15 Notable Cards from Steam Siege
It's a little late (but at least it's before Worlds :) ) - here's my thoughts on 15 cards which are worth looking out for from Steam Siege.
08/18/2016 by Miner751
Hi all and welcome to another edition of 15 Notable Cards, this time for Steam Siege. The highlight for this set is the reintroduction of dual type Pokémon. Personally, I liked the older designs for dual types, but the new style will probably grow on me (the reverse holos are pretty cool). It’s a bit hard to say what sort of an impact this set will have on the metagame as not long after it becomes Standard legal, a rotation will occur, and that will have some major implications. The bottom line that people don’t want to hear, though, is that Night March gets more tools to play with in this set.
This article is split into two. The first section covers 15 Notable Cards from Steam Siege – so 15 cards to look out for due to having a good Ability and/or a nice attack. Basically, something that makes them stand out and likely to see play because of it.
The second section is my opinion for the best 5 cards from this set. They are taken from the 15 Notable Cards (since it would be kind of odd for the best cards not to be deemed “notable”).
Note that I won’t be talking about reprints since I want to highlight what is new coming into Standard.
Pokémon that can attack for free (or for a single Energy) are always worth looking out for since it means you can build a deck with less Energies than normal, hence allowing more room for tech or consistency cards. Having said that, I would advise against building a straight Yanmega deck without any Energies or other attackers. Firstly, there are too many ways for Abilities to be shut off (e.g Garbodor, Hex Maniac and Greninja BKP) and, secondly, Yanmega’s attacks aren’t great.
Don’t get me wrong, attacking for nothing is great, but only doing 50 damage per turn isn’t going to cut it (unless a powerful effect like Item lock is tagged on too). 120 damage is good, but it is fairly easy for your opponent to play around since they can choose not to play the Pokémon Tool (unless it’s a Spirit Link). Until Phantom Forces rotates, you can use the Team Flare Hyper Gear to attach to your opponent’s EX. Not only will it be a nuisance to them, but it gives you the additional damage too.
Yanmega receives a Break in this set too. As well as providing a hearty 140HP, it comes with another attack. Not applying Weakness is a bit of a shame, but you can’t really argue with dealing 100 damage irrespective of any of your opponent’s Pokémon’s effects (e.g Glaceon EX). Note that you can still buff up the damage with Muscle Band since that is an effect on Yanmega.
Being a Grass type means that Yanmega cannot be Poisoned by Ariados’ Ability, which may become a popular partner for Yanmega after Muscle Band rotates. Yanmega can be accelerated into play through Forest of Giant Plants too, which is nice. You could also try Shrine of Memories if you wanted to use Yanma’s attacks… but this Yanma doesn’t offer much (it’d be much better if it 40 snipe instead of 40 to the Active).
Overall, Yanmega’s a pretty solid card and should see some play. I doubt it’ll see the same level of play as its predecessor Yanmega Prime (HGSS: Triumphant) did since the new one lacks a snipe attack, but Sonic Vision is much easier to activate since it doesn’t really on your opponent’s hand. Also like Yanmega Prime, I can’t see the new Yanmega having a standalone deck, but it should make a good secondary attacker for some deck(s) (maybe Vespiquen, Raichu and/or Zoroark for the good old Stage 1 rush goodness).
As seen with VespiPlume decks, it’s quite possible to get a Stage 2 Grass Pokémon into play on the first turn, which is what you want so you can set up the lock early and hold onto it (if need be). Removing the effects of Pokémon Tools and Stadiums isn’t as strong as Item lock (Seismitoad EX) or Ability lock (Greninja BKP), but it does have some perks. With regards to Stadiums, you can stop an opposing Grass deck from using your Forest of Giant Plants, you can stop Water and/or Electric decks from healing with Rough Seas and you can mess with Psychic decks who rely on Dimension Valley to attack cheaply. In terms of Pokémon Tools, you can stop the +40HP gain from Fighting Fury Belt (and possibly score a KO) and render Float Stones and Spirit Links useless, which will put the spanner in the works for a number of decks.
Unfortunately the damage output of 40 is a bit low, although that’s to be expected for a single Energy attack. The Grass/Dark typing is quite relevant though. Greninja, Trevenant, Pumpkaboo and Seismitoad EX are all weak to Grass or Dark. Now it probably won’t be a Night March counter since it’s a Stage 2, but at least it can KO a Night Marcher with each attack (since it will shut down FFB). Another fun thing is that effects of an attack (i.e. removing effects of tools) occur before effects like Bursting Balloon, so you can attack Trevenant players without fear of taking damage.
