The one good thing about living in Singapore is that we are always the first to have a prerelease, even if it is mainly due to time zone difference.
Thanks to that, I have in my hands the full list of cards in the set, and am glad to say that it is mostly to my expectations. I say mostly, because the existence of Eviolite in the set is a big shocker, as is the jokes abound on that day about the existence of THREE Trubbish and two Garbodor (SRSLY?).
As usual, I will be doing a review of the cards and its uses, along with a few skeleton lists for fun decks you can try out. We’ll begin the review with the draw of the set: The Trainers.
Yes, Trainers. Not the EX-Pokémon.
BulbapediaComputer Search gets competition. Yay. Anyway, personally I feel that Dowsing Machine has the slight edge because of its ability to actually be that extra Supporter or Pokémon Catcher, instead of a means to fetch one out of the deck.
The deal breaker for this card is probably the fact that it is far more useful in the mid and late game than Computer Search to make up for its lack of use in the early game.
There was a reason Junk Arm was played as a 4-of last season, and that reason hasn’t changed.
If I played Klinklang Plasma, this would be my ACE SPEC card. The best partner for Max Potion, it also allows you to instantly power up a Land’s Judgement, or worse, a six-energy Keldeo-EX with no effort, or even worse, a six-energy Black Kyurem EX. Scared yet?
Skyla just got more valuable. Unlike Crystal Wall or Crystal Edge, Victory Piece (and by extension Victini-EX) has immediate usefulness in any stage of the game. Automatically freeing you of the need to play any other energy in your deck is a very big plus point. Unfortunately, how useful this ACE SPEC card will be ultimately depends on how popular Victini-EX will be.
It sounds like a darn good card, and it probably is. Colress has the ability to get you a maximum of ten cards, the most from a shuffle-draw cards ever. Its reliance on your opponent’s Bench, however, isn’t that great, especially against Big Basic variants. Fortunately, Blastoise variants do tend to have relatively big benches.
Still, Colress is very weak in the early game when neither players have played down many Pokémon on the bench, so it is best used in small copies, preferably a maximum of two.
To be fair, this Supporter is simply a continuation of what we had in Team Magma/Team Aqua. Team Plasma Grunt nets you four cards if you discard a Plasma card, so its best use is obviously in decks that center around Plasma Pokémon.
This Stadium exists for one reason only: Hypnotoxic Laser. The combination of both overshadows PlusPower by a long shot, dealing a full 30 damage extra without the need to even attack, or 60 if the Defending Pokémon fails to retreat.
I don’t expect Plasma Frigate to be popular just yet, mainly due to its reliance on Plasma Energy in order to do anything, and obviously Lugia EX neither needs nor is able to use it due to its discard effect and the lack of Lightning types in the format.
BulbapediaProbably the only other card besides Pokémon Catcher to demand such a high price (and hopefully the last). Hypnotoxic Laser puts PlusPower to shame, dealing not just extra damage but the potential to put the Defending Pokémon to sleep as well, rendering them unable to attack the next turn.
It should be noted that the Sleep condition is but a bonus. The deal breaker for this card is its obvious combo with Virbank Gym, and this is what players will be targetting. There are already news of Sableye donking Tynamo, and excitement of Tornadus EX’s ability to deal 90-120 damage on the very first turn.
But it should also be noted that not every deck needs or can use Hypnotoxic Laser. Keldeo-EX already possesses the ability to 1HKO anything in the format, and it is better paired with Tropical Beach for the Stadium slot. The same goes for RayEels who need Skyarrow Bridge.
As such, this card is useful only for speed decks that focuses on dealing damage quickly and efficiently, such as Landorus/Mewtwo, White Tea, Darkrai variants and Empoleon, as these decks traditionally already play PlusPower in the build.
Colress Machine joins the ever growing list of energy acceleration, even though it is limited to Plasma Pokémon only and cannot be moved with Energy Switch unlike the case with Dark Patch. Like Team Plasma Grunt, its full use will only be seen from the next set onwards.
Currently, its best use is with a surprise Lugia EX to close the game as it will be the most common Plasma Pokémon you will see in the near future.
The jury is still out on how useful this card can be. Its only selling point is being an Item card instead of a Supporter, so you can actually try playing 8-10 Supporters and a full set of Bicycle. But situations where your hand goes below four is rare indeed as Bianca has proven, and a gain of one or two cards may not be worth its space in your deck.
The card everybody was waiting for in Boundaries Crossed. Yet its effectiveness is arguable as you need to pair it with either Pokédex (space issues) or Lunatone PLS (less effective). In fact, the Japanese meta has long since abandoned the EtherDex combo, so this might be LostGar/FluffyChomp all over again.
At the same time, Ether is pretty much the only Energy accelerator for decks without one, so you cannot discount it just yet. What this card does change is how relevant Hammertime will be in the new changing format when every deck has the chance to accelerate Energy.
See Warp Point.
