The Sword & Shield-On Post-Rotation Pokemon TCG Buying Guide

What’s up ChannelFireball! TrainerChip here with another article about collecting and investing in the Pokemon TCG. Today I wanted to focus on the upcoming Standard format rotation and how I believe it will impact the value of several cards.

If you’re interested in learning more about the basics of investing in the Pokemon TCG, I recommend checking out my last piece:

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In this article, we are going to focus on the short term. The Pokemon TCG’s metagame is constantly moving and evolving. The value of competitive cards has the potential to change on a week-to-week basis. Competitive cards often don’t have much of a long-term potential since many of these cards don’t fit into the collectible category. A past example of this would be Shaymin-EX from Roaring Skies. When that card was Standard-legal it rose all the way to $100 in price, even for the regular art version of the card! It was a staple card and many standard decks played three or more copies of it. Nowadays, you can easily find copies of this card right around $5. So even though Shaymin is a Mythical Pokemon, it is not an extremely popular one. There is very little demand these days for this card, which explains why the drop in price is so significant.

Every card in this article is going to be referenced as the regular art version. There are many players that love getting full art and secret rare cards for their decks, but most players just want the cheapest version of the card. So, any prices and potential values mentioned from here on out, should be in regarding the regular version of the card.

I’m going to cover both Pokemon and Trainer cards in this article. Pokemon are obviously the stars of the show here, but the Trainer cards are what make a good deck function. Trainer cards don’t normally hold as much value as the Pokemon themselves, but in my experience it’s the Trainer cards that really sneak up on you in value. No one is really surprised to learn that a VMAX or strong support card is worth $10-20, but it can always be surprising to learn that a staple Trainer has risen to $3-5 in price.

Cherish Ball from Unified Minds is a great recent example of this. This card was only worth about $0.50 or so, even after Henry Brand won the World Championships with four copies in his deck. Unified Minds was still in print, and I think this helped to keep the price reasonable. But it wasn’t too long until that card became $5 and many GX-focused decks wanted to play four copies of it. This makes including this card in your deck go from a $2 investment, all the way up to $20! I normally don’t mind dropping $20 something if I know I’m going to play it in a tournament, but I always feel incredibly annoyed when some random uncommon becomes $5 and I must go buy four copies for my deck.

I’m also not going to be covering any cards from the upcoming Evolving Skies and Celebrations sets in this article. If you’re interested in hearing my early thoughts on what sealed products are worth purchasing for Evolving Skies, I did a video on ChannelPokemon all about what products are good buys for each type of fan. I plan to do a more in-depth article about my thoughts on the Evolving Skies singles once presale prices go up closer to the set’s release date.

Rotation Affects the Market

I’ve been playing competitive Pokemon TCG for six years now and rotation time always brings around tons of new players that are excited for the new format. This influx of players really has the potential to inflate the market, especially early on when players are still trying to figure out exactly what decks will be good. It’s not uncommon for a card to go from $3 to $15-plus overnight based on hype, buyouts and players just trying to get their hands on cards before they become too expensive.

This year is also unique because we’re coming out of the pandemic. During its peak, competitive play was suspended. Because of this, players who would normally have bought cards, didn’t buy any cards at all. Now that play is expected to return soon, these players are going to need to purchase the cards from the last few sets that they missed out on. I expect this to specifically influence any cards that were released in Rebel Clash, Darkness Ablaze and Vivid Voltage. All these sets had more limited print runs due to the pandemic and were also released amidst the fiasco that was the Pokemon boom of the past year. In my opinion, any competitively viable cards from these sets are in a position where they could absolutely explode in price.

So, let’s look at a few cards that I think have the potential to rise in price within the next few months. If you are a competitive player, you may want to get your hands on these cards sooner, rather than later!

Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX

Right now, Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX is sitting around $12. In the Battle Styles format it was one of the strongest decks, with AzulGG winning Players Cup III with it. This card has certainly decreased in popularity with the release of Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in Chilling Reign, as that matchup is extremely tough. But Chilling Reign also brought Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX a new partner, the Rapid Strike Inteleon. The “Inteleon Engine” using Drizzile SSH has proven itself to be extremely strong.

