For the past three years, fans of Pokémon have been visiting the Alola region. The new year brings with it a brand-new region – Galar. But that’s not the only change in store for fans, because in Galar, you will find new Pokémon as well… the powerful Pokemon V, including the name-sake characters of the Legendary Zacian and Zamazenta. You may recognise these impressive Pokemon from their appearance on the box covers of the video game.

As is the tradition, a new RPG-style video game for Pokémon is released every three years. The trading card game in turn draws its inspiration from this region and its story line. Since Sword & Shield will run over three years, there will be 12 expansions in total to look forward to over the next few, kicking off with Sword & Shield 1 in February, followed by Sword & Shield 2 – Rebel Clash in May.

No start to a journey would be complete without a trusty companion, and every good Pokemon adventure begins with selecting one of three starter Pokémon. The trading card game is no different to the video game in tis respect, so you can kick off the action with either Grookey, Scorbunny, or Sobble.

You may notice that the Theme Decks for this first release look a little different to what you may be used to. That’s because you have three options of Starter Pokemon, compared to the usual two found in most releases.

Theme Decks are perfect for new players, or existing players who want to kick off their new Sword & Shield collection. Be on the look out for supporting products that will release later in the year, like the Galar Partners Tins – these are an awesome upgrade to your Theme Deck. So if you picked Scorbunny, then you’ll certainly want to grab the Cinderace tin as a cool addition to your strategy.

Galar brings with it more than a dozen powerful new Pokémon V, including the Legendary Zacian and Zamazenta that we’ve mentioned — and some, like Stonjourner and Snorlax, that can evolve into enormous Pokémon VMAX for even more power!

What are Pokemon V?

Pokémon V feature very high HP and powerful abilities and attacks, but not without a drawback, as they do award your opponent two Prize cards when they get Knocked Out. Some can evolve into an even more formidable form as Pokémon VMAX, although be careful – if an opponent Knocks Out one of your Pokémon VMAX, they get to take three Prize cards!

How cool is the art on this Snorlax VMAX  and Morpeko VMAX?
While Pokémon VMAX only have one attack, they certainly do hit hard!
Which is your favourite Pokémon VMAX?

We’ve seen some of the feature characters from the set, but what about other new Pokémon? The set would not be complete without some cool new trainers and the Galarian version of well-known Pokémon.

Have you been playing Sword & Shield on your Nintendo Switch, or will the trading card game release be your first time battling it out with these exciting new Pokémon?

Pokémon Sword & Shield 1 will be available in stores from Friday 7 February.