While the community may still be suffering from supply shortages and strict retailer guidelines, The Pokémon Company has still gone ahead and released Chilling Reign, the latest expansion for the Pokémon Trading Card Game. This set doesn’t change the gameplay, as we saw with Battle Styles, but we do have our first chance to snag Calyrex, the antagonist from Pokémon Sword & Shield’s Crown Tundra DLC pack.
In addition to a new big bad, we’ve also been given gifts in the form of Galarian versions of the original Legendary Birds: Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres. For casual (or older) players, these are fun inclusions that put a new spin on beloved Pokémon. For collectors, we’re now on the hunt for some rare cards to help us boost our collections.
This list breaks down the five best cards in this newest release, based on current valuations and pull rates. Pokémon Trading Card Game: Chilling Reign released in English worldwide on June 18, 2021, at your local retailer (retailer guidelines may vary).
5. GALARIAN ZAPDOS V (ALTERNATE FULL ART)
Galarian Zapdos differs from the original Kanto version from Pokémon Red and Blue in some considerable ways. Most notable, it’s now a Fighting-type, boasting the attack Thunderous Kick, which deals 170 damage points and knocks off a Special Energy card from your opponent. It’s formidable, and this alternate full art from artist Akira Komayama is yet another stunning inclusion from the freelance artist.
It’s interesting that Galarian Zapdos is seen here running up a dirt mountain, as it was featured in the snow in the anime. The special episode of Pokémon Twilight Wings: The Gathering of Stars shows the three Legendary Birds living among the snowy Crown Tundra. Regardless of its true habitat, Komayama has succeeded in providing some great environmental context to this scrappy Pokémon.
4. GALARIAN MOLTRES V (ALTERNATE FULL ART)
This is an absolutely stunning take on Moltres, with art from Shibuzoh., who has been contributing art to the TCG since 2014. Beyond being a beautiful piece of art on its own, Galarian Moltres V is a Darkness tank that lets you pull Darkness energy from your discard pile, setting players up for some interesting strategic moves.
As with any V Pokémon card, defeating Galarian Moltres V does allow your opponent to draw two Prize Cards, so make sure that you’re including this in your deck in a smart way. A great alternative to using this card would be to frame it since it looks so great.
3. SNORLAX (SECRET)
The original big boy, Snorlax returns as a secret inclusion to Chilling Reign. If you’re lucky to pull him, you’re in for a real treat. He’s proud, he’s foil, and he has the word “Gormandize” on his stomach. Snorlax continues to unapologetically be himself.
The Gormandize Ability lets players who are running with a low hand draw until they are holding seven cards, but it’s at the expense of ending your turn early. Be careful if you include Snorlax in your deck, and know when you might need to call on his confident presence.
2. SHADOW RIDER CALYREX (SECRET ALTERNATE ART)
Crown Tundra’s big bad made its TCG debut in this latest expansion, and it was given the royal treatment. The actual gameplay potential is fairly low, with a high HP but pretty weak attacks. The Underworld Gate Ability lets players both attach Psychic Energy cards and draw from their deck, but in a convoluted way. Max Geist is mostly useful if you have a heavily Psychic-type deck, and have had time to set up enough Energy Cards.
But the real care was put into this artwork. Veteran TCG Artist Mitsuhiro Arita has famously has been designing Pokémon TCG cards since before the release of Pokemon Red and Green in 1996. The stunning low-angle profile of Calyrex astride Spectrier showcases the importance of this Pokémon and is a great inclusion into this expansion.
1. BLAZIKEN VMAX (ALTERNATE SECRET ART)
The first Fire/Fighting-type starter evolution, Blaziken returns to the TCG and utilizes some recent gameplay changes. A Rapid Strike Pokémon, Blaziken VMAX can use Max Blaze to attach Energy Cards from your discard pile to two Benched Rapid Strike Pokémon. This is the only card on this list that embraces and participates in the new Battle Styles mechanics.
Blaziken VMAX is currently the highest valued card from the Chilling Reign expansion, and with good reason! The art from Shigenori Negishi is colorful and vibrant. The background also features the Tower of Waters, a key location in the Pokémon Sword & Shield: Isle of Armor DLC, which serves as a dojo for Rapid Strike Trainers.
Have you been able to get your hands on any Chilling Reign cards?