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Kevin Kobayashi


Kevin Kobayashi takes an extensive look at Evolutions, rating some of his favorites and potential plays from the set. He’s got you covered on all the things you’ll need to know to prepare for the updated metagame featuring Evolutions.

11/11/2016 by Kevin Kobayashi

Looking towards Evolutions

Hello all, and welcome to another article. Today I will be talking about the latest TCG set, Evolutions. This set was released on November 2nd, and has immediately impacted the format upon release. I have gone through the set list multiple times. There are quite a few strong playable cards, but no archetypes that seem to come out of the set. Some cards are not blatantly playable, and require enlightenment before you can fully understand the power that they truly possess. This set includes a number of BREAK evolution cards, brand new EX Pokemon, and many reprints from the base set with updated HP and attacks. We also get a couple of reprints and a few new Mega Pokemon. Overall, this is an exciting set that offers a great amount of nostalgia for collectors and playability for competitive players.

Evolutions Set List 

Beedrill- Stage 2 low HP grass attacker requiring 2 energy to attack seems fairly average, but factoring in grass support (Forest of Giant Plants, Ariados) , there is a portion of playability that could make Beedrill competitive. The highlight of the deck would be setting up 4 stage 2’s to snipe for 160 damage, but even at that point you are likely too far behind to do anything. 160 damage is quite low, but you also have Ariados to poison the active, which increases the deck’s damage output by a small margin. When built with a ton of recovery cards, it may be able to streamline Beedrill from turn 2 to the end of the game, but we’ll have to see who is able to figure out how to set up before being run over. I suppose that you could try Mr. Mime to protect your bench, but there are ways around it. Although Beedrill is lacking raw speed and damage output, it has a niche snipe attack and strong grass support to keep it from simply being binder fodder. Rate-6/10

Charizard- The nostalgia is overwhelming. I was never able to open a Charizard in the Base set, but I hope to crack one in Evolutions. The card is unfortunately not very playable due to its huge energy requirement, but I do think that it will be worth a substantial amount. What Charizard lacks in playability it makes up for in nostalgia factor + monetary value, and those two things should have you looking for as many as you can get your hands on. Rate-6/10

Ninetails- Ninetails “Abduct” is a lure gimmick that traps the opponent’s Pokemon of your choice active. The next turn, it cannot retreat. Attacks like this have been historically strong. I think a good partner is Vileplume AOR, giving you a ton of control over the game and denying Switch, Float Stone, or Escape Rope- all ways to escape the lock. Decks are beginning to play Olympia, but you will be able to survive multiple Olympia if you pair Ninetails with Vileplume. I think a deck like this could even attack with Ninetails itself, despite the attack being fairly lackluster (120 for 3) and it would be enough, provided that you get board control through other disruption cards. I see a lot of playability and potential in Ninetails. Rate- 7/10

Ninetails BREAK- Adding to the havoc of retreat lock, you get a BREAK evolution that increases HP and gives Ninetails an even stronger attack. Not too much stronger, but it’s an attack without a damage cap. Assuming you pair with disruption or trainer lock (perhaps both) you will almost certainly have enough time to attach an energy per turn without falling behind. In most cases I would assume that you come out ahead in the energy attachment game. It requires a certain type of deck to see success, and only works really thanks to the lure Ninetails. Rate-7/10

Starmie- While nothing particular comes to mind when I look at this card, the ability is something that this card game has missed for quite some time, and with more cards being released, I see Starmie eventually making its way into the metagame in some way. The cost of discarding 1 to gain 2 is always good, and with something that discards energy to attack or for some sort of advantage, Starmie will be the gear that keeps certain decks running. I rate Starmie a 5/10 in the current metagame, but can see it becoming much stronger, perhaps a staple if it can find the proper partner(s). Volcanion comes to mind. Rate- 5/10

Starmie BREAK- It’s strange to me that they decided to give such a strong attack to a Pokemon like Starmie, especially considering what the regular Starmie in the set does. 100 to each opponent’s BREAK for one energy is quite powerful, and you can certainly get value out of the card if you’re able to attack consecutively or if your opponent overextends with 2 or more BREAK evolutions in play. Rate- 8/10

Electrode- It would be interesting to see this card come into contention after the last playable Electrode (in the HGSS block) was able to establish itself as one of the kings of the city metagame. I believe that was in 2011-2012, and CaKe, a turbo basic deck, used Electrode to power up big attackers while pitching prizes to the opponent. The deck was so strong that despite giving multiple prizes up to the opponent, it would still win in dominating fashion. I don’t think that this Electrode is as strong due to the natural lightning clause required, but the ability is something to consider when deck building and I think that alone makes the card strong enough to see play. Lightning attackers aren’t too prevalent in today’s metagame, but they certainly will be in the future where Electrode may see a chance at playability. Look towards strong basic Pokemon like Raikou to take advantage of Electrode’s unique ability. Rate-5/10