The second attack is reasonable and the extra damage can be easily obtained with Judge. Although, having to attach a second Energy to Shiftry, or including DCEs in the list, seems cumbersome. I’m not sure if Shiftry will see play, but it is something to look out for.
The star of the set does not disappoint. Whilst Fire/Water is a nice typing, it’s not overly relevant at the moment in combat, aside for the mirror. You do get access to the Fire and Water support, though, like Blacksmith and Dive Ball. 130 damage is a fine number as it’ll KO most non-EXes (as well as Shaymin EXes). The side effect can easily be negated by Float Stone, Switch, etc.
If that was all Volcanion EX did, it’d be a reasonable EX that might make its way into the aggressive Blacksmith and Max Elixir powered Fire decks that utilise Flareon EX, Entei and/or Charizard EX. What makes it extremely playable though is its Ability. Doing +30 damage by discarding a Fire Energy is ridiculous. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s like they put Greninja XY’s Ability on a Basic! Not only will Basic Fire Pokémon be able to hit for higher amounts of damage, but Pokémon with a low damage output with a strong effect can hit for good damage now.
A good example of this is the non-EX Volcanion which, for a single Fire Energy, does 20 damage and attaches a Fire Energy from you’re your Discard Pile to up to 2 Benched Pokémon. A productive turn 1 (going second) would be to have this Volcanion Active with a Fire Energy attached, two Volcanion EXes on the Bench and 2 Fire Energies in hand to be discarded with the Volcanion EXes. Volcanion will hit for 80 whilst energising the Benched Volcanion EXes (or another worthwhile attacker). Is it just me, or does this sound kind of similar to VirGen. I mean, we have an accelerator, the ability to hit for solid damage, as well as the ability to hit high numbers too, if need be. Either way, Volcanion EX is Pokémon which should see play.
Double Colourless Energy, Strong Energy, Mystery Energy, Rainbow Energy, Flash Energy… you get the idea – we have a hell of a lot of Special Energies at the moment. We also have a large number of Mega Pokémon too. Some don’t really need a Stage 1 to accelerate (Special) Energies to them due to cheap attacking costs or having Mega Turbo for acceleration, but then there are others like M Steelix EX who would love some acceleration. Being both Steel and Ground types means that M Steelix can utilise Shield Energies for extra bulk (and survive a full power Emerald Break from the Colourless M Rayquaza EX) and Strong Energy for extra damage (and KO EXes).
As seen by Blastoise BCR and Bronzong PHF, Energy acceleration is powerful. The main problem with Clawitzer, and likely the reason why it probably won’t see much play is that it’s hard getting Special Energies into your hand. It’s not like you can play Energy Retrieval or Professor’s letter to put 2 in your hand from your Discard Pile or deck. You have to manually draw into them. Or, alternatively, you can play Teammates or two Puzzle of Times, but neither is easily repeatable. On the positive side, this set came with Special Charge, so you can replenish your deck with Special Energies from your Discard Pile, and improve your odds of having multiple Special Energies in hand.
For the decks that want to use Clawitzer, I can’t see them having any more than one on the field at the time, since it’ll be unlikely that you’ll have more than 2 Energies in hand. With this in mind, Clawitzer may find its way into some Mega decks as a 1-1 tech.
When Galvantula was first released in the Japanese equivalent of Steam Siege, I was excited since playing it with Flareon, Vaporeon and Wide Lens would lead to some fun shenanigans. But then I found out it did apply Weakness! Now it might actually be playable against the right meta (preferable one with a limited number of EXes, and with most Pokémon weak to Lightning, Grass, Fire or Water). Funnily enough, when I was up to writing about Galvantula, TPCi announced an errata for it. When I saw the link, I was like “please still apply Weakness and Resistance. Please still apply Weakness and Resistance.” Fortunately it does, but it is no longer able to hit the Active with Double Thread, which is a bit of a bummer.
So why is Double Thread good? 1 Energy for 60 is a pretty good rate, but 1 for 120 is amazing (taking into account Weakness). Lightning/Grass is already a good typing as it’ll hit most Pokémon in the Waterbox deck, as well as Shaymin EX, Bats, Yveltals and Greninjas for Weakness. Knocking off 2 Shaymin Exes across two turns is nothing to be scoffed at. Add in Fire and Water typing from Flareon and Vaporeon AOR, and you can hit Vespiquen, Bronzongs and Volcaronas. Not to mention that it can prey on 30HP Joltiks.
