The Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) is filled with impressive cards that prove their worth in competitive play. I used to think that some of the rarest cards would be the best add-ons to my deck. After all, they’re probably rare because they’re good, match-winning cards, right?
Shiny Pokémon cards mimic the games closely, as the TCG will often print fewer shinies than other cards to increase the rarity without making the Pokémon incredibly strong. Promo cards aside, many rare pulls are simply weak, uninteresting, or monetarily worthless. This list pays homage to those awful cards that deceive us at first glance.
Some of these cards on the list aren’t even pleasing to look at, as some of the alternative color decisions for these shinies are just plain ugly. At least these shiny cards are rare enough to be sold for a higher price than the pack they came in. Actually, no, most of them won’t.
The Worst Shiny Pokémon Cards in TCG
Plenty of lists categorize the best Pokémon Cards in the Trading Card Game, but we’ve decided to focus on the cards you should stay away from. These top 10 shiny Pokémon cards really shouldn’t be placed in your deck, even if some of them do look kind of cool.
10. Magnemite SV27/SV94 and Magneton SV28/SV94 (Hidden Fates)
Magnemite SV27/SV97 isn’t a bad card, but it isn’t a great card. Being boring can also get you on this list. I mean, the card works well for setting up the Magneton evolution as it allows you to search up to 3 Steel Energy cards in your deck to put them in your hand.
Unfortunately, unlike Shining Mew (also on this list) you still have to wait for two turns to set up Magneton. Until then, you can Tackle your heart out, but don’t count on Magnemite surviving. As we get to Magneton, one thing grabs my attention, the color. I don’t know if they were trying to make Magneton look like a ball of electricity, but to me, the color is reminiscent of pee.
As for Magnetons’ attacks, they’re pretty basic. Ram does 20 damage and Zap Cannon does 80. Zap Cannon can only be used once every other turn, so you may only be able to use it once if you’re lucky. Overall, this Magneton is unimpressive as a card and ugly as a Shiny.
9. Scyther SV1/SV94 and Scizor GX SV72/SV94 (Hidden Fates)
In the original set of TCG, like the one from the 90s, Scyther was always a great Pokémon Card because you could get them out quickly with Energy. Scyther SV1/SV94 is no different here, except TCG nerfs most Scyther cards after Scizor became an evolution in the 2nd generation.
I really hate the look of this card. The background is plain like many other Hidden Fates Basic cards, but the biggest problem here is the Shiny itself. Does Scyther even look like a Shiny Pokémon? Scyther looks exactly the same as their regular form with some added pink.
Scyther has two attacks: Twin Play, which searches your deck for 2 other Scythers’, and Agility, which does 20 damage and the chance of nullifying your opponents’ attacks during their turn. If you can stun your opponent enough to evolve it and you have a deck that’s based around Scyther, you’ll have a good time. But is Scizor GX SV72/SV94 worth it? Not really.
Danger Perception is the problem here. While yes, this Ability does make every attack do 80 more damage if Scizor is 100 HP or less, a good player won’t let you live long enough for it to initiate. What’s left is an 80 damage attack, a GX move you might not have used because you’re waiting for the Ability to pop, and a fainted Shiny Pokémon that looks worse than the original.
8. Magikarp XY143 (XY Promos)
Magikarp is often considered to be a lousy Pokémon in the video games and TCG. At least in the games, you can use the “Flail and Focus Sash” strategy for major damage, but you won’t find that in the TCG, at least not with this Shiny Magikarp XY143 promo card.
Let’s get something straight. Firstly, since this is a promo card, you’re not going to use it in competitive play. Secondly, Shiny Magikarp always wins points for being a literal golden fish that turns into a shining red dragon. Finally, the whole reason you use Magikarp is to evolve it to Gyarados, so what’s really the issue with this Magikarp anyway? Let’s break it down.
