Pokémon TCG: Shining Fates Elite Trainer Box Unboxing and Review

Category: Product Reviews
Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 6:20pm
Posted by Marriland

Yesterday was the release date of the newest Pokémon special expansion set, Shining Fates, a set that includes over 100 Shiny Pokémon inside of the special Shiny Vault subset within Shining Fates, which itself contains 73 cards.

The Pokémon Company International sent Marriland some products from Shining Fates to check out and unbox (big thanks for that!), so you can either watch the video above to see the video unboxing, or you can continue reading to find out what the Elite Trainer Box contains and a few highlights from the set.

Elite Trainer Box Review

Above, you’ll find pictures of the sealed Elite Trainer Box that I received. This has a suggested retail price of US$49.99, which is $10 higher than Elite Trainer Boxes from traditional sets like Vivid Voltage or Rebel Clash, but it makes sense, as you get 10 Booster Packs instead of 8 along with a special promo Eevee VMAX card.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s contained in the Elite Trainer Box:

  • 10 Shining Fates Booster Packs
  • 1 foil Eevee VMAX promo card (SWSH087)
  • 65 card sleeves featuring Gigantamax Eevee
  • 45 basic Energy cards (5x of each type, including Fairy for Expanded)
  • 6 damage-counter dice
  • 1 competition-legal coin-flip die
  • 2 acrylic Special Condition markers for Burn and Poison
  • Player’s Guide for Shining Fates, which has pictures and a checklist of all of the cards in the set, along with strategies and highlights for some of the cards
  • Rulebook for the Pokémon TCG
  • A collector’s box for keeping cards and everything else included, along with 4 dividers to separate cards inside of it
  • A code card for the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online

Elite Trainer Boxes are usually a good way for newer or intermediate players to jump in to the Trading Card Game or get their toes wet with a new set, because you get a lot of useful things included in it, such as 45 basic Energy cards (5 of each type, including Fairy for Expanded Format decks), acrylic special condition markers, damage counter dice, a tournament-legal coin-flip die, 65 card sleeves, a player’s guide for the set showing pictures of every single card in the set (can be used as a checklist or just a reference), and a box to store these goodies in along with separators to help organize your cards inside of the box.

What was described above is common to pretty much any Elite Trainer Box, though, but some of these things change visually depending on the expansion set, so for the Shining Fates Elite Trainer Box, it features Gigantamax Eevee card sleeves, a certain color of dice, etc.

That being said, let’s take a deeper look at the components of the Shining Fates Elite Trainer Box.

10 Booster Packs

Shining Fates is a special expansion set, meaning individual booster packs, sealed booster boxes, and theme decks are not available, so you’ll need to buy the various products to get your hands on the booster packs.

The Elite Trainer Box has a suggested retail price of US$49.99 and you get 10 booster packs, meaning buying them in this way means the packs have an effective cost of $4.99 each. The Shining Fates Tins, Shining Fates Mad Party Pin Collections, and the Shining Fates Pikachu V Collection work out to that same price-per-pack, so if you’re planning on getting a lot of Shining Fates booster packs, the Elite Trainer Box is probably your best bet because you get card sleeves, damage counter dice, and a really nice storage box with each one you buy.

This is really more of a consideration for dedicated collectors, but price-per-pack is always important to consider, and generally Elite Trainer Boxes cost US$39.99 for 8 booster packs, meaning you’re paying about $8 for the other content inside (assuming $4 per pack, so $32 of value for 8 packs) — the Shining Fates Elite Trainer Box contains 10 packs for $49.99, but that’s also the standard rate for all methods of buying packs, so it’s a much nicer deal.

Shining Fates and the Shiny Vault

As for the expansion set itself, it’s going to be a nightmare to collect them all. The Shining Fates set is essentially split in two: there’s the main set, which contains 73 individual cards, and then there’s a special subset inside called the Shiny Vault, which contains a total of 122 cards and is prefixed with “SV” in the card number (SV001–SV122).

Cards in the Shiny Vault are not guaranteed to be in packs, so you can open up packs without getting any Shiny Pokémon. One Shiny Vault card replaces the reverse holo (“parallel set”) if a pack contains a Shiny Vault card, and it seemed to be at a rate of around 1-in-3 to 1-in-4 packs containing a Shiny Vault card. There are 122 cards in the Shiny Vault to collect. Like I said, it’s going to be a nightmare to collect them all, but the good news is it should spur a lot of trading and lead to a lot of individual Shiny Vault cards being sought after.

Thankfully, the cards in the Shiny Vault are not actually new cards as far as gameplay goes, but are instead alternate art versions of existing cards. You don’t need any of them, but they will make your deck a lot more shiny if you want to upgrade to the shiny versions. Otherwise, they’re still nice for collecting.

Promo Gigantamax Eevee VMAX

Eevee VMAX TCG card

Included with the Shining Fates Elite Trainer Box is a special Sword & Shield series promo card, SWSH087, which is the Gigantamax Eevee VMAX shown above. You won’t have to worry about pulling this from a booster pack, as this is included in every Shining Fates Elite Trainer Box, so even though it isn’t shiny, it’s still pretty cool. One nice thing is that it comes sealed in plastic, so it should be in excellent shape and can be preserved that way if you’d like to keep it as mint as possible.

Its G-Max Cuddle attack does 150 damage for three Colorless energy and forces the Defending Pokémon (if it survives) to flip a coin to attack next turn, failing if your opponent flips tails. Honestly, it’s not really that good, especially given your opponent gets three Prize cards if they knock out Eevee VMAX, so this is more of a collector card than one you’ll want to use in battle.

