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Top Pokemon Cards Of 2022

pokemon cards of 2022

And The Award For Best Supporting Pokemon In A Meta Deck… The Pokemon Cards Of 2022

2022: the year that the Pokemon TCG (hence pokemon cards of 2022) monkey that I’d managed to shake off my back climbed right back on again. Still, it has been quite a generous year from the Pokemon company with us getting the Trainer Gallery cards and Radiant Pokemon, making even the dreaded ‘white code card’ pack potentially good, more alternative arts and VSTAR cards – super powerful V-volutions that possess one time only game changing abilities or attacks.

But it’s not just these big, flashy and frankly gorgeous cards that have made the sets Brilliant Stars, Astral Radiance, Pokemon Go, Lost Origin and Silver Tempest so memorable – there have been some really great supporters, items, common, uncommon, regular and holo rare cards that have now become deck must-haves – until they slip out of standard, that is. That won’t be for another couple of years, though, so let’s just enjoy them while we can. Poke-Class of ’22, take a bow!

Please note: these awards are based on my opinions, not on any official listing, so will be prone to blatant favouritism and opinionated grudges. No change there,then... Without further ado, here are my top Pokemon cards of 2022

Basic Pokemon Of The Year: Manaphy – Brilliant Stars (Runners Up: Comfey and Sableye – Lost Origin, Ditto – Pokemon Go)

Starting as I mean to go on, with a controversial choice. True, Comfey is a key card in any Lost Box deck with its draw and discard to Lost Zone ability, Sableye tears through single prize decks like tissue paper with its ability to drop 12 damage counters anywhere once the lost zone is loaded, and Ditto’s ability to copy the attack of any basic pokemon without a rule box in the discard pile has breathed new life into Mad Party and Magikarp’s Raging Fin. Manaphy, though, is likely to be a must have in most decks for the next couple of years.

Manaphy’s ability means that your bench is protected (though Sableye will get around it), giving a player time to build up their roster rather than being one-shot by the likes of Regileki or Radiant Greninja. Solid blocking action from the smiley squid-thing. Plus… Lost Box annoys me…

Stage One Pokemon Of The Year: Bibarel – Brilliant Stars (Runners Up: Kirlia, Raspidash and Wailord – Silver Tempest)

Just to prove that I am not biased and that I will give credit where credit is due, Bibarel has to be the clear winner this year, though the Stage One play this year has been strong. One prize decks are fun prize decks and I look forward to the demise of V cards and the arrival of ‘ex’ cards that need to be evolved – that’s what this whole Pokemon thing is about, isn’t it?

Kudos to Kirlia, taking the crown from Cinccino as an easily found draw card, snaps to Rapidash with its fire-deck beefing ability and all hail the Wail because… it’s Wailord (it is also really tanky and can hit very hard indeed).

It is Bibarel’s stackable ‘draw back up to 5 cards’ ability that puts the god-Pokemon head and lodge above the rest. As the winner of this year’s World Championships said: play Bibarel.

Stage 2 Pokemon Of The Year: Archeops – Silver Tempest (Runner Up: Gengar – Lost Origin)

Stage 2 cards during the Sword and Shield era have been a bit…. Let’s say ‘overshadowed’ by V, VMAX and VSTAR cards. They take too long to evolve in this age of the one-shot, which is a shame as that was something that made the game more fun for me – you may think my Seadra is pretty lame, but have you met my KINGDRA?

As mentioned above, ‘ex’ cards should bring this back, but there are still some good Stage 2 cards – but neither of these get to the bench through evolution; most of the time. Gengar would have won, as it is a great bonus card for psychic decks, (it goes straight to bench from the discard pile but picks up three damage counters) with its 2 damage counters for each of your opponents benched Pokemon one psychic energy attack, and is essential for Hisuian Zoroark VSTAR decks (which does 50 damage for each of your Pokemon in play with damage counters on them).

Archeops just sneaks the crown for Stage 2’s thanks to Lugia VSTAR’s ability that puts two Normal Pokemon from your discard pile onto your bench (not basic, just Normal) and Archeop’s own ability that allows you to search your deck for two special energy and attach them to your Pokemon every turn. Nice game you got there… would be a shame if it got… BROKEN.

