A new generation of Pokémon has arrived! The Pokémon Trading Card Game: Black & White expansion brings you a legion of over 70 new Pokémon from the newly explored Unova region, including the Legendary Reshiram and Zekrom, both featuring never-before-seen art that covers the ENTIRE card! The Pokémon TCG: Black & White expansion is your gateway to a bigger Pokémon world!
Black & White marks the beginning of the Pokémon Trading Card Game series of the same name and is the first expansion to feature Generation V Pokémon. Based on Pokémon Black and White and the concept of starting from a new beginning, Black & White is almost entirely composed of newly-introduced Generation V Pokémon; 72 in total, and explores the original roots of the TCG, both in terms of card design and gameplay in an effort to engage younger players.
With the start of a new Generation, Black & White introduced an updated card design, which included numerous changes:
- The card border returns to a completely yellow border in the English release, and to a completely silver border in the Japanese release. All other graphics on the cards return to a silver color without the gold tinges.
- The unfinished circle used on Basic Pokémon, as well as the evolution circle present on Stage 1 and 2 Pokémon merge with the evolution stage graphic, which is now in the top left, similar to cards from the original era of the TCG.
- The Pokémon name is shifted further to the right as a result and is made more prominent with the addition of a silver frame, the right edge of which is reminiscent of the skewed curve graphic on EX Series cards, which also gains additional layers on higher stage evolution cards. This also separates the Pokémon name and the Hit Points, which returns to having no graphic behind it. The "Evolves from" clause on Stage 1 and 2 Pokémon remains in the illustration window.
- The Weakness, Resistance and Retreat Cost return to the bottom left of the card, and the Pokédex entry returns to the bottom right in its own frame (albeit skewed to the right), as they were on Japanese Original era releases. The English cards also adopt this change, and also shorten "retreat cost" to "retreat". As a result, the illustrator bar is no longer present, and the illustrator name itself is at the very bottom to the left of the collection number and expansion symbol.
- For the first time since the Team Rocket expansion in English and the very first set in Japan, the Cosmos Holofoil treatment used on Rare cards changed to a horizontal striped pattern, called Tinsel Holofoil. This treatment is also applied to the border of Japanese Rare cards.
- For the first time in the history of the TCG, the English card numbering system changed from ordering Pokémon cards alphabetically and by descending rarity (Rare Holo, Rare, Uncommon, Common) to conform to the Japanese ordering system based on type (Grass, Fire, Water, Lightning, Psychic, Fighting, Darkness, Metal, Colorless) and National Pokédex number. All Trainer cards are listed in alphabetical order regardless of rarity.
- Another first for the TCG was the change of using letters instead of regular shapes to symbolize rarity on Japanese cards. replaces on Common cards; replaces on Uncommon cards; replaces on Rare cards; replaces symbols such as on Super-Rare cards; replaces symbols such as on Ultra-Rare cards. English cards continued to use the original rarity symbols.
Black & White also introduces one new game mechanic, while discontinuing several others. Abilities, much like their namesake in the Pokémon games, replace the long-standing Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies. Abilities essentially merge the active and passive effects of Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies into one mechanic akin to Pokémon Powers present during the original and Neo eras of the TCG. Pokémon Prime and Pokémon LEGEND are also officially retired, making Black & White the first expansion since Skyridge to not feature powered-up variant Pokémon. The Super-Rare cards in the expansion take some inspiration from Pokémon LEGEND, in that the artwork covers the entire card and each one has a unique Holofoil effect; however, they remain exactly the same play-wise as their regular Rare Holofoil counterparts.
Several new rule changes also came into effect with the release of Black & White:
- Trainer cards can once again be played during a players' first turn. Goods cards first introduced in the HeartGold and SoulSilver Collections in Japan are now featured in the localised TCG as Item cards. These cards retain their blue color designation and receive an updated ruling stating a player can use as many Item cards as they like during their turn.
- The change brought about in Diamond & Pearl that made Supporter and Stadium cards separate classes of card has now been reversed, but both keep their individual color designations. The original rule that stipulated Supporter cards were to be discarded at the end of a players' turn has been changed to require players to discard them immediately after use. This change was likely brought about to avoid confusion between Pokémon Tool cards and Support cards that would have otherwise still been attached to the Active Pokémon.
- The procedure in which Knock Outs are carried out has been slightly altered. Previously, after the player with the Knocked Out Pokémon discards that Pokémon, they would replace that Pokémon with one from their Bench, and the player performing the Knock Out would proceed to take one Prize card. This has been changed to the player performing the Knock Out takes one Prize card, followed by the player with the Knocked Out Pokémon replacing that Pokémon with one from their Bench. This change essentially prevents the player performing the Knock Out from selecting a Prize card based on their opponent's new Active Pokémon.
The booster pack size for the Japanese expansion was reduced from 11 to 5, plus one card advertising the TCG and several related products (universal for each pack). Each pack now costs ¥158 as opposed to ¥315, making the packs more within the price range of a younger target audience. Energy cards could not be found in packs, but could be obtained in card boxes sold alongside the expansion. Each of these card boxes feature several themed designs and come with 40 Energy cards. The chance of obtaining a Rare card was also reduced to 1 in 2 packs, as opposed to a guaranteed Rare card. Mirror cards introduced in the HeartGold and SoulSilver Collections were also discontinued in the Japanese expansion. The pack size for the English expansion remained unchanged at 10 cards per pack.
The focus of starting afresh and the aim to involve younger children in the TCG in Japan was further emphasized with the redesign of the official Pokémon card website. Much of the new content was simplified and broken down into step-by-step guides with regards to the basics of the TCG. A great deal of past information, including the trading card database was temporarily moved to the Pokémon Card Game Network site, accessible only via a Pokémon Daisuki Club account. New online content for regions outside of Japan was introduced in the form of the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online, which allowed users to select an avatar and battle computer-controlled opponents in simulated card battles. Players could select a number of pre-constructed decks to use, or add to their online collection by scanning the QR codes of special cards included in booster packs and Theme Decks accompanying the Black & White expansion.
The prerelease card for this set is Darmanitan.