Tomorrow, official tournament stores will begin selling Build & Battle Boxes of the latest Pokémon TCG expansion, Sword & Shield – Chilling Reign. Chilling Reign will release fully on June 18th, but the Pokémon TCG was kind enough to send me a booster box ahead of release to open up and review for our loyal readers. Let's crack this thing open.
The first thing I notice about every Pokémon TCG booster box I open is the quality of the product. While I myself am a collector and a completionist, I know there are a lot of collectors out there who are into sealed product, and I can't act like I don't understand why. These boosted boxes look gorgeous as is, with the design of the pack art playing out on every side of the box. But you already know what we're here for, and that's to open some Pokémon cards.
Now, before I get into this next bit, you should know. There has been some worry, with the Pokémon TCG's promise to increase printing to satisfy higher demand than ever, that we would see a decrease in the quality of the cards. I can tell you right now, as someone who values these pieces of shiny cardboard very much, that this is not something we should be worried about with Chilling Reign. Have you ever opened a pack of Japanese Pokémon cards and noticed the lighter feel? The smoother way that the cards sort when you're going through a pack? That's very much how I felt when opening Chilling Reign. The quality on these seems to have increased, with a slightly smoother feel to the cards and none of the whitening issues that some were vocally worried about. So whew.
Now, the set. We already knew that Chilling Reign was set to focus on Galarian Articuno, Galarian Moltres, Galarian Zapdos, and both the Ice Rider and Shadow Rider Calyrex. We even had a good idea of what cards would be in this, as the Pokémon TCG was essentially adapting (most) cards from the Japanese sets Matchless Fighter, Silver Lance, and Jet Black Poltergeist. We now know the full set, but at the time of this opening, all I knew was the set's primary focus… and that my chase card would be the Galarian Moltres V Alternate Art.
As I opened packs, the second thing I noticed after the smoothness of the cards was how gorgeous the art was. I love a set that united Pokémon in either themes or story-driven cards, and Chilling Reign does just that with multiple cards showing Pokémon in the snow. Since Battle Styles, the Pokémon TCG seems intent on bringing back an almost XY-era whimsy to the cards, and I absolutely love it.
The Ultra Rares I pulled were also fantastic, showing a noticeable improvement in the Pokémon Vs. Just look at the Celebi above, which seems ethereal, as if we are getting a peek inside of a fairy realm. While I don't mind the more CGI-driven style of the first wave of Sword & Shield-era Vs, this is a huge improvement.
Now, my major pulls. I was overjoyed and stunned to pull my chase card, the Moltres V Alternate Art. The Alternate Arts are going to all be major attractions of this set, so if you thought it was fun opening packs of Battle Styles hoping to get the alternate Tyranitar, Empoleon, or Urshifu, this set is going to offer even more incredible artwork. Blissey, Zeraora, all three Galarian Birds, and more all get amazing Alternate Art Vs.
What about the Secret Rares? These are the main cards folks chase when opening boxes. I didn't even know for sure that this specific card would be included at the time, so imagine how I felt when I pulled what is sure to be one of the most coveted cards in the set: the Secret Rare Blaziken VMAX Alternate Art. The style of artwork used on this card is so, so fun and I love to see the Pokémon TCG deviate from the norm with these Secret Rares. Chilling Reign has a fun mix of Alternate Art, Rainbow Rares, and Gold cards for their Secret Rares, which makes this easily the most diverse set since Cosmic Eclipse.
Overall, is it worth opening a booster box of Pokémon TCG's latest set, Chilling Reign? Well, I'm going to hit all of my local game stores the day of release to grab me some more, so I'll let that answer the question. Personally, this set has what it takes to dethrone Vivid Voltage as the best Sword & Shield era set so far. Stay tuned for a full series dedicated to Chilling Reign's best pulls coming soon, as well as more openings including the Elite Trainer Box, Build & Battle Boxes, and more.