05/02/2018 by Chris Fulop
Hello again everyone!
With the release of Forbidden Light only a few weeks away ( Less if you want to count Pre-release tournaments! ) I want to spend some time looking at the new cards coming out to see which of them are going to be major players going forward, while also trying to identify which of the hyped cards are just that: Hype.
Before doing that, I do want to go over two different pre-Forbidden Light decks that I think are worth looking at. I understand that we are nearing what I like to refer to as a "lame duck" Standard format with so many new cards coming out, but there are plenty of players with events in the upcoming weeks. Beyond that, these lists do not become invalidated entirely with new cards: They simply may need tweaked to adjust for what is being added to the table.
The first deck is a new take on Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) . I am sure everyone is surprised to see me still testing Gardevoir, right? Still, I feel like this is an approach I haven't seen anyone touch on yet, so I want to talk about it. Without further ado:
The general consensus on Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) ...and honestly most Stage 2 decks, such as Vikabulu, Greninja BREAK (BKP; 41) and Magnezone (UPR; 83) ( in descending degrees of viability, in my eyes ) is that they are extremely powerful when they set up quickly, but are held back by how weak they can be when on the back foot and stumbling. Therefore, the most important issues to address when trying to make these decks better is speed and consistancy. I listed Vikabulu as the "best" of the Stage 2 decks ( I know someone is going to make a case for Greninja being the better deck, and while totally debatable, Vikabulu is also far more of a textbook "stage 2" deck than Greninja is anyways. ) and one of the reasons for this is that players have figured out how to make it a more reliable deck.
Gone are the Brigette (BKT; 134) s and Stage 1 Pokemon and conventional safety nets you would have seen in mosts lists in recent memory. In their place are Nest Balls, Skylas, and a total reliance on Rare Candy (DE; 100) . This engine DOES result in a higher turn 2 Stage 2 rate, and that is the most important thing we are looking for with these decks. Rather than going for a Brigette build, with a pile of Kirlia and even an Alolan Vulpix, I'm applying the new standard build for Vikabulu towards Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) .
Now, lets not kid ourselves. While I oversimplified both of these decks as "Stage 2 decks" because they face a number of the same hurdles, they do function quite differently beyond that. Vikabulu needs to keep one Vikabolt out and use it to dump energy onto Tapu Bulus over and over until the game ends. Gardevoir actually attacks with it's stage 2s, putting them in harm's way and therefore will actually need to get 2, 3...all 4...out over the course of a game.
Luckily, Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) has a MASSIVE amount of HP and is very hard to OHKO. Paired with a bunch of Max Potion ( I am going with the full playset this time, I'm not messing around! ) this 230 HP can be really tough to take down. The first Gardevoir will generally be able to hold the ground long enough to get additional copies out. Since this is the Max Potion build, it is also going to leverage Gardevoir's GX attack to recycle 10 cards back into your deck, and this helps with not facing down a true shortage of Rare Candies. On that note, the lack of any Professor Sycamore (XY; 122) in the deck, and a reliance on all shuffle based bulk draw cards means that Rare Candy (DE; 100) should more or less never get discarded. If the opponent wants to ignore Gardevoir and focus on the benched Ralts...more power to them. In the mean time, the active Gardevoir can snowball out of control while the opponent devotes Supporter use and energy attachments taking one prize KOs. The pair of Super Rod make it very difficult for an opponent to cut you off of Ralts.
Lets look at the Pokemon.
A 4-0-3/2 Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) line carries most of the weight of the deck. Kirlia is slow and clunky and with a large Skyla count, fairly unnecessary. It may feel weird cutting them since they feel alright when you are playing with them, but they also end up not feeling missed once you start playing with this build. Gallade is just too good against the Zoroark GX (SLG; 77) decks, and is also a one prize attacker which comes up. The card, especially as a 2-of, is so powerful against Hoopa and Xurkitree GX, even if these cards are already falling out of favor. On top of this, I am not running Octillery (BKT; 33) and instead am running Oranguru. Without Brigette (BKT; 134) , Octillery is a little awkward. Without Kirlia, Evosoda is "bad" because it would only get the Octillery. The card was great when it could double up as an out to Octillery or parts of the Gardevoir line, but here it would just be Octillery 3+. On top of this, the deck is a bit tight on space and a second Evolution line would be asking for a lot of sacrifice.
