The Folly of Legendary Collection
By John Hornberg

People had big expectations for Wizards second try at producing a reprint of the original Base Set. It was rumored that the Legendary Collection as Wizards dubbed it, was going to bring back cards from the original Base Set through Rocket, except it was going to be different from all the versions of the cards before it.

New card art was rumored to be part of the new set, giving these geriatric cards from sets past a new, updated coat of paint.

Rumors even went as far as to suggest that Wizards would be printing jumbo vending cards in the set, providing more variety to Modified format.

Rumors also said that the set was supposed to be huge, pushing almost 200 cards.

When it was all said and done, and Legendary Collection hit the market, it stunned a lot of my friends. 

Where’s the new art?

Where are the new cards?

Why is the set smaller than Base Set!?!

Wizards managed to do one thing very well for once in company history, and that was keeping a secret very well. As far as I know, people were guessing on Legendary Collections contents up until the day the actual spoiler was released.

Wizards of the Coast is not known for its secret keeping. The whistle has been blown on perhaps the last 10 Magic: the Gathering sets an accurate spoiler on some affiliate at least 2 weeks before the pre release tournaments occurred. 

Unfortunately for us, Wizards best kept secret was the greatest flop in the Pokemon TCG History.

Nothing new came from Legendary Collection. Players were provided with an abbreviation of the first four sets of the game, with nothing of major power reprinted. 

The way I see it, Pokemon R&D took all the cards from Base Set through Team Rocket, laid them out on a table in order, and proceeded to get rid of all the cards that were powerhouses in their day, are powerhouses now in modified, or were played at all.

This made the choices obvious for not reprinting.

Chansey, Hitmonchan, Double Colorless Energy, Jungle Scyther, Base Electabuzz, Super Energy Removal, Clefable, Itemfinder, and Computer Search were most likely the first nine cards R&D threw outEven powerful, but remarkably fair cards like Base Blastoise and Base Clefairy were passed up for other, weaker versions either to put in the set, or in past sets that are still in modified.

This looting the game of Pokemon’s “Power Nine” is a tragedy in my mind. As of right now, evolution decks dominate the scene. Wizards has dumbed the game down to mind numbing proportions, making it truly the game people stereotyped it as. The format is slow, incredibly simple, and it painfully screams with all the agony and horror it can muster up to supply it with a fast haymaker-like deck, that packs a powerful punch within the first 6 turns of the game. 

Wizards sacrificed player satisfaction for a fair format, something they have done time in and time out going back into Magic and Pokemon. It’s time that they think of the advanced player for once in their time as a company and throw us a real bone, in this case, they should have reprinted at least some of the greats from way back when.

Then again, Wizards must want to do away with that era in Pokemon TCG history, especially when they banned Sneasel, who was single handedly building a speed deck for the Modified format.

Gone are the real days of casual matches that could rage for a half hour or more, with more thinking required than with a Pre Calculus test. Welcome, folks, to the dull format of modified, where 99.9% of all the decks are slow, evolution decks, who all share a common goal: get a powerhouse on the bench, build him up, and let him loose on your opponent.

A few bones were thrown, I must admit. Bill and Scoop Up are both awesome cards that got reprinted in Legendary Collection. Ninetails could easily have been lumped into the Pokemon’s “Power Nine,” but of course modified needs a replacement to the exiting Blaine’s Arcanine. This little one fills the position quite well, if not even better, with the ability to deal 80 every turn, virtually 

Of course, this left the players with all the mediocre cards from back in the day, the stuff that traded well, but never truly saw play. It also left players with the components for a deck such as raindance, but with the main ingredient missing. 

No one would make a cake without flour. Well, we have all the necessary sides for Raindance – Fossil Articuno, Gyarados, and other good stuff to supplement them in the other Neo sets. Yet, where’s Blastoise?

Typical of Wizards to do this to the players, leave them with cards that are only good in combination with something incredible. Then, come reprinting time, they print the supporting cast thinking, “ People will like this, they played it back then didn’t they?”

Then no one plays it because the centerpiece is not there.

Such is the sad truth of a reprinted set. 

I can’t fault Wizards completely on Legendary Collection.

One thing that I find ingenious about it is that the packs are now friendly to the new players. They are now organized to provide players with 2 sets of 2 different basic Pokemon, and 1 evolution from each, a rare, an energy, and a reverse foil.

Heck, the reverse foils are great. These are Pokemon’s response to Magic: the Gathering’s foil versions of cards.

The cards they reprinted also fit into this format incredibly well. Almost all of them are grubby energy eaters, who can do cool things when built up. 

Base Nidoking fits well into the current format. 

I already mentioned Ninetails. 

Base Arcanine is a good card for this format as well.

Jungle Flareon is a good card that will finally get some respect in this format.

A lot of other cards have potential, but, like Machoke, will not see play due to so many Pokemon being resistant to fighting.

The foil used on the first three sets is a nice touch, shows that Wizards is truly trying to revive nostalgic feelings.

Unfortunately, when looked at in a true retrospective, Legendary Collection does more harm to the game of Pokemon than it does help. It fails to help Unlimited in any one way, thus giving old school players yet another set to shrug off as “useless.” 

Players, I’ve noticed, have been doing that for the past three sets, groaning even louder with each small set of useless cards that are still marauded by the Haymaker-type decks that continue to dominate unlimited format. 

Players’ anger has finally peaked with Legendary, as players are through pleading for a good set.

It is time for Wizards of the Coast to give players a decent set of reprints, or even a decent at all. 

-John Hornberg