Pokemon TCG Fusion Strike booster preview and first impressions

This week we got our hands on a Pokemon TCG: Sword and Shield Fusion Strike Elite Trainer Box and a Booster Box for preview and hands-on inspection! This set was a welcome surprise in both high-end artwork and execution, to be sure. After the awesomeness that was Pokemon TCG: Celebrations, the Pokemon Company truly needed to come correct with a monster follow-up set. This Fusion Strike set fits the bill!

Before you get too deep, here, be sure to take a peek at our Pokemon TCG Celebrations unboxing: Release day time warp! That set was amazing – and remains amazing to this day. Pokemon TCG: Sword & Shield – Fusion Strike is the first expansion that's been released since Celebrations, and is the latest in a line of sets that are part of the overarching Sword & Shield generation of card sets and games in the Pokemon universe.

The Fusion Strike set has a total of 20x Pokemon V cards and 13x full-art Pokemon V cards, with 8x Pokemon VMAX in the mix. There's a new Special Energy card that we've found surprisingly few of in the packs we've opened – that works with Fusion Strike Pokemon as a sort of do-anything energy. There are also 20x Trainer cards and 7x full-art Supporter cards.

We have a bunch of packs in a Booster Box and we have an Elite Trainer Box. The Elite Trainer Box features Mew and the key color scheme for the set: "a hint of purple and pink." Protective sleeves included in the box are made with the most modern materials – similar to the Elite Trainer Box sleeves included with the previous several sets.

Above you'll see a pair of Mew cards, both "V" Pokemon. One is the standard Mew V, the other is the Full-art Mew V. As is generally the case, both cards have the exact same set of abilities and power, but the application of artwork, holographic material, and textured gloss is completely different. Both have a fairly traditional approach toward said artwork – centered, front-facing, and beautiful.

When it comes to VMAX cards, Pokemon cards in the past several sets have gone bonkers. This is a very good thing, assuming you're collecting Pokemon cards for their unique presentation of the Pokemon universe. Look at this VMAX Cinderace, for example. The vast majority of the card is the fireball! It's completely mad!

As has been the case with the most recent several sets of Pokemon cards, the most awesome foil cards in the set have to be Lightning-type Pokemon. Basically every card with reverse holo foil application in the Lightning-type universe looks amazing with light reflecting off the bolts. When it comes to a Pokemon V card like Boltund, the artwork comes alive!

If you're looking for a card that might change the way you play the game completely, look at this Golem. Placing this Pokemon out in your lead spot means your opponent will need to prepare for the worst. Now, if only there were a way to win the game with only self-destructing Pokemon.

I was surprised to find that one of my favorite cards from this set wasn't rare. It wasn't shiny (though it could be, technically). It's a card that's only previously been released as a special edition Japan-only Gym Challenge tournament promo card: Cram-o-matic!

If Golem weren't enough to change the way you play the game, Cram-o-matic might be the key to your future deck of oddities. This weird bird deserves his place in the sun!

Standard booster packs of Pokemon TCG: Sword and Shield Fusion Strike Elite will be available starting on November 12, 2021. Starting on October 30, 2021 you'll find the Pokemon Sword & Shield Fusion Strike Build & Battle Box available in stores with an "early" option for players who cannot possibly wait until November 12. This box is the first place you'll find booster packs, 4x of which are included in the box, alongside a 23-card Evolution pack "featuring key cards from current and prior sets."