Those Tireless Workers Behind The Scenes…

Okay, this is the point in the awards ceremony where we look at the technical awards, which are just as if not more essential than the acting awards… but are a bit less exciting. Sorry, I said it. So these are the awards for the best Energy, Item, Stadium and Supporter cards of the year.

Energy Of The Year: Double Turbo Energy – Brilliant Stars (Runner Up: V-Guard Energy – Silver Tempest)

The unsung hero of the Pokemon series – energy! Most Pokemon need it to do anything (most… but not all…) so, yeah, pretty essential. Charging up Pokemon takes time, though, and energy takes up space in your deck, so you need to make sure you have the right energy in the correct quantity. With special energy, you are limited to four of each type, but they can make a huge difference.

This year hasn’t given us the same breadth of Special Energy as 2020 – no type specific stuff – but that doesn’t mean the ones we have had this year aren’t useful or important. V-Guard will definitely be a must have for Lugia decks and makes Wailord-the-tank sing with virtuosity – reduce V attacks by 30? Yes please!

Double Turbo Energy is next level, though – sure, it reduces attacks by 20 but, unlike Twin Energy, it can be attached to V Pokemon, bringing high cost attacks within reach. It is slowly becoming clear that we will never get anything as good as Double Dragon Energy or double colourless again, so unless the unlikely becomes likely again, this is as good as it gets.

Item Of The Year: Ultra Ball – Brilliant Stars (Runners Up: Trekking Shoes – Astral Radiance, Choice Belt – Brilliant Stars)

There have been a lot of fun items and tools this year, some old, some new, some specific, nothing for blue – seriously, water decks have had no love on the item front this year (Pokemon, you can make this up next year – just bring back Aqua Patch, yeah?). We’ve seen the return of Dark Patch and Energy Lotto, handy for those energy crisis moments (and we all know about those, right kids/adults?), Gutsy (Gritty) Pickaxe for fighting, Switch Cart for Basics and Pot Helmet for everyone. The top three cards though are definitely going to get a lot of use everywhere.

Trekking Shoes, the new kid on the block, allows you to draw the top card. Fine. Then it allows you to discard the card if you don’t want it and draw another. Oh. That’s handy, especially for those decks that benefit from loading up the discard pile. That’s a lot of them. The other runner up is an old favourite – the Choice Belt. The last version damaged GX Pokemon, but this now does 30 extra damage to V- Pokemon. Handy for pushing a two-shot to a one-shot.

The winner is an old friend that has been away too long – Ultra Ball. Discarding two cards at first seems costly, but the pay off is draw any Pokemon you want. Any, You. Want. Greater than a Great Ball for sure.

Stadium Of The Year: Pokestop – Pokemon Go (Runners Up: Magma Basin – Brilliant Stars; Jubilife Village – Astral Radiance)

Some decks play ‘em; some decks don’t. But all decks can benefit/suffer because of them. In many instances, such as Gapejaw Bog (drop damage on basics played to bench), Collapsed Stadium (reduce bench to four) or Temple of Sinnoh (all special energy are now just a single colourless), stadiums are either deck specific or just there to troll your opponent (with Lugia being such a big deck at the moment, Temple of Sinnoh nearly made runner up). These stadiums (stadia?) are more beneficial, even though one of the runners up is very deck specific.

Jubilife Village, like Poke Beach, is one of those stadiums that is there for you if nothing has gone to plan – draw until you have five cards, then end your turn. At the moment, Snorlax’s Gormandise does this better (seven cards) but guess who’s leaving standard in February, so this card may get a revival. 2022 has not exactly been the year of the fire deck (especially with some big-hitting water based Pokemon about) but it could have been with Magma Basin – attach a fire energy to a fire Pokemon from the discard pile at a cost of 2 damage counters. Great for Charizard VSTAR and fire decks in general but… fire just failed to ignite.

The winner, after some soul searching, is Pokestop – discard top three cards, put any items found there in your hand. Potentially a risky manoeuvre, but when decks play so fast at the moment, this is essential for getting those tools and poke-balls in play. This will, however, change in the new year as Tools and Items will be separate things so… enjoy this while you can.

