With each new set comes opportunities. New decks are created, strong techs are revealed and the format can be turned upside down. I’m sure by now most of you have seen the scans for Noble Victories, so you know it introduces some very unique and potentially game-changing cards.
I won’t be going over every single card in the set, just the strong, unique or otherwise notable cards. Without further ado, here’s my review of Noble Victories.
pokebeach.comFor starters we have Leavanny, which is a Stage 2 Grass Pokémon. Its attack, “Cutting Arm,” dishes out a low 40 damage and lets you flip two coins. For each heads, add an additional 20 damage. If I hit two out of two coin flips correctly, I expect to be hitting for a lot more than 80 damage. The reason that I’ve included Leavanny on this list is because of its Ability, “Leaf Tailor”, which gets rid of the Weaknesses on all your Pokémon with an Energy attached.
I could definitely see this card being useful in a lot of decks, but the two I see it being the potentially strongest in is Gothitelle, for the mirror and Mew matches, and Tyranitar, to fend off Donphan. This card would definitely be a Bench-sitter, which makes its CC Retreat Cost a potential problem.
In this format, it is difficult to run cards like these. In some match ups, getting it can win you the game, but in others, it’s a dead-draw. If you’re using it in Tyranitar, you’ll need it out fast against Donphan, which makes a thicker line necessary. However, this makes you more vulnerable to be out-sped in other match ups. It’s a real headache that could ultimately force players to pass on Leavanny.
I very much agree with what Teridax said in his “Pokémon Pantheon: Noble Victories” article. Virizion is definitely an overestimated card that can’t do any real damage. Its high HP and “Double Draw” attack might suggest it could be a potential starter Pokémon, but it’s weaker than Cleffa for sure. Some people are hyping this card to the moon, but I just can’t get behind it.
Next up is the Stage 1 Grass Pokémon, Amoonguss. The low 90 HP means it won’t be sticking around long. Combined with a Fire Weakness and irritating CC Retreat means we’re not off to a good start. It has two attacks, “Toxic” and “Body Slam.”
The first is where this card is interesting. For a single G Energy, “Toxic” will Poison the defending Pokémon. However, two damage counters are placed instead of one between turns. If you played Pokémon last format, this attack should definitely give you déjà vu of a certain bat Pokémon. While Crobat G was one of the most played Pokémon of the 2009, 2010 and early 2011 formats, it was not because of its attack. Body Slam is a weak 30 damage attack, but it does offer a 50% chance of Paralysis.
At first glance I thought this card could work as a Gothitelle counter, like a stronger Magby. Unfortunately, since Toxic belongs to an unsplashable Stage 1, I don’t think this card will see much play. If you really want a card like this, go with Muk.
Victini NV 14 aka FlipTini
pokebeach.comThis card was one of the first revealed cards from Noble Victories and for good reason: it’s awesome. 60 HP on an unevolving Basic pales in comparison to Pokémon such as Zekrom or Reshiram. The attack “Stored Power” definitely isn’t why you’d want to play this card either. For RC, doing 30 damage and moving all Energy attached to it to a benched Pokémon is terrible.
If you’re running this card, it’s for Victini’s Ability, “Victory Star”, which states that once during your turn, if you flip any coins for an attack and don’t like the result, you may ignore those flips and flip them again. However, you can only use this effect once per turn, regardless of the number of Victini in play.
Unlike a lot of TCGs, as far as I can remember, Pokémon hasn’t had any cards that can alter the results of coin flips. In the Naruto CCG, there are entire decks dedicated to re-flipping coins again and again so the results are always to your advantage. Victini brings a new aspect to the game, which has me very excited to see what other kinds mechanics are introduced.
Now back to the card, Victini is just begging to be abused. There are just so many attacks that use coin flips to some extent, whether it be the majority of the attack or a small bonus effect, hitting those heads twice as often means this card will definitely see play. Stock up now, you won’t regret it.
Victini NV 15
All together there’s three Victini in this set, all of which are pretty interesting. This one has a slightly higher 70 HP, although this small gain is irrelevant against just about every attacker in the game. Even Donphan, which only hits for 60, can surely get the 1HKO with a PlusPower, which most Stage 1 decks run at least 3 copies of.
