I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to write about this month. The format is extremely diverse, and with more and more foreign Nationals results coming in, we are all pretty well aware of what has been performing well around the globe. (Taking just a moment to humblebrag, it appears that I was right in my last article predicting that Virizion/Genesect and Yveltal/Raichu would be at the top of the pack.) I feel the current metagame has been covered extensively on Underground. That’s why I decided on a bit different topic this month and will be discussing something I’m really excited about, which is the new Japanese set: Rising Fist. Not only will I be taking a look at the new set, but also the new format we can expect to see in just a few short months.
The new format has so much potential for many cards that haven’t gotten the chance to shine in our current one. I also expect the format to be a little bit slower, so we’ll also see decks making an impact that aren’t quite fast enough to be tier 1 at the moment.
By the end of this article, there are a few main points that I want you to take away: First, I want you to have an overview of what to expect from the upcoming format. Hopefully, you also will have a good idea of what current cards to pick up – before they rise in price – and an idea of what cards to hunt down at Prereleases. Finally, I want you to leave with a sense of excitement for what is ahead. If you come away with these questions answered and excitement for what’s to come, then I’d call this a pretty successful article.
Table of Contents
- Rising Fist Highlights
- 2014-2015 Season Format Predictions
- Early Favorites for PLS-on
Rising Fist Highlights
Rising Fist (English: Furious Fists) looks to be one of the best sets in terms of overall playability that we have seen in a long time. I’m actually really tempted to buy a box of this set because of how many playable cards there are.
When doing set highlights, I don’t touch on every card, but I do try to get detailed enough to include most cards that I feel could fit into tier 1 or tier 2 decks. It’s also very important to me that I don’t oversell cards, so I’ll talk about not only pros, but the cons to these cards as well.
The regular Heracross-EX I would actually call underpowered. It takes two attachments before it can even attack and three to be in the mere situation to 2HKO anything.
The M Heracross-EX on the other hand is a bit more playable. For GGC it hits for 180 damage minus 10 for each damage counter on it. You could always combo it with Dusknoir FLF so you’re constantly moving damage off Heracross onto Dusknoir. It’s a hard combo to fully set up, but once in play you’re 1HKOing most things in the format. The problem is this strategy is too combo-based and quite vulnerable to cards like Lysandre. At best you’re probably looking at a tier 2 deck right now.
Normally Magmortar wouldn’t have been anything special, but we got a lot of Fire support in the last set. For FCCC you hit for 80 damage, but if you have an Electivire on your Bench you hit for 80 more. You’re sitting at 160 damage before you even attach a Muscle Band.
Powering up one or even two Magmortar isn’t too hard with all of the support we have, but the problem is with only 120 HP you can’t really “tank” one. If the attack cost one less Energy and Magmortar had 30 more HP it would be so much more playable. It will be a tier 2 or 3 deck and is unlikely to make an impact.
I wanted to touch on Politoed quickly because I’ve heard a few people talk about him. I think players are trying to get more and more creative in trying to find cards to partner with Miltank. You could build a deck with literally only 5 or 6 Energy and have tons of room to tech in other cards.
The other really cool thing is how much synergy these cards have with Max Potion. You have a 140 HP Pokémon attacking for zero Energy that can heal itself with Max Potion with no downside. It will most likely be a tier 1.5 deck, but has a lot of potential depending on future releases. A rotation or two down the line I could also see this being a tier 1 deck pretty easily.
It’s pretty cool to theoretically shut off your opponent’s Items while you set up freely. The problem is unless you open Seismitoad-EX and a DCE, then it’s pretty much a dead card the rest of the game.
I like Item lock when the opponent can fight back against it (i.e. attack Seismitoad), since Bench-sitters like Vileplume UD always seemed too overpowered. I just wish Seismitoad had a better Weakness and a decent second attack. The way it sits right now it probably won’t see much play.
Aurorus // Translation
I just about overlooked this card when I was first looking at the set and then I realized that the Ability stacks. If you have 4 Aurorus in play then you would take 80 less damage. It’s pretty easy to combo that with healing cards and have a really strong tank deck.
The problem is Aurosus is difficult to set up because it evolves from a Fossil.
