This Article Made ACE SPECially For You!
Not the most memorable of mechanics…

ACE SPECs are undeniably one of the most interesting mechanics ever introduced to the Pokémon TCG — cards so powerful they can only designate a single spot in one’s deck. Unlike “shining” Pokémon, their ex series counterparts, ACE SPECs are all Trainer cards. This means that aside from ACE SPECs specific to certain Pokémon (Crystal Wall, Crystal Edge, Victory Piece, etc.), any ACE SPEC can be played in one’s deck.

Ultimately, thanks to cards like Computer Search and Dowsing Machine, there is simply no argument for not running an ACE SPEC card in your deck.

Unlike many Pokémon TCG mechanics that never quite caught on (Shock-wave marker, anyone?), it’s fair to say that ACE SPECs are necessary for deck building. Add to that the presence of Skyla and you have a truly integral concept being added to the game.

And yet, there remains some confusion on how best to play these format-defining gems. When Boundaries Crossed was released, many players migrated quickly to the Computer Search bandwagon. While the strength of this card is easily recognized, Gold Potion was almost completely overlooked. While Computer Search was the better choice in most cases, Gold Potion would have never gotten its chance to shine because of the average opinion that it was “inferior” to Computer Search.

Now, with the addition of three more ACE SPECs (Dowsing Machine, Scramble Switch, and Victory Piece), deckbuilding gets even more interesting. The options are there, but it’s difficult to know exactly what ACE SPEC to run — that is, of course, unless you’re running White Kyurem EX.

So here’s the deal: today, I’m talking ACE SPECs. You’re getting the low-down on exactly how best to play these dynamic cards. We’ll look at when certain ACE SPECs strategically trump others, and I’ll even provide powerful examples (and decklists) of these cards in action.

I’m also going to cover what I’ve termed “Fake Specs,” cards that can successfully occupy a “one of” or “two of” spot in one’s deck. In past formats, running cards like this was usually frowned upon. The current format features cards like Skyla, Computer Search, and Dowsing Machine, all of which help players effectively play low numbers of Trainer cards.

Lastly, I will go over some of my own thoughts for what to expect for States, mostly from a metagame analysis standpoint. For this, I’ll refer back to my previous article on how to properly metagame. Now, with all that said, let’s get started!


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Since the release of the ACE SPEC Trainer cards, players have discussed and debated how best to play them. There are a few fundamental rules for getting the most out of your ACE SPEC, and a lot of this has been figured out. More commonly, however, I’ve seen players toss in 2-3 Skyla and Computer Search and call it a day.

As more ACE SPEC cards get released, I think it’s important to understand the framework for making that single card in your deck truly shine.

ACE SPEC Mentality: Running The “One Of”

For players who have been around for awhile, ACE SPECs and Skyla in particular present an interesting shift in the way one approaches deck building. When I first saw Skyla, I actually didn’t like the card at all. I thought it seemed “lacking,” that is until I started testing Skyla out. My Skyla count grew from one to three in no time.

When running an ACE SPEC, you have to keep in mind that you often won’t start with that card. Instead, your best bet for digging out an ACE SPEC rests in a sizable Skyla count.

The greater the need to get your ACE SPEC out fast, the greater the Skyla count. As you’ll see with the decklists I’ve provided with this article, my Victini-EX deck runs four Skyla — I have to get to Victory Piece as soon as possible. With Dowsing Machine, however, a lower count is often advised.

Recycle + ACE SPECs

When ACE SPECs first hit the scene, Recycle climbed out of the darkness, becoming a viable option for copying ACE SPECs. Since then, however, many players have abandoned the idea of using Recycle in this manner. Given the popularity that Computer Search acquired, it’s no surprise that Recycle crept yet again into obscurity.

recycle-fossil-fo-61Since that time, however, a few things have changed. First of all, many players have been forced to ditch Tool Scrapper from their decks in order to accomodate the “HypnoBank” combo.

This little pattern has opened the way for ACE SPEC Pokémon Tool cards to make some headway in the format. When Crystal Wall was first revealed, players scoffed at it since it would easily be knocked away by a Tool Scrapper. If Scrapper is nowhere to be found, however, then 300 HP suddenly sounds pretty nice.

