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Jack Stensrud

To Protect the Format From Devastation: How TPCI's Trump Card Changes Everything

Jack Stensrud goes through all the ways that the ban of Lysandre's Trump Card changes the format.

06/02/2015 by Jack Stensrud

Hello again, 60Cards! Since I wrote my last article, a piece of massive news broke on the Pokemon website. Lysandre's Trump Card, one of the most format-defining cards of this year, has been banned from tournament play, effective June 15th (June 20th in Japan). This ban changes the way that the game will be played fundamentally in this format, and significantly shakes up the meta. In this article, I'm going to go in-depth on how the format and the game changes without Trump Card in the cardpool, and why I think this change makes sense for the overall health of competitive play.

Why did they do it?

According to the news story the Pokemon released, Lysandre's Trump Card has been banned for four reasons (Quotes taken from the Pokemon website.) 

  • Eliminates one of your opponent’s victory conditions (running out of cards in your deck)
  • Allows repeated use of powerful Trainer cards
  • Allows drawing through your deck quickly with minimal repercussions
  • Extends the time of battles

These changes make sense to me, as Trump Card is played in nearly every deck in the format, and promotes gameplay strategies that are considered poor play to some.

How Will the Format Change?

Knee-Jerk Reactions

Lysandre's Trump Card has only been in the format for three sets, but already, I'm having a hard time remembering a format without it. At first glance, this card being suddenly out of the cardpool means a few things for the format. On the whole, decks will have to adapt to not being able to use a Trump Card when they need to get resources back, and will have to work much harder on when to drop cards that draw massive amounts, like Colress with Sky Field getting 12+ cards, and Sycamore taking seven cards out of your deck. Fundamentally, this slows down the pace of the game by a considerable margin. "Turbo" decks, which were very popular at Regionals last weekend, will need to pare down on straight draw, as decking out is now a very real possibility. Decks like Seismitoad EX will have to manage resources much more minutely, creating interesting situations where a player will have to choose between keeping a hand with one good card in it, instead of just playing Professor Sycamore/Juniper without a second thought. The loss of Trump Card also makes decks that rely on having cards in the discard, such as Night March and Flareon, much more powerful. All things considered, this change makes resource control a much more important aspect of the game.

Overall, this change:

  • Makes decking out a very real situation, that can't be shrugged off anymore
  • Makes "Turbo" decks much less powerful, forcing them to play more conservatively to avoid decking out
  • Gives decks that were countered by Trump Card an edge
  • Makes 3-5 minute turns that were dominated by Shaymin Ex, Trainer's Mail, Acro Bike, and Professor Sycamore to draw almost a player's entire deck much less likely, which leads to the game being slowed down significantly for most of the decks in format
  • Makes resource control much more vital to the outcome of the game, which could raise the skill ceiling of the game (more tough decisions=better players making less misplays)
  • I'm not sure if these changes are good for the format or not, but at first glance, I like the idea of it. Now, let's move on to how individual decks are affected by this change.




Colorless Rayquaza EX

I haven't done a massive amount of testing with this archetype, but I think that this list is really solid for the next format. I play a few more supporters than most, with T1 240 going second not being my primary objective anymore. Exeggcute is still a fantastic option, and the ability to play one Exeggutor, with Double Colorless energy to use Stomp on Pokemon with Safeguard is a neat trick, as is Blockade if you're in a pinch and you need your opponent to not play a Supporter. One of the cards that also stands out from my list is the 2-2 Altaria line, which is unusually thick compared to most of the lists I've seen from other players. I included such a heavy line mainly because of Joltik and Raichu, with Night March getting a significant boost in hype, and with Raichu being all over the place in last weekend's Regionals. Altaria isn't a perfect fix, but it's better than just taking the bad matchups for it.


