This article is a collaboration between several Underground writers who each give reviews of the most noteworthy cards released in Triumphant. We apologize in advance for any spelling errors, this article is over 15,000 words and we wanted to get it out to you ASAP.
I am going to hit all rares or rarer, and any notable commons and uncommons ( aka Haunter and the Trainers ).
Aggron: Well, looking at this card, I get the same feeling I get every time I look at one of the many different Aggrons that have been released over the past few years: It simply doesn’t do enough. I think that it highlights the penalty the design team seems to apply to Pokémon who are able to be tanked with metal energy. The attacks are simply subpar, and with the way the format plays, the fact it may wind up difficult to kill is negated by the fact it is slow, and will be attacked around by most of the best decks.
The card simply does not stack up alongside the likes of say, Steelix and Scizor, or the best of the metal types, Dialga G Level X. These cards simply outclass Aggron by such a large margin, even disregarding the fact that Aggron is saddled with the handicap of being a stage 2.
Altaria: I’m reviewing this simply because I am going to review all of the rares in the set. Needless to say, this card is unplayable. Average attacks on a stage one with no real appealing attributes. I could try and defend it in some way, but there is no possible reason to use this over other cards. Trade it to a kid whose favorite Pokémon is Altaria.
Celebi: This card is also not very good. I got a chance to use it in the prerelease on Sunday, and the card played great for me there, but it has no place in a Constructed deck. The deck manipulation offered by its first attack is nice and cute, but so far worse than other alternatives that it can be overlooked. I also don’t run 70 HP basic Pokémon that do not evolve for their overwhelming 2 energy, 30 damage, possibly paralyzing attacks. I can safely say this guy can be overlooked swiftly.
Drapion: Remember what I said about Aggron being weighted poorly due to the presence of Special Metal energy? Well, Dark types have the same issue, and Dragon is simply not very good. The first attack would be bad even if it didn’t require a flip. 80 for 4 is also not anyone’s idea of a game breaking attack, so Land Crush isn’t going to be my ideal ” Plan A ” anytime soon at a City Championship. I get the feeling this set review may end up being rather harsh and negative until I reach the Primes.
Mamoswine: Alright, despite Mamoswine being one of my ex-girlfriend’s favorite Pokémon, this card doesn’t excite me either. With the speed of the format, if I’m seeing 3 and 4 cost attacks, I want to be awed by their damage and effects. Snowstorm wouldn’t be good enough if it did the 20 damage unrestricted to their entire Bench. The hit points are good, and the Piloswine from sets ago has Rouse which works well with Memory Berry, so the card isn’t a total waste.
The Stormfront Mamoswine was always bordering on being playable, alongside Memory Berry, and if you want to splash a water one for the different weakness and types in case you are abusing Rouse, I guess this card may wind up having some obscure niche in a deck at some point, but I really don’t see it happening. Had it in the draft I played in after the Pre-Release, but never got it out. I had to play against one in the Pre, and took it down, but it was somewhat threatening. Look to keep it’s abuse in the Limited department more so than constructed.
Nidoking: Alright, now we have a Pokémon I can begin to get behind! I actually think this card may lead to a real deck, even if it isn’t all too likely. The hit points are good, and it’s Body simply makes it better. The high health on it is synergistic with Nidoqueen from Stormfront as well. Giving it 180-200 hit points and also healing 20 every set of turns is really overwhelming to a lot of decks. With an Expert Belt, it has the ideal damage amount too. 100 damage plus the poison kills all of the most threatening SP Pokémon, and also kills a Gengar without staring down Fainting Spell unless it is leveled up.
The type and resistance makes it an absolute menacy against Luxray GL Lv.X too. It has the health and damage output, and favorable weakness, to do well against SP, which is important these days. The Nidoqueen would be good against Machamp, and also helps against Kingdra, if you want to use a Nidoqueen swarm. This is definitely one of the better foil rares in the set. Plus, the Nidoking looks absolutely menacing. The art in this set is top notch.
Porygon-Z: I personally like Porygon Z as a Pokémon, so I always get a bit excited when new ones come out, and I always end up hoping that it will end up being good enough to be played. I don’t think this is that time. The attack is pretty awful. There is absolutely no reason to be attaching a rainbow energy to a colorless Pokémon. The only thing suspicious about the attack is why you would want to be using it.
The Power may have some decent use, but the fact it goes on top of your deck is a pretty big hinderence since we do not have Claydol anymore. It may have some use alongside the promo Porygon Z as a reliable way to get back the needed TMs for it, but that deck isn’t really viable at the moment to begin with, and such a support card seems like it can’t be used due to the need to run more copies of the core attacker.
Rapidash: This card makes me wish my spirit was a bit more fiery, as I’m pretty confused right now as to why they would make such a junky card. While status conditions are all nice and good, they haven’t ever really been playable due to the trainers and energy which allow you to switch Pokémon around. So even the fact you can’t retreat out of the burn doesn’t overcome the fact it can be evolved out of, or Switched out of. At least it does 50 damage? Nope. Still confused.
Solrock: The Pokémon Body is actually pretty intriguing. It stops Garchomp C Level X, which is really good. It also stops decks like Steelix from healing itself repeatedly. Unfortunately, it falls victim to Dialga G Level X’s body, so a lot of SP builds can heal beyond it, and regardless, will still be able to heal as a result of PokéTurn. It might have some fringe tech use, but I really don’t see justifying two bench spots and 2 deck slots towards this and some subpar Lunatone. It may be good in like, a Kingdra Machamp build that needs more basics to not get FTKed, and also hate Garchomp C and hates Nidoqueen too. Still, not a worthless card, but a card that is unlikely to really be used.
Spiritomb: Alright, this was a card that had the potential to be very good with the Lost World in order to give your opponent a big hand to stick a Pokémon in. It was a good backup alongside Hunter, and was the best answer to stopping the use of Fossils to screw with the plan to force them to get a Pokémon in their hand. Without the release of Lost World, it loses almost all of it’s value. Spooky Whirlpool gives them 6 cards. Some people run Supporters with that goal in mind. Giratina this is not. The attack isn’t even that great either. Pass this up, although it might be alright with Poltergeist in a Gengar Plume build, although that deck has bench space issues to begin with.
Venomoth: Alright, I generally like cards which can offer status effects on the bench. I generally do not like cards which flip or have a huge negative backlash. While you can easily negate the downside by retreating or evolving/leveling out of the poison, you can’t easily negate the fact it doesn’t actually wind up poisoning the opponent. We already have Skuntank G, and Roserade, and Vileplume, as a means of poisoning as a Pokémon Power, so I’m not too impressed by Venomoth here.
Victreebel: This is another Pokémon I wish they would make playable one day. It isn’t, unfortunately. It’s attack isn’t terrible, and would be a useful attack if it had ANYTHING ELSE. If it had a second attack that packed more of a punch, it would be good. The Body is really cool, and reminds of of the days of Wobbuffet from Legend Maker, which saw moderate play. The fact it has to be active makes it almost useless though, because it’s attack isn’t powerful enough. Its a well costed harassment attack but very little more. It would be useful if the body worked on the bench, but not even good enough to make many decks with the stage 2 handicap.
Ambipom: I want to assume this isn’t good enough, but it actually isn’t that bad. Its stats are a bit weak, but Tail Spank is fantastic at killing Garchomp C. it can also be used as a means to discard trainers against a deck like Gengar. Astonish is also pretty strong if following a Judge. Both attacks are actually not that bad, so this may have some obscure tech use. The fact it is powered fully by a DCE is really nice too.
Banette: Alright, this guys attacks are cute, and somewhat unique, but they really aren’t any good, and don’t justify the cards inclusion into any deck. In most applications, “Losting” an energy and “discarding” one isn’t very different. And if it simply discarded an energy, it wouldn’t be looked at either. The second attack is far too easy to play around, although the lack of a damage cap on it is a bit unprecidented. Although, if they have a 13 card hand, I’m not sure Banettes going to get the whole job done for you.
Bronzong: DING DONG! Alright, this card is desperately trying to make Legend cards good. Unfortunately, between the fact they need paired and also give up 2 prizes make them very difficult to use. The attacks are strong, but they get killed so easily because of the easily exploitable weaknesses. If there were every any really good Legend cards, maybe Bronzong would be worth looking at, but currently, he is a gimmick enabler for a rather weak gimmick.
Carnivine: Alright, I refuse to write about this card and explain why it is bad. If you can’t see why it isn’t worth using, then not even Six Prizes Underground is able to help you.
Ditto: First and foremost, this card’s only purpose is it’s Poké-Body. Its interesting, but I don’t really think its good enough. Giant Stump was pretty nice, but a majority of the reasons it was so good was that it let you discard your damaged Pokémon, or unneeded ones. Sadly Ditto is the bad half of Giant Stump. It also has 40 HP and is easily “dealt with” so it doesn’t seem like this is a card to look at.
