Shining Legends Elite Trainer Box Review

Beginning to appear in stores around Australia, this season’s unique Pokémon TCG set Shining Legends is a small, yet impactful set in terms of the metagame – as well as being desirable for collectors. Similar to last year’s Generations set, Shining Legends will not be available as individual booster packs. The set will be released with packs within promotional products, beginning with a couple of 3-pack Pin Collection products featuring a Pin and a Promo card as well as a Shining Legends Elite Trainer Box, which we’ll look at here today.

Being a mainstay of Pokémon promotional products since their inception a few years ago, the Elite Trainer Box is marketed as a collection of cards and accessories for competitive play and the Shining Legends Elite Trainer Box is no exception.

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The box includes:

  • 10 Shining Legends booster packs
  • A Shining Ho-Oh Promo
  • 65 card sleeves
  • 45 Energy cards
  • Shining Legends expansion player’s guide
  • 6 dice
  • 1 competition-legal coin-flip die
  • 2 acrylic condition markers and 1 acrylic GX marker
  • A collector’s box and 4 dividers
  • A code card for the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online to redeem the equivalent items

There are a few differences setting this Elite Trainer Box apart from most others. Namely that there are ten Booster packs instead of the usual eight as well as the Shining Ho-Oh promo card being included (which is an unusual – though thematic – inclusion). The extra booster packs included are much appreciated, as these products are the only way to obtain these packs in the first place. However, it also comes at a cost – the box’s retail price is $100, which is $20 more than usual. Ignoring the other products in the Elite Trainer Box, this puts a $10 value on each booster pack and this is in line with the 3-pack boxes which retail at $30 each.

The other small difference, the Shining Ho-Oh promo, is another interesting departure from the usual. Ho-Oh is Shining Legend’s representative Pokémon (featured on the box itself as well), was most likely picked to celebrate the 20th Pokémon movie “Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You!” and the iconic scene in which Ash witnesses a Ho-Oh flying overhead at the beginning of his journey.

The card itself, Shining Ho-Oh, is named as such as it features the Pokémon’s “Shining” colour scheme. Curiously, the card’s holographic pattern is textured on the Pokémon itself, whilst the background does not appear to have a holographic pattern. The unique use of the texture brings attention to the Pokémon itself and speaks to the premium nature of these Shining cards, setting them apart from others.

The rest of the products are consistent with Elite Trainer Boxes of the past. The 65 card sleeves features the gold Ho-Oh artwork against the black canvas of the sleeve. The 65 sleeve count is enough to sleeve a whole deck and have a few spares left over in case you split a few. Although I haven’t extensively used the sleeves from Elite Trainer Boxes, I have seen that they vary in quality with sleeves ripping and sticking at times. Having sleeved up half a deck’s worth of cards with the sleeves included in this box and giving them a hearty set of shuffles, I can see very fine dings on the edges which is the result of the shiny material they’re constructed from. For casual players or the odd deck, these sleeves are just fine, however experienced players or those looking for a set to take to a tournament might prefer the ease of shuffling and durability of Ultra Pro Eclipse sleeves or KMC branded sleeves.

The six smaller dice and one larger die are black with white dots. The 1 side of each die features the Shining Legends set symbol, which itself appears to be a reference to Ho-Oh as well. The larger die is described as a “competition-legal coin-flip die” as it may be used to determine coin flip effects instead of using an actual coin (usually by picking evens or odds to represent heads or tails). The larger die is considered “competition-legal” as it is translucent, which is a requirement of die being used for coin flips.

In the stack of 45 energy cards, we have five energy cards of each type with standard (non-holo) printing featuring the standard Sun and Moon block art style. Since every booster pack now includes a basic energy, the continued inclusion of these energy cards is a little puzzling, especially since five basic energy of any type is usually not enough for a single deck. I feel a count of eight energy cards for each type would be more appropriate. The markers included with the box are made of acrylic, with art matching that of the markers included with theme decks. The markers are thick, with enough weight that they won’t be easily shifted or moved about during the course of play. Being made of acrylic, they’re also durable unlike their cardboard counterparts from the theme decks. A very welcome inclusion.

The player’s guide is a booklet with introductory text describing the set, as well as text highlighting some of the set’s strong cards and how to use them. It also includes combos to be found between cards within the set. For players who may be starting their journey with the Pokémon Trading Card Game, this is a really useful resource to help direct deck building to begin with. Finally, there is a checklist of cards within the set to assist collectors with marking down what cards they have and which they need to obtain. This might not be necessary for the serious collectors, but it does provide a look into what cards players can look to come across when collecting cards in the set.

Finally the box itself, emblazoned with Ho-Oh across the side, has been constructed for use as a storage box for cards and includes four dividers to separate these cards as necessary. The box itself is wide enough for cards kept in sleeves and even whole deck boxes to be kept inside. The box is quite sturdy and will adequately protect anything kept inside it.

Speaking to the cards in the set itself from a collector’s perspective, it introduces an interesting new rarity in the Shining Pokémon which are quite rare. In the 10 Booster packs I opened, I did not pull a single Shining Pokémon. This is alongside all of the other current rarities which range from common to rainbow rare within the set. The only curious differences from the norm lie in the absence of Full-Art cards for Raichu-GX and Zoroark-GX in the regular set as well as certain stage 2 Pokémon such as Venusaur being printed as uncommon. It is also worth noting that it is possible to obtain reverse holo versions of the Sun & Moon basic energy cards from booster packs as well.

In terms of competitive play, the standout of the set has to be ‘Zoroark-GX’. A 210 HP Stage 1 Pokémon with resistance to Psychic Pokémon (like Garbodor for instance) is impressive. The ability “Trade” is a phenomenal draw effect and provides a consistent means of discarding cards which can play into combos (such as using Darkrai-GX’s ability) or simply guarding you against not being able to draw the cards you need.

Zoroark EX

The attacks are noteworthy too. The grimly named “Riotous Beating” will do damage equal to 20x the amount of Pokémon you have in play for two colourless energy. This attack – which can output high damage given the right circumstances – is made to be even better as it can be fulfilled with a single Double Colourless Energy attachment. The GX attack “Trickster GX” has a curious effect allowing you to copy and use the GX attack of one of your opponent’s Pokémon. If your deck features the energy required to power “Trickster GX.” it provides you with a versatile move your opponent might not expect and can be a big source of damage against many of the high damage GX attacks in the metagame.

The ability on its own almost makes it worthwhile in any deck. However, it is that in tandem with “Riotous Beating” which makes this a standout card much like Tapu Lele-GX. Even if you do not plan on buying Shining Legends products, as a competitive player, you may find yourself seeking Zoroark-GX cards for yourself very soon.

There are a number of other noteworthy cards in the set which may cause the metagame to shift, as players begin to build decks around them and the upcoming new cards in the next Pokémon TCG set Crimson Invasion (which launches in just a few weeks time).

Overall, the Shining Legends Elite Trainer Box is a great (albeit expensive) buy. In terms of value for money, this product is the best so far for Shining Legends products, and comes with an array of accessories for the budding or even seasoned player to take advantage of.

What do you think of this product, and what cards are you looking forward to collecting and playing in this set? Please let me know in the comments!

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