3 (Weakness applied) attacks to knock off 2 EXes isn’t too bad of an exchange, but 3 attacks to knock out a baby Yveltal is not particularly efficient. On the other hand, against decks with evolutions like Bronzong, Vespiquen or Crobat, you could potentially stop them from ever getting the evolutions into play by repeatedly knocking out the little Basics. In effect, it’s like Chandelure NVI or, more recently, Greninja Break.
Galvantula also combos well with Target Whistle and Captivating Pokepuff, which force Basics onto the field, as well as Ariados which can put a bit of pressure on your opponent’s Active (since you won’t be damaging it otherwise). In the right meta, Galvantula could see play as a star of a deck. However, it will more likely to see play as a tech since it relies heavily on your opponent’s Pokémon's Weakness. Possible decks are Night March (it already has Joltik) or Vespiquen.
The presence of Ariados AOR is what makes Toxicroak a plausible play. Ariados Poisons both Active Pokémon (excluding Grass… but that’s only a tiny part of the meta), and this Ability can be used every turn – so you’ll always have a means to cause Poison. In order to handle the Poison on Toxicroak, you can play Chaos Tower or Sparkling Robe. Using a switching card like Float Stone to switch into a Benched Toxicroak also works. There’s also Toxicroak’s attack, but it’s unreliable.
Team Aqua’s Secret Base or Dragalge FLF can be used to try and lock the opponent’s Active in that position. Vileplume would be a double-edged sword in that it can stop the opponent from finding/using solutions to the Poison, but it also makes you deck clunky and will likely be detrimental to you if you bring it out too early.
With access to Fighting support like Strong Energy and Regirock EX, Toxicroak can knock out your opponent’s Pokémon with decent speed. Focus Sash might be handy if you knock out their Active going into their turn (i.e. their new Active won’t be Poisoned and so can attack you), or if they play something like Hex Maniac.
Another option for attacking is to use Shrine of Memories and Croakgunk’s attack. Croakgunk makes the Poison currently afflicting the Defending Pokémon place X+3 damage counters, where X is the amount of damage counters that the Poison is currently placing. Assuming your opponent doesn’t remove the Poison condition, you can deal 40+40+70+70 = 220 damage going back into your turn. Enough to KO a Mega, whilst also ensuring that your opponent can’t damage you since they’ll always be Poisoned during their turn.
Plasma Masquerain didn’t see play, nor did Tool Retriever, which means that it is quite likely that Weaville won’t see play either. Having said that, it is a nice Ability. A Weaville and a Float Stone is all you need to be able to retreat any of your Pokémon for free. You can ‘reuse’ Spirit Links whilst also getting the option to attach something like a Muscle Band to the Mega Pokémon. Head Ringers would no longer be a problem since they would get discarded when you try to return them to your hand. There’s a few other quirks like attaching Tools to whoever you want before playing a Shaymin EX or Sycamore. The uses are there, but whether they are worth dedicating at least 2 deck spaces is another story.
M Gardevoir EX
In a nut shell, M Gardevoir EX is a cheap heavy-hitter when Dimension Valley is in play. The fact that it can attack for a single Energy this way means that it can readily use Max Potion without the need for Aromatisse XY to move the Energies off first. I suppose you could play Aromatisse if you really wanted to, but trying to conserve an Energy doesn’t feel worth it, especially not when you have access to Mega Turbo too.
Dual typing is nice, but its types aren’t really relevant at the moment. The night marching Pumpkaboo has done its job of scaring away Psychic type Pokémon, whilst Pokémon Ranger will likely reduce the popularity of Giratina EX. Fortunately, Despair Ray does enough to KO a Shaymin EX, thus opening up the Target Whistle + Lysandre combo.
Being able to bump up Despair Ray’s damage when appropriate is pretty neat. Unless we get a reincarnate of Exeggcute PLF in Standard, it’ll be too hard to hit for high numbers each turn. Having said that, being able to discard benchwarmers like Shaymin EX so your opponent can’t take a sneaky 2 Prizes is invaluable.