What makes this card interesting is its attack, “V-Create”, which for RC dishes out a massive 100 damage. However, this damage is negated if you do not have a full bench. Hitting for 100 damage for such a low cost with no real side effect is pretty decent. Unfortunately, it isn’t all that good as 100 damage 1HKOs very little. You can pretty much rule out getting multiple shots off with this guy as its low HP means it’s getting killed fast.
pokebeach.comStage 2. 140 HP. CCC Retreat. Pretty average stats for a Stage 2 Pokémon. Its attack, “Hyper Voice,” does a meager and near-useless 70 damage for WWC. For sure the best aspect of this card is its first attack, “Round.” For a doable CC, it does 30 damage times the number of your Pokémon in play that have the Round attack. Maxing out at 120 damage with 4 “Round” attackers in play is definitely nothing to scoff at.
It gets better, Seismitoad’s Stage 1 form, Palpitoad, also has the Round attack (although its version of Round costs CCC and does less damage), which means you don’t need 4 Stage 2’s to do maximum damage.
Seismitoad immediately reminds me of Beedrill, the rogue deck that stormed Worlds ’09, taking home the tournament. However, unlike 2009, we have neither Claydol nor Uxie in the format (not to mention Broken Time-Space is out and Rare Candy is weaker now), meaning it will be very, very difficult to be hitting for any kind of real damage with Seismitoad.
Vanilluxe is a Stage 2 Pokémon with a solid Water typing, letting you hit Reshiram, as well as any Emboar/Typhlosion you happen to Catcher up, for twice the damage. The Metal Weakness is pretty decent as Steelix and Scizor Prime see such little play. The CC Retreat Cost makes Vanilluxe a bit less user-friendly, but it isn’t terrible.
Vanilluxe comes equipped with two attacks, one of which is much stronger than the other. “Frost Breath” does a vanilla 60 for WW, which isn’t a very good Energy to Damage ratio, especially on a Stage 2. “Double Freeze,” on the other hand, is quite interesting. For WC, you get to flip two coins and for each heads, it does 40 damage. However, if you get at least 1 heads, the Defending Pokémon is now Paralyzed.
pokebeach.comGenerally any attack that Paralyzes only does so on a coin flip or something else similar that prevents you from doing so repeatedly. However, since you get to flip two coins and only need one heads, that gives you a 75% chance of paralysis. That’s not even counting Fliptini in the mix. If you do, it’s pretty much a guarantee of paralyzing the opposing Pokémon. One nice thing about Special Conditions is that it shuts off Poké-Powers such as “Afterburner” and “Magnetic Draw.” Combined with Pokémon Catcher, Vanillux can be very disruptive.
The only Weakness I see to Vanilluxe is the fact that it dishes out such a low amount of damage. While you have a decent chance of hitting for 80 with Victini, there’s something you have to take into account. If you use “Double Freeze” and get 1 heads, thus doing 40 damage and paralyzing, you’re taking a risk flipping again via Victini and hoping to get two heads. Each time you flip, there’s a 25% chance you won’t be doing any damage at all (not to mention no paralysis).
The reason I see this card as potentially stronger than Cobalion or Beartic is because Special Conditions shut of Poké-Powers, meaning cards such as Magnezone and Typhlosion not only won’t be able to attack, but can’t even use their amazing Poké-Powers either.
This card is one of the most hyped cards from Noble Victories. Is the hype worth it? Let’s find out. 130 HP is very strong for a Basic, putting it on tier with Zekrom and Reshiram (which makes sense). The x2 Metal Weakness is a very good one as there’s virtually no Metal Pokémon that sees common play (although this could change with Cobalion). The Water typing is huge since you can do twice as much damage to Reshiram, the most popular attacker in the format.
Like his Lightning and Fire brothers, it has a CC Retreat Cost. It isn’t too bad here because Kyurem is an attacker, meaning you won’t need to Retreat it too often. Also, being a Water type gives it access to Feraligatr Prime, who allows you to quickly get Energy for its attacks in play.
pokebeach.comKyurem comes equipped with the standard “Outrage” attack that does 20 damage plus an additional 10 for each damage counter on it. I think “Outrage” is especially strong on this card because he’s harder to 1HKO than Zekrom or Reshiram because of the uncommon Weakness.
