Ever since the release of Sun & Moon in February 2017, The Pokemon Company has released over 200 Rainbow Rares across seventeen main series sets (up to Battle Styles). This begs the question, is it time for Pokemon TCG to move on to something new?
Since the very early days of Pokemon TCG, the creators realised that having holos as the best pull from a set just wasn’t going to cut it all of the time, people were craving something rarer than a pull rate of one in three packs. The first attempts at this knocked it out of the park, Shining Pokemon in the Neo era and Crystal Pokemon in the e-series era. Both were very limited in number (10 total Shining Pokemon, 9 total Crystal Pokemon), and had fantastic new artwork and foiling styles, making the cards look different from anything we had seen before.
With the start of the ex-era, every set began having cards rarer than a regular holo. Each set of the era had between three and thirteen ex cards that could be found within booster packs at a lower rate than holos. Of course, towards the end of the era, sets also began to add Gold Stars as an extra layer of something even rarer.
Today, we have reached a point where a regular holo is disregarded as being something even worth pulling. Above holos, we now have (in increasing rarity): V/VMax, Full Art, Rainbow Rares, Gold. Now, I wouldn’t be opposed to this many different rarity levels in Pokemon TCG if they all added something unique and exciting. But in my opinion, Rainbow Rares are not doing that.
If we take a look at the common trends amongst the most popular card styles, we see that Rainbow Rares fall short in comparison. Let’s start with exclusivity. The most popular card styles had very few different cards printed in that style, they appeared for a short amount of time, then they were gone. Opening one felt special, if your favourite Pokemon managed to sneak land a card in that style it was a moment of celebration. In addition to the small number of cards, both Shining and Crystal cards only appeared in two sets, meaning just a few months between the first and last new cards. Even Gold Stars, despite being more spread out, still had just over two years between the first and last of their 27 cards.
As well as the large total number of Pokemon TCG Rainbow Rares, and the length of time they’ve been going, there have been up to an eye-watering fourteen Rainbow Rares in a single set! The changes also helped the TCG eras feel distinct from each other. The ex-era had ex and Gold Star cards, Diamond and Pearl had Lv X, HGSS had Primes and Legends. The style of card died out with the era and gave way to something new. Even with the changes from EX to GX to V, I find it much harder to mentally separate the last few eras.
So, if Gold cards have carried on alongside Rainbow Rares, and Full Arts have been going for even longer, why am I specifically tired of Rainbows in Pokemon TCG? Well, let’s look at what else made the other card styles so popular: unique artwork and card styles. Whether the Rainbow is a version of a Full Art, a VMax, or even a Supporter, they use the same artwork. The difference? We lose all of the interesting colours and details from the cards.
In my opinion, this is most noticeable with the Rainbow Supporters, since their introduction Full Art Supporters have produced some of my favourite artwork in the game, and one of the biggest reasons for that is the use of backgrounds within the art that the Pokemon do not get. The Pokemon TCG Rainbow Rares completely strip away the background art leaving us with a character standing against largely empty space. As for the card style, I will happily admit the first time that I saw a Rainbow Rare I thought it looked incredible. But as time goes on, and the more of them we see, the more they just look the same. Unlike other card styles, the rainbow style locks in the colour of the card, meaning every single Rainbow Rare has the same colour scheme across the entire card. While the slight redesign from Cosmic Eclipse helped a little, I don’t think it achieved too much in terms of improving the cards or making them look significantly different from each other. Ask anyone who has floor judged a TCG event since the release of Sun & Moon, and they’ll happily tell you how much they hate not being able to easily understand a board state at a glance and having to pick up every Rainbow Rare to work out which card it is.
What would my personal choice be to change the Rainbow Rares? I would just cut them from the sets. I would not change them, I would not replace them, they can just go. Sets are not lacking in terms of harder-to-pull cards that would make the chase exciting. We have Full Arts, we have Gold cards, and starting from Battle Styles we have new Alternate Art cards, which look incredible (as I finish writing this, I’m refreshing various pages every 30 seconds and watching the new Alternate Art cards from Eevee Heroes be revealed).
No change is coming soon, those gorgeous Alternate Art Eevee cards have been revealed alongside some Rainbow VMaxs and Supporters (the newly spoiled Aroma Lady from Eevee Heroes shows off one of my issues very well, just look at that background of the Full Art, and compare it with all that dead space on the Rainbow). The silver lining for me at least is that I’ll be able to drag this complaint out over articles, videos, and podcasts for years to come.
Dan Norton – DJGigabyte
Read more from Dan here.
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