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Kenny Wisdom

Frogs and Phantoms

Check out the new article about Seismitoad EX and "Phantom Gate"

09/15/2014 by Kenny Wisdom

Today we'll be covering two topics: Seismitoad EX and how its popularity will affect the upcoming Regional Championship format, and the newly spoiled Phantom Gate set that is sure to have an affect of it's own when it releases stateside in just a few months! Let's start with what is most relevant now, Seismitoad.


If you know me, you've probably figured out that I'm a very big fan of Seismitoad. I love Trainer/Item lock (I've played my fair share of Vileplume UD, Gothitelle BW, and Trevenant in my day), and Seismitoad is perhaps the most aggressive, streamlined Item lock we've seen in the game. The other cards that I mentioned are all Stage Ones or Stage Twos that have to be evolved into and then have some sort of drawback (Vileplume doesn't allow you to play Items, Gothitelle and Trevenant have to be Active for their Abilities to work), while Seismitoad is just another massive HP Basic Pokémon EX. Even Dragonite, the closest analog to Seismitoad we've had in recent times, is a Stage 2 and therefore required significantly more set-up and resources that Seismitoad EX. Seismitoad also has the benefit of being a Water Type, meaning that he has and edge vs the ever popular Landorus EX.


Seismitoad EX isn't all power, though. It certainly has it's downsides. The biggest of which is probably the fact that Quaking Punch only does 30 damage, making Seismitoad one of the slowest clocks we've seen in recent history, though thankfully his damage output can be mitigated by Tools like Muscle Band, which we’ll get more into a bit later. Another glaring weakness of the card is it’s Grass weakness, which at this point in the game might as well read a “Virizion EX and Genesect EX weakness”. Seismitoad’s three retreat cost is also a slight downside, but definitely the least relevant of the ones we’ve discussed today.


I wouldn’t be writing an article about Seismitoad if I thought that the bad outweighed the good, though, so let’s jump into some of the specific “rules” of building decks with Seismitoad EX! Note that these are only my opinions and, while of course I believe they are corrected, you are welcome to disagree and I encourage you to forge your own path, test your own games, and come to your own conclusions before just copy/pasting my list and playing it at your upcoming Regional Championship. Being sure of yourself and trusting your own logic (while listening to others, obviously) is a key to being successful!


Always Play 4 Seismitoad EXs


This one is pretty simple, though there are a lot of people right now who disagree with me. The Seismitoad deck relies on Quaking Punching as soon as possible, and the best way to maximize your ability to open with Seismitoad is to play a full playset of them. Just as you wouldn’t play fewer than 4 DCE in this deck, you shouldn’t play fewer than 4 of the card that needs DCE.


I’ve seen arguments that fewer than 4 Seismitoad with a thicker line of Ultra Balls, or other search/draw cards can be correct as you have the same number of “outs” to a turn one Seismitoad + DCE, but I strongly disagree with those theories, as they don’t include the fact that you had to discard cards with and Ultra Ball, that you have to find a way to retreat your active Pokémon into a Seismitoad in the first place, etc., etc.


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that Seismitoad EX is going to go from and incredible card/deck to a terrible one if you can’t get your hands on the 4th ‘Toad, but as long as you have access to it, I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by not playing all four.


You Need A Control Partner


Although I wholeheartedly believe that Seismitoad is one of the most powerful cards in the format, I don’t think that any “Quad Toad” strategies, or any that rely on Seismitoad as their only form of control in the long game are going to succeed. When you have a Pokémon with a powerful effect but a low damage output and a weakness to one of the game’s most popular Types, you’re going to need something to back it up with.


I’ve seen a lot of players favor Pyroar in this spot, and it makes sense. Pyroar is a very powerful Stage One that actually just shuts down a number of decks in the format. Additionally, it’s and okay attacker once you get to that stage, and one of the only controlling cards that you can actually rely on for attacking. Combine that with the fact that it happens to be additionally great vs the aforementioned Virizion/Genesect decks, and you’ve got yourself a whole lot of reasons to play a Pyroar.


With all that being said, I myself favor Garbodor, which should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me. Although I think Pyroar is and insanely powerful card for all of the reasons listed above, Garbodor does a lot of work in this deck as well. Off the top of my head, Garbodor will shut down Verdant Wind, Red Signal, Power Connect, Fairy Transfer, Dark Cloak, and even Pyroar’s own Intimidating Mane Ability! I’m sure there are a lot more that I’m forgetting, as well.