Dragon Rayquaza EX

Dragon Ray is the deck that I've tested the most in the new format, and I've put a fair amount of thought into the deck. I'm not 100% sure how much the new changes matter to it, although players will absolutely have to play more conservatively with it, making a Dragon Ascent on Turn 2 much more easy to backfire, and highlighting the deck's problems with consistently chaining attackers. Discarding Double Dragon energies will now be a much tougher call, and without Trump Card as a strategy to fall back on, the deck could suffer. Even so, I still think the deck is absolutely a contender for the top tier of the metagame.


Night March

I already wrote a considerable amount about Night March in my last article, but the ban of Lysandre's Trump Card gives this deck a massive boost. It already boasts a great Colorless Rayquaza matchup, and its worst matchup (Toad) has to play a completely different game, as well as losing its biggest counter. Another card that has already started to be thrown around as a potential addition to the deck is Bunnelby PRC, which has Ω Barrage, lets you shuffle two cards from your discard pile to your deck, but I couldn't find space for it. Mega Latios is still a pain, as it forces you to be more conservative with Mew and Shaymin EX, but overall, this deck emerges from the new format with a clear advantage.



I don't have a gigantic amount of experience with Flareon, but it seems like a relatively straightforward deck to play. The ban definitely suits this deck, as it can now rest easy, knowing that if it has two Flareons set up, it will almost certainly be able to Vengeance twice, probably for a 4-prize swing. Decking out and blowing DCE's could be a problem, however, so players will definitely have to watch out for that.


Seismitoad EX


There are two Seismitoad EX-based decks that I think can still have a future in a Trump Card-less format, but I think that a few other archetypes of the Toad are done for. Seismitoad/Garbodor is a strong deck still, since Abilities are still very prevalent in the ROS format. Just for kicks, let's look at some of the most popular ones.

  • Set Up
  • Bide Barricade
  • Turboblaze
  • Dragon Road
  • Propagate
  • Fairy Transfer
  • Poison Barrier
  • Forest's Curse
  • Versatile
  • Safeguard
  • Mighty Shield
  • Stellar Guidance
  • Sneaky/Surprise Bite


These are in no way the entirety of Abilities that are competitively used, but I couldn't keep listing them, because this article would go on forever. The point is, Garbodor is still an extremely strong card, and should be taken seriously.

The other Toad deck that I can mainly see being viable, Toad/Crawdaunt, is fundamentally different, but still very similar. Crawdaunt provides the locking aspect of the deck by forcing energy off the board, which is now impossible to Trump Card back in. Crushing Hammer, Team Flare Grunt, and Xerosic make it very hard for Pokemon that require more than one energy to get any attacks off. Overall, these decks are both hurt the least out of the considerable amount of Seismitoad archetypes, but they still do suffer from it. Toad is much less of an autopilot deck now, requiring much more judgement calls (such as keeping a Crushing Hammer in hand, or using Sycamore to see if you can draw something else) and skillful decisions. As I said before, this raises the skill ceiling of the game, and puts more emphasis on testing and experience.


I don't really test the Expanded format all that much, since it won't be played at Worlds and I'm unable to go to Nationals, but the main thing that players are hyping right now is Durant NVI. Durant has a really solid amount of options going for it now that Trump Card isn't an option, but I think that it is still absolutely possible to beat. Durant can have some trouble against attackers that can repeatedly swing for OHKO's on Durant. If push comes to shove, a player could even tech a Heatmor DEX or two if they really want to beat it, but I don't think that will be entirely necessary. Even so, here's a list on Durant in the Expanded format. I haven't tested it in the slightest, and I wouldn't say it's optimal, but it'll be a decent starting point.

So what does this all mean?

As I've been writing this article, many players are coming up with strategies for this new format, and pretty much every social media platform that I use that has a Pokemon group is blowing up with the news. This change is massive, and it really shakes up the format. As I said earlier, I think that this format is much more skill-based now, since players have to play much more strategically with resources (especially Ace Specs, since you only get one, and you can't Trump it back) and have to keep decking out in mind. Overall, I think these changes are positive for the health of the game, (even more so if you look at the cards coming out in the next set, but I won't go there) and I can't wait to see how the metagame shakes out for it!

Thanks for reading!
-Jack Stensrud

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