V-Uniting With Marnie
In the final Sword and Shield TCG set, it is only fitting that fan-favourite trainer Marnie is making another product appearance (Pokemon 12.5 playmat collection), alongside her partner Pokémon, Morpeko! Spikemuth’s hometown hero is depicted in an alt-art reprint of the Morpeko V-Union card, along with a gorgeous TCG playmat (a proper one, not just a paper poster), and some Crown Zenith booster packs.
With the Scarlet and Violet era in full swing, this is likely to be Marnie’s swansong appearance in an English Pokémon product. So, will this collection box make you smile, or might you have to pull up a grin with your two index fingers? Let’s find out!
What’s In The (bulky) Box?
As with the Pokémon GO Premium Collection (reviewed by the prolific Rob Wright here on Zatu), this box is deeper than most, largely to accommodate the playmat. The cardboard also bears richer textures, making for an excellent display piece. Unfortunately, displaying the contents in a pleasing way requires a lot of plastic, which is all immediately stripped out and discarded when you come to open the product. As a community, we are generally very environmentally conscious, so those plastics will be recycled. Regardless, it would be forward-thinking of the Pokémon Company to consider new packaging solutions to reduce the large quantity of plastics already used in the TCG industry.
On display, we find 5 Crown Zenith (SWSH 12.5) booster packs, the set of 4 cards to create Morpeko V-Union, as well as an oversized version of the full artwork for easy display. Hidden near the back is the brilliant playmat, a copy of Professor Burnet, and a code card for the Pokémon TCG Live game. I have spoken at length about Crown Zenith in my previous review for the Pikachu VMAX Special Collection, but to be brief: Crown Zenith is the culmination of the Sword and Shield era, featuring an enormous ‘Galarian Gallery’ of beautiful full art cards, along with ultra-rare golden cards for some of the strongest Pokémon in the meta. It is a truly excellent set, and the last one featuring the traditional layout of one reverse holo card and one rare card per pack.
If you are looking to obtain packs as cheaply as possible, the golden rule is to look for any product that offers packs at less than $5 per pack (that’s about £4, but products for us U.K players are generally a bit more expensive). At just under £30, this product gets close to that, but the playmat and V-Union cards make this box excellent value for money.
What Is A V-Union Card?
V-Union cards are a unique mechanic in the Pokémon TCG. They are not a common sight at the table, but are fully competition legal; Pikachu V-Union put in some strong showings at the highest level in the 2021/22 season. To play a V-Union Pokémon, all 4 cards that make it up must be taken from the discard pile at the same time, then placed on the bench in one pile. This pile can then be moved from your bench into the active spot. When putting the stack into the active spot, the player can spread the cards out to display the full artwork, striking fear into the hearts of opponents with your enormous electric hamster. If you do this, you are considered very cool.
Getting all 4 cards into your discard pile can be an arduous task, which is why Professor Burnet is included in the collection. ‘Search your deck for up to two cards and discard them. Then, shuffle your deck’. With two of these supporter cards, you could get the entire V-Union into your discard pile without ever having one in your hand. As compensation for this work, V-Union cards feature 300+ HP, 4 different attacks and (on some cards) multiple abilities. Building your deck around a V-Union card is a high-risk, high-reward strategy; they are frustratingly difficult cards to knock out, but your opponent can take 3 prize cards if they succeed. Also, you can only create a V-Union card once during a game, so if knocked out, Morpeko is gone for good. Lastly, having part of a V-Union in your prizes can be devastating, since Hisuian Heavy Ball and similar cards cannot get them out.
Why Doesn’t Marnie Have Her Own Card In Crown Zenith?
Considering her popularity, I was amazed when I realised that Marnie doesn’t have a card of her own in Crown Zenith. With a total set list of 230 cards, was there no room for a single depiction of her? Well, there is a fun story behind that.
Marnie had two realistic routes into Crown Zenith, either through the Galarian Gallery, or a rare holo in the main set. Crown Zenith was primarily used by the Pokémon Company to bring over any Sword and Shield artwork that had previously been exclusive to Japan. In Marnie’s case, no such card existed, since all three of her full art cards had already been released in English. These were in SWSH1, SWSH9 (Marnie’s Pride), and in the highly sought after Marnie Premium Tournament Collection.
As a one-off for the set, Crown Zenith featured some ‘signed’ trainer cards, which bore the signature of the character in question. Leon, Nessa, Hop and others received cards like this, and they are still some of my chase cards from the set. However, there had been one prototype for these cards before, released in a special collection box. It was, once again, the Marnie Premium Tournament Collection. In short, Marnie was so popular that all her cards had already been released. It is rare to see a Marnie Premium Tournament Collection nowadays, since they had a short print run to begin with. You can find them through various auction sites, but for a high price.
It’s time to see what I extracted from my packs! I opened this collection to reward myself for passing my driving test, so I had a glimmer of hope that something exceptional would come. And, it kinda did?
Bear in mind that, from Crown Zenith, you have one slot for Galarian Gallery cards, and another slot for rares. From five packs, I hit three Galarian Galleries and two exciting rares; a fairly good showing (and certainly an improvement on the last time I opened something to review). By far the stand-out card is Roxanne, which is classed as an ultra-rare pull. Set in a prehistoric Pokémon history museum, you can see an ancient Aerodactyl suspended overhead. It’s a fantastic artwork on a card that does see some play.
Diancie is also a stunning card, and I pulled Leon’s signed trainer card too. It’s, just a shame that I already had him and Toxtricity. Oh well, some more for the trading binder!
This Pokemon 12.5 playmat collection is one of the best Crown Zenith value propositions, especially if you don’t yet have a good TCG playmat. I am in awe of the fantastic artwork every time I see it, and it is now a mainstay on my desk. The colour scheme is masterful, with the neon signage of Spikemuth illuminating the cobbled streets majestically, contrasted by vague litter cascading from a nearby bin. Ahh, city life.
In fact, I love it so much that I bought two. If that isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is...