Of course, being unable to attack, requiring a Tool to be attached to matter, and not having the same “checkmate” Ability as Pyroar does make this a decision that players will have to make. Overall I think that Garbodor is the safer and slightly better choice going into the format blind, whereas Pyroar is a narrow choice and is hedging your bets on Virizion EX/Gensect EX being very popular.


You Need An Aggressive Partner


The last “rule” that I’ll mention here is that you need a back-up attacker incase things with Seismitoad go south. You have a wide array to choose from, though I think some decisions are better than others, of course. I’ll quickly go over what I think are the top three aggressive partners with Seismitoad...


Charizard EX/Reshiram BW


If you don’t run Pyroar in your list, there’s not much of a reason not to run something to help your Virizion/Genesect match up. It’s still unclear to me which of these cards is better, but I’m sure that there is a correct choice (thankfully we still have a month until Autumn Regionals!). These two are the only Fire Type Pokémon that I think are good/big enough to be a real threat to Virizion/Genesect, so while I might not have and answer for which of the two is better, I will encourage you not to stray too far from this path.


Mewtwo EX


Mewtwo has consistently been one of the most powerful cards in the format, to varying degrees, since it’s release way back in Next Destinies, and nothing about the new format changes that. Mewtwo trades very well versus opposing Seismitoad EXs, he is great vs any deck that will often have a lot of energy attached to one Pokémon (Yveltal EX, some variants of the Aromatisse/Fairy Transfer decks), and of course is incredible versus your opponents own Mewtwo EX. Whenever we enter a new format I think it’s correct to consider power level before anything else while theorycrating/deckbuilding, and Mewtwo has one of the highest power levels of anything in Standard at the moment.


With all that being said, here is a sample decklist that is pretty close to what I would be running if the Autumn Regional Championships were tomorrow. The cards and counts should be self-explanatory based on what I’ve written above, but if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

 


Phantom Gate


For the rest of this article we’ll go over some of what I believe are the best/most interesting cards in the newest Japanese set, Phantom Gate. For the sake of brevity I won’t be going over every single card in detail, but as always, if you think there’s something I missed or a card that I need to talk about, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to write up a little something about it!


One small note before we begin this portion of the article: Although I think that caring too much about future spoilers is ultimately bad for you and your in-game ability, with Japanese scheduling matching the rest of the worlds closer and closer, I’ve changed my stance a little bit and think that it can be just fine to go over the new spoiler a few weeks early. Additionally, I’ve learned that thinking about Pokémon and playing Pokémon in any form is good for you and the way that you think about the game, regardless of how relevant the cards are right now, or ever will be. I still don’t think that players should put too much stock into thinking ahead, but it certainly helps now more than it ever has.

 

Pyroar - Fire - HP110
Stage 1 - Evolves from Litleo

Ability: Flare Command
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard 1 [R] Energy attached to this Pokemon. If you do, choose 1 of your opponent's Benched Pokemon and switch it with your opponent's Active Pokemon.

[R][R][R][C] Inferno Tackle: 110 damage. Does 30 damage to this Pokemon.

Weakness: Water (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2


One of the strongest tools we have when deciding which Pokémon cards are or will ever be playable is the ability to look back on past cards and see how they compare. For instance, I am known for often saying things like “Eh, that card is just a [Past card that never saw play]” or “Are you kidding me? This card is nuts. It’s just [Past card that was very good] but a Basic!”. While this is a very important tool and one that I think more players need to work into their card evaluation abilities, there are times when it’s inappropriate.


Pyroar is just one of those times. Pyroar is only a “Red Signal” if you consider Red Signal to be and Ability on a Stage One Pokémon that is otherwise not a very playable card, and instead of attaching the Energy from hand to activity the Ability, you have to discard the Energy from Pyroar. I don’t blame anyone for initial comparing the two cards (as I said, it can be a very powerful tool) but I think after a few minutes of deeper/critical thinking, you’ll come to understand that the cards are pretty far apart on power level.


Does that mean that Pyroar is terrible? Not necessarily, no. We have Fire Type acceleration in things like Blacksmith, and it’s big brother, Pyroar Flashfire, is one of the central pieces to the metagame. Much like Gardevoir/Gallade in past seasons, it’s possible that contemporary Pyroar decks can splash one of these guys purely for it’s Ability. I’m not sure if that will happen, but it’s certainly possible, and likely the best application for this card.

