentially, can even change type. It once again shook the foundations of the Trading Card Game and, with the 2016 National Championships beckoning, has seen players seize the opportunity to devise entirely new strategies to swiftly best their opponents.
That only continues with Pokémon TCG: XY-BREAKpoint, the first expansion that the card battler is to receive in 2016. This commendably builds on what’s new, delivering 122 more cards that, broken down, add 5 new Pokémon BREAK cards, 11 new Pokémon-EX, 17 Trainer cards and a new Special Energy card.
Such carefully calculated scope continues to leverage the breadth that players require to deviously plot their own tactics to dominate the playmat, whereas two 60-card pre-constructed decks once again cater to those less familiar with the Trading Card Game.
Named Wave Slasher and Electric Eye it’s relatively clear at a glance what each deck contains, one concocting a mixture of Water and Grass-type Pokémon with the other dealing an assortment of Electric and Psychic-type Pokémon. With Greninja and Luxray emblazoned on the cover these remain a well-balanced entry point for any newcomer, presenting accessible decks that will help you to learn the rules that underpin the Trading Card Game. While that will see you have to deal with Status Conditions such as Asleep and Paralyzed, we were surprised in our matches that, given the deck types, there weren’t any chances to exploit elemental weaknesses.
Those that are looking forward to experiencing BREAK Evolution will also have to turn to blind Booster Packs to secure such cards. The four packs that we opened demonstrated how Water and Psychic-type Pokémon have a dominant presence in the new expansion, which is also notable in the new Special Energy card, Splash Energy. Once attached to a Water-type Pokémon, this basically lets you return them to your hand whenever they are Knocked Out. But, you must discard all other cards that are attached to it.
There’s a loose narrative that surrounds the expansion, a rift continuing to grow between twin worlds that was first discovered by Shiny Mega Gyarados-EX. As it leaves the skies torn, more Pokémon are drawn into the struggle such as Greninja BREAK, Luxray BREAK and Mega Scizor-EX. These heavy-hitting cards are those that will mostly pique the interest of Trading Card Game strategists, and, again, can only be found in Booster Packs.
Our own were filled with Shiny Pokémon and duplicates, meaning that we couldn’t put these new cards to the test. But, they look to deliver the tactical differentiation that players work hard to adapt to and counter. Whether that be transferring basic Energy with Golduck BREAK’s Hyper Transfer, Mega Gyarados-EX’s devastating Blast Geyser attack, or Espeon-EX’s Miraculous Shine attack that devolves an opponent’s evolved Pokémon, I look forward to seeing how these will be used in the new competitive season.
As always, it’s necessary to provide a quick shoutout to the artists that continue to pen some incredible artwork for the Trading Card Game, which can be easily appreciated when basking in the golden sheen of the landscape-orientated Pokémon BREAK cards.
It all comes together in amounting to another solid expansion, with Pokémon TCG: XY – BREAKpoint nurturing BREAK Evolution in ways that continue to open up the meta-game to new and previously unknown strategies. That is an injection of excitement that will surely be welcomed by fans not only as they start to refine their decks for the new season, but also in allowing the Trading Card Game to remain a hot topic in Pokémon’s momentous anniversary year.
The Pokémon TCG: XY-BREAKpoint expansion launched on February 3rd, and is available at retailers worldwide.