Another reason I think Recycle is worth looking into again is because of some of the ACE SPEC cards on the horizon. Our Plasma Freeze set will more than likely feature two key ACE SPEC Pokémon Tool cards that can be used by any Pokémon (and not just specific legendaries). The tentative “Rock Guard” and “Life Droplets” are immensely powerful cards made even more powerful when copied by Recycle.

And finally, a couple of cards here and there seem to provide an answer for one of the most troubling things about Recycle: the fact that flipping heads doesn’t put a discarded card in hand, but rather on top of one’s deck.

With Bicycle in our most recent set and Electrode supposedly being released in Plasma Freeze, players may find it easier to get a “Recycled” card in hand in a single turn. (Note: I personally expect more out of Bicycle than Electrode, though that isn’t exactly saying that much.)

So where does this leave us? Essentially, certain ACE SPECs like Gold Potion and Crystal Edge turn Recycle into a weird “flip for something awesome” Trainer card (much like Pokémon Reversal before Pokémon Catcher was ever released). This can get a little tricky, as sometimes you may have to wait a turn before drawing into the card that Recycle retrieved.


Here is where I’ll get into the details of each ACE SPEC, including some tips for making them truly shine and a decklist if the ACE SPEC is one not normally used. As I said before, I think many players feel comfortable with a few Skyla and a Computer Search. This closes the door to other possibilities. And while not all ACE SPECs are truly game-defining, it’s always good to keep an open mind!

Crystal Edge

A good number of Pokémon-EX have attacks that hit for 150 damage. By playing Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym, these Pokémon can effectively hit for 180 damage, enough to 1HKO any other Pokémon-EX. Crystal Edge effectively takes the place of the HypnoBank combo by giving White Kyurem EX an offensive boost of 50 extra damage.

At the moment there are two different White Kyurem EX’s to play. I personally see the Boundaries Crossed one as the way to go, since it requires fewer factors to manage in order to score 1HKOs. Here’s a good example of this type of deck in action:

Pokémon – 10

4 Tepig BW07
3 Emboar BLW 20
3 White Kyurem-EX BCR

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
1 Bianca
1 Colress


4 Ultra Ball
1 Heavy Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Recycle
3 Rare Candy
2 Energy Retrieval
2 Switch
1 Escape Rope
1 Crystal Edge


2 Plasma Frigate
1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 14

8 R
3 W

3 Plasma

white kyurem ex boundaries crossed 103The idea here is fairly simple: power up White Kyurem EX, 1HKO everything in sight. Given the challenge that Water Weakness presents, this deck utilizes the Plasma Frigate/Plasma Energy combo to cut off Emboar’s Weakness.

While Blastoise/Keldeo-EX enjoys the added consistency from not having to fit in Switch or Escape Rope, this deck works off much the same principle — get your Stage 2 in play to power up a big Basic EX.

Crystal Wall

Crystal Wall is a very interesting card for a few reasons. Its effect of boosting Black Kyurem EX’s HP to 300 seems almost like a joke, as though the card creators were trying to launch the Pokémon TCG into Yu-Gi-Oh! territory. To your casual gamer, this card looks absolutely broken, yet most players quickly dismissed it the day it was revealed.

Why? Simply put, “Tool Scrapper” was on the tip of everyone’s tongue at the time.

But this is hardly the case anymore. The drive to fit Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym into practically every deck has pushed many cards like Tool Scrapper right out of the picture. This might give Garbodor DRX a big boost, but it also helps keep cards like Crystal Wall on the field. Enter Black Kyurem EX… and yes, it is the one from Boundaries Crossed:

Pokémon – 11

4 Tynamo NVI 38
3 Eelektrik NVI
2 Black Kyurem-EX BCR
1 Zekrom-EX
1 Ditto BCR / Victini NVI 14 / Victini NVI 15 / Rayquaza DRV

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
1 Colress


4 Ultra Ball
4 Switch
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Recycle
2 Level Ball
2 Super Rod
1 Escape Rope
1 Crystal Wall


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

7 L
3 Prism
2 W

The strength in this deck comes from having a 300 HP monster capable of landing 1HKOs against any EX in the game (not counting Eviolite or other HP-boosting cards). Gaining the extra 120 HP means that Darkrai EX will almost always have to hit Kyurem three times before Knocking it Out. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX will also struggle to knockout Kyurem. Setting up a second Black Kyurem EX means that you will have the response when the opponent drops their own Black Kyurem EX (PLS).

