I must admit, it’s getting hard to find new things to say about each new Sword & Shield expansion. Silver Tempest is the 11th expansion in the series, and to its credit it does a lot of things right. It features a great variety of card types and chase variants, three high profile Radiant Pokemon (Tsareena, Alakazam, and Jirachi), another fantastic Trainer Gallery (Hello, Rayquaza VMAX) and a healthy selection of new VSTAR Pokemon to experiment with. At the same time, it’s difficult to describe Silver Tempest in a way that wouldn’t also describe September’s Lost Origin expansion, or Astral Radiance, or even Brilliant Stars for that matter. Collectors will find some fairly desirable cards in this expansion, but the more these expansions blend together, the more I long for the big Scarlet & Violet reset.
Silver Tempest is a 215-card set with a 30-card trainer gallery, making this the sixth largest expansion just after Astral Radiance. The expansion introduces 15 new Pokemon V, six Pokemon VSTAR, three Radiant Pokemon, and just a single Pokemon VMAX – Regieleki VMAX. The phasing out of VMAX in favor of the more powerful yet more restrictive VSTAR has been largely positive, and I don’t think anyone will be disappointed that Silver Tempest isn’t stuffed with 300+HP bodies.
Among the new VSTAR picks is Alolan Vuplix VSTAR, the first non-evolved Pokemon to receive its own VSTAR card. This is interesting from a flavor standpoint, especially considering Pikachu and Eevee don’t have their own VSTAR cards yet, but mechanically it feels no different from any V + VSTAR combo. It’s not as though there’s an alternate evolution path like Alolan Ninetales VSTAR to make it an interesting choice, though that could be a possibility for the future. Additionally, its VSTAR ability, Silvery Snow Star, is an AoE with limited potential, since it only attacks your opponents Pokemon V.
Lugia VSTAR has a bit more potential with its Summoning Star ability, which allows you to pull two non-Rule Box Pokemon from your discard pile onto your bench. The card has made an impact in the Japanese meta already, and because of its flexibility, we’ve seen a wide variety of deck archetypes built around it. This kind of variety is exactly what you want from a powerful card like Lugia VSTAR, so I’m hopeful to see even more interesting and unique decks rise up in the meta.
There are no new Lost Zone cards in Silver Tempest, which is disappointing yet not entirely surprising. The original Lost Zone turned out to be pretty meta-defining in the HeartGold & SoulSIlver era, but its reintroduction in Lost Origin feels more like a nostalgia play than a meaningful new mechanic, especially without any support from future expansions like Silver Tempest. In contrast, Battle Styles had a much bigger impact because it lived on through each subsequent expansion. It would have been nice to see at least a few more Lost Zone cards in this set.
This is the final expansion that will feature the Trainer Gallery, which has added a lot to the last several expansions. The cards in this collection may not be the most valuable on the second market, but getting a second chance at an exciting pull in each pack has made it so much more fun to open them. There’s some great ones this time around, including Rayquaza VMAX, Gardevoir, and Milotic, so I’m disappointed we won’t be seeing the Trainer Gallery again anytime soon.
I’m planning on opening tons of Silver Tempest and my list of must-have cards is longer than a lot of Sword & Shield expansions. I love how dark Lugia V looks and I’d like to experiment with Lugia VSTAR. I’m also keen to add Radiant Jirachi, Radiant Tsareena, Hisuian Arcanine V, and of course, the new Rayquaza VMAX to my collection. I’m also excited to save up some TCG Live cards in anticipation of global launch later this month, so even if Silver Tempest was a dud I’d be busting tons of packs in anticipation – and I recommend you do the same. All things considered, it’s a fine expansion that would probably have a lot more buzz if it wasn’t coming out so close to the next base set. Sword & Shield started at the beginning of the pandemic, and I’m ready for the TCG to shake things up and give us a fresh start.
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