Supporter Of The Year: Serena – Silver Tempest (Runners Up: Irida – Astral Radiance; Colress’s Experiment – Lost Origin)

A good supporter is one that can make a specific deck sing; a great supporter is one that makes every deck sing. This is the difference between the runners up and the winner in this category. Near misses include Grant for fighting (boost attacks and always be available from the discard pile for two cards), Gardenia’s Vigour for grass (almost Welder for grass decks – draw two and attach up to two grass energy) and Kindler for fire (discard a fire energy and take two cards from top seven cards).

Colress’s Experiment – draw five cards and discard two to the Lost Zone – is essential for Lost Box decks (anything playing Sableye, Cramorant, Giratina VSTAR… those decks) and is a pretty good draw engine for any other deck – if you don’t mind the sacrifice, of course. Irida is great for water decks – choose a water pokemon and any item from your deck. Like Volkner was for electric, only better.

Serena wins though because it is that rare thing – a twofer supporter. Either use it as a mini Professor’s Research by discarding one to three cards and drawing back up to OR gust up one of your opponent’s Pokemon V. With space in a deck being at premium, a card that can do the job of two is, quite frankly, a no-brainer.

The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For…

Let’s hear it for all our support cards – yay! Right, now on to the real red carpet cards, the pap fodder that everyone wants a piece of and are prepared to pay big dollar-dollar for. Remember, viewers, all these cards came from regular boosters… apart from the promo ones that come in those fancy boxes, of course. Anyway, onto the best in show – The V and Radiant Pokemon!

Radiant Pokemon Of The Year: Radiant Greninja – Astral Radiance (Runners Up: Radiant Gardevoir – Lost Origin; Radiant Venusaur – Pokemon Go)

2022 has seen the arrival of two new kids on the block – VSTAR Pokemon and Radiant Pokemon. Radiant Pokemon are similar to the Prism cards first seen in Sun and Moon: Ultra Prism, in that you can only have one of that card in your deck. The differences are that Radiant Pokemons are… well, Pokemons and you can only have one Radiant in your deck. Full stop. As a result, these single-prize cards have some pretty amazing attacks and/or abilities.

There have only been 12 Radiant Pokemon so far, and it looks like they won’t survive the change over to Scarlet and Violet, so this is not a huge category, but the runners up were a close thing – Radiant Charizard, with its last stand-style attack, reduced in cost by an energy for every prize taken by your opponent and doing 250 damage is very, very widespread but… I stand by my choices. Radiant Venusaur is not here for its attack – not even worth mentioning – but the ability, which allows you to draw back up to four in hand AFTER ATTACKING is absurdly good. Radiant Gardevoir reduces all of your opponents V attacks by 20, which can change a one hit to a misfire in the blink of an eye.

The outright winner, though, is Radiant Greninja, and has a place in almost every deck. Its attack is actually not bad – two water and a colourless to do 90 damage to two Pokemon, then discard two energy, which is a decent snipe attack in anyone’s books. The ability is brilliant though – discard an energy and draw two cards. Great for drawing, great for loading the discard pile with energy, just… great.

V Pokemon Of The Year: Lumineon – Brilliant Stars (Runners Up: Rotom – Lost Origin; Unown – Silver Tempest)

Every Pokemon series gets their own version of the ‘shiny’ card. For Sword and Shield it has been the V Pokemon and, despite what you thought about them, these were the cards that you wanted to see lurking in your booster. As expected, there have been some good and not so good V cards this year, and it has been a tricky choice. Raikou and Entei could have both gone in, but they were essentially copies of Suicune; Raichu could have gone in too… maybe it should, and Drapion V is a great Mew VMAX counter… but I’ll stick with these three.

Rotom V – the one in the Lost Origin set, not the promo one – is that heady combination of decent ability plus decent attack. The attack depends on throwing tools from your discard pile into the Lost Zone and getting 40 for each one, plus 40 base. Very doable. The ability is very good though – draw three cards, end your turn. This could have been the winner. Unown V gets a nod as well because, though it has a VSTAR, the V has the better attack – three colourless, and if you have one prize card left, you win. It’s just fun.

