The new Pokemon Trading Card Game set, Paldea Evolved, appeals to a lot of audiences. Long-time players! Collectors who never bothered to learn the rules! Iono fans! Whichever camp you’re in, here are some standouts from the new expansion.
The coolest Paldea Evolved cards
Illustrator Rares continue to be very cool! Perhaps to the detriment of normal cards, the existence of which seem less and less justified over time. Maybe if they made more interesting illustration choices and fewer boring ones? Regardless, we’re fans of the Arctibax line, with its bright colors and analog aesthetic. Commission more like these, will ya, Pokemon Company?
The same goes for the full-art Magikarp. Looking very cool goes a long way for a near-useless card like Magikarp, and it’ll likely be the preferred option for people using it as a stepping stone to Gyarados. And cards like Gothorita? We’ve learned from past TCG sets that printing a lot of gems and sparks in foil looks very nice.
And honestly, cards overall are looking a bit cooler these days with the slick silver borders, introduced to the West in the previous set. Art decisions have long been made with them in mind since the Japanese borders were silver, so the consistency is settling in nicely over here.
The most interesting Paldea Evolved cards
It’s common to see counters to new abilities in sets, but the new Spiritomb card counters an oldone. Locking down abilities of Pokemon V does shut down a few old combos, and leaves you fully open to implement your own strategies with Pokemon ex. It could be a good Lugia counter?
We’re also seeing a new Mad Party-style attack, United Wings, which powers up if you get a lot of its users in the discard pile. We do think this one will need more than just three weak creatures to be that viable, but the utilitarian Flamigo will be a mainstay of United Wings decks once a heavy hitter or two is printed. Playing one to the bench lets you search for the other three and put them in your hand for easy discarding.
The most meta-relevant Paldea Evolved cards
The recent transition in the Standard format wiped out a lot of key Special Energy cards, so the introduction of four new ones to the meta will attract some attention. Jet Energy lets you swap a benched creature in when you play it. Luminous Energy is a rainbow energy that becomes colorless if there’s another special attached, and it could see play in decks that need specific splash colors on occasion. Therapeutic Energy heals special conditions, which aren’t a huge thing in the format right now, but it could see play just as a precaution. The fourth, Reversal Energy, is definitely highly situational, so it likely won’t be a common sight.
Competitive decks also tend to burn through their resources, so a card that encourages doing so intentionally could find some use! Veluza has a 120-damage Slim Screw attack that costs a hefty four energy, but drops to just one if your hand is empty. As a one-prize Basic, it’s a low-commitment option.
The most meta-relevant Paldea Evolved card, though? That’s probably the super-powered Chien-Pao ex.
The cutest Paldea Evolved cards
There are, of course, the sorts of species that are just innately cute, like the new Paldean Wooper! But we’re looking for standout interpretations. One that’s both is Pawmi, with a charming art style and a face full of wonder. We also like Combee’s three faces. Two are smiling and one is surprised, which… really makes you think? Combee is three entities, not one with three faces. In a way, that’s sort of off-putting, but in another? They always have company. That ain’t nothing.
Illustrator rares also make an unsurprising presence in this category, headed up by Saguaro. He’s washing his hands along with his Jigglypuff, while other cute pals look on. Each part of this is cute, and then you put it all together?
We’re also suckers for telling a story through the art of an evolution line, and Fuecoco and its successors do just that. But Crocalor and Skeledirge ain’t Fuecoco-level cute. We’re Team Little Bud In Shopping Cart and that’s just how it goes.