Pokémon TCG: XY – BREAKthrough Review

Thundering in on the brink of Pokémon’s 20th anniversary celebrations, Pokémon TCG: XY – BREAKthrough closes out 2015 as the fifth new expansion to the competitive trading card game released this year. While The Pokémon Company International has leant on iteration with Primal Clash, Double Crisis, Roaring Skies and Ancient Origins, their parting shot to the year introduces changes that renew its unrivalled strategic appeal.

That reinvention comes in the new Pokémon BREAK Evolution, which draws some parallels with the now well-documented Mega Evolution that had first appeared in Pokémon TCG: XY. BREAK Evolution can be seen as a new path to power – your Pokémon retaining their existing attacks, Abilities, Weakness, Resistance and Retreat Cost, while being empowered with an HP boost as well as a new attack or Ability.

Pokémon BREAK are said to come from twin worlds – one of technology, and the other of nature – and it remains to be seen whether that backstory will be explored in the accompanying video game series.

The BREAKthrough expansion only possesses six Pokémon BREAK cards – Chesnaught, Florges, Marowak, Noivern, Raichu and Zoroark – which demonstrates the meticulous care that is still being taken to make sure that TCG maintains strategic balance. Their appearance results in a dominating presence when played from your carefully concealed hand, not least thanks in part to the cards themselves. Sporting a landscape design they are clearly differentiated from the rest of your deck, their intricately rendered art emblazoned in gold.

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Away from that newfound revolution, BREAKthrough largely expands on the experience by following expectation. Collectors can discover more than 160 new cards with eight new Pokémon-EX that include four new Mega Evolution Pokémon (Mega Houndoom-EX, Mega Glalie-EX, and two Mega Mewtwo-EX), and 20 new Trainer cards that, as part of that number, add another two full-art rare Ultra Trainer cards.

As per usual these can all be discovered through 10-card booster packs, with the new theme decks – Burning Spark and Night Striker – providing newcomers with the chance to secure 60-card preconstructed decks that are specifically designed to help you learn the ropes. Noivern and Raichu are the Pokémon that adorn each theme deck’s packaging, presenting decks that contain either Ghost and Dark type or Lightning and Fire type Pokémon. That careful balance returns here, the two decks pitted against one another requiring some tactical thinking with your noggin but being largely even in their chance to secure victory.

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These remain a great basis to start a new deck, with the booster packs helping to expand on your assorted collection to throw in some mid-battle surprises. The packs that I have opened have already presented some nice additions in shiny Cyndaquil, Marowak and Quilladin as well as Mega Houndoom and Mega Mewtwo-EX, but their blind nature will still result in unavoidable duplication.

Both the theme decks and booster packs continue to carry the experience across to Pokémon TCG Online, which remains to an application that can only be accessed on PC, Mac and iPad. The Wii U absence still mystifies me, especially with the Wii U GamePad replicating a tablet experience, but collectors will receive in-pack code cards that will let them unlock virtual cards in the online arena.

Steeped in the same 20 year history as the brand itself, Pokémon TCG: XY – BREAKthrough delivers the revolution necessary to see the trading card game’s battle mechanics keeping you thinking of new strategies to succeed. Continuing to steer the experience forward, we now await to see what the anniversary year will bring.

Pokémon TCG: XY – BREAKthrough launched on 4th November 2015, and is now available to purchase from retailers.

Written by
After starting out with a Yellow Game Boy and a copy of Donkey Kong Land, Alex once hid in his room to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time one Christmas. Now he shares his thoughts on Nintendo Insider, keeping track of everything to do with Nintendo.

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