Is Sword and Shield the greatest era?

Is Sword & Shield The Best Pokemon Era? - YouTube

Scott’s new video. Scarlett and Crimson is around the corner and we are in the sunset of Sword and Shield. Is Sword and Shield the greatest era? Which one do you think is the greatest era regariding sets for the TCG? Also, should promos be included for the discussion?


I don’t think SWSH is the greatest era, but it’s certainly the best era we’ve had in awhile. The special arts are incredible and they really stepped things up with special sets and collector focus. In terms of pure art, the cards are at a level I don’t think they’ve ever been at. The S5-onward era has been truly exceptional.

Some things that drag the era down IMO are the continued inclusion of rainbow rares, the gargantuan size of English sets, and a lack of product accessibility especially in Japanese. It’s crazy that we get resealed Eevee Heroes boxes but that’s just what the market is like I guess.

It’s very hard to pick a “best” era for the TCG, in my biased opinion it’s the EX Series, but I can see arguments for pretty much every era other than pre-TTGX SM which is objectively dog shit.


What does it mean to be the “greatest era?” I feel like it’s a very subjective label.

For me, the greatest era is by far early EX. It was a very pioneering era – the first to really experiment with reverse holos, to have art exceed the frame, and to have cards with anything other than yellow borders. But none of that matters that much to me. What matters to me is that it was what I grew up with. And that it was the debut of Gen 3 – which to me and many others is a very special generation.

SWSH has some great art, but nothing TPCi produces will ever measure up to early EX (again, for me). I think a lot of others feel the same way but with WotC. Ultimately, there’s no way to objectively evaluate an era. It’s impossible to disentangle nostalgia and history from the more objective design elements that sets have.

TPCi has made some really nice-looking Latias/Latios cards in modern sets. And I’m sure they’ll continue to produce more beautiful, cool-looking Latias/Latios cards. But none of them evoke the same feeling that the originals do – and that will never change.


SWSH is the best for modern.

When it comes to what is modern, id say “loosely” BW-Present. Over time, BW will probably seep into that not modern but not vintage wotc that ex-hgss is in. Anyways, I’d say SWSH is best when you look at bw-now. From ex-hgss, id say ex is the best. Prior to that its just wotc which I think of as a single segment, but you could argue for gen 1 sets, neo, e series or whatver.

For my personal favorites, it goes ex, wotc, swsh. I think most people would argue wotc or swsh as the best though

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I think if you take out character rares (which is a sun/moon invention) and alt arts, there is not much of anything left. I would say the art quality on the nonholos has been made better and also more diverse. That’s about it.

I think what the era lacks is set coherence. Base through ex era had so many sets with themes that so integral to the identity. Think Rocket/TRR, Delta Species, even Jungle/Fossil. Funny enough, Battle Styles is probably the most coherent set despite it being pretty mediocre. Even Eevee Heros falls flat in terms of coherence if you look at the nonholos. This has been something lacking in sets for a long time now, not specific to SWSH.

Overall though, I’m being nitpicky. The alt arts definitely transformed the era. I think SWSH has some of the best standalone cards of all time but I think that’s my main criticism. If you remove the top 3% of cards produced in this era there is little of interest remaining


In terms of the experience, I feel WOTC is the best and most memorable for a lot of people for so many reasons. Nothing can really replace that early 1999 run or duplicate it exactly because it was so new and fresh and unique. For anyone who grew up during that, we all know what it was like.

Those cards and sets will always hold a tremendously special spot in the hobby and to me they are the ‘gold standard’ of Pokemon cards. Even if Pokemon declines again or gets stale, I feel the originals will hold a special spot for a long time to come.

In terms of the variety of cards and sets, I definitely feel SWSH is well up there. The Alt Arts are definitely the cornerstone of this era that makes them standout from the crowd and among all other eras really. They truly are special, and without them I don’t feel much in SWSH would be that exciting or memorable at all.

It’ll be interesting to see how perception will change over the years to come and what Pokemon will bring to the table next.


The things that make SWSH era a great era, are rivalled by things that make it a terrible era.

We have alt arts that are one hit after another, providing excitement and interest for each new set. Some of the best looking cards have come out during the SWSH era.

On the other hand we have sets blowing out even more in size, an incredibly boring and played out rarity spread that is far too big, Rainbow rares wearing out their welcome a long time ago, and Full Arts basically being a consolation prize and a disappointment.


SWSH for the alt arts, but for overall best art across the board (regardless of rarity), e-cards.

Only thing I can add for Sword and Shield is they also gave us Amazing Rares and Radiant Pokemon. Which are fairly simple and basic compared to Alt Arts and CHR’s but they are worth a mention.

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I too would say Ex Era. I didn’t grow up in the era, but the commons and uncommons are a journey to learn. The reverse holos after the first 4 sets are the best in the hobby(shout out to you for telling me that) and Ex Pokemon and gold stars need no introduction. Also, the regular holos are still chase cards.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but everything the Ex Era tried to mix things up ended up being a tremendous success.