Because of this, Gallade does a lot of work towards smoothing out draws over the span of a longer game. Oranguru is primarily a counter to late game N, but it is not that difficult to pair it with Gallade's Ability to draw the best card or 2 in the top 5 cards of your deck. Sequencing gets interesting when you have shuffle effects and are looking for a specific card, too. You can Premonition to see if the card is in the top 5, and if not, then play an Ultra Ball or Super Rod to randomize the deck and then use Oranguru for a blind shot. This gets even cuter when you have both Gallade out to do this with. ( Admittedly due to the strain on Rare Candy (DE; 100) in this build, this should often only come up against decks where Gallade is a premium attacker. )
One final thing worth noting regarding Gallade is how it is often correct to end your pre-attack options with Premonition. This comes up less in this deck since Oranguru offers far less frequent bulk draw than Octillery (BKT; 33) does in builds with it, but is worth talking about. If I am not looking specifically for an immediate answer, and will be using Abyssal Hand for 3-4 cards, and have access to Premonition, I'll often blindly Hand to draw my 5, and then use Premonition afterwards. While a pre-Abyssal Hand Premonition gives me immediate access to the best cards out of the top 5, the value of potentially adding the last card or two may not be as overall valuable as seeing your new 5 card hand and then being able to sculpt your next 5 going into the next turn with the newfound information of what you drew off of Octillery (BKT; 33) . It is alluring to chase the immediate return you get from manipulating the top 5 first, but in many cases it is incorrect. Clearly if you are missing Energy drops or Supporter plays, this doesn't apply, but for games where things are going well, it is okay to slow down and be conservative with the sequencing.
For Energy, I am running 8 Fairy Energy and 4 Double Colorless. Traditionally I had been fine with the concession of only running 7 Fairy Energy, but if I am increasing the odds that I get to have a turn 2 Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) , I also want to avoid missing Energy Drops so I can maximize the chances I then attack as well. On top of this, the 4 Max Potion also really burn through Energy. Even with 2 Super Rod and a GX Attack, additional Energy can only help.
Without any Brigette (BKT; 134) in the deck, the Supporter line-up gets to run more copies of N, Cynthia (UPR; 119) , and Skyla. Without Octillery (BKT; 33) , I'm going for 4 Cynthia and 3 N. The split is actually pretty interesting and I may be incorrect with how to divide them up. Cynthia is better draw during a longer game, and is better against Garbodor. N (FCO; 105) provides less "true draw" over a long game, especially without access to Octillery. That being said, the deck is the defensive deck in many matchups, falling behind and walling off behind Max Potions. In this case, N can be fairly lopsided, allowing you to stiff the opponent with smaller hands over and over again while still drawing plenty yourself. That said, I give the nod to Cynthia because in most games you end up wanting to leverage N, you are also using Twilight GX and can get them back. N is also nice in this deck because the decks that N is "weak" against are often those using Zoroark GX (SLG; 77) , and Gallade gives you natural strength against them.
I started with 4 N (FCO; 105) and 4 Cynthia (UPR; 119) and cut the 8th copy for a Lillie. It is good late game with smaller hand sizes, and is often extremely strong on the first turn. The 4th Tapu Lele's inclusion was partially influenced by this card's presence. One of the benefits you get with not being pigeonholed into using a turn 1 Brigette (BKT; 134) is that you can use "real" draw Supporters to try and set up better turn 2s, which helps towards getting out a quicker Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) . Since we are running Nest Ball, one thing that I do suggest is to avoid the "trap" of filling your bench with this deck. Not only do you want to save spots for Tapu Leles, but you want to be able to burn Nest Balls later in the game as they are just as obnoxious to draw once fully set up as Brigette is. Outside of thinning your deck, being able to "fail to find" off Nest Balls can trim cards out of your hand for Oranguru, or even provide an important re-shuffle after seeing a subpar Premonition.
Skyla is great in the deck as it lets you reliably draw into Rare Candy (DE; 100) , but it also can easily become a Nest Ball or Ultra Ball depending on your needs. Beyond this, it gets you Field Blower or Max Potion when you need them. This level of redundancy adds up over the longer games the deck tries to induce.
I've played about 30 games with this build so far, and have like the results quite a bit. Since I am not planning to attend any events prior to the release of Forbidden Light, I've spent a lot of my time trying to explore more unorthodox ideas than I have spent trying to refine safe, well understood decks. There are some cards I would like to at least look at for this deck going forward.
Wobbuffet: This would either replace the 4th Tapu Lele or would be a 10th Energy. I want additional basics, and this card is great at slowing the opponent down. It doesn't shut off Tapu Lele, but it does wreck Octillery (BKT; 33) and Zoroark GX (SLG; 77) . In hindsight this would have been a really interesting approach to my build using Regirock EX as it would force opponents to rely more on Tapu Lele, which would leave more targets for the 170 damage Gallade shot.
Mewtwo: Mewtwo is a little extra insurance for Buzzwole. Without Kirlia, you do have to worry about 30/30 splits picking on you Ralts. 4 Max Potion does a good job of combating this, as it is often totally correct to burn one of them on an in danger Ralts. If I was to run Mewtwo, I'd consider the 3rd Choice Band.
