Opening A Pokémon TCG: Evolving Skies Elite Trainer Box: Early Review

The latest Pokémon TCG set, the Eeveelution and Dragon-themed Sword & Shield – Evolving Skies, will release fully on Friday, August 27th. Ahead of its release, the Pokémon TCG sent me an Elite Trainer Box of this new set to open up and review. (Check out Evolving Skies tag for our Booster Box crack earlier today!) Let's get it open and see what we can pull.

Evolving Skies Elite Trainer Box. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Evolving Skies Elite Trainer Box. Credit: Pokémon TCG

My first impression was the beautifully designed box. I have to admit this right up front, I have personally thought a lot about how little I understand the "sealed collection" phenomenon. I've never gotten how someone could have a box full of Pokémon cards and not feel eaten up inside by the lingering question: What's in that box? For the first time ever, though, this box made me get it. As a huge Eevee fan and someone who has always loved the artwork of the Pokémon TCG first and foremost (I'm a huge complete set binder collector), the design of the box is stunning.

Fans of the Pokémon TCG know what to expect from an ETB. You get dice, dividers, damage markers, a booklet with the set list, a code card, eight packs of Evolving Skies, and sleeves. I've said this with every Pokémon TCG product I've reviewed this year that has included sleeves, and my thought remains the same: the matte sleeves are good for players, as the cards won't slide when you stack them, but they, unfortunately, have a prominent texture on the 'clear' part of the card that fogs and obscures the beautiful art. I'd love to see a switch back to the original style or potentially a mix of the two. I know that the Dragon Ball Super Card Game currently uses sleeves that have a matte back and a gloss front, so that way the sleeves cards work for gameplay and the art doesn't suffer. Anyway, that's enough about sleeves. The booklet that comes with the box is super helpful, as it lays out all of the cards that come in the set. Collectors who are aware of the cards that were in the Japanese sets on which Evolving Skies is based (Eevee Heroes, Sky Stream, and Towering Perfection) will note that certain cards have been cut, which may hint at future promo cards to come. Checking out that aspect of the Elite Trainer Box is always exciting to me.

Most thrilling, though, was pulling what may be the chase card of the set.

Evolving Skies Rayquaza VMAX Alternate Art. Credit: TPCI
Evolving Skies Rayquaza VMAX Alternate Art. Credit: TPCI

On my third pack, I pulled the Secret Rare Rayquaza VMAX Alternate Art. This stunning card is more than I ever could have asked for from an Elite Trainer Box, so I admit that I had to pause and just take it in for a moment. I'm not a Leonhart-style screamer when I pull a hit, but maybe I had a little internal Leonhart action going, because I just couldn't believe it!

The thing about an Elite Trainer Box that collectors should know is that there is no number of guaranteed hits. I've seen big videos with a lot of views of collectors discussing what one should pull in an ETB, but I have to tell Bleeding Cool readers that that is emphatically not true. ETBs have random packs. Booster Boxes and booster boxes alone guarantee a certain number of his, so ETBs are a total shot in the dark. My worse was a Crimson Invasion Elite Trainer Box that yield one single regular holo, and my best? Well, it's this Evolving Skies Elite Trainer Box right here.

Evolving Skies Glaceon V and Jolteon VMAX. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Evolving Skies Glaceon V and Jolteon VMAX. Credit: Pokémon TCG

I ended up pulling a Glaceon V and a Jolteon VMAX. I was thrilled to see the Jolteon VMAX in the set, as the Flareon, Vaporeon, and Jolteon Vs have actually been cut from the set and are already confirmed to be SWSH Black Star Promos for products releasing in September.

Overall, Evolving Skies and particularly this Elite Trainer Box are worth every bit of the excitement. There are two versions which different Eeveelutions (and another two that are Pokémon Center exclusive), so I'll have to seek out the other one. I was happy that this was my first, though, as it includes Sylveon, my favorite, on the box art.

While the set will have its wide release on August 27th, Pokémon TCG fans can seek out tournament-official game stores this weekend for pre-release events, where Build & Battle Boxes including packs of Evolving Skies will be sold.

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About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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