Today is the official launch of the Pokémon Trading Card Game’s Lost Origin expansion, which might be the penultimate set for the Sword and Shield (SWSH) era before next year sees new packs based on Scarlet and Violet. And it marks the return of the Lost Zone, the very occasional mechanic that entirely changes how players approach the game.
In the Pokémon TCG, cards that have been dismissed or defeated enter the discard pile. It’s nothing to be proud of, but the game affords all manner of ways for cards to return from this ignominy. Not so the Lost Zone. It is where cards enter, to never return…until that round is over, obviously. Then you just pick them up. They’re fine. It’s just cardboard.
So while you may have built up your decks on the basis of retrieving, say, your Energy cards from the discard pile, maybe using a Brock’s Grit or a Dark Patch, you could be entering your very own dark patch this month. Once your opponent banishes your cards into the Lost Zone, you won’t be so easily getting them back.
However, you also really want cards in that dreaded pile, too! Cards within the Lost Origin sets that feature a swirly purple-and-blue pattern around the image possess Lost Zone abilities, which often offer you enormously powerful attacks, but depend on your having a certain number of cards already in the Zone.
Take Lost Origin’s Cramorant. It has the Lost Provisions ability, which states,
If you have 4 or more cards in the Lost Zone, ignore all Energy in this Pokémon’s attack costs.
Sweet, right? And that means Spit Innocently, usually costing two Water and one Normal Energy, for 110 damage, is suddenly free. Meanwhile, one of the set’s most wanted, Giratina VStar, will deliver 280 damage in one hit, but the consequence is losing two of the attached Energies to the Lost Zone. Or, you might argue, a great way to get some cards in there, and obliterate an opponent’s card.
This means you’re going to see a lot more Energy cards in people’s decks for the next while, now that they’re not nearly so easily retrieved. It’s going to make for interesting times. Right up until November, when yet another SWSH set comes out, Silver Tempest.