Dedenne // Translation
I think people underestimate how big of a deal it is to have something that can easily be searched out and can hit for decent damage for little Energy. Pokémon nowadays is basically past the point of decks that play 4-of starters, but rather 1-of consistency techs and I feel that’s the category Dedenne fits right into.
If you open with it, great, but if you don’t you can search it out early to fill your Bench if needed. What makes it special though is its ability to hit hard for just 1 Energy, even if it’s a situational attack. It’s great if you can score a KO with Dedenne instead of investing in something more Energy heavy, and its Colorless attack requirements make it splashable in just about every deck.
I don’t think it will be a staple, but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if my opponent dropped it on the board.
Jynx // Translation
A Basic Bench-sitter that’s easy to search out and heals 10 damage every turn seems decent, but probably won’t see much play. If it was only slightly better, you could heal any of your Pokémon for 10 damage or if it healed all of your Pokémon for 10 damage. Just 10 damage by itself each turn is usually not enough to devote the bench space to.
The cool thing I do like about it though is you can use multiple Jynx and have each of them heal 10 damage. Some sort of tank deck could possibly incorporate it if they had the Bench space. If you have 3 Jynx in play that’s a free Potion every turn.
Gothitelle // Translation
I actually think this card could see play if we had a decent Stadium to pair with it. Something like Desert Ruins or an updated Cursed Stone. Right now it’s not great, but maybe hide it in the back of your binder for the future.
This is by far my favorite card in the set and the one that I think will make the biggest impact on the new format. It’s got a beefy 180 HP, low-cost attacks, built-in draw power, and the set has so much Fighting support there is no way this card won’t be tier 1.
I’m going to discuss my Lucario deck a little later in the article, but this is by far the deck I’m most excited about.
It’s actually a pretty playable Mega, but I don’t believe it will be the center of attention in a Lucario deck. Megas are still too slow and lack enough support to be the mainstream focus. In many of my decks they simply act as counters to Pyroar or secondary options if you need them.
Landorus // Translation
Just another piece of the puzzle that I believe will make Lucario easily a tier 1 deck. It does the same thing for Lucario that Yveltal XY does for Yveltal decks. It puts damage in play, advances your board position, and acts as a Safeguard counter.
Don’t underestimate Landorus being a Safeguard counter. If we didn’t have it, Lucario would have to tech something far less desirable in just to not take the loss to Sigilyph or Suicune.
Hawlucha // Translation
If it applied Resistance it would be playable as a way to counter Thundurus-EX or other Fighting-Weak EXs with a Silver Bangle.
Klefki // Translation
I like how Fairies get a little bit more support with each set. As a Basic it could actually see play, since that extra -20 can be a pretty big deal. It would be a meta call if you expect to see enough decks that you Resist to make it worth the 1-of spot.
Dragonite-EX // Translation
This is probably my second favorite card in the set behind Lucario-EX. It reminds me a lot of Zapdos ex RG, which was easily a tier 1 deck in 2005. This card will certainly see play and I’ll discuss my Dragonite-EX deck a bit later in the article.
Eevee // Translation
It has a really nice Ability, except for the fact that you have to attach a basic Energy to him. Most Eevee-based decks are built around Special Energy like DCE and Rainbow Energy. This Eevee might see some play though, with the deck playing 1 Grass and 1 P Energy and then Professor’s Letter to search them out.
Tool Strip // Translation
The only situations I can even think of that I would want this card are to return a Tool off of Garbodor so that I can use an Ability or return a Muscle Band off of Lucario-EX so I can play Focus Sash. This card won’t see play at all unless it combos with something in a future set.
It’s an Item card that lets you draw a card and I think it has a lot of potential. I can’t think of a deck right now that would use it, but in the future if we have a deck that wants to burn through itself fast it might see play. A draw engine of 4 Maintenance, 4 Bicycle, 4 Random Receiver, 4 Juniper, and 4 N would allow you to go through your deck pretty quickly.
Shining Gown // Translation
I think it’s a cool idea to be able to attach it to Pokémon and not have to worry about Laser. In most cases though, I think players are just going to opt to play Switch or Escape Rope since they are more versatile cards.
