Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Post Rotation - Thoughts and Early Lists

Zach goes over the cards we lose in our rotation and some upcoming concepts from Darkness Ablaze. Eternatus VMAX and Decidueye lists are included!

06/25/2020 by Zach Lesage

I’m Back

What’s up 60Cards readers? Zach Lesage here and I am back! I have taken a break over the past month to refresh myself and I have come out with a new positive outlook on life. I started a garden with my girlfriend, I have been taking more time for myself, and I have been cooking up a storm. Oh, and I have been testing Post Rotation decks featuring Darkness Ablaze cards. You read that correctly, we know most of our set list so it is possible to test this early. Let’s not waste too much time and jump into some of my early thoughts!

Goodbye Lost Thunder and Friends

After seeing our metagame evolve into utter chaos amidst this global pandemic, many of us are jumping up and down as we say goodbye to our previous format. Saying goodbye? "But we are in June Zach...???". I know its a bit early, but I wanted to start going over Post Rotation format. If you don't know what a Rotation is, basically we lose a bunch of older cards in order to keep our game refreshed. This statement from the official site probably explains it better than I ever can. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t shed a tear or two in the process. These are the format defining cards that we are losing in the process of our rotation. 

Jirachi (TM; 99)  can kiss its pal, Escape Board (UPR; 122) , away when Rotation hits. After most decks have been able to add four Jirachi (TM; 99) , four Switch (S&S; 183) , and two Escape Board (UPR; 122)  to boost their consistency - we need to go back to the drawing board on this one. Bird Keeper is one choice from Darkness Ablaze and Scoop Up Net (RCL; null)  seem like strong replacement choices. Cards like Cynthia (UPR; 119)  and Lillie (UPR; 125)  might be a bit more difficult to replace. We already have Professor's Research - Professor Magnolia (S&S; 178) , but how do you replace a card like Cynthia (UPR; 119)  that shuffles your cards back into your deck? Marnie seems like our best option now, but Kabu from Darkness Ablaze might be a solid choice too. Oranguru (UPR; 114)  was the glue that kept control decks together since they become popular last year. While many players have found the combination of Oranguru (UPR; 114)  and disruptive cards to be “toxic’, it has allowed a new variety of deck concepts to see success. We do have the option of replacing Oranguru (UPR; 114) ’ with Excadrill (UB; 119) , but having a non-colourless Energy as a requirement and being a Stage One can be rough. It’s definitely something I am going to experiment with, but Control might need to chill out for a minute. Other missed cards include Buzzwole (FLI; 77) , Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) , and Beast Energy Prism Star (FLI; 117)  which personally guided me to my first season as a “pro” player back in the 2017-2018 format. While cards like this are memorable to me, I am sure we will have more big Basic decks printed in the future. If you have been playing PTCGO during this pandemic, you might have seen “Combo Zacian V (S&S; 138) ” tearing it up on the leaderboards. This is largely due to Mr. Mime (DP; 11) , Oranguru (S&S; 148) , and Jirachi Prism Star (CLS; 97)  all working together. While Mime and Guru’ are safe from rotation, Jirachi Prism Star (CLS; 97)  is the missing piece of that combo. While the success of that deck was short lived, you can still play a similar deck in the form of Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX (CoE; 156)  / Zacian V (S&S; 138) to draw extra Prize Cards.