Dragonite: Alright, so we addressed earlier than status isn’t very good? So attacks which stop status effects (besides Confusion, Sleep, or Paralyzation, because they can prevent the attack from being used) are also not very good, especially when they cost 3 energy. Dragonites thematically seem to require terrible double flip attacks, and this guy is no different. I seriously would rather just have CCCC for 80, and that would be awful too. The potential to downright miss is so brutal. They really need to stop making cards like this.
Dugtrio: Ok, did Sand Impact really have to require flips? It has 80 hit points (the magic Dragon Rush number!) I don’t think the fact it one hits things if it has like 4+ energy on it is too game breaking. Unfortunately, it is going to just get a lot of tails and be even more underwhelming. Isn’t it bad how 10 years ago Dig would have made this card an allstar?
Electivire: This card has some of the best art I have ever seen on a Pokémon card, and I’m really pumped they made it into a pre-release promo. The card, of course, is awful. The first attack is a solid set up attack, and the second attack has the potential for absolute blowouts, but on the same page, is incredibly easy to play around, especially in a format where you rarely have many energy in play at any given time. It gets even worse when you look at how much healing occurs in the format. Hunter, Super Scoop Up, and PokéTurn all give this fit, and those cards can now be Junk Arm’d, and VS Seekered. Cool attack, just absolutely awful in the context of the format and metagame we currently have.
Elekid: Nice choice for a rare. I like that they are kind of printing this as a bit of a throwback to the old Neo Genesis Elekid, who was revolutionary at the time (even if it wasn’t as good as people had hyped it as being back in the day). None the less, the card clearly has no actual applications, and will be triple Flash Bit like it was it’s job. The number of times this card would be FTK’d is unreal. Keep this out of decks.
Golduck: The art is the first thing to jump out at me on this card. I’ll restate how much that has impressed me on this set. The card isn’t terrible. The limitless damage output (theoretically supplied by a Feraligatr Prime) doesn’t even require you to dump all of the energy onto the attacker, which is huge as it avoids putting “all of your eggs in one basket” so to speak. The Poké-Body is actually very good too, but the 90 hit points really puts a damger on things.
You could do some degenerate things with an Expert Belt (110 HP, and a 50 base damage is very nice ) and just dump a lot of energy on it to keep it alive, but the fact it can never avoid a one hit by a Luxray really makes that unrealistic. Leafeon Level X never really had its day to shine, and I really don’t think this offers anything better than that.
Grumpig: Well, the card can’t be awful simply because it has Psychic Lock. The second attack isn’t bad either, reliably hitting 80-120 damage. The problem is, Psychic Lock is much weaker with only 20 damage, and the cheaper attack cost is almost irrelevent because of DCE’s reprinting. I don’t think this card will ever go anywhere, but its never safe to write off Psychic Lock, although last format did prove that it required a lot of things to make it work, and I don’t think the huge hit in power on Grumpig’s version gives it the legs required to do much.
Kricketune: See Carnivine…
Lunatone: This is not the Lunatone you will be using alongside Solrock if your goal is to stop healing. I guess it could be argued that it pairs alright with it against LuxChomp (one stops Garchomp’s healing, this one can one hit a Luxray) but it dies, and requires too many energy to really be useful (Yes, when it kills itself, 2 is too many) This card is really bad.
I want to get to the Primes already…
Machamp: Alright, Machamp here isn’t that bad. It is, on the other hand, so many leagues worse than Machamp from Stormfront, and the Prime in this set, that there is literally no reason to ever run this while they are both legal. This seems to illustrate the point that the design team has no intentions of printing very strong attackers that are not Primes anymore pretty well. The difference between the strength of this and the Prime Machamp, from the same set, is mind boggling.
Magmortar: They really do go out of their way to prevent any sort of milling deck. Magmortar’s first attack is really cool, but it is so hard to really get enough energy on it to warrant using it that it turns me away from the card. The fact that you wind up discarding all of those energy is even worse. Even if you manage to avoid getting it killed, your effectively doing the same thing half of the time as you wipe all of the build up away. Again, I like the idea they went for, I just feel they really underpowered the execution. Hopefully we get a similar card in the future, adjusted for the strength of the rest of the format.
Nidoqueen: This card isn’t actually all that good. On the other hand, I actually think it stands to possibly see play. If a Nidoking/Nidoqueen “Monarchy” deck were to rear its head ( and it may, at the very least it stands to be a tier 2 deck ) then this being played as a singular copy makes sense to help sustain consistancy. The first attack is solid as a back up for bad situations. The fact that you need to swarm Nidoqueens, and that the SF Queen’s Body doesn’t overlap makes it so that this card may sneak in.
Pidgeot: Quick Search is such a fantastic ability. Getting any card out of your deck every turn is literally format altering. It makes it far easier to get lone copies of cards, and will substantially alter how decks are built as long as the card remains in the format. Clutch, for only 2 Colorless Energy, is a great fallback attack, and really ups the value of this already fantastic card. 100 hit points, and free retreat cost, are only icing on the cake for this allstar.
Sharpedo: Alright, the only thing I like on this card is how much of a blowout Strip Bare is if it ever hits. That isn’t enough to make it playable, but it is a ridiculous smashing when it hits. I’m going to run this vs kids at league just to watch them lose their entire hand every now and then! You should too.
Wailord: This card isn’t as bad as I thought it would be at first. Water types have an automatic advantage in that they get access to Gatr Prime, so Swallow Up isn’t unreasonable to power up. Toss on a Belt, and it has 200 hit points and can pump out 120 damage. Still probably never going to see play, but its a pretty hard Pokémon to kill, and pretty easy to power up if you cheat with Feraligatr.
Haunter: This Haunter may be the best one to run in whatever Gengar build you want to run anymore. The free retreat cost, and the Poison/Sleep attack isn’t too bad for a middle stage. Gengar Vileplume builds likely still want access to Hoodwink, but this ones is definitely a strong contender.
Black Belt: This card is actually somewhat interesting. I kind of like it as a one of in SP builds that run the Staraptor so that you can reliably get it without having to run 4 copies of it. The problem with cards like this is that they are very situational. Situational cards mean you don’t want multiples of them, so you want to run a low count. The problem with that is that then they are hard to get when you need them in the key situations. So unless
you draw it at the exact point you need it, its clunky. Yet with Staraptor (and to a degree Cyrus’s Conspiracy, although telegraphing it removes a good degree of it’s value ) I expect some decks to run this card, but I don’t see it having a huge impact. None the less, +40 damage is very difficult to overlook.
Indigo Plateau: Alright, I addressed earlier that Legend cards are bad. I also stand by the fact that cards such as Snowpoint Temple, and the old Rocket gym which gave out 20 hit points to Dark Pokémon, are also bad, because they provide no immediate impact, and are negated if they get countered. I don’t like those downsides, and have never really used any of the stadiums that play like that. Indigo Plateau is simply worse because the card types it boosts are not even viable to begin with.
Junk Arm: I really like this card. It lets you get back a bunch of otherwise unretrievable cards. I think that the best use for this card is actually in SP decks, where it lets you get additional PokéTurns, or even Energy Gain, SP Radar, or Power Sprays. It also could let you “trim” numbers off of those cards for these, and instead just gain versatility. Having cards which can be additional PokéTurns, Sprays, OR Energy Gain can be very powerful. I’m sure this will not be a 4 of in decks, but adding 1 or 2, particular in certain SP Builds, makes plenty of sense. It can also get back VS Seeker, so you could end up using these to replace Supporters as well. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact it makes on the format.
Seeker: This is by far the best card in the set. This is the best card to be printed in a very, very long time. The number of uses for this card is mindboggling. First, it helps to enable early game kills. If you are threatening a kill, and they have only one benched Pokémon, this ends the game entirely. It lets you re-use Pokémon with coming into play effects, such as Uxie, Azelf, Giratina, and Mesprit.
This also works with SP decks, with Crobat, or Garchomp once it hits the bench. Anything with Warp Energy can be looped with this as easily as it can be with PokéTurn. While it isn’t as amazing as PokéTurn is, its effects can be easily realized in comparison to it. I’d love to rant and rave about this card, but this is just a quick, overview of the set as a whole, and I’ll be certain to go into more detail in regards to this card in the near future.
Twins: This card is very good as well. The ability to get any 2 cards is so strong. This actually does a great job of helping to allow “comebacks”, or at least give slower decks a chance to rebound without simply being overwhelmed which is a problem in the format at the moment. Any deck that uses Spiritomb to set up is going to fall in love with this card. It may help enable to entirely different deck approaches. One of the problems with it is that it doesn’t do anything once you tie the game, or once you start to get ahead. I’m looking at it as a 3 of, simply due to its limitations, but it is certainly a great card. More testing will really show how strong it really is though.
Rescue Energy: This card is clearly strong. I’m not sure how much play it will see. I’m going to test it as a 1 of in SP builds with Energy Exchanger, but other decks really want the colored energy, so I’m not sure how splashable it is. It competes with Double Colorless, Warp, and Call Energy in the “colorless energy” allotments, so I’m not sure the effect is better than any of those. Certain decks may really take advantage of it, but I’m not totally sold yet. It is likely one of the better cards in the set, but is is far from being amazing. Decks like Gyarados may love this, and SP decks will appreciate the ability to get back the level X cards as they die.
