The Pokémon Company International released Sword and Shield—Chilling Reign released two weeks ago, and the changes to the Pokémon TCG have been drastic. The new expansion added way more support for the Single Strike and Rapid Strike archetypes, as well as new Pokémon VMAX and a couple of very scary Trainer cards. Here are the most powerful cards you can discover as you're exploring The Crown Tundra.
This Rapid Strike trainer card doesn't do anything special on its own. In fact, it looks like it actively helps your opponent, putting one of their Basic Pokémon back on their bench. But it really shines when you play it with cards that can deal damage to your opponent's benched Pokémon. product-hover id="234268" loves this card, as do a few other Rapid Strike Pokémon that will appear later on this list.
Chilling Reign made both the Rapid Strike and Single Strike deck archetypes incredibly powerful, and upcoming Pokémon expansions are poised to do even more. If you plan to play Rapid Strike at all during the next few years, I would look into buying Echoing Horn sooner rather than later. Prices are fairly low, but they won't stay low once Chilling Reign goes out of print.
While collectors love Zeraora V for its sweet alt-art, players are intrigued by its Cross Fist attack. In a dedicated Rapid Strike deck, Zeraora V will routinely deal 260 damage every time it attacks, knocking out one of your opponent's benched Pokémon like Crobat V, and seriously wounding their active Pokémon. Its not hard to meet Zeraora V's condition for dealing all this damage, because product-hover id="234145" makes retreating with most Rapid Strike Pokemon free.
Right now, the only thing holding it back is that the preferred way to build Rapid Strike decks doesn't use Electric-type Pokémon. Instead, most players go straight Water-type with product-hover id="234268". We'll have to see if later sets provide more support for Electric-type Rapid Strike decks, but if they do, watch out for Zeraora V.
Blissey V is just a good Pokémon card. Near the end of a long game, when you've got lots of energy cards in your discard pile, Blissey V quickly ramps up to deal absurd amounts of damage with its Blissful Blast attack. Its Nature Cure ability means that it's mostly immune to special conditions, so if you opponent wants to deal with Blissey V, they probably have to K.O. it—which isn't easy, considering it has 250 HP.
Blissey V works with any type of energy, so it can slot into just about any Pokémon deck. If your games are going long and you need a meat shield who can carry you the rest of the way to victory, Blissey V gets the job done.
Plus, its alternate art version is just adorable.
In the right format, Path to the Peak is a formidable Pokémon card. The best Pokémon in the TCG typically either have abilities, text boxes, or both, and Path to the Peak makes Pokémon cards in that last category much worse. Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117), Zacian V (swsh1-138), Dedenne-GX (sm10-57)... the list of Pokémon this card hinders goes on and on, and most of the higher-ranked cards on this list are vulnerable.
The only reason Path to the Peak isn't higher is because players have found ways to play around it. The simplest solution is to play your own Stadium cards like product-hover id="234145", Giant Hearth (sm12-263), or Viridian Forest (sm9-156). Chaotic Swell (sm12-187), a Trainer-Stadium from Cosmic Eclipse, is a bit more proactive and prevents the first Path to the Peak from having any effect. Marshadow (sm10-81) from Unbroken Bonds can also discard Path to the Peak.
Many of these cards will rotate out of Standard in September, so Path to the Peak could get better over its career in the Pokémon TCG. For now though, it deserves a spot on our list for its future potential more than its present success.
The new version of Inteleon from Chilling Reign has caught many players off guard. Standard is currently dominated by heavy-hitting Pokémon VMAX and Pokémon-GX, and not many people expected much from a Stage 2 single-prizer. In general, the game is too fast and deck slots are too precious for players to evolve a Pokémon up the hard way.
However, Inteleon's Quick Shooting ability has proven to be worth the effort. As long as Inteleon is on your bench, you can put 2 damage counters on any of your opponent's Pokémon once per turn. That may not sound like much, but it gives any deck tremendous inevitability and lets you knock out opposing Pokémon that your opponent has retreated.
Together with the new product-hover id="241694", Inteleon has slotted perfectly into Rapid Strike decks. It also pairs well with Decidueye-GX (sm2-146), and with any attackers that tend to spread a lot of damage around like product-hover id="241758". You don't even need to include any Water energy in your deck to make Inteleon work—just evolve and start shooting.
Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX is one of the two "face" Pokémon of Chilling Reign, and this card lives up to the hype. Max Lance does a potentially limitless amount of damage, and Ride of the High King is especially good against the Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) decks that were at the top of the Pokémon TCG until just recently.
And of course, its alternate art version looks amazing. Glastrier looks like they're about to trample a Christmas Village.
Players and collectors both had high hopes for Galarian Moltres V going into the release weekend for Chilling Reign. Since then, this legendary bird's price has slightly declined, and the Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) decks where this card was supposed to shine have been largely pushed out of the format. Even so, Galarian Moltres V is not to be underestimated. Any deck that can afford to play Darkness Energy is happy to include Galarian Moltres V as a big, beefy attacker that you don't have to attach energy to. Just play discard supporter cards like Professor's Research (Professor Magnolia) (swsh1-178) (you were going to do that anyway) and Galarian Moltres V takes care of the rest.
And yes, Galarian Moltres V has the best alternate art of any card in Chilling Reign. But we already talked about that, so let's move on.
Galarian Zapdos V is another legendary bird from Chilling Reign that saw its fortunes fall with the decline of Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117), but for the opposite reason—it's strong because it's one of the best ways to beat Eternatus VMAX.
With nobody around to bully, Galarian Zapdos V is just a Basic Pokémon that can attack for 170 damage with just a single Fighting Energy... yeah, okay it's still pretty busted. Nearly every Standard deck in the Pokémon TCG is running several Pokémon V, and Pokémon V are only going to become more prevalent once the format rotates in September. If you want to punish your opponent for running so many Pokémon V, you should play four copies of Galarian Zapdos V in your deck.
And if you want to punish them for playing four copies of Galarian Zapdos V... you should also run four copies of Galarian Zapdos V. Go for product-hover id="241747", because Galarian Zapdos has one that looks like a Road Runner cartoon.
Fog Crystal looks unassuming, but don't be deceived. In a Psychic deck, this card essentially reads "search up any card in your deck for free." Do you need energy? Fog Crystal provides. Do you need another Basic Pokémon for your bench? Fog Crystal provides. Do you need to get rid of that product-hover id="241851" that's ruining all your plans? Marshadow (sm10-81) can handle that, and Fog Crystal will find it for you. Do you need more cards in your hand? Gengar & Mimikyu-GX (sm9-53) can fix that with their Horror House GX attack, and Fog Crystal will find them.
There's basically no game state where you're unhappy to draw Fog Crystal. Worst-case scenario, you trade it in for an extra Psychic Energy you don't need, thereby thinning your deck and making it more likely you'll be able to topdeck the cards you wanted to draw instead.
Searching for a card to add to your hand (often called "Tutoring" for Magic: The Gathering reasons) is one of the best things you can do in any card game, including the Pokémon TCG. Getting to do that for free? No extra cost, no "flip a coin and see if it's heads," no Supporter clause? That's a little disgusting. If you plan to play a Psychic deck at any point in the next few years, buy this Trainer card now while Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign is still in print.
Last weekend a The Sunday Open with Atlas Collectibles, six out of the Top 8 decks were playing Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX. Say hello to the best archetype in Standard.
Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX does exactly what you want an attacker to do. It accelerates energy, it draws you cards, and it deals however much damage you need it to do. Best of all, it pairs perfectly with product-hover id="241835". The combined power of these two cards has unleashed a new boogeyman on the Pokémon TCG. Shadow Calyrex decks use Fog Crystal to fill their bench with Basic Pokémon, then use the Underworld Door ability to power them up with energy and fill their hand with cards. Once there's enough energy on the board, they bring out Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX and knock out another of their opponent's Pokémon every turn until they win.
The good news is, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is vulnerable to Darkness-type Pokémon. product-hover id="241766" can deal 380 damage to Shadow Calyrex with a single Aura Burn attack, so as long as you can hold out until you have three darkness energy, you'll be fine. Assuming your opponent doesn't immediately knock out product-hover id="241766" with a second Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX. But hey, what are the chances of that?
Chilling Reign has completely shaken up the Pokemon TCG meta, and the strongest cards from this expansion are only going to become more critical as time goes on. Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in particular will be trampling over the competition for many more months, if not longer. Be aware of these cards and have plans to beat them, or join them. Good luck, Trainers!