Mega Pokémon (or, more appropriately, Colourless M Rayquaza EX) are speculated to become dominant post rotation. If this is the case, dedicating at least one spot to Klefki will be a common thing to see. Being able to avoid damage from your opponent for one turn - whether that be by giving you more time to set up or another turn of damage to them - might be all you need to win the game. If you have Klefki + Revives + one Pokémon on field, you will be able to completely wall your opponent’s Megas.
Klefki might see play in Vespiquen decks too as it is another Pokémon that can discard itself (like Unown AOR).
No need for M Gardevoir EX PCR now in Fairy decks – Xerneas can handle it all! Whilst Xearneas Break does 20x rather than M Gardy’s 30x, Xerneas counts all types of Energies – not just Fairy Energies. Not being an EX and being able to hold a non-Spirit Link Pokémon Tool are extra pluses.
Will Xerneas Break become a deck? Maybe, but any deck that plays Xerneas XY (reprinted in Steam Siege) will want to have at least one copy of the Break since it turns Xerneas into an actual threat (if there are enough Energies on your field). The Rainbow Road Xerneas might not care about the Break since Rainbow Road will likely hit for more damage than Life Stream.
A unique Ability, an attack that is good for setting up and doesn’t require a particular type of Energy, and has free Retreat. If it weren’t for the Ability, it definitely wouldn’t see any play. Unfortunately, even with it, it probably won’t see any play. If you have 4 copies of it in your deck, you have about a 40% of having one in your opening seven hands (note that you can’t put it Active if you drew it off a mulligan). Playing one copy gives you a little over 11% chance. Four copies in your deck is a waste if space, especially after Battle Compressor rotates so you can’t get rid of your numerous ‘dead’ Talonflames. Playing one doesn’t seem too bad since it’ll be useful in one in 10 games or so, and having one dead card isn’t the end of the world (albeit not ideal). Odds aside, you also need to consider whether you actually want to use it.
As far as free Retreaters go, you’re probably better off using Mew FCO, Hawlucha FFI, Jolteon EX or even Dunsparce. The attack is very good for setting up, however, it’s a little too slow for the current format. Why would you want to spend a turn getting a couple of cards when, 1) you could probably draw into them already and 2) you could be attacking for a KO on the first turn. Not to mention that you risk losing the cards you searched for to an N. Talonflame could work if you come against an Item lock deck like Trevenant or Toad since then you’ll be able get what you need to, not only stay in the game, but build up your board position too.
Ultimately, it’s probably fitting Greedy Die for the ‘novelty’ spot in some decks. Having said that, it wouldn’t surprise me to see someone do well at some point in the future with a one-of Talonflame (especially if the format slows down).
After seeing the Greninja/Talonflame decks at Worlds, I realised that my odds of calculating the chance of starting with Talonflame weren't totally accurate - I didn't take into account the chance of mulligans.
If you have 4 Talonflames and 3 other Basics (e.g. Froakie), then you actutally have a 66.5% chance of starting with Talonflame... which is actually quite respectable.
I view this card a lot like Ghetsis – it received a lot of hype/love, but really it’s quite hit and miss. The point of Ghetsis was to get rid of your opponent’s in-hand Items, so they wouldn’t be able to do much on the following turn (the drawing cards bit was a nice bonus). However, quite often (well, for me anyway), my opponent would have a Supporter or a Shaymin and thus have a way out of what was (ideally) supposed to be a dead hand. The real awkward scenarios are the ones where you would have been better off playing Mom’s Kindness (not that it was the same format as Ghetsis, but it does go to show just how bad Ghetsis can be sometimes). Captivating Pokepuff is in a similar boat.
If you’re lucky, you’ll pull down a Pokémon with a “When you play this Pokémon onto your Bench” Ability, denying the opponent from using that Ability, or you could drag out any Pokémon that the opponent doesn’t want to see on the Bench (e.g. YZG vs RayMin – the YZG player would not want to see a Yveltal EX hit the field because it’s an easy 2 Prizes, and doesn’t do much in this matchup). If you’re unlucky, you’ll get a free scout of the opponent’s hand which, while interesting, isn’t particularly useful (if it were, Hand Scope would have seen some play).
Some rulings about Pokepuff which are worth knowing: you can choose not to place any Basic Pokémon down if there are any, you can play it while your opponent’s Bench is full (but you won’t be able to play any Basic Pokémon down), and you cannot play it if your opponent doesn’t have a hand.