Absol Prime: Eye of Disaster is a great Poké-Body. Absol being active for any extended period of time? Not so great. It has only 80 hit points, and the attack is really not that great. It doesn’t really one hit much, and it has the Losting handicap to boot. Sure, it could do 90 for 2 energy, which at some point in time may be alright, but now it doesn’t seem all too good. I could see it being used alongside Mew prime as an additional way to get a Pokémon into the Lost Zone to attack with it later if you don’t want to expose a Mew to attack, and it could be a good splash to kill Gengars with, but I’m pretty underwhelmed here. I will safely say this is the worst Prime printed to date.
Celebi Prime: I actually like this card quite a bit. With Unown Q, it can be safely promoted and retreated between kills, or between switching effects. The unconditional attachment of grass energy at that point seems pretty solid actually. Either as an accelerator in a grass deck, or even with say, Garchomp C Lvl X (Dragon Rush, PokéTurn, attach w Celebi to the bench, attach again, E Gain, retreat, Lvl up, Rush again) and you have a pretty interesting card. It’s attack isn’t bad, and seems like it could actually be used to mess with some decks. I’m not sure if it’ll find a home for sure, but its powerful enough that its worth looking at and testing. It requires very little set up to “get online” with an effect (energy manipulation) that is very rare. I’d say theres a decent chance this guy sees some play.
Electrode Prime: Electrode Prime isn’t exactly the best Prime to be printed. (in fact, he must be very thankful for Absol) The way the format works, and how fast it is, you simply cannot be giving up free prizes intentionally. The card isn’t bad in theory, but there are too many fast decks, and attacks cost so few energy, that it really just doesn’t offer an effect that is needed for the drawback. It is still a bit of a gamble to use as well, which is another strike against it. Decks take too many cheap, stolen prizes that even tanking some big stage 2 with the energy acceleration isn’t that good. Cards die too quickly, or don’t do enough, to really warrant giving up a prize to get them online.
One Pokémon used to be able to dominate a board position and hold the fort down, but that hasn’t been the case in a few years. Even a card like Dialga G Lvl X requires a ridiculous amount of work to keep tanked. Gigashock is also an awful, and terribly underpowered attack. If it had any strength to it at all, it might push this card into some degree of viability, but as it stands, I don’t see this getting played at all.
Gengar Prime: With Lost World NOT in the set, this card takes a huge hit. Hurl Into Darkness is fairly pointless attack now. It isn’t bad, but it really doesn’t justify the inclusion of this card in a deck simply for it anymore. Cursed Drop isn’t bad, but it seems to be a lot worse than Shadow Room. The problem with this Gengar isn’t that it is bad, it is that the other Gengars are so good. The Stormfront one is extremely powerful, and the Curse one is as well. You have to run one of the Level X too. I can’t imagine very many Gengar builds that want to forgoe any of those options to fit this guy in it. Catastrophe is pretty nice with Curse Gengar’s Shadowskip because it is promoted in time to register it’s Poké-Body for the hit and run KO. That is really the only real application for this card, and it seems hard to justify with it competing with the other Gengars for one of only 4 slots.
Machamp Prime: This is the card Machamp players have been waiting for. The Stormfront Machamp, and it’s level X, have been on the cusp of tier 1 status for awhile now, and are currently a very viable force due to the popularity of SP varients. The issue had always been that they lacked a strong game against non SP decks. This Prime really changes that, and is a true weapon in the right deck. Champ Buster is a brutal attack, and a great finisher for a deck that otherwise relied on “Hurricane Punch” as it’s primary attack against non basics.
Machamp has a huge amount of hit points as well. Crushing Punch is very strong too. The ability to get rid of Special Energy can be a blowout against a lot of decks. Fighting Tag is actually a really great Poké-Power as well. It helps to get Machamp up and running in a pinch. Its not the easiest to abuse, but if you get two of them up and running you can switch between them, and use Hunter to loop them really easily with Broken Time Space. Seeing how they start to do an absurd amount of damage really easily, this is probably the 2nd best card in the set, behind Seeker.
Magnezone Prime: Magnetic Draw…having flashbacks of Claydols yet? Well, it clearly isn’t as good as Cosmic Power, and it is stuck on a stage 2 Pokémon, but luckily, the Magnezone line is a pretty good line to be stuck in. All of the Magnezones which are currently legal bring a lot to the table. One lets you search your deck each turn for a Metal or Lightning Pokémon. One offers energy acceleration, and a potent hit and run attack.
The Level X offers Energy Trans, which is even better with the likes of Seeker being printed. The line had bordered around tier 2 status and was somewhat viable before, but the consistency offered now may make it good enough to push it into tier 1. Lost Burn is also an absolutely brutal attack. It is extremely easy to see that attack taking the last 2 prizes in a game, especially with the way to deck can manipulate its energy. This is probably the third best card in the set.
Mew Prime: Alright, this is the hardest card to judge. The potential for abuse is clearly there. You can remove powerful Level X cards and abuse their attacks as a basic. You can discard machamp and use Take Out as a basic. Those are just a few of many applications for this card. The downside is, it has very few hit points, and can be turned off by Dialga G.
The card has an extreme upside, and an extreme downside. It could turn out to be the lynchpin of numerous deck ideas, or it could end up being a complete and total bust, homeless due to the lack of Lost World. The deck I had tested it most in turned out to be a complete non-factor, so my exposure to the card outside of that context is minimal and it is a very hard card to accurately grade without a lot of game time being logged.
Yanmega Prime: Alright, this card isn’t bad, but it also isn’t really that great. Assume the deck is built to abuse Insight. So lets say the attacks are all free…they still aren’t really that great. The card is good but the attacks are a bit underwhelming. Hit Points are average, and the attacks are as well. Its a nice gimmick, and its close to being good enough, but it requires a bit too much work to get only an above average end. I guess you could try something fun like Blissey Prime with Yanmega Prime, and a lot of Copycat effects, or cards to equalize hand size, but it seems like for the work you could be getting stronger combinations, which is a shame as I also like Yanmega, and wish they would release a good one.
Darkrai and Cresselia Legend: This card seems really, really bad to me. I said earlier I hate Legend cards due to how many drawbacks they have, but this card would be bad if it didn’t have any of them. If this card was simply a basic with 150 hit points, and those attacks, I would still be very underwhelmed. The 100 damage attack isn’t strong enough to warrant the mammoth 4 energy required to use it. Due to it being Dark and Psychic, the # of ways to really accelerate the attachments to it as few as well. It has almost nothing going for it. The attacks are both so underwhelming for the effort you need to exert to get this thing up and online. I sold one half of this for 10 dollars today, and could not have felt more relieved.
Palkia and Dialga Legend: This card is notably better than Darkrai and Cresselia, but it doesn’t really do enough. Sudden Delete is clearly a powerful attack. Especially with this card being a water type ( EVENTUALLY one of these things will pair favorably with Feraligatr, but I’m still waiting for it to happen. ) Unfortunately, most decks are attacking for almost no energy, so you waste time Deleting things, only for them to be pounding you. SP decks will be thankful for the bouncing, while evolution decks undo most of the damage via Broken Time Space.
Time Control is an unprecidented attack, and has an unreal level of power behind it. Unfortunately, it discards metal the metal energy, so its hard to find a way to keep powering it. Heatran Lvl X comes to mind, but its clunky and makes the deck even slower and more awkward. This thing will get killed eventually, and give back up those two prizes. The upside may be there, but it seems that whatever deck is built to try and reliably abuse this could just run into games where it gets totally overrun, and this guy just doesn’t stop the bleeding enough. Time Control is so strong that this card should be kept in mind with future releases in case it gets the help it needs to really be broken.
First off I can’t say I’m too impressed with the new set. I’ve reviewed all of the Holographic-Rare cards in the set and I will confidently say none of them will have an actual impact on the CC’s metagame except possibly a tanking Nidoking TR/Nidoqueen RR deck with Poké Healer +, Seeker and maybe Life Herb a la Steelix Prime, and maybe in combination of Regirock + Stark Mountain to keep it powered, but as I keep typing this and thinking how much more stuff it really needs to work, I don’t think it will be a factor to consider.
Spiritomb: This can be a ‘cheap’ Giratina PL in the sense that it is less of a hassle to remove from the Active spot if Bright Looked or you start with it, but the extra 2 cards for your opponent do not warrant this IMO. It’s pretty sad these are the ‘best’ this set has to offer in terms of the Holo’s but it’s true.
Ditto: As far as the rare’s are concerned, Ditto really outshines all the others but is still pretty limited at this point in time. Some of you may remember the Stadium card ‘Giant Stump’ and how useful it can be to limit your opponent’s bench, forcing him into tough decisions. Unfortunately at this time, benches are always full of ‘one-time use’ Pokémon like Uxie LA or Azelf LA so most of the time Ditto won’t be hurting your opponent that much. Ditto though is definetely one card to keep in the back of your head as the metagame and new sets come out, especially next format, as we lose the one-time use Pokémon we currently have.
