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Chris Fulop

Lost Thunder Set Analysis

Chris Breaks Down The Best Cards From Pokémon's Largest Set Ever--Lost Thunder!

11/12/2018 by Chris Fulop

Hello again!

In this article, I will be going over the enormous Lost Thunder expansion. I use the adjective "enormous" both because I expect this set to have a pretty major impact on the shape of the format and because of the raw number of new cards being printed in it. Lost Thunder is the largest set ever printed for Pokémon.

As usual, I'll only be reviewing certain cards. Clearly unplayable cards are going to be omitted, as will Pokémon such as pre-evolution cards that don't really stand out besides for serving the purpose of evolving. I'll make sure to review cards I feel are hyped or potential "trap" cards which I do not actually think are very good, as well.

Since the set is not yet released, and not currently available in the 60Cards database, I'll be including the card text above each individual review. Again, these are translations accumulated around the internet, and while I clearly believe the translations to be accurate and trustworthy, the final translation MAY differ.

Before jumping in for a long, long set review, I want to discuss the main boogie man from the set: "Lost March". A "throwback" to the Night March gimmick from Phantom Forces, this set features a small subtheme of Pokémon that work with putting cards into the Lost Zone, and then taking advantage of that fact. The main culprit is Jumpluff, who has an attack for a lone Grass Energy that does 20 damage for every non-Prism Star Pokémon in your Lost Zone. Therefore, many of the cards' reviews will take into account this gimmick and how they fuel it. I don't want to have to explain that for each of those cards, so here is the disclaimer.

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Meganium – Grass – HP150
Stage 2 – Evolves from Bayleef

Ability: Early Ripening Herb
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may choose 1 of your Basic Pokémon in play. If you have a Stage 2 card in your hand that evolves from that Pokémon, put that card onto the Basic Pokémon to evolve it.

[G][C][C][C] Solar Beam: 110 damage.

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

Meganium is a Rare Candy on a stick, but considering how much work you have to do to get the Meganium out in the first place, the reward is simply not worth it. Its a cool Ability, and explores a design space we haven't seen on a Pokémon before, but it is too clunky. Whatever deck would want that complex a set up is going to be way too awkward to function without Meganium, and in general would probably just not work. Cute, but bad.

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Spinarak – Grass – HP50
Basic Pokémon

[G] Web Vanish: Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Poisoned and Paralyzed. Put this Pokémon and all cards attached to it into the Lost Zone.

[C] Sting: 10 damage.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

I mentioned not discussing the Basic Pokémon of good evolution cards, but in thi case I'll omit Ariados from review and focus on Spinarak. Spinarak is a disruptive way to get a Pokémon into the Lost Zone, and a potential early game play as you reach towards a critical mass of Lost Pokémon for Jumpluff. I don't think you have the time to be doing this, nor the deck space. Keep it in mind because there are a limited amount of cards that deal with the Lost Zone, but don't be excited to turn to this.

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Natu – Psychic – HP40
Basic Pokémon

[C][C] Lost March: This attack does 20 damage times the number of your Pokémon in the Lost Zone (excluding Pokémon Prism Star).

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

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Skiploom – Grass – HP60
Stage 1 – Evolves from Hoppip

Ability: Flower Bridge
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may search your deck for a Jumpluff and switch it with this Pokémon. Place this Pokémon and all cards attached to it into the Lost Zone. Then, shuffle your deck.

[G] Tackle: 30 damage.

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

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Jumpluff – Grass – HP70
Stage 2 – Evolves from Skiploom

[G] Lost March: 20x damage. This attack does 20 damage times the number of your Pokemon in the Lost Zone (excluding Pokémon Prism Star).

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

These three are going to get lumped together for review. Jumpluff is the weapon here, and is the core of the "Lost March" deck. The damage increment is the same as Night March. That said, this is a "Stage 2" Pokémon, opposed to a Basic. This is really misleading though, as Skiploom lets you trade it in for a Jumpluff, making the card effective a Stage 1. Even looking at it that way, it's 70 HP is anemic. Luckily, we have an improvement over the Night March gimmick because Jumpluff requires a Grass Energy and not a Special Energy card, Double Colorless Energy. 

Skiploom is more than just a means to cheat out Jumpluff sooner, though. Flower Bridge does get you your Jumpluffs, but it also puts 2 Pokémon ( Hoppip and Skiploom ) into the Lost Zone in the process. In formats where there are Pokémon legal which can be attached as Tools to your Pokémon, you can get a 3rd Pokémon into the Lost Zone with each Skiploom.

I guess I should also just address the elephant in the room: Is the deck good? I'm not sure. The deck FEELS powerful, but it also has a LOT of moving parts. It asks a lot of you to get set up timely, and then continues to demand more as you have to stream attackers. While the Skiploom gimmick is great at getting a damage boost and cheating Jumpluff into play, the whole line gets sent to the Lost Zone, meaning you don't have means to get out more than 4 Jumpluff a game. That sounds silly to talk about, but they have 70 HP, and it is very easy for decks to keep up KOs even in the face of whatever pressure Lost March brings. Natu is a viable back up attacker, but obnoxiously demands you also run DCE in the deck. Having it available takes some of the pressure off your engine to be able to constantly provide Jumpluffs as the game progresses.

The deck feels like, at best, it is offering a power level similar to the rest of the format, opposed to anything over the top to reward the amount of work you have to do to get there. If the deck does prove to be tier 1 ( Results in Japan recently do not seem to suggest that it is ) it will not be oppressive. One big difference between this and Night March is that Night March was so often able to attack on it's first turn ( going 2nd, of course ) where as this deck does still have to evolve to actually start Lost Zoning Pokémon. Whatever engine we do have here is not close to on par with the Night March engine with Battle Compressor and Shaymin EX. I won't call this deck a trap, but anyone selling it as the sky is falling due to fear of another Night March is grossly overrating the deck's potential.

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Shuckle – Grass – HP60
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Juice Extractor
Once during your turn (before your attack), when you play this card from your hand onto your Bench, you may search your deck for up to 3 Basic Energy cards and discard them. Then, shuffle your deck.

[G] Energy Drink: Attach 2 basic Energy cards from your discard pile to your Pokémon in any way you like.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

Shuckle is a Battle Compressor for Basic Energy cards, and a potential source of energy acceleration. Energy Drink is a great attack, and is a self contained "combo" with Shuckle's Ability. Trying to find the right partner for it is going to be the challenge. As a Malamar lover, I pay attention to any card which can help me get Psychic Energy into the discard pile. Unfortunately here, I don't feel like it is worth the bench space to enable this. On top of that, being a Grass type makes it ineligible for Mysterious Treasure, making it even less reliable. I really believe it will find it's best home in a deck actually running a lot of Grass Energy to also be able to also use Energy Drink. Oh, it is also pretty cute in any potential Alolan Exeggcutor decks.

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Shuckle-GX – Grass – HP170
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Protective Pot
Prevent all damage done to this Pokémon by your opponent’s Pokémon with 2 or less Energy attached to them.

[C] Triple Poison: Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Poisoned. Put 3 damage counters instead of 1 on that Pokémon between turns.

[C] Wrap GX: 40 damage. Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Paralyzed. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When 1 of your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

What is it with the Shuckle love this set? Anyways, Shuckle here is really defined by it's Ability, Protective Pot, which actually prevents MOST attackers currently seeing playfrom actually damaging it. The rest of Shuckle's package isn't very impressive taken out of context of it's Ability, but when you realize how difficult it is to damage Shuckle, something like Triple Poison suddenly becomes legitimately potent. Pairing Shuckle with energy removal effects and healing should make it even more difficult for an opponent to KO. The big problem Shuckle has is that while it is great against decks like Buzz Garb and Zoroark which rely on "fair" low energy attack costs, it is absolutely terrible against decks like Malamar and Vikavolt which are able to spew energy into play and avoid it's Protective Pot easily. I'm not sure if there will be a deck that Shuckle slots into well, but I wouldn't be surprised if it sees a mild amount of play.

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Grovyle – Grass – HP80
Stage 1 – Evolves from Treecko

Ability: Sunshine Grace
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may search your deck for a [G] Pokémon, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

[G][G] Slicing Blade: 40 damage.

