14 days until Pokémon Sword & Shield release! The Path to Sword & Shield is back!
The Pokémon-V mechanic has already been revealed thanks to not only the initial World Championships reveal trailer, but also through the recently-announced “Starter Set V Decks” that will be released in Japan on November 29th.
Pokémon-V appears to be similar to the Black and White era’s EX mechanic which featured primarily Legendary Pokémon with higher HP and attack power at the cost of being worth two Prize Cards upon knock-out. Of course, this could entirely change when the actual Sword and Shield set releases on December 8th.
While the Pokémon-V in the “Starter Set V Decks” are all basic Legendary Pokémon, the cards found in the set such as Zamazenta-V and Zacian-V could turn out to be evolved Pokémon, or other Pokémon-V in the set could be evolved Pokémon, such as the final evolutions of the three starter Pokémon.
That being said, Pokémon-V aren’t why we’re here. Instead, I’d like to talk about something found on one of the revealed Pokémon-V. Fans were quick to point out that for a brief moment in the World’s teaser, Zamazenta-V’s ability read “from your opponent’s Pokémon-V MAX”. With only the “Starter Set V Deck” Pokémon-V fully revealed at the time of this writing — and with Zamazenta-V and Zacian-V only partially revealed — we barely know the full extent of Pokémon-V, much less this mysterious Pokémon-V MAX.
At the end of the trailer, Pikachu and Zekrom were overshadowed by a gigantic Pokémon-V card with a record-breaking 330 HP. While many fans initially felt that this high HP would be a feature of Pokémon-V, the discovery of Pokémon-V MAX in Zamazenta-V’s ability turned the entire discussion on its head.
It’s not uncommon for the Pokémon TCG to take the main gimmick of the video games, twist it a little, and claim it as its own. X and Y’s Mega Evolution was brought into the game via M Pokémon-EX and the Pokémon Tool Trainer cards known as “Spirit Links”. Z-Moves were brought into the game via the “GX-Attacks” found on Pokémon-GX cards that could only be used once per game, just as Z-Moves can only be used once per battle. Pokémon-V MAX will, more than likely, be the game’s version of Dynamax and Gigantamax.
Until we finally get an official reveal on what this phenomenon is, I thought it would be fun to hypothesize a few possibilities as to how this mechanic could shake up the game.
First let’s talk about one of the most important features of the card: the design. My first thought is something that will most certainly never happen: jumbo cards. Jumbo cards are the bane of some collector’s existence, with TPCi packing a jumbo version of an EX or GX in several promotional boxes in both the United States and Europe. Obviously, these cards have always been unplayable, but how cool would it be to smack down a giant Pokémon card onto the table to emulate Dynamax? It would be amazing!
Unfortunately, as the game needs to be accessible to everyone, it seems unlikely that Pokémon would pick a format that would require people to buy a promotional product to play the game. They could go the Transformers TCG route and just include oversized cards, but this would require a Pokémon-V MAX to be included in every pack, let alone force the company to redesign the entire booster pack and box design to cater to these larger packs. While I adore this idea, it’s definitely the most impractical route they could take. As impractical as it may be, I just can’t shake the giant ominous Pokémon card towering over Pikachu and Zekrom. That’s got to mean something, right?
It’s more than likely that Pokémon-V MAX will be a standard-sized card that is placed over a Pokémon-V through the use of a new mechanic. I don’t expect the card template to be too outlandish (much like the minor differences between Pokémon-EX and M Pokémon-EX) but a nice pink gradient to the border to emulate the reddish-pink aura that Dynamax and Gigantamax Pokémon have would be a nice touch.
Speaking of a new mechanic, how would these Pokémon-V MAX get put into play? There are multiple mechanics used in the past that could easily work a second time around. For starters, a simple Pokémon Tool card can be attached to Pokémon-V that allow you to place a Pokémon-V MAX over it, just like the Spirit Link Pokémon Tool cards used in the XY era. To differentiate the concept a bit, it would be neat if the card was generic, like a card known as “MAX Bracelet” or something that would function across all Pokémon-V. Perhaps, like the ACE SPEC Trainer cards in the Black and White era, only one Pokémon-V MAX is allowed per deck, thus limiting the need for each Pokémon-V MAX to have its own dedicated Trainer Card.
While that is certainly an effective method of getting the cards into play, rehashing the same idea yet again isn’t what the game needs right now. so let’s take a different approach. As it is assumed right now, Dynamax and Gigantamax can only be done in select locations throughout Galar, particularly in Gym Battles and Raid Battles.
It seems unlikely that you’ll be able to Dynamax or Gigantamax in any old trainer battle. With this in mind, I propose a series of unique Stadium Cards that allow specific Pokémon-V to become Pokémon-V MAX. For instance, Milo’s Gym could allow Grass-type Pokémon-V to become Pokémon-V MAX. A location in the Wild Area could allow Colorless-type Pokémon-V to become Pokémon-V MAX. As of this post, Stadium Cards have never been the driving force behind a game mechanic, so it would be amazing to see them finally be used as such. Each type having its own designated Stadium Card would also allow for a plethora of different Stadium Cards to be played in the meta at one time, as opposed to just a small handful. Make it happen TPC!
Finally, I’d like to discuss what would make Pokémon-V MAX unique. As mentioned previously, TPCi could make Pokémon-V MAX strong to the point where only one can be played per deck. Activating your Pokémon-V MAX would be considered your finishing move, your last-ditch effort to seal the game.
Much like the Dynamax and Gigantamax Pokémon in the video games, Pokémon-V MAX would feature MAX moves that could deal a solid amount of damage on top of giving you a huge benefit, or an effect that devastates your opponent’s plans for the next turn. Now, in the video games, Dynamax and Gigantamax only last three turns. Unfortunately, three turns is a LONG time in the Pokémon TCG and having that big of an advantage for that long would break the game, or turn it into a Pokémon-V MAX vs. Pokémon-V MAX slugfest.
Instead, I propose that Pokémon-V MAX only last one complete turn. When played, you have the opportunity to unleash a strong attack on your opponent, but if they aren’t knocked out, or you haven’t drawn your final Prize Cards, your opponent gets one last chance to strike back and knock out your Pokémon-V MAX. Much like the current Tag Team-GX Pokémon, I feel Pokémon-V MAX should surrender at least three Prize Cards, perhaps even four. If these really are a last-ditch effort to win, give them a serious draw-back if you fail to secure victory. Of course, just as Dynamax and Gigantamax can only be used once per battle, Pokémon-V MAX would be represented with a two-sided counter, much like the GX-Attacks in the Sun and Moon era to shown when you have used your Pokémon-V MAX status.
Of course, this is just one set of ideas I’ve had. They could make Pokémon-V MAX the new standard, make it be able to be used multiple times, make them sideways cards much like Pokémon-BREAK, or two cards in one like Pokémon-LEGEND. The possibilities are endless, but until they are formally announced, let the speculation run wild.
What are some of your ideas for Pokémon-V MAX? How would you like to see these powerful new cards handled? Let us know in the comments below, or sound off on our Discord server for more Pokémon TCG discussion!