IT’S MADE OF GOLD! (lol deja vu)
Probably the most awaited EX-Pokémon in the set. Used in Blastoise/Keldeo as a one/two of, it is the only Pokémon that can take down almost any Pokémon in the format by itself. It also finds its way into a rogue popularised by Pooka: Liepard BCR.
It does have its downsides. Discarding three Energy cards is heavy, no matter what anyone says. Still, with memories of MagnEel still fresh in many players’ minds, we’ll find a way to work around it.
BulbapediaIf Black Kyurem EX is power, then Lugia EX is speed. This card is reminiscient of the rather popular Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND and its Space Virus Poké-Power. Also most often used in Blastoise/Keldeo and also as a one/two of, it is usually used in the late game after taking 3-4 Prizes and solves the 7th Prize problem.
Victini-EX adds to the already wide pool of accelerators we have now. Energy Turbo allows you to pull out any two basic Energy cards from your deck and attach it to your Benched Pokémon. You can even combo it with any of the other accelerators to immediately flood your field with Energy on the first turn. Imagine this in Darkrai/Hydreigon. Whoa.
Another way to play Victini-EX is as an early pressure attacker, dealing a full 100 to an EX-Pokémon via Victory Piece, which should be the go-to ACE SPEC card if you plan to use VIctini EX at all. Four Skyla is obvious.
Depending on how the meta evolves, this might be one of the most coveted card in the format. Unlike Giratina EX, Cobalion-EX doesn’t require a strange mix of Energy to power up its Safeguard-bypassing attack.
But the deal breaker is how it breaks the stalemate in a Klinklang mirror match since, in the same way it bypasses Safeguard, also bypasses Klinklang’s Plasma Steel Ability. And it gives you the upper hand against Tornadus EX too with its ability to remove Special Energy via Righteous Edge.
This chicken little had a lot going for it with its auto-Paralysis. That is, until we remember a certain pony. Then again, it is best used in the same deck as Keldeo-EX anyway, and also best partnered with Lugia EX, as both require Plasma Energy.
Still, it’s a great card to use against Landorus-EX, especially if you can find a way to pair it with Dusknoir BC. Getting hit for 160 per turn with no way to retaliate hurts. A lot.
ebay.comI have to admit, I wrote off this card at the very first glance. It wasn’t until a friend told me to take a second look (and a combo) that I saw how it can be used.
While Slash is admittedly crap, Crystal Edge immediately boosts its power to 110, easily Knocking Out its twin brother (assuming it isn’t, er, walled). But the best part is how, with a full set of Prism/Fire Energy in a Blastoise/Keldeo deck, can perform just as well as its twin as an EX-Pokémon killer, albeit for a shorter period. With 80 damage on it, White-Kyurem EX can 1HKO most EX-Pokémon by itself.
One interesting combo I heard of is to pair it with Victini-EX and Potions. The idea is to quickly charge it with Energy Turbo and start hitting for increasingly heavier damage, keeping it away from a 2HKO with Potions and Pokémon Center, sustaining the 1HKO ability with Crystal Edge or Hypnotoxic Laser, if you chose Victory Piece. The nice thing is that the damage lost by Potion is the same as what you gain with Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank Gym.
Or you could troll with Rocky Helmet. I know I would.
Binder fodder. ‘Nuff said. And no, Moltres-EX and Garbador with hammers is not a very reliable strategy.
No, I ain’t smokin’ Weedle. A 30 HP Basic goes under the radar most of the time, but with the prevalance of Blastoise, the need for a very efficient attacker to KO Squirtle early is rather pressing, and Combee is surprisingly efficient if your deck already has Grass, Prism, or Blend Energy.
Currently, the best guy to do that is Tornadus EX, but he needs a Stadium and a DCE, which while arguably is not hard to get, isn’t a guarantee either. Landorus-EX can do it too with Virbank Gym and Hypnotoxic Laser, again a three-card combo, and isn’t sustainable, although it provides early pressure to any benched EX-Pokémon.
Of course, I’m not saying that this is a must-play card. 30 HP is donkable by too many Pokémon in the format, even if you play only one. I’m just saying that if you are going to try a Grass-type Basic to counter Squirtle, don’t write off Combee just yet.
Final Wish sounds like a pretty good trade-off for a KO. The problem, however, is getting KO’d in the first place. Unlike Jirachi from Rising Rivals, it does not have free retreat, and ironically, its HP is a little too high to be 1HKO’d by Tornadus EX or Mewtwo EX, which means your opponent can abuse Laser to bypass the ability’s activation requirement.
It’s still a nice ability for use with Keldeo though, who begs for even more consistency to get that T2 Blastoise, and its attack is pretty good even with the flips. Who knows?
Lunatone’s purpose is summed up in one word: EtherDex. It is searcheable by Level Ball and, for better or worse, Heavy Ball as well, arguably beneficial when you are using Landorus-EX. It also may allow you to access that Supporter card one turn earlier after an N.
BulbapediaDouble Brain sounds like a darn good Ability to have. Unfortunately, it’s tough to fit Magnezone in unless you are already playing Stage 2s in your deck, and even then playing two Stage 2s in a deck is not very advisable. Not to mention that Magnemite is just donk bait (dat weakness).