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

Grovyle's Sunshine Grace is a really powerful Ability as it guarantees that whatever Grass deck it is put in will set up smoothly the rest of the game. This isn't the first time a Grass Pokémon has been given this Ability, but Grovyle benefits from being part of a larger line with other useful Pokémon branching off of it. There is a Sceptile that protects your Pokémon from Ultra Beasts, and a Sceptile GX I will be reviewing up next that give this set up Pokémon additional utility. I'm not thrilled to run Grovyle, Sceptile OR Sceptile GX independently as they fall JUST shy of being worthwhile, but as a total package they may actually be worth it.

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Sceptile-GX – Grass – HP230
Stage 2 – Evolves from Grovyle

[G] Mach Cut: 60 damage. Discard a Special Energy from your opponent’s Active Pokémon.

[G][G] Leaf Cyclone: 130 damage. Move a [G] Energy from this Pokémon to 1 of your Benched Pokémon.

[G] Jungle Heal GX: Heal all damage from each of your Pokémon with any [G] Energy attached to them. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

When looking at a Stage 2 Pokémon, it has to be extremely good to consider playing it. I actually think that, despite having fairly reasonable attacks and a nice hefty 230 HP, none of what Sceptile here does is THAT impressive. Mach Cut could be a huge pain for Buzz Garb style decks, as well as Zoroark decks that have limited damage output and rely heavily on Special Energy cards. I'd never play a "Sceptile GX deck" but since it branches off of a very good Grovyle and has a strong anti-Ultra Beast companion piece, the card feels honestly playable. One of the big issues I have with it is that I expect the Malamar "fun police" to really push it out of viability. Necrozma GX not being an Ultra Beast, and Marshadow GX offering a loophole even if it were one is obnoxious for the line's playability.

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Celebi Prism Star – Grass – HP90
Basic Pokémon

You can’t have more than 1 Prism Star card with the same name in your deck. If a Prism Star card would go to the discard pile, put it in the Lost Zone instead.

[C] Time Warp: Choose any number of your Evolved Pokémon in play. For each of those Pokémon, remove the highest Stage Evolution card and put it in your hand.

[G] Leech Seed: 20 damage. Heal 10 damage from this Pokémon.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

Okay, I'm mainly highlighting this card to warn you that it is not good. Time Warp is interesting, and seems lucrative in a deck that wants to re-set it's Pokémon like Greninja GX or some gimmicky Raichu lock deck, but it is still bad. Judge and Marshadow are too popular as disruption. The decks that want this feel bad, and taking a turn off to reset your board is a dangerous gambit both due to being punished by getting your hand randomized but in addition due to the brutal tempo loss.

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Shaymin – Grass – HP70
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Floral Heal
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may heal 20 damage from your Active [G] Pokémon.

[G][C] Ram: 30 damage.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

Healing effects haven't been good in Pokémon in a very long time ( arguably these strategies have almost never been good ) and I don't expect Shaymin to buck that trend. None the less, 20 damage a turn per Shaymin is really a great rate on a Basic, and Grass Pokémon are generally bulky. They are pushing a healing theme for Grass Pokemon, but the presence of OHKOing Pokemon like Necrozma out of Malamar and a post-critical mass Rayquaza are real barriers to that ever working out well.

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Virizion-GX – Grass – HP170
Basic Pokémon

[C] Double Draw: Draw 2 cards.

[G][G] Sensitive Blade: 50+ damage. If you played a Supporter card during this turn, this attack does 80 more damage.

[C] Breeze Away GX: Put any number of your Pokémon in play and all cards attached to them into your hand. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When 1 of your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

Virizion gets the kind gesture of "always review a GX" but the card doesn't feel very good. It's draw attack is well, Filch, and while it comes up on Mimikyu, is far from it's selling point. Breeze Away is another awkward defensive GX attack that doesn't do anything proactive. Sensitive Blade is good once it gets up and going and pairs well with Shining Legends Venusaur, but that probably is still not a real deck as Virizion fails to score OHKOs in GX matchups and it's 170 HP isn't tanky enough to devolve games down to two hit exchanges.

Where Breeze Away gets actually interesting is as a means to reset your board against spread and Shrine of Punishment decks. I could see myself enjoying that attack in Malamar builds. Under this current translation, it CAN bounce itself to your hand, which is important as ripping your GX liabilities out of play doesn't mean as much when the end result is stranding a new GX active in Virizion.

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Slugma – Fire – HP80
Basic Pokémon

[C][C] Stampede: 20 damage.

[R][R][C] Flamethrower: 60 damage. Discard 1 Energy attached to this Pokémon.

Weakness: Water (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3

Slugma here is a potential upgrade over the previous version as it has more HP and an attack that keys off of DCE. The higher retreat cost is a detriment, but I think this is a viable alternative.

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Magcargo-GX – Fire – HP210
Stage 1 – Evolves from Slugma

Ability: Crush Charge
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard the top card from your deck. If that card is a basic Energy card, attach it to 1 of your Pokémon.

[R][R][C] Lava Flow: 50+ damage. You may discard any number of basic Energy cards from this Pokémon. This attack does 50 more damage for each card discarded in this way.

[R] Magma Burn GX: Discard the top 5 cards from your opponent’s deck. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When 1 of your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Water (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3

Magcargo is another Pokémon ( like Sceptile ) that benefits from sharing an evolution tree with another great card in "Smooth Over" Magcargo. Not only is Magcargo an engine in and of itself, but it also shares great synergy with it's GX counterpart. Smooth Over lets you stack the top of your deck to guarantee that Crush Charge hits an Energy each turn. It is technically possible to use this line to power up OTHER attackers, but more than likely it will be used to power up Magcargo GX itself. I don't think the damage output scales well enough to be competitive though. We have to use decks like Vikavolt and Malamar as the standards for what set up decks can do, and while Smooth Over does offer an overall consistency boost over those decks, I think the payoff is just too much weaker.

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Blacephalon-GX – Fire – HP180
Basic Pokémon (Ultra Beast)

[R] Bursting Burner: Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Burned and Confused.

[R][R] Mind Blown: 50x damage. You may send any number of [R] Energy attached to your Pokémon in play to the Lost Zone. This attack does 50 damage times the number of cards sent in this way.

[R] Burst GX: Discard 1 of your Prize cards. If that card is an Energy, attach it to 1 of your Pokémon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

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

Blacephalon ( As with pretty much every Ultra Beast ) is just a very, very pushed card. Mind Blown is the bread and butter attack on the card, and the aspect of the card you need to build your deck around. You need a ton of Fire Energy in your deck, and means by which to actually put them into play. Also in this set is a new non-GX Naganadel which soaks Energy up from the discard pile onto itself each turn. This Stage 1 is a great partner for Blacephalon here as Mind Blown doesn't care where the Fire Energy are attached. This deck actually feels very similar to Malamar in execution ( Which is a bit disappointing as I'd have much rather seen a pushed archetype that had a different feel to it ) and that is a good thing.

It is also worth pointing out the obvious: Blacephalon is an Ultra Beast and thus can use all of the Ultra Beast support. MAINLY that means it can use Beast Ring as a secondary source of Energy midgame, and as a means to make sure that you don't fall behind on attachments on Blacephalons and miss attacks.

I do want to discuss it's other attacks though, too. Bursting Burner is a solid disruptive attack that reminds me of Espeon-GX's first attack a lot. Burst GX is stupid, and very, very good. Not only is it a guaranteed prize ( like Kartana GX ) but it has the upside of being potential energy acceleration. In a deck running 15+ Fire Energy, it isn't even that unlikely to spike the Energy and reap a huge payoff.

This card feels really, really good, and I think that the Blacephalon/Naganadel deck will be one of the best decks to emerge from Lost Thunder.


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Delibird – Water – HP90
Basic Pokémon

[C] Happy Delivery: Choose any number of your Benched Pokémon without any Pokémon Tools attached to them. Search your deck for up to that many Pokémon Tool cards and attach one to each of the chosen Pokémon. Then, shuffle your deck.

[C][C] Flap: 30 damage.

Weakness: Metal (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

Delibird won't make much of a splash in Standard, but it actually feels like a really cool addition to Tool Drop decks in Expanded where Happy Delivery has an extremely high upside. I'll be honest: Expanded is currently the wild west since there hasn't been a real, large scale tournament for the format since the most recent bannings. I'm not willing to jump to conclusions regarding the viability of Tool Drop, as it is a deck I had minimal experience with even prior to the big shake up.

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Suicune-GX – Water – HP180
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Phantom Wind
Once during your turn (before your attack), if this Pokémon is on your Bench, you may shuffle this Pokémon and all cards attached to it into your deck.

[W][W][C] Cure Stream: 120 damage. During your opponent’s next turn, the Defending Pokémon’s attacks do 30 less damage.