Elekid: Another Rare that stands out a bit for it’s nostalgia effect on some of us, as it’s basically a reverse of what Baby Pokémon used to be. You get 20 damage on any Pokémon and a 50/50 chance of not getting knocked out, if you’re feeling lucky, this could be a good card for you to consider, but probably won’t make an impact during CC’s and beyond.
Golduck: has alot of potential with the obvious Feraligatr Prime partnership, as it can deal an ‘unlimited’ amount of damage with a base 50 which is always nice, but being weak to the most popular Pokémon in the format AND having low HP definetely doesn’t help the poor duck. Like Ditto, a potentially good card for next format, but we probably won’t be seeing him anytime soon in the top cutting decks of CC’s and beyond.
Grumpig: This card brings the ever-popular Psychic Lock back, with a cheaper cost but a measly 20 damage and lower HP and no broken Poké-Power. I know some people will jump on the fact that it is Psychic Lock and ‘OMG it’s back’ but probably not something any of us have to worry about.
Machamp: Clearly inferior to its SF counterpart and should never be considered over it.
Now onto the good stuff this set has to offer: the trainers, supporters and Pokémon prime.
Blackbelt: A very situational supporter, and could even be used against you by an opponent’s Smeargle which could prove deadly, but if you are running some sort of Supporter seek such as Staraptor FB Lv.X or a less effective Cyrus’s Conspiracy, it could make your opponent think twice about KOing you.
Junk Arm: offers us an option we have very rarely had since Unlimited, in the form of the very unreliable Old Rod. Being able to retrieve any Trainer card is pretty big for decks that rely heavily on Rare Candy, and SP decks can even abuse it to recycle their TGI’s such as Power Spray or Poké-Turn. This card is one of the biggest of the set and will become a staple in a lot of decks. I can definitely see SP decks becoming reliant on this card to abuse their TGI’s and not to mention it helps unload your hand to be able to use Uxie’s ‘Set-Up’ much more effectively.
Seeker: This is a pretty big card from the set. Full Pokémon recovery has been rare as well and even though it has the ‘draw-back’ of giving the same effect to your opponent, for decks like Steelix Prime this alter effect usually wont matter at all and is an 100% beneficial card for it. I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of good and creative uses for this card in the near future.
Twins: A double-edged sword. It can help you come back to win a game, but it can also cause you to fall behind if this is your only Supporter at the early stages of the game. It’s definitely good, but there aren’t many strategy’s out there that rely on being behind in prizes so IMO the same logic for Black Belt applies for this card. Are you able to search for it? Then run a copy or 2, if you can’t, then it’s a very high-risk high reward play.
PokeGymRescue Energy: Looks very good on paper, being able to recover your key Lv.X immediately, but before you know it, how many decks can actually run this effectively and still maintain a good energy balance between Call Energy, DCE, Rainbow Energy and the mandatory Basic Energy type for your attacks? As you keep recalling all the energy cards available out there, this one keeps falling in the pecking order, and at this time I’d say it’s lower than Warp and Cyclone energy for sure. I’ll be very (happily) surprised to be proven wrong and for someone to use this card’s effect in a successful way.
Now onto the usable Pokémon from the set, although they are very limited in numbers.
Absol Prime: A very nice card for the early game. It’s Poké-Body helps cards such as Kingdra LA or Gengar to set up easier KO’s and save up on Crobat’s when Pokémon like Uxie LA or Azelf LA are played down, and it’s attack will usually fetch you a KO or two in the first turns of the game. If you can successfully use this Pokémon as your starter in a Dark type deck, it might actually become one of those cards that makes you actually want to go first, which is rare in this format.
Celebi Prime: My absolute most favorite card in the set. IMO this card alone will open up a lot of new strategies and will (unfortunately) power up SP decks that are able to adapt it into its build. VileGar is an SP deck’s worst nightmare, specially the recent VileGar + Machamp builds I’ve seen lately, but this card absolutely stops them in it’s tracks and I hope to look more in depth into this card’s impact in the future. If it weren’t for it’s lame attack cost (which is somewhat helped out by it’s own Poké-Power), I’d say we’d be looking at a staple in most decks. It helps you stall, and if you’re not facing an SP deck, what options do other decks really have to deal damage to this card? At this moment in time, the Basic Pokémon of the powerful Stage 2 Pokémon we like to use are pretty bad and lacking. Your opponent might have to end up sacrificing a Basic or two in order to even have a chance to fight back against it, which gives you ample time to set up your own powerful Pokémon. Find the right energy mix, and Celebi TR/Machamp SF is a metagame killer.
Electrode Prime: This card is begging for you to use him with the new abusable Supporters Twins and Black Belt, but unfortunately since it’s Poké-Power is pretty much a gamble at any stage of the game, I don’t think it will have any impact or have any decks based on it. If you choose to add extra energy to your deck to make sure you get enough to warrant it’s use, you will probably be sacrificng alot of consistency and potential in your deck, not to mention increase the bad start scenarios of Basic Pokémon and lots and lots of energy.
Gengar Prime: IMO is inferior to it’s current alternate forms from other sets, and won’t see much play, if any at all, since the Lost World Stadium card was not released as we were all expecting. Nothing else much to say here.
Machamp Prime: Definitely seems good and alot better than it’s Rare counterpart in the set, but having SF and the Lv.X available, it really makes you reconsider. I see this more as a standalone card, and when combined with Seeker it could be very potent. We also have Unown P to reliably put damage counters on our own Benched Pokémon with some sort of control so as to not overextend that damage and use the second attack effectively, while the first attack is a very reliable and cost effective choice as most decks in the current format try to abuse Call Energy and DCE, as well as Special Metals in the most popular SP variant.
PokeGymMagnezone Prime: I have always liked cards that guarantee KO’s for a cheap cost, and even though Magnezone Prime is a Stage 2, it has a lot of Magnezone buddies from other sets to help him out. The Lv.X and the electric SF Magnezone help in getting other type of KO’s while saving your energy for an attack. I personally see myself testing thoroughly Magnezone variants as this kind of ‘set up’ and KO anything your opponent throws at you type of decks are usually the ones I like the most.
Mew Prime: A very fancy card. It helps set itself up but having to pay the costs of the attacks makes it hard to consider using anything other than Jumpluff, Kingdra, Gengar or Machamp alongside with it. Not to mention Rainbow Energy is an obvious choice which means it’s health is decreased further by 10 when attached, and there aren’t many cards that help support it’s low HP. I may be underrating the card, but unless having all 4 of those nice 1 energy attacks at your disposal is very game breaking, I don’t see this becoming that big a deal.
Yanmega Prime: is the least outstanding Pokémon Prime of the set, and although cards like Copycat, Judge or Giratina PL help you attack for free with it’s Poké-Body, the attacks are nothing spectacular either so it makes you wonder if you would be better off paying energy costs for other ‘better’ attacks anyways.
Darkrai-Cresselia Legend: is just a very nice artwork card, as its main attack is too costly and 100 damage doesn’t cut it lately, and it’s first attack will hardly, if ever, be used in real competitive in-game scenarios.
Palkia-Dialga Legend: will probably see play, as that second MMC attack is something we have never seen in Pokémon, but the constant discard of Metal Energy really makes you wonder how long you will be able to keep it up or rather what Pokémon do you pair this with that can take easy prizes and/or help you stall while you keep powering up Palkia-Dialga and adding prizes to your opponent.
And that’s it from me, I hope you enjoyed reading my criticism on the notable cards of the set for me, and hope you all had pleasant weekends at the pre-releases!
With the elimination of the game-breaking Lost World, is Heart Gold/Soul Silver: Triumphant a worthwhile set for competitive players? We won’t know the answer to that for sure until extensive play testing and actual events, but what we do know is that it brings several new layers of strategy to the Majestic Dawn-On format. For one reason or another (good or bad), several cards caught my eye, and I’d like to share my opinions on some of them.
Don’t be surprised if some I only spend a sentence on, and others multiple paragraphs – this is just a relatively free flow of thoughts, impressions, and suggestions. Also, don’t be surprised if I don’t mention every good/great card in the set, because some I just didn’t feel needed to be talked about right now (e.g., Magnezone Prime).
Mamoswine: Is this a viable spreader? It could be a decent alternative/supplement to
Abomasnow, but on the other hand, it seems very difficult to get going. In addition, it gets reamed by Dialga…Something I’d rather not have.
Nidoking: Venomous Horn is a fairly average – perhaps even sub-par – attack. Despite its cost, it’s reliably 2HKO’ing anything in the format…If you can get it out quickly, that is. Our selling point for this guy, though, is Pheromone Stamina, which can easily make Nidoking an above-average HP attacker, and can oftentimes get up to Wailord status. Some may say that there’s even a new “Monarchy” (Nidoking+Nidoqueen) deck made possible. Possible, yes, but viable? Only if this guy can get out at more than a snail’s pace! It seems like in theory, it essentially is Wailord 2.0; the difference, however, is that it’s much more capable of beating Luxchomp.