Mewtwo- A classic reprint with a nice boost in strength gives this card a shot at playability. First off, it is a basic so it does not clunk the deck with excess evolutions or other requirements. Second, it attacks for a Double Colorless Energy, which makes it extremely splashable. Third, it has excellent typing in Psychic, hitting energy stackers (such as M-Mewtwo) for quite a bit of damage. Fourth, it can use Fighting Fury Belt to great success. With a Fighting Fury Belt, Mewtwo will hit M-Mewtwo EX for 140 damage (assuming that the M-Mewtwo has 2 energy on it, typically the case). The damage only increases per energy attached to the opponent, and you can easily catch an aggressive M-Mewtwo player off guard, surprise dropping this with a DCE for the KO. I really like Mewtwo for this reason alone, but with its splashability it really does prime itself for the current metagame. Rate- 7/10

M-Pidgeot EX- I went through the scans for this set multiple times, but it took me a few glances to even notice Pidgeot at all. Unfortunately, the Pidgeot line suffers from appearing to be playable, but is seemingly too average to really have a shot at doing any damage in the metagame. First of all, the attacks are quite vanilla for the energy costs, and don’t provide any sort of niche mechanic or ability. I mean, I look at it and wonder why you would play it when you could just play M- Rayquaza instead, since it is much stronger, has a delta ability, attacks for the same cost (yet deals almost double the damage), etc. Pidgeot can cyclone things to the bench before attacking, but by the time you attach 3 energy it is simply going to be knocked out, or it will not deal enough damage to be a real threat to your opponent. Since it is a mega, you have to play the clunky mega cards with it or it doesn’t set up fast enough. Overall, I want Pidgeot to work so desperately, but it appears that it lacks in many ways, and is essentially trade bait at best. Rate-4/10

Rattata/Raticate- One of the best lines in the set (Rattata + Raticate). Rattata’s ability allows you to remove the active defending Pokemon’s tool. This is important because there is no reliable way to remove tools in standard. Rattata will be the first card in the format to provide tool removal while also evolving into a threat at any point in the game. Although it only has 60 HP, Raticate is equipped with two devastating attacks. The first attack “Crunch” does 10 damage, but removes an Energy card attached to the defending Pokemon. This highly disruptive attack can win games alone, but Raticate’s alternate attack is even more frightening. “Bite from the Shadows” does 60x the number of special Energy cards in the opponent’s discard pile. 120, 180, and 220 are all magic numbers right now, and give Raticate KO power at most stages of the game. Raticate will provide any deck with a large amount of utility and is certain to see play. Rate- 9/10

Dragonite EX-  Dragonite EX is even stronger than it looks (the Full Art, anyway). Dragonite EX’s ability “Elevation” has a multitude of uses. At first you may this that it is maybe an average recovery card, retrieving discarded Pokemon to evolve. What makes this card incredibly powerful is its ability to retrieve Shaymin EX and Hoopa EX. Many decks target these particular cards, and look to knock them out for cheap prizes. Alternatively, you may have to discard them in a situation where playing them would put you at a disadvantage. Dragonite EX is comparable to Azelf LA in the sense that it provides a unique ability that provides an extreme advantage for only one deck slot. Aside from the ability, the rest of the card is quite average. It is worth noting that the attack costs 4 colorless, which speaks volumes about its malleability in any sort of deck.I will go on to say that I believe that every player should play one Dragonite EX. Rate- 10/10

Closing thoughts: While this set contains less powerful cards than the previous couple of sets, there are still some standouts that must be picked up so that your deck can transition into the latest metagame. The Raticate line will singlehandedly shift the metagame, decks that utilize tools such as Fighting Fury Belt or Bursting Balloon are bound to see less play. Tool removal will create more hostility towards Mega Pokemon as well, but they will continue to see large amounts of play. With the community learning towards M-Gardevoir EX STS, counters are sure to pop up. M-Scizor EX has still not been explored to its true potential, and the lists I see appear premature. I predict that strong Scizor lists will begin to pop up just in time for League cups (the new city championships). I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ninetails/Vileplume, Raikou/Electrode or even Beedrill take a couple of these tournaments.This metagame is certainly wide open, and players have a lot to explore before we can make any lasting conclusions.

Once again, I want to thank Martin for being so generous to host all of my thoughts on his website. has such a great group of writers and I am honored to be on the team. I also want to say thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read this article. I promise to improve my writing skills and continue to produce premium content. Take care, and I hope to write again soon! 

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