[W][W][C] Brincile GX: 150 damage. Switch this Pokémon with 1 of your Benched Pokémon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When 1 of your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

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

Another "must review a GX" situation here as Suicune is about as middle of the road as it gets. It isn't particularly tanky, it isn't effecient, and it can't really OHKO anything. In instances of decks that are able to really abuse Energy acceleration, there are just better weapons than Suicune. It's Ability is interesting enough, and can probably be a big pain for decks that can't reliably one shot it, but I'm not really drawing up much of a game plan to actually abuse that.

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White Kyurem – Water – HP130
Basic Pokémon

[C][C] Field Crush: 30 damage. Discard your opponent’s Stadium in play.

[W][W][C] Freezing Flame: 80+ damage. If this Pokémon has any [R] Energy attached to it, this attack does 80 more damage.

Weakness: Metal (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3

I don't see this guy doing much in Standard, but in Expanded it may actually be good if Archie's Blastoise stays viable. Its a non-GX/EX attacker, and the deck has already proven it can support a splash secondary energy type in the deck since it has been done with Black Kyurem EX. Hitting 160 damage prior to any additional modifiers could make this a very powerful primary attacker in the deck.

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Primarina – Water – HP150
Stage 2 – Evolves from Brionne

Ability: Harmonics
When you attach an Energy from your hand to 1 of your Pokémon, you may attach up to 2 Energy instead. (Ignore this effect if the Energy is attached with an attack, an Ability other than Harmonics, or a Trainer.)

[W][C][C] Hypnosplash: 80 damage. Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Asleep.

Weakness: Grass (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

While this does offer Energy acceleration, it is very limited and stapled onto a Stage 2 Pokémon. Honestly, just compare this to Vikavolt and then tell me why you would ever play this? Compare it to Magnezone. This is pretty much worse than having a single Malamar in play. It isn't bad in and of itself, and I feel like there were formats where this Ability may have been good enough, but this is not one of them.

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Bruxish – Water – HP90
Basic Pokémon

[W] Mind Bend: 20 damage. Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Confused.

[W][C] Track The Wounded: This attack does 60 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon that already has any damage counters on it. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)

Weakness: Grass (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

"Track the Wounded". WTF. As if this Pokémon wasn't already horrifying. Looking at the art for this card only makes it more nightmarish.

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Mareep – Lightning – HP50
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Fluffy Pillow
Once during your turn (before your attack), if this Pokémon is your Active Pokémon, you may choose to leave your opponent’s Active Pokémon Asleep.

[C][C] Tackle: 20 damage.

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

I don't expect this card to see play, but "free sleep" by promoting this thing with a Float Stone or Escape Board on it is a really cute gimmick. I can't think of WHAT wants to do that, but it isn't terrible!

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Ampharos – Lightning – HP150
Stage 2 – Evolves from Flaaffy

Ability: Invisible Flash
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may put 2 [L] Energy from your hand in the Lost Zone. If you do, leave your opponent’s Active Pokémon Paralyzed.

[L][L] Split Bomb: This attack does 50 damage to 2 of your opponent’s Pokémon (don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon).

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

Auto paralysis is really powerful, and Ampharos' attack actually synergizes really well with it as it lets you pick off other Pokémon while trapping something active. This card would be really potent if Guzma didn't exist, but alas, it does, so it probably won't see play. The damage output of Split Bomb isn't terrible, but it does require a long game, and it will be hard to keep any sort of lock going long enough to win off of it.

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Zebstrika – Lightning – HP110
Stage 1 – Evolves from Blitzle

Ability: Fast Break
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard your hand. Then, draw 4 cards.

[L][C] Head Bolt: 60 damage.

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

Here we go! Zebstrika is the newest addition to the long line of Stage 1 Pokémon that offer draw support. While Octillery did rotate last format, we still have Oranguru, Zoroark GX and Magcargo as viable draw engines. How Zebstrika stacks up against those options is an interesting topic of discussion and honestly one I know I won't do full justice to in the midst of a Set Review. Fast Break is a very risky Ability as it pitches every card from your hand, and that eats through resources. When digging for specific cards, it does dig four cards deeper. I think where it really shines is in decks that really benefit off of discarding cards. You have to find a deck that benefits from discarding cards that also isn't so complex in what it is trying to do that it can't afford to be discarding hands. Blacephalon actually comes to mind, although the deck is already demanding on bench space and the high Energy count eats up deck space too. This card is good, I'm just not sure what the right home for it is now.

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Dedenne – Lightning – HP70
Basic Pokémon

[L] Nuzzle: Flip a coin. If heads, your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Paralyzed.

[L] Nuzzle Bomb: For each of your Pokémon that has the Nuzzle attack, this attack does 10 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)

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

They are really pushing this Nuzzle gimmick, and I can't imagine it ever being good enough for competitive play, but it is still really cool. There are a lot of throw away Pokémon in every set. Not everything is going to be competitive, but I appreciate making new, dynamic and fun cards like this. Also, honestly, 60 anywhere for a Lightning is a legitimate payoff for chasing the gimmick. In Expanded, with Sky Field, this can be even sillier. ( Of course, the cut off for what is good in Expanded is much higher, too. )

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Zeraora-GX – Lightning – HP190
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Electric Zone
Each of your Pokémon that has any [L] Energy attached to it has no Retreat Cost.

[L][L][C] Plasma Fists: 160 damage. This Pokémon can’t attack during your next turn.

[L] Full Voltage GX: Attach 5 basic Energy cards from your discard pile to your Pokemon in any way you like. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When 1 of your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

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

I've never even heard of this Pokemon before reading these translations. ( To be fair, I'd only hear of Blacephalon due to the hype behind it's GX card. It took me way longer than I'd like to admit to learn to pronounce it, too. ) That said, this card feels great. It offers a powerful Ability ( even if we have seen it in Darkrai and Manaphy EX already. ) and has a high HP total making it tough to OHKO. Plasma Fists is powerful, and does just enough damage to justify a 3 attachment attack. It's downside is pretty easily mitigated by Electric Zone, too. Following the path of Turtonator GX, Zeraora's Full Voltage GX attack helps accelerate Energy into play. Unless you want to chase Magnezone as a source of major acceleration, Lightning is a type that is fairly lacking for ways to cheat on Energy, so this attack fills in a major gap for the type. At the very least, having a bench warmer with a game long utility Ability active that ALSO has a one-shot attack to rebuild your board is efficient. You get a LOT of value out of even just one copy of the card.


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Unown – Psychic – HP60
Basic Pokémon

Ability: DAMAGE
Once during your turn (before your attack), if this Pokémon is your Active Pokémon, and your Benched Pokémon have a combined total of at least 66 damage counters on them, you may choose to win the game.

[P] Hidden Power: 10 damage.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

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Unown – Psychic – HP60
Basic Pokémon

Ability: HAND
Once during your turn (before your attack), if this Pokémon is your Active Pokémon, and you have at least 35 cards in your hand, you may choose to win the game.

[P] Hidden Power: 10 damage.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

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Unown – Psychic – HP60
Basic Pokémon

Ability: MISSING
Once during your turn (before your attack), if this Pokémon is your Active Pokémon, and your opponent has at least 12 Supporter cards in the Lost Zone, you may choose to win the game.

[P] Hidden Power: 10 damage.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

NOPE

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Wobbuffet – Psychic – HP110
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Shield Tail
As long as this Pokémon is on your Bench, each player’s Prism Star Pokémon can’t attack and has no Abilities.

[P][C] Knock Away: 30 damage. Flip a coin. If heads, this attack does 30 more damage.

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

Wobbuffet is another example of frustrating design. They print a cool card type in Prism Stars, and a few sets later include one that just makes them totally obsolete if someone cares to do that. I like having cards which counter other cards, but I hate this pure silver bullet approach Pokémon takes. Make the counter cards and strategies remotely interactive, or make them hinder them opposed to outright disable them. Obviously Wobbuffet will see play if there is a Prism Star that is too oppressive, and will see none otherwise.

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Girafarig – Psychic – HP90
Basic Pokémon

[C] Lost Burial: Choose 2 cards from your opponent’s discard pile and put them in the Lost Zone.

[C][C][C] Mind Shock: 70 damage. This attack’s damage isn’t affected by Weakness and Resistance.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

I don't think Girafarig here will do much for Standard at the moment, but a Pokémon with a Colorless attack that can Lost Zone cards in Expanded feels really, really healthy. There are a lot of degenerate means by which to loop cards in Expanded, and this is a good safety net against those types of strategies. Admittedly, this loses some of it's purpose due to the banning of Puzzle of Time, but it's continued presence is a nice check against future issues too.