The winner is well deserved though as it will be a ‘one of’ in many decks to come. Lumineon V has the ability to search the deck for a Supporter when you play it from your hand (considering that Nest Ball is returning, this wording is key). The attack also does 110 and shuffles it back into the deck, but whilst we have Scoop Net, this is a bit too awkward. We won’t have Scoop Net for long though so… more power to Fishy McFish-Face…

VMAX Pokemon Of The Year: Kyurem VMAX – Lost Origin (Runners Up: Regileki VMAX – Silver Tempest; Machamp VMAX – Astral Radiance)

VMAX were all the rage, and have caused much rage, over the last two years, but 2022 has seen the twilight of these titans. They still, however, have a little life left in them…

Machamp VMAX gets in because it just hits HARD, and when played with damaged goods on your bench hits even harder. Beefed up by Grant, this could be a potential VSTAR killer for not much cost, but doesn’t see as much play as it deserves in a Mew VMAX world. Regileki VMAX also does its bit to make lightning good, giving all lightning attacks plus 30 damage (note to self: need for Pachurisu deck), and may see more play in the new year, but for now… it’s okay.

Kyurem VMAX is the clear winner as it works really well with Palkia VSTAR and Oranguru. Kyurem’s ability allows you to turn over the top card and, if it is a water energy, attach it to one of your Pokemon. The attack does 120 base for three water, but does 50 extra for every water energy discarded from that Pokemon. As an all-purpose KO machine, that’s pretty gosh darn good.

VSTAR Pokemon Of The Year: Arceus VSTAR – Brilliant Stars (Runners Up: Lugia VSTAR – Silver Tempest; Palkia VSTAR – Astral Radiance; Giratina VSTAR – Lost Origin)

Alright, alright, call off the lynch mob – I know that this opinion may be very divisive based on what the meta game currently looks like, but it is sorta based on what the game will look like after rotation and what VSTAR cards work well in any deck.

The three runners up could be winners in their own rights and certainly in their own decks – and that’s why they are runners up. Palkia is great for water decks and games where there are a lot of benched Pokemon on both sides – the VSTAR ability attaches three energy from the discard pile to your Pokemon in any way and the attack does 60 plus 20 for each Pokemon in play. Wipeout. Giratina VSTAR has a VSTAR attack that straight KOs your opponent’s Pokemon for two energy if there are ten cards in the Lost Zone, and an attack that does 280 for psychic, grass and any other, discarding two energy to the Lost Zone. Lugia VSTAR has already been linked to Archeops – the ability puts two normal Pokemon from the discard pile on your bench and then they will search and attach special energy every round. It also does 220 and discards a stadium for four of anything. These cards will suffer in rotation though – Palkia not so much – whereas the winner won’t.

Arceus VSTAR, the god of all Pokemon and first among VSTARs, has a VSTAR ability that allows you to search out two cards from your deck. An ability; not an attack. The attack does 200 for three of anything and attaches three basic energy to one of your V Pokemon. True, we will be moving over from V to ‘ex’ Pokemon in February, but Vs are not going away any time soon. And that’s why Arceus VSTAR wins. Come at me.

But Before We Go On To The Final Pokemon Cards Of 2022…

If you are still reading this -well done. Hopefully, nobody has slapped anybody so far, though there appears to be some trouble brewing on Electivire and Magmortar’s table. Security?

These are some odd categories which I have just made up, because this is my award ceremony – so there. The first is recognising that not every card can be a banger…

Worst Card Of The Year: Riley – Lost Origin (Runner up: Wait & See Turbo – Astral Radiance)

Yeah, I’m doing it, I’m going there – some Pokemon cards are a waste of tree that defy any reasoning for being there as they are unloveable and unplayable.

Wait and See Turbo would have made the worst if not for the fact that, though it is very, very specific, it could be useful – if it is your first turn and you go second, attach an energy from your deck to one of your pokemon – and then throws away its usefulness by being a one-shot – your turn then ends. So you play the card to get the advantage, then totally throw away your… shot. Rubbish.

Riley, however, is a truly awful card – it’s like the Anti-Colress’s Experiment – draw five cards, reveal them to your opponent and let them choose two for the discard pile. WHAT ON EARTH? I still cannot get my head around the uselessness of this card – it makes every Helioptile and Heliolisk ever printed seem like Magikarp and Wailord GX. On ebay, they will pay you to take them away (not actually true, but it should be).