As your 2020 Oceania Internationals Finalist and resident Fire Toolbox fiend, I am personally pouring one out for the loss of Victini Prism Star (DM; 7) . Being a single Prize Card attacker, shuffling Energy back, and having an efficient attack cost is one heck of a combo. There isn’t much of a replacement for this card in the format and most Fire Decks will mourn this loss. Although it is more of loss for Fire Toolbox, Turtonator (DM; 50)  is another steep loss in general. While the term Toolbox means the deck has options, it will struggle to replace this one. The fact that we are losing Fiery Flint (DM; 60)  is something that makes it difficult to build Fire Decks going forward. In Darkness Ablaze we gain Centiskorch VMAX, Charizard VMAX, and Salamence VMAX - the loss of Fiery Flint (DM; 60)  hinders each one of these decks. Giant Hearth (UB; 197)  is a sizeable replacement, but it isn’t the same thing. Lost Thunder is easily the most important set that we lost in the rotation and that is because it held so many unique cards inner metagame. Magcargo GX (LT; 44)  is one of those cards that was played in Mewtwo & Mew GX (UB; 71) , Control variants, and it was a standalone deck. The combination of Energy acceleration, a powerful attack, and solid mill attack is unheard of in our “future” metagame. Will we see a replacement to this card? I honestly don’t think so. Zeraora GX (LT; 201)  is another unique card that we will miss because it brought free Retreat, Energy acceleration, and a viable attack to Lightning-type decks. Switch (S&S; 183)  is an option to replace it going forward, but Electropower (LT; 232) , Volkner (UPR; 135) , and Thunder Mountain Prism Star (LT; 191)  are all rotating too. Will a typical Lightning-type deck, like Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) , continue to exist going forward? It is hard to tell. Out of all of the cards lost, Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154)  might be one of the most important. It allowed Evolution decks to become more viable, allowed for unique deck building options, and was used in a variety of decks. It was broken, yet balanced - the perfect card! We don’t have an immediate replacement and I don’t know if we ever will.

For those that are looking for more of a list, these are the cards that I have deemed the most important losses. There might be cards that I valued to highly in this list and there may be cards that didn’t even make it. For the most part, I think I hit a balance of the most playable cards during their time and cards that were unique to their time. Let’s check it out!

Ultra Prism

Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)

Weavile (UPR; 74)

Darkrai Prism Star (UPR; 77)

Tapu Lele (UPR; 94)

Oranguru (UPR; 114)

Escape Board (UPR; 122)

Cynthia (UPR; 119)

Lillie (UPR; 125)

Volkner (UPR; 135)

Forbidden Light

Volcanion Prism Star (FLI; 31)

Malamar (FLI; 51)

Naganadel GX (FLI; 56)

Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74)

Buzzwole (FLI; 77)

Yveltal GX (FLI; 79)

Florges (FLI; 86)

Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 95)

Beast Ring (FLI; 102)

Lysandre Labs (FLI; 111)

Metal Frying Pan (FLI; 112)

Mysterious Treasure (FLI; 113)

Beast Energy Prism Star (FLI; 117)

Celestial Storm

Magcargo (CLS; 24)

Articuno GX (CLS; 31)

Jirachi Prism Star (CLS; 97)

Rayquaza GX (CLS; 109)

Acro Bike (CLS; 123)

Friend Ball (CLS; 131)

Hustle Belt (CLS; 134)

Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)

Steven's Resolve (CLS; 145)

Super Scoop Up (CLS; 146)

Tate & Liza (CLS; 148)

Rainbow Energy (CLS; 151)

Dragon Majesty

Victini Prism Star (DM; 7)

Quagsire (DM; 26)

Turtonator (DM; 50)

Fiery Flint (DM; 60)

Lost Thunder

Meganium (LT; 8)

Jumpluff (LT; 14)

Shuckle (LT; 16)

Shuckle GX (LT; 195)

Dustox (LT; 28)

Shaymin (LT; 33)

Magcargo GX (LT; 44)

Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)

Mareep (LT; 75)

Zebstrika (LT; 82)

Zeraora GX (LT; 201)

Natu (LT; 87)

Unown (LT; 91)

Wobbuffet (LT; 93)

Girafarig (LT; 94)

Shedinja (LT; 95)

Giratina (LT; 97)

Nihilego (LT; 106)

Naganadel (LT; 108)

Alolan Ninetales GX (JP; 132)

Granbull (LT; 138)

Xerneas Prism Star (LT; 144)

Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154)

Lugia GX (LT; 159)

Trumbeak (LT; 165)

Adventure Bag (LT; 167)

Choice Helmet (LT; 169)

Counter Gain (LT; 170)

Counter Catcher (CIN; 91)

Electropower (LT; 232)

Faba (LT; 173)

Heat Factory Prism Star (LT; 178)

Spell Tag (LT; 190)

Thunder Mountain Prism Star (LT; 191)

Sun and Moon Promos

Mimikyu (GRI; 58)

Solgaleo GX (BW; 104)

Dusk Mane Necrozma (BW; 107)

Hello Darkness Ablaze

So you might think I am crazy for testing this format so early, and I probably am, but I have been finding this future format super interesting. After finding out a week or two ago that we had all of the translations for our English equivalent from my pal Kenny Packala, I started to build decks with him, Josh Sutherland, and some other friends. Collectively we have had some amazing ideas, I have built almost 20 decks in real life, and I think we are finally understanding the format that is to come. Along the way I have fell in love with some cards, strategies, and have developed a new mindset in our game. Lemme share some of them with you.


