Terrific approach to battle design while remaining friendly to newcomers
Dominating the school yard playgrounds from the best parts of the 90s, the Pokemon trading card game has remained a staple piece of nostalgia topping almost every other form of collector items available from that time period. While remaining consistent throughout the ages the iconic card game has taken many different routes and changes in terms of both visual aesthetics relating to the character’s design, aswell as the way the way the in which the franchise has adapted to newer audiences while being perceived differently by others.
The Pokemon TCG: XY Furious Fists decks serve as expansions to the XY series that released in line with the X and Y video games for the Nintendo 3DS. Coming in the form of two starter decks known as Dark Hammer and Enchanted Echo each box contains the same number of sixty playing cards, one metallic coin, damage counters, a deck box, a two-player playmat, and an online code to take the battle online.
"While remaining consistent throughout the ages the iconic card game has taken many different routes and changes in terms of both visual aesthetics relating to the character's design, aswell as the way the way the in which the franchise has adapted to newer audiences while being perceived differently by others."
All of which being standard to the game each deck is divided between energy cards, trainer cards, Pokemon battle cards, and a special holographic card leading the charge. While the new cards are intended to serve as expansion decks I saw no reason whatsoever why they couldn’t serve as starter decks for those new to the series.
Although being labeled as expansion packs one thing that has always served the game so well over the years is the non-existent use-case for expansion packs, ironically enough. There’s no barrier of entry to the game regardless of when you decide to take interest in the game. It’s welcoming, user-friendly, and straightforward. Expansion or starter. Piff Piff it doesn’t matter.
There’s no real thinking or mind battle involved when it comes to playing Pokemon cards, and I would argue that’s predominately why the game has lasted so many years and why it’s fanbase is so insanely huge.
Memories fly back to me sitting in the school yard, trading and battling my deck referencing quotes from the television series, idolizing the show’s main protagonist and relishing in the excitement of how every single game felt like a life changing moment.
And while I had to face the harsh realities of growing up and becoming more mature as Ash Ketchum took the Peter Pan approach to life quite literally, I always remained influenced by the franchise in terms of the artistic designs of the creatures that lived within these cards. Over the most recent years however, the artistic approach taken to each new iteration of the forever expanding series has changed quite drastically.
"Although being labeled as expansion packs one thing that has always served the game so well over the years is the non-existent use-case for expansion packs, ironically enough. ."
And although remaining true to the series by mixing old with new which is reflected in the new decks, it’s sad to say that’s the newest entries to the game look artistically downgraded and poor in comparison to the first and second generation cards.
Maybe this is nostalgia talking or maybe it’s just me addressing what others refuse to do, but as the number of characters has increased more and more so too have they began to resemble the insects, amphibians and mammals that exist within of our own world.
While “Back in the Day” they carried an appearance that could best be described as animal evolution gone wrong, or better yet alien fantasy. They looked like completely different creatures entirely, only baring an earth-like resemblance when taking the time and work to actually reference and cross-match similar creatures that we’re actually familiar with.
With Pokemon such as Pangoro, Mienfoo, and Scrafty making up the majority of the Dark Hammer deck, don’t forget those doubles. The artistic direction that newer characters to the series has taken are more relatable to the wildlife that make up our own world than they would do their own when looking back at the series ten years ago. I feel blessed that there’s a Machamp and Lickitung included just to ease my levels of comfort, and frankly just stop me from going insane.
"Maybe this is nostalgia talking or maybe it's just me addressing what others refuse to do, but as the number of characters has increased more and more so too have they began to resemble the insects, amphibians and mammals that exist within of our own world. "
However, despite my personal gripes with the character design the actual designs of the cards themselves look just as astonishing as ever and the rules and requirements for battling the cards are in no way impacted. The Dark Hammer expansion deck contrasts quietly greatly to that of the Enchanted Echo deck.
Taking the approach of what I like to call Balanced Brute Force. The deck arms the player with hard-hitters such as Machoke and Mienshao belonging to the class of Fighting types. Also placed in for good measure and strategy are Colorless and Darkness types such as Pancham, Scraggy, and Lickilicky.
This straightforward approach to battle of “Beat ‘Em Down” and “Beat ‘Em while they’re Down” is further emphasized by the use of the included trainer cards like the Pokemon Center Lady and Roller Skates, which allows you to flip a coin with the chance of it landing on heads lets you draw an additional three extra cards.
