Every time I play a Pokémon game, whether it’s digital- or card-based, I always remember my first steps with the franchise. My first Christmas gift, that I can properly remember, was a yellow Gameboy Colour with the yellow version of Pokémon – my brother got a blue Gameboy and the blue version. From that point forward, my years in primary school were all about them Pokémon. Because of this lifelong love for the franchise, I was more than happy to attend an event to preview the latest expansion for the Pokémon TCG.
The event was held in the downstairs area of Loading Bar, the host for Big Red Barrel’s weekly Tabletop Tuesday event. To help out those guests less familiar with the rules, a handful of staffers was always close by for support. But the event did not only take over Loading downstairs, Pokémasters and Pokénewbies alike were battling with decks from the previous expansion upstairs. These were provided by the event’s organisers.
• Publisher: The Pokémon Company International
• Players: 2
• Release Date: Out Now
I should probably explain how the Pokémon TCG works, for all those just experienced with the video games. Each player has a deck of 60 cards. Players put up to six Pokémon out in the field, one of those is the active one, which attacks and takes damage. In order for your Pokémon to attack, you have to attach energy cards to it. The players can also use several trainer and object cards – for example, to quickly evolve a Pokémon or to heal it. The match is over if one player defeats six of his opponent’s Pokémon or one can’t put an active Pokémon on the field.
Besides introducing more than 160 new cards, the Primal Clash expansion will also introduce some more mechanics based on the most recent video game release of the franchise, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. The most prominent, as they were the faces of the video game, is the introduction of Primal Reversion and its corresponding Pokémon, Primal Kyogre and Primal Groudon. Another feature of the expansion is the addition of twelve new Pokémon-EX cards – cards that are more powerful but also have a bigger penalty when knocked out. For the players more interested in collecting the rarest items, Ancient Traits have been added to 10%-20% of the cards in the expansion. These traits will give your Pokémon certain advantages in battle.
Although I don’t have much experience with the card game, I still enjoyed playing it. Having your handful of Pokémon and items evoked my love for the franchise once again. A problem some of us at the event had with the preconstructed decks was the luck factor involved. I’m aware that a lot of cards games rely on luck, but having your Legendary Pokémon on the field and not being able to do anything with it, because it lacked an energy card, can be annoying to deal with. Other than that, the decks are great for beginners who want to start playing the Pokémon TCG but don’t know where to start.
The two playable decks – Earth’s Pulse and Ocean’s Core – were well balanced and similar enough, so that you could play both decks without having to learn a whole new strategy. Both decks had each two different types of Pokémon and two different types of energy. Earth’s Pulse relied mainly on fighting-type Pokémon and had some normal-types in as well whereas Ocean’s Core featured mainly water-type Pokémon with three fire-types to make the deck less one sided.
Not only can you play the Pokémon TCG on your table tops, you can also play the game online on your computer or mobile device. If you buy one of the new decks or a booster pack, you’ll get a code inside to redeem to your online account. This service makes it easier to collect cards both in real life and in your virtual one.
Event attendees weren’t the only ones winning at the event. As per usual, BigRedBarrel’s Tabletop Tuesday was going on at the same time as the event. That, of course, meant that several lucky people got to take all kinds of Pokémon merchandise and swag home.
Getting the new expansion should be a no brainer for those who are into the Pokémon TCG, as it’ll provide you with tons of new cards and some new features new to the game. It’s also a good entry point for those who haven’t played the trading card game yet. And if you buy the decks and can’t find anyone else to play with, you’ll have the option to redeem your cards online and find a worthy opponent there.