Fighting Pokémon seem to get all the love in this set and Focus Sash is another perfect example. I think Focus Sash is going to have a major impact on how players play and build their decks next format. Focus Sash is actually really easy to counter with Surprise Megaphone or Hypnotoxic Laser, but it forces players to play those cards in multiple numbers. If Fighting decks start playing 2-4 copies of Focus Sash then it forces every deck in the format (including other Fighting decks) to start playing 2-4 copies of counter cards.
Fossil Researcher // Translation
A Supporter that directly searches out Resorted Pokémon does wonders for making Fossils more playable. I just wish they would have actually made the Evolutions something worth getting out.
“Skyla on steroids” for Fighting decks is probably about the best analogy to use. It’s slightly worse when you realize it can’t get Supporters, but considerably better because it gives a huge early-game consistency boost. You can search out Lucario-EX + Switch or Lucario-EX + Professor’s Letter (basically whatever you need to ensure that you hit that T1 Lucario). There really isn’t a point in the game where this is a bad card.
Battle Reporter // Translation
It’s actually a pretty decent Supporter, but sadly we’re not in the right format for it. Most of the time players have small hands and rarely will you net a decent draw off of it. You would be better off playing Colress or even Shauna. The other downside is it’s pretty easy to play around in a best-of-three format if your opponent knows you’re running it (especially if you’re running multiples).
If it was something more like Holon Scientist where you got to discard a card before you drew, it would be more playable.
The two important things to keep in mind here are (A) it only activates when a Fighting Pokémon is hitting an EX and (B) it works for both players. It seems most appropriate as a counter Stadium for Fighting decks.
Despite being very different Stadiums, I’m going to combine them in my discussion since they have the same problem of being passive Stadiums. A passive Stadium is something that needs to stay in play to be useful, while an active Stadium is something you can instantly get a use out of the turn you play it (Virbank City Gym and Fighting Stadium would be two great examples).
Stadiums are so heavily played right now that you can’t rely on a passive Stadium staying on the board, which makes them basically unplayable right now.
Herb Energy // Translation
I can’t think of any broken Grass decks to play this card in quite yet, but I expect this to be a card that could easily become a crucial part of a deck in the future depending on what Grass support we see released in upcoming sets. I would definitely keep a playset saved.
I think this card is ridiculously broken and am honestly I’m a little surprised that they printed it. Strong Energy gives an instant +20 damage for any Fighting Pokémon, plus it’s an Energy, and it stacks. This is going to be a very definite 4-of in most Fighting decks.
The other really cool thing here is just how insanely good they have made Herb Energy and Strong Energy. It makes me curious and also kind of excited to see what they do with the other types, which I assume we’ll get in future sets.
2014-2015 Season Format Predictions
Considering the fact that Rising Fist won’t be tournament legal until after Worlds (which means after our rotation), it won’t do me much good to talk about how the set affects NXD-on. Instead, I’m going to look at how it’s going to affect our upcoming metagame and what decks we can expect to emerge. To do this, though, I’m going to have to take some educated guesses.
1. The format will be PLS-on.
This will put us at four rotated sets (plus the mini-set Dragon Vault), which seems to be about the average rotation. Plasma Storm is also the start of the “Plasma” block, so it seems pretty logical.
2. N will still be in the format.
Something I found really interesting was that the League Promo Skyla was printed with the Boundaries Crossed set and number, but the League Promo N was printed as BW100. I’m going to assume this will mean Skyla is going to rotated while N will stick around. Personally I’m a huge fan of N and hopeful it will be staying.
I also feel decks in this new format are going to be built more around board control, so N will be less game swinging than it was in this past format.
3. Recovery won’t see much play.
Losing Super Rod is going to be a major blow to the format. It’s not really a big deal to Basic EX decks, but to setup decks it’s really going to hurt. I feel a majority of players will avoid Sacred Ash and play without recovery at all, since getting back Energy was actually a bigger deal most times than getting Pokémon (though I could be wrong).
4. Supporters will be tricky.
I still haven’t nailed down a standard Supporter lineup that I really like in any of my decks. This isn’t unusual because after a rotation we’re lacking sets and things don’t feel as smooth. The format desperately needs a Professor Oak’s New Theory or something similar. I know we have Shauna, but there is such a huge difference between 5 and 6 cards. In many cases I’m just going to go ahead and gamble by playing higher Colress counts.
This is a major reason all my decks play Jirachi-EX; it’s a simple easy to way to smooth the draws out.
