Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Guardians Rising Set Review

A Comprehensive Card By Card Review Of The Newest Sun and Moon Expansion Plus Three New Decks Featuring The New Cards!

05/07/2017 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone!

This article will cut straight to the chase: I have a full set review for Guardians Rising, which has all of the makings for a hugely impactful set!

I will be doing a brief review of every card I consider to be playable, alongside cards that I think are hyped or featured even if I feel like they are poor. I will not be reviewing every single card if it clearly is not designed with being competitive in mind. That would be a waste of both of our times.

I will give each card an overall Rating, and that takes into account both Standard and Expanded formats, as well as overall strength even if it isn't exactly positioned to make an impact in either format currently. Finally, I'll be ranking my 10 favorite cards from the set, based primarily on how impactful I feel they will be.

To round out the article, I have 3 new decks that prominently feature new Guardians Rising cards. Alos make sure to check all cards here.

Lets jump right into the Set Review!

Guardians Rising Set Review

Trevenant: Trevenant gets another great card, this time getting the newest incarnation of "Poltergeist", dealing 30 damage for every Item card caught in the opponent's hand. The obvious pairing for this is alongside Vileplume and Forest of Giant Plants. It is a bit awkward in that it is a one trick pony...if you catch an opponent with a small hand, or one with few Trainers, you don't really have a great Plan B.

What is interesting is that it doesn't require specific energy, and just keys off of a DCE. This means you can pair it with Trevenant Break potentially, although I don't really see the synergy. If we look beyond Standard and explore Expanded, this actually pairs really well as a 1-of in the XY Trevenant based deck that has been a prominent fixture for years now. That deck lacked a bit of burst damage, so being able to transition into this guy after a game of Item lock seems like something it would be interested in.

Rating: 6/10

Golisopod: Golisopod has a hefty 130 HP paired with it's very defensive Ability which reduces 30 damage each hit. Slap an Assault Vest on this guy, and he is really hard to take down. I always chime in with how I like these defensive beefy stage 1 Pokémon and they always never get any play at all, but this card actually has a viable attack, doing 80 for GCC, and 150 total if they are a GX or an EX! That is damaging enough to be a real threat. I don't suspect it is enough to make it see play, but its not totally out of consideration for a non-EX.


Rating: 4/10

Victini: I am pretty sure this Victini is a reprint of the old one, but at the very least it has the same Ability, which is the only reason it saw any play before, and is the only reason it will see any play now. Being able to take a second shot at coin flips when attacking is good, but it is also worth noting there are not a ton of attacks being played right now which rely on flips. Will that change now that this card is an option? Honestly? Probably unlikely, but it does force cards to be re-evaluated. I think Victini only saw play in Vanillux lock, and as a surprise tech in Eelektrik to be able to re-flip Raikou EX's paralyze attack to buy time. With most cards being much stronger and less flip-oriented than before I highly doubt this will end up seeing much play. None the less, it is a unique effect that can't be totally overlooked.

Rating: 5/10

Turtonator GX: Well, this guy is a natural addition to Volcanion. Not only is it a viable attacker with a higher base damage output than Volcanion EX (2 Steam Up now KOs a 220 HP Pokémon and 3 will catch 250! ) but it also has an OUTSTANDING GX attack which grabs 5 Fire Energy from the discard pile and dump them right into play! This can either accelerate things early, or totally recover from a poor board state in the later game. It adds a totally different dimension to Volcanion which has always been a tier 1 deck choice.

This card is honestly just really good in general, but I think its role will be restricted to being played in Volcanion by virtue of that shell being so strong that any other attempt would just end up being inferior. I'm honestly surprise I haven't heard more hype about this card yet.

Rating: 8/10

Alolan Sandslash: Sandslash's only real interesting bit is its Ability which lets you draw a card each turn. I can't see this ever getting played over Octillery, which--also a stage 1 Water Pokémon which has far greater upside in terms of draw power each turn.

Rating: 3/10

Alolan Ninetales GX: Alolan Ninetales is interesting. It has a hefty 210 HP and a great weakness in Metal. ( Which is basically unplayable ) It can play Rough Seas and Aqua Patch. Aqua Patch generally gets talked about with Lapras GX, but this card, despite being an evolution, offers a lot! It can do 160 damage, and for CC snipes for 50. The GX attack is similar to Mewtwo EX's, in that it takes all of the damage off of Ninetales and dumps it only the Defending Pokémon...only you don't get any counters back! If you are able to spread some damage around, you can really set up an easy KO. This card seems obnoxious to play against because if you do too little damage to it to avoid it's damage dump, you walk into Rough Seas and other assorted bits of healing. If you hit it too hard, you get hit right back.

Rating: 6/10

Politoed: Alright, this card will not ever see competitive play, but the Poli design space seems to be Poli-swarm, and this functions similarly to Frogadier...well, only this time all the frogs are bad. And you need a stage 2 out before you get to fill your bench.

Rating: 3/10

Alomomola: I doubt this Pokémon is going to be good enough, but it is a non-EX Basic Pokémon with 110 HP that has Target Whistle as an attack. Being able to bring bad EX Pokémon onto the bench to KO with Lysandre isn't useless. In decks such as Vileplume that wants Lysandre targets to stick active it is good as well. I think these functions are too narrow to really give it the green light, but its worth noting it is available in the format.

Rating: 3/10

Wishiwashi/Wishiwashi GX: Well, I guess this is more a review of Wishiwashi GX than it is a co-review with Wishiwashi. I mean, I just don't see what the gimmick is trying to accomplish with it's Ability? I don't know if I am overlooking something, but it feels really pointless. If it could revert back, I can see using it to conserve prizes, which would be cute, but it can't, so I have no idea.

Anyways, regarding the GX, it has a hefty 210 HP and a Lightning weakness...which is admittedly much better than a Grass weakness in this metagame. Still, it's attack costs are all massive, and even with Aqua Patch, I can't fathom them being reasonably obtainable. Even if you do end up powering this thing up, the return on investment is just very poor as there are better alternatives.