Eruption Walker 

Infinity Zone 

Charizard & Grimmsnarl Decks 

“Some” V Starter Decks 

VMAX Pokémon are Alive!

Our Sword and Shield base set was our first glance at VMAX Pokémon and it was a very confusing time to be a Pokémon player. We were leaping from the broken set that is Cosmic Eclipse to a new base set that tried to regulate the metagame. In the mix, cards like Lapras V Max (S&S; 50)  and Stonjourner V Max (S&S; 116)  looked interesting, but they were vanilla cards that never saw much play. Fast forwarding to the release of Rebel Clash, we finally saw that VMAX Pokémon could dominate as we are currently seeing Dragapult VMax (RCL; 93)  chillin’ at the top. Darkness Ablaze seemingly adds a handful of competitive VMAX Pokémon into the mix with Centiskorch VMAX, Salamence VMAX, Eternatus VMAX, and more! All of these cards seem extremely viable right out of the gate and they have changed my perception on VMAX Pokémon alone. Looking at a card like Charizard VMAX, you notice it can do 300 damage for a bunch of Energy. Reshiram and Charizard GX (UBO; 20)  has a similar cost at doing 300 damage for a lot of Energy. What’s the difference? Beyond adding an Evolution element to the card and other slight differences, the VMAX doesn’t get held back by the GX attack. It might sound simple, but you can only use a GX attack once per game. Attacks like Salamence VMAX’s Max Wing can be used multiple times a game over and over again! Attacks like Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) ’s Tag Bolt GX can only be used once. VMAX Pokémon might look a little better now that I have said that, at least they do look better to me, and I think we are in a new wave!


I might catch some mockery for this, but I actually think Pokeball (RCL; 154)  is viable for the first time in a while. A lot of VMAX decks can’t utilize enough Pokémon to work wonders with Pokemon Communication (TM; 152)  or Great Ball (S&S; 164)  and that leaves us with Pokeball (RCL; 154) . When it comes to building decks, my general rule of thumb is 15 or less includes Pokeball (RCL; 154)  and 17 or more includes Pokemon Communication (TM; 152) . There are some fringe cases where another card works fine, such as Turfield Stadium (RCL; null)  or Piers, but the rule has been working well so far. I don’t think the card is going to spike anytime soon, but there are some really amazing versions of Pokeball (RCL; 154)  available since it’s been released many times before! Let’s just hope we get other Pokémon search, like Ultra Ball (SLG; 68) , released sooner than later!

Choices, Choices, Choices!

The best thing about our post-rotation Team Up - Darkness Ablaze format is that we finally have choices when searching through your deck. Think about a situation as simple as playing a Quick Ball (S&S; 179)  - we now can choose between Jirachi (TM; 99) , Dedenne GX (UBO; 57) , Eldegoss V (RCL; 19) , and Crobat V. Do we need a Trainer Card, do we need to pitch and draw six, do we need a Supporter out of the Discard Pile, or can we draw until we have six. While these cards are all similar in nature, I have lost games because of Dedenne GX (UBO; 57)  being relentless on discarding my resources because I didn’t have another option. This should reward decision making skills in game, make decks more consistent, and generally make the game more enjoyable.

The Metagame

It’s still early to say, but I have built enough decks to at least share a list of decks that seem viable. I might end up creating a few more decks later, but here is my expected Darkness Ablaze metagame:

Arctozolt / Energy Denial

Centiskorch VMAX /  Welder (UBO; 189)

Charizard VMAX /  Welder (UBO; 189)


Dragapult VMax (RCL; 93)

Eternatus VMAX

Excadrill (UB; 119)  Control

Fire Toolbox (this might be a personal bias)

Green's Exploration (UBO; 175) Boltund V (RCL; 67)  /  Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)

Lapras V Max (S&S; 50)  /  Frostmoth (S&S; 64)

Mad Party

Rillaboom (S&S; 14)  /  Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor GX (UB; 1)

Salamence VMAX (with either Welder (UBO; 189)  or Porygon-Z (UBO; 157) )

Scizor VMAX /  Lucario & Melmetal GX (UBO; 120)

Vikavolt V 

Zacian V (S&S; 138)  /  Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX (CoE; 156)

I’m still figuring a few things out, like is Blacephalon still viable, but expect more content on post-rotation from me coming up soon! 