 

Manectric-EX - Lightning - HP170
Basic Pokemon

[C] Rush Off: 20 damage. Choose 1 of your opponent's Benched Pokemon and do 20 damage to it. (Don't apply Weakness and Resistance.)
[L][C] Assault Laser: 60+ damage. If your opponent's Active Pokemon has any Pokemon Tools attached, this attack does 60 more damage.

When a Pokemon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: Metal (-20)
Retreat: 1

M Manectric-EX - Lightning - HP210
Mega Evolution - Evolves from Manectric-EX

When 1 of your Pokemon becomes a Mega Evolution, your turn ends.

[L][C] Turbo Bolt: 110 damage. Choose 2 basic Energy from your discard pile and attach them to 1 of your Benched Pokemon.

When a Pokemon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: Metal (-20)
Retreat: 0


These card suffer from the same affliction that most cards do when they’re first spoiled: They do powerful things, but without the context of the format it’s difficult to determine whether the powerful things they do are the right sort of powerful things you need to be doing in the format.


For instance, Mega Manectric EX doing 130 with a Muscle Band and attaching 2 Basic Energy from your discard pile to a benched Pokémon for only the cost of [L][C] is inherently powerful, but until we determine what Pokémon he’ll be attaching the Energy too, it’s hard to tell just how much competitive play Manectric will see.


One thing is for sure though: The Spirit Link cards makes these guys much, much more powerful. If it wasn’t for those cards I would probably write the Mega Manectric off entirely. It does require you to gum up your deck with cards that dont exactly “do” anything, but I think filling 1 or 2 of your slots with situational cards that, when they’re relevant, are hugely relevant is just fine.


Zubat/Golbat/Crobat

Crobat - Psychic - HP130
Stage 2 - Evolves from Golbat

Ability: Abrupt Bite
When you play this card from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokemon, you may choose 1 of your opponent's Pokemon and place 3 damage counters on it.

[C] Skill Dive: Choose 1 of your opponent's Pokemon. This attack does 30 damage to that Pokemon. (Don't apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokemon.)

Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: Fighting (-20)
Retreat: 0

I think these cards are very cute and reminiscent of one of the most powerful cards of it’s time in Crobat G, but I’m afraid that the format just isn’t kind to these guys. What they’re doing is fun and interesting, but they lack the raw power level to compete with the EXs and Megas of contemporary Pokémon TCG. These could definitely find their way into my Cube, though.

 

Gengar-EX - Psychic - HP170
Basic Pokemon

[C] Night Attack: Place 3 damage counters on 1 of your opponent's Pokemon.
[P][C][C] Dark Corridor: 60 damage. Your opponent's Active Pokemon is now Poisoned. Switch this Pokemon with 1 of your Benched Pokemon.

When a Pokemon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Darkness (x2)
Resistance: Fighting (-20)
Retreat: 2

 

M Gengar-EX - Psychic - HP220
Mega Evolution - Evolves from Gengar-EX

[P][C][C] Phantom Gate: Choose 1 of your opponent's Pokemon's attacks and use it as this attack.

When a Pokemon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Darkness (x2)
Resistance: Fighting (-20)
Retreat: 1

I want to like these guys, but even with their Spirit Link card, I’m not sure how powerful they’ll be. Gengar EX’s first attack is fine, but not anything game-breaking. It’s second attack is certainly interesting, having the capability to do up to 110 with a Muscle Band attached and a Virbank City Gym in play. Lastly, the Mega Gengar’s attack is fine, but much like Manectric, hard to determine how good it will be before we know what attacks it will be copying.


Copying a Quaking Punch, while certainly powerful, is not really what you want to be doing when you’re paying [P][C][C] for it and it’s on and Evolved Pokémon. Additionally, if your deck wants to use Quaking Punch all that bad, why not just run a Seismitoad EX yourself? A much less messy way of going about all of this.


I haven’t thought super deeply about Mega Gengar EX, but I’m willing to bet that most of the attacks you’ll want to be copying have similar downsides as Quaking Punch does above. As I said before, I would love for these cards to be good as I think they do interesting things, but I wouldn’t put my money on it.

 

Wobbuffet - Psychic - HP110
Basic Pokemon

Ability: Perseverance Wall
As long as this Pokemon is your Active Pokemon, all Pokemon in play, in each player's hand, and in each player's discard pile have no Abilities (excluding [P] Pokemon).