Pokepuff will see play in Night March since players have a tendency to avoid dropping EXex (especially Shaymin) against NM since they are easy Prizes. Zoroark BKT and any other Pokémon that rely on your opponent’s Bench size will be interested in it too since it can act like a PlusPower on steroids. Otherwise, it may see play as a tech option since forcing the opponent to miss a Set Up activation from Shaymin EX is a huge blow.
Open a Shaymin EX which you rather not have started with? Would you rather that Spirit Linked Hoopa EX on your Bench was a Rayquaza EX? Or how about switching that Pumpkaboo over for a Joltik so you can hit that Yveltal for Weakness?
As you can see (and think of), there are many uses for Ninja Boy, a number of which will be some sort of surprise ambush. I’m still undecided whether this will be a bit of a fringe card like Wally, but the power level and the options are there, so it should see a bit more love.
What I’m interested in seeing is if you can have a Reshiram ROS Active, use its Ability, Ninja Boy it out for another Reshiram ROS and use its Ability again. Looking at an older ruling with Swoop! Teleporter and Poke-Powers, you should be able to, however, the question has yet to be answered on pokegym, suggesting that the answer might not be a yes since they are considering it. Either way, there are enough uses for Ninja Boy as is to keep us amused in the meantime. :)
Pokémon Ranger would have been nice to have earlier as a way to handle Seismitoad EX. Just getting one turn of Items is usually enough to get back into the game, even though you can play a draw Supporter in the same turn. Oh well, at least it made it in time for the Toad’s rotation.
Aside for removing the effects of Item lock attacks, it removes other lock effects like Giratina EX’s Chaos Wheel, Shiftry’s Wicked Wind and Greninja’s Shadow Stitching. “Prevent all damage from attacks” effects such as that seen on Jolteon EX, Regice EX and Jirachi. Basically, it’ll remove any effect of an attack that is ‘there’, but isn’t ‘viewable’ like Special Conditions or damage counters.
Note that it removes only existing effects, not ones that may get created later in the turn. Also, if there are no effects in play, it cannot be played as there is no target for the Supporter.
Pokémon Ranger should see play in any deck that struggles against Pokémon effects. Most of the time it’ll be a one-of, but another copy may be required if there are no other ways (e.g. Lysandre) for the deck to get around the effect.
Special Charge is a card which I don’t believe should have be created. Special Energies are meant to be a limited resource, except for certain decks which have an attack (or Ability) which can recycle them (e.g. Plasma Thundurus EX and Carbink Break). Allowing any deck to retrieve them, especially with ease, is just opening the gates for Special Energies to be abused.
Back in the early days of Night March I usually liked my opponent’s playing Lysnadre’s Trump Card against me as it recycled my Double Colourless Energies. Now Night March can get the DCE retrieval effect, without having to re-discard all the Night Marchers. To be fair, Night March can already retrieve DCEs with Puzzle of Time, however, Special Charge comes with the perk of not having to require a second copy to be played at the same time. Sure the DCEs go into the deck, but with all the draw power available, this isn’t much of a hindrance. Special Charge will see its way into some Night March decks, however I have my doubts about it pushing out Puzzle of Time since they are useful for recovering the deck’s other 1-ofs like Target Whistle.
A number of Stage 1s thrive on DCEs too, namely Vespiquen, Zoroark and Raichu. Due to the limit of four DCEs, these Pokémon typically had to rely on alternate attackers and/or some other means of Energy acceleration such as Yveltal XY. Now with Special Charge, they don’t have to worry about DCE issues (unless they’re all prized :P).
Whilst I didn’t talk about it, Special Charge does get back the other Special Energies too; not just DCEs!
1) Pokémon Ranger
2) Volcanion EX
3) Special Charge
Pokémon Ranger gives the bird to Seismitoad EX. That’s good enough for me. :P
The presence of Night March now, and probably M Rayquaza post rotation aren’t the best signs for Volcanion EX, but I think it’s powerful enough that some deck built around Volcanion EX/Volcanion should see play.
Special Charge should see play in Special Energy reliant decks, especially those which rely on DCE to attack.
Maybe I’m overhyping it due to its predecessor Yanmega Prime, but I do believe that Yanmega will see play as a secondary attacker in decks.
In the right meta, Galvantula will be a boss. Otherwise, it does a fine job of sniping Shaymin EXes.
That’s all I have for this time. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. And good luck to those of you going to Worlds. :)
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