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Shedinja – Psychic – HP40
Stage 1 – Evolves from Nincada

Ability: Life Vessel
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard all cards attached to this Pokémon and attach it to one of your Pokémon as a Pokemon Tool card. If the Pokemon this card is attached to is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 1 fewer Prize card.

[C] Haunt: Put 3 damage counters on your opponent’s Active Pokémon.

Weakness: none
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

Well this feels like the type of card I'd rather not see printed ever. Being able to spam decks full of Life Dews more or less is just a frustrating mechanic. The only saving grace here is that Field Blower does a lot to keep this in check, but no one really runs the card at the moment. I think this card is actually really good, although the best home for it is up in the air as it can actually pair with basically anything. You need to find what deck can best fit the Evolution line.

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Giratina - Psychic - HP130
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Torn Door
Once during your turn (before you attack), if this Pokémon is in your discard pile, you may play it onto your Bench. Then, put 1 damage counter on 2 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon.

[P][P][C] Shadow Impact: 130 damage. Put 4 damage counters on 1 of your Pokémon.

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

Giratina is an incredible card. Ignoring the Ability for now, it is a 130 HP Basic that does 130 damage for 3 Energy. This has an immediate home in Malamar. Obviously this ends up competing with Deoxys in the deck, and has some pros and cons going for it. With 130 HP and a Weakness of Darkness instead of Psychic, it is going to be very, very good in the mirror if they only run Deoxys. Zoroark OHKOs either fairly easily. The Fighting resistance is big against Buzzwole, as this card is just a nightmare for them to chew through.

On the other hand, it's 3 Retreat Cost makes the Escape Board gimmick no longer feasible, and that is a real blow. The 4 damage on your board isn't free, either, and can really add up against spread decks. Most Malamar decks kind of accept that they are getting OHKOed every turn, so it doesn't make a huge difference. ( Spell Tag, a Tool in this set, coupled ith Torn Door can change this in the mirror match. I actually am curious how much this will add some skill to the mirror match, as it is currently a fairly frustrating matchup to play. )

Torn Door is really, really powerful. First, it lets you bring Giratina back from the dead as often as you'd like. This keeps some pressure off of Rescue Stretcher. It also lets you discard it to Ultra Ball or Mysterious Treasure while setting up and get it back with a bit of spread attached to it. Now, Malamar is a deck that is OHKOing things most turns anyways, so this extra bit of reach is low impact in the deck ( This may change if you play it with a lot of Spell Tags ) but it isn't negligible. One of the most important numbers this lets you hit is reducing a Lycanroc GX to 190 HP. This leaves it in OHKO for a Necrozma GX with only 3 Energy. This was one of the most awkward KOs for the deck to get, so I do think that is a huge net win for Malamar.

I want to look at potential Expanded applications, too. I'd love to explore pairing this with either Mega Gardevoir EX or the new Cofagrigus from this set. Both have attacks that do damage for every Benched Pokémon you choose to discard when attacking. Giratina plays the role of Exeggcute on that front, coming back every turn to the bench to reload. Only this time, you also get to trigger all copies' damage placement. Potentially placing 8 additional damage counters a turn is very real game, and can quickly let you jump ahead in prizes. Being able to use Hoopa EX and Shaymin EX early to set up while not having to leave them clogging your bench after your first attack is a real strength as well. This might be the best card in the set.

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Sigilyph-GX – Psychic – HP170
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Mirror Counter
If this Pokémon is your Active PPokémon and is damaged by an attack from your opponent’s Pokémon-GX or Pokémon-EX (even if this Pokemon is Knocked Out), put damage counters on the Attacking Pokemon equal to the damage done to this Pokemon.

[P][C][C] Sonic Wing: 80 damage. This attack’s damage isn’t affected by Resistance.

[P][C][C] Intercept GX: 60x damage. This attack does 60 damage times the number of Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokémon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When 1 of your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

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

Hey! Its a GX! You know what that means...actually Sigilyph isn't that bad. You get the standard one time use big burst GX attack paired with a below average main attack. Mirror Counter is a good way to punish decks that can only attack with GX or EX Pokémon, so thats interesting. Most non-GX Pokémon can't OHKO this guy, so it can be leveraged to some grindy, long games. This doesn't prevent damage from GX Pokémon, but it does punish them, which is a nice change of pace. I actually am not really comfortable with evaluation how much of a threat Mirror Counter ends up being without playing it. I wish it had even slightly better attacks, because this card is very intriguing.

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Cofagrigus – Psychic – HP120
Stage 1 – Evolves from Yamask

[P][C] Soul Juggling: 10+ damage. Discard as many of your Benched Pokémon as you like. This attack does 30 more damage for each Benched Pokémon you discarded in this way.

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

I touched on this card when talking about Giratina earlier, and I'm not sure if its good enough for Standard. It doesn't get Sky Field OR Dimension Valley like it would in Expanded, and thats a big deal. It could leverage Counter Energy, though. While it CAN hit for 160 damage, that is basically not viable because you can't leave yourself with no bench as it's 120 damage is pretty frail. It just feels terrible against Zoroark, which is a big problem. In Expanded, it has to compete with Mega Gardevoir, and maybe it can, but my gut has me leaning towards choosing Gardevoir for that deck.

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Nihilego – Psychic – HP110
Basic Pokémon (Ultra Beast)

[P] Nightcap: This attack can only be used when your opponent has 2 Prize cards remaining. Choose an attack on 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon in play, and use it as this attack.

[P] Empty Tentacles: Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Poisoned and Confused.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

So far, these prize conditional Ultra Beasts haven't seen a lot of play, excluding Buzzwole of course. Nihilego is basically useless OUTSIDE of that key turn, but it feels SO powerful there that this may buck the trend and be strong enough to actually see play. Oddly enough, most of the decks that have really degenerate attacks ( Vikaray, Malamar, Blacephalon, etc ) all have damage which keys off of Energy in play, and Nightcap doesn't really play well with that.

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Naganadel – Psychic – HP130
Stage 1 (Ultra Beast) – Evolves from Poipole

Ability: Charge Up
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may attach a basic Energy from your discard pile to this Pokémon.

[C][C][C] Turning Point: 80+ damage. If you have exactly 3 Prize cards remaining, this attack does 80 more damage.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

Naganadel plays very well with Blacephalon ( I have to actually pause and think every time I type that name still. ) as a battery. I can see it also potentially playing well with Rayquaza GX, although no where near as well as Vikavolt would so thats a non-issue.

Even ignoring degenerate applications of Charge Up, Naganadel is a strong card. A 130 HP Psychic attacker that slowly powers itself up is a decent attacker, particularly against Malamar and Buzzwole decks. It also hits that "sweet spot" at 3 prizes left, and at that point becomes a premier attacker. You really do need a primary attacker that cares about it's battery usage, but in those decks it does admirably as a supporting attacker. This is another one of the better cards in the set.

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Onix – Fighting – HP120
Basic Pokémon

[C][C][C][C] Land Crush: 120 damage.

Weakness: Grass (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 4

Onix serves one role: Zoroark counter. You really need the Energy acceleration to pull it off, but it is a clean OHKO on a Basic one prizer, so it fulfills that role really well. Mainly, expect it to see some play as an alternative to Marshadow GX in Malamar builds, particularly those that can support a few copies of DCE.

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Donphan – Fighting – HP130
Stage 1 – Evolves from Phanpy

Ability: Sturdy
If this Pokémon has full HP and would be Knocked Out by damage from an attack, this Pokémon is not Knocked Out and its remaining HP becomes 10 instead.

[F][C][C] Rolling Spin: 70 damage. During your next turn, this Pokémon’s Rolling Spin attack does 70 more damage.

Weakness: Grass (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3

Donphan here is only good for it's Ability, but it is a very good Ability indeed. With 130 HP, it walls decently for a mill deck. Pairing this with a bunch of healing cards seems extremely obnoxious, if not legitimately good. More importantly, it is a Pokémon you can hit and run into in Expanded for the old Donphan deck. I'm not saying Donphan is particularly viable either, but it does feel like it would be a decent enough single copy in that deck as a way to save prizes.

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Tyranitar-GX – Darkness – HP250
Stage 2 – Evolves from Pupitar

Ability: Lost Out
If 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon is Knocked Out by damage from this Pokémon’s attacks, put that Pokémon and all cards attached to it into the Lost Zone.