[P][C] Psychic Damage: 10x damage. This attack does 10 more damage for each damage counter on your opponent's Active Pokemon.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2

Now this is a card that is going STRAIGHT into the Cube! As far as Standard play, I think Wobbuffet could be good in decks that use attackers with switching Attacks (such as Gengar EX above, or Accelgor NXD). However, Garbodor already does a lot of what this guy does, and with less fuss, so I’m not too sure about that.

 

Chandelure - Psychic - HP130
Stage 2 - Evolves from Lampent

Ability: Fainting Spell
Once during your opponent's turn, if this Pokemon would be Knocked Out by damage from an attack, you may flip a coin. If heads, the opponent's Active Pokemon is Knocked Out.

[P][C][C] Cursed Drops: Put 6 damage counters to your opponent's Pokemon in any way you like.

Weakness: Darkness (x2)
Resistance: Fighting (-20)
Retreat: 2


Fainting Spell sure aint what it used to be.

 

Gourgeist - Psychic - HP100
Stage 1 - Evolves from Pumpkaboo

Ability: Big Pumkin
Whenever this Pokemon has a [G] Energy attached to it, this Pokemon's maximum HP is 200.

[P][C][C] Horror Note: 10x damage. Does 10 damage times the number of cards in your hand.

Weakness: Darkness (x2)
Resistance: Fighting (-20)
Retreat: 3


If this guys attack were a little bit more powerful (or if it didn’t directly conflict with it’s Ability, no DCEs for you!) I think he could see some serious Tier 2 play. As it stands, it’s cute, and I appreciate that cards like these are printed because they’re interesting and appeal to certain players, but I wouldn’t count on Gorgeist to bring home any Championship Points.

 

Malamar-EX - Darkness - HP170
Basic Pokemon

Ability: Powerful Hypnosis
Once during your turn (before your attack), when you attach an Energy card from your hand to this Pokemon, you may use this Ability. Your opponent's Active Pokemon is now Asleep.

[D][C] Calamari MAX: 60x damage. Flip a coin for each Energy attached to this Pokemon. This attack does 60 damage times the number of heads.

When a Pokemon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
Retreat: 2


Blastoise is still legal, yeah? Coin flips are almost never what you want to be doing, but Malamar isn’t too far off from playable. If there was a little bit more Darkness support, or if there were any upside to attaching a bunch of Energy to him, I think he could be a real threat.

Hydreigon - Dragon - HP140
Stage 2 - Evolves from Zweilous

Ability: Dark Advocacy
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may choose 1 [D] Energy from your discard pile and attach it to your Active Pokemon.

[P][D][C][C] Crazy Heads: 130 damage. Discard 1 Energy attached to this Pokemon.

Weakness: Fairy (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2

Much like Pyroar is not a Red Signal, Hydreigon is not a Dark Patch.

 

Battle Compressor - Trainer
Item (Team Flare Gear)

Search your deck for up to 3 cards and discard them. Shuffle your deck afterward. 

You may play as many Item cards as you like during your turn (before your attack).


Getting cards into your discard pile has been more and more important over these last few years of Eelektrik’s and Dark Patches. However, most of the time we have been putting them into our discard pile as a cost, say for and Ultra Ball or a Computer Search. I’m not sure that playing and Item just to discard cards, when there are already so many other discard outlets in the format, is going to be very powerful. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are a lot of applications for it and it’s possible I’m overthinking it, I would just be hesitating to call this card very powerful and/or throw it in my deck without a considerable amount of testing first.

 

Substitute Robot - Trainer
Item (Team Flare Gear)

You may play this card as a [C] 30 HP Basic Pokemon as your Active Pokemon. You may discard this card at any time during your turn.

This card cannot retreat and even if your opponent Knocks Out this Pokemon, your opponent does not take a prize.

You may play as many Item cards as you like during your turn (before your attack).


I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t thought of all of the applications for this card, as it’s very complex and very interesting. However, my gut tells me that it’s too cute and won’t have any real application in Standard. I would much rather run something like a Ditto (though obviously prizes can still be taken off a Ditto) if I’m going to be clogging my deck full of things that are very niche and cannot attack.

 

Jamming Net (Team Flare's Hyper Gear) - Trainer
Item

Pokemon Tool F: Attach a Pokemon Tool F to 1 of your opponent's Pokemon-EX that doesn't already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it. If that Pokemon is Knocked Out, discard this card.

The Pokemon this card is attached to does 20 less damage to the Defending Pokemon.

