The Top Five Cards Of Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield – Silver Tempest
After a 60+ part series breaking down the artwork of Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield - Silver Tempest, we break down the top five picks.
In November 2022, Pokémon TCG released the final main series set of the Sword & Shield era. The expansion, Sword & Shield – Silver Tempest, came out on September 9th, 2022. It is the twelfth set under the Sword & Shield banner, and it adapts the Japanese sets Incandescent Arcana and Paradigm Trigger, with its Trainer Gallery subset adapting cards from VMAX Climax. The Lugia-themed Sword & Shield – Silver Tempest also continues both Radiant Pokémon as well as the Trainer Gallery, a special subset of Character Rares, Character Super Rares, Full Art Trainers, and Black & Gold VMAXes that began in the first set of the year, Sword & Shield – Brilliant Stars. Follow me on a journey through this latest set as we appreciate the artwork, discuss the card's place in the set, and theorize as to what certain elements of the expansion may imply for the future of the Pokémon TCG. Today, count down my personal picks for the top five cards of this set, including both the main set as well as the Trainer Gallery subset. Because these are personal picks, they aren't based solely on value or widespread opinion, so please be sure to give us your Top Five in the comments.
- 5 – Braixen Character Rare: My personal favorite Character Rare from Silver Tempest is Naoki Saitou's Braixen card with Serena. Serena is gifting her Braixen with a hat to match her own with room for its ears to stick out, which Braixen clearly appreciates. I love how Character Rares not only give us a chance for moments like these but also allows middle evolutions like Braixen to be featured on Full Art cards.
- 4 – Skuntank V Alternate Art: How gloriously weird that Skuntank gets one of the four Alternate Art slots in the final main series set of Sword & Shield? I love to see an underrated Pokémon get the spotlight, and wow, does Skuntank run with it. This is the kind of card that could make a Skuntank hater question their initial impression with just a single image. Artist Jiro Sasumo does a beautiful job showing an anthill-style view of Skuntank's lair, as a Paras watches it gathering food for its family of a mate Skuntank and two baby Stunky.
- 3 – Unown V Alternate Art: This card edges out Skuntank as the best Alternate Art in the set (I know… hot take) because of what it does for an artist who we haven't seen for a long time. This Unown V Alt Art is quite special. Artist Toshinao Aoki illustrates a veritable alphabet's worth of Unown floating out of runes for a stellar image. If you think you recognize that artist credit, you might be a true O.G. of the TCG. Aoki has been contributing to the Pokémon TCG as far back as the Neo era. Aoki is responsible for iconic cards such as Ampharos holo from Neo Revelation, the original Flying Pikachu and Surfing Pikachu promos, the original Kanto Bird promos, and Special Delivery Dragonite given out during the movies, and now, he finally returns with this Alternate Art Unown. And how poetic that it would be this card in this set, which heavily evokes the Neo era.
- 2 – Rayquaza VMAX Character Super Rare: The pairing of Rayquaza and Zinnia here, as well as the lack of a Rayquaza V Character Super Rare, makes me think that the Rayquaza V Alt Art from Sword & Shield – Evolving Skies featuring Zinnia was initially planned as a Character Super Rare to pair with this. I'm sure of it, pretty much, because the same layout is true for Duraludon, which we will get to tomorrow. This Rayquaza VMAX Character Super Rare depicts Zinnia standing like a badass in front of the towering Rayquaza VMAX. Hideki Ishikawa delivers a striking image with vibrant art that is big on mood. If this had been in Evolving Skies in place of the Rayquaza VMAX Alt Art we got in that set; it'd likely be even more valuable.
- 1 – Lugia V: Yeah, I know — maybe a bit of a wild move to put a normal V as the top card of a set, especially when it gets a much rarer Alternate Art version. The thing of it is, this is just clearly the best Luiga illustration of all time. When Lugia V by Mitsuhiro Arita was initially revealed as part of Japan's Paradigm Trigger set, it was clear to me that no matter how the Alternate Art looked, it couldn't compare. Now, the Alt Art ended up looking great, but I was, of course, correct, because… well, look at this thing. I couldn't imagine a more beautiful thing. Arita, the artist of Base Set Charizard, which is unarguably the most iconic trading card art of all time, makes Lugia look like a God of the Sea, evoking Pokémon: The Movie 2000 vibes. Painterly and sophisticated, this artwork goes beyond what anyone would've expected on a normal Pokémon-V.
Stay tuned for the continuing journey through this Lugia and Alolan Vulpix-themed set as we continue to spotlight the cards and artwork of Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield – Silver Tempest. Next time, the spotlight concludes with a full series review.