Porygon-Z: Suspicious Beam Beta, for CCC, 80, and possible confusion without Rainbow, is also an average attack. Luckily, Dimension Transfer is a stellar Poké-Power, especially when stacked. Although unlikely, the prospect of using up to four Pluspower, four Defender, four Poké-Blower+, et al a turn is certainly worth looking at. Better yet, Porygon-Z LV.X is still legal, meaning that you could also have a way to fetch Bubble Coat, which could be crucial in the SP matchup versus Promocroak.
Solrock: This and Lunatone can certainly be constraining on your bench, and unfortunately, the rise of Seeker in the metagame will dilute the uses of blocking healing. It also won’t do much versus SP at all, thanks in large part to Dialga G LV.X and PokéTurn. It “will” help against Nidoqueen, thus justifying its play in Abomasnow.
Spiritomb: Fun attack, and lower retreat than Giratina PL9, but the Poké-Power, which ought to be its selling point, is mediocre to Giratina’s. Unless you want to _force_ your opponent to draw six cards, as opposed to “up to” 4, go with the status quo disruptor Pokémon.
Venomoth: Another alternate to an existing Platinum card (Skuntank G), Venomoth is far inferior to its counterpart. Although it “does” work versus SP, the effort and two deck slots could easily be spent on cards that are MUCH more effective, such as: a fraction of a Machamp SF line, Judges, 1-1 Mewtwo LV.X, etc. If you really want to poison, I’d just stick with the Skuntank.
Ambipom: Tail Spank? Where do they come up with these names? Either way, it’s a nice 1-1 that can help upset the SP mirror. At the same time, this could be the center of a new disruption deck via the first attack: Weavile UD, Cyrus’s Initiative SV, Judge, and/or Sableye SF can all combine with this guy to wreck hands from the first turn-onward. Add in Seeker and Mesprit, and they might never see the light of day.
Ditto: Not as good as Dusknoir DP from last format, and not as efficient as Palkia G LV.X right now, but it’s certainly a lot easier to slip into a list. Between this guy, Hunter, and Warp Point, there’s a lot of new ways you can force your opponent’s hand. Give the three of them a try in a list, and see some interesting situations occur.
Golduck: An interesting card with a potential to do big damage, but unfortunately it’s getting smoked by SP every time. Ignore it.
Grumpig: On principle, Psychic Lock should be good, but that’s just not the case with this guy. Unlike Gardevoir Secret Wonders, which had a rockin’ Poké-Power, an awesome alternate attacker in the form of Gallade SW, higher HP, and higher damage, Grumpig isn’t doing much without great effort. If you want a consistent mode of power lock, then just look towards Mesprit/Seeker.
Nidoqueen: For all intents and purposes, this Nidoqueen is inferior to its Rising Rivals counterpart: its damage potential is far lower, it doesn’t have a rocking body, and it has x2 weakness to Psychic rather than +30. What makes this thing a hopeful, though is its ability to offer a Nidoqueen/Nidoking deck a reasonable method of offensive draw power. Whereas 1-1-1 Magnezone Prime offers more powerful draw, slipping a Nidoqueen into a list is far more efficient, so if space is an issue, then consider it.
Marowak/Cubone: Marowak isn’t the best card in the world, but I wanted to bring it to your attention for two reasons. First is Bonemerang, a splashable move that has a reasonable chance at one-shotting Umbreon UD, a major threat to decks like Vileplume/Gengar. Second is the second attack, which is a consistent, reliable way to deal 80, making it one of the more efficient Stage 1s not named “Gyarados” or “Donphan.” I don’t see it being played for the second attack much, but getting on Umbreon’s nerves has never been easier.
I figured I’d mention Cubone, at the very least, for its intriguing “reverse Gyarados” Poké-Body. Who would’ve thought that a Cubone could tank? Not a bad way to keep yourself from losing an unwinnable game.
Porygon-2: For the first time in recent memory, we now have a card capable of fetching Stadiums for us. While most decks don’t hinge on getting a particular card out, others center entirely around them, such as the Lost World deck that would have come out in Triumphant had said card actually been released. Just like Porygon 2 GE from last format, though, if you play this guy, then you have to find room for the even more versatile Porygon-Z TM.
Wailord: This appears to be the centerpiece of any new Feraligatr/Wailord concept to come out. Since 180 HP is among the highest in the game right now, the second attack’s text practically reads as a vanilla 100, which is quite decent. My only beef is that awful x2 Weakness to Luxray GL.
Black Belt: Many have cited this “+40 while trailing” effect as one of the best from Triumphant, but it’s important to remember that timing is crucial for this card. In addition to not having many easy ways to fetch it from your deck, Black Belt is a Supporter, and so you must obviously be very careful in your engineering of a given play.
Combo ideas with Black Belt:
- Staraptor LV.X: Not much of a “combo” per se, but it does fix your problem of being unable to fetch Black Belt from your deck.
- Regigigas/LV.X Promo/Zangoose Platinum: The core concept for both is the same — that is, when behind in prizes, grab one of your opponent’s vulnerable benched Pokémon for a ton of damage. However, they have two distinctly different ways in operating: Regigigas+Black Belt would require you to use a deck that deliberately puts yourself behind in prizes via the LV.X’s Poké-Power, “Sacrifice,” whereas Zangoose+Black Belt is a splashable tech. Both of these have their plusses and minuses, but Gigas and Zangoose are both worth considering.
- Electrode Prime: This is yet another way to get a cheap win, but…
Junk Arm: I absolutely love this card. Because of its versatility, games will get MUCH more interesting: 5 Rare Candies a game, reusable Luxury Balls, etc…All in all an amazing card with nearly unlimited potential for the next two — possibly three — formats.
Combo Idea with Junk Arm:
- Poké Drawer+/Blower+/Healer+: My biggest problem with all three of these cards, prior to Junk Arm, was that they were all very unreliable. Although the double effects are always game changers when they happen, it was unfortunate that they were limited to two per game. Thanks to Junk Arm, you can not only play a single copy without fear; you can use the double effects three or even _four_ times in game. Absolutely gross…
Seeker: Ahhh yes, THE card from this set that can be combined in so many ways, it gets absurd. Here are just some of the possibilities…
Combo Ideas with Seeker:
- Uxie/Mesprit/Azelf/Giratina/nearly every other coming-into-play Power: Thanks to Seeker, ALL of these cards get a new lease on life. The potential here is extraordinary, but I’d like to limit it to the four specified just to keep things from exploding (someone should – and probably will – do an article over this one card). Because of Uxie, Seeker can practically read as “draw 3-7 cards;” because of Mesprit, it can read as “your opponent is stuck without any Poké-Powers for the first few turns of the games.” Just as importantly, cards with useful effects such as Azelf and Giratina will no longer remain as lock fodder/snipe targets/bench fillers for the rest of the game. Since all four of these cards are great in Palkia, it might be worth your time to give it a try there…You might just find it to be really effective.
- Gengar Prime: Just because Lost World is out of the set doesn’t mean that this combo is any less potent. If timed right (especially in combination with Ditto), Seeker can force your opponent to bring back a Pokémon for a particularly nasty Hurl into Darkness. This move is particularly potent against SP, which typically doesn’t have too many free spots on the bench. Best of all, though, you can sometimes just use it to heal one of these 130 HP menaces up, which leads right into my next point…
- Any Tanker: Gyarados, Donphan, and a variety of other fast, high-HP monstrosities an abuse this card into oblivion. See that 130-150 HP nightmare that’s just one hit away from going down? Warp Energy/Warp Point it back to the bench, Hunter it up, Broken Time-Space it back into play, retreat back out for it, attach, and start swinging again. This is particularly gross with Gyarados, as it already runs everything you need to make the above hypothetical scenario a reality. Also, Seeker can be just as good – if not better – in Dialgachomp, which plays the same game as the above cards. Finally, this could even help salvage Feraligatr Prime/Wailord from the scrap heap of bad rogue decks, as being able to constantly refresh the same 200-220 HP Wailord is a scary thought.
PokeGymMew Prime: Like its Legend Maker friend, Mew ex, Mew Prime has nearly unlimited potential. Thanks to attackers such as Rhyperior, Machamp, and others, you could potentially set up a game-winning combo by the first turn. The only problem with a Mew Prime deck is that its primary attacker is particularly easy to OHKO. For this reason, if you were to run a deck focusing on this bugger, then I’d include Snowpoint Temple and perhaps Expert Belt as well.
Unfortunately, a Mew Prime deck seems unlikely as of now, since it has several major weaknesses to popular cards: Dialga G LV.X, Mewtwo, Machamp, Uxie, Gengar SF, and Umbreon are all capable of tearing this thing apart. For that reason, it might be better to consider Mew in a secondary role rather than a primary one.