3rd Choice Band: I really like 3 Choice Band in Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) decks, but I deferred to the wisdom of (FREE) Seena Ghaziaskar's 2 copies in the Max Potion builds as they care a little bit less about being able to close a faster game. My gut still likes 3, but I trust his stupid number of reps with the deck more than I do my gut. ( Seriously, the guy more or less only plays this deck, and has for months on end. I doubt any player in the world has more reps with any specific deck. )
3rd Field Blower: I hate Garbodor. That said, with Skyla to draw this, and a higher Supporter count than I am used to, I don't think the 3rd copy is necessary. The card just offers a lot of utility overall. I just worry about games where you use one early for small value to thin your hand, only to get punished over a longer game. I think with Twilight GX that it is fine at 2 though.
Parallel City: I don't think I need to explain why the card is good. Being able to re-set your bench by pitching Tapu Lele away is great especially if the end game is often walling off behind a Gardevoir that can't be OHKOed. With 3 Skyla, this situational card is easy to get access to, and you do get a second copy off of Twilight GX. This is definitely the 61st card for the deck.
Kirlia: Running 1 Kirlia as a "5th" evolution out may be fine. They aren't super necessary but having one copy may end up adding enough over a long game to be worthwhile. One final talking point regarding the lack of Kirlia: Espeon EX. Espeon EX has seen a massive decline in play, pretty much only being used in Greninja BREAK (BKP; 41) . Greninja is a terrible matchup anyways, so the threat of it being a major issue for the build is fairly irrelevent.
In conclusion, I'm not trying to sell this as some major breakthrough superior Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) build. It has proven to be impressive so far, and it accomplishes what it is set out to do, which is offer up superior starts compared to traditional Gardevoir builds. Beyond that it has pros and cons compare to other builds. It is worth remembering that even if archetypes are well established and successful that it doesn't mean there is no room for change or innovation. Always keep your eyes open for new ideas.
The second is a deck I saw talked about by Michael Pramawat, the second best player in the game right now. ( Sorry! I have to finally give the "best player" nod to Tord...his run has seriously been surreal, and I feel comfortable saying there has never been a sustained run as impressive or dominant as what he has been putting up, even back when the average player was far worse than the one we have today. ) This deck is similar to the Passimian deck Kevin Baxter and Carl Scheu piloted in Collinsville.
- 2x Passimian
- 2x Passimian
- 1x Tapu Lele GX
- 2x Remoraid
- 2x Octillery
- 1x Cobalion
- 1x Sudowoodo
- 2x Tapu Koko
- 1x Mew
- 1x Mewtwo
- 1x Oranguru
- 1x Shaymin
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x Brooklet Hill
- 4x Rescue Stretcher
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 1x Town Map
- 2x Special Charge
- 4x Guzma
- 3x N-supporter
- 3x Cynthia
- 4x Choice Band
- 1x Float Stone
- 1x Strong Energy
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
- 4x Counter Energy
This is a toolbox deck using the fairly unassuming Passimian. Passimian deals 10 damage plus 30 more for each other Passmian on the bench. Therefore, for a DCE/Counter Energy, you hit for a base of 100 damage. This can be 130 damage if Mew is copying the attack. Of course, Choice Band adds additional damage, as does the single copy of Strong Energy. Against Evolutions, the other Passimian adds 30 additional damage for just being on the bench. This is pretty effecient damage, all tacked onto a one prize attacker.
That is a major trend for the deck: Force the opponent to deal with non-EX/GX Pokemon over a long game. The only 2 prize liability the deck runs is the 1-of safety net Tapu Lele GX. One of the most important cards in the deck is Tapu Koko. While Passimian attacks with Double Colorless Energy, most of the deck's supporting cast relies on Counter Energy to be able to attack. This means you want to be playing from behind. Starting the game off by spreading damage across the board with Tapu Koko lets you progress the game while also positioning yourself to be able to use Counter Energy for awhile. The deck is actually really difficult to play because you not only have to manage a lot of moving parts, but you need to have insight into how the game will progress so that you can actually position your prize count correctly. It is a very rewarding deck to get good at as a result.
The silver bullet answers are great because of how easy they are to power off of Counter Energy, but they are also great because the deck runs 4 copies of Rescue Stretcher which lets it re-use them ad naseum. Mew and Mewtwo give you leverage against not only Buzzwole and Lucario who are weak to it, but they also help combat other Psychic types that have an advantage of the Psychic weak Passimians.
