Battle Arena Decks: Mewtwo vs. Darkrai
$29.99 from Target
Way back when XY was still new and Flashfire was the hottest thing on the market, The Pokémon Company released a new product in the TCG line called the Battle Arena Decks. The first release featured Xerneas and Yveltal (light versions, not the EX) and some tournament heavy support Pokémon and Trainer cards were the main selling point of the product. Flash forward one year and we have an all new Battle Arena set, this time featuring Mewtwo-EX and Darkrai-EX from the BW: Next Destinies and BW: Dark Explorers expansions respectively. As a drive to get more people interested in the Expanded Format, The Pokémon Company shoved made the set start some noteworthy EXs while also shoving in a ton of good tournament level Expanded Format trainer cards. The set in total includes two 60 card decks, two coins, two cardboard deck boxes, a small booklet that goes into strategies, and a two player playmat. The set sells for around $29.99, which is great considering theme decks are around $11.99, and the decks in this set contain MUCH better cards than a standard theme deck.
I love the concept of these decks, and I really wish they would come out more often than once a year. Outside of one or two in a theme deck every now and then, it’s hard to get those tournament staple trainer cards like VS Seeker, Muscle Band, etc. To top it off the set includes some great Pokémon for the expanded format like Mewtwo-EX, Darkrai-EX, and Crobat (and Zoroark, though it doesn’t get played much anymore). The only downside to the set, is it has a heavy skew to the Expanded Format, which is currently only played at the US Regional Championships throughout the year, and any other small tournaments you might encounter. There are some great Trainer Cards still suitable for Standard Format, but for the most part everything in here was picked solely to promote the Expanded Format. If you plan on playing Expanded frequently, but lack some cards to do so, this could be a great way to get them.
Like the Elite Trainer Boxes, this is an attempt at The Pokémon Company to deliver product that will sell to tournament level players, as opposed to collectors or casual players. There’s a lot of tournament players that don’t quite have playsets of things, or are players that are new to the tournament scene, and this is a great way to build that collection up. I just wish they came out a little more often. Can you imagine a Standard Format driven set coming out that featured Shaymin-EX with another popular play, like Manectric-EX, filled with VS Seekers, Battle Compressors, Ultra Ball, Level Ball, etc.? While it’s nice to see the company promote the Expanded Format, something geared toward Standard Format players would be nice to see as well.
At the end of the day, the value you get for what you pay is pretty good, especially if you needed any of these cards for collections or Expanded Format decks. Like I said, it’s a great concept to get people into competitive tournament playing, I really hope The Pokémon Company considers expanding the Battle Arena Deck concept to more quarterly releases.