Pokémon Scarlet & Violet’s second English-language set, Paldea Evolved, arrives on June 9, featuring some of the most elaborately designed cards we’ve seen so far. For those extra-keen, May 27 will see the pre-release Build & Battle boxes on sale in your favourite specialist stores, meaning the set is only days away. We’ve plundered through the cards that have been discovered so far, to show you which are going to be the most chased after, either for value or charm.
With Japan already weeks into selling its third set of Pokémon Scarlet & Violet TCG cards, and the fourth – Pokémon 151 – due in a couple of weeks, it’s hard not to feel like we’re lagging far behind in the rest of the world. Scarlet & Violet’s base set finally came out at the end of March this year, and we’re still a couple of weeks off our second set, Paldea Evolved. But thankfully, it’s looking likely to be a cracking set, featuring some of the best cards that have appeared in the previous two Japanese collections.
One of those collections was Triplet Beat, which had a big focus on tryptic tales, three cards that told a story between them. We’re getting these in Paldea Evolved, meaning all three starter Pokémon will have their incredibly collectible trios of cards. It’s also a set that introduces the Scarlet and Violet games’ Treasures of Ruin Pokémon, the ancient Legendaries that lurked in mysterious locked caves, only found by those who really dug into the games’ side quests.
So, with the cards imminent, and the TCG ready to adapt even further to this new era of ex and terastallized cards, let’s take a look at the ones we’re most excited to pull. And yes, that Iono card is in there.
Who doesn’t love Tinkatuff? Evil people, that’s who. This middle-stage Pokémon evolves from the weedy Tinkatink, and evolves into the almighty warhammer-wielding Tinkaton, but as Tinkatuff carries a far more approachable metal mallet larger than its own body.
As the trio join the TCG for the first time, Tinkatuff is getting the Illustration Rare treatment with this superb art from Tika Matsuno. It’s so cross! What about? Probably something you did!
Pulverizing Press seems a pretty modest attack for three Energy, even if it deals its 60 damage despite any effects the opponent might have played, but this is played on your way to getting Tinkaton’s potential 180 attack. We’re after this one for the excellent art, though.
Sure, Boss’s Orders isn’t exactly a card people usually get excited about. It’s a stalwart of the TCG, the classic dick move of entirely upsetting your opponent’s plans by switching in that benched Horsea instead of the VMAX that was demolishing your team. But it’s not often given the full art treatment (outside of promos, not since Rebel Clash), and this is certainly its first Special Illustration Rare.
But it’s here because it just looks so damn cool! It’s Ghetsis from Black & White, the big bad behind Team Plasma. Why a B&W boss, and not someone from SV’s Team Star? None can know the mercurial minds of The Pokémon Company. But look at him! Plotting there, in front of his charts and maps, and, err, chess pieces. He has evil in the works. And those works are pissing off your opponent next turn.
A thing I’m really enjoying about the newer sets from the Pokémon TCG are these celebratory Illustration Rares of relatively banal Pokémon.
I really hope I’m not going to upset some secret Baxcalibur stan when I suggest that this latest is unlikely to be everyone’s favourite Pokémon. Baxcalibur is certainly a decent-looking dinosaur-like, but it’s hardly featuring on pencil and pillow cases. And yet, oh my goodness, look at this breathtaking piece from long-serving Pokémon artist, Tomokazu Komiya.
This is just stunning, an almost cubist piece, with the mid-somersault Boxcalibur hard to pick out from the incredible array of colours. I want this poster-sized! I still don’t understand why The Pokémon Company doesn’t offer this as a service for all their full art cards.
But it’s a name that’ll stick in TCG player heads if they’re wont to use Special Energy in their decks. This Trainer card forces an opponent to remove such an Energy from every one of their Pokémon in play. He’s there to combat the Reversal Energy that’s being added with this set, that acts like the Scramble Energy card from EX Deoxys back in 2005, gifting the Pokémon it’s attached to three Energy of all types so long as it’s a Stage 1 or 2, and has no rule box. That’s daft powerful, so Giacomo will be pretty useful in combatting it.
But also, I love this art by Kiyotaka Oshiyama, previously best known for the Charizard vs MewTwo VSTAR promo in the infamous Charizard Premium Collection box. The angle is so interesting, the out-of-focus light rigging in the foreground, as we see him checking his set list in front of his decks.