Rating: 2/10

Vikavolt GX: Well, this will be a true test of just how bad Stage 2 Pokémon are. Vikavolt here has 240 HP, giving it quite a bit of staying power. For L it does 50 damage and attaches an energy to itself. It doesn't specify a Basic Energy, so it can grab a DCE which is important because it's bigger attack costs LCCC and does 180 damage...but it does discard 2 energy in the process. This will actually be pretty hard to sustain, so alternating may have to happen a lot.

It's GX attack is...actually pretty interesting. For the same attack cost of LCCC, you do 60 damage to all of their Benched Pokémon. This is a ton of damage, but it feels like setting everything up to maybe be two hit isn't even the greatest use of a GX attack? I can't believe I am pessimistic about this attack somehow, but it doesn't really get any KOs for 4 energy and your use of GX attack. Where it could be cute is if you put a Wide Lens on this guy, allowing it to hit for weakness on the bench, because then it can OHKO Shaymin EXes!

Rating: 5/10

Tapu Koko GX: Tapu Koko reminds me of the old Zapdos EX from FRLG back in the day, or more recently the 2011 Zekrom Pachirisu Shaymin deck that went out of it's way to just burst out a powerful, high HP lightning type attacker. I actually love this design, outside of it being a bit of a throwback to prior Lightning type cards. I feel like the sudden, powerful attacker angle actually fits really well with the type.

Flavor aside, the card has potential. There is a reason both of those prior decks saw reasonable rates of play in the past. One of the cool gimmicks you get to accomplish with Tapu Koko is you can just cycle between these guys, soaking up the energy and attacking with a new one since it can not only absorb the energy, but it promotes itself active with it's Ability as well.

The problem is it doesn't hit THAT hard, although with Kukui and Choice Band, it can take it's base damage of 130 up to 180. 170 HP is also not the sturdiest, especially since Fighting Fury Belt will not be as safe of protection as before due to Field Blower.

The GX attack is a bit interesting, as it does 50 damage for every energy your opponent has in play, but if Tapu Koko is meant to be in a very aggressive deck, if you let your opponent accumulate enough energy to actually enable OHKOs, it is probably bad for you overall. The other big issue the card has is that there aren't really a ton of great ways to accelerate energy into play for this. If you end up taking the Max Elixir route, you open up better attackers as an option. I think this card is fundamentally very good, it just feels like Lightning is very poorly supported, and that I can't think of a deck for this card that couldn't do better things looking elsewhere. I'd file this one under a card to watch out for as we get more things printed, as its pedigree suggests it is quite playable.

Rating: 6/10

Garbodor: Yikes, this card seems great. First, lets just acknowledge that this card will be piggybacking off of the Breakpoint Garbodor line in decks. For P, it does 20 damage for each Item in the opponent's discard pile...this will catch a lot of decks off guard and can do a ton of damage out of no where. It gets a bit tougher when it gets played around, but the threat of it also passively impacts how an opponent has to play.

I've heard people discuss building a deck with this as a primary attacker...I think that sounds kind of awful, as I think it is way too easy to play around unless you have something else to really force the opponent to play a normal game of Pokémon opposed to being able to adjust to a slower start by now using too many Items. It is just going to be challenging to actually earn OHKOs with Garbodor any time but late into the game.

Where I do really like this Garbodor is in Mega Mewtwo, since it already runs both Garbodor and Psychic Energy. It also is aggressive and powerful in and of itself, and thus an opponent can't put the breaks on a bit without getting overwhelmed by the Mega Mewtwos. Using Garbodor to pick off Shaymins or Hoopas on the bench seems totally reasonable. It also is nice because Mega Mewtwo actually was cold to Regice, a card which saw play in Brazil's Intercontintental's winning Vileplume Decidueye list. Even Garbodor's second attack is reasonable with a cost of PCC.

I think Garbodor will be a role player in decks which can already support it, but I'll be pessimistic regarding it forming any sort of new archetypes which feature it prominently, as I think it will fall shy of being reliable enough in a main attacker role. Giving Garbodor decks a non-EX attacker is a big pick up though.

Rating: 6/10

Oricorio: Oricorio is just a gimmick Pokémon to be able to grab Energy out of your deck, but it could see some play for this. It lets you convert Pokémon search into Energy. It helps smooth over decks that run multiple Basic Energy types ( Which is currently basically none. ) In a deck like Mega Rayquaza, it fills a bench space while also grabbing an Energy, and interacts with Dragonite EX. I wrote before about running a Prof. Letter in Rayquaza to grab off of Skyla, and I can see using a bench filler for a similar function, even if it's impact is pretty niche.

Rating: 4/10

Toxapex GX: Yikes. Toxapex can do up to 120 damage for only one Psychic have to flip 4 coins to do it, but you can do it. ( Remember how I mentioned I doubted Victini will have a role? Well, it could be cute with this...thing. ) I still hate fickle attacks, even if the average damage rate for P is very good.

It's second attack is uh...well, they just keep pushing up the damage on these super poison effects because they have to, because status conditions are more or less unplayable because of how easy it is to get out of them now. Still, this drops 10 damage counters...the problem is, it costs PPP, and odds are, it just translates to 100 damage, which is just not a good rate in this day and age.

It's GX attack is also pretty hurt by the prevailance of Lysandre, Escape Rope and even Pokémon does 150 damage and grants itself total immunity from all effects of attacks. It isn't bad at all, that is the power level I'd want out of a GX attack, but it just is too easy to circumvent.

The biggest problem facing this Pokémon is the PPP attack costs. Psychic is the type with the LEAST ability to actually get access to energy acceleration, so you'll end up paying fair price for this, which is just too much of a hurdle to make me want to look into it.

Rating: 3/10

Mimikyu: Mimikyu isn't a great card, but it has the ability to cheaply copy expensive attacks ( non-GX ) so there is certainly play to it. I'm way more excited about this in Expanded alongside Dimension Valley, where it ends up only costing P to attack with it. While I'm not excited about using an attack to draw 2 cards, when Valley makes it free, I am way more interested in using it off my "off" turns when not attacking. In Standard, you can use it with Max Elixir as acceleration, but its kind of asking a lot. I don't think it'll see much play in either format, but I do think it is worth it in the right Dimension Valley deck. Of course, I can't think of any that it would go in well off the top of my head, but it is worth keeping in mind for the future as the card can find a home.