Shaymin's typing isn't the best, but it does have a 120 "revenge" KO attack for a Counter Energy that is powerful. On top of that, it's first attack gives you a new hand of 6 cards, which isn't the most useful, but like Tapu Lele GX, it is still a safety net for the deck. Cobalion has another big damage Counter Energy attack, doing 30 damage plus 30 more for every prize the opponent has taken. This is another big damage option, but it is extra important because it has type advantage against Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) and Glaceon. Gardevoir in particular is one of the harder matchups for the deck as it is very easy for Gardevoir to OHKO everything you have. They also are basically impossible to one hit and Max Potion is a massive pain to chew past. Cobalion offers a little more strength against them. Sudowoodo is one of my favorite cards, and this is another deck that uses it very well. Being able to copy any GX attack is going to be backbreaking in most games.
The deck does have a lot of moving parts, and as such it needs access to a lot of cards. It plays a 2-2 Octillery (BKT; 33) line to help with this. Interestingly enough, it runs 0 Field Blower, either giving up on the Garbodor matchup or feeling that it is winnable without Abilities. I haven't played the matchup enough to offer insight, especially since there are many different ways to play Garbodor in the format. While the deck does ask for a lot of bench space, it relies on 4 copies of Brooklet Hill to counter Parallel City. I like this approach because Brooklet is a proactive card. It helps you set up your Monkeys and Octillery, while not being a dead card.
That is the big difference between Kevin and Carl's build of the deck and what Pramawat is playing here. They ran Puzzle of Times and a lot of more reactive answers because honestly, the deck's engine could support it. Michael ignored this and just streamlined everything. You don't have as many options, but you get far less clunkiness in exchange. Pramawat has been having a lot of success at League Cups with the deck, and this deck is still flying a bit under the radar despite this. Give it a try if you want something different and fun to play that is also absolutely capable of taking down a tournament!
Now onto the new cards! As always, I am going to focus only on the potentially playable stuff. I'm not going to review every last Weedle in the set list. Also as a disclaimer, this review is being done with translations and set "spoilers" online prior to the release of the actual English cards, so there is always the risk for a mistranslation or for the speculated card list to change.
Forbidden Light Set Review
Palkia GX ( Water Type ): This is one of the many re-typed cards from Ultra Prism that are being reprinted. Everything on these cards is the same minus the fact that they are a different type this time around. Palkia ends up being a Water Type opposed to a Dragon type, which doesn't make a massive difference in this case because the card is still just not very good. The change in typing is an upgrade. There is little Dragon support in Standard, and nothing is really weak to it. Water at the very least means it gets access to Aqua Patch and can be grabbed by Brooklet Hill. None of these selling points are likely to take it from sitting in a binder to a deck though.
Dialga GX ( Metal Type ): Dialga is a pet card of mine, and one I am determined to try and make viable. It has a great first attack, and it's GX Attack is one of the most busted things available in the game. Being a Metal type opposed to a Dragon type is again an upgrade, but not by a ton. It does change it's weakness from Fairy to Fire, which can matter, and there are more Pokemon weak to Metal than Dragon. I think the Metal version is the better of the two to play, and I also think that at some point that the card will become a player.
Magnezone ( Lightning Type ): Well, this is a fairly unexciting downgrade in my eyes, only because we basically have this card already printed in the Breakthrough Magnezone, a card which has yet to make a major splash. The Lightning type attackers are just not currently exciting enough, certainly not compared to the Metal ones like Dialga GX and Dusk Mane Necrozma.
Rotom ( Psychic Type ): It deals 120 damage for "free" if you get the Rotom gimmick online. Actually having a powerful Psychic attacker is a big deal towards this whole Rotom thing, as it takes out Buzzole and Lucario GX. I still think the gimmick is cute not competitive, but this is certainly a start. All of these guys are more interesting in Expanded where you have access to Battle Compressor and other Tool-oriented attackers.
Garchomp ( Fighting Type ): I'll lump Gabite in here as well, as it's major upgrade to a Fighting type makes a HUGE difference. Now you can get both Riolu and Gabite with Brooklet Hill, making that a very real engine for the deck. Garchomp being a fighting type makes less of a difference. On one hand, Fighting is a great type to attack with. On the other hand, type advantage doesn't make a huge deal when you are hitting for 200 base damage anyways. Where it does matter is that it can actually use Strong Energy. This is less to do with the fact it actively needs Strong Energy, or even wants it. Where it matters is that you can now pair it with Lucario GX and Buzzwole GX where you DO want Strong Energy for them. Before Strong would not provide actual Energy for the Dragon type Garchomp, making any potential energy spready super awkward. This re-typing gives the card access to much more reliable and powerful support attackers which in my eyes is a huge deal.
Empoleon ( Metal Type ): Empoleon is a bit shy of playable as it is, but the Metal typing is a huge downgrade. One of the few things keeping Empoleon fringe playable IS it's Water typing. It gets access to Brooklet Hill and more importantly it gets Aqua Patch, a card that is irreplaceable. Being a Metal type more or less kills this printing of the card.