What’s unique to the theme of these cards other than the rawness of being truly brutal on towards your opponent as stated in the title Dark Hammer, is the balancing and supporting assistance of the chosen cards. Almost every card with a few noticeable exceptions carry a high number of Health Points, all ranging on average of ninety up to one hundred and fifty.
" The deck arms the player with hard-hitters such as Machoke and Mienshao belonging to the class of Fighting types. Also placed in for good measure and strategy are Colorless and Darkness types such as Pancham, Scraggy, and Lickilicky."
Aside from the ironically looking Panda that leads the visual packaging of the deck with a stance of a wrestler as opposed to being cute and cuddly, it’s not hard to see why this deck would be appealing once you take a look at the list of the included cards located to the back of the box.
Moving on to the Enchanted Echo deck we find something that’s taken the approach of “Support while you Battle”. Which essentially means strategize and take your time while keeping all your cards stocked with as much protection as possible.
For those who like to weigh their opponents down gradually and have no problem dragging the length of the game out in order to keep their Pokemon away from maximum damage by keeping healing cards at bay, this is the deck to make that happen.
Battling with cards of Fairy, Colorless, and Grass type Pokemon ranging with moderate health points but more than capable of dealing a fair amount of damage. Supporting trainer cards such as maintenance and the health potion do well to keep your cards topped up with life, while energy switch allows you to relocate basic energy from one Pokemon to another.
This aids with the player’s own personal strategy regardless of what that may be, that the deck naturally focuses on since it encourages you to continuously support your cards as you battle with them. As opposed to the route which the Dark Hammer deck places focus on, which is all out brutality with minimal need for supporting trainer cards that aid in health points.
" Aside from the ironically looking Panda that leads the visual packaging of the deck with a stance of a wrestler as opposed to being cute and cuddly, it's not hard to see why this deck would be appealing once you take a look at the list of the included cards located to the back of the box.. "
As said previously the Enchanted Echo deck balances it’s range of cards across Fairy, Grass, and Colorless types. Among this you will find Pokemon such as Bellsprout, Accelgor, Leafeon, Clefairy, and Slakoth. Leading this deck is the Fairy type Pokemon evolved from Eevee that many will know as Slyveon.
Other than the well designed packaging, quality cut cards, and the matching number of included content inside each of the boxes. The only differences between the two decks are the obvious visual changes required by the themes of each deck.
Each set of cards are tailored towards two different kinds of players and other than the means of collecting every card, the target audience that these two decks are designed for are superbly thought out in terms of strategy and balancing. And none of the cards included felt thrown in to the pack just for the sack of card quantity requirement.
The XY Furious Fists booster packs consists of cards much similar to what you’ll find already within the main decks. They mix cards from each of the decks while adding random cards for the sake of collection purposes, and would be best served for a different play style entirely.
" Leading this deck is the Fairy type Pokemon evolved from Eevee that many will know as Slyveon. Other than the well designed packaging, quality cut cards, and the matching number of included content inside each of the boxes. "
This is nice as it keeps your collection growing and your possibilities for mixing up battle tactics, in order to knock your opponent off-guard should you choose to use them as part of one the expansion decks. The packs also include shiny holographics, trainer cards, and a code to use online for unlocking a booster pack to add to your digital collection.
The Pokemon TCG: XY Furious Fists Expansions serve as a great addition to the game as well as a a welcoming point for those new to the franchise. Pokemon has always had a way of catering to it’s audience as well as those looking to get involved and this isn’t just down to the card game, it’s something that has remained throughout all the video games also.
With this newly released expansion just adding to the enjoyability of the game with plenty more than likely to arrive in the future, I think it’s safe to say not to mention it’s highly ironic that you’ll never Catch ‘Em All!
A light hearted approach to turn-based battling has always been one of the core pillars which makes the game so welcoming and enjoyable. And it still remains.
Other than a general dislike for the series itself or my own personal gripes with modern character design, Pokemon holds no faults.
A well balanced and thought out approach to both the structure of decks aswell as the theme of the Pokemon in which it contains. Hammer Deck and Enchanted Echo are great additions to the never ending game.