If you plan on playing a deck like this, realize that you will have a weakness against Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik decks. You’re also susceptible to Klinklang PLS decks, so tech accordingly. All in all, this has been one of the funner decks I’ve gotten my hands on lately!

Gold Potion

gold potion boundaries crossed bcr 140pokemon-paradijs.comBasically three Potions rolled into one, Gold Potion is an ACE SPEC that has found its way into many Darkrai EX lists. In the mirror match, Gold Potion basically erases most the damage done by a single Night Spear, turning a 2HKO into a 3HKO. This, of course, begs the question: Wouldn’t Potion have done the same thing?

This is where Gold Potion is met with much skepticism, as it’s a card that serves a single function that is very situation-specific.

While Computer Search can search out any card in one’s deck, and Dowsing Machine can become any Trainer in one’s discard pile, Gold Potion only gets to do it’s one thing: heal off damage. And while the effect is powerful, there are times when it’s simply not needed.

Gold Potion is a strong mid to late-game card that can essentially set your opponent back a turn. With the release of Plasma Storm, however, comes the powerhouse that is Black Kyurem EX, a card that does a whopping 200 damage and could care less about your Gold Potion.

I still think Gold Potion has a place in the general metagame, but it’s a card that works in a specific sense. It’s nice when it works, and players may think more highly of it because of those memorable instances, but it’s not as good “all around” as either Computer Search or Dowsing Machine. Nonetheless, here’s a fun decklist that utilizes Gold Potion; definitely not a format-breaker, but still enjoyable:

Pokémon – 10

3 Chansey DEX 80

3 Blissey DEX
3 Cresselia-EX
1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Bianca
2 Skyla


4 Pokédex
4 Ether
4 Ultra Ball
4 Potion
3 Switch
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Eviolite
1 Gold Potion

Energy – 12

8 P

4 Double Colorless

In this list, I’m putting as much focus as I can on healing. I didn’t play around with Recycle, but I can see it being effective in conjunction with Gold Potion. Blissey heals, Potion heals, Cresselia-EX has a built-in Ability that heals… you can see where I’m going with this idea.

This deck’s big threats? Klinklang PLS, Black Kyurem-EX PLS, a speedy Mewtwo EX, and so on. Like I said, this might be a good deck for League.

computer search boundaries crossed 137Perhaps the most talked-about ACE SPEC so far, Computer Search quickly cemented its place in nearly every deck after the release of Boundaries Crossed. The boost to consistency was hard to ignore, and both speed decks and setup decks alike benefitted from Computer Search’s potential for grabbing anything out of one’s deck.

When does Computer Search truly shine? It holds tremendous promise early game for two distinct types of decks: speed and setup. Interestingly enough, speed decks and setup decks are usually trying to do the same thing, just with different purposes.

And keep in mind, I’m referring to setup decks as they exist in the current format, the whole “Stage 2 that supports big Basic EXs” idea. Setup decks in the past were an altogether different creature entirely.

Consider this. Player A is running a Tornadus EX/Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX deck with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. On their first turn, they start with a Tornadus EX while the opponent starts with a Sableye. They play down a Virbank City Gym, use a Hypnotoxic Laser, then play a Skyla to search for the Computer Search that will grab them a Double Colorless Energy and the win.

Player B is playing Blastoise/Keldeo-EX. On their first turn, they start with a Keldeo-EX and bench two Squirtle. On their second turn, they play a Professor Juniper and end up with the following: W Energy, W Energy, W Energy, Mewtwo EX, Professor Juniper, Rare Candy, Computer Search. They play the Computer Search to search for Blastoise and complete the combo. They go on to win.

In both cases, the players were after the right combination of cards to lead them to victory. It’s very apparent that Computer Search helps out here in “completing the combo.”