[D][D][C] Vicious Sandstorm: 130 damage. This attack does 30 damage to each of your opponent’s Benched Basic Pokémon.

[D][D][C] Smack Down GX: 220 damage. This attack’s damage isn’t affected by any effects on the Defending Pokémon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When 1 of your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

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

While Lost Out is a cool Ability, I don't think it actually -does- that much meaningful. While Tyranitar unsurprisingly gets another big burst damage GX attack in Smackdown GX, Vicious Sandstorm is actually really impressive. 130 damage AND 30 to all of their Benched Basics? That can be really crippling for a lot of decks. The problem is that the DDC attack cost is truly prohibitive on a Stage 2 Pokémon. The Fighting weakess is also very, very big problem, although there are a lot of cards in this set that I feel hinder Buzzwole's viability going forward so it is less of a death sentence. I like this card, but I don't think it will end up being playable.

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Scizor – Metal – HP120
Stage 1 – Evolves from Scyther

Ability: Exoskeleton
This Pokémon takes 30 less damage from attacks.

[M][C] Special Blow: 60 damage. If your opponent’s Active Pokémon has any Special Energy attached to it, this attack does 70 more damage.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
Retreat: 1

Now THIS card seems really good. I've been fixated on Metal Frying Pan lately, pairing it with Registeel, Celesteela, and Solgaleo Prism Star amongst others. Pairing it with Exoskeleton feels absolutely filthy. Even if Field Blower sees a spike in play ( Shedinja and Spell Tag are potential causes for this. ) Scizor is tanky enough on it's own. Against Malamar, it takes 80 less damage per attack! This is a great card to FORCE them to attack with GX Pokémon and walk into Shrines or other counter measures. The damage isn't great, but it can be boosted with Dhelmise, too. This is a card I haven't seen much hype around, but something I can see as being a legitimate sleeper.

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Dialga – Metal – HP130
Basic Pokémon

[M][C][C] Time Down: 60 damage. Devolve your opponent’s Active Evolved Pokémon and put the highest Stage Evolution card into their hand.

[M][M][C][C] Power Blast: 130 damage. Discard 1 Energy attached to this Pokémon.

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

I'm a fan of any 130 HP Basic that can also do 130 damage with it's attack. Power Blast probably needs to be paired with Magnezone, or Bronzongs in Expanded, but Time Down is really interesting because it is a clean OHKO on a Zoroark GX. ( Admittedly for only 1 prize. ) It is also costed at a rate that can be powered up "fairly". Get a Frying Pan on this thing and it is threatening to take out multiple Zoroark at a time. I don't think this is doing anything super exciting or innovative, but it fels like a roleplayer in multiple decks.

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Genesect-GX – Metal – HP180
Basic Pokémon

Ability: Double Cassette
You may attach up to 2 Pokémon Tool cards to this Pokémon. (If this Ability stops working, discard Pokémon Tools from this Pokémon until there is 1 remaining.)

[M][M][C] Blast Bomb: 130 damage.

[M][M][C] Break Buster: 190 damage. Don’t apply Resistance for this attack’s damage. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When 1 of your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

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

I mean I know I'm at the Metal type section of the set, but here we go with the Frying Pan conversation again...Genesect is a 180 HP attacker that can dual wield Frying Pans to get even bulkier. I feel like the pay off for the Frying Pans is a lot higher on single prize attackers, but since this can wear two, I'm interested. Also worth noting is that it can carry two Choice Band to hit for a lot of damage, as well, if you want to explore that avenue. In Expanded, a pair of Fighting Fury Belt actually seems really interesting as you end up with 260 HP and a modified damage of 150/210. I am clearly very interested in the Frying Pan gimmick, but I think I'd rather NOT lean on a GX as the core of the game plan and feel like there are better options than Genesect even though I do feel it is a fundamentally good card.

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Alolan Ninetales-GX – Fairy – HP200
Stage 1 – Evolves from Alolan Vulpix

Ability: Mysterious Guidance
When you play this card from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokémon during your turn, you may search your deck for up to 2 Item cards, reveal them, and put them into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

[Y][C] Snowy Wind: 70 damage. This attack does 30 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)

[Y][C] Sublimation GX: If your opponent’s Active Pokémon is an Ultra Beast, it is Knocked Out. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

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

Alolan Ninetales-GX is another one of the cards in the set to get a lot of hype. It benefits from a powerful consistency boosting Ability in Mysterious Guidance. Grabbing 2 Item cards not only smooths over early game draws but it enables any deck running this to pack a toolbox of options in the deck too. I've seen people playing this over Magcargo in some decks as it offers stronger starts but also silver bullets Ultra Beasts with it's GX attack. Being a Fairy Type, Ninetales is also able to OHKO a Rayquaza GX with a Choice Band, and can do the same to an Ultra Necrozma GX. ( Although Sublimation GX also answers Necrozma there. ) Ninetales is a great counter against Rayquaza, Blacephalon, Buzzwole, and Ultra Necrozma. These uses tacked onto a consistency card make it very appealing.

On top of this, it branches off of Alolan Vulpix, which is in and of itself a good card. You can also play the non-GX Alolan Ninetales to wall off GX Pokémon. Snowy Wind is also just a decent attack in general, as the bench damage can either pick off Pokémon or set them up. With 200 HP and a resistance to Darkness, Ninetales is even a reasonable attacker against Zoroark decks.

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Granbull – Fairy – HP130
Stage 1 – Evolves from Snubbull

[Y] Dead Broke: 30 damage. If you have no cards in your hand, this attack does 130 more damage.

[Y][Y][Y] Giant Fang: 110 damage.

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

Granbull is a great attacker if you can reliably expect to be able to empty your hand every turn. Doing 160 damage prior to any additional modifiers for a Basic Energy on a non-GX is incredible, but the set up does ask a lot of you. You have to run a bunch of cards that are easy to filter out of your hand every turn. Ultra Ball is your best friend and I imagine you want to run Apricorn Makers to best reliably be able to purge cards. Lost Mixer, a new Item card that lets you Lost Zone two cards from your hand to draw a card also can help get rid of pesky, stuck cards. Some combination of Magcargo and Oranguru is probably necessary too as you have to strike a balance between emptying your hand each turn while still also being able to rebuild when Granbull does go down. I expect this will be a fun deck to play, but too awkward to be super competitive.

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Gardevoir – Fairy – HP130
Stage 2 – Evolves from Kirlia

[Y] Brilliant Search: Search your deck for up to 3 cards and put them in your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

[Y][C][C] Sensitive Ray: 70+ damage. If you played a Supporter card from your hand during this turn, this attack does 90 more damage.

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

Gardevoir makes an decent addition alongside Gardevoir GX as a one prize attacker option since Gallade rotated. I think Gardevoir GX is really poorly positioned, and don't expect that to change. As a result, I don't think Gardevoir offers enough to change that. I considered using Gardevoir GX to power up multiple Gardevoir as your core attacker, but with 130 HP as a Stage 2, Gardevoir is just too easy to KO no matter how good the rate on Sensitive Ray is.

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Carbink – Fairy – HP90
Basic Pokémon

[C][C] Wonder Ray: 30 damage. Prevent all effects of attacks, including damage, done to this Pokémon by the attacks of your opponent’s Pokémon with Abilities during your opponent’s next turn.

[Y][C][C] Power Gem: 60 damage.

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

Never rule out Pokémon that can wall off a large portion of popular Pokémon. I think Carbink is too easily worked around, unfortunately.

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Xerneas Prism Star – Fairy – HP160
Basic Pokémon

You can’t have more than 1 Prism Star card with the same name in your deck. If a Prism Star card would go to the discard pile, put it in the Lost Zone instead.

Ability: Life Road
Once during your turn (before your attack), when this Pokémon moves from your bench to become your Active Pokémon, you may move any number of Energy from your other Pokémon to this Pokémon.

[Y][Y][Y] Bright Horns: 160 damage. This Pokémon can’t use Bright Horns during your next turn.

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

I don't find Xerneas super exciting, but if I'm a fan of 130 HP/130 damage basics, I have to support this card to some degree. The problem is, Fairy is not a type that really has the means to put a lot of Energy into play. Yes, Life Road mitigates that to a degree as Xerneas can soak up Energy, but you still make a 3 Energy investment into it as an attacker and if it goes down, thats still 3 turns of attachments. Fairy as a type is just in an awkward place right now. This card is good, there just isn't a Fairy deck to play it in yet.

