pokemon tcg temporal forces set review

Pokemon TCG Temporal Forces Expansion Battles Threats Past and Future

As the Pokemon Trading Card Game team releases its new Temporal Forces expansion, the TCG seems like it may be facing some temporal forces of its own! With The Pokemon Company International’s corporate parent prepping a streamlined mobile redesign of the game and the traditional format only supported by a rickety barebones app that never launched in Japan and doesn’t have a revenue stream? It’s not as clear as it once was that the Pokemon TCG as we know it will continue into the more distant future.

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The name of the set clearly comes from the Ancient and Future Pokemon, introduced in the Paradox Rift set. As usual when the TCG introduces a card type, the pieces are a bit limited at first and fleshed out in subsequent releases. And there might be enough now to build something interesting with them? Helping them out is that every Pokemon of one of these types is a Basic. And there are some candidates to build decks around in Temporal Forces, like the energy-churning mega-attack of Raging Bolt ex or the damage-boosting bench ability of Iron Crown ex. We’ll keep an eye on tournament reports to see if they’re enough, though!

A large portion of these Ancient and Future creatures are the two post-launch legendary trios: Gouging Fire, Walking Wake, Raging Bolt, Iron Leaves, Iron Crown and Iron Boulder. We’re not… huge fans of these variant designs, honestly, but their TCG depictions work well and they have interesting enough move sets. We have to imagine that those with more of an affinity for them will be psyched about how they’re handled.

pokemon trading card game temporal forces set review

Yet another force displaced from time: ACE SPEC cards. While card game veterans might remember them, the only-one-per-deck Trainers have been absent for years, and their return is notable. The card game recently had Radiant Pokemon that were similarly limited, but trainer cards are more universally useful, and we figure we’ll see decks at least use a card slot on the find-any-Pokemon Item card, Master Ball.

Be warned, though: as essential as they are now to deck construction, they’re also quite rare. We like the experience of opening packs and making do with the contents, but if you’re pinching pennies, just buying the ACE SPEC you need outright on the secondary market might be your best bet.

There are a few gasps of the Tera ex format, a Pokemon with a different type than usual that still fuels its attacks with its original energy type. This was an interesting implementation of the video game’s idea, but in the TCG? The main appeal of surprising opponents with types is just gone. If there were more variety in variants of evolutions in the competitive game, this could work, but it’s smartly less of a focus of Temporal Forces.

pokemon TCG temporal forces set review

For fans of the more aesthetic side of the Pokemon TCG, Temporal Forces once again offers a suite of Illustrator Rares, and once again, they’re a highlight. We’re big fans of the Deerling and Sawsbuck variants, with bright colors and connecting art. We get that they’re rare, but increasing their frequency — maybe one per pack? — would really make opening a booster feel more fun.

While the future of the TCG is a bit hazy, in the present? Yeah, we enjoyed checking out Temporal Forces. It sports an interesting mix of cards, and has just enough gameplay ideas to keep us from getting bored. Next time, keep an eye out for a set built around Scarlet and Violet’s expansion pass.

The newest Pokemon Trading Card Game expansion, Scarlet & Violet: Temporal Forces, launches March 22, 2024. For more Pokemon TCG coverage, check out our archive.

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Graham Russell
Graham Russell, editor-at-large, has been writing about games for various sites and publications since 2007. He’s a fan of streamlined strategy games, local multiplayer and upbeat aesthetics. He joined Siliconera in February 2020, and served as its Managing Editor until July 2022. When he’s not writing about games, he’s a graphic designer, web developer, card/board game designer and editor.