Rating: 5/10

Dhelmise: Dhelmise sits on the bench and passively grants 10 extra damage to all of your Metal attacks. Well, on one hand, there are not a ton of great Metal attackers. Most of the viable ones rotated out of Standard with Phantom Forces. Dhelmise, in Expanded, could also clash for bench space with Metal Links Bronzong, one of the better "enablers" for a dedicated Metal deck. In Standard, one of the few Metal Pokémon I like is Mega Scizor EX, and it has historically been paired with Garbodor, which of course is a no-go with Dhelmise's Ability.

The easiest to draw parallel for Dhelmise's viability is to look at Regirock EX, a card with a similar Ability for Fighting Pokémon. I had assumed it would see play, but it honestly has been seen any at all. Regirock actually seems like a better fit for a Fighting deck than Dhelmise does a Metal deck, with what both types are generally trying to do.

Dhelmise is certainly a good card, on paper, but I just don't see the type it supports being worth supporting with the attackers it has at it's disposal at the moment. On the other hand, I'll admit that Metal doesn't seem poorly positioned as a type going forward ( Two of the decks I propose at the end of the article are weak to it, even! )

Rating: 5/10

Tapu Lele GX: This is the big "Impact" card of the set. I guess an honorable mention goes to Aqua Patch, but I think Lele is going to be a far more format defining card than the new Water typed Dark Patch. I don't think this card is hard to evaluate at all: We've seen Jirachi EX played both in Expanded as well as in a Standard format that is not terribly different from the one we have now. What it will do for the format at a base level is pretty transparent.

The major benefits this GX Pokémon offers are two fold. First of all, it improves consistency. You can now reliably draw into Sycamores, Ns and Lysandres. You can turn Ultra Ball into your best draw Supporters. On one hand, most decks already ran Shaymin EX as a safety net, but not every deck got to abuse Shaymin equally. There are times where grabbing, and using a Supporter will be a safer choice than just drawing your hand up to six, even if it doesn't cost you a Supporter.

It is worth noting a major difference between both Shaymin and Tapu Lele, cards which will be competiting for the same spots in most decks. ( Decks like Mega Rayquaza and Mega Gardevoir will likely just play copies in addition to their Shaymins. ) Shaymin EX has a frail 110 HP, where as Tapu Lele is far sturdier and much harder to take prizes off of. It also has a strong attack, although it doesn't get to apply weakness. I actually don't see the attack getting used very often, which shows how far this game has come, but it is there.

The second benefit of running Tapu Lele is that it lets you run assorted utility Supporters which would otherwise have been a bit too situational. With Jirachi EX and Battle Compressor rotating this season, trying to craft a strong engine which lets you play more timing specific Supporters has been difficult. In most cases...Olympia, Hex Maniac, Pokémon Ranger, Delinquent, Ninja Boy...players have just opted to run a single copy, hoping to either draw it when appropriate, or discard it so that VS Seeker can abuse it later. While tournament results have clearly shown this is a viable approach, it is nothing compared to what Tapu Lele will allow decks to do.

Lets look at some of the Supporters which gain substantial value off of this card: Hex Maniac. Pokémon Ranger. Olympia. Prof. Kukui. Ace Trainer. Delinquent. Ninja Boy. Teammates. I am likely overlooking some as well. All of these were cards that had an extremely high ceiling to them. At the right time, when drawn and played, their effects were game breaking. The problem is, those openings were not terribly frequent, or were very matchup dependent. As a result, decks couldn't run too many copies of them due to their situational nature. With Tapu Lele, I can see decks now being able to get away with 3-4 assorted utility Supporters without them impacting the deck overall too much. I always liked the toolbox engine that Battle Compressor offered to the game ( I liked how abusing it was with Vespiquen and Night March much less. ) and getting a new Jirachi EX that doesn't come benched with a Lysandre death sentence is great. I've noted multiple times how I felt like Shaymin EX was a terrible card to print, like Uxie before it, where as I think Jirachi EX and Tapu Lele GX are really, really great and balanced consistency boosters.

I also want to mention that while it is pretty obvious, it is important to note that Tapu Lele is a GX and not an EX. This is mostly functionally the same since Tapu Lele is a Basic Pokémon, but there are some key differences. Mainly, it cannot be grabbed with Hoopa EX. This is going to come up frequently in most of the Sky Field decks who would love to be able to grab it and a Shaymin EX off of a Hoopa. Beyond this, it does give the attack some additional use. You can actually attack into Pokémon who have anti-EX attacks or Abilities, such as Regice. As a dedicated Mega Rayquaza player, I'm happy about that!

It is important to not go overboard with how you use Tapu Lele, though. They eat up bench space, and they also actually take Supporters out of your deck with each use. You can end up without targets mid and late game if you run too few copies of your "safe" Supporters like Sycamore, N and Lysandre. You also face a similar risk to what Random Receiver threatened years ago when it saw play: As the game progresses, each Lele/Receiver use would actually trim your deck of 2 cards...this can leave you weaker to mid and late game N dead draws. You want a healthy balance between Tapu Lele and the Supporters you run. I suspect most decks to run 1-2 Tapu Lele, and decks with a more dedicated toolbox or Sky Field to maybe go up to 2-3. ( For those interested, this makes me suspect that the card's price will be slightly lower than Shaymin EX's was upon printing, as Shaymin did see play as a 4-of in multiple decks. )

Rating: 10/10

Lunala: Lunala in a vaccuum isn't good enough to see play, especially as a stage 2, but this is clearly printed to be a companion piece with Lunala GX from Sun and Moon. With the GX's Ability, both of this Lunala's attackers look much more impressive. You have a high HP non-EX/GX attacker which can hit for 130 damage and protect all of your energy in the face of a KO, plus you have an attacker with a limitless damage output if you manage to get a critical mass of energy in play.

The big problem is, it is so difficult to play a Stage 2 Pokemon that doesn't have access to Forest of Giant Plants. The game is just too fast, disruptive and streamlined for evolutions to be really powerful enough. Against the average deck, getting out the evolutions is hard enough. Toss in an inherent weakness to the Lunala line to Garbodor and Hex Maniac, and it gets even harder to sell me on it. This card is good, the whole Nebby line is honestly good, but the most powerful decks in the format are just too opporessive to make me believe it'll get off the ground.