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Mimikyu-GX – Fairy – HP170
Basic Pokémon

[Y] Perplex: Your opponent’s Active Pokémon is now Confused.

[Y][C] Cascading Barrage: 10+ damage. This attack does 30 more damage for each damage counter on your opponent’s Active Pokémon.

[Y] Dream Fear GX: Shuffle 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon and all cards attached to it into their deck. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: none
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

Dream Fear GX is effecient enough that it avoids my standard "it doesn't do damage or take prizes" criticism of attacks. Cascading Barrage is an interesting attack, as it is really, really good at KOing damaged Pokémon, but needs a bit of set up to get there. I'm not sure the best way to try and leverage it, though. I could see it alongside Greninja GX or Decidueye GX as a source of damage each turn. Something like Tapu Koko and an otherwise "fair" grindier spread deck sounds bad, actually, as you give up a few KOs early so shifting into GX Pokémon to "sweep" with doesn't work out well. I don't expect Mimikyu to do a lot, but it isn't a bad card.

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Ditto Prism Star – Colorless – HP40
Basic Pokémon

You can’t have more than 1 Prism Star card with the same name in your deck. If a Prism Star card would go to the discard pile, put it in the Lost Zone instead.

Ability: Evolve Into Anything
During your turn, you may play a Stage 1 Evolution card from your hand onto this Pokémon to evolve it (excluding your first turn and the turn this Pokémon comes into play).

Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1

Ditto Prism Star is awesome. You can run it as effectively a "fifth" Basic of your deck's evolution line. If you run a deck with multiple Evolution lines, it really smooths everything over. Decks such as Zoroark/Banette/Garbodor, that run very thin lines of it's supporting attackers will love this. Looking at Buzz/Garb/Weavile which often runs only a 1/1 Weavile line, you can see how it would love to add a Ditto to the deck. Ditto doesn't do too much to open up really degenerate strategies, but it does make decks more consistent and can also let greedier decks function better.

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Lugia-GX – Colorless – HP190
Basic Pokemon

[C][C][C] Psychic: 30+ damage. This attack does 30 more damage times the amount of Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.

[C][C][C][C] Wadatsumi’s Spear: 170 damage. This Pokemon can’t use Wadatsumi’s Spear during your next turn.

[C][C][C] Lost Purge GX: Put your opponent Active Pokemon and all cards attached to it into their Lost Zone. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

When your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

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

Lugia GX doesn't feel super exciting to me, but it is a solid card. I don't think Psychic's rate is good enough to be appealing. It's second attack is a bit more interesting, as 170 is a lot of damage and it sticking around long enough for the downside to be an issue is a win in my book anyways. I don't think either attack is better than what other cards in the format do, even if it is a Colorless attacker.

Lost Purge GX is another copy of the old "fling a Pokemon away" attack, but sending it to the Lost Zone is an interesting twist and can punish thinner lines pretty well. Also worth noting is that it flings the active, so decks such as Sylveon are still vulnerable to it even if they don't leave a bench.

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Trumbeak – Colorless – HP80
Stage 1 – Evolves from Pikipek

Ability: Mountain Ferry
Once during your turn (before your attack), if this card is in your hand, you may place it in the Lost Zone. If you do, look at the top card of your opponent’s deck, then return it to the top of your opponent’s deck. If the card is a Supporter, put it in the Lost Zone instead.

[C][C] Peck: 30 damage

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

Trumbeak is just a free Pokemon in the Lost Zone for Lost March. While SOMETIMES you may snipe a key Supporter, it is really unlikely and not why you run the card. It is merely a means to an end to power up the damage multiplier for Jumpluff and Natu.

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Adventuring Satchel – Trainer
Item

Search your deck for up to 2 Pokemon Tool cards, reveal them, and put them into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

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

Satchel is a powerful card, but it does demand a deck that actively abuses Tools to be worth it. This isn't the type of card you run just to reliably draw into your Choice Bands. Playing this in something like Tool Drop, where you want a critical mass of Tools is a far better application. If you want to focus on Standard, this card works well in the Rotom deck, as it previously struggled to draw into enough Tools to be able to discard early enough to start attacking. Don't get me wrong: I still think the Rotom deck is bad, but it becomes far smoother as a result of this card.

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Aether Foundation Employee – Trainer
Supporter

Put 3 Alolan Pokemon from your discard pile into your hand.

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

There aren't that many powerful Alolan Pokemon, and as a Supporter, I can't imagine this ever being played over Rescue Stretcher.

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Choice Helmet – Trainer
Item

Pokemon Tool: Attach a Pokemon Tool to 1 of your Pokemon that doesn’t already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it.

The Pokemon this card is attached to takes 30 less damage from the attacks of your opponent’s Pokemon-GX and Pokemon-EX.

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

I know I've been touting the strength of Metal Frying Pan, but part of the reason I love that card is because of how good it is against non-GX decks like Buzz Garb. I don't generally like defensive Tools or Stadiums. 30 damage is a BIG deal, though. My gut is warning me against this, but it may actually see play. I'm a bit concerned because there are a lot of cards printed in this set that encourage players to add Field Blower back to their lists, and that greatly weakens the impact of this card.

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Counter Gain – Trainer
Item – Pokemon Tool

Attach a Pokemon Tool to 1 of your Pokemon that doesn’t already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it.

As long as you have more Prize cards remaining than your opponent, the attacks of the Pokemon this card is attached to cost [C] less.

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

Counter Gain is an incredible card. One of the hardest "rules" of the game to break is the one Energy per turn attachment limitation and cards which let you cheat on that are almost always playable. This is basically a free attachment, with the limitation being that you have to be losing. Right now, one of the main criticisms of this Standard format is that the games all snowball: If a player starts out ahead, it is difficult to break serve. This is a valid criticism, so cards which help players play from behind are welcome. There is a limit to how badly you can abuse this, because you are a bit at the mercy of your opponent if they choose not to go ahead of you in prize cards taken. This feels really powerful in any sort of spread deck, although most of those already abuse Counter Energy. The big difference between this and Counter Energy is that Gain can be used with GX and EX Pokemon and that opens up a whole slew of new options. Just looking at this set alone, it pairs really well with Alolan Ninetales GX, as not only does it allow Ninetales to attack for one attachment, but it's Ability even searches up the Counter Gain. I expect this card to see a lot of play, particularly in decks running Magcargo or other means by which to search them out.

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Custom Catcher – Trainer
Item

You may play 2 Custom Catcher cards at once:

If you played 1 card, draw cards from your deck until you have 3 cards in your hand.
If you played 2 cards, choose 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon and switch it with their Active Pokemon.

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

I hate this card. This is a lot of work to go through to get an admittedly powerful effect. Don't let that mislead you though. This isn't Puzzle of Time. This is a clunky Item card that duplicates an effect we have multiple other ways to obtain. We have Guzma, Counter Catcher and Lycanroc GX amongst other clunkier options. This is a hoop we don't need to jump through.

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Electric Power – Trainer
Item

During this turn, your [L] Pokemon’s attacks do 30 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.

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

Triple Plus Power? Sign me up! I think this card is fantastic and finally offers a reason to play Lightning Pokemon, as it has been a really, really weak type for awhile now. I'm still not sure what deck I'd play this in, but there has to be SOME shell that is aggressive enough to really take advantage of this.

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Faba – Trainer
Supporter

Choose 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon Tool cards, Special Energy cards, or Stadiums in play, and put it in the Lost Zone.

You can only use 1 Supporter card during your turn (before you attack).

Xerosic saw a ton of play, and this card can also answer Stadium cards. In Standard, the lack of VS Seeker and Battle Compressor makes this a much less appealing option now than Xerosic was when it was legal. The game is pretty hostile towards Tapu Lele GX now even, so situational Supporters like this are particularly weak. None the less, the card itself is GOOD, even if the climate right now for it is not very receptive.

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Fairy Charm [G] – Trainer
Item

Pokemon Tool: Attach a Pokemon Tool to 1 of your Pokemon that doesn’t already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it.

Prevent all damage done to the [Y] Pokemon that this card is attached to by the attacks of your opponent’s [G] Pokemon-GX and Pokemon-EX.

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

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Fairy Charm [P] – Trainer
Item

Pokemon Tool: Attach a Pokemon Tool to 1 of your Pokemon that doesn’t already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it.

Prevent all damage done to the [Y] Pokemon that this card is attached to by the attacks of your opponent’s [P] Pokemon-GX and Pokemon-EX.