And now, on a more positive note…

Prettiest Trainer Gallery: Starmie – Astral Radiance (Runner Up: Gardevoir – Silver Tempest)

I don’t know about you, but I am going to miss Trainer Gallery cards, although I do hear that things may get better re: pull rates in Scarlet and Violet. Watch this space. It was nice to get that unexpected surprise in the reverse holo slot, a little ‘thanks for your loyalty’ moment from the TCG that has broken your heart and bank on so many occasions. No matter how old you get, you’re always going to love a shiny, pretty card, aren’t you?

Gardevoir is one of my favourite Pokemon – I don’t know why, it just is – and the full art from Akira Egawa of him/her with Dianthe is beautifully evocative of a Star Wars poster in pastels, or a scene from a fantasy movie that you saw in your youth but can’t quite remember. Lovely.

The Trainer Gallery Starmie V is something else, though. The card itself is decent, but the artwork is as vibrant and colourful as a frame from a Studio Ghibli movie. Misty is just chilling in the pool with her favourite Pokemon and a pontoon of luscious looking food and drink. You just want to dive right into the picture. Fabulous work from Akira Komayama.

Ensemble Of The Year: The Regis – Astral Radiance (Runners Up: Solrock/Lunatone/Mewtwo VSTAR – Pokemon Go; Comfey/Cramorant/Sableye – Last Origin)

Goodness, is that the time? Nearly there – they want to get the room cleared out for granny wrestling tomorrow, and Guzzlord’s table will need a lot of cleaning. This award goes to the Pokemon exhibiting the best synergy (ack), because there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’ (there is a ‘me’ though).

Comfey/Cramorant/Sableye, aka Lost Box aka The Bane of My Life. When put with cards like Lost Vacuum, Colress’s Experiment and Scoop Up Net, this combo has the potential to sweep your opponent off the board before they can play a supporter. Draw, Lost Zone, repeat, then pop up either Sableye or Cramorant to wreak untold havoc on your opponent. A second turn sensation. Solrock/Lunatone/Mewtwo VSTAR is not as aggressive, but can escalate quickly, using the Solrocks to attach discarded psychics to the Lunatones and then either Lunatones to swing for 30 plus 30 for each psychic attached or attack with Mewtwo VSTAR and discard up to three energy from any of your Pokemon to do 90 per energy. You could also throw in the Clefairy from Lost Origin that does 20 for every psychic energy attached to all your Pokemon and has an ability to find and attach psychic energy to your benched Clefairies. Did I say less aggro? Maybe not.

The winner, by a cluster of what could be eyes, are the Regis from Astral Radiance. None of your V cards here, pure one-prize brilliance, though potentially vulnerable because you need all the Regis to make it work – eleki, steel, rock, ice, drago and gigas. Built around Regigigas ability to attach three energy from your discard pile to one of your Pokemon - and no, that’s not just basic – the Regi deck is one that can adapt to whatever your opponent throws at you. Playing with Palkia? Regieleki’s got your back. Up against a fast Pokemon with no retreat cost? Roll up, Registeel. Need a VMAX taking down? Looks like Regigigas is in the frame. Cheap and surprisingly not so nasty.

And The Winner Is…

There should be a set of the year, shouldn’t there? We’ve looked at all the cards, but there must be a set which just sneaks in as the set above sets, the set with the best cards, the best hit ratio, the best trainer cards. For me, this set has to be:

Brilliant Stars – Set Of The Year

Astral Radiance may have given us Radiant Pokemon; Lost Origin may have revived the Lost Zone; Pokemon Go may have given us the best novelty card since… forever (it’s Ditto, which can only be found by peeling off the Pokemon that it is pretending to be); Silver Tempest brought it all home; it was Brilliant Stars that started the fire. It was the smallest of the sets, making it easier to get the cards you wanted, brought us the VSTAR mechanism and also had the first Trainer Gallery cards. By on the whole dumping all the Single/Rapid/Fusion Strike cards, it got back to a more straightforward version of Pokemon, which meant that it got back to the essence of Pokemon TCG – a fun game to play on many levels and something accessible to people from many ages. Kudos, Brilliant stars!

And that’s it for 2022! Here’s hoping that these lessons have been learned and carried through to Pokemon Scarlet and Pokemon Violet. Let’s go and happy holidays!

That concludes our list of top Pokemon cards of 2022. Is there any we missed? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames.