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All My Hopes And Dreams For The Scarlet & Violet Era Of The Pokemon TCG

There’s only one Pokemon TCG expansion left before we kick off the Scarlet & Violet era in 2023, and I can’t wait to see how the venerable card game grows and evolves over the next few years. The Sword & Shield era was the most invested I’ve ever been in the TCG and I had a great time busting packs, collecting rare cards, and hunting down alternate art versions of my favorite Pokemon. That said, I’m excited for Scarlet & Violet because it presents an opportunity to reevaluate what did and didn’t work in the Sword & Shield era. The last 16 expansions have represented some incredible high points for the game, but there’s also some issues I’m hoping TPCi can address in the new year.

First and foremost, I’d like to see smaller sets in the future. Between the Sun & Moon and Sword & Shield generations, the average number of cards per expansion jumped from 192 to 226, with the biggest increase coming in the form of secret rares. This not only increased the price of building master sets significantly, but it also made hunting for specific rares essentially impossible. Opening packs is a lot less fun when every set is so heavily diluted. The chance of finding something valuable is slim and the chances of finding something you’re searching for is almost non-existent. And while I appreciate the variety that the Trainer Gallery added to each set in 2022, it also exacerbated the bloat problem even further. Ideally, new sets would be limited to 100 cards with 10-15 secret rares. That’s not realistic today – especially since we already know the Scarlet & Violet base set will feature at least 198 cards – but all of these 200+ card sets have way too much filler.

That being said, I do think the game found a sweet spot for variety in the Sword & Shield era, and I hope that trend continues. Some of the recent expansions have featured V, VMAX, VSTAR, Amazing Rares, Radiant Pokemon, Full Art, Rainbow, Gold, and Trainer Gallery all in the same pack. I especially enjoy when there’s a chance to find a secret rare in the reverse rare slot because it creates opportunities to find packs with two great pulls, and I’d like to see the Japanese God Packs make their way into the western version of Scarlet & Violet too. Variety keeps gameplay and pack opening interesting, and while I anticipate that it will take a while for Scarlet & Violet to work up to the amount of variety that Sword & Shield had by the end, I’m hopefully that TCPi recognizes how much fans have enjoyed finding lots of different kinds of cards in their packs.

I also hope Scarlet & Violet continues Sword & Shield’s trend of highly-themed special sets. The gym-themed Champion’s Path and anniversary-themed Celebrations were the best special expansions Pokemon TCG has ever put out, and I’d love to see more themed expansions like these. Unlike Magic, Pokemon expansions never have particularly strong themes that make the cards feel cohesive, but those two really nailed the premise they were going for. I was less enthusiastic about the Pokemon Go expansion and Shining Fates, which brings me to my last point.

Pokemon TCG needs to make Shiny Pokemon feel special again. 2019 remains one of the most beloved and sought-after expansions of all time because of its unique special collection products and its incredible selection of classic Shiny Pokemon. The 2021 sequel, Shining Fates, felt like a shallow copy by comparison. Aesthetically it was practically identical, but it was heavily skewed towards Gen 8 Pokemon, and was followed by another expansion just four weeks later. Shining Fates never felt like it got the fanfare and attention that a Shiny expansion deserved, and I hope that when Scarlet & Violet revisits the concept TPCi does something creative and unique to make it feel like a special occasion. Sometimes less is more in the world of Pokemon cards, but when it comes to shiny cards, I just want to see the TCG go all out.

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