That’s probably where Sword and Shield comes in. Most features introduced this generations have been a tremendous success and are wanted to become a permanent fixture of set going forward.

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Alt Arts and possibly the Trainer Gallery cards are what people are going to remember fondly from the Sword & Shield era. The Alt Arts are fantastic for collecting (although many are a bit too extravagant for my tastes), but unfortunately I feel the huge sets, lack of concrete theming, and tons of reused, lifeless CGI (V, Vmax, Rainbows, Golds) holds this era back from being truly great.

For me personally, the E-series era (Expedition through EX Dragon - or TMTA if you want to be technical) is the pinnacle of the TCG. Some of the best artwork ever produced in the franchise with tons of creative freedom, amazing set theming and a very unique and memorable card layout. For people who can’t decide between WOTC or EX being the best era, why not join me on Team E-reader and have the best of both worlds? :smile:


Could that be said for every era?

The only cards people really look forward to when each JP set leaks are which Pokemon have got alts (or CHRs/CSRs which are pretty much alts) and maybe how the trainer FAs are gonna look like - but the latter is now a staple.

And even then, people seem to only have started to appreciate both of those (at least in terms of value) only during the pandemic when perhaps more people were brought in/returned to the hobby.

Even the gold cards have gone from at least new art (Froslass etc) to the FA/VSTAR pose but gold and in less than a year is already boring.

I’d say it’s concerning that there is hardly any interest in the majority of other hits, but so far it doesn’t seem to make a difference yet for most people. Thing is, even if Charizard were to get 2 alts every era from now on (probably even more tbh) the actual art should differentiate it and let it stand on its own. The full arts don’t have that though. I don’t see any difference between BW, XY, SM and SWSH full arts beyond the background colours changing. Most have boring poses and lifeless CGI and it’s continued for 10 years now.

Geeze this is a tough question. I think @zorloth nailed it: It’s too subjective to give a definitive answer. We can say what WE liked, but each generation may have that. I wonder if younger kids feel about the cards coming out then, how the GenWunners felt about the cards that we new to us.

Perhaps the only way we could answer this Q is to figure out what generation created the most “feels” and best response when it was new. IMO early Ex was the best era. The sets were solid with great art, but not huge arm length set lists… Card design was solid. BUT then there are other things about other eras… so, again IDK.


It’s not the greatest era (for me that resides with eCard), but it is by far my favourite modern era. Its strengths are not in set composition, but in individual cards. Artists new and old have been at full throttle over the last 2 years, flaunting their creativity with little to no compromise across all tiers of rarity. It is one of few eras that showcases artwork just as well in a common as it could in a special art, and having done so consistently with each set release is a keen reminder that TPC values artist talent. There is so much to appreciate, and we are spoiled with options.


@koala literately ended his comment above beautifully. We are legit spoiled. There is always something that is either going to be overlooked or I’ll get it later.

I’ve said this a plethora of times at least in discord or on a pod, but we are living in the prime time age of fine art. While the original era still is up top for me, Sword and Shield is right behind it and damn close too.


Which is why going back to EX style hits is a regression.

Having headshots cannot compete with the GX/V canvas.

Honestly VSTARs should have highlighted this, since it was already a regression. Only small Pokemon can make it out OK like a Shaymin but having CGI legendary heads poke out of small boxes is disappointing.

The era of the greatest print run.


the way i look at this question is by attempting to view the sets within each era as objectively as possible. i know that word doesn’t really apply because it still boils down to preference, but there are so many strong sets from SWSH. eevee heroes and evolving skies to a degree are probably top 5 all time sets for each respective language when it comes to whats contained within it. vmax climax is absolutely insane and vstar universe with the rumors/leaks of alts (potentially) instead of CHRs, it will likely be even more insane.

i do agree with the sentiment that english sets specifically have become too bloated, but i would argue that when its all said and done, SWSH will have many of the most exciting boxes to open. looking at something like DPP or EX, you’re really only chasing after 3 or so cards out of a box. BW as well after they introduced the shinies later on, but then you get the few good full arts. Even still, a lot of it is take it or leave it depending on how much you like the pokemon, etc…

when it comes to SWSH, you can get any box from year 2 or 3 (except for maybe battle styles if you don’t like the urshis) and genuinely have half a dozen or more exciting cards that are among the most rare in the set.

if you take away nostalgia and stonks, i think its hard to argue that any era has more to offer than SWSH, especially when it comes to sets even with the weak first year.


You’ve chosen some exceptional artwork but what I meant was the ultra rare normal art hit that started with the BW era (and away from the holos being hits).

I personally dislike many, even most of the GX/V art because of the CGI but when they do give it to proper artists like Arita, they look great. However the BW/XY era design which the new Miraidon and Koraidon have does not allow for much variety. And with aky CG Works and 5ban back again, you know it’ll continue throughout the era.

Things like this:

@koala as a side note, how do you link image that small in size or are they uploaded?