The introduction of a new series to the Pokémon Trading Card Game is always an exciting time, and the Sword & Shield Series is no exception. Pokémon V and Pokémon VMAX are here to shake up the game, and lots of brand-new Pokémon are making their debut in the Pokémon TCG. Additionally, there are some changes to existing rules and mechanics on the way. Let's take a look at them.
Rule Change: First Turn
At the start of the XY Series, a rule was introduced to prevent the player who goes first from attacking on the first turn. Starting on February 21, 2020 (the date that Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield becomes legal for tournament play), there will be an additional restriction: the player who goes first cannot play a Supporter card on the first turn.
This change is an attempt to make it less of an advantage to go first. Some strategies may benefit when the player goes second, but others might work out better if the player goes first. We hope this results in interesting choices in both gameplay and deck building.
Weakness and Resistance
For over a decade (all the way back to the Diamond & Pearl Series), Resistance has meant that a Pokémon takes 20 less damage from attacks of the listed type. However, Pokémon introduced in the Sword & Shield Series have a Resistance of -30 instead of -20.
For example, Zacian V has a -30 Resistance to Grass-type Pokémon. Any Pokémon from a previous series that has a -20 Resistance will continue to be treated that way—follow what's written on the card.
Weakness is unchanged, but a few of the common type matchups have shifted. This won't apply to every Pokémon, but here are some of the general changes:
Water-type Pokémon: Weakness to Lightning instead of Grass
Psychic-type Pokémon: Weakness to Darkness instead of Psychic
Darkness-type Pokémon: Weakness to Grass instead of Fighting
You may also find that some types of Pokémon have a Resistance that they didn't have in the past. Be on the lookout for these changes to Weakness and Resistance!
The Fairy type, which was introduced in the XY Series, will no longer be supported in the Sword & Shield Series. Pokémon that are Fairy types in the Pokémon video game series will now generally be represented as Psychic-type Pokémon in the Pokémon TCG. To maintain a balance among types, Pokémon that are Poison types in the video games will now be represented as Darkness types instead of Psychic types. For the time being, basic Fairy Energy can still be used in the Standard format, but that may change in the future.
Several cards will be issued errata, effective February 21, 2020:
(Shining Legends, 59/73; Sun & Moon, 116/149; XY—Evolutions, 77/108; XY—Ancient Origins, 99/98; XY—Primal Clash, 126/160; Black & White—Plasma Blast, 80/101; Black & White, 92/114; Legendary Collection, 107/110; Base Set 2, 110/130; Base Set, 81/102)
Minor text change:
“Put up to 2 basic Energy cards from your discard pile into your hand.”
(EX Emerald, 78/106; EX Ruby & Sapphire, 84/109)
Minor text change:
“At the end of each turn, if the Pokémon this card is attached to is affected by any Special Conditions, it recovers from all of them, and discard this card.”
(Sun & Moon—Ultra Prism, 132/156; XY—Flashfire, 92/106)
Minor text change:
“Shuffle up to 2 Supporter cards from your discard pile into your deck.”
(EX Unseen Forces, 91/115)
Minor text change:
“At the end of each turn, if the Pokémon this card is attached to has 3 or more damage counters on it, heal 30 damage from it and discard this card.”
Major text change:
“Heal 120 damage from 1 of your Pokémon that has at least 2 Energy attached. If you healed any damage in this way, discard 2 Energy from it.”
(Diamond & Pearl—Majestic Dawn, 86/100; Diamond & Pearl—Mysterious Treasures, 114/123)
Major text change:
“You can play this card only if you discard another card from your hand. Search your deck for a Basic Pokémon, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.”
These are considered official errata, so all versions of these cards will be legal for use in tournament play (but older ones will be played as if they had the updated text).
From now on, instead of giving the card a new name each time, the name Professor's Research will be used. If the card is updated in the future, the new professor's name will appear in the upper-right corner of the card, but the card name will remain Professor's Research.
In the Expanded format, there's already a rule that says you can't include Professor Sycamore and Professor Juniper in the same deck—players must choose one or the other. The same rule applies to Professor's Research, meaning it cannot be in the same deck as Professor Sycamore or Professor Juniper.
A new term called Pokémon Checkup will replace the phrase “between turns,” but it works the same way. After a player's turn is complete, you'll enter Pokémon Checkup before going to the next player's turn. Here are the steps that occur during Pokémon Checkup:
Check for Special Conditions in this order: Poisoned, Burned, Asleep, and Paralyzed.
Check Abilities and effects of Trainer cards that happen during Pokémon Checkup.
You can choose to do this step before checking for Special Conditions. However, you can't mix the two steps—for example, you can't add Poison damage, then apply an Ability, and then go back to check if a Pokémon is still Asleep.
Check to see if any Pokémon are Knocked Out.
Back in the Black & White Series, the term “heal” was introduced. For example, the card Potion says, “Heal 30 damage from 1 of your Pokémon.” Prior to that, it would have said, “Remove 3 damage counters from 1 of your Pokémon.”
For the Sword & Shield Series, a similar term will be introduced for effects that remove Special Conditions. Going forward, this term will be “recover.” As an example, the card Pokémon Center Lady has been updated in Sword & Shield to say “Heal 60 damage from 1 of your Pokémon, and it recovers from all Special Conditions.” It still has the same effect, but now the word “recover” can be associated with Special Conditions just like “heal” is associated with damage.
Reminder Text Removal
In the past, Abilities that could be used during your turn included the reminder text “(before your attack)” to clarify that attacking was the last thing you could do in a turn. Starting with Sword & Shield, that reminder text won't appear anymore. In some cases, that reminder text could cause the text to be incorrect, since there are some Abilities that can be used during the effects of attacks. For example, if you use Persian-GX's Slash Back-GX attack and switch it with Heatran-GX, Heatran-GX's Burning Road Ability activates when it becomes Active, even though that happens during the attack. To prevent this confusion altogether, this reminder text will be removed in the Sword & Shield Series.
You may notice that cards from the Sword & Shield Series have a white box containing a letter in the bottom-left corner (for example, all cards in the Sword & Shield expansion have a “D” mark).
This is called a regulation mark, and it will be used in the future to determine which cards are legal to use in tournament play. For example, there might be a point in time when only cards with a “D” regulation mark can be used in the Standard format. This change will get more attention in the future, but for now, just take note that it's there.
There are lots of new things to learn in the Pokémon TCG: Sword & Shield Series! This is only the beginning, and there may be more changes and updates as more expansions get released. Be sure to check back at Pokemon.com for all the latest news on the Pokémon TCG!