With Pokémon Scarlet and Violet due out in just two weeks, the era of Sword and Shield is drawing to a close. But with the Pokémon TCG always operating about three months behind the video games, we’ve still got room for one last hurrah before February’s big changeover. That final special release has now been named Crown Zenith, and it looks like it’s going to be a really collectible set.
The final “main” expansion for Sword & Shield, Silver Tempest, officially releases November 11, with pre-release Build & Battle sets already in the hands of keen players. This collection catches North America and Europe up with cards missed from many of Japan’s sets, primarily Paradigm Trigger, but also Incandescent Arcana, Lost Abyss, and Dark Phantasma. However, both in Japan and the North American and European regions that are often grouped together, there’s a final “special” set to send off the era of V-cards in style. That’s Crown Zenith.
Throughout Sword & Shield, the meta has been based around V, VSTAR, and VMAX cards, extra-powerful versions of Pokémon with mighty attacks, against which opponents must find imaginative responses. (Or just that one Miltank with Miracle Body, that’s immune to Vs.) When the cards shift over to Scarlet & Violet, Vs will disappear, replaced by the revival of “ex.” So, to say goodbye, Crown Zenith is going all out. We’re getting 17 Vs, five VMAXes, eight VSTARs, and three Radiants, including what will inevitably be a highly sought-after Shiny Charizard.
The set also promises “a multitude of new art styles and unique illustrations,” and in great news, “an emphasis on alternate art cards.” The latter are invariably beautiful full-art cards, with luscious detail and entire stories told within the image.
Instead of a Trainer Gallery (subsets within the last few sets that show trainers and Pokémon together), Crown Zenith will feature an epic 70-card Galarian Gallery, offering special illustrations across all V-types, Supporter cards, and regular Pokémon, celebrating the Galar region one last time. My favorite detail here being that nine of these subset cards connect together into one three-by-three mega-illustration. It sounds like this is going to be the most ludicrously collectible (expensive) set since Brilliant Stars—the last time people were really excited over a Sword & Shield set.
There are a ton of fan-favorite cards in there, like Mewtwo VSTAR, Darkrai VSTAR, and Hisuian Zoroark VSTAR in the Galarian Gallery, along with Zacian and Zamazenta VSTARS in the main set. The other two shinies in the Radiants, alongside Charizard, are Charjabug and Eternatus.
Being a Special Set, this won’t be available in 36-pack booster boxes, meaning collecting this extraordinary range of desirable cards is going to be hella expensive. Booster packs will be found in a large range of Collection Boxes, a 10-pack Elite Trainer Box, and what I assume will be an eye-wateringly expensive Crown Zenith Premium Figure Collection for either Zacian or Zamazenta, with 11 packs, etched promos, a figure, pin, and even a set of card sleeves. My poor bank balance.
The set is due to release on January 20 next year.