If this card becomes detached, this card is discarded to the original player's discard pile.

You may play as many Item cards as you like during your turn (before your attack).

 


Let me first say that I absolutely LOVE this type of card. There hasn’t been any card that lets you interact with your opponent’s Pokémon in this way since I’ve been playing (and maybe ever?), and I absolutely love cards that do new, interesting things that the game has rarely if ever seen before.


I don’t think Jamming Net is great, as I’m not sure slowing your opponent down by 20 damage is exactly what matters. If Pokémon had sideboards or if you knew that your metagame was going to be entirely comprised of a deck that needs their math to work out perfectly against you then I would recommend jamming 4 of these at all times, but I think those situations are too few and far between for this card to be all too playable.

 

Head Noiser (Team Flare's Hyper Gear) - Trainer
Item

Pokemon Tool F: Attach a Pokemon Tool F to 1 of your opponent's Pokemon-EX that doesn't already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it. If that Pokemon is Knocked Out, discard this card.

The Pokemon this card is attached to has the cost of its attacks increased by [C].

If this card becomes detached, this card is discarded to the original player's discard pile.

You may play as many Item cards as you like during your turn (before your attack).


Unlike Jamming Net, I think this card is actually absurdly powerful and could have a real impact on Standard. Imagine going first and attaching this to your opponent’s active Seismitoad EX or Landorus EX, and setting them back and entire turn. Imagine combining this with a heavy Energy removal suite in Crushing Hammers and maybe even Team Flare Grunts. Imagine playing this in a slow, grindy deck like Durant in Expanded, where every turn and every bit of damage matters. This card is the real deal and has some insane applications. I would pick up 4 of these in foil the moment pre-orders go up if I were you.

 

AZ - Trainer
Supporter

Choose 1 of your Pokemon and return that Pokemon and its attached pre-evolutions to your hand. (Discard all other cards attached to that Pokemon.)

You may play only 1 Supporter card during your turn (before your attack).

 


This card could be powerful as a one-sided Seeker effect in decks that build up damage on one Pokémon, or simply as a counter against decks that try to do that to you (such as Dusknoir). It could also be powerful in decks that want to be constantly evolving (probably to trigger Abilities). Alternatively, being able to reset something like a Gothitelle or a Trevenant could be very powerful and allow you to trim the fat of your decklist a little bit. It remains to be seen whether or not there will be decks that fall under those specifications in the near future, but be on the lookout for this card to make some waves if so.

 

Xerosic  Trainer
Supporter

Choose 1 Special Energy or Pokemon Tool from either your Pokemon or your opponent's Pokemon and discard it.

You may play only 1 Supporter card during your turn (before your attack).


I don’t see this card being playable anytime soon, as we already have similar cards that don’t take up your Supporter slot for the turn.

Lysandre's Last Resort – Trainer
Supporter

Both player shuffle all cards from their discard pile back into their deck (excluding any Lysandre's Last Resort).

You may play only 1 Supporter card during your turn (before your attack).

This card is very interesting to me, and one that I am unsure how to evaluate. On one hand, you’re getting all of your resources back into your deck. On the other hand, SO IS YOUR OPPONENT! I don’t think it’s fair to compare this card to something like a Night Maintenance or Super Rod. Those cards would be a lot worse if they made you put your whole discard pile into your deck, as when you decide to play a Night Maintenance or a Super Rod you’re saying that you need to buy back specific cards after your deck has been thinned out a bit.


This card does have some applications in Expanded versus decks like Eelektrik and Durant, where you’re playing it as a defensive measure, but it remains to be seen how fast/powerful that format will be, and if it will allow you to play a Supporter that doesn’t draw you cards (and in fact kind of does the opposite, heh).


The last thing I’ll say about Lysandre’s Last Resort is that I think it could be very powerful, especially if you’re running a non-Supporter draw engine (like Bicycles) that would allow you to capitalize on the new cards first. I would be careful about playing this card in just any old deck, especially with the current 30+3 time limit that we’re facing now, unless you really, really like draws.


More than anything I’m excited to see what this card does to the format, as it’s another example of something I’m not sure we’ve seen before.


That’s all I’ve got for today. Big ups to Martin for letting me write this and most of all to you guys for reading! I’ll be back next month with another article recapping the results of the first week of the Autumn Regional Championships.


XO

KW
@kwisdumb
Youtube.com/onthebubblepokemon

 

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