Beast Ring: Well, this card is downright silly. It is an Item that card that lets you search your eck for 2 Basic Energy and attach them to one of your Ultra Beast Pokemon...GX or non...as long as your opponent has 3 or 4 prize cards remaining. You know...which will be every single game. ( Fine, not you Wailord ) I'll use Buzzwole GX, one of the best cards in the game right now, as a bench mark. You can easily send one of them active, start applying pressure, and the minute they KO one, you can go off with Beast Rings and just start abusing Knuckle Impact and Absorbtion. It forces us to re-visit every single Ultra Beast every printed before this. Also it is worth noting that it is not a Prism Star card...I immediately assumed it was when I read it. You actually can play 4 of them. This can lead to some downright stupid explosive turns midgame. It feels like this card is way, way too good to have been printed and it screams "mistake" to me but we'll see how it goes. I'm beginning to suspect we are seeing the beginning of yet another power creep.
Beast Energy: This, on the other hand, IS a Prism Star, and feels appropriately powered. It is more or less a Super Strong Energy, so we already kind of know what to expect on the premier aggressive Ultra Beast, Buzzwole GX. It should be less impactful on less aggressive Pokemon. The card is great, will be played in every deck that runs Ultra Beasts, and will be cursed every time it gets attached to a Buzzwole on the first turn of the game. I somewhat dislike making an Energy Card as a Prism because of how damaging it is when drawn early. Pokemon naturally has a lot of draw power, which mitigates the "luck of the draw" aspect of cards which get restricted like this. There is a lot of search for Pokemon. Tapu Lele gets Supporters. Skyla can get Items. Special Energy Cards are hard to manipulate. I never said anything about Super Boost Energy because it's design limited it's impact to the super late game. This card is going to lead to some really bad feeling games I fear.
Arceus Prism Star: 160 HP Basic. Nice defensive Ability which prevents all effects of attacks done to Arceus that are not damage. Finally, a really busted build-around-me attack. It does 30 damage for a Colorless, and lets you attach 3 Basic Energy from your deck to your Pokemon in anyways that you'd like. The catch is, to use it, you need a Lightning type, a Water type, AND a Grass type on the bench. That is going to require a lot of work to pull off, but the payoff seems really powerful. There is nothing preventing you from just tossing around filler Pokemon on the bench to enable this, so the potential shells for it are pretty numerous. What is interesting is that you can still only justify using so many "set up" attacks before you just fall behind in the prize race, so there is actually a chance this card doesn't make much of an impact as it requires a lot of concessions to pull off once or twice before it becomes too low impact. There are just so many powerful means by which to accelerate Energy now. Arceus having a weakness to Fighting is also not good for it's longevity in this format.
Volcanion Prism Star: Volcanion as an absurd attack, doing 100 damage AND 20 damage to the opponent's bench for WWW. With Aqua Patch, this becomes reasonable. It also has a great utility Ability which forces the opponent to switch Pokemon if you discard a Water. This Ability is certainly useful but more importantly, it is a discard outlet for Water Energy, which feeds into Aqua Patch. If some sort of "Waterbox" deck arises, this card is a welcome addition as a great attacker and Patch enabler.
Naganael GX: So we have a Stage 1 Ultra Beast. I actually was totally unaware this Pokemon existed prior to these spoilers. I played through Sun and Moon, beat the "Elite Four" and got bored and stopped playing. I wish I still enjoyed the games as much as I did as a kid, but I feel like I am just burnt out on them by this point. I actually thought Sun and Moon may have been the best installment in the series yet. The dialog was far more tongue in cheek and self aware, and was actually funny to me. Unfortunately it was still the same exact game it has been for 20 years and I can only do so much. Rant aside, this Pokemon is...interesting. It is a Psychic type, so a great counter to Buzzwole, Lucario and Espeon GX. It is also in turn weak to common counters like Mew and Mewtwo. That said, it can do up to 120 damage ( 20 for each of your Ultra Beast in play! 180 in Expanded! ) for a Colorless Energy. It's 110 damage attack is...basically pointless. Where this card becomes extremely difficult to evaluate is it's GX attack. If I am understanding the translation correctly, for CCC, you can reset both players' prizes with 3 new ones. This can take a 1 prize opponent back to 6. This can unconditionally take you from 6 to 3. I THINK this going to be a very strong card. I KNOW this is the type of effect that probably should never be printed. Part of the allure of this game is that the 6 prize game forces a degree of attrition into every game. Offering a total hard reset of that is a dangerous thing to implement into a game. Think about running it in Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) , for example. Let the opponent be super aggressive against you. Let them take 4-5 prizes. Then go from your 6 prizes to 3, and give them back 1-2 prize cards? Seems a bit exploitable. Something like Decidueye or Greninja BREAK (BKP; 41) could really exploit this too. I actually don't hate the idea of doing something to punish the super aggressive decks, especially considering how pushed they are making some of the Ultra Beast cards. This card is clearly great, I'm just not sure I am happy it exists.