Eternatus VMAX Deck

This seems to be the deck that everyone is hyped about because it is a tanky Pokémon with a bunch of HP, can swing for 270 damage by turn two, and should be extra consistent with a handful of Crobat V. This deck has been performing well during testing and I hope you get a chance to try out the following list. Enjoy.

Pokémon - 20

4 Eternatus VMAX (DAB)

4 Eternatus V (DAB)

4 Crobat V (DAB)

4 Galarian Zigzagoon (S&S; 117)  

Spiritomb (UBO; 112)

2 Hoopa (DAB)

Trainers - 29

Black Market Prism Star (TM; 134)

Professor's Research - Professor Magnolia (S&S; 178)

Marnie (S&S; 169)

Boss's Orders (RCL; 154)

2 Piers (DAB)

Quick Ball (S&S; 179)

Pokémon Communication (BLW; 99)

Switch (S&S; 183)

Reset Stamp (UB; 206)

Ordinary Rod (S&S; 171)

Energy - 11

Darkness Energy (BUS; 168)

2 Hide Darkness Energy (DAB)

Weakness Guard Energy (UB; 213)

The strategy of this deck is to fill your Bench with as many Darkness Pokémon as you can thanks to Eternatus VMAX’s Infinity Zone Ability. That Ability allows you to have up to eight Pokémon on your Bench if they are all Darkness-type, which they are, and Dread End does more damage for each one! Dread End does 30x for each Darkness Pokémon in play so you can quickly do 270 damage as early as turn two! The rest of the Pokémon in the deck are for support or to have single Prize Card attacking options. Other cards that I have considered in this list are Weavile GX (UB; 132)  and Garbodor (RCL; 118) .

Decidueye Deck 

If you liked playing with Galarian Obstagoon (S&S; 119)  in this current format, you will probably like Decidueye. This deck is all about stopping your opponent from doing Damage with their VMAX, V, and GX Pokémon. If you haven’t noticed yet, that is a large percentage of our current and future format. Let’s peep out the list to see what it looks like!

Pokémon - 17

4 Decidueye (DAB)

3 Dartrix (DAB)

4 Rowlet (Cosmic Eclipse 17)

Jirachi (TM; 99)

Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX (UBO; 1)

Mr. Mime (TM; 66)

Trainers - 33

3 Turfield Stadium (RCL; null)

Marnie (S&S; 169)

Rosa (CoE; 204)

Professor's Research - Professor Magnolia (S&S; 178)

Boss's Orders (RCL; 154)

Rare Candy (S&S; 180)

Quick Ball (S&S; 179)

Switch (S&S; 183)

Pokemon Communication (TM; 152)

Scoop Up Net (RCL; null)

Pokemon Communication (TM; 152)

Energy - 10

Grass Energy (TM; null)

4 Capture Energy (Rebel Clash)

The strategy of this deck is to setup Decidueye as soon as possible and isolate Pokémon that can actually attack it. Use a combination of Boss's Orders (RCL; 154) , sniping with Split Arrow, and setting up an army of Pokémon to accomplish this. Similar to other lock decks, this deck will usually win against the decks it should win against (VMAX, V, and GX) and lose against decks that feature Pokémon that can get through Forest Camouflage. 

Back to the Grind!

It feels amazing to release an article after taking a month long break from the game and I hope this article was interesting enough to keep you engaged during the pandemic. At the time of writing this article I have been grinding the Player’s Cup PTCGO event and I am currently ranked T16 in North America! I plan to use my other 100 Event tickets over the next day or so while streaming to push myself as far to the top as possible. I’m still testing Darkness Ablaze Decks, tending to my garden, and cooking up a storm. If you wanna follow me on Social Media or anything like that, check out the following links.

Social Media

Facebook: Zach Lesage

Twitter: theloneblown

Twitch: theloneblown

YouTube: Coming Soon!



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