Editor’s Choice: 5 Crown Zenith Cards Shaking Up Pokémon TCG

Editor's Choice: 5 Crown Zenith Cards Shaking Up Pokémon TCG

Crown Zenith ends the Pokemon Trading Card Game’s Sword & Shield era with a VSTAR-level bang, thanks to outstanding cards like these.

The Pokémon Trading Card Game, arguably, has never been hotter than it has been over the last three years, throughout the Sword & Shield era (related to the Nintendo Switch games of the same name). Starting with the eponymous set that launched in early February 2020, the Pokémon TCG entered a veritable golden age. Interest surged through the pandemic, bolstered by amazing follow-ups like Evolving Skies and a wave of nostalgia as parents introduced their kids to a game they once loved; product scarcity stimulated demand even further (perhaps to undesirable levels); and as a result, cards have never been more valuable or hotly sought-after as they are now.

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Now that Pokémon Scarlet & Violet have arrived on Switch, however, it’s time for a changing of the guard. Before the set Scarlet & Violet ushers in an era of silver-bordered cards and new booster pack compositions in March, The Pokemon Company is celebrating the Sword & Shield with its final set, Crown Zenith, which hit the shelves of your Friendly Local Game Store last Friday.

Like the Pokémon Go tie-in set and Celebrations, Crown Zenith is a special expansion set without dedicated, individual booster packs; you have to purchase them from products like Elite Trainer Boxes, tins, and other collections. It’s comprised of a 159-card base set, and a 71-card tag-along subset called the Galarian Gallery, celebrating the Galar region with one of the most beautiful collection of alternate-art cards to date.

Here’s a look at five of its cards that have made us sit up and take notice:

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5) Eevee V

Eevee fans don’t often go wanting, and Crown Zenith continues the overall block’s tradition of keeping them well-fed. As Evolving Skies focused on the series’ second mascot, so too does this latest set, adding new artwork for Eevee, Leafeon, and Glaceon’s cards.

This new Eevee V (say that out loud until it loses all meaning) allows the adorable lil’ guy to go toe-to-toe with Goliath, however. Vee Brave is doubly strong against Pokémon V opponents, and it has the perfect full-card artwork to capture both its fierce and adorable sides perfectly.

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4) Radiant Eternatus

One doesn’t normally think of “villainous” legendaries as team players, but Crown Zenith makes Eternatus into one, playing into the way it made other Pokémon across Galar Gigantamax without warning during the events of Pokemon Sword & Shield. Its Climactic Gate ability summons VMAX Pokémon directly from your deck to your Bench—not a bad way to spend your turn.

Granted, it does have some downsides. 170 HP won’t allow it to weather many attacks from the other cards on this list. You can only have one Radiant Pokémon in your entire deck, so it may not be the easiest thing to get into play. And once it’s in the Active spot, you’ll need to power it with at least two types of energy (Fire and Dark) to use its straightforward Power Beam. However it’s a great way to use your allocation of Radiant cards and just might help turn the tides by getting stronger cards on the field.

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3) Zacian V & Zamazenta V

You can’t bid farewell to the Sword & Shield era without its mascots. Crown Zenith gives them an epilogue with both V and VSTAR versions, but the V iterations themselves are perhaps even more potent. Both pack abilities that can help rejuvenate your options when the game drags on, at the cost of ending your turn—Zacian by seeking psychic energy, and Zamazenta by resetting your hand.

Zamazenta’s Revenge Blast could really turn the momentum and lead to some upset victories by dealing 30 extra damage per prize card the opposing player has claimed, a potential max of 150 on top of the attack’s 120 base damage. Zacian’s Storm Slash caps out at 150, conversely, by dealing 30 more damage per psychic energy attached, but its alternate art from the Galarian Gallery is one of my personal favourites from all of Crown Zenith.

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2) Lucario VSTAR

Lucario VSTAR has been printed recently, specifically in a $50 Premium Collection, but it returns here to be the face of Crown Zenith, and to absolutely melt faces with an amazing piece of full-card artwork by hncl (hungry_clicker).

Oddly, Lucario VSTAR needs to evolve from Lucario V, but Crown Zenith doesn’t include one. Lucario is the face of the set, emblazoned on its Elite Trainer Boxes and the sleeves they contain, and sure, Riolu is here with two different versions, but Lucario itself isn’t actually in the set proper. You need to buy an ETB to get this card at all and obtain a Lucario V from another set in order to use it. Strange move, guys.

Odd printing history aside, Lucario VSTAR’s skillset is formidable. Its Fighting Knuckle move will punish opposing Pokemon Vs, which run rampant through the game currently, with double damage. Its VSTAR Power, Aura Star, can one-hit most opposition in fairly common circumstances. A potent design and stellar appearance do justice for one of the series’ most popular Pokémon.

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1) Zeraora VSTAR

However, the top spot on our list goes not to a critter native to Galar, but to a Mythical Pokémon from the previous generation: Zeraora VSTAR. He’s been the star of a feature film and a MOBA champion, and now he’s the zenith of Crown Zenith (though, once again, this is an existing reprint).

Sufficiently tanky at 270 HP, this is a great focal point for any Electric-heavy deck. The base attack, Crushing Beat, deals a beefy 190 damage and lets you clear the Stadium in play if you wish. What’s more, the VSTAR Power Lighting Storm Star lets you pick 4 targets from your opponents’ roster and deal 60 damage to them per choice. Has your enemy been swapping their Pokémon out before you can finish them off? Snipe them with this once-per-game superpower and reap a harvest of prize cards.

And this brings us to the end of the Sword & Shield era. Will the Scarlet & Violet epoch continue its success as the game ditches V/VMAX/VSTAR cards and returns to GX cards, and shakes up the cost and composition of its boosters? Time will tell (though I already love our new English silver-bordered cards). Stay tuned to CGM as we find out.

For now, Crown Zenith closes out this era with a pleasing bang, and we’re happy with that. Happy collecting!

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