Ultra Recon Squad: This Supporter lets you pitch up to 2 Ultra Beasts to draw 3 cards for each Beast discarded. If they wanted to make the "Ultra Beast" deck a thing, this is another way to do it. This card is really powerful, but I do like the idea of making strong Supporters that require a lot of build around. I'm not entirely sure how this card will factor into decks though, as it does demand a really high threshhold of Ultra Beasts to be reliable. It is competing with N (FCO; 105) , Professor Sycamore (XY; 122) and Cynthia (UPR; 119) at the moment. The thing that is worth noting with this is that it is a TERRIBLE draw after an N, where the odds you have extra Ultra Beasts sitting around is very low. I think it's poor interaction with the N sub-game, coupled with the presence of 3 premium draw Supporters in th format already may push this card out of even the deck designed to use it.
Wake: Wow, this card is going to be absolutely insane in any deck running enough Water Energy to support it! Unfortunately, there are not a lot of decks running a ton of Water Energy for it. Glaceon runs around 8. Greninja BREAK (BKP; 41) runs very few, but has access to Starmie, where it could be quite strong. Where I think this card could shine would be in some kind of Waterbox deck. If you run like 14 Water Energy, 4 of these, 4 Max Elixir, and 4 Aqua Patch, you could wind up with a really degenerate engine. If we ever get a new Rain Dance Blastoise in Standard, this card will break it wide open in my eyes.
Steel Frying Pan: Well, here is a bit of Metal support. This Tool reduces all damage taken by the Metal Pokemon wearing it by 30, and also negates it's weakness. This card would be a lot more impressive if every deck wasn't running some amount of Field Blowers as it is. I hate purely defensive Tools in a format where there are a lot of counters not only available, but played. Even Fighting Fury Belt at least gives a small proactive damage boost. The card itself is good, with a cool and flavor-appropriate design, but it just showcases the risks of printing sweeping "answers" like Field Blower. I'm all for having counters to things in format, but there is a fine line to walk where you don't want them so universally useful that every deck is going to just run them. They stop going from countering cards and start oppressing them out of the format entirely.
Buzzwole/Xurkitree/Dusk Mane Necrozma/Dawn Wing Necrozma/Pheromosa: I'm going to lump all of these non-GX Ultra Beast cards into one category. They are all large HP, fairly unimpressive basic Pokemon, but have a weird design gimmick where they deal extreme amounts of damage at specific prize counts. The costs are expensive, and extremely time sensitize. I don't think this gimmick ends up doing much, but who knows. The Dusk Mane Necrozma actually seems interesting because it does have a very powerful attack for a Colorless that can snipe a GX/EX Pokemon for 60 damage.
Zygarde GX: They really love pushing their big Fighting Pokemon, don't they? I guess it fits in with the flavor of the type, though. As always, it is important to view this card under the conditions it benefits from all of the strong Fghting boosting effects. Zygarde has two real angles to it. First, for a DCE it hits for 50 and grabs 2 Fighting Energy to your Pokemon. We've seen how good this is with Carbink BREAK. Also, worth noting, it's DCE synergy applies to all 3 of it's attacks, which is nice. That is the sign of a Pokemon they want you to play! It's bread and butter attack does 130 damage for FFCC. With modifiers, this is actually pretty respectable. I wouldn't say that if the card wasn't good at powering itself up, of course, as the rate otherwise is very dubious.
Finally, the big thing with Zygarde is it's GX attack. It does 150 damage and then protects itself from all GX and EX attacks! With all the damage boost, this card is likely to score big OHKOs with this time while also protecting itself from most big attackers. There is a Supporter in this set, Bonnie, which lets you re-use this GX attack on turns where you play it. I'm not sure how reliable spamming this attack can end up being, but it is a nice added bonus to a card that in a vaccuum is already very, very powerful.
Yveltal GX: Yveltal GX is an interesting card. It's first attack is a cheap harasser, and can also keep Yveltal alive against lower damage output decks. Coupled with it's Resistance, it can actually be somewhat of an issue for Fighting decks. For CCC you get a nice "Swift" attack...which is actually worth noting because it is a Basic Pokemon with an all Colorless Swift attack that can be splashed for decks that can't answer protective abilities like Hoopa and Ninetales. It isn't great, but 100 damage isn't a terrible rate for it. Finally it's GX attack straight up KOs a Pokemon with 4 damage on it. That
Alolan Marowak: Marowak looks to be a centerpiece to some sort of "Alolan" gimmick deck, as it has a pretty reasonable DCE attack that does 20x the number of Alolan Pokemon you have. It also has a free attack that lets you attach 2 Basic Energy from your deck to any of your Pokemon in play. Unfortunately, on a Stage 1 Pokemon, with how fast the game is, that may just end up being too slow. The fact you can use it without devoting an energy helps, as does the fact that it has 120 HP.