Palkia/Dialga LEGEND: Let’s not concern ourselves with that good, yet relevant second attack; instead, let’s focus primarily on exploiting that awesome first attack. Being able to give your opponent more prizes is a game-changing ability, and if you execute it just right, then you can actually deck out your opponent! What makes Palkia/Dialga LEGEND stronger than any deck-out attacker before it is that, by placing more prizes, it deprives your opponent of his/her only ability to get ahead of you, which is brute strength.
Combo Ideas with Palkia/Dialga LEGEND:
- Rescue Energy: The litmus tests for a Palkia/Dialga deck’s viability this City Championship season are Machamp and Luxray GL – if you can give your opponent prizes faster than he can take them, then you’re gold. Rescue Energy is the easiest way by far to keep your LEGEND going, and could potentially wear down even the fastest lists.
- Magnezone SF: What better way to repeatedly use Time Control than to just Super connectivity Metals onto PDL over and over again? Furthermore, since Magnezone SF/Spiritomb is already a decent deck in its own right, you can just fall back on that strategy in the event that your prize flood/deck out fails.
Solrock: Certainly a card with potential here! The obvious Lunatone to play is the SV one, which makes both of the cards untouchable by Level Xs. Solrock could prove to bring spread back into existence, with the likes of Garchomp C and Nidoqueen all but ending the viability of that strategy the past few seasons. With Solrock, Abomasnow and other spreaders could see resurgence. Be warned, though: Dialga G Lv. X is your nemesis.
Spiritomb: A card that would have been staple in any Gengar Prime deck now takes a major hit. It probably won’t make its way into many (if any) decks for Cities, but it could have random uses. Still running 1 in Gengar/Vileplume might be a good idea to get more Trainers in their hand. Who knows. This will probably be more useful in the future.
Ambipom: At first glance, the card seems pretty weak. However, the ability to shuffle 2 cards into the opponent’s deck every turn (particularly after a Judge or Giratina) is extremely strong. Ambipom could be an integral part of lock-esque decks in the future, so watch out for this puppy.
Ditto: A mediocre Giant Stump. It could have its uses, but I’m not really all that sure what it would be. Most of the time the opponent will have an Uxie or Azelf in play to discard and won’t mind all that much. The only big thing is that they can’t play more than 4 bench, which hinders more decks than others. You are also only able to play 4 bench, though (because Ditto takes up a space) and Ditto is easy prey for a prize.
Elekid: Probably not applicable, like Tyrogue was, but an interesting card none the less. Some decks might enjoy the ability to drop Elekid late game and hit something for 20 for free. Gengar might find a use for him, but I doubt it. A cute card that might find its way into a deck or two, but nothing gamebreaking.
Grumpig: Another interesting but probably not useful card. Having Psychic Lock automatically merits the card a second look, albeit is only for 20 damage. With Expert Belt, you’re hitting 40, but that still isn’t nearly enough this format. We’ll see if Psychic Lock is powerful enough to be attacking for 20/40, but more than likely, this will be a mediocre card for the time being.
Black Belt: An overhyped card, in my opinion, but certainly not bad. Extremely situational and overall not that great for using your supporter. You’re not going to want to run more than 2-3, even in decks like Gigas that benefit from it more than others. You’re also wasting a turn of a draw/search supporter, which could make a huge difference. Definitely has some interesting applications, though, being able to Drag Off things for a ton of damage, or hitting magic numbers to OHKO threats like Garchomp C Lv. X with Pokémon that wouldn’t normally be able to. Testing will show just how useful this card will be.
Junk Arm: Item Finder reincarnated. Unfortunately, it won’t be played nearly as much, but it is still a very strong card. There are a ton of things you can do with it: reuse cards like Luxury Ball and Pokémon Communcation for set up or get back Pokéturns in any deck abusing Crobats/Luxray, and more specifically to SP decks, getting back Energy Gains and Power Sprays, etc etc. The card obviously could shake up the format a bit, making decks more consistent while at the same time giving more resources. SP decks will probably find room for 1-2 in their lists, and other decks might use more or less. Again, hard to say just how much it will be played, and if something will be found to abuse it.
Seeker: Pretty obviously the best card in the set, Hunt—Seeker! This card has so many potential combos it could go with, from Mesprit LA to Weavile UD to Machamp Prime, it is unreal. If I try to go into all the combos here, it’ll be a full article, so I’ll let it be. I assume someone will do an article on specifically this card, as it touches on so many decks it’s incredible. There are going to be combos with this card that most people won’t even dream about, I can already tell.
Twins: If this card was out when Pow/Scramble/Admin were out, Electrode ex decks would never have ever lost. :P Twins provides slower decks with a way to compete with the all-powerful SP and other speed decks. It’s essentially an Oracle/Delcatty, for those of you who played back in the day, but only if you’re losing. Getting 2 cards from your deck is powerful, and Twins will be used in a great variety of decks.
I can’t see it being used much more than in 2-3 copies as it is a dead card if you’re tied or winning, but definitely be on the look out for this card. No longer can you assume the opponent doesn’t have a counter if you go up on prizes, because they have access to their whole deck.
Rescue Energy: Another Top 5 card from the set, Rescue Energy provides support for a whole slew of decks. Any Stage 1/Stage 2 deck that abuses Broken Time Space will love this card. Gyarados is the most obvious combo, but Gengar, Machamp, Kingdra, etc will enjoy this card as well. I could see it being played in SP decks even, in conjunction with Energy Exchanger, to save Pokémon and not having to use Aaron’s Collection for them. Obvious downside is that it provides Colorless Energy, so it will be fighting for spots vs Call, DCE, and Warp Energy. Each deck will have to take a look at which of these energy is truly the most beneficial to them.
Absol Prime: There’s been a lot of mixed reviews on this card; some people say it’s the worst Prime printed yet, some say it’s the best Prime in the set. I’m somewhere in between. I don’t think it’s a phenomenal card, but I definitely can see it being played. It’s Body is obviously good, but there’s no way you’re going to base a deck around it (Metagross/Miasma/Absol would be funny though), and it’s attack is okay. The main niche I can see Absol filling is a Gengar killer. For just 2 Energy, it can OHKO any Gengar for 2 in the format right now, and resists the ghost, which might make it playable in some decks.
Celebi Prime: A lot of potential in this card. Energy acceleration is always good, especially on a basic. With Unown Q, you could get an extra energy down on the board every time one of your Pokémon is KOed. Can also abuse Warp Energy/Celebi. Torterra and other Grass decks might find this card very useful in keeping up with some of the faster decks, but it will be a quick target for many SP decks. There are definitely a whole slew of combos this card could create, though, so be sure to watch out for it.
Electrode Prime: Electrode ex was my favorite Pokémon ever printed, so needless to say I was excited to see what they would with Electrode Prime. And…it’s pretty underwhelming. Though not terrible, I can’t see it being a serious contender right now. Especially without the release of Research Documents, its power is unreliable and iffy. There aren’t enough cards that aid you when you’re losing, either. Overall, I would keep an eye on this guy in future formats as well, as it could get some serious support later on.
Gengar Prime: Even without Lost World released, Gengar Prime could still see some play. A lot of people have already been talking about the ability to Lost Zone an SP player’s Level X and virtually end the game there. I’m not sure how often this will happen, but it IS another threat that the SP player has to plan for. Everything else about the card is pretty mediocre right now, but I could see some Gengar players putting in 1 of these guys as a surprise and possibly getting a KO with Cursed Droplets and removing a key Pokémon.
Machamp Prime: By far the best Prime in the set, Machamp gives Machamp decks what it has been lacking: a way to fight back against all decks besides SP. I expect we’ll see a lot of Machamp decks with a 2/2 split between the Prime and the SF guy, giving a solid matchup against both SP decks and the rest of the format. Seeker provides obvious synergy with Machamp Prime and unless something can OHKO the big guy, you’re not going to be giving up a prize for a while. 150 HP and 100+ damage is nothing to scoff at, and can OHKO almost anything in the format. Watch out for this guy, he’s going to be played. A lot.
Magnezone Prime: Probably my 2nd favorite Prime from the set, Magnezone lands itself in the middle of a similar situation to the previous two Primes: they have a bunch of other playable cards of the same name. Its Power is okay, and will provide Magnezone decks with some added consistency for sure. The attack though is what it makes it so appealing. The ability to literally OHKO anything is great, and will be a force to be reckoned with. This card might be the thing Magnezone decks were waiting for to push it into the tier 1 range.
Mew Prime: The most intriguing card in the set, I think everyone has done a fair amount of thinking on Mew. To be honest, I have no idea what’s going to happen with this card. Right now, I feel that it’s not going to be played if only for the fact it can’t beat Dialga G Lv. X. Who knows, though; some crazy combo could be run with Mew Prime and the format will be broken. With Lost World not out, it certainly makes the card more playable, so definitely watch out for any deck that revolves around this guy.
Yanmega Prime: My personal least favorite of the Primes, Yanmega provides an interesting Body, but not good enough attacks to work with. 40 anywhere and straight 70 isn’t that good, even for 0. It is OHKOed by Luxray and a bunch of other things, and is underpowered compared to almost every other card. It could make a cool swarm deck, but overall I feel like this guy needs to stay in the binder.
