Blimey, The Pokémon Company really is spoiling us at the moment! We’ve only just been given Shining Fates, a set full of rare and powerful Pokémon, and now we’re already gearing up for the next release of the year. And oh boy, is Sword & Shield: Battle Styles a doozy.
What is Battle Styles?
Inspired by the Sword & Shield games’ Isle of Armor DLC. Throughout the DLC, you work with the martial arts bear Pokémon Urshifu to train it up and unlock one of its two potential fighting styles, and it’s this that inspires Battle Styles’ biggest shakeup in mechanics the Pokémon TCG has seen in years.
Battle Styles introduces two brand new types of cards: the battle styles themselves. Throughout the expansion, everything from trainers and energy to Pokémon themselves can be split between Urshifu’s two potential styles, with each encouraging their own unique way of playing!
If you like big, direct damage, ‘Single Strike’ is the style for you. It’s a simple heavy-hitter approach led by cards like Tyranitar V, who can swap discard cards from the top of your library for big damage. Another great example is Mawile, whose attack isn’t affected by your opponents’ type weaknesses and resistances.
Single Strike attacks often need a lot of energy though, which is where the secret rare Houndoom will come in handy. Every turn you’ll be able to search your deck for a Single Strike Energy card and put it onto a Pokémon you control. While it will put two damage counters on your Pokémon in the process, you’ll be firing off those obliterating moves before your opponent has any time to mount a defence.
On the other hand, the ‘Rapid Strike’ style is much more technical. It may not hit as hard as Single Strike, but it can throw up lots of stumbling blocks to slow down your opponent or push you ahead in the game. For instance, Empoleon V completely cancels out your opponents’ Pokémon Abilities, and can also move energy around the board with its Swirling Slice attack. By far the most powerful Rapid Strike card though, in my opinion, is the secret rare golden Octillery. Its ability lets you pull other Rapid Strike cards out of your deck and into your hand, letting you load up on the sneaky tricks for free!
Cards to look out for!
It wouldn’t be Battle Styles without the star Urshifu, though, and so it comes with V and VMAX cards for both styles (and a whole host of alt-art styles). While Single Strike Urshifu VMAX’s whopping 270 damage attack is really appealing, I’m definitely more drawn towards the Rapid Strike form, which can instead deal 120 damage to two of your opponent’s Pokémon. It lets you take out threats on the bench before they even have time to be a problem!
For those who just want to crack packs or build their collections, Battle Styles is also chock-full of alternate arts and secret rares ready for you to find. My personal favourite is one of the adorable alternate art Tyranitar V card, which shows him all tuckered out after a big lunch, but there are also fan-favourites like Mimikyu V, Corviknight V and VMAX and Tapu Koko V. There are loads of rainbow secret rares, too, with trainers like Bruno, Cheryl and Mustard joining the likes of Corviknight, Tapu Koko VMAX and Urshifu’s VMAX forms in gorgeous multi-coloured full art prints.
What product is right for me?
Like any other Pokémon TCG expansion, there are a bunch of choices on how you start your Battle Styles collection. Alongside the usual booster packs (and eco-friendly cardboard boosters!) and booster boxes, we’re also getting not one, but two Elite Trainer boxes. Coming in a red Single Strike or blue Rapid Strike style, each box comes with eight booster packs, a player’s guide, a set of damage-tracking dice, and exclusive sleeves based on the box you chose.
If there’s a specific Pokémon you really love in Battle Styles, why not consider a Checklane blister? It doesn’t cost too much more than an individual booster, but you’ll also get a fancy flip coin and a promo card (or a set of promo cards!) alongside your booster. The Battle Styles Checklane packs feature either Charmander, Arrowskuda, Larvitar/Pupitar/Tyranitar, or Rookidee/Corvisquire/Corviknight, the latter two serving as a great way to ramp up into those Corviknight and Tyranitar VMAX! Finally, you can pick from one of two 3-pack blisters. Each comes with a flip coin, three booster packs, and either an Eevee or Jolteon promo card.
There’s so much to be excited about with Battle Styles. If you’re a regular player, exploring the opportunities and synergies that the styles open up is going to be an interesting new challenge to face. For the collectors, there are so many awesome Pokémon, and a slew of fantastic alt-art cards to collect. Be sure to check out Sword & Shield: Battle Styles here!