Pokémon TCG rules state that you need to wait one turn before evolving your cards, but with Trainer cards and luck, you can have a Gyarados fairly quickly. If Magikarp isn’t your only Pokémon, you’ll place them on your bench. Since many Pokémon have moves that attack your bench, and Magikarp only has 30 HP, putting them down is a risk to the card and your prizes.
What if they’re your first Pokémon, or you need to use them as your last-ditch effort to survive crushing defeat? Well, Magikarp fails there, too. Although their Epic Splash attack does 30 damage, you need to have incredible luck for it to even go through. They can’t even be a wall.
7. Shining Mew 40/73 (Shining Legends)
There isn’t much to say about Shining Mew, other than it isn’t good. Shining Mew could have been good if the attack Legendary Guidance was an Ability you could use from the bench, but as it stands, you can’t get much use of it before Shining Mew inevitably faints from their wounds.
If you manage to pop off a Legendary Guidance before the card faints, you will be able to search your deck and immediately put 2 Energy cards on any Pokémon, which is great. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to happen. On top of that, you won’t use Shining Mew for either a wall or attacking; this card’s sole purpose is to search for Energy, and it isn’t even great at that.
6. Most of the Call of Legends Cards (Especially Rayquaza SL10, Ho-Oh SL5, Kyogre SL6, and Dialga SL2)
Legendary Pokémon seem to suck harder in the TCG than any other cards, and it isn’t hard to see why. Most Legendary Cards are Basic Cards, which is great if you need a beat stick to protect you from a strong attack, but are useless in the attacking and Ability department.
I understand that they’re doing this to balance the game, as it would be unfair if you could plop a Legendary Pokémon on the battlefield and strong-arm your opponents, but it doesn’t make these cards suck less. Unless you’re really patient, you’re going to have a card with no moves.
The cards in the Call of Legends collection are atrocious for competitive play, and while most of them are bad because they require you to lose Energy cards every time you attack, like Rayquaza SL10 and Ho-Oh SL5, Kyogre SL6 and Dialga SL2 are awful in their own unique way.
At least Ho-Oh can use Combustion, but Inferno Speak on Rayquaza makes you lose 2 Energy per attack. There are cards on this list that attack for more damage without that setback. Seriously, I can’t make excuses for Kyogre or Dialga. Just take a look at these babies.
Kyogres’ Destructive Tsunami is aptly named because you have a 50% chance of either damaging all of your opponent’s bench Pokémon for 40 damage or your own. Why would you ever take that chance? You could wipe out your whole team in 2-3 unlucky turns.
Dialga has a whole other thing going on. Although Time Rewind won’t remove any energy from the card, the attack does make you shuffle your hand into your deck. Every time you use this attack, you get a new hand, which could totally mess up your strategy and lose you the game.
5. Rowlet SV001/SV122, Dartrix SV002/SV122, and Decidueye SV003/SV122 (Shining Fates)
The whole Rowlet line is on this list because of how little sense these cards make.
So you get a Rowlet in your hand, and you put it down. There are plenty of strategic plays here. The Ability Sky Circus adds an extra effect to Bird Keeper and ignores all Energy costs during your turn. When planned correctly, you can hit off a Wind Shard for 60 damage to 1 benched Pokémon for free. Or, you could set them up on the bench to win the game early.
Then, we have Rowlets’ final evolution, Decidueye. Deep Forest Camo is a true Pokémon V and GX killer, which were run exclusively during Shining Fates release. Splitting Arrow, which is only a 2 cost, does 90 damage to an Active Pokémon, plus 20 to 2 of your opponents Pokémon. Against stronger Pokémon, Decidueye can wreak havoc and win you the match.
Rowlet is a great example of a powerful basic Pokémon, and Decidueye earns its place as a V and GX counter. With that said, Dartrix got left in the dust with a card so bad it’s almost funny.