Palkia/Dialga Legend: Another really interesting, possibly applicable card. Time Control gives your opponent two more prizes…but will it survive to not give those two prizes right back up? That is the question you need to ask yourself if you’re considering playing this guy. It could provide a cute tech in Magnezone decks, or maybe as a basis for a deck. Overall, I feel like it’s going to be more of a gimmick for awhile, as Luxray runs all over it. Watch it, though, because if you play against someone with it and you don’t have an immediate response, you might find yourself having to draw an extra 2-4 prizes in a game, and for a lot of decks that could be impossible to overcome.
Junk Arm: This card sits in the upper tier of cards of the set. While some decks are more pressed for space than others, this card can fit into any deck. With Junk Arm you can replay: Luxury Ball, Pokémon Communication, any SP Tool, Pokémon Rescue, Super Scoop Up, the list goes on and on.
The negative (but sometimes positive!) is abandoning 2 cards from your hand (plus Junk Arm itself) for a 3-to-1 card swap. Early game, unless Junk Arm is fundamental to your strategy, it won’t be all that useful until late game. You know at the end of a game with SP when you have that 10 card hand and a Lucario GL, 2 Pokémon Collector, and those Call Energy you aren’t using? That is the perfect time to Junk Arm a Poké Turn/Energy Gain/Premier Ball/etc.
Bigger uses for this card will inevitably be in decks that already discard as part of their strategy. Gyarados will love this card to replace Felicity’s Drawing for discarding Magikarps, and Regigigas can dump Energy to pick up with “Sacrifice”. In these decks, Junk Arm will become a staple.
Granted, if trainer lock (usually in the form of Vilegar) becomes big, Junk Arm’s power will be limited in decks without a counter—but with an SP-saturated metagame, this card won’t be limited “too” often.
Twins: Had this card been printed alongside Lost World like everyone predicted, it would have fueled the Gengar Prime engine. Even though it wasn’t, it’s still a great card, ESPECIALLY with Staraptor FB Lv.X. In my opinion, taking any two cards from your deck is an amazing search. It makes getting out that 1-0-1 tech out MUCH easier, and can really help you mount a comeback.
I would run at least one copy in any deck that already uses Staraptor FB, and if I test it more it might even warrant a 2nd slot in some decks, we’ll see. Once again, I could see this being a great play in Regigigas—once you use Sacrifice to power up, you’re already down in prizes–abusing Twins can help shrink that downside.
Black Belt: Hmm, I don’t know how I feel about this card just yet. 40 damage sounds like so much, but you need a lot of conditions to get it to work out the way you want. You have to be down in prizes and also have a functioning attacker that you can promote/build up without using your Supporter for the turn. You also need to be able to have it when you’re losing—which is why I’d probably limit this card to decks that run Staraptor FB.
It’s sick in the Garchomp prize trade if you have the Staraptor out, though! You can Black Belt + Claw Swipe for a one-Energy return KO on a Garchomp C Lv.X. Although, you have to wonder if Twins can just do most of what Black Belt already could. If their Garchomp has no Energy you can just Twins out an Ambipom + Double Colorless. Or Dragonite + DCE if you have a spare Energy Gain. Or if you’re using Gyarados you can just Twins for Expert Belt and a Crobat for +30 damage. In general, I just prefer Twins for its versatility.
Lost World: This card is… well… not in the set. So that’s that.
Anyways, this card is my favorite of the set for sure. It offers all of the benefits of an auto-heads on Super Scoop Up and more. This includes healing on the bench by picking a Pokémon up, reusing powers like Uxie, Crobat G, and Mesprit, or limiting an opponent’s 2 Pokémon field to just 1 Pokémon, enabling you a win if their field is small enough. This card has a ton of combos waiting for it, and it’s definitely one of the best the set has to offer.
Indigo Plateu: The problem with these boost HP Stadium cards is that if the deck is good, it’ll be popular, and playing the Stadium will just help both sides. It’s like playing Snowpoint Temple in the sp mirror—it’s usually not a good play. Even then though, there are no viable legend-based decks in our metagame right now, so the card doesn’t even have a strong deck to justify its play.
Rescue Energy: I really like this card. It’s possibly splashable in SP with energy exchanger, but this’ll end up being a big weapon in the revival of Gyarados. Unless they KO you with poison or another effect, recover energy will bring your Magikarp and Gyarados right back to your hand, which can then be played right back down with a Broken Time-Space in play. I can’t imagine many decks that could make space for multiple copies of this card, but anything with an Energy Exchanger could probably fit in 1 if your recovery is important.
Aggron: Aggron always wants to be a great tank, but he just misses the curve each time. He’s not the worst rare in the set, but I see no reason to play him over Steelix Prime, Scizor Prime, or Dialgachomp.
Altaria: WAY under the playable curve. Staraptor FB Lv.X has the same second attack, with the addition of more HP, an amazing Poké-Power, and the SP engine.
Celebi: The Ralts from Platinum does Future Sight for 0 Energy. 2 for 30 and possible paralysis is so weak in this format.
Drapion: Man, the rares are underpowered! Even with Special Darks and Double Colorless, his attacks are pretty weak for their energy costs. If you plan on running Drapion, the one from Stormfront offers a lot better options.
Mamoswine: He’s DCE compatible, but I don’t really see this Mamoswine taking the place of the other Mamoswines already available to us. Metal weakness is really bad to have in this format, too.
Nidoking: Nidoking is decent. With his Poké-Body, you could potentially have 220 HP, although realistically your ideal scenario would be 180 HP with 2 benched Nidoqueens, healing each turn. For 3 Energy and a Belt he can OHKO almost all SP Level X’s, too. The lightning resistance is also solid.
The big problem that I am predicting is his weakness, though. Gyarados will potentially OHKO you while also boasting resistance—and a lot of the cards in this set will boost his playability. It’d be fun to run a deck with Nidoqueen and Nidoking, and possibly playable, but you have to remember that the nidorans and nidorinos are separate evolution lines, unlike Gardy/Gallade or Vileplume/Belossom.
Porygon-Z: His power is interesting, but is it worth pitting things to a coin flip? Probably not. There are some interesting combos, like putting a VS Seeker on top to ensure a supporter every turn, but I don’t think there are any strong enough concepts to make a deck around this guy.
3 for 80 without the Rainbow Energy is very underpowered—forcing the Rainbow attachment is just wrong. Porygon-Z decks also lose the great Porygon2 from Great Encounters this format, which just adds another blow to the concept.
Rapidash: Don’t you just hate it when your active Pokémon is confused? Wait. . . when’s the last time you’ve ever been confused in a Pokémon card game? Exactly. Otherwise, 2 energy for 50, burn, and no retreat isn’t enough to save the low HP and general weakness of this card.
Solrock: It’s interesting that we’ve been given this combo—but so unfortunate that the good Lunatone from Great encounters has been rotated. It allows spread decks to have another shot at the format by preventing both Healing Breath from Garchomp C Lv.X and Maternal Comfort from Nidoqueen RR.
After thinking about it though, Nidoqueen doesn’t see too much play anymore, and Dialgia G Lv.X will just shut down the Body—leaving you with a slightly helped matchup against Luxchomp and Sablock variants. In the end, I don’t think the benefits justify its two slots taken from your deck, and your bench.
Spiritomb: This would have been a great tool for Gengar Prime decks with Lost World in play, but since it is not, I can’t justify its play. Let Loose Giratina does his job better.
Venemoth: Special conditions from the bench are nice, but special conditions with risks are not. The one scenario I could see this card being run is in Steelix Prime, where you can’t be affected by special conditions, making the risk negligible.
In other scenarios, Skuntank G is probably the better play, or even Houndoom Prime, who does the same thing with Burn but with no downside. In theory, burn averages out to the same damage as poison anyways. I already told you how I feel about 2 for 30 and possibly paralyze.
Victreebel: It’s a long inside story, but I’ve always wanted a good Victreebel card. This one is so close but just under the cut. His Body is pretty good, especially if you can get him active by the time your opponent has a Smeargle/Spiritomb/Sableye active—but it’d be so much better if it worked from the bench.
His attack is okay—2 for 40 (30+10 poison) and then a possible 20 more for a total of 60 on the burn flip. Healing 3 damage counters is nice, but it probably won’t help you from getting 2-shotted anyways. In the end, his body is just a LITTLE too restrictive, he has a LITTLE too little HP, and he’s a LITTLE too slow. I’m still rooting for you, Victreebel.
Ambipom: Possibly one of the best underrated cards of the set, Ambipom has potential with DCE. Tail Spank, while not only being a hilariously named attack, knocks out Garchomp C Lv.X’s! The hand discard shouldn’t be too limiting, and discarding trainers out of your hand could limit the power of Vilegar. I love disruption decks, and his astonish attack has some serious potential. Either in a combo with Cyrus’s Initiative, Weavile Undaunted’s Power, or Judge, you could seriously drop your opponent’s hand down to very little very fast. Ambipom has potential, if he has a little rouge following, I won’t be surprised.