65 Gigantamax Eevee Sleeves

Gigantamax Eevee sleeves for Pokémon TCG cards

Not to be confused with sleevees, these card sleeves will keep your cards protected from wear and tear while looking stylish with a Gigantamax Eevee on the backside of them.

Although you could certainly use these to protect your rarer cards, they’re generally best when used to sleeve an entire Pokémon TCG deck of 60 cards, since you need to have all of your cards in a deck with the same card sleeve (for rather obvious reasons). Since there are 65 in here, that gives you 5 extras in case some need replacing due to damage or wear and tear from excessive gameplay. It’s always good to have replacements.

Dice and Markers

Some small damage counter dice with multiples of 10 on them, a poison and burn marker, a standard six-sided die and an Indeedee card for reference

As with all Elite Trainer Boxes, the Shining Fates Elite Trainer Box contains a pack of six “damage-counter dice”, a “competition-legal coin-flip die”, and some acrylic markers for Poison and Burn. An Indeedee card is shown in the picture above for size reference.

The damage-counter dice are used to keep track of how much damage your Pokémon have received — they aren’t meant to be used for coin flips or rolling. They have different increments, all in increments of 10, with some dice having higher numbers than others. These are placed on your Pokémon to show a total of how much damage it’s taken.

These aren’t the only way to show total damage — Theme Decks come with paper markers (10s, 50s, and 100s), and many players opt for using small six-sided dice to count, with every pip on the die representing 10 damage. It’s an option nonetheless, although some players may find it more confusing if they’re used to other methods.

The competition-legal coin-flip die is just that: a die that can be rolled instead of flipping a coin, and it’s legal for all competitions and tournaments. Even though cards say “flip a coin” on them, it’s also permitted (and often times preferred) to roll a six-sided die instead, with even numbers (2, 4, 6) representing heads, while odd numbers (1, 3, 5) represent tails. This die can be used in that way, and the etched side shown in the picture above represents “1” and is tails.

Lastly, the Poison and Burn markers are important to have to keep track of these two status conditions, and you’ll need to have them with you (or something else that can be used to track these conditions) whenever you play at a tournament. These ones are acrylic and should hold up pretty well.

Shining Fates Player’s Guide

The included Player’s Guide is a nice booklet that contains pictures of all of the cards, talks about several noteworthy cards in the set and explains their strategies, and it can also be used as a checklist to keep track of all of the cards you’ve gotten in the set.

Although Theme Decks from most sets contain checklists, they don’t have nice pictures showing the cards, and they also don’t list every card — Secret Rare cards are not included in those checklists in Theme Decks.

There aren’t any Theme Decks for Shining Fates, so this bit of advice is geared more towards Elite Trainer Boxes in general, but the Player’s Guide is a nice resource to look at the entire set — Secret Rare cards included — and figure out what you’re missing or what you’d like to acquire.

The Basics

You’ll get a pack of 45 basic Energy cards along with a Sword & Shield series version of the Pokémon TCG rulebook with the Elite Trainer Box. These are helpful for newer players, but aren’t likely to be of much use to intermediate or advanced players.

Extra basic Energy cards are always nice to have handy for deck building, though. You’ll get 5 of each of the nine basic Energy types — Fire, Water, Grass, Lightning, Fighting, Psychic, Dark, Metal, and Fairy. Fairy-type Pokémon are no longer represented in the TCG as of the Sword & Shield set, with most Fairy-type Pokémon being changed to Psychic-type instead, but there are still some older cards that use Fairy Energy so it makes sense to include them. If you’re new to the game and don’t have any cards from before Sword & Shield, you won’t need to worry about Fairy Energy.

Storage Box, Online Code, and Secret Poster

It’s in the name — Elite Trainer Box. You do get a really nice storage box, somewhat reminiscent of a small shoebox (except much nicer and sturdier, of course), to store your cards and stuff in. It’s the perfect size for around 400 to 500 cards, or perhaps less if you put some accessories in there. You’ll have no trouble putting everything from the Elite Trainer Box in it, plus plenty more as your collection grows.

You’ll get four separators that can be used to separate your cards. They’re just paper or cardboard, but they are a bit thicker than a TCG card and have little tabs up top, so they’re easy to group cards or other things and work really nicely in the box part of the Elite Trainer Box. They also have the same Gigantamax Eevee artwork used on the sleeves.

Finally, there’s a secret poster in the Elite Trainer Box. The exterior wrapping the Player’s Guide and the storage box can actually be opened up along one of the edges and then reversed to reveal a cool poster showing art from all of the booster packs on it. It’s easy to toss this bit of packaging away without thinking, but it actually has a nice little decoration piece inside, so if that’s your style, be sure to save it to use for decorating later, especially because the booster pack art looks especially good in this special expansion set.

Final Thoughts

The Shining Fates Elite Trainer Box is fairly expensive, costing US$49.99, but you do get a lot for your money at least, especially if you’re looking to collect some of the Shiny Pokémon in Shining Fates and the Shiny Vault.

Because this is a very large set with a lot of rare cards in it, it’s currently rather tricky to get ahold of, especially with so many people buying up any of the Shining Fates product (and Pokémon product of any kind) to attempt to resell for a profit.

The Pokémon Company International has said that they will be increasing their production of Pokémon TCG product to the maximum to hopefully keep up with demands, and there are also more Shining Fates products coming in March — the Mini Tins and Premium Collections — so hopefully they will be more widely available for purchase in the coming weeks. We’ll have to see, though.

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