Top 6 Pokemon Cards: Gym Challenge Expansion
The Pokemon Trading Card Game
Like many kids, I didn't even know how to play the TCG, I just enjoyed collecting and trading the cards. As an adult, I can better appreciate the strategic aspects of the game, and still love to scour through cards and find the best of the best.
The Gym Challenge set expands on the Gym Heroes concept, showcasing Pokemon belonging to the Kanto Gym Leaders; I always thought this was an awesome way to link the video games with the Trading Card Game, and the Leaders may surprise even veteran players with the types of Pokemon they brandish.
So, be on the lookout for monsters you never knew the Leaders owned as we countdown the six best Gym Challenge cards!
Gym Challenge Quiz
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Basic Pokemon can be played from your hand as you like.
Stage 1 Pokemon are evolutions that must be played on a corresponding Basic Pokemon.
Stage 2 Pokemon are further evolutions to be played on corresponding Stage 1 Pokemon.
6. Blaine's Rapidash
Blaine's Rapidash races in as a Stage 1 with 70 HP and a free Retreat Cost! It also knows two solid attacks:
- Fire Mane (1 energy) Chars for 20, a great attack to use while amassing energy for..
- Stomp (3 energy) Squishes foes for a guaranteed 30 damage, and deals an extra 10 to all opposing Pokemon (Active and Benched) if you land a Heads on the coin flip!
A stallion that can frequently injure all rival creatures, Rapidash defeated many teams. Note that both its attacks need only one of the energy to be Fire, making it a prime candidate for multi-element decks.
5. Koga's Beedrill
Koga's Beedrill may possess only 80 HP as a Stage 2, but knows two sweet moves, has a resistance to Fighting, and can retreat for free!
- Nerve Poison (2 energy) Stings for 20, and both Paralyzes and Poisons foes if you win the coin flip!
- Hyper Needle (3 energy) Works well in desperate situations. You can only use it once, and it has a 50% to fail, but scores a massive 70 damage.
Beedrill's double status infliction and powerful last resort let it end many an adversary.
4. Giovanni's Machamp
Giovanni's Machamp joins as a Stage 2 with a hefty 100 HP. No resistance and a substantial Retreat Cost hamper him, but his abilities more than compensate:
- Fortitude (Poke-Power) Gives Machamp a 50% to resist feinting whenever it would be knocked out, instead surviving with 10 HP! Some good luck can keep it in the fray far longer than your opponents would like (just remember it won't work while Machamp has a status condition).
- Hurricane Punch (4 energy) Flips four coins. Each Heads nets 30 damage, potentially yielding 120 damage! Usually you'll get about 60, which still impresses.
Machamp may rely on coin flips, but its huge damage and knock-out resistance tempt even luck-skeptical players like myself.
3. Sabrina's Alakazam
Similarly to Machamp (though with 20 less HP), Sabrina's Alakazam harnesses a strong Poke-Power and an impressive but costly technique:
- Psylink (Poke-Power) Gives Alakazam access to other attacks while it builds for Mega Burn. Lets Alakazam use any of your Psychic Pokemon's attacks as long as it has the energy required for them. Depending on what you run, this lets it unleash all kinds of mayhem while you wait for..
- Mega Burn (4 energy) Blasts a fearsome 60 damage, but you have to wait a turn before you can use it again. Thankfully, Psylink lets you access other moves in the meantime.
Keep Alakazam away from statuses so it can employ Psylink, and you'll have a lethal and versatile partner.
2. Koga's Muk
A Stage 1, Koga's Muk lumbers in with a solid 80 HP, not to mention some awesome artwork. Retreating him takes a trio of energy, but check out his superb abilities:
- Energy Drain (Poke-Power) removes an energy from attackers 50% of the time, even if they knock Muk out!
- Sludge Whirlpool (3 energy) Simply bashes foes for 40.
Koga's Muk displays fearsome power, frequently denying opponents the energy they need to access their attacks.
1. Rocket's Mewtwo
We all love Mewtwo, but his Base Set card lacked the oomph needed for competitive play. Rocket's Mewtwo (strange they didn't use Giovanni) remedies the situation by warping in with a nice 70 HP, and being the first-ever card to have three attacks!
- Juxtapose (1 energy) If you win a coin flip, you switch the damage counters on Mewtwo and the opponent, allowing you to transfer the pain of your battle-scarred Pokemon to a fresh foe!
- Hypnoblast (2 energy) Pumps out 20 damage and has half a chance to put the Defending Pokemon to sleep.
- Psyburn (4 energy) Very few Basic Pokemon learn intimidating moves like Psyburn, which seizes 60 damage!
A versatile and game-changing card, Rocket's Mewtwo ushered in a new era for the TCG.
Which Pokemon do you prefer?
Hopefully today's list highlighted some awesome Pokemon and let old fans revisit classic cards. The Gym Challenge collection remains one of my personal favorites, and I'd love to see more Gym Leaders featured in the future.
For now, feel free to vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next expansion countdown: the Neo Genesis set!