In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.
The Gym Heroes Set
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 I still love to scour through cards and find the best of the best.
This set introduced one of my favorite concepts yet in the TCG—the addition of Gym Leader Pokémon as cards. Several offer unique surprises; many I expected to be good were bad and vice versa. It's pretty cool how the TCG allows for any Pokémon to be strong, not just the best ones from the games. So prepare for a parade of pipsqueaks, these are the six best Gym Heroes Pokémon!
Gym Heroes Quiz
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- In this set, which Gym Leader owns a Clefable?
- And who owns a Tauros?
- Lt. Surge
- So who owns a Dragonair?
- And Snorlax belongs to whom?
- What attacks does Misty's Starmie know?
- Water Gun and Bubblebeam
- Rain Dance and Rapid Spin
- Swift and Surf
- Recover and Psychic
- Water Gun and Bubblebeam
Interpreting Your Score
If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: Well.. Yikes.
If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: Not too bad.
If you got 4 correct answers: Well done!
If you got 5 correct answers: Perfect, great job!
Basic Pokémon can be played from your hand as you like.
Stage 1 Pokémon are evolutions that must be played on a corresponding Basic Pokémon.
Stage 2 Pokémon are further evolutions to be played on corresponding Stage 1 Pokémon.
6. Brock's Sandslash
Brock's Sandslash burrows in with only 60 HP for a Stage 1, but he's got a low Retreat Cost and a nice resistance to Electric Pokémon. Interestingly, both his attacks cost the same amount:
- Needles (2 energy) Only nicks foes for 10, but if you land Heads on a coin flip, you both Paralyze and Poison the Defending Pokémon!
- Sandstorm (2 energy) Bombards adversaries for 20, and forces them to flip a coin if they attack the next round. A Tails negates the attack entirely!
Sandslash may not excel in raw attack strength, but his moves are energy-efficient and disruptive. Poison foes with Needles, then gradually finish them off with Sandstorm.
5. Misty's Seaking
Typcially ignored in favor of stronger Water types, Seaking finally proves its worth as a trading card, surfacing with a solid 70 HP for a Stage 1. Also, a low Retreat cost, plus two energy-saving moves:
- Horn Attack (1 energy) Rams for only 10, but it at least gives an option to utilize while amassing energy for your next move...
- Mud Splash (2 energy) Blasts foes for 30 damage, a great bargain for only two energy. Plus, you have a 50% to inflict 10 damage to a Benched opponent!
Misty's Seaking grants Trainers a great way to quickly build damage while they prepare their more energy-demanding cards.
4. Erika's Vileplume
Most Stage 2 Pokemon join with more health than Vileplume's 80 HP, but it's got some stupendous traits:
- Pollen Defense (Poké-Power) Has a 50% chance to Confuse foes when they deal damage to Vileplume. That's already great, but this power (unlike most) works even if Vileplume has a Status Condition, and if the triggering attack knocks it out!
- Mega Drain (3 energy) Appears slightly weak at 30, but it heals Vileplume half damage, rounded up! Under normal circumstances, you'll be landing 30 and healing 20!
Erika's Vileplume's amazing power and technique more than compensate for its somewhat low HP and weakness to Fire. Speaking of which...
3. Rocket's Moltres
Finally, a Pokémon good both in the games and as a card. Moltres soars in with 60 HP, carries no weakness, and possesses a resistance to Fighting.
- Rebirth (Poké-Power) Returns Moltres to your hand when it's knocked out, ensuring your Bench never runs short of new members.
- Fire Wall (3 energy) Incinerates foes for 40 damage, and lands another 10 if they deal damage to Moltres on their next turn (even if Moltres gets knocked out)!
A resilient fighter who doesn't need Evolution to shine, Rocket's Moltres works great in any classic Fire deck.
If you're wondering why they put Rocket instead of, oh you know, actual Gym Leader Giovanni in this set, then join the club, we're getting T-shirts soon.
2. Erika's Weepinbell
I know what you're thinking: A dang Weepinbell in second place? It's not even fully evolved! True, but nevertheless, Erika's prized derp knows some great attacks:
- Sleep Poison (2 energy) Both Poisons your foe and puts them to sleep. No damage, but no coin flip required either!
- Vine Whip (3 energy) Has no secondary effect but bashes opponents for a solid 40 damage.
You can continue to evolve this card, or just keep it as is to lull foes to sleep and envenom them, then finish them off with Vine Whip.
1. Misty's Poliwhirl
Another surprisingly effective not fully evolved champion, Misty's Poliwhirl joins the fray with 70 HP and two awesome attacks:
- Rapids (2 energy) Bashes rivals for 20 damage. Plus, scoring a Heads on a coin flip lets you remove an energy from them!
- Water Punch (3 energy) Seizes a solid 30 damage. However, you get to flip a coin for each Water energy on Poliwhirl (at least three, assuming you've been attaching Water energy), and deal an additional 10 for each Heads!
A surprisingly lethal offensive unit, Poliwhirl's second attack often exceeds 50 damage and ensures your extra energy cards always have a use.
Hopefully, today's list highlighted some awesome Pokémon and let old fans revisit classic cards. I always thought it was an awesome idea to blend Gym Leaders and Trading Cards and I'd like to see similar expansions in the future.
For now, feel free to vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next expansion countdown: the Gym Heroes set!