Rating: 4/10

Sudowoodo: Sudowoodo serve one purpose: Counter Mega Rayquaza. Alright, that isn't entirely true, it can hinder many decks which rely on having a large bench for whatever reason. Rainbow Road comes to mind, as does Mega Gardevoir. Even Volcanion and Decidueye Vileplume can be a bit cramped by it. Tier 1 all-star Passimian also struggles against it. ( While I joke, I actually do enjoy playing that deck. ) I'd never run it as a "slight inconvenience" for those decks, but if you want to beat Mega Rayquaza, it is far better at that function than Parallel City is. There is no real way to turn off the Ability without jumping through hoops, and to do that and also refill your bench...its rough. Hex Maniac gives you a turn to do it, but then you need to naturally re-fill your bench, because most times, you discard down to 4 Pokemon, and can't play a Hoopa or Dragonite until Sudowoodo is dealt which point, post-Hex, you can't use them anyways. If you manage to Hex, have access to all of those Pokemon without Abilities or a Supporter, you still have to dump them all away at the end Hex's effect. Lysandre'ing it is rough too because it could easily be retrieved. While Sudowoodo has a similar effect as Parallel City, it is not nearly as versatile, but if you REALLY want to beat Mega Rayquaza, it is one of your best options. ( It doesn't overlap with Garbodor though, as the trashbag turns off it's Ability, so if you want to play Garbodor, Parallel City is preferrable. )

Rating: 5/10

Machoke: I actually missed this guy when reading through the spoiler at first, as I'll be honest, I usually don't pay as much attention to the under-stages of evolutions if the end game ( their final stage ) isn't appealing, so Machoke flew under the radar. At first, it seems like a Stage 1 Mr. Mime, in that it protects your bench from bench damage, but it actually provides an umbrella which also catches damage counters, and it isn't just from attacks. This can be a huge thorn in the side of Greninja and Decidueye, but even then I'm not sold on a stage 1 "silver bullet" for those decks as being a worthwhile endeavor. If Machamp was good, I'd maybe change my tune, but as it is, I'm not too interested.


Rating: 4/10

Lycanroc GX: Lycanroc GX comes equipped with a built in Lysandre when you evolve it, but I feel like this is actually a bit misleading. In the past, we look to Luxray GL Lvl X, a format defining all star and it's Bright Look as a reference point to how good this Ability is. What is important to remember is that at the time, there was no Lysandre in format, or any sort of reliable "Gust of Wind" effect. With Lysandre already in format, Lycanroc doesn't off much unique. There was a Bright Look Ninetales in format, and it didn't exactly see wide spread play, to put it kindly.

Where Lycanroc does shine is alongside the other Lycanroc, which has already seen mild amounts of play even if it hasn't quite had a break out performance. If you want to run a lone copy of this to supplement that line, it is a lot more appealing. Since the other Lycanroc is also pretty dedicated towards attacking Energy cards, it lets you have a Lysandre type effect while also playing cards like Team Flare Grunt in the same turn, which will come up reasonably often.

This Lycanroc has a reasonable attack doing 110 damage for FCC, and it's GX attack is actually really potent! For FC, you do 50 damage for each Benched Pokemon the opponent has. There are decks like Rayquaza, Rainbow Road, Decidueye and Volcanion which are really not good at keeping a thin bench, and this will either punish them for playing out their field anyways, or the threat of it will cramp their game plan. Both scenarios are nice. ( I honestly think players undervalue cards which are so back breaking if their best-case-scenario condition is met, because even when not played or drawn, they put this cloud over how your opponent has to play. )

Lycanroc GX won't see play outside fo a dedicated Lycanroc deck, and I think that deck falls just short of being tier 1 for the time being, unfortunately, since I actually really like that deck.

Rating: 6/10

Sableye: Sableye's lone appeal is it's first attack, which can cut an opponent clean off of Supporters. It is a pretty powerful effect, as we had seen it's value on Exeggcutor previously. Of course, Exeggcutor also did damage, even if a near irrelevent level of it. Sableye can be used to buy a turn around N or Lysandres at key times, or can be used alongside disruption of your own. Pairing Sableye with Garbodor or Silent Lab and say, Ace Trainer spam can be really disruptive. It also works well with Vileplume.

Sableye could be used as a 1-of as a situational disruption card in a Dark deck or it could actually see prominent play in a dedicated full disruption deck. Despite me hyping it up as being potentially very powerful, I actually feel like a deck abusing it would not be able to compete at the top level, and that as a situational card, it is just TOO situational. None the less, it is a fairly unique effect and worth keeping on the radar, which is really one of the main criteria I use for including a card on my set review.

Rating: 4/10

Metagross GX: Here we go with another throwback. This time we get a throwback to Metagross's old Deoxys printing, which was a card that saw substantial amounts of play over a few year period. Metagross GX lets you attach a Metal or Psychic Energy to your active one per turn ( Without the damage counter the aforementioned version put onto the Pokemon! ) which is obviously extremely good. Metagross also has an appropriately hefty 250 HP.

150 damage for 3 energy is a totally reasonable rate, even if it has to take a turn off. Clearly, you'd run means to circumvent this downside if you played the card, and there are plenty of them available now. With Tapu Lele, cards like Olympia or Pokemon Ranger are just much more reliable now.

It's GX attack, on the other hand, may as well just read "Get N'd by my Opponent". For only a Metal Energy, you get to search your deck for any 5 cards. Clearly this is really powerful, but N pretty much guts it of it's strength entirely. As a GX attack, you can find better options, likely even in the same deck as Metagross.

The biggest problem here is that Stage 2 Pokemon are just really, really difficult to ever use. We also face a fundamental problem. Either whatever primary attacker you want to pair with Metagross is a Basic... at which point it seems easier to just rely on Max Elixir to act as acceleration, or you have some large hefty evolution ( such as Solgaleo GX, a great card. ) and then theres no way you can reliably build a deck using that clunky of lines. All of the cards in the game are so pushed at this point that I don't even know how you try and combat this problem from a design standpoint, but it is a huge barrier of entry to all future evolution cards. Maybe once EXes all rotate things will open up some, but right now it is too much of a chore for most Stage 2 Pokemon to see play. I'm giving Metagross here a fairly high rating despite this rant, just because I do feel like the card is extremely good in a vaccuum.

