Sword & Shield: Chilling Reign is the next official expansion of the Pokémon TCG. It will release June 18th, 2021, and will primarily include the English translation of the cards that first debuted in the Japanese language sets Matchless Fighter, Silver Lance, and Jet Black Poltergeist. We are still a little over a week away from the release of Silver Lance and Jet Black Poltergeist, which means that there is a huge portion of cards that will make up Chilling Reign that we have yet to see. However, the 96 cards featured in Matchless Fighter indeed give us a good idea of what the set will, in part, look like. Now, ever since the trading card boom that began in 2020 and continues on with increasing intensity in 2021, the prices of cards new and old have skyrocketed. Another change has been what exactly makes up the DNA of a "chase card." A chase card is essential the card or cards widely agreed upon by the market as the most coveted pull in the set. For example, the chase card of Sword & Shield base set is the Marnie Trainer Supporter card in both its Full Art and Rainbow Rare forms. Rebel Clash has no real chase card, with the Rainbow Rare Sonia Trainer Supporter as the closes thing to one. Darkness Ablaze has the Charizard VMAX. Champion's Path has the Shiny Charizard V and the Charizard VMAX Rainbow Rare. Vivid Voltage famously has the Pikachu VMAX Rainbow Rare, known by the community as Chonkachu. Shining Fates has the Shiny Charizard VMAX. The most recent set, Battle Styles, has the Tyranitar Alternate Art, known as the Sleepy Tyranitar. If we look at the current Japanese set Matchless Fighter, can we predict what will be the chase of Chilling Reign?
Here are the factors that make up a current chase card:
- Charizard: If a Pokémon TCG set has a Charizard card, especially a Full Art, Secret Rare, or Shiny Charizard, all bets are off. That is, has been, and will usually always be a chase card.
- An equation of familiarity x rarity x artwork: Vivid Voltage featured a rainbow, fat Pikachu that was insanely difficult to pull. It's no surprise that becomes a chase card. For example, look at Battle Styles. Some cards, like the Alternate Art Secret Rare Urshifu VMAX cards, start off with high value because of incredible artwork and rarity… but the Tyranitar card will retain value longer and become the true chase card because people simply know the Pokémon better, so care more about a unique depiction of that Pokémon.
- Full Art Trainers: Say what you will about the reasons why, but the market for Full Art Trainers featuring female characters is so insane that set collectors end up calling it the "waifu tax." These cards become insanely and prohibitively expensive. The Marnie card is the latest example, but Sun & Moon era sets like Ultra Prism have seen their value skyrocket almost solely on the shoulders of these Full Art Trainers.
- Playability: This used to mean a lot more back before the surge and the primary driving force behind the Pokémon TCG was players rather than collectors and scalpers. Now, playability plays a much smaller role than it did, say, during the XY era when the quality of the Shaymin card made it the top pull in Pokemon TCG's Roaring Skies set.
All of that to say? I believe, from looking at the Matchless Fighter setlist, that some of the Chase Cards in Pokémon TCG: Chilling Reign will be:
- Galarian Moltres V Alternate Art: Utterly unique in style, Full Art rarity, new and bold depiction of an iconic Pokémon.
- Clara Full Art & Rainbow Rare: Both versions of this card are going to be the most sought-after trainer since Marnie in Sword & Shield and potentially even more so.
- Shiny Snorlax Secret Rare: Snorlax is hugely popular and is so far the most iconic Pokémon to receive a Shiny Gold Card. Easy shoo-in.