By contrast, decklists for Darkrai EX seem mixed up on what ACE SPEC to include. This is simply because Darkrai EX — even though it has enjoyed a boost of speed from Plasma Storm — is not inherently a speed card, at least not in the way Tornadus EX is.

Remember, Computer Search specializes in bringing together the right mix of cards as quickly as possible, whether it be to do damage as fast as possible or setup as fast as possible. When your deck is trying to achieve one of these two things, Computer Search is the way to go.

Dowsing Machine

dowsing machine plasma storm pls 128pokemon-paradijs.comIn many ways, Dowsing Machine acts as sort of the inverse of Computer Search. Where Computer Search is pulling things from the deck, Dowsing Machine pulls from the discard pile. This attribute implies that resources will have been used, so Dowsing Machine as a basic rule is best used mid to late-game.

In the current format, tank decks and lock/control decks greatly enjoy the benefit of Dowsing Machine.

Klinklang PLS/Durant NVI, for instance, utilizes Dowsing Machine perfectly during the mid to late-game phase, borrowing another copy of Enhanced Hammer, Pokémon Catcher, or even Escape Rope/Switch to last that little bit longer until the opponent’s deck has been properly depleted.

Of course, there’s a debate to be had here, since getting Klinklang in play is extremely important. Unlike other Stage 2 decks, however, Klinklang doesn’t have to hit the field ASAP. It’s for this reason that I think Dowsing Machine fits better in a deck like this.

Much like the Klinklang example, Garbodor decks don’t necessarily have to get the lock going ASAP. Remember, we’re not in a Claydol/Uxie format anymore. Setup Pokémon aren’t even seen in popular decks today, so the Abilities that Garbodor shuts off mostly provide energy acceleration or other nifty tricks. Again, Dowsing Machine is a strong play here because of its viability mid to late-game.

Dowsing Machine is a card that pairs well with decks that try to “implement a strategy” rather than “complete a combo.” It’s a card that many players hate to see in the first couple of turns, but it has massive potential for mid to late-game plays.

It’s for this reason that Dowsing Machine is also a relatively harder card to play. Anyone can recognize the missing card they need to donk an opponent or set up a Blastoise — the card that Computer Search will give them — but fewer players will know exactly what to play their Dowsing Machine for in the late stages of a game.

Victory Piece

victory piece plasma storm pls 130pokemon-paradijs.comThe newest EX-specific card, Victory Piece allows Victini-EX to be one of the quickest, most versatile Pokémon-EX out there. With attacks that can either accelerate energy or hit hard against EXs, Victini-EX is truly dynamic. Its biggest weakness, a rather low amount of HP at 110, certainly poses some challenges for this card.

The cool thing about Victory Piece is that it really isn’t afraid of Tool Scrapper. Victini-EX is a card that, whether by your own doing or your opponent’s, won’t last on the field for very long.

By the time you’ve gotten the most out of Victory Piece, you’ll either be using Super Scoop Up to get Victini-EX off the field, or your opponent will be finding a way to nab an easy 2 Prizes by KOing it. Also, since players are using Tool Scrapper less and less, your ACE SPEC might just stick around unopposed.

The key to making Victory Piece worth your while is using it in a deck in which you can successfully resort to either of Victini-EX’s attacks, depending on what your opponent is doing.

Pokémon – 14

4 Victini-EX
3 Tornadus-EX DEX
3 Vulpix DRX

3 Ninetales DRX
1 Bouffalant DRX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
1 Colress


4 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 PlusPower
3 Super Scoop Up
3 Pokémon Catcher
1 Victory Piece


3 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

7 R
4 Double Colorless

This deck is simply a massive onslaught of controlled speed. If my opponent opens with an Pokémon-EX, I can hit quickly with Victini-EX while building up a Tornadus EX on the bench. If my opponent flips over something other than an Pokémon-EX, I might work instead on powering up a couple of Tornadus EX. Ninetales is here to counter the Klinklang PLS threat, not to mention the fact that it can hit for massive damage with a heads flip on Hypnotoxic Laser.