Rating: 7/10

Sylveon GX: Well, alright, now we have a card! While it isn't like I haven't heard rumblings about this card, I feel like it is extremely underhyped. With 200 HP and a weakness to Metal ( more or less a non-factor in this metagame. ) Sylveon is pretty beefy. For a Fairy Energy, it gets to grab you any 3 cards from your deck...I often criticize draw card attacks, but the strength of this one is really impressive. You have to look at Lapras GX's Collect to see potential parallels and options. ( That is a bit of a spoiler for one of the deck lists I have at the end of this article as well! )

You can't overlook the interaction with Eevee's Ability, since it lets you immediately evolve into Sylveon whenever you put a Fairy Energy on it. Unlike Umbreon and Espeon GX, Sylveon can't do damage on the first turn, but I'll happily take "any 3 cards" as a consolation prize. Doing 110 damage for YCC ( with it's first attack assuring you draw into a DCE if you want it! ) is pretty average, but I'll certainly take it.

It's GX attack is also really powerful. Also for YCC, you get to choose two benched Pokemon of your opponent's, and just bounce them back to their hand. That can set them back so far, especially if paired with other disruption. I wasn't super high on this at first glance...I felt like the lack of forward progression on taking prize cards...or even putting damage in play towards that end...was just not in line with what is going on with the format. The longer I thought about it, the more open minded I've become towards it, and I think it is going to come up as being very powerful very open. Resetting Mega Evolutions, Garbodor, and anything with multiple energy attachments on it is really strong. Escape Rope or Lysandre can work towards benching a dangerous active to bounce it as well. It is important to realize that Escape Rope will likely end in them promoting the second target you'd likely bounce, so it isn't perfect.

I actually think this card as a whole is fantastic, and I'll go deeper in depth with this when I go over my deck for the card, and my rating will suggest it.

Rating: 9/10

Kommo-o GX: I had no idea this was a Pokemon. I don't remember it from my brief play through of my copy of be fair, I often only learn about new Pokemon as they get cards printed, so I should be used to this. My guess is that this is this generations Dragonite/Tyranitar Pokemon? My Pokemon ignorance aside, lets look at what the card actually does.

Kommo-o has 240 HP, and a Fairy weakness which is not going to do it many favors if the format progresses in the manner I suspect it will. For C, it does 30 damage and reduces an incoming 30 for your next turn. I hate defensive attacks like this both because the damage output is so low that you'll still be losing ground to any reasonable attack exchange, and because Lysandre and Escape Rope are so popular. I get that its a cheap "intro" attack, but those kind of lose their appeal on a Stage 2 Pokemon.

It's "main" attack is a Shred that does 130 damage for FLCC, which is...a bit overpriced. It is worth noting that as a Dragon type, Kommo-o can take advantage of both Double Colorless and Double Dragon Energy. Kommo here is asking for a lot as a stage 2 Pokemon, though.

It's big selling point, at least to the design team behind it I am sure, is that it's GX attack does an unconditional 240 damage for FLCC as well. That is all well and good, but we're living in a format where OHKOs are not at all hard to come by. You aren't even really out damaging Volcanion or Mega Rayquaza for starters, and you have so many hoops to jump through to even hit the 240 mark...once. Maybe if they eventually print gimmicks which let you re-use GX attacks multiple times in a game we could re-visit this card, but it just falls way behind the curve of the absurdly powerful, less clunky Pokemon they've been printing for years now.

Rating: 2/10

Drampa GX: Yeah, lets get back to these basic GX Pokemon, they usually are more impressive. Drampa, who looks like a big goofball I can't take seriously, is great at just abusing decks which rely on Special Energy cards. For only a Colorless, it does 20 damage and strips off a Special Energy. We've seen promo Jirachi in action, and while Drampa doesn't protect itself on the next turn, it makes up for it by having a hefty 180 HP's worth of protection.

Add a DCE to Drampa and it does either 80 damage, or 150 if your bench has any damage on it! I'm not sure it is worth really going out of your way to include ways to enable that if you play this guy, as my gut tells me that this attack is a secondary justification for playing it. You want to run it for either it's anti Special Energy function, or to use it's GX attack which shuffles your hand into your deck and gives you a fresh hand of 10. Much like Metagross, I suspect this just summons an immediate N, but on a Basic splashable Pokemon, I can see it being useful in decks which otherwise don't have a good GX attack to use.

I'm not sure if this replaces Jirachi for it's role, but it is certain a consideration. As a big beefy basic, it is easy to just slot into decks as well, so I expect it to see at least fringe play.

Rating: 6/10

Aether Pradise Conservation Area: I'll stress this again: I hate purely defensive Stadiums. It is just so likely this card ends up countered and doing nothing at all. I want my Stadiums to do -SOMETHING- upon play, even if they get countered, especially in a metagame where every deck runs Stadiums, and may also run Field Blowers now. The fact the Stadium only applies to Basics doesn't help either. Lightning is a miserable type at the moment, and all of the played Grass cards are evolutions. I'll pass on this.

Rating: 2/10

Altar of the Moon: This Stadium I like a lot more, as in many cases this will end up offering free retreat to your Pokemon. Both types are very playable at the moment. While Darkrai and Yveltal both use Parallel City at the moment, the card isn't essential to their builds, and I can see this being great in either deck. At the very least, you'll usually get one retreat off of this. Mega Mewtwo can't really abuse Float Stone well due to their need for Spirit Links, and both Dark decks also want to Tool up their attackers, so I can see this slotting into as many as 3 pre-existing archetypes in Standard alone. I'm pretty high on this card!

Rating: 7/10

Altar of the Sun: This is another one of the defensive Stadiums which will almost always just end up countered and effectless. Metal is barely a type, though I'll admit that taking Water weakness off of Volcanion would be appealing. The other problem beyond the weakness of these types of Stadiums in a format where every deck is full of counters is that if getting rid of Weakness was really a priority, you have access to Weakness Policy. That card isn't very good either, but if it would make or break a matchup, the option is already there. ( Although it then runs the risk of getting Field Blowered. )

Rating: 3/10

Aqua Patch: While it has been years since we've seen Dark Patch in Standard, we get a functional reprint of the card for a new type: Water. I love giving types powerful type-specific cards as it really makes the types feel dynamic and different. Fighting Pokemon get Strong Energy. Fire Pokemon got Blacksmith. Grass Pokemon get Forest of Giant Plants. Psychic Pokemon got Dimension Valley. Now Water Pokemon get Aqua Patch.