Banette: Underpowered, moving on.
Bronzong: Even if Legends were good, I don’t even know if I would play Bronzong. I’d probably rather just run cards to search out 2 pieces, or use a Legend Box engine. Since they are not currently that good, though, neither is Bronzong.
Carnivine: The fact that this card wouldn’t even be broken by BASE SET standards should tell you something. He’s bad.
Ditto: Ditto is one of my 5 favorite Pokémon, and he has hurt me with his less than impressive showings since a decade ago in Fossil set. If this Ditto had the ability of Giant Stump (forced both players to discard, and also limited both benches to 3 cards) it might be better, but most of what made giant stump good was preventing your opponent from a knockout on your damaged pokemon. At 40 HP he’ll be an easy KO, and he’s just not good enough to fit him into any deck. Poor Ditto. : (
Dragonite: High HP is all he has going for him. The horrible weakness, 4 retreat, and underpowered attacks should keep him away, though. I can’t name one of the SEVERAL cards with that “Flip 2 coins, 2 heads paralyze, 2 tails fail” text that has ever been good.
Dugtrio: Underpowered, and very low HP for a stage 1. Not much else to say.
Electivire: Probably one of the top 10 best art on a card that I’ve even seen—and that’s tens of thousands of cards to compare from! Other than that, though, he’s not that playable. 50 damage spread sounds amazing, but most decks won’t have energy attatched to more than 1-2 Pokémon. I’m glad we get him as a prerelease promo, though, just because he looks awesome.
Elekid: The current baby pokemon are lifeless, underpowered shells of their original Neo counterparts. They can’t even evolve. Bad card.
Golduck: Actually playable in conjunction with Feraligatr prime, and you don’t even have to lose many energy if Golduck gets KO’d, since his attack power increases for all Water you have in play. If he’s Belted, you need 7 energy in play to hit for a solid 120, which isn’t unheard of, but isn’t a cakewalk either. This format, his weakness to Luxray is too big to warrant play while Luxchomp exists, but don’t forget about him for next format! If he doesn’t get one-shot next format, the healing will come in handy, too.
Grumpig: Grumpig is not that good and will not replace Gardevoir no matter how much you Gardy lovers will miss him. Dealing just 20 damage to maintain a lock for the same amount of energy as gardevoir (with Double Colorless) just isn’t enough to create a lock at all. His attack deals on average 80 to 120 damage with a full opponent’s bench, but they can easily limit themselves to play around this.
Note from Adam: I like his mustache.
Lunatone: Not as good as the GE Lunatone, who could function as semi-decent draw power. 2 for 60 does not warrant the suicide, either.
Machamp: He’s almost good, but there are better attackers that do 1 for 60, and Machamp SF is a much better metagame play. “Hundred Furious Punches” is a hilarious attack name, though.
Magmortar: This card ALMOST makes a case for a fun and semi-viable mill deck, but he’s just a little too slow at the job—possibly discarding the Energy kind of sets back any progress you make. Let’s say you combo him with Typhlosion Prime to reattach energy that you lose. Averaging 3 discards for turn is a good estimate. Your opponent draws 7+1 to start, and lays out 6 prize cards, and has 46 cards left in their deck.
Assuming they draw 2-3 cards a turn (topdeck + search cards + Uxie/whatever) and that it takes maybe 3 or more turns to actually get set up with Typhlosions, you’re looking at over 10 turns before you can deck your opponent out, assuming they don’t even get knockouts to mess with your strategy. Maybe a fun league deck, but it won’t work competitively.
Nidoqueen: The RR Nidoqueen is better in everything except HP and I think retreat cost. I’d probably run it over this one for any reason.
Pidgeot: Headwind could be annoying, but it doesn’t do enough damage to warrant slowing your opponent down. Bad weakness + weak attacks = keep in binder.
Sharpedo: If you run double headed coins, now is the time to bust them out. If you don’t run double headed coins, chances are Sharpedo’s bad weakness, low HP, and weaker attacks won’t warrant playing him competitively.
Wailord: I swear—the moment Luxray gets rotated out of the format I want to try Wailord out. Combined with Feraligatr for energy excel, he’s HUGE at 180 HP (200 with a Belt!). Hitting for 100 (120 with a Belt) is enough to cause problems, and healing him with a Switch + Hunter, Super Scoop Up, or your own healing cards could deny your opponent from getting many prizes at all.
In this format though, Luxray can whittle down that 180 HP too quickly.
Celebi: I actually really like Celebi’s potential here. With 1 retreat, his Power functions like a Smeargle once you attach an Unown Q—you can use his power every time after a switch card/Energy, a Poké Turn, or you can promote him after a KO. The problem is getting 2 energy in your hand each turn to make use of the Power, but I’m sure there’s a combo out there to be discovered that makes good usage of Celebi. I’m going to go through all the playable Grass and Colorless Pokémon and see if I can think of something good.
Electrode: I’ve heard talk of using Electrode Prime to put yourself behind in prizes in order to use Twins/Black Belt, but I’m not in love with the idea yet. The thing I don’t like about his Power is that it discards all of the non-energy cards—which is a risk I don’t think I’d be willing to make. His attack is terrible, and his energy excel is questionable, I really don’t think he’s an amazing card.
Gengar: I know that you’re disappointed for the loss of Lost World this set, but if we ever do see release, Gengar Prime is very playable. Without Lost World, I wouldn’t play him at all. I see lots of people in denial, telling themselves that Gengar Prime will still be good in a Gengar deck without Lost World. He really won’t, and will only slow a deck by forcing it to run less of its main attacker.
Machamp: Now this card is the one Machamp has been waiting for, and just might push Machamp into tier 1. 3 for 100 (with DCE, 120 with Expert Belt plus more with a damaged bench) is a great attack in a deck that lacked true power (except by risking the Level X).
I really like his Poké-Power—it’s great for swapping out with another machamp mid-late game, and then you can just use Seeker to heal the old Machamp on the bench. At 150 HP, he’ll be nearly impossible to one shot, except with Gengar, and even then they need you to have 3 Trainers/Supporters in your hand. Machamp Prime is definitely the best Prime in the set.
Magnezone: Makes an already semi-decent archetype even more competitive. Magnezone will not replace Claydol, and shouldn’t in non-Magnezone decks, but he’s still decent draw power for Magnezone. Lost Burn could easily grab late-game knockouts, too, making him no slouch on the offense.
Magnezone already has multiple promo options, the hit-and-switch Stormfront Lightning with energy excel, the Stormfront metal with Pokémon search, and the Level X—so it might be hard to figure out how deserving Prime is in the deck. Right now I’d probably run a 3 card combination of the Lightning Stormfront ‘Zone and the Prime along with the Level X. I’ll definitely be testing Magnezone for Cities—he’s got a lot going for him now!
Mew: Mew prime has a lot of potential for many different kinds of decks, but I’m very bipolar about him. When I first read about the card months ago in the Japanese releases, I thought he was terrible. Then one night I thought he was great. Now I’m back to thinking he’s not very playable. Here’s a short list of pros and cons that have me tied up:
– Can copy amazing low-energy attacks like Machamp’s take out, Jumpluff’s Mass Attack, or Gyarados’ Tail Revenge
– Very Low HP
– Shut down by Dialga G Lv.X
– Requires both Psychic Energy requirements and the Energy type that you need for the attack you intend to copy. Running Rainbow energy circumvents this, but also makes your low HP even lower.
– If Lost World is printed, you will be doing Gengar Prime’s job for him with your attack.
Mew definitely has potential, I’m just not sure if I can think of a deck with him that won’t have problems down the line.
Yanmega Prime: Yanmega is like a bad Gyarados SF. He has the same resistance and a worse weakness (x2 is worse than +30). He has less HP. He attacks on 0 energy, but honestly I think Gyarados SF’s conditions for getting set up are even easier than Yanmega’s. Even with the free retreat, there’s no reason you should run this card over Gyarados.
Darkrai/Cresselia Legend: This has to be the worst 2-prize legend out there. 3 for 100 is not a good attack cost, and Lost Zoning 2 of your energy to get the attack off is even worse. Moving damage counters on your opponent’s Pokémon is not a good enough benefit to count as your attack for the turn. It’s just not a good card.
Palkia/Dialga Legend: This card is more interesting than Darkrai/Cresselia, but it has its own problems. Sudden Delete is like a slightly worse Dusknoir DP “Dark Palm”, but it also counts as your attack for the turn. The big hype with this card is using time control to load your opponent with more prize cards than they can draw to win the game. Unfortunately, in order to do this you need to discard 2 Metal Energy.
The only way to get this attack off constantly is to pair it with Energy Pickup/Magnezone SF Lightning to attatch the Energy that you lost by attacking. The problem is, with an auto-knockout to Machamp, Blaziken FB Lv.X, and a x2 weakness to Luxray GL Lv.X, it’s going to be really hard to give your opponent more prizes faster than your opponent will take them.
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