I run four PlusPower to increase my chances of donking, to KO Blastoise in one shot with Tornadus EX (Power Blast + “HypnoBank” + PlusPower), and to land other surprise KOs. The three Super Scoop Up are simply for getting Victini-EX off the field after I’ve used it. It also acts as a pseudo-Switch should I need one.

Scramble Switch

scramble switch plasma storm pls 129pokemon-paradijs.comOut of all the ACE SPECs currently legal, Scramble Switch is probably the one with the most late-game potential. This is almost single-handedly due to Lugia EX, a card that Scramble Switch seems destined for. The ability to shift all energy from one weakened Pokémon to a new, powerful Pokémon can mean a monumental shift in the course of the game.

In fact, the “Scramble” part of Scramble Switch seems like a throwback to Scramble Energy, another card that caused games to go off in wildly different directions.

In one way, Scramble Switch seems like Plasma Storm’s version of Gold Potion — it’s highly situational, it’s awful early-game, and when it works just right it’s breathtaking. But unlike Gold Potion, a successful Scramble Switch can turn a game completely on its head. Gold Potion may “erase” a turn, but using a Scramble Switch to promote a Lugia EX who will take two or 3 Prizes, then possibly nab two or three more is gamebreaking.

Theoretically, I can see the Recycle trick working well with Scramble Switch. Max Potion seems like a good combo as well. Essentially, though, it goes back to that idea of this card being situational.

Below is a decklist created by my good friend (and team member) Zach Bivens. My original idea for Scramble Switch looked a lot like Zach’s list, so I thought I’d just share his rather than present one with just a few cards off.

Pokémon – 9

2 Lugia-EX
3 Tornadus-EX DEX
2 Victini NVI 15
1 Bouffalant DRX
1 Lunatone PLS

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Bianca
2 Skyla


4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Ultra Ball
4 Colress Machine
3 Ether
2 Pokédex
2 Escape Rope
1 Scramble Switch


1 Plasma Frigate
1 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 16

8 R
4 Plasma
4 Double Colorless

Rock Guard

RockGuardSpiralForce50BulbapediaI know, I know, anything from here on is total speculation, but it’s still fun to think of interesting combos with the ACE SPECs of tomorrow.

Rock Guard is a neat one, as it’s basically a Rocky Helmet times three — if your Active Pokémon gets damaged by an attack while having Rock Guard attached to it, the attacking Pokémon takes SIX damage counters. In this regard, Rock Guard is to Rocky Helmet as Gold Potion is to Potion.

As much as I like this card, I’m afraid it won’t do very well in the format. My reasoning is that there is a very narrow scope of decks into which this card can go. Pokémon Catcher can help opponents play around it, Hypnotoxic Laser helps them play through it, and unlike every other ACE SPEC save Crystal Wall, playing Rock Guard means that you give your opponent a chance to get rid of it with Tool Scrapper.

Still, there does exist some hope for this card. The one time I ever saw Rocky Helmet played in a tournament setting was when I faced a Zebstrika NXD deck. As my opponent locked up all of my trainers using Disconnect, every attack I made cost me two damage counters. The damage stacked up while I set up slowly.

In a deck like this, I think Rock Guard might become pretty fierce. Still, even giving the opponent a single turn to use Trainers can spell disaster quickly.

I guess we’ll have to see on this one…

Life Droplets

LifeDropletsThunderKnuckle50BulbapediaEasily one of the coolest ACE SPECs out there, this card is so powerful it bends the rules of the game. If the Pokémon this ACE SPEC is attached to gets Knocked Out, the oppponent takes one less Prize card. This card turns EX’s into normal Pokémon and normal Pokémon into Shedinjas (DRX).

On the surface, this card looks like Crystal Wall part 2. Running this with Recycle basically means that for every heads you flip, your opponent is getting one less Prize card. If you’re able to recycle Life Droplets twice this way, it’s sort of like your opponent is playing with nine Prize cards.

Of course, the same things that plagued Crystal Wall will probably plague Life Droplets. If Life Droplets sees a lot of play, Tool Scrapper will make a return to everyone’s decklist. One interesting observation is that Life Droplets doesn’t specify a KO from damage. If this translation stands, getting KO’d from status effects like Poison will still activate Life Droplets.

