My Broken Evolution Chains in the Pokemon Trading Card Game

Evolving Pokemon is a big part of the Pokemon TCG experience. Before you can unleash the fury of Charizard, you must first play a Charmander card and evolve it up to the fiery dragon over the course of multiple turns. Even in the Sword & Shield era of the card game where one can play a powerful Charizard V right away, it too can evolve into a monolithic Charizard VMax that has the potential to strike for a whopping 300 damage with a single blow!

But in order to complete these evolutions, one must have the cards to complete the chain. Based on my collection, here are some awkward scenarios that arise when I don’t have all of the cards required to complete an evolution.

Chikorita > Bayleef > Meganium

Steff and I got three Chikorita cards from her mom as part of the McDonald’s promo. Unfortunately, Bayleef and Meganium haven’t appeared in our search just yet. I can still use the Chikorita in battle for 10 damage and 10 healing, but it mainly serves as cannon fodder without being able to evolve.

Torchic > Combusken > Blaziken

Of the three, Combusken is the only fire chicken I have. Since the rules require players to play them in order, I can’t use this card at all until I find a Torchic.

Larvitar > Pupitar > Tyranitar

Tyranitar is one of my favourite Pokemon in Pokemon Go. Being able to complete this chain would be amazing, but standard Tyranitar still eludes me.

That said, I do have a Tyranitar V, which allows me to play Tyranitar without having to mess with evolutions. With the current state of the meta leaning heavily towards the use of V and VMax Pokemon, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever use these Larvitar and Pupitar cards even if I had the Tyranitar.

Dratini > Dragonaire > Dragonite

I got this Dragonite card as part of the Costco Canada five-tin set. Without Dratini and Dragonaire, poor Dragonite has to sit out on the sidelines. Complicating matters further is that this card is a legacy dragon type with fairy energy as its weakness. Fairy energy was removed from the game as part of a major rebalancing effort, meaning that collecting a complimentary set of Dratini and Dragonaire cards will only get harder with time.

Eevee and any of its evolutions

I have lots of Eevee cards but nothing to evolve Eevee into. Sadly, Eevee without any evolutions is essentially useless, so I won’t be using any of my Eevee cards until I have something to evolve into.

Most of my Pokemon V cards

V and VMax cards are essentially souped-up versions of standard Pokemon cards. Their big gimmick is that many of these cards feature fully-evolved Pokemon that are classified as basic in their V forms. Why should I evolve from Ralts-to-Kirlia-to-Gardevoir over the course of three turns when I can play Gardevoir V in one?

Even though these Pokemon might be fully-evolved as basic V cards, they can still evolve into their VMax forms, which are the most powerful cards in the game. Unfortunately, V and VMax cards are both very rare finds and I have yet to complete a V to VMax evolution chain yet. At the very least, these V basic cards can be used right away and are incredibly powerful even without anything to evolve into.

Most of my Pokemon VMax cards

Featuring the highest health and most damaging moves that the game has ever seen, VMax cards are the most sought after in the current meta. Thus far, I only have a handful of VMax cards and none of them match my basic V cards. Without a complete chain, I can’t use any of these cards at all. For the time being, they’ll stay in top loaders, as many VMax cards also double as the most valuable from a collector’s standpoint.

Evolving your Pokemon in the heat of battle to unlock new options in combat is one of the game’s most exciting mechanics. But in order to take advantage, you need to have the right combinations of cards. Due to the weighted distribution of cards, having many loose ends is a reality of the hobby.

If you’re really serious about completing evolution chains, don’t pump more money into booster packs. Instead, buy the singles from your local game store or online through a reputable site like TGC Player. More often than not, it will be cheaper to cherry pick the exact cards you need rather than rolling the dice on booster packs.

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