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

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Fairy Charm [F] – Trainer
Item

Pokemon Tool: Attach a Pokemon Tool to 1 of your Pokemon that doesn’t already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it.

Prevent all damage done to the [Y] Pokemon that this card is attached to by the attacks of your opponent’s [F] Pokemon-GX and Pokemon-EX.

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

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Fairy Charm [N] – Trainer
Item

Pokemon Tool: Attach a Pokemon Tool to 1 of your Pokemon that doesn’t already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it.

Prevent all damage done to the [Y] Pokemon that this card is attached to by the attacks of your opponent’s [N] Pokemon-GX and Pokemon-EX.

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


I'll lump all of these together, even though its obvious that their individual strength varies with the strength of the type they brickwall. These are obnoxious little cards, but finally something thrown Fairy types' way. I think it is too easy to work around them, unfortunately. Most decks have multiple types of attackers, and Field Blower/Faba exist. Also...Fairy is a weak type. Just running a bunch of various types and hoping to stonewall decks is just not going to be a viable strategy. Its clunky and conditional and eats up a ton of deck space. What I can see working is having a normal, real deck that happens to need a little help against a specific deck that happens to be one of these types. Adding a copy or two in those scenarios may actually be very effective.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Heat Factory Prism Star – Trainer
Stadium

You can’t have more than 1 Prism Star card with the same name in your deck. If a Prism Star card would go to the discard pile, put it in the Lost Zone instead.

Once during your turn (before you attack) you may discard a [R] Energy from your hand. If you do, draw 3 cards.

As long as this Stadium is in play, whenever a player uses and Item or Supporter card from their hand, prevent all effects of those cards done to this Stadium.

This card stays in play when you play it. Discard this card if another Stadium comes into play. If another card with the same name is in play, you can’t play this card.

All of the Prism Star stadiums are great. They are pushed appropriately for being Prism Stars, and you should more or less run a copy of them if you are playing their supported type. This is an upgrade over Scorched Earth ( albeit you can't also discard Fighting Energy ) and that Stadium was pretty good. The jump from 2 cards to 3 cards is substantial. Blacephalon really wants discard outlet for Fire Energy, and even the Kiawe decks are desperate for non-Supporter draw power. This is an all-star printing for Fire decks.

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Kahili – Trainer
Supporter

Draw 2 cards. Then flip a coin. If heads, put this Kahili back into your hand instead of discarding it.

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

Drawing 2 cards is just too low impact, and having to see this thing back in your hand is more insult to injury than it is a selling point.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Life Forest Prism Star – Trainer
Stadium

You can’t have more than 1 Prism Star card with the same name in your deck. If a Prism Star card would go to the discard pile, put it in the Lost Zone instead.

Once during each player’s turn, that player may heal 60 damage and remove all Special Conditions from 1 of their [G] Pokemon.

As long as this Stadium is in play, whenever a player uses an Item or Supporter card from their hand, prevent all effects of those cards done to this Stadium.

This card stays in play when you play it. Discard this card if another Stadium card comes into play. If another card with the same name is in play, you can’t play this card.

Healing 60 damage is pretty absurd, although it doesn't do much in matchups where the opponent is able to score OHKOs. Unfortunately that is a reasonable percentage of the field. ( Malamar, Rayquaza, Blacephalon, etc ) Still, in any grindier matchup, this card will shine. This is almost an auto inclusion in any Grass deck.

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Lost Mixer – Trainer
Item

Put 2 cards from your hand in the Lost Zone. Then, draw 1 card from your deck. (If you can’t put 2 cards from your hand in the Lost Zone, this card can’t be played.)

You can use as many Item cards as you want during your turn (before you attack).

This is another card whose purpose is to enable to Lost March deck. That said, it also can be used for any deck that wants to empty cards out of their hand for less sinister purposes. I explored Maintenance in Mega Rayquaza decks as a means to get rid of cards that clogged my hand to "go off" with Shaymin EX's Set Ups, and it functione fairly well. It isn't atrocious in decks using Magcargo and Oranguru, either. I'd be surprised if it is used for such fair functions though. I do expect it to see play with Granbull since that deck needs to empty it's hand every turn and this is one of the best ways to do that. Whether Granbull proves to be viable or a gimmick will be seen.

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Lusamine Prism Star – Trainer
Supporter

You can’t have more than 1 Prism Star card with the same name in your deck. If a Prism Star card would go to the discard pile, put it in the Lost Zone instead.

You can only play this card if your opponent has 3 Prize cards remaining.

Prevent all damage done to your Ultra Beasts by your opponent’s attacks during your opponent’s next turn.

You can only use 1 Supporter card during your turn (before you attack).

Here we go with another prize count related Ultra Beast card. There are a few things to think about when evaluating this card. It is dead outside of one key turn, so you have to reliably be able to draw to it. This usually means Magcargo or Tapu Lele GX. This protects all of your Ultra Beasts, so IDEALLY you can manufacture a "safe turn" where you can't give up a prize. Unfortunately having benched Magcargo or Lele, non-Ultra Beasts, you give up that strength to Guzma. The card is still good, but it is tough to line up right. If you end up playing an all Ultra Beast deck, I think you just play this and hope to draw it at the right time as the payoff is ridiculous.

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Mina – Trainer
Supporter

Search your deck for a [Y] Energy and attach it to 1 of your Pokemon. Then, shuffle your deck.

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

As I've stressed, Energy acceleration is always good, although giving up your Supporter for a turn to attach a specific type of Basic Energy to one Pokemon is really low impact. While Fairy does seem to be one of the weaker types at the moment, the attachment isn't limited to Fairy Pokemon and that does widen the applications of the card. I don't think this will see play though as the tier one decks are all so degenerate in what they do that this sort of "cheating" feels far too innocent and low powered.

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Mix Herb – Trainer
Item

You may play 2 Mix Herb cards at once.

If you played 1 card, remove 1 Special Condition from your Active Pokemon.
If you played 2 cards, remove all Special Conditions and 90 damage from your Active Pokemon.

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

My criticism of Custom Catcher applies here too, but less so. Healing effects generally aren't very good, but there also aren't actually that many good options in Standard right now. I don't want to play these, but at least they aren't so easily replaced.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Moo-Moo Milk – Trainer
Item

Choose 1 of your Pokemon. Flip 2 coins. For each heads, heal 30 damage from that Pokemon.

You can use as many Item cards as you want during your turn (before you attack).

Basically repeat my feelings on Mix Herb here. This card doesn't feel very good, but there isn't a lot of competition for their role.

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Morty – Trainer
Supporter

You can only play this card if 1 of your [P] Pokemon was Knocked Out during your opponent’s last turn.

Your opponent reveals their hand. Choose 2 cards you find there and your opponent shuffles them into their deck.

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

While this obviously requires you to play a Psychic deck and does only work on a turn you just ate a KO, stripping the opponent of two cards feels absolutely busted. It isn't hard to get rid of all the opponents Supporters and leave them with a dead hand. At the very least, getting rid of Guzma/ways to get Guzma can swing a LOT of games. Pairing this with Marshadow's Let Loose feels crippling as well. I'm actually really high on this card. In Expanded, this feels really degenerate in Trevenant as well.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Net Ball – Trainer
Item

Search your deck for a basic [G] Pokemon or a [G] Energy, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

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

We've seen what Mysterious Treasure has done for Malamar decks ( and Psychic/Dragon decks in general ) as having 8 "good" search Items ( alongside Ultra Ball ) does a tremendous amount to make a deck smooth. While I'd argue the discard clause on Treasure is actually a strength and not a weakness, Net Ball remains very good without it. Being able to double as a Grass Energy is extremely strong, and this should be a 4 of in basically any Grass deck. This is an intrical part of Lost March as it helps get Hoppips early while also letting you save space but trimming on the amount of Grass Energy you have to play. In that particular deck, since you really need to "go off" early, you can't get away with clogging the deck with a bunch of Energy cards. Having a versatile Item card in place of extra Grass Energy is a major upgrade.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Professor Elm’s Lecture – Trainer
Supporter

Search your deck for up to 3 Pokemon with 60 HP or less, reveal them, and put them into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

You can only use 1 Supporter card during your turn (before you attack )

Lecture is a really, really good card and will see an immediate home in Zoroark decks and in Lost March. This card is similar to Brigette, but it can get low HP evolutions. For Lost March, this means Skiploom. While this -CAN- grab Inkays, I actually don't think Malamar decks would want to run this, just as I felt Brigette was a trap in the deck last format. You need too any moving parts, and getting your Pokemon out is one of the things the deck does NOT need help with. This card makes Evolution lines with available 60 HP Basics stronger. Expect Zororoc decks to return to 60 HP Rockruffs ( or at least a few copies of the 60 HP one in a split ) over the newer 70 HP one that has been embraced lately.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sightseer – Trainer
Supporter

Draw cards from your deck until you have 5 cards in your hand. Before drawing, you may discard any number of cards from your hand.

