Since its debut fifteen years ago, the official Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) has journeyed through a number of transitions. With that initial base pack perfectly complimenting the Pokémon experience of the time, Wizards of the Coast created a perfectly contained adaptation of the hugely successful videogame. As the years have continued there has been plenty of re-shuffling of rules in order to accommodate new Pokémon, new types and new trainer cards, and never has this been more evident than in the recently released Boundaries Crossed decks.
Launching as part of the Pokémon TCG Black & White series, Boundaries Crossed features two decks, Ice Shock and Cold Fire – lead by Black Kyurem and White Kyurem respectively – that each play a mix of styles like more pre-constructed decks. The most instantly recognisable change in the design of the cards within this deck is the entry level HP count. It’s been a while since Basic Pokémon have been entering battle with 30 or 40 HP, but there’s a strong line of 60 HP available as potential starting Pokémon, resulting in a lengthier opening battle. And thankfully so, as Boundaries Crossed seems to play a game that’s light on energy.
Whether it’s because many of the players of Pokémon TCG already own stacks of energy cards or too heavy a reliance on drawing the right Trainer cards when needed, both Ice Shock and Cold Fire include only eighteen energy cards to share between their two types and dragon Pokémon. There are enough Trainer cards and Powers that can negate the ill effects of being underpowered, but there’s likely to be many players that choose to present a deck that encourages skilful play opposed to relying on luck.
Unsurprisingly, both decks are designed around the idea of building support for the dragon within, and attempting to do so is of course a worthwhile strategy. However, while it’s the dragon cards that are the headline on the box art, these are not actually the most powerful card in each deck. The Ice Shock features a Blastoise that is significantly more powerful card while Cold Fire presents the Samurott, which can significantly hinder a slow energy deck.
Of course, more experienced players will cherry pick their favourite cards from each deck to add to their own creations, and both Ice Shock and Cold Fire excel at this. Have a weak spot in your first to be active line-up? Or a hole in your energy retrieval strategy? Perhaps you need a new heavy hitter for your water deck? The Boundaries Crossed theme decks provide all of this and more. What’s more, they both include hit counters, a metallic foiled coin, and a playmate allowing newcomers to jump straight into the game and also a code card that allowed all purchasers to add the deck to their Pokémon TCG Online: Trainer Challenges game. All the mod cons then, while still playing by the same rules established back in 1998. It’s true that the Pokémon TCG has had to reinvent itself to move with the times, but it’s no less engrossing now that is was when Machamp and Mewtwo were everybody’s deck leaders.