They did Dartrix dirty here. Seriously? Razor Leaf for 40 damage? I mean, it’s a decent attacking move, but you lose Rowlets effect and attack with the Ability to damage benched Pokémon. Dartrix has nothing to them but their attack, but plenty of Basic Pokémon fare better.
While it is worth it to wait for Decidueye, the likelihood of your Pokémon dying raises with each turn. It would have been nice if Dartrix had something to them other than one attack. It’s best to move right past Rowlets teenage years straight to adulthood as fast as possible.
4. Alakazam Star 99/100 (EX Crystal Guardians)
By no means the worst Star card, you need to constantly ask yourself why THIS Star card and not another. Since you can only add one Star card to your deck, you need to consider how Alakazam Star specifically synergizes with your deck and your strategy.
Alakazam Star has many uses and can be used wisely. Since they’re a Basic card, you can put them out with Psychic Energy and Double Colorless Energy within two turns without trainer cards. Or, just put a Psychic Energy on them when they’re your active Pokémon.
When you use Psychic Select, you can put a discarded card into your hand. If that card is a Basic or Evolution card, you can discard it and then use that card’s skill as long as you have the energy necessary to use this attack. When used correctly, you could turn the attacks Alakazam Star into a powerhouse without evolving any Pokémon.
On the other hand, you could just use their skill to place other cards back in your hand for another strategy. Although it wastes a turn, you may need to use this attack in a pinch. Unfortunately, there are a few problems with Alakazam Star.
For this card to be used to the best of its abilities, you need to have cards that use the same type of energy as Alakazam Star. You also need to discard the card for Alakazam Star to attack. Unless you have no other way of getting basic cards back from your discard pile, it’s better to evolve your Pokémon and use them rather than rely on Alakazam Star to do it.
If you don’t have cards in your hand to use for the Skill Copy effect, you’ll have to waste a turn getting one out of the discard pile. If Alakazam Star faints in that time, the card is gone unless you have a Trainer card or Pokémon card that also places cards in the discard pile in your hand.
The combination of Psychic Select and Skill Copy make for a cool, interesting gimmick, but its usefulness is immediately thwarted by other Shiny Cards or even other Shiny Star cards.
3. Noibat SV43/SV94 and Noivern GX SV78/SV94 (Hidden Fates)
Noibat is a cute Pokémon, there’s no denying that, but their mascot status can sometimes work against them. Since Noibat isn’t strong in video games until evolving to Noivern, the card suffers the same fate. With 50 HP and only one attack, Agility, you need to be careful.
Agility only does 10 damage and has a coin flip effect. If you do manage to get heads, you prevent all effects of attacks, including damage, done to Noibat during your opponent’s next turn. However, it’s a bad idea to rely on coin flips to save you unless you absolutely have to.
If you keep Noibat benched and evolve them to Noivern GX SV78/SV94, you may find the little bat worth the trouble. I don’t, because Noivern is difficult to get going compared to other GXs.
Noivern GX has high HP like most other GX Pokémon and powerful attacks, but you need at least 3 turns or luck drawing Trainers to use Sonic Volume or Boomburst. You also have to run a duel-type deck, which is infinitely harder to draw from. In the end, there are better GX cards.
2. Pikachu Star 104/110 (EX Holon Phantoms)
The Pokémon Star Shines of the EX era had many interesting cards with ridiculous effects. Most of these effects revolved around eating Energy and releasing unstoppable attacks that could take down strong EX Pokémon. To make things better, these attacks often required only 2 Energy, which you could get back with a bit of strategy, ability use, and trainer cards.
One of these shiny cards is so rare that it’ll cost you $200 or more to own it.
The Torchic Star Shiny card from the set EX Team Rocket Returns features a very cute Torchic with 70 HP and two attacks: Fireworks 20 (Flip a coin. If tails, discard a Fire Energy card attached to Torchic Star) and Spring Back 20 + (if your opponent has only 1 Prize card left, this attack does 20 damage plus 50 more damage and the Defending Pokémon is Confused).