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

Sightseer feels really strong at first glance, but I'm not sure how good it will be in practice. It isn't the greatest turn one play, which makes things awkward as currently most decks are running roughly 8 draw Supporters. You can't really go much lower than that on strong opening plays, so Sightseer probably has to be played in addition to these cards. This card is better than something like Tate and Liza, and is better midgame than Lillie is. Sightseer works really well with Magcargo's Smooth Over too. Decks like Malamar and Blacephalon that actively benefit off of discarded cards also will love this. I like this card as Supporters 7-10 in decks that want to go that high, but I think it is still worse than Cynthia and Lillie overall.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Spell Tag – Trainer
Item

Pokemon Tool: Attach a Pokemon Tool to 1 of your Pokémon that doesn’t already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it.

If the [P] Pokémon this card is attached to is Knocked Out by damage from an opponent’s attack, put 4 damage counters on your opponent’s Pokemon in any way you like.

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

Placing 4 Damage Counters across all of your opponent's Pokemon is a really big deal. Unlike Bursting Balloon ( Which also gets discarded after a turn of attachment, whether it gets triggered or not ) Tag can split the damage between multiple Pokemon. The most obvious place to put this card is in Standard's premier Psychic deck: Malamar. Acknowledging that Giratina is going to be a major presence in the deck, you have a non-GX Pokemon that hits for 130...if it gets KOed, thats 4 more damage counters for effectively 170 damage in a "turn" cycle. Toss in assorted Shrine of Punishment damage, Giratina Ability damage, and a potential spread attack or two, it is really easy for Giratina to go from "OHKOing non-GX Pokemon" to actually just OHKOing GX Pokemon as well.

One argument I will make about this card in Malamar...the deck has generally been able to OHKO a Pokémon every turn ANYWAYS, without the gimmick. Including the Spell Tags is not free as they eat up a lot of space, and I'm not 100% sure it is necessary as extra speed may actually just be better. If hype behind these and other Tools in this set get high enough and Field Blower gets more comon, I'm even less excited to be crutching on Spell Tag for damage. That isn't me being down on the card...it is very, very good. I just am not blindly all-in on it either.

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Thunder Mountain Prism Star – Trainer
Stadium

You can’t have more than 1 Prism Star card with the same name in your deck. If a Prism Star card would go to the discard pile, put it in the Lost Zone instead.

The attacks of each player’s [L] Pokémon cost [L] less.

As long as this Stadium is in play, whenever a player uses an Item or Supporter card from their hand, prevent all effects of those cards done to this Stadium.

This card stays in play when you play it. Discard this card if another Stadium card comes into play. If another card with the same name is in play, you can’t play this card.

Ways to cheat on Energy are good, remember? This is a rare instance of a card that reduces a specific type of Energy in attack costs! Lightning as a type needs all the help it can get, and this is a pretty powerful card. I think it is the strongest ( on paper ) of the Prism Star Stadium cards, but I'm not sure it will have the most impact just because Lightning is such a weak type.

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React Hammer – Trainer
Item

This card can only be used by the player going second, on their first turn.

Discard an Energy from one of your opponent’s Pokemon in play.

You can use as many Item cards as you want during your turn (before you attack).

The Hammer here is really situational. You have to lose the opening flip to ever have a window to use it, and you have to see a copy of it on the first turn. It is a powerful effect, but not even one that makes a huge difference, if I can be honest. Malamar decks cheat on attachments pretty aggressively. Vikaray too. Zoroark and Buzz Garb decks attack for one attachment. This card can disrupt openings, but most decks can shrug it off well enough that I don't think I'd run it.

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Whitney – Trainer
Supporter

Draw 1 card. Draw an additional 2 cards for each Whitney in your discard pile (excluding this one).

You can only use 1 Supporter card during your turn (before you attack).

Whitney is too awkward and clunky for Standard, as the tools to abuse it do not exist and trying to fairly snowball this into an acceptable Supporter ( your 3rd copy ) is just a losing strategy. In Expanded, though, it is a whole different story! With Battle Compressor to discard 3 copies of the card out of the deck, and VS Seeker to re-use the 4th copy over the span of a game, it is not hard to see how this card could be one of the premier draw Supporters of the format. It does eat up a lot of space in a deck, and there are a lot of other pretty degenerate draw engines, so I don't expect most decks to use it, but I'd be surprised if none do.

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Memory Energy – Special Energy

This card provides [C] Energy.

The Pokemon this card is attached to can use the attacks of its previous Evolutions (it still needs the necessary Energy to perform the attack).

Generally these types of cards aren't that impactful. There are always rare instances where the attacks of lower Evolution stages offer degenerate attacks when paired with their highest stages ( such as Stoutland in Expanded ) but its usually rare. In Expanded there are better ways to gain access to this than Memory Energy, and there aren't that many abusive ways to use this in Standard...yet.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think this is a really strong set with a lot of playable cards, but none that I feel risk being oppressive. Most previously existing decks should stay viable, and I would be surprised if Blacephalon doesn't settle into being a tier one deck. Lost March I'm unsure of, but it would not surprise me to see it as another viable one prize attacker deck. Beyond the Pokémon, we have a lot of powerful Trainers coming in this set that will change the way decks get build.

Finally, to conclude this article I want to include the top two decks from Champions League Tokyo, an event held on my birthday ( September 16th! ) in Japan where over 1200 Masters competed. The event was won by a Spell Tag Malamar deck which beat a Blacephalon/Naganadel deck in the finals.


Spell Tag Malamar, Masataka Hirano
----------------------
4 Inkay
4 Malamar
2 Tapu Koko
2 Giratina
1 Onix
1 Necrozma GX
1 Shining Arceus
1 Lunala Prism Star
1 Tapu Lele GX

10 Psychic Energy
2 Double Colorless Energy

4 Cynthia
3 Lillie
3 Guzma
2 Tate and Liza
2 TV Reporter
1 Judge
4 Mysterious Treasure
3 Nest Ball
2 Ultra Ball
2 Rescue Stretcher
4 Spell Tag
1 Shrine of Punishment

Masataka ran a more spread oriented Malamar list that was conducive to sweeping with Giratinas with Spell Tag. Onix was there was a counter to Zoroark, and Necrozma GX made the cut as a cannon option for when it was appropriate. I'm honestly not a fan of the TV Reporters and anything less than 4 Ultra Ball in this list, but I'm sure the Trainers can be tweaked. The Pokemon are really interesting and I like what he was doing with this deck as a whole. It is a very good starting point to get a feel for what Giratina does the Malamar.

Blacephalon, Misaki Miyamoto
-------------------
4 Blacephalon GX
4 Poipole
3 Naganadel
2 Tapu Lele GX

4 Sightseer
3 Cynthia
2 Guzma
1 Lillie
1 Kiawe
1 Plumeria
4 Ultra Ball
4 Beast Ring
3 Acro Bike
2 Mysterious Treasure
1 Rescue Stretcer
1 Choice Band
2 Ultra Space
1 Heat Factory

16 Fire Energy
1 Beast Energy

Misaki's Blacephalon list seems really straight forward enough. The Pokémon line is a no-frills approach, which I approve of. 17 Energy seems absurd in this day and age but is absolutely necessary for the deck to function. A lot of the Trainer selection is based around having enough discard outlets to be able to fuel Naganadel's Ability all game. The one card that really stands out as awkward is the Plumeria. Yes, on one hand, it DOES provide a discard outlet for Fire Energy, but it's other role may be a bit hard to figure out. While energy removal effects are just good in general, this deck is built exclusively with Ultra Beast attackers. You need a way to strip Grass Energy off Pokémon against the Sceptile deck so that you can even damage them. Between early KOs, Guzma KOs, Blacephalon's GX attack, and a key Plumeria KO, the matchup may be winnable. I think you either want a 2nd Plumeria or a 3rd Guzma if you really want to win that matchup reliably though.

There is a lot to unwrap with this set, and a lot of testing to do, and I'm excited to dig into it just in time for the second quarter of the 2018-2019 format. Until next time!

[+25] okko


 

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