Another reason I believe this card has competitive potential is because Mew UNB is rotating out of the standard format. Mew has really kept Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX at bay, protecting benched Pokemon from G-Max Rapid Flow with Bench Barrier. As of now, there is not a great option to protect from benched damage after rotation.

Medicham V is set to release in Evolving Skies, which I feel will be an excellent inclusion in Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX decks. Its Yoga Loop attack can allow you to take an additional turn, provided you score a KO with its effect. This can create crazy plays where back-to-back multi-prize turns can happen. This card alone has the potential to boost the playability of this deck.

Credit: Bulbapedia

I believe Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX will increase in value before it decreases, making it a great buy if you’re a competitive player.

Galarian Moltres V

Galarian Moltres V has already had an incredible impact on the competitive game in the short time it has been in the format since Chilling Reign’s release. It’s gameplay value comes in large part thanks to Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX, which has dominated this current format so far. Shadow Rider is weak to dark, making a lot of players take a second look at Galarian Moltres V. It’s already been included in numerous tournament winning decks online and I expect that trend to continue post-rotation.

Galarian Moltres V (097/198)Galarian Moltres V (176/198)Galarian Moltres V (177/198)

As of writing, this card can be purchased for right around $6, which I think is an incredible value for how good this card is. Another thing I love about this card is the splashable potential it has. Any deck whose main attacker has a Colorless cost in its attack can – and should – look at Galarian Moltres V as potential energy acceleration and a potential second attacker. Combined with Energy Switch, Galarian Moltres has V the potential to fit in many decks.

Octillery & Houndoom BST

I’ve grouped these two cards together, because they are extremely similar. They have a nice use in one type of deck, Rapid Strike decks for Octillery and Single Strike decks for Houndoom. And Rapid Strike and Single Strike cards have continued to be printed. Octillery is a great option for many Rapid Strike decks since it provides consistent search for the entire draw engine. Houndoom is incredibly strong in Single Strike decks, being an excellent Energy acceleration option.

Octillery (037/163)Octillery (178/163)Houndoom (096/163)Houndoom (179/163)

You can purchase both cards right now for right around $1, which I think is an excellent price for either of them. As more Rapid Strike and Single Strike cards get revealed, the potential value of these cards (from both a monetary and competitive standpoint) only goes up.

The first Trainer on the list is a cheap one now! Currently only costing around $0.50, this is a great buy right now heading into rotation. As of now, Evolution Incense is the only consistent way to find Evolution Pokemon once Pokemon Communication rotates. Search cards are very important, so I expect many decks to play four copies of this card at the start of the format. This card has only ever been printed once in a main set, which is usually a sign that if it is playable, it will hold some value. I could easily see this becoming a $3-5 card since I imagine many decks will utilize it. Similarly, to the Cherish Ball example from earlier, having to pay more than $1 for a card like this would just annoy me, so I’m making sure to pick up a few playsets of this card now.

Evolution Incense (163/202)

Air Balloon

Air Balloon is in a similar spot to Evolution Incense in my mind. In fact, it’s almost identical! The card can easily be purchased right now for around $0.50, and it is likely to be a staple card in lots of decks at the start of the format.

Air Balloon (156/202)Air Balloon (213/202)

I will say regarding the two Trainer cards mentioned above, there is a new Trainers Toolkit being released in the next few weeks that could certainly have an impact on the values of these cards. The Trainers Toolkit has included playable Trainers in the past, so I would not be surprised to see one or both cards included in that product. This could affect the value of those cards and make them not increase quite as much as they would otherwise. Regardless, for $0.50 each right now these cards are great buys, even if they are included as part of the upcoming Toolkit.


Rotation is a very exciting time as a Pokemon player and getting great cards before they jump in price is always nice! There are sure to be many more cards that are going to increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months, so I recommend trying to pick up potentially playable cards early.

Also, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is, I’m going to be purchasing at least a playset of all the cards mentioned in this article for myself.

Maybe in a future article, we can look back and see if I was right about the short-term value jump.

Thanks so much for reading! If you’re interested in purchasing any of the cards mentioned in my article today or looking to pick up and Pokemon Trading Card Game product, ChannelFireball is the place to do it! If you want to support me and my content, please consider using my code, “CHIP” when you check out. I really would appreciate it! Until next time, keep collecting, keep investing and keep playing Pokemon.

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