Sword & Shield – Chilling Reign is the sixth Galar-era Pokémon TCG. This set continues the Rapid Strike and Single Strike mechanic introduced in Battle Styles, but shifts focus to new Legendary Pokémon: Calyrex in both its Shadow Rider and Ice Rider forms along with Galarian Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres. Also continuing and majorly expanding here is the focus on Alternate Arts. Now that we have spotlighted all of the best pulls in the set (you can follow this series at the Chilling Reign tag), let's look back at the set for a final complete review.
Chilling Reign is comparable to Battle Styles in many ways. Both focus on new Legendaries, with Chilling Reign introducing two Calyrex forms and Battle Styles introducing two Urshifu forms. Chilling Reign breaks away from a one-to-one comparison, though, with the presence of the Galarian Birds. These updated Legendaries each get V and Alternate Art cards, which adds quite a bit of spice to an already interesting set.
Alternate Arts reign supreme in the Pokémon TCG
There's a lot to love about Chilling Reign. The set has terrific artwork in general, with common/uncommon cards such as the various Castforms leaving a lasting impression. The set has a consistent visual theme, depicting Pokémon in snowy areas in reference to The Crown Tundra DLC. What takes Chilling Reign to the next level, though, is its focus on Alternate Art cards. The set has a breath-taking ten Alternate Art Vs and three Alternate Art VMAXes, many of which have bar none the most unique artwork seen in the Pokémon TCG. With the Blaziken, artist Shigenori Negishi experiments with a graffiti-inspired style. The Galarian Zapdos looks like something out of a cartoon, while the Galarian Moltres, the chase card of the set, looks like a metal band's best album cover.The Shadow Rider and Ice Rider Calyrex VMAXes tie into a comic about the Legendaries. You truly can't ask for much more.
My only real critique of Chilling Reign is that the staggering number of Trainer cards balloons the set quite a bit. This impacts the Secret Rares, which include twelve Rainbow Rare Trainer Supporters and six Gold Trainer Items. While Alternate Arts dramatically weigh in a set's favor, the Trainer section of the Secret Rares here has a good amount of fat to cut.
9/1o. I struggled to come up with this score because these sets can't be compared on a one-to-one basis. I rated Vivid Voltage higher because it introduced Amazing Rares and had incredible chase cards with an overall strong theme and good-looking selection of cards. On its own, Chilling Reign has a higher number of stunning cards than Vivid Voltage. However, the previous set reintroduced Alternates, giving Chilling Reign this style of card without the seg getting the bonus of introducing it.
All of this to say, Chilling Reign is a set that should be remembered as a wealth of fun for collectors. The artwork is some of the best we've seen in the Pokémon TCG, full stop, and I can't wait to see what happens with this style of card next.