Early Favorites for PLS-on
This is largely unexplored territory, so it’s hard for me to say with 100% certainty what the BDIF is going to be. What I can do, though, is discuss what decks I feel are in prime position to take that title. Some of these decks borrow heavily from Rising Fist and some of them simply benefit from the format change. My hope is not to just discuss decks coming out of this new set, but rather this new format as a whole.
This is by far the deck that I’m most excited for in the new format. It has everything that I look for in a deck: speed, built-in consistency and draw power, and strong board control. It reminds me a lot of Darkrai/Mewtwo actually, and as much as I try to give up my full art obsession, Mewtwo-EX and Lucario-EX might be the two best looking full arts in the game right now.
Let’s start off with my list:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 36
Energy – 13
I really believe that the deck should be built around hitting T1 Lucario has often as possible. Mewtwo, on the other hand, should be more of a support and backup attacker. The way this new format is looking I think Mewtwo is going to be extremely popular, so you won’t be able to go aggressive with Mewtwo if there is a chance your opponent can retaliate with their own Mewtwo.
Note: Something I figured out very quickly with Darkrai/Mewtwo was I would always try and lead with Darkrai-EX and snag two quick Prizes. At this point I would start the Mewtwo exchange on my own knowing that I would win the Prize tradeoff. This was easier with Smeargle UD because it was harder to whiff on the Mewtwo/DCE (and if necessary, PlusPower), however I still feel this strategy is something to keep in mind.
In most games you’re going to want to lead with Lucario-EX, so I maxed him out at 4. Korrina also helps hit T1 Lucario-EX because you can search out Lucario/Switch or Lucario/Professor’s Letter. I would even say it adds more early-game consistency to the deck than even Skyla would.
The 1-of Mega is nice in certain situations, but its main purpose is for the deck to have an answer to Pyroar. If the meta is heavy with Pyroar this count may need to get upped to 2 or the deck could put larger focus on it by including Sigilyph to help the Mega Evolution turn.
Don’t be surprised to see Mewtwo wars returning and when they do you don’t want to be that person only running 2 to your opponent’s 3.
2 Landorus RIF
I think of Landorus as a lot like baby Yveltal for Yveltal-EX decks. The second copy is probably a bit redundant, but I didn’t want to run only 1 non-EX when both Sigilyph and Suicune are sure to see play.
In such a fast and aggressive deck I like to play Jirachi-EX as a way to add early-game consistency (Korrina), but also to search out early-game aggression (Lysandre). You’ll find a single copy of Jirachi-EX in most of my decks, but I’ll play them for different reasons depending on the list.
This is one of the few decks in which I feel comfortable with the Supporter lineup. Korrina goes a long ways toward smoothing it out and adding consistency to the deck. I run 3 right now because I do feel it falls off a bit in the late game, but very easily 4 might be the right call.
Playing 4 copies of Lysandre isn’t something we see very often, but in a deck that wants to put that early game pressure on and not let it up I do believe it’s the right call. Fast, aggressive decks always played 4 Pokémon Catcher before the nerf and I see little reason not to max out Lysandre in here.
I’m not quite sure how much of a role Focus Sash should play in the deck. I feel like it’s best in the early game to play your Muscle Bands and bait the Megaphones, so in the late game Focus Sash becomes huge. However, the opposite may be true where your opponent will leave your Muscle Bands alone in order to save their Megaphones for Focus Sash. Regardless, I feel Focus Sash will change how people play the game.
There really isn’t much the opponent can trap in the Active Spot so I think 2 Switch is fine. Remember, you can also grab it with Korrina, so you’ll have an easier time searching it out than other decks would.
Normally I don’t like Escape Rope, but I feel it combos really well with early-game Korrinas when your opponent probably only has 1 or 2 Benched Pokémon. You can search out Lucario and also have an option to bring up something on their Bench. If you don’t want to move their Active then simply grab a Switch instead.
This is my counter to Focus Sash instead of playing 2 Surprise Megaphone. If you Knock Out the Pokémon it will stay alive with 10 Hit Points left, but then the Poison damage will kick in, Knocking it Out.
Only playing 1 Laser might actually be too light of a counter for Focus Sash and a thicker line may be needed. Perhaps Virbank/Laser would be better for the deck than Fighting Stadium. This is definitely something to play around with in the counts.
