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What Is The Best Way To Complete A Pokémon TCG Set?

With so many products coming out from the Pokémon TCG with modern sets, collectors may wonder what the most impactful way to collect and even complete a set of cards is. Here is a breakdown of what each kind of product offers and a judgment as to whether or not it is helpful for those looking to collect specific sets.

Lost Origin products. Credit: Pokémon TCG
Lost Origin products. Credit: Pokémon TCG

First, let's make the distinction between two different types of Pokémon TCG set. A main series set is a set that is classified under a generation-themed banner. For example, Sword & Shield is the current generation. Sets like Sword & Shield, Sword & Shield – Vivid Voltage, Sword & Shield – Evolving Skies, and Sword & Shield – Lost Origin are main series sets. This means that packs of these products can be found in single booster packs, booster boxes, Elite Trainer Boxes, and more.

The other kind of Pokémon TCG sets are special sets. These are sets that do not use a generation-based series as part of their title. Often called "holiday" sets, these are released not through single packs or booster boxes. Instead, you can get special products like V Boxes, Premium Collections, and Elite Trainer Boxes themed to this special set that mostly only come with packs from this set. The biggest difference is the lack of a booster box, which means that there is no way to obtain 36 packs for opening of these sets from one single product. Collecting these sets is dynamic, because the value of these tends to lessen due to high pull rates. We will be focusing in this piece on collecting main series sets.

Here are the products that you can find main series packs in:

  • Booster boxes: These contain 36 packs of just the specific set, which is a great buy. These also have somewhat guaranteed pulls just due to the sheer number of packs. I have gotten as high as five major hits (Secret Rares, Full Arts, Alt Arts, etc.) from a booster box, with my booster boxes supplying under two major hits standing out as outliers. This is a good bet for those starting to build a series, as you'll essentially be able to pull almost every common, uncommon, rare, and standard holo from one of these. To work on the Ultra Rares and above, though, you'd need multiple booster boxes.
  • Single packs: Buy these for fun, but I wouldn't rely on buying a bunch of these out of a box at once.
  • Elite Trainer Boxes: Contrary to popular belief, these boxes with eight packs of a single series set have no guaranteed pull rate. You can absolutely open an ETB where your best hit is a holo. I strongly believe you should only get one ETB per standard, main series set. This is a bad buy if you're going in on multiple.
  • Booster Bundles: These come in six packs, which is a fine selection. This is a great option for those who can't afford a full booster box.
  • V Boxes, Premium Collections, and other boxes with promo cards: Stop! Only get these if you want an array of packs and the specific promo card in the box. These have a mix of packs rather than focusing on a single set (except when they are branded with a special set logo), so these are not a helpful way of completing a single set.

My final tip? Know when to stop opening packs! Everyone's budget is different, but the number of booster packs you'd have to open to complete an entire set is often well into the thousands just due to the sheer luck you'd need to hit the cards you're missing. Create a strategy based on your budget and then, after you have hit your sealed product limit, the best thing to do is set a budget and a timeline for buying single cards. I do a Value Watch series right here at Bleeding Cool where I monitor the value of modern Pokémon TCG sets to help collectors with this exact goal.

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Theo DwyerAbout Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.
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