One really exciting combo I see is Dragonite/Life Droplets (both tentatively in our next set). Of course, Stage 2’s are always a hassle, but Dragonite’s first attack can take advantage of Double Colorless Energy. It also keeps the opponent from playing any Item cards and hits for a nice 60 damage.

Playing Life Droplets on Dragonite basically means that your opponent has to KO Dragonite and not take a Prize card. With Recycle, one can continue this pattern of locking and Prize card denial.

Again, just an idea…


Before Boundaries Crossed came out, a good friend of mine used to make fun of deck building by explaining that every deck featured “four this, four that, four…” and so on. After the introduction of both ACE SPECs and Skyla, however, that complaint is now gone. Players often get away with one or two copies of a card to help tip a matchup into their favor.

With the presence of Skyla, Computer Search, and Dowsing Machine, running low numbers of Trainers while still having easy access to them is possible.

As a result, I’ll go over some of the more popular cards to receive this “low count” treatment. I’ve decided to term them “Fake Specs,” since in the right situation they can be as game-breaking as an ACE SPEC. You’ll rarely ever see these cards played in copies of four in a deck, mostly because they’re situation-specific.

Tropical Beach

tropical-beach-black-white-promos-bw28pokemon-paradijs.comI am firmly convinced that if Tropical Beach were made into an ACE SPEC, but made easily accessible to the competitive player base, plenty of players would put it into their deck — it truly is that powerful.

At first, Tropical Beach held a niche spot in Chandelure NVI decks. Since the release of Skyla, however, Tropical Beach has soared in popularity. It’s almost essential to Stage 2 decks at this point: place your Basics down, lower your hand count if possible, play Tropical Beach and start evolving on the next turn if possible.

Tropical Beach might very well become riddled with conflict as “Stadium wars” returns to the Pokémon TCG. For those who don’t know, this term was used to describe past formats in which Stadium cards held a great deal of power. Imagine a Stadium card that put a damage counter on each EX in play between turns, or playing a Stadium card that forced players to reduce their bench size to three instead of five (yes, there were cards that did this).

In this same way, there have been an intriguing number of Stadium cards released that are actually good. Aspertia City Gym, Virbank City Gym, and Plasma Frigate all join the ranks as playable Stadium cards, providing some much-needed competition to Tropical Beach.

The Hammers

Again, if Super Energy Removal were turned into an ACE SPEC and released tomorrow, I would expect many players to flock to it. While not as potent as Super Energy Removal, both Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer are extremely effective cards that can be run in low numbers thanks to Skyla.

Even a single Enhanced Hammer can stop certain decks dead in their tracks thanks to its ability to get rid of Double Colorless Energy.

Going into States, I expect the Hammers to become an even more integral part of the metagame. With the new Plasma Energy released and a renewed interest in Double Colorless Energy for speed decks, Enhanced Hammer gets a boost. Crushing Hammer might actually lose some of its effectiveness because of the Ether/Pokédex “engine,” but my testing so far has proven Ether to be not quite the monster we all thought it would be.

Tool Scrapper

tool scrapper dragons exalted drx 116pokemon-paradijs.comNow, after all this talk about Tool Scrapper becoming nonexistent in the metagame, I’m going to tell you how important it can be, haha. The truth is, as game-breaking as many of the cards discussed here are, that’s how game-breaking a well-played Tool Scrapper can be.

Take my Black Kyurem EX deck for instance. The decision to even play that deck hinges entirely on whether or not I expect other players to be using Tool Scrapper. There’s nothing more damaging than having a Tool Scrapper “knockout” a Black Kyurem EX — that’s 2 Prize cards for the opponent and they still get to attack!

In certain metagames, the fact that players are expecting other players to ditch Tool Scrapper might be all the more reason to play it. As I explained in my last article, you have to stay “ahead of the curve” by making decisions that are in step with how the players in your local area view the metagame. Tool Scrapper might just become the unexpected “Fake Spec” that wins you a critical game during States.

Super Rod

Recovery: some decks need it, some decks don’t. Generally, the rule is that if you’re playing Stage 1 or Stage 2’s in your deck, you want to preserve at least one spot in your list for Super Rod.