Akira Egawa’s art for ancient Legendary Chi-Yu is such a striking Special Illustration Rare, and that’s before we consider how it’s possible to “jealously singe.”
All of the Treasure of Ruin Pokémon are damned weird, and Chi-Yu has such creepily big eyeballs, literally bigger than its own head. Thankfully, Akira has disguised this pretty well with the card’s arrangement, making the astonishingly boring goldfish monster far more appealing in this gorgeous underwater scene.
We need to talk about Flame Surge, too. 100 damage for two Energy on a Basic card is already eye-watering enough, but at the same time you deal this, you can also attach Energy to three of your benched Pokémon from your deck, every time! I cannot imagine how this card won’t go straight into the TCG meta, given the potential this offers.
It’s Dune! Look! They did Dune!
Orthworm is, unfortunately, rather emblematic of some of the rather mediocre new Pokémon introduced in SV. And while we don’t envy the job of trying to come up with 200 more imaginary creatures every three years, we hope we’d do better than, “Er, I guess an earthworm?”
Anyway, if a Pokémon is going to be so bland, then absolutely let’s celebrate it with a perfect movie reference. If only they were able to open their mouths and reveal rings of infinite teeth.
This is from the enigmatically named Okacheke, who has been designing excellent cards since Chilling Reign, including the very lovely Special Illustration Rare Penny from SV’s base set.
Has Tyranitar ever looked better than this? Let me help you with the answer: no.
Again with the movie references, this looks like such a spectacular Godzilla reference, especially in the Skull Island era of taking the beast out of the city. I love the enormous sense of scale here, matching the horrific 230 points of damage it can deal out, albeit by demolishing the top four cards of your deck.
This Nurikabe card appears in the Japanese Clay Burst set, that’s currently on sale for crazy money, thanks to the Iono (that we’ll get to), meaning we’re all-of-a-sudden catching up with the Pokémon homeland. This is only Nurikabe’s ninth card, although you can see much more of their incredible work here.
This is such a daft trio, featuring the most unmemorable names of the new starters, each taking part in a trip to the grocery store. It’s a lovely journey, from riding in the cart through to being the cart, with that inevitable stage of any crocodile-adjacent creature where they wreck the shop in pursuit of free fruit.
All three cards are by artist Kantaro, and demonstrate the new TCG feature of ex cards that can only be played as evolutions. The result is a hugely powerful card, with the highest HP ever seen at 340, and a colossal 270 attack for just two Energy.
Here it is, the card that’s causing all the fuss. Well, here it is in Spanish, at least, via PokéBeach. The Japanese Special Art Rare version of this card saw not only the Clay Burst set it comes in sell out, but all Pokémon cards in Japan sell out. That’s rather popular.
Usually such popularity is put down to the “waifu” phenomenon, where Pokémon cards featuring pretty girls tend to become incredibly sought after, as grim as that all gets. But in this case… she’s not exactly alluringly posed, is she? If anything, she looks damn terrifying, with her spiky teeth and furious glare.
Anyway, it’s impossible to overstate the popularity of this card. Not only did it cause a cardocalypse, and The Pokémon Company to start printing the Clay Burst set to order in a desperate effort to calm everything down, but it’s still changing hands for over $US1,000 ($1,388). Peaking at $US1500 ($2,082) a couple of weeks ago, it’s only very rarely dipping under $US900 ($1,249) on eBay, and according to Price Charting, averaging at a solid $US1,090 ($1,513) even now the sets can be bought again. (It’s not the only Iono in Clay Burst, the Art Rare version itself selling for over $US200 ($278).)
Mysteriously, there’s no official image of the Japanese card on the internet, despite the set having been on sale for weeks now, and there’s been no official confirmation of its existence for Paldea Evolved. It’s there, though, as proven by the Spanish leak. It will definitely not be nearly as pricey as the Japanese card once it’s out in English, but you can expect it to hit north of $US300 ($416) this weekend for the lucky few who pull it from their Build & Battle pre-release boxes, before calming down to likely around $US100 ($139) in the coming weeks.
The last card to see numbers like this was the Japanese Violet ex set’s Miriam, which is still going for over $US800 ($1,111). But international version of the same is yours for “only” $US70 ($97).
You can expect Paldea Evolved to be a quick-selling set just because of the potential popularity of the Iono, so make sure you get your pre-orders in if you don’t want to be disappointed at the empty store shelves.