Kyurem has another attack, “Glaciate,” which for WWC dishes out 30 damage to each of your opponent’s Pokémon. It hits every Pokémon your opponent has in play. The most commonly discussed partner for Kyurem is the aforementioned Feralitagry Prime, so you can quickly and consistently get the three Energy on Kyurem so it can attack.
I feel like 30 damage is the perfect amount to be spreading on your opponent’s Pokémon. It’s enough to 1HKO babies and 2HKO any Basics your opponent has put down.
Frankly, I’m having trouble figuring out exactly how strong a Kyurem-based spread deck will be in this format. I definitely think it will succeed to some extent, but I can’t decide exactly how much its vulnerabilities will hold a deck like this back. But alas, time will tell.
Victini NV 43
The third and final Victini of the set, this time a Psychic-type. Victini is fairly simple; no Ability and only one attack. When you use “V-Blast”, you flip two coins. If either of them is tails, the attack does nothing. However, if you get double heads, the attack does a whopping 120 damage for a single Energy!
Again, since this attack uses coin flips, it gets considerably stronger when used in conjunction with Victini NV 14. However, the odds of hitting two Heads, even when you have two tries, makes dealing consistent damage impossible.
I can see Victini NV 43 and FlipTini being used together as a counter to Gothitelle or maybe even the yet-to-be-released Mewtwo EX. If the “Eye on Japan” article is any indication, Mewtwo EX is going to be a huge deck, so having a card that can 1HKO it for a single Energy is going to at least be considered.
But again, the biggest flaw of this card is it can’t deal consistent damage, which means there are going to be turns where you don’t do any damage at all. Yes, 120 damage is a lot (especially for P), but I’m not sure it’s enough to risk doing no damage at all some turns. I’m far from sold on this card.
pokebeach.comNext we have an apparently run-of-the-mill Stage 1 Pokémon; 90 HP, Psychic Type, Darkness Weakness, no Resistance and CC Retreat. “Ambush” is a pretty weak attack. For PC, it does 40 damage and lets you flip a coin. If heads, it does 60 damage instead. Even when you do hit heads, the attack still does a pitifully low amount of damage.
The reason I’m actually reviewing Cofagrigus is because of its Ability, which is called “Durable Body.” It states if Cofagrigus would be Knocked Out, flip a coin. If heads, its HP is just reduced to 10 instead. Immediately I’m reminded of Focus Band from Neo Genesis, which was very strong back in the day. The funny thing is, Cofagrigus is so weak that it doesn’t have to worry about surviving longer because you would be crazy to run this card.
Reuniclus NV 52
With no Ability in sight, Reuniclus has two attacks: “Future Sight” and “Net Force.” The first, for C, lets you look at and rearrange the top 5 cards of your deck. This is a very bad attack when it’s on a Stage 2 Pokémon. Thankfully, it does have a second attack. “Net Force”, for a single P Energy, dishes out 40 damage times the number of Reuniclus you have in play. Again, I’m having flashbacks to Beedrill from Great Encounters, who did 30 damage for each Beedrill in play at the cost of a single Grass.
However, there’s a few key differences between the two. For starters, the difference in HP makes swarming with Reuniclus much less efficient. In addition, with there being no draw/search engine in the format, it is difficult to get multiple Stage 2 Pokémon in play quickly and consistently.
Fortunately, Net Force does 40 damage for each Reuniclus, opposed to 30, so you can hit for 120 damage with only 3 in play. This also means you could hit for a staggering 160 damage, but you would need four Reuniclus to do so. If we get a strong draw engine someday, this card has potential.
Elgyem NV 55
pokebeach.com60 HP is solid for an evolving Basic, but not amazing. The Psychic Weakness is pretty common on a Psychic-type and the C Retreat Cost is expected. Elgyem has the classic “Call for Family” attack, but under a different name. “First Contact” lets you search your deck for two Basic Pokémon and put them on your bench.