Pyroar: This card isn't "good", but it does serve as a pretty nice counter to any mill decks that rely on running decks out of Energy. Sylveon and Hoopa decks now are a bit more aggressive, so this is far from a one card counter, but if such decks did spring up again, it has it's uses.
Froakie/Frogadier: A 70 HP Froakie is interesting, but it doesn't have Bubble which was nice to have as an option in Greninja decks. Clearly the entire Greninja build we know now is reliant on Water Duplicates, but the new "Golbat" Frogadier is still a very good card in it's own right and should be noted.
Greninja GX: And now we have our Crobat. Crofrog. Idk. Our 230 HP Crobat. With Acerola and Super Scoop Up in format, it'll be interesting to see if the old Crobat gimmick can work. The overall power level ( and HP! ) of Pokemon since Crobat was dominant has gone way up, so we'll have to see. If Decidueye isn't much of a roleplayer at the moment, I'm concerned about how this card is going to fair. It does have a nice GX attack, as a 130 snipe is nothing to laugh at. It's attack does help in resetting your lines to re-use the Ability, but it costs 3 Energy...although only 2 attachments with DCE and potentially 1 if you count Aqua Patch. I don't think it fits in as a "splash" ( har har ) inclusion in existing Greninja builds, so it will be interesting to see how much of an impact it makes. I'm going to be a pessimist on this and say it is just not good enough compared to the other degenerate stuff we already have available, but I could be wrong here.
Malamar: The Psychic reprint of Eelektrik/Bronzong, this card is very clearly great and should be a force to be reckoned with going forward. There are actually a lot of really good Psychic type attackers ( Various Mewtwos, Necrozma, Lunalas, Nihilgo, etc. ) but they had always been held back by the lack of Energy acceleration for the type. Since this exact card, more or less, has been in circulation for awhile now I'm not going to explain how good it is, but I'd rather touch on some of the issues it will have. Decks are very fast, and it is still a slower set up deck. It will be weak to Ability lock such as Garbodor and Greninja. Parallel City is also a very real issue. Finally, despite it's attackers splitting weakness between Psychic and Dark, BOTH of these types are extremely popular in the format at the moment. I would be surprised if it wasn't a viable card, but like with Greninja, I think it will see a lower amount of success than hype may suggest.
Hoopa: Hoopa's attack which lets you grab 2 Item cards may be good enough to get it to see some amount of play. It being able to grab a Rare Candy (DE; 100) and an Ultra Ball is potentially strong. It needing a Psychic Energy, while the Stage 2 Psychic Pokemon are underwhelming will hold it back, but with future printings, it may find a home.
Diance Prism Star: I had no idea Diance was Fighting type. This card is also absolutely ridiculous. It grants all of your Fighting Pokemon a 20 damage boost just for being in play. This really adds up with Strong Energy, Regirock EX, Choice Band, and Prof. Kukui. It has a reasonable attack, but this card's real allure is that absurd Ability. There is a reason it only has 120 HP for a Prism Star. Like Buzzwole and Lucario GX need the assistance.
Florges: As a Stage 2, Florges' real offering is it's Ability which can give you a chance every turn to flip a coin to stack an Item from the discard pile on the top of your deck. This is actually a really unique ability and quite powerful, but the game is pretty fast and punishing now so the impact it has is likely too low for the work it takes to get a stage 2 Pokemon out. More importantly, UP Oranguru and Puzzle of Time exist, meaning you need a game plan that REALLY needs an excess of Items, and I don't think such a thing exists.
Sylveon: Being able to not only copy a Supporter from the opponent's hand but discard it in the process is really, really powerful. It is so powerful alongside N. The fact that it has some application in an already existing Sylveon dec only helps it's chances at seeing splash play. Branching off of Eevee is so beneficial. I imagine it would be quite beneficial in stall mirrors, where it can grab Lusamines. I wouldn't want to be the Sylveon deck in the mirror without one when my opponent ran it.
Xerneas GX: Xerneas has decent attacks but the thing to pay attention to is it's GX attack. It takes all damage counters from ALL of your Pokemon and dumps them onto the opponent's active. This sounds really absurd, but lets actually think back to most games you've played lately. More often than not, there isn't a ton of damage lingering around because of OHKOs and Guzma and Max Potion and Acerola...the GX attack is good, but not super impressive. It is also fairly easy to play around if it is a known factor. I don't see much from this guy overall.