Dowsing just seems to be the most well rounded ACE SPEC for the deck, but I also want to test Scoop Up Cyclone since the deck isn’t very Energy intensive.
This is going to be 100% a metagame call if you feel you need a counter Stadium or if you expect opposing EX decks to see heavy play. The extra 20 damage really can make a major difference though when you’re adding in things like Muscle Band and F Energy.
If mirror becomes extremely common you might see this card dropped altogether. If one player played it and the other player didn’t then you’re going to have one player who has 3 “blank cards” in their deck.
This deck might not have gained a whole lot from Rising Fist, but I do believe that the new and slightly slower format will help it. Its early game against Lucario might be weak, but once it sets up it can make extremely good tradeoffs against any EX deck.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 32
Energy – 8
2-2 Electrode PLF
Consistency was a huge hurdle for me when building this deck. We no longer have Tropical Beach for early-game consistency or Skyla to easily search out SER, so I knew having some sort of built-in draw power would be important. I felt a 1-1 line was too fragile, so I went ahead and bumped it up to a 2-2.
The Draw Supporters
The 4 Professor Juniper and 4 N were pretty easy inclusions, but filling out the last 6 spots proved to be more difficult. I went with 4 Colress because I feel it’s better than Shauna almost every time. Early game I can gamble that there are at least 5 Benched in play and in the late game it’s an easy 8-10 cards. I went ahead and filled the last 2 spots with copies of Shauna because they are standard draw Supporters and I didn’t have anything better.
The last thing I want to note is that everybody will be working with the same limited Supporters I am, so high counts on Colress should be pretty standard. This will mean the opponent is just as eager to fill their Bench, as you are eager to have them do it.
The deck already has some built-in sniping power with Greninja and the 1 copy of Lysandre is easily searched out with Jirachi-EX. Also, with a deck focused around attacking with non-Pokémon-EX, as long as you’re making 1-1 trades or 1-2 trades, what you’re KOing to get those trades isn’t nearly as important.
With two Water Shuriken, a Miltank with a Silver Bangle can 1HKO a 170 HP EX. You could also play Muscle Band in the deck to hit some other magic numbers with non-EXs, but in most cases two Water Shurikens and a straight 80 damage will do the job.
The 1 copy is simply in here for Garbodor and can be easily upped to 2 if you feel that it will be popular. I’m not nearly as worried about Focus Sash with this deck because Water Shuriken gets around it.
As soon as I read the card I realized it basically screamed, “Find a way to break me!” There are a lot of different ways you could go with this deck, but I think the main strategy needs to be to find a way to use Energy acceleration of some sort to get Energy into play and then start looping Dragonite-EX.
My first idea was to use Thundurus-EX to easily grab the Energy out of the discard pile and drop them on a Team Plasma Pokémon, which in turn Dragonite could grab with his Ability. The problem with Thundurus was I felt like I was forcing myself to go with a Plasma-heavy deck. I knew I couldn’t build a Plasma deck that focused around Dragonite-EX and could also easily counter Pyroar. The Energy lineup would also be really tough for that deck.
So I started looking at other Pokémon that could easily accelerate Energy and my thoughts very quickly turned to Milotic. Once I became set on building the deck around Milotic I then decided to have a strong focus on it being a “toolbox.”
Before I go into any more detail, let’s go ahead and take a look at my list:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 30
Energy – 13
What I really wanted to do with this deck was just throw so many different things at the opponent that they simply couldn’t counter them all. We run a lot of cards that players under-tech for right now. Your opponent is going to have to worry about countering Suicune and Pyroar while under constant threat of a Dragonite-EX swooping in for 80/120 damage.
The only reason that we play Dragonite is because of his Ability. 80 damage for 3 Energy isn’t bad, especially since you have that easy option for 120 damage. The problem is even 120 damage isn’t really that great on its own.
With a Muscle Band, Dragonite hits for 140 damage, which is enough to take care of most of the playable Stage 2s in the format. Pyroar doesn’t have any problems with any of the Basics in the format, and while Suicune might seem a little redundant, he does add to our color pool.