It is easy enough to draw the parallels with Dark Patch to determine how this card will play out. Lapras GX, Glaceon EX, Palkia EX, Manaphy EX and other strong Water basic Pokemon benefit a lot from this. Could this open up options for hefty Mega Pokemon like Gyarados and Glalie EX? My gut says no, but they are no longer wildly unplayable.

Will Aqua Patch see play in place of Max Elixir, or alongside it? I feel like merely replacing Max Elixir with the Patch won't do enough to take a deck from tier 2 to tier 1 ( I feel like previous attempts at "Waterbox" fell just short! ) I do feel like a deck running all 8 copies gets a major boost since you can semi-reliably expect to hit multiple copies on the first turn. I can see Lapras GX attacking on the first time rather frequently, and that is really dangerous.

I expect Aqua Patch to make an impact at some point, even though I'm not extremely happy with the available Water Pokemon in the format at the moment. I feel like these decks still struggle against Mega Rayquaza, and any Grass deck. I want some sort of Waterbox deck to end up being a premier tier 1 deck, but despite the hype, I think it still falls just short and that is more a product of how degenerate the rest of the decks in the format really are.

Rating: 10/10

Brooklet Hill: I'm kind of torn on this card. It lets you grab Water or Fighting basics from your deck and put them onto your bench, but there are just so many other means of being able to grab Basics available that I'm unsure if this is worth it to play. Like, currently, I don't think many decks struggle from issues filling their bench up with specific Pokemon. In Water decks, you compete with Rough Seas, a card I think is fantastic. Fighting decks...aren't really very good right now, but if they were more prevailant I'm unsure you need this. Due to Shaymin EX and Tapu Lele GX, decks still need access to Ultra Balls, an you'd have to be having a higher demand than 4 copies of that to even want to look into this Stadium. It certainly isn't bad, it just feels redundant.


Rating: 5/10

Choice Band: Choice Band competes with Fighting Fury Belt in most cases, and it is tough to see if the extra damage against EX and GX Pokemon will be worth losing the extra 40 HP. That is a big trade off. Of course, if you are a deck that uses Evolution Pokemon, this card is strictly better. Vespiquen comes to mind right out of the gate. You end up competing with Spirit Links in Mega decks though.

One thing that bodes well for the card is that Field Blower greatly reduces the safety of the extra 40 HP granted by Fury Belt. Choice Band has a higher impact the turn it is played, and cares less about sticking around for turns. I suspect the card to see play as a 1-of in decks, especially if they have means to search for it. It also changes the magic numbers for a lot of matchups, so the mere presence of this card could have wide spread impact on things. Alongside Kukui, decks can now add an effective 50 additional damage against an EX or GX, which puts a whole new swath of Pokemon in the OHKO range.

Energy Loto: Energy Loto seems appealing in any deck that really needs to be hitting DCEs or Double Dragon Energy. I'm not sure that the work is worth it though, as it still isn't super reliable. I could see it getting the nod in a deck like Vespiquen, or multiple turbo decks in Expanded, although those have access to Computer Search. I think Mallow makes for a better means to reliably draw into your Special Energy cards, though, and may cut into whatever fringe play this Item would see otherwise.


Rating: 5/10

Field Blower: Windstorm! How I have missed you. Usually I actually argue against this type of card being in format. I feel like such a strong catch-all ruins the playability of Stadiums and Tools, but with the power level of these cards as strong as they are, it was getting out of control. Field Blower obviously deals with assorted Stadiums, but decks were already running a lot of copies of Stadiums in the first place, even if mainly just so they could interact with opposing stadiums. Decks which devoted spots to playing their most beneficial "counter" Stadium could easily make the switch to Field Blowers instead.

Tool-wise, it provides an answer to Fighting Fury Belt, Klefki, and "whatever tool is on Garbodor". Rattata previously offered a loose answer to Tools, but that required the Tool wielding Pokemon to be active, and also required access to Abilities. I dont suspect we'll be seeing Beedrill EX in the near future. I also think it will weaken Klefki as a whole, as decks which are totally cold to it will likely run Field Blower.

Field Blower also impacts Spirit Links to some degree, although often times they get played the same turn a player Mega Evolves. It will be interesting to see how players balance the threat of their Spirit Link being N'd away if they save it to play turn 2 vs the odds a turn 1 Link eats a Blower. On the topic of Spirit Links, you can Field Blower away your own Spirit Link to make room for different Tools.

Where Field Blower really benefits is being such a great, versatile card. One half of it's function should come up as being beneficial in most games, and that makes it less of a silver bullet answer for decks, and more of a card which is just universally useful.


Rating: 9/10

Hala: Hala is an interesting card, and one I think is much more likely to see play due to Tapu Lele. Obviously you would only run it in a deck which plans to aggresively pursue their GX attack early, but if you meet that criteria, Hala becomes one of your best draw cards from then on out. You can't really run a ton of copies of it because you want most of your draw Supporters to be optimal on your first turn. I actually kind of like it alongside Drampa, a card you can fairly reliably use on the first turn, thus turning on Hala for the rest of the game.


Rating: 7/10

Mallow: Mallow is a functional reprint of Oracle, a card very near and dear to my heart. I ran the card in my 2004 World's runner up performance alongside Delcatty in my Blaziken deck. Mallow lets you search your deck unconditionally for two cards and put them on top of your deck. At it's worst, you get to draw them naturally. Of course, you generally want to pair this with Shaymin EX in the Delcatty role, drawing them immediately. You can also use Unown, or Octillery, or Oranguru for the same function.

This works great with decks that demand a more complex set up, and also works really well with a toolbox. Any deck that MIGHT want Teammates probably wants to consider trying to abuse this card. Also, you can use Tapu Lele GX as a reliable way to grab this card, so even if you run a deck that can't reliably abuse this, running 1 copy isn't totally out of consideration none the less.


