Sword & Shield—Fusion Strike releases November 12, 2021! The Pokémon Trading Card Game's latest set includes more cards than any other set in the game's history.
A large portion of the Fusion Strike set is focused on introducing the new Fusion Strike Style mechanic, but there are plenty of cards here to set any collector's heart racing.
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While the face of the set is the mythical Pokémon Mew, Fusion Strike also features the Gigantimax versions of product-hover id="253371", product-hover id="253233", product-hover id="253108", and product-hover id="253170", which is a first for the Pokémon TCG! From powerful new cards to play against popular strategies to the beautiful alternate-art versions of Pokémon V, there's a lot to look for when you open a Fusion Strike booster.
Today we're looking at the top 10 cards you'll want to keep an eye out for when cracking packs.
In the Pokémon TCG, anything that draws you five or more cards is guaranteed to be powerful. While Shauna doesn't impact your opponent like Marnie (swsh1-169) does, being able to get a new hand is still strong, especially when you are shuffling your original hand back into the deck to be used later. This is the first time Shauna has seen a reprint Shauna (xy10-111a), so if you're a fan of the X & Y games, grab this full-art version while it's available.
When the Leon (swsh4-154) supporter card was released in Vivid Voltage, players jammed it in various decks to try and use the damage increase to help them topple some of the GX giants that were plaguing the game. As a supporter, however, getting a one-time damage increase never felt like quite enough compared to some of the other supporters in the game.
Power Tablet corrects this by being an item card, so you can use it and a supporter card like Professor's Research (Professor Oak) (cel25-24) in the same turn. Power Tablet increases the damage a Fusion Strike Style Pokémon does by 30. This only helps if there are strong Fusion Strike Style Pokémon to use this effect on, but judging from what is available in this set alone, there's a strong chance this will become a four-of in competitive decks.
The secret rare gold Pokémon in each set are typically chosen from the previous set's most impactful non-rulebox Pokémon. While this Flaaffy (swsh7-55) hasn't made its mark on the Standard meta yet, the power ceiling on Dynamotor is incredibly high if a deck can take advantage of the effect. With Rayquaza VMAX (swsh7-111) still on the cusp of being Standard playable, this Flaaffy may be less desirable than its Snorlax (swsh6-224) Mew (cel25-25) for the moment, but even one tournament win can take this card from being fool's gold to the real deal.
Regardless of their power in the game, seeing Gym Leaders get their own cards is always awesome, especially given how deep the roster has gotten over the years! As some of the most iconic characters from the various games, collecting your favorite Gym Leaders' cards can be one of the most fun aspects of the Pokémon TCG. Elesa (bw11-RC20) is the Nimbasa City Gym Leader from the Black & White games, which has some of the coolest Gym Leader designs in all of Pokémon!
Like the product-hover id="253111" card, Elesa's Sparkle's playability requires Fusion Strike Style Pokémon to be strong. The product-hover id="253127" card is a pretty potent energy that not only acts as an omni-energy for Fusion Strike Style Pokémon, but also nullifies the effects of opposing Pokémon abilities. If Fusion Strike Style decks start showing up at events, expect to see Elesa's Sparkle there as well.
While Celebi V (swsh6-7) was first printed in Chilling Reign, the international community will finally get the alternate-art version of the card in Fusion Strike. Mythical Pokémon are on their own level when it comes to their popularity and desirability among Pokémon fans. For anyone that grew up playing the early Pokémon games, seeing Celebi flying around the Ilex Forest Shrine is a dream that was never fulfilled in the international games until much later. This card beautifully captures that moment, making it a must-have for any collectors, players, or fans of the Pokémon series.
Inteleon (swsh6-43) is currently one of the most popular cards in the Standard metagame, but the new Gigantimax Inteleon VMAX might be able to set itself as the premier Inteleon card in the format!
The new Inteleon VMAX has a more powerful version of Quick Shooting that, for the cost of discarding one water energy from hand, lets you snipe 20 damage onto two of your opponent's benched Pokémon. Currently, sniping and bench damage is an incredibly powerful way to keep your opponent off-tempo by taking out your opponent's one-prize benched Pokémon before they can protect them. While every deck has been taking advantage of the Chilling Reign Inteleon, putting the two cards together into a full-water deck has the chance to completely dominate the Standard meta.
Even if playing the game isn't what you're interested in, the alternate-art version of this card might be the coolest card ever created. Of the three Galar starters, Inteleon definitely has the coolest Gigantamax form where they make a gigantic tower from their own tail and then create a high-powered sniper rifle from literal water. Gigantamax Inteleon looking down upon the wild area of Sword & Shield and seeing the numerous Pokémon dens scattered around the region adds a sense of scale that is missing from the other VMAX cards.
Seeing this card in your pack will certainly give the "woah" factor the artist was going for when they designed this.
As the face of the set and the new mechanic, it's no wonder that Mew ranks high on this list.
Throughout the history of the Pokémon TCG, Mew has shown up as a trickster Pokémon that utilizes all of the power in your deck to overwhelm opponents. This version continues the trend with its Cross Fusion Strike, which allows you to use any other attack your benched Pokémon have, provided they are a Fusion Strike Style Pokémon as well. As we saw with Mewtwo & Mew-GX (sm11-71), the strength of this attack depends on what other attacks are available in the card pool, and as more sets continue to be released, Cross Fusion Strike will continue to grow in power alongside the attacks in your toolbox.
The weakest (and potentially the cheapest) these cards will ever be is right after the release hype dies down and before the player base figures out the optimal way to take advantage of Mew VMAX's incredible strength.
The alternate arts for Mew V and Mew VMAX are wonderful and show off the playful side of Mew that fans of Pokémon remember from the early Pokémon movies. In Mew V's alternate artwork, we can see other Pokémon racing along, while Mew subtly dips and dives between them. On Mew VMAX's alternate artwork we see the reality-warping and larger-than-life Mew in the middle of its happy havoc.
Both of the cards evoke the same playfulness depicted in the very first Pokémon movie, Mewtwo Strikes Back, which will make them very desirable to the fan base.
Gengar VMAX is one of the Gigantamax Pokémon in the set, and their alternate art captures all of the terrifying energy that a giant world-eating ghost should have! Since their introduction in Battle Styles, Single Strike Style Pokémon haven't been able to top events in the Standard meta, but Gengar VMAX might be able to fix that with their raw damage output on G-Max Swallow Up.
Even if Gengar VMAX isn't able to top any events in the near future, a lot of its value will come from the popularity of Gengar. As we've seen with previous sets, the most expensive cards in any given set are the alternate-art versions of popular Pokémon. As a first generation Pokémon and one of the most well-known Ghost-type Pokémon, this Gengar will carry a high price tag for quite some time.
The missing Eeveelution alternate art is finally getting an international release!
The Umbreon VMAX (swsh7-215) and Sylveon VMAX (swsh7-212) are still worth over $100 each months after the release of Evolving Skies, and this Espeon VMAX is poised to ride their momentum. These Eeveelution alt arts are a huge deal for the collector community, and the chance to finish their collection means that a lot of collectors will be either buying lots of boxes to open or looking to pay between $100 and $200 to get their hands on this card.
With over 280 cards in the set, there is a lot to be on the lookout for in Fusion Strike! As one of my personal favorite designs, I am looking forward to collecting all the pieces I need to make my Fusion Strike Style Mewbox deck. No matter what type of hobbyist you consider yourself, the Fusion Strike set has cards that will make cracking packs a ton of fun!