Speaking of color pool, the deck plays Fire, Water, and Dragon (a Dragon not Weak to other Dragons I might add), which are three of the best types in the format when it comes to type matching. Like I said before, Suicune might appear redundant, but it provides a fast and easy counter to Charizard-EX (with a Muscle Band). Ironically enough, Milotic can actually be used as a Pyroar counter itself.
The last thing I want to note is how great it is to play so many “walls.” Sometimes you need to buy yourself an extra turn to set up a Dragonite-EX or draw into that game-winning Lysandre. With the deck playing so many natural walls it’s much easier for you to buy yourself that needed turn.
I went with only 3 Dragonite-EX because you really don’t even want to see it until turn 3 or 4. It’s not good opener, but it certainly isn’t a bad opener either since it has beefy HP and can take a hit or two. I might consider upping the count to 4, but I feel I would have to play my Bench more carefully to fully take advantage of the 4th Dragonite.
3-3 Milotic FLF
Milotic is the core of the deck and it’s extremely important to be able to search it out early without fear of pieces of it being Prized. There is also a pretty good chance that you may want to use multiple Milotics over the course of a game. I figured I’d want to Milotic at least twice most games, so by play a 3-3 line it gives me a little bit more leeway with my opponent KOing Feebas or bad Prizes on my part.
3-3 Pyroar FLF
I think a lot of people don’t give Pyroar enough respect and under-tech for the card. A thick 3-3 line will make it extremely difficult for any Basic deck to fight its way through.
Suicune is something nice and easy to throw in the Active Spot to buy yourself time while you set up. Sure, your opponent can Lysandre around it, but then they’ll have fewer Lysandre in the later game when they really need them. I also like Suicune in the deck since it’s a Water type and offers some nice type advantages.
The Draw Supporters
Once again I play 4 Juniper and 4 N, which is going to be pretty standard in just about every deck. However, in Dragonite, I split my Colress and Shauna line right down the middle at 3-3. I feel Dragonite has a slightly harder time keeping Pokémon in play since they are lower HP and Milotic you purposely sacrifice.
One of the biggest things I like about this deck is that it gives underplayed cards a chance to shine. Cassius has seen next to no competitive play, but is a great fit with Dragonite-EX. You can play a Dragonite-EX to grab all the Energy off of your Active (damaged) Dragonite-EX and then use Cassius to send the damaged one back into your deck. It’s a simple rinse and repeat combo. I only play 2 Cassius because it’s a pretty dead card until you need to start looping Dragonites.
With Muscle Band Dragonite-EX can hit for 140, which is a pretty magic number against most Stage 2 Pokémon. In less common situations it also lets Suicune and Pyroar also hit for some magic numbers.
This deck’s biggest threat by far is Garbodor, so I wanted to make sure that I ran a strong counter to it. If Focus Sash starts to see a lot of play as well, then this number may even need to be increased more.
The deck has some pretty spaced-out Energy lines and being able to get Energy back is actually more important to me than getting Pokémon. The 1 Energy Retrieval serves as a great way to not only get the Energy back you need, but also avoid missing attachments.
Speaking of underplayed cards that get their chance to shine, I play Scoop Up Cyclone for my ACE SPEC. It’s a perfect fit for the deck and instantly lets you cycle a Dragonite.
The one thing that I hope you leave this article with is a feeling of excitement. I want you to remember that feeling heading into Nationals and play with that same excitement. This time of the year it’s so easy to get burned out with all the pressure and all the testing. I think it’s important to remember why we play this game and how much fun it is.
I wish for myself I had better news, but I won’t be able to attend Nationals this year. This will be the first Nationals I’ve missed since 2006 and I’m really going to miss not being there. Sometimes being an adult is no fun and you have to miss things you really don’t want to. I have a really nice Monday-Friday schedule at my job, but since I started it within the last year I don’t have vacation time yet. It’s a good company though and after a year I actually get some really nice vacation time, so this should be the only Nationals I have to miss.
Speaking of work, our summer schedule has been pretty crazy so far and I’ve been working about 6 days a week. This past week was actually a 56-hour work week (I know that seems like a lot to some of you, and I’m sure a standard to others). However, I’ve still been able to keep working on my side project of a comprehensive article on the 2010 format. Right now I’m around 7,000 words in and I’m just under halfway done. I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out and I can’t wait to be able to share it with you.
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