Rating: 8/10

Multi Switch: Multi Energy is an...upgrade? to Energy Switch, in that it can now move Special Energy cards, with the new restriction that it can only move from the Bench to the active. This won't end up being a problem most of the time, so I actually don't view this as a lateral change but actually as a general upgrade. Really the only deck that was using Energy Switch as it is would be Waterbox, and that uses all Basic Energy anyways, so I'm not sure if this will make much of an immediate impact.


Rating: 6/10

Rescue Stretcher: We get Dark Patch, and Windstorm, Oracle and now Pokemon Retriever! Retriever was a personal favorite of mine, as it really helped glue the old 2006 LBS deck together. I think Stretcher actually is fantastic! I'd championed Buddy-Buddy Rescue despite it being a double edged sword, because getting a Pokemon directly back into hand...not in deck, not directly to the really powerful. I generally disliked Super Rod and similar cards because they never had an immediate impact. You had to draw them, then find access to the cards you shuffle in. This acts as a means to put 3 Pokemon into your deck if you need to retrieve a whole line or multiple threats, but it also gives you the option to cherrypick one in particular, and that takes this card to new levels. ( Well, old levels, being Pokemon Retriever. )


Rating: 8/10

With all of the cards reviewed, I'll go with my Top 10 list for the set. This won't always line up entirely with my Rating, as my Rating looks a bit more at the cards for their overall strength as a card, less so in terms of their immediate impact on the format, so if I place a 7 above an 8, I don't want an uproar over it.

10.) Sudowoodo
9.) Drampa GX
8.) Rescue Stretcher
7.) Turtonator GX
6.) Choice Band
5.) Sylveon GX
4.) Aqua Patch
3.) Mallow
2.) Field Blower
1.) Tapu Lele GX

Now lets look at a few of the decks I've been testing that feature the new Guardians Rising cards!

First off, lets look at not only my favorite deck, but a deck that is almost universally hyped as the deck which benefits the most off of the printing of Tapu Lele GX: Mega Rayquaza.

This is a pretty stripped down and basic list for Mega Rayquaza after the new set. Rather than focus on the Mega Gardevoir list I have been championing recently ( I still feel it is really good, if not strictly the better build overall! ) I wanted to look more at what the archetype would look like at it's base level. I understand that this is opting to run a 1-1 Gumshoos GX line ( This could effortlessly be replaced by Espeon GX for a similar function, with the obvious shift in Basic energy. ) Gumshoos is an answer to Giratina EX ( A card I suspect will see even less play than it currently does going forward. ) and is decent against anything that has to pile on a bunch of energy to attack. Also, with Decidueye Vileplume lists embracing Regice and Jolteon EX ( A concept I wrote about articles ago. ) it is now somewhat important to run a non-EX attacker. Between Gumshoos and Oranguru, the deck shouldn't be too cold against these types of cards now. With Tapu Lele, it is also possible to just run a Pokemon Ranger, but that doesn't really excite me too much either. That card is just totally dead in so many matchups and you do already somewhat stress your Tapu count a little bit anyways. I'd rather run cards that give the deck a bit more in terms of attacking options overall.

If you want to run Mega Gardevoir still, you need to free up 6 spaces for a 2-2 Mega Gardevoir line, and 2 Spirit Link. To do this, you can cut the Oranguru, 1-1 Gumshoos, both Puzzle of Time ( More on these later! ) and the 3rd Rayquaza Spirit Link. This does leave you soft to Regice, but we'll see how popular it is going forth. Ranger or just an Oranguru can be added as coverage for that if it is a big deal. You could take it a different route and run a promo Jirachi to attack the energy supply, but I feel like that just ends up getting picked off by Owl Abilities really quickly.

For the Pokemon, we've kept the standard 3-3 Ray line, as well as 4 Shaymin, 2 Hoopa, and the 2 Dragonite. Joining them are 2 Tapu Lele, which is honestly just my first experiment trying to figure out the right number. With them being a GX and not an EX, they are not searchable by Hoopa EX, which is a slight problem. That being said, you can certainly overload on them, as you have a finite number of actual Supporters in the deck. Beyond this, they can be retrieved by Dragonite EX for late game uses.

With Tapu Lele, we see a diversification in our Supporter line. We have 2 Sycamore ( This is still a card we really want to see mid and late game, and if we burn one early, we want to leave a copy in deck for Tapu to draw us later. ) and 1 N only. N is still a strong draw card, but less of a Tapu target late game, so it gets the 1-of nod over Sycamore. While I previously ran 2 Skyla, I've now moved one copy over to Wallow, which is a functional reprint of Oracle. This card is just absolutely fantastic in this deck, as it works so well with Shaymin EX. You just stack whatever you need, and Set Up into them. I always loved Teammates in this deck, but eventually cut it for the Skylas because Skyla often fulfilled a similar role, and was also actually useful on the first turn while Teammates was dead until late game. When the deck is already stressed on potential Supporter spots, you had to make concessions. Now, we have a "Teammates" that also is a pro-active early game play. It can easily change the way the deck is played, and perhaps only 1 copy is short sighted and this could end up being the primary Supporter used in the deck. With it, it may be possible to actually reliably pull off the turn 1 Emerald Break.

Anyways, due to the inclusion of Wallow, I also have 2 Puzzle of Time. I wrote before about my list running only 3 copies of them because you not only usually only get to pull off one pairing, but you also only usually NEED to pull off one pairing. It was interesting because I spoke at reasonable length with Jose weeks ago about Rayquaza, and he was actually only running TWO copies! I thought that was greedy, and that you would often either prize one copy or be forced to discard one early. I still think this to a degree, but am willing to give it a try. Just having a few extra copies of key cards is important.

One thing I want to discuss with this deck that I think will end up being a format defining trend is how powerful Hex Maniac will be. With Tapu Lele, it gives decks the ability to reliably search up a copy on the first turn, and play it. While not quite as brutal as a turn 1 Ghetsis can be, it is still going to be really crushing against decks, especially those which rely on Hoopa, Shaymin and Tapu Lele for draw power. I expect this to end up being a reasonable percentage of decks, which really makes the turn 1 Hex play powerful. I run 2 copies to optimize my odds of being able to chain them together the first few turns. Since the deck has so much Shaymin draw, and a minimal demand on it's Supporters in the early turns of the game, Hex Maniac plays are a luxury it can often afford.