Throughout the history of the game, Pokémon that have Call for Family-type attacks have been used to drastically increase speed and consistency. A great example is Dunsparce SS. Because of its “Strike and Run” attack, which fished out three Basics and put them on your bench, it saw massive play in a huge variaty of decks.
Ultimately, I don’t think this card will reach Dunsparce’s level of popularity because of Pichu. Offering a free Retreat alternative that has a 50% chance of stalling your opponent for a turn via “Sweet Baby Face”. In addition, Pichu can get a lot more Basics in play opposed to Elgyem, who maxes out at two per turn. If you don’t like helping your opponent set up, there’s always Cleffa.
When I first read this card, I said to myself “not bad, not amazing, but it could be kinda good”. After a minimal amount of testing, I shifted my opinion to “it seems good, but just isn’t good enough”. But after I played about 3 games against the deck on playtcg, I changed my opinion once again.
Even though I won all three games by a decent margin, there was one turn in the middle of game two that I looked at the board and said “I could be in a tight spot if he does X move.” I ended up way underestimating my side of the board and it turned out to be no problem, the lists I played against were mediocre at best. It got me thinking, I wonder what it could do in a good list piloted by a strong player (I have no idea what my opponent’s skill levels were). I’m not quite yet sold either way on this card.
I don’t want to make assumptions as its way undertested, but I threw Chandelure together with Vileplume and it performed decently, winning three out of four games (won against a Gothitelle, MagneBoar and TyRam; lost to the same TyRam list next game).
Conkeldurr NV 64
pokebeach.comI think Conkeldurr will end up going the route of Nidoking TM. Both have the capability of becoming huge tanks, but are bogged down by their slow set up. Nidoking was pushed by a lot of big names, including our own Chris Fulop, as having potential, but unfortunately, it never quite caught on.
Conkeldurr isn’t as slow as Nidoking as F Energy are a lot easier to get in play Nidoqueen. However, in a format where doing 120 damage a turn is common and cards that can 1HKO just about anything (ie Magnezone Prime), not to mention the nasty Psychic Weakness, it’s just about impossible for a tanking deck to be successful.
Reuniclus would make it a lot stronger, but once you run Reuniclus, you’ve got to include Vileplume as well. To summarize, you’re running three Stage 2 Pokémon with a main attacker requiring four Energy and maxes out at 80 damage a turn. I’ve been wrong before, but it sounds like a bad The Truth knockoff and not a tournament-winning deck.
Some people are saying Conkeldurr is pro with Electrode. I put together a deck using this concept the other day. I’ll admit I only played about twenty games with it, but from what I gathered, you either have to run a very high Energy count (20-25) or make luck a HUGE factor in the deck’s performance.
“Ancient Power” is a seriously wicked Ability, stopping both players from evolving their Pokémon. Permanitly. If you were to run this card in a deck filled with strong Basic attackers (Zekrom, Tornadus, Reshiram, etc.), you’d pretty much win the game if you can get it out early enough. Unfortunately, apart from the higher than average 130 HP on a Stage 1, the rest of Archeops is pretty much a disappointment. A Grass Weakness is terrible thanks to Yanmega, the attack is overpriced and underpowered. Its previous form, Archen, is a Restored Pokémon, meaning it can only be put in play with Plume Fossil.
Plume Fossil is a Trainer card that lets you look at the bottom seven cards of your deck. If Archen is among them, put it on your bench. There’s a lot of reasons why this isn’t good: Trainers can’t be searched out, an Archen in your hand is useless, Trainer lock, there might not even be an Archen in the bottom seven, etc. Unless if “Restored” Pokémon get some serious support, I don’t see Archeops seeing play.
pokebeach.comWith such epic art, I wish it were stronger. Don’t get me wrong, “Retaliate” is a strong attack that helps it to act as a Toxicroak G. However, part of the reason Promocroak was so strong was because it could swoop in out of nowhere, get a 1HKO on Luxray GL LV.X. Then, with either its Poké-Power or TGI Poké Turn, quickly escape and let your other attackers take over.
