I grew up loving Pokémon cards. Though I was never an avid player of the trading card game itself, I spent a large percentage of my allowance on starter kits, theme decks, and booster packs. Though I stopped after the base set was retired and eventually sold all of mine off, thinking they would never hold value over the years (the real money's in the 10,000 baseball cards in my basement, right?!), I've since longed to rebuild my old collection from the ground up.

Unfortunately, authentic cards from the base set have skyrocketed in value, meaning that if I want my old Charizard back, I had better prepare to pay out the nose for it. I wrote off my desire to rebuild my collection as something that would never happen unless I strike it rich, but when the Pokémon TCG announced that it would be celebrating the series' 20th anniversary with a new retro-facing expansion that enhanced and reissued a big chunk of the base set cards, I was immediately sold.

Before the aforementioned XY – Evolutions expansion released in the States, I decided to get a headstart on my new collection. I read that the Pokémon TCG: Generations expansion focused heavily on the original 151 monsters, so I bought more cards than I should have.

I purchased all four EX boxes starring Pikachu, Blastoise, Charizard, and Venusaur, which each had four booster packs, plus a special EX card devoted to that box's respective mascot, plus I picked up the Elite Trainer Box, which had 10 booster packs plus a ton of energy cards. When the XY – Evolutions expansion hit, I went all-in. I bought both decks (Pikachu Power and Mewtwo Mayhem) and grabbed a box of 36 booster packs. In addition, we were sent 12 booster packs of the XY – Evolutions expansion, and I bought a few more on my own. 

Believe it or not, it took a really long time to open 100 booster packs. Adding to the tedium was the inevitable number of duplicates I started getting in the latter portion of the journey. Regardless, it's always thrilling to open a booster pack and get an awesome pull; revealing a Charizard that resembled the one I foolishly sold in my youth made it all worthwhile. As a former collector of the base set, it threw me a bit to find shiny cards of Pokémon like Ponyta and Metapod, while in that same pack, pulling a non-holographic Mewtwo (I think the holographic Mewtwo cards are exclusive to the Mewtwo Mayhem deck). Either way, I enjoyed the trip down memory lane through this deep exploration of these two nostalgia-driven expansions, and now that I'm all the way through Pokémon Sun and Moon, I'm looking forward to the Alola-centric expansion in February.

Check out the best cards I pulled from the Generations and XY – Evolutions expansions below and on subsequent pages.

On the next page, we look at even more of the coolest Pokémon cards we pulled from our packs and decks.