The final card I wanted to address is Field Blower. First off, this card can get rid of a Parallel City, or any counter stadium. With 4 Sky Field, and 2 Puzzle of Time, alongside Skyla and Wallow to get them, I don't see that use being terribly important. Where it does shine is against Garbodor, as you can strip them of a Tool and get access to your Abilities. It also works against an attached Klefki, something which ends up bothering this deck quite a bit. With Puzzle of Time, you can have access to it twice.

Next up, I want to discuss another deck that may have actually gained even more than Mega Rayquaza with Guardians: Mega Gardevoir!

Gardevoir is another deck extremely capable of running Tapu Lele, as it also runs a similar engine to Mega Rayquaza. Gardevoir was already an extremely consistent list, but the deck benefits similarly to how Ray does.

Seeing how much of what I would say about Lele and the engine improvements would just mirror Mega Rayquaza, I want to point out the other benefits! Sudowoodo is a card that is pretty much just a strict counter to Mega Rayquaza, a card that is an absolute nightmare for Gardevoir. Mega Gardevoir has very little recourse to the card...I guess you can hope to Hex Maniac and then fill your bench, but that is not really sustainable. This deck is too capable of recurring the fake tree to even be able to Lysandre and KO it. While this shores up a really bad matchup on it's own, it also has some game against opposing Mega Gardevoirs, Decidueye decks, Rainbow Road, and even Volcanion to a lesser extent.

Beyond this, the deck loves getting Field Blower. Much like Rayquaza, it gets rid of really pesky tools like Klefki and "Anything on Garbodor". Unlike Rayquaza, this is also a deck that cares about Fighting Fury Belt, as it often takes high HP Pokemon outside of OHKO range. Field Blower also leads to another really cool gimmick for the deck: You can target your own Tools with the card, and thus free a Gardevoir of a Spirit Link. This lets you run Choice Scarf, which removes the hard cap on damage you can do. Now you can do 190 base damage off of Despair Ray, plus 20 for Kukui ( which is now easy to find with Lele! ) and 30 more off of Choice Scarf letting Mega Gardevoir hit the magical 240 damage mark! Which it isn't really a super common or super necessary move, it is an exploitable weakness the deck did possess, and removing it IS important. Since we want Blower anyways, 1 copy of Choice Scarf is an easy inclusion.

I actually am more drawn to Mega Gardevoir as a deck than I am Mega Rayquaza at the moment, and that is saying something considering my undying love of Rayquaza. I think with Sudowoodo, you now reliably beat Mega Rayquaza. With multiple Hex Maniac and Tapu Lele to draw into them, I feel like your Decidueye matchup gets a lot better.

Next up I have a deck I am really excited to try and play, as I feel like it is a potential upgrade over an exciting new deck Sun and Moon gave us: Sylveon GX.


This is very clearly a variation of the "Quad Lapras" deck that has gained popularity and I feel like there is a very good chance that Sylveon is just an upgrade! Lets look at some of the arguments for it.

Sylveon GX's first attack also gets you 3 cards...only you get to choose them! This is so much better than Lapras, obviously, and it should be a major improvement to how the deck plays out. It eliminates the need for any Pokemon search like Nest Ball at can just get an Eevee with the attack every time...

An Eevee which next turn automatically evolves! While Lapras is a big beefy Basic, due to Eevee's Ability, so is Sylveon effectively due to this. You'll never be caught off guard as an Eevee getting OHKOed, since as long as you have a Fairy Energy, you'll be able to automatically evolve.

While Lapras can reach 230 effective HP with Fighting Fury Belt, the addition of Field Blower makes that fragile. Sylveon has a natural 210, which is an improvement. Also, it can wear an Assault Vest still, granting it a lot of HP against certain decks. Against certain decks, you end up being extremely difficult to KO.

On that front...being able to use Fairy Energy gives you access to Fairy Drop. While this isn't as good as Rough Seas in a long grindy game, it is good. I opt for a split of Fairy Drop and Max Potion, but I'm unsure what will end up beng correct. Pokemon Center Lady is not a bad inclusion either as it offers a lot of healing for just 1 spot devoted to it.

Since we don't have Rough Seas, we get Silent Lab. I like the extra disruption, even if it is conflicting with your Eevees. It shouldn't be an issue if you play around that interaction wisely, but I won't pretend it'll never be an issue. You want Stadium cards for Delinquent as well.

You also free up space by not needing to run Max Elixir...I understand that decks ran only a few copies to begin with, but Sylveon gets to abuse DCE to attack with. This is important for a few reasons...the most important part being that it lets the deck transition into being aggressive much quicker. One of the big issues I've had playing Lapras is that as players get used to the nature of the matchup, they can play really defensively and gain a bit of an advantage. Some players are even adjusting their decks to try and have a long term edge in the matchup. Lapras needs a demanding 3 energy to attack. Sylveon can go from a very defensive line of grabbing 3 cards a turn to swinging for damage in one attachment, which I think is actually really important with what the deck is trying to do now that this style of deck is a known quantity.

Sylveon has a better weakness: I would much rather be weak to Metal, a non-type in this format, than Grass. I also like the Dark resistance as it helps even more against Darkrai and Yveltal. This all should add up to leaving the deck better positioned.

The one area where it really suffers seems to be Volcanion...they can eventually OHKO you...without Special Energy. Hopefully, Silent Lab stifles this a lot. On top of it, I'm running 1 Vaporeon for the matchup, which lets you OHKO them. I'm not sure how it'll actually play out, but I am hoping that this ends up being enough to actually make the matchup competitive.

One thing I am a bit unsure of is the energy count. I have 8 Fairy Energy and 3 DCE right now, but maybe I need more Fairy Energy? The deck needs it t1 every game, both to start it's engine but also to actually evolve Eevee.

Another problem the deck does face is a weakness to Hex Maniac going 2nd, as it actually turns off Eevee. If this turns out to be a major problem, the deck list can be adjusted to help combat that too.

In closing, these are just three of the decks I think could be very well positioned going forward! I think Guardians Rising offers a lot of options to existing decks and ow they are built, much more so than I feel it offers up a swath of new archetypes. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out! Enjoy testing!



[+13] okko


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