Terrakion, on the other hand, can be spotted from a mile away. In addition, without the precise Energy fishing of the Cyrus Engine, you need to be running a decent amount of F Energy. Finally, say that you’re able to get a revenge 1HKO, you now have Terrakion stuck active doing a pitiful 30 damage a turn.
Being a member of the same clan as Tornadus (and even Thundrus, for that matter), I’m a bit underwhelmed. 110 HP is good; Water Weakness is decent; Lightning Resistance is pretty much irrelevant as Magnezone Prime gets the 1HKO for 3 Energy regardless; and the low Retreat Cost is helpful, but nothing amazing.
“Abundant Harvest”, for F, lets you attach a Basic Energy from your discard pile to Landorus. “Gaia Hammer”, for FFC, does 80 damage to each Benched Pokémon. Obviously, the idea behind the design was to use Abundant Harvest to quickly charge Landorus up. Then, use Gaia Hammer to clean up.
I don’t see Landorus being the star of his own deck because he doesn’t hit for that much and unlike Tornadus, can’t abuse Double Colorless Energy (or Pachirisu/Shaymin) to increase its speed.
pokebeach.comThe second I read the scan of Hydreigon, I fell in love. “Berserker Blade” is a very, very strong attack. 60 damage to the active and 40 to two Benched Pokémon rocks! This allows you to hit their active attacker and get KOs on their benched Pokémon as well. The cost of Berserker Blade is equally massive: DDDD.
Thankfully, it has an Ability similar to Base Set Charizard’s Poké-Body which makes all Energy attached to it D Energy. There is a lot of potential here. Not only can Hydreigon use Special Darks, but Double Colorless Energies suddenly become Darkness!
The Fighting Weakness is unfortunate, but this is softened since Donphan can only 2HKO Hydreigon when using “Earthquake”. I think we can definitely expect Hydreigon to be a strong contender come Cities.
“Iron Breaker” has made it the focus of a significant amount of hype, declaring Cobalion the card Beartic was supposed to be. Comparisons between the two arise because of “Iron Breaker”, which for MMC does 80 damage and makes the Defending Pokémon unable to attack during your opponent’s next turn. Beartic had a similar attack, but only prevented the Defending Pokémon from using one of its attacks that you choose.
Cobalion is considered the stronger of the two because it prevents the Defending Pokémon from using any attack at all, not just one of its attacks. This is very important when facing Pokémon such as Zekrom and Yanmega Prime, who have multiple attacks. The only way for your opponent to attack after you’ve used Iron Breaker is to A) Evolve the Active Pokémon or B) Retreat (either manually or via Switch). In addition, Cobalion’s attack is dishes out 80 damage opposed to Beartic’s 50.
There are a few flaws to a “lock your opponent out of attacking forever” strategy. Cobalion’s going to take a full three turns to charge up. Skarmory can reduce this, but then you can’t use Cleffa or Pichu. Also, you’ll need to waste an Energy retreating Skarmory so you can bring up Cobalion (unless Skarmory is KO’d). Another thing I think is important to note, you WILL NOT stop your opponent from attacking the whole game. As soon as you KO a Pokémon, the new Pokémon your opponent brings up will be able to attack.
According to the “Eye on Japan” article, Cobalion will become a strong contender in the format. I think Cobalion’s going to do better than Beartic, but I’m doubting it’s the next BDIF. This brings me to Cobalion’s last major flaw: it’s so fragile. With 120 HP and a Fire Weakness, hoards of Pokémon can 1HKO it. You don’t want a Pokémon you just invested three turns of Energy attachments being 1HKO’d repeatedly.
pokebeach.comEviolite is very similar to Defender, but with a few slight changes. First and most importantly, Eviolite can only be attached to a Basic Pokémon, greatly shrinking the amount of targets this card has. However, this restriction also comes with a new advantage: it’s a permanent damage reducer. You read right, each time the Pokémon its attached to receives damage, it is reduced by 20, exactly like Donphan’s all-powerful “Exoskeleton“.
Some people have been touting this as the sure-fire Defender replacement. However, Eviolite does have one key weakness that Defender does not: it’s a Pokémon Tool. Basically this means that unlike Defender, you cannot stack Eviolite to reduce damage by 40+.
