Pokémon TCG: Sun & Moon – Celestial Storm Hands-on Preview

With the release of another Pokémon TCG expansion, it was time for another preview tournament to test out the new theme decks and scope out the new cards. Pokémon TCG: Sun & Moon – Celestial Storm brings over 160 new cards to the game, including new GX and new Prism cards; Latias, Latios and Jirachi.

Arriving at the event we were handed the new theme decks, Leaf Charge and Hyrdo Fury, featuring Swampert and Sceptile as their front-men. As always each deck contains two elemental types, Water/Fire, and Grass/Electric respectively. We were given some time to warm up and familiarise ourselves with the decks, get back into the swing of things, breaking out my Swampert was a poor show. As always the game is 50% deck structure and 50% luck, something I was desperately lacking that night. Never got beyond a basic Pokémon in the warm-up match and got my ass kicked immediately.

Overall, Hydro Fury wasn’t all bad, packing some serious hurt in the form of Abomasnow and Swampert. Swampert’s Power Draw ability can really turn the tide, allowing you to draw three cards on your turn if you discard one before your attack. Coupled with an obscenely powerful Hydro Pump attack that requires 3 colorless energy to use and does a base 80 damage, but can deal an extra 20 damage per water energy attached.

Abomasnow’s Hypno Hammer attack can cripple an enemy dealing 80 damage and also putting their active Pokémon to sleep. Abomasnow’s special ability only activates when playing him from your hand to evolve a benched Snover, allowing the attachment of 1 water energy from the discard pile to any one of your Pokémon.

Pokémon TCG: Sun & Moon – Celestial Storm Hands-on Preview - n3rdabl3

Sadly Hydro Fury gets the raw end of the theme deck pairing for this expansion, as Swampert is weak to Grass and Sceptile is the main powerhouse of the Leaf Charge deck. Hydro Fury only gets two fire type Pokémon in the form of Slugma/Macargo and can be tricky to bring to bear. Needless to say, my warm-up match saw me getting my arse kicked all around the houses by a painfully strong Leaf Charge deck. Sceptile’s Powerful Storm is aptly named, doing 20 damage per energy attached to ALL of your Pokémon. It’s a horrendously powerful attack that’s almost impossible to stand up to without proper preparation.

After getting thoroughly annihilated it was time to get our hands on the booster boxes and start putting our custom decks together. I was blessed to obtain a sweet GX Scizor in my boosters, but sadly no Scyther. One of the players opposite me got the Scyther but no Scizor and we were prohibited from trading until after the tournament. Luckily I got a GX Electrode and a couple Voltorb in order to use him in some other boosters. It looked to be written in the stars to craft a killer Steel/Electric deck, GX Voltorb paired with Manectric supported by Registeel and Metagross. With a team of heavy hitters it’d be hard not to win, right?

Pokémon TCG: Sun & Moon – Celestial Storm Hands-on Preview - n3rdabl3

Wrong. Despite a pretty sweet construction, whatever Card-Gods were smiling upon me during building must have hung me out to dry when it came to playing. Couple of junk hands and just not drawing the cards when I needed them or could have used them at all. In my first game, I got wasted by another Swampert and it’s Hydro Pump, barely scratching the opposition as I couldn’t get beyond a Basic Pokémon. Getting bageled out of the gate was not a promising start…

I didn’t fare much better in the second match due to a Swalot’s Amnesia attack rendering my Pokémon asleep for most of the battle and unable to attack. Being unable to counterattack and lacking the cards to formulate a decent offense to replace your active is the worst. Drawing junk time and again leaving you with a bench of stacked Basics but no stage 1 or 2 Pokémon in sight to let me dish out some hurt left me on the receiving end of another clean sweep.

Third and final match of the evening and finally my luck changed. My opponent’s team were weak to either Steel or Electric and with a certain GX Electrode burning a hole in my starting hand eventually drawing the Voltorb to evolve was amazing. Electrode was exactly as devastating as his powers sounded in construction, plus his ridiculous health pool of 190 points makes him a formidable staller as well as a damage dealer. If you need a sweeper, look no further than the self-destructing electric ball Pokémon, Spud 4 – Opponent – 0. It felt good to deal out a bagel of my own but I couldn’t help but feel a little bad. Matt’s a good guy, just got unlucky in the last match of the night.

Pokémon TCG: Sun & Moon – Celestial Storm Hands-on Preview - n3rdabl3

As powerful as GX Electrode is, I would have fallen at the first hurdle if it wasn’t for Manectric and his insanely useful Electric Start ability. This allows you to play the thunder pupper as your active or bench during set-up if you’re going second. Being able to skip the Basic stage is an unbelievable advantage and given the 1 electric energy attack “Double Charge” which also lets you attach two energy to one benched Pokémon as well as dealing 40 damage is huge! You’d be crazy not to include this little powerhouse in any electric-spec’d deck! Not to mention his retreat cost being none, this little fella proves that lightning can strike twice!

Finishing 8th out of 11 wasn’t my finest performance and considering the first time I ever played I came 4th…Beginner’s Luck is definitely real. As always though the PR team put on a great show and were more than happy to help out and answer any questions. With all preview tournaments, the winners all walked away with an armload of swag, not that us scrubs walked out empty handed. I have a cool little Meowth plushie to show for my efforts.

As with all of the Pokémon TCG expansions the new card designs are amazing, especially with the new GX and Prism cards. Latios has always been one of my favorites and the TCG Prism card only reinforces that, even if I’m not a proud owner of one. I’ve been making a special effort to use the Celestial Storm card on the Pokémon TCG Online game, getting mixed results but one thing is for sure, that Electrode is BRUTAL.

The Pokémon TCG: Sun & Moon – Celestial Storm expansion will make a welcome addition to any fans collection as well as providing rookies an easy way in, the winner of the tournament hadn’t played TCG before and managed to defeat the most skilled players in the room. It introduces some powerful new cards, enhances some older ones and flat out revitalizes some of the older less utilized or common characters.

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