With Evolving Skies Build & Battle boxes headed to stores for this weekend’s pre-release period, we thought now was a good time to dive into our top picks for quite possibly the best Pokemon TCG English release of the year. Before we begin, in the lead up to the worldwide release of Evolving Skies on 27th August 2021 we’re giving a booster box for free via our Instagram. Click the banner above to enter for a chance to win some of the incredible cards we’re about to show off!
Disclaimer: Until official English images of cards appear online we’ll be showcasing the Japanese versions of the cards included within the set. To see all the Secret Rares from Evolving Skies click here. This article is written from an artwork/collector’s perspective, if the focus was on playing Pokemon TCG the selection would be wildly different.
Eeveelution V F/A Alternate Arts
Whilst Evolving Skies is missing the alternate art versions of the original Eeveelutions trio, there are still five awesome cards to pack from the set. Leafeon, Glaceon, Espeon, Sylveon, and Umbreon combine to make for a nice art set. If Eevee Heroes is anything to go by, the V cards of these cards are arguably a better collection for a binder page than the VMAX variations. The pick of the bunch has to be Umbreon who looks like an evil mastermind controlling its minions in a dark alleyway. Here’s hoping Flareon, Jolteon, and Vaporeon V Alternate Art arrive in English alongside their VMAX versions from the Japanese Lottery.
Eeveelution VMAX Alternate Arts
Just like Battle Styles and Chiling Reign before it, Evolving Skies continues the successful inclusion of alternative artworks within Pokemon TCG. For many, Umbreon VMAX Alternate Art will be the chase card of the set and it’s easy to see why with Kellchiro Ito’s gloomy art design. Surprisingly, Sylveon and Glaceon stand out as the main chase cards here in my opinion. Both of these cards have Pokemon surrounding them from Vaporeon on Glaceon VMAX’s ribbons to Pikachu slipping on ice in front of Glaceon VMAX.
Noivern V F/A Alternate Art
Originally released in s7D Towering Perfection, Noivern V has quickly become one of the best pieces of Pokemon art in a very long time. Illustrated by Mitsuhiro Arita, the card is a must-have for any Batman fan. The illustration speaks for itself but welcomes in a very dark visual for Pokemon TCG that is much appreciated. For any Arita collector out there, you’re probably not surprised by the quality of this full art but for those that usually pass an eye on Gen 6th’s Noivern then maybe it’s time to start paying attention.
Evolving Skies sees the return of Dragon-type cards to Pokemon TCG and with that, the inclusion of Dragon Pokemon is stacked. We mentioned Noivern above, now add Dragonite, Duraladon, and Rayquaza to the list (we’ll discuss this in just a bit). Dragonite V F/A Alternate Art is debatably the best modern Dragonite artwork ever. Atsushi Furusawa is the illustrator of the brilliant Eevee common card from this set with Rayquaza flying off into the distance and they use the same technique with distance here as Dragonite card falls into a swarm of Fearow.
Duraladon may not be on many people’s favourite Pokemon list but there’s something about its VMAX Alternate Art that has a presence. Not a card I’d buy a single of but an illustration that makes a skyscraper Pokemon look cool has to be appreciated.
Rayquaza, Rayquaza, Rayquaza
Last week we wrote about the predecessor to this expansion, Roaring Skies. In Roaring Skies, Rayquaza received one of the best Rayquaza artworks to this day. With Evolving Skies, The Pokemon Company have gone one better by including six new Rayquaza cards. I’m going to let the artwork speak for itself here as there’s not much to add. What I will say is Rayquaza VMAX is more than likely going to be the most expensive card from Evolving Skies alongside Umbreon VMAX Alternate Art and it’s hard to argue with why. The card gives off a cool historical Japanese vibe with a red outline from the Dynamax clouds surrounding its body. The Japanese version of Rayquaza VMAX Alternate Art currently sells for around $700 on eBay.
Full Art Trainers
Evolving Skies even has great Trainer cards. Raihan, the gym leader from Sword & Shield’s Hammerlocke gym is a must for any Trainer collector or fan of Dragon-type Pokemon. In most sets, Raihan would be the chase Trainer however Copycat pretending to be Leon, Rose, and Marnie is sublime.
The list of best cards from a collectors’ perspective from Evolving Skies could go on and on, it’s just that good. The Pokemon Company have taken two of the best Japanese Sword & Shield sets and merged them into one stacked expansion that could potentially be overlooked by Pokemon TCG: Celebrations releasing in October. After writing this article, I’m tempted to do the opposite and focus on this mammoth of a set.
We’ll be doing more coverage of Evolving Skies as information is revealed in the lead-up to its 27 August 2021 release. What cards make you want to pick up Evolving Skies on launch?
John-Anthony Disotto – Ludkins Media Editor-in-Chief