In general, I think you most decks with Basic main attackers will benefit from running a mix between the two (maybe two of each?) to ensure you can stack them AND get permanent damage reduction on your Pokémon as well.
Finally, it returns: Rocket’s Admin. is back in Modified! Now, some of you will see this as good and others will not. When you play N, each player shuffles their hand into their deck, then draws card equal to the number of their remaining prizes. Obviously in slow, come from behind decks (The Truth, Gothitelle), this card will be HUGE. Often times, such decks will be 3+ behind in the Prize trade, meaning you give your opponent a hand of 2-3 cards while you draw 5-6.
The bad news is a lot of people think Rocket’s Admin. was terrible for the game. When both players have 1-2 Prizes left, playing N pretty much changes the game to a competition of who can topdeck the best cards. Generally, in the history of Pokémon, Supporters that give both players new, but different size hands have not been good for the game, pretty much turning it into a luck-fest.
Another great example of this was Team Galactic’s Wager. In a PLOX mirror match, pretty much whoever won the Rock-Paper-Scissors match has a 90% chance of winning the whole game.
pokebeach.comBack to the present, N is definitely more balanced than TGW, but that isn’t saying much. But despite how stupid Rocket’s Admin. was, it’s back and we have to make the best of it. N’s definitely going to be a huge card, so get your play set asap.
Definitely over-hyped, I think Rocky Helmet is much weaker than players are making it out to be. I understand how it could theoretically be strong: stacking 2-4 damage counters on your opponent’s attackers without even attacking. However, in a format filled with 1HKOs, you’ll generally only be putting two damage counters on the attacker.
In addition, it’s a reactive card that’s usefulness depends on what your opponent does. Reactive cards are generally bad because they’re much easier to play around. Sometimes all they have to do is attack your active with a different Pokémon and the Rocky Helmet damage becomes irrelevant.
Rocky Helmet can help you get KOs, but it’s useless until your opponent actually attacks. You don’t want to miss a 1HKO because your opponent hasn’t set up their field yet. In most decks, it’s just a weaker PlusPower.
Side Note: Rocky Helmet can be useful when attached to big-tank Pokémon. However, most of those Pokémon (Tyranitar Prime, Gothitelle) are perfectly capable of getting KOs without it. And if you can’t get 1HKOs, you’re generally better off going with PlusPower.
I won’t spend a lot of time going over this card, I just want to touch upon it briefly. Xtransceiver should NOT be played. Getting to search your entire deck for any Supporter you choose is definitely tempting, but only a 50% success rate is not worth it. This card is especially bad when we have Pokégear 3.0, which lets you search a fair amount of your deck for a Supporter and doesn’t require a coin flip.s
pokebeach.comFor the last card on my list, we have yet another reprint. However, this card was in the Format just two years ago, in the 2009-2010 season. Originally named Night Maintenance, it saw a lot of play as its a stellar recovery card. Returning to your deck a combination of three Pokémon and Basic Energy was huge, especially in decks such as Beedrill and Jumpluff, which needed to consistently warm the field with Stage 2’s again and again.
Super Rod is still a strong card, but the difference between this format and 2009-’10 is drastic. The most notable difference is the lack of a strong draw or search Engine in the format (Ninetales is very restrictive and Magnezone isn’t as strong as Claydol GE and Uxie LA). When Night Maintenance was coupled with extremely strong draw power, it was easy to get those rescued Pokémon back in play quickly. You can still use Super Rod to save your Pokémon today, but it will take a lot longer to get those Pokémon back in play again.
You can definitely expect Super Rod to see play, but between Trainer Lock, the lack of a strong Pokémon draw engine, as well as Rescue Energy and Revive, don’t expect many decks to include four copies of this card.
Noble Victories looks to be one of the best sets we’ve had in a while, offering a lot of strong and diverse new cards, as well as bringing back some old favorites. I didn’t go through every single card, but I think I hit most of the big ones.
I’d love to know what you think of Noble Victories, so please post your comments below!
As always, if you would like to talk strategy or get some decklist/tournament help, feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Until next time,