The gimmick with the star cards is you can only have 1 of them in each deck. Thankfully, there are plenty of them to choose from. Although Torchic is arguably the best because you can get them out quickly to finish the battle, the Treecko Star and Mudkip Star cards are good contenders. If you prefer another first evolution starter, you could always pick Pikachu Star.
Or, maybe you should pass up on it because it’s the worst one of the bunch.
First off, Shiny Pikachu always rubbed me the wrong way because they barely look different from their non-shiny counterparts. Instead of bright yellow, they’re a weird brown, which is more in line with regular Raichu (and Shiny Raichu. This evolutionary line looks awful in Shiny).
Second, this card has no business being worse than Mudkip Star, Torchic Star, and Treecko Star as the EX Holon Phantoms set came out in 2006, 2 years after the release of EX Team Rocket Returns. You’re not going to evolve this Pikachu, as you’d lose its Spring Back attack.
The ultimate sin of this card is that it doesn’t Paralyze the opponent with its Spring Back attack, whereas Torchic, Mudkip, and Treecko all have a status effect attached to theirs. While it’s true Thundershock can Paralyze opponents; you’ll need to use an extra turn to do it. You’ll probably bring this baby out to do major damage on an EX wall, so you can’t waste time on that attack.
If you have to bring one Pokémon in from the Star collection, pass this one up.
1. Gyarados Star 102/110 (EX Holon Phantoms)
While on the topic of Star cards, let’s talk about the other gimmick of discarding all the Energy from a Pokémon. Many of the Star cards, especially the final evolution ones or Legendary cards, will have an attack that hits for 100-150+ as long as you discard all of its Energy.
For many of these cards, the ends justify the means, but for Gyarados Star, it doesn’t.
Its strong attack, All-out Blast, requires you to discard cards from the top of your deck until only 1 is left, meaning you’ll lose your next turn regardless unless you also have cards that deck out. The point still stands that unless you have a deck that revolves around him, your risk of losing is so high on your next 2 turns that it isn’t even worth it.
Let’s walk through the absolute madness you’d need to pull off to get Gyarados Star to work:
- In a standard deck, you’ll typically have 20 Energy cards of any color.
- You need to put at least 4 Fire Energy cards on your Gyarados Star to use All-out Blast.
- If you use Spiral Growth, you can possibly find enough Energy cards to put them on your Gyarados Star instead, but you’d need to have at least 4 Fire Energy cards in your discard pile, flip for heads 2-3 times, and only use a fire deck for this to work.
- It’s a toss-up if it’s better to play the slow game with Gyarados Star and keep them on your bench, making them vulnerable to bench attacks or have your opponent kill 1-3 Pokémon who have Fire Energy cards attached to them and pray that you hit heads 4 times in a row or within two turns and hope your card survives. Your opponent could also play a card that discards a card or entire hand, throwing a monkey wrench in your plans.
- Gyarados Stars’ attack does 50 damage, plus 50 damage after you discard from the top of your deck until you have 1 card left. For each Energy card you discard this way, you add 20 more damage to the attack. You’ll need a lot of energy cards in your deck.
- If you use no other Energy cards but the 4 Energy you need for Gyarados Star and you have no Energy cards in your hand, this attack can do a whopping 420 damage. As of writing this, Lapras VMAX 050/202 from the Shield and Sword expansion set has the highest HP in the game at 320, so you could easily kill it with 100 damage leftover.
- As most EX cards have an HP between 200-250, you could kill most high HP Pokémon with this attack with only 5-7 Fire Energy cards in your deck.
- For powerful Pokémon, you’ll use 4 Energy cards for Gyarados Stars’ attack, plus you need to keep 5-7 Energy cards in your deck at all times. That leaves you 9-11 Energy cards (or 5-7 if the Energy cards were discarded due to battle and you use Spiral Growth correctly) for other Pokémon.