Ultra Necrozma GX: Here is Malamar's Rayquaza EX. You pile Psychic Energy onto it, and then dump it for an absurd amount of damage. It does require a few Metal Energy, which is very much in vein with similar Rayquaza printings. It's GX attack is also very powerful, doing 60 damage to ALL of your Opponent's Pokemon if 6 or less total prizes remain. Which this does feel really, really powerful, at the same time, it does clash with the game plan of OHKOing everything that Necroza suggests as a Plan A. The goal of the energy acceleration decks is almost always OHKOs, so spread...even great spread, is at it's worst.
Mystery Treasure: THIS card is a big deal. Ignore the fact it can grab Dragon types for a moment ( although that is not negligible! ) and remember that Tapu Lele GX is a Psychic type. There is a case for this card as a 5th Ultra Ball in some decks. In Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93) , where the under-evolutions can be Psychic types, and you want easy access to Tapu Lele, this card is great. In decks that have any Psychic or Dragon types besides Lele, this card should be at the very least included in small numbers if not more. In something like Malamar, it should be a 4 of. The discard and search are both so powerful, as we've all seen with Ultra Ball. On one hand, it is more restrictive, but on the other it discards fewer resources.
Eneporter: Eneporter is a kind of cool card, letting you Energy Switch your opponent's Special Energy cards. The problem is, I rarely suspect this will be better than Enhanced Hammer which actually just strips it. There are rare fringe scenarios where you don't want to let them use Special Charge/Puzzle of time, or you want to move them to a Pokemon you can hit with a Tapu Lele GX or a Gardevoir GX for a damage boost, but those have to be dwarfed by the number of times you'd rather just discard the card.
Lady: I feel like this will not be it's finalized name. Just a hunch. This Supporter lets you grab 4 Basic Energy from your deck and put them into your hand. I could see this being a big deal in Magnezone, or even Alolan Dugtrio. It takes a very specific deck to want them, but it should be great in them.
Diantha: Diantha is a pair of Puzzle of Times whenever one of your Fairy Pokemon is KOed. This seems like a pretty good one-of in Gardevoir. Sylveon probably doesn't need the help. I know I am being narrow minded regarding what potential Fairy decks there could be, but those are the big players. I think the card is really strong, but it is reactive and you probably only want a single copy to search up in a pinch in the late game.
Bonnie: I was wondering if they'd explore the design space of resetting GX attacks, and this is a good way to do it. Not only is it locked on a narrow Supporter but it specifies a specific GX attack. Better too narrow than too wide when touching on mechanics like this. I'm not actually sure how good this card will end up being. Zygarde's GX attack is really strong and a lot of decks struggle against it. I actually think there could be something to this as most decks will be very hard pressed to KO a Zygarde GX without touching EX/GX Pokemon.
Lysandre Prism Star: This is a GREAT printing although I am a little sad it is so type specific. In most cases this isn't necessary, but I really do think it is necessary for there to be ways to disrupt loops with how degenerate some combo decks can be. This can break up the mill decks in Standard, and also hinder Puzzle of Time and Twilight GX. It has further applications in Expanded, but again the demand for Fire Pokemon will always limit how good it can be, and it is already a very, very situational card. Still, this is a function that should be in the format.
Lysandre Labs: As if Field Blower wasn't enough, we have another anti-Tool card as the Labs turn off all Tools while it is in play. It is probably just worse than Field Blower because Blower is also a counter stadium that can selectively take away Tools but doesn't always prevent your use of them. I actually am not sure how this will work with Garbotoxin. I can't even begin to speculate on how it will be ruled without seeing the English translation on the card.
Unit Energy ( Fighting Darkness Fairy ): There isn't a ton to say here besides acknowledging that we had to expect them to complete the Unit Energy cycle. Nothing stands out immediately that would really benefit from this split of Energy, but who knows what options this will open up. These energy struggle from competing with a lot of very powerful Energy options like Double Colorless Energy, Counter Energy, Strong Energy, etc. On top of this there is benefit from running actual Basic Energy. Not only are they necessary for most forms of acceleration but they also get around anti-Special Energy cards.
Overall this looks like a really strong set! We get some type-upgrades to cards which may make a difference. Malamar is clearly designed to spawn a deck. All of the Ultra Beast support is really strong and possibly unnecessary. There are also a lot of "probably won't be good enough" cards where some of those can easily end up making an impact. Ever since Sun and Moon, the sets have been really, really impressive. The only hiccup was Crimson Invasion, really. It'll be nice to see how all these new cards shake up what is still a fairly open Standard format.
Until next time!
Rare Candy (DE; 100)
Professor Sycamore (XY; 122)
Octillery (BKT; 33)
Brigette (BKT; 134)
Greninja BREAK (BKP; 41)
Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 77)
Cynthia (UPR; 119)
Magnezone (UPR; 83)
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