Empoleon might be able to utilise Double Brain best, but having two engines is kinda overkill IMO.
Empoleon wannabe? Maybe, but it’s the best Pokémon to abuse Virbank Gym with. In the end though, you can’t ignore its heavy attack cost and poor matchup against Keldeo-EX. Unlike Empoleon, Keldeo-EX doesn’t need five Energy to 1HKO Crobat.
I LOVE this card, even if it may not reach Tier 1 status. Paired with Gardevoir NXD and Rescue Scarf for best effect, Weezing is a spreader second only to Kyurem, and annoying second only to Durant. The only downside is that it cannot be searched by Level or Heavy Ball. There may be hope when Plasma Ball is released in the next set, however.
Another card with the potential to reach at least Tier 2, and, like Weezing, best paired with Gardevoir. With Gardevoir’s Ability, Gallade only needs one Energy on him and a total of only five Psychic Energy on your field to 1HKO any EX-Pokémon.
I recommend Emolga DRX as a starter (nobody kills him, so the Energy stays there) and the EtherDex combo to flood your field. Giant Cape tops off the decklist if you have space for it to stave of potential 1HKOs from Keldeo, or Rescue Scarf to recycle Gallades.
The best tool may probably be Exp. Share though, since Energy on the field is the lifeline of Gallade, and being able to shift Energy to a Mewtwo EX drop is a huge plus.
Lucario has the same attack ability as Shaymin EX except it does 30 more damage and has a heavier attack cost. Its ability to transform into a Metal Pokémon, and hence gain Klinklang’s protection, is what makes this Pokémon shine as an amazing mid-game sweeper.
This card is to Venusaur DEX as Eelektrik NVI is to Emboar BLW 20. The flip is painful, so only time will tell if Clefable will be of any use, even as a 1-of. Maybe Gallade or Empoleon can benefit from it.
You think Quad Sigilyph was irritating? Try dealing with this guy. Plasma Steel turns all of your Metal-type Pokémon into Sigilyph behemoths including itself, which means only non-Pokémon-EX, Giratina EX and Cobalion-EX can deal damage. That’s rough.
However, thanks to our Japanese counterparts, we know how to counter this deck. Moltres and V-create Victini can both 1HKO Klinklang, or even take the short cut and 1HKO your Metal EX-Pokémon.
Beware of Keldeo-EX, however, as they can easily use Shift Gear, and then you’re back to square one. Besides, they can set up multiple Klinklangs, and Registeel-EX with Eviolite walls both Moltres and Victini via Protect Charge (and use Max Potion to negate your turn).
I won’t be putting up skeleton lists of popular decks like Blastoise/Keldeo or Tornadus/Landorus/Mewtwo, as I’m pretty sure those will be done to death by other posters after me, and the bare specifics are already included in the card reviews above. So I’ll just touch on them very briefly.
Some people are torn on how many of each Klinklang should be included in a Klinklang deck. Personally, I advocate three Plasma Klinklang and only one Shift Gear Klinklang. The reason is very simple: You want your defences up before anything else. Also, you need a counter against Moltres and Victini, preferably either Mewtwo EX or Keldeo-EX, as both can 1HKO the counters.
As for the decision between Lugia EX and Black Kyurem EX in Keldeo/Blastoise, I personally feel that it depends entirely on the meta and your playstyle. Dragon counters Dragon obviously, and some players are even adding in Kyurem from Dragon Vault as a counter.
On the other hand, whether Lugia EX can be played by itself is still very debatable. Enhanced Hammer totally wrecks Plasma Energy and DCE, and the fact that you only have four Plasma Energy with no way to recover it limits its use even more.
I highly suspect the meta to focus even more around Blastoise due to the two new weapons at its disposable, although it also means that RayEels will get a bigger chance to shine without being donked.
And speaking of donks, I also highly suspect both Tornadus EX and Empoleon to stage a huge show thanks to the Virbank/Laser combo jacking up their damage output. Both are notorious for dealing huge pressure in the early game
Now, we’ll focus on the fun side of Pokémon: new rogues. Here’s a couple of skeleton lists.
Pokémon – 11
4 Koffing PLS 56
Trainers – 29
Energy – 10
Thanks to Weezing being a Plasma Pokémon, it is very easy to power up Smogbank via Colress Machine. Dusknoir BCR is a natural addition considering the nature of Smogbank, while Ditto is to facilitate spamming Weezings and for getting that T1 Emolga.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 30
Energy – 12
Obviously Gallade cannot work by himself, so we take advantage of Gardevoir and throw in a pair of Mewtwo EX. We can either throw in the EtherDex combo here or Exp. Share to keep the energy on the field. Computer Search is preferred here for a faster setup.
I like this set a lot more than the previous two sets because we actually get more than just EX-Pokémon that are actually useful. I’m very much looking forward to the next set already where better cards will be introduced. One card I really hope we will get in the next set is Meloetta EX to be paired with Seismitoad.
That’s all from me, thanks for reading and see you next time!