The impact of Super Rod is not instantly observed, and as a result many people forget to include it with their decklists. Don’t make this mistake if you are using Evolution Cards in your deck! Either play a copy of Super Rod or make sure you know your deck inside and out before playing competitively.

Dark Claw

If you’re running a Darkrai EX deck or a dark deck in general, you might want to save a spot for this useful card. In conjunction with Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym, Dark Claw can create untold amounts of havoc. Many players are finding it useful in Darkrai decks to help KO Blastoise (Night Spear + “HypnoBank” + Dark Claw = 140 damage). Definitely a consideration!

Town Map

town map boundaries crossed bcr 136My least favorite Fake Spec on this list, mostly because I’m used to figuring out what my Prize cards are the moment I look through my deck.

Unless you’re really forgetful when it comes to deducing what your Prize cards are or you’re running a deck with oodles of important techs in it, I wouldn’t recommend Town Map.


An interesting card indeed, Bicycle received an enormous amount of hype, then quickly became forgotten the moment people tried to make it work. With very small draw power, this Trainer (not Supporter) might find a single spot in one’s deck, especially if the deck featured many cards that reduced hand size.

I personally haven’t tested it out too much, so I cannot say how effective Bicycle is as a Fake Spec.


The only Supporter given my patented Fake Spec treatment, Colress finds its way on my list because of its superior effectiveness late-game. Sure, it sucks to open with Colress as your only Supporter, but it can be a savior late in the game when all you have floating around in your deck are N’s.

I would definitely recommend saving at least one spot for this card, unless of course you were running a deck that had an abnormally low number of Pokémon (“quad” decks, for instance).


States/Provinces/Territory Championships are coming up, and with that comes a lot of speculation about what the metagame will look like. I’ve given the general metagame a lot of thought, and I’m closing in on a deck choice for my own area. Nonetheless, here are some of my thoughts for what S/P/T’s will look like:

lugia ex plasma storm pls 1081. Things are getting clearer for what the new set will bring. The whole “Plasma” theme is nowhere near as game-changing as SP’s were. While some of the Team Plasma Pokémon are entertaining, the best ones are still the big Basic EX’s. Lugia EX and Articuno-EX seem pretty good, but the biggest support they get comes in the form of Colress Machine.

2. Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym will be everywhere. Whether you’re a fan of the combo or not, you should at least be prepared for it. “HypnoBank,” as I like to call it, presents a tremendous amount of early game pressure. Be prepared with Switch, Escape Rope, free retreating options… whatever you need to make sure you don’t get stuck all poisoned and asleep.

3. Popular decks will remain, and most get a boost. Darkrai EX finds a bit more speed with Ether, as does Landorus-EX. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX decks warmly invite Black Kyurem-EX PLS on board. Scramble Switch and Dowsing Machine give old decks new mid to late-game options.

4. As much as I hate it, speed is the name of the game. While the Ether/Pokédex “engine” didn’t turn out to be as effective as most people thought, it still creates the chance that somebody will start ripping through your Pokémon left and right. If you fear Tornadus EX, consider playing a few copies of Enhanced Hammer. Also, remember that “Big Basic EX” decks are generally safe from being donked. Use this knowledge to your advantage, then outplay your opponent.

5. Remember to analyze the metagame after the first weekend results. Don’t go into the second and third weekend of S/P/T’s empty-handed. Make sure to look at my previous article for direction in how to metagame. Your deck choice should be a clear, conscious one.


ACE SPECs are undeniably powerful; they very much define the current format. And while Computer Search is a great card, new ACE SPECs are coming out that give Computer Search (and Dowsing Machine) a run for their money. Not only that, it pays to recognize the power that just a single card can have in one’s decklist.

As we inch closer to S/P/T’s, remember to try out some combos you haven’t thought of before, and be open to some of the other ACE SPECs that exist in our format.

If anything, the lesson of ACE SPECs is that they challenge us to consider every single card spot in our decks, from 1 to 60. Hopefully, you’re getting close to “the perfect list” for S/P/T’s, and if you’re not, join the discussion in the Underground forums!

If you have any lingering questions, feel free to message me or catch me in the Underground forum. Thanks!

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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