- You need to use other Pokémon to win at least 5 prizes in a traditional 6 prizes game, so you’ll have to use your Fire Energy for other Pokémon. The longer the match goes on, the fewer Energy cards you’ll have to work with for Gyarados Stars’ attack.
- You can only run an all-fire deck. If you add any other Energy card types, Spiral Growth is less likely to work. If your opponent has cards that are super effective against fire Pokémon, you could lose before enacting this strategy at all.
On top of getting Gyarados Star out, there’s no guarantee your strategy will work. Unless you’re about to lose the game, you shouldn’t use them at all. In fact, I would argue you should never use them in any deck for the following reasons:
- If your opponent has a weaker Pokémon, it may not be worth the risk as the effect will go through whether they have a way to stop you or not.
- If the attack goes through and your opponent’s Pokémon lives because you either miscalculated the amount of Energy cards in your deck or they stop the attack, you’ll automatically lose the next turn from a deck out.
- Although this card is powerful, they’re only effective on your opponent’s last Pokémon. It’s unwise to use Gyarados Star for any other reason, as their other attack only does 20 damage, making them less effective than many basic Pokémon.
- As a positive, Gyarados Star is a basic Pokémon and can be played without evolving from Magikarp, but you’d only use this card for one win condition. This takes space in your deck you could use for any other card, including Star cards, as you can’t add more than one Star card in your deck at a time.
You might be thinking, “If I’m going to lose anyway, then the risk is worth it” you need to rethink your deck. If you’re constantly put in a position where you’re about to lose, you likely have a deck that isn’t structured well enough to handle strong EX cards.
Although he’s rare, expensive, and hard to find, there are plenty of other Pokémon cards, including Shiny Gyarados cards, that are better and less risky than this one. If you have this card, keep it safe for selling or collection purposes, but keep it out of your deck.
Question: What is the ugliest shiny Pokémon?
Answer: Most people consider ‘ugly shinies’ as shinies that either don’t look that different from their original colors or are colored with a shade that doesn’t suit the Pokémon. Scyther, Phanpy, Bidoof, Beartic, Elekid, and Glaceon are some examples that look almost the same as their original coloring. Jigglypuff, Dragonite, Lucario, and Bruxish are often ranked as the ugliest.
Question: What is the rarest shiny card?
Answer: One of the most sought-after shiny cards is the Shiny Charizard VMAX card, which features Black Charizard. Black Charizard is a fan favorite, so it’s no surprise this card commands high prices on eBay. Shiny Suicune, Shiny Eternatus VMAX, Shiny Inteleon, Shiny Ditto VMAX, Shiny Galadian Rapidash, and Shiny Eternatus V are also extremely rare.
Question: Why do people hate green shinies?
Answer: Green is typically seen as lazy and unimaginative by most Pokémon fans. Groudon and Lucario have no reason to be green based on their typing or environment. Sometimes, using green as a color doesn’t make sense. Although Dragonite is a dragon, and most dragons are green, it would make more sense to make Dragonite blue to catch Dratini and Dragonair.
Question: Is it hard to pull shiny cards in TCG?
Answer: Yes. Most shiny cards have a low pull rate to match their rarity in the games. Many shiny cards are exclusively used as promo cards or collectibles and aren’t usable in the game. You probably wouldn’t want to use collectible cards anyway because they command outrageous prices at auction. Gyarados Star, for example, can cost you $400 or more.
Just because you pulled a shiny from your Pokémon TCG pack, it doesn’t mean you’ve struck gold. Some cards are better than others for competitive play, that’s just the name of the game, but at least when you find a shiny card in the wild you can sell it off for a mighty profit.
A word of advice: Most shiny cards are either unusable in competitive play or are so expensive that they shouldn’t be used at all. Whenever you pull a shiny from a pack, check online to see if a card that’s useless in the actual game sells for a pretty penny. You may come across a hard-to-find collector’s item that could help you pay for groceries, rent, or other necessities.