Celebrations is here! I hope everyone has had a chance to open some of this wonderful 25th anniversary collectors set, it really is a joy to experience! The set contains 25 “core” cards and 25 “classic” reprints. In addition, there are also a number of SWSH Promos that were released alongside the set that feature Pokemon like Greninja and Zacian reimagined with classic TCG mechanics like Gold Star and Lvl.X. Although none of the classic reprints or Sword and Shield promos will be eligible for official Gym Leader Challenge events, there are 15 holographic Legendaries, a Pikachu and a new Professor’s Research artwork in the core set, giving us a lot to be excited about for Gym Leader Challenge format! Let’s take a look at a few of the cards that look as if they’ll have the biggest impact on GLC.
Fire seems to have everything it could want in GLC, support Pokemon, Energy acceleration, powerful Items… but it still doesn’t have an All-Star attacker to lead the deck. Ho-oh from Celebrations could very well be that attacker. With an alternative Weakness in Lightning and a formidable 130 HP, Ho-oh has all the stats it needs to stand out on the battle field. It’s attacks are excellent as well. Sacred Fire is a two Energy attack that does 50 damage to any of your opponent’s Pokemon, easily softening up big targets, 2HKOing most support Pokemon and OHKOing little guys like Snom. Fire Blast rounds out the rest of this card, dealing an ideal 120 damage for two Fire and a Colorless Energy and only requiring that you discard one Energy from Ho-oh. 120 damage will KO many threats in GLC, but the real magic number is 130. 120 is sufficient, however, as Fighting Fury Belt or Muscle Band can be used to boost Ho-oh’s damage output as needed. Ho-oh is a well rounded addition to Fire’s roster that I expect to see in many Fire builds going forward.
Similar to Fire, Metal is in need of a great Basic attacker, and Dialga does not disappoint. For one Energy, Temporal Backflow recovers ANY card from the discard pile to the hand. This attack is amazing while setting up since it allows you to reuse Supporters and Item based search cards, but it can also seal the deal at the end of a match by securing a game winning Boss’s Orders. Metal Blast is a “Hydro Pump” style attack which is popular in GLC and pairs well with Energy accelerators like Magnezone from Ultra Prism. It does 60 damage plus 20 more damage for each Metal Energy attached to Dialga, dealing an easy 120 damage for three Energy and ramping from there to take big OHKOs!
Psychic is arguably the best “spread” archetype in Gym Leader Challenge and Lunala plays perfectly into that strategy. Its Lunar Pain attack doubles the number of damage counters on each of your opponent’s Pokemon for just two Colorless Energy. This attack can easily wipe the opponent’s board if you have built up enough damage counters, but what’s really impressive about Lunala is its versatility. Lunala can spread damage and pressure OHKOs with Psychic Shot. Psychic shot does 130 damage and 30 to a Benched Pokemon for a Psychic and two Colorless. With 160HP as well, Lunala is worth considering in any Psychic spread deck.
These are just a few of the awesome new Legendary Pokemon worth considering for your Gym Leader Challenge deck from Celebrations! Let me know in the comments which one is your favorite! Although the Classic cards from Celebrations are not eligible for official Gym Leader Challenge play, it could be fun to mess around with them and see what happens in a casual tabletop setting with your friends! We all know that Fighting decks would absolutely love that Claydol!