Out of all the Pokémon to debut in the new XY set Furious Fists, the one I feel the most sad for is Seismitoad. Not only did I not realize that the Toad actually made its debut in the Black & White games until I was told, I also find it extremely hard to believe that its stubby legs can actually support its 136 pounds of girth. The point is, Seismitoad is an extremely forgettable Pokémon. It shares its species name with two other Pokémon (Vibrava and Palpitoad are also Vibration Pokémon) and its attacks also remind me more of those belonging to a particularly famous Dialga G (circa 2011 A.D.).
It seems kind of odd to me that the Pokémon powers-that-be chose to plant one of the most powerful attacks ever conceived on a Pokémon as neglected as Seismitoad, when all anyone on social media seems to want to talk about is how the Pokémon company sticks absurdly strong attacks on marketable legendary Pokémon like it’s some kind of conspiracy. My point is, Seismitoad is a long forgotten Pokémon of the BW era with a grudge against the system and some extremely furious fists of his own. Furious Fists is supposed to be a set that focuses on the predominant Fighting type. More likely, I believe, is that the era will be defined by a poisonous frog with wobbly legs and subwoofers in his belly.
Yes, you guessed it, this is an article about Furious Fists hype! The pre-Worlds format isn’t particularly relevant to me, and it never was (because I wasn’t in DC). I personally couldn’t justify paying for a trip without an invite, just to play in a grinder which only let in four players. It was too large a gamble at too steep a cost. I only regret not going because of how cool the merchandise was. For the first time since 2009, competitors received a feasibly functional bag, but not just any bag – they got Pokémon themed STRING bags no less. I have a gigantic and extremely public love affair with cloth string bags, and I’d love to get my hands on one. Unfortunately, I have a hard time warming up to the idea of using swag from events I didn’t actually attend, which is painful, because I really dig this year’s metro-themed Worlds logo. Good show TPCi, good show.
So this will be a Furious Fists article, exclusively!
Although Furious Fists is primarily marketed towards the glory of the Fighting type, there’s a card that excites me far more than any of the Fighting options in the new set. Dragonite is my boy, and they stuck Legendary Ascent on it (that’s what we called the Ability back in my day, I guess it’s “Bust In” now) in a format with Super Scoop Up. I couldn’t ask for much more, except maybe for the Ability’s name to be changed back to Legendary Ascent. Since 2009, I’ve resigned myself from having pet decks. Dragonite though, is my new guilty pleasure.
I haven’t had a huge amount of success with it, but I think its moderate synergy with Virizion-EX and natural tankiness give it a lot of potential. Thankfully, Jet Sonic isn’t a half bad attack name, so I suppose I can live with half of the card. Jet Sonic is probably best with a Muscle Band attached, because discarding Energy isn’t always desirable or safe. The Lasers are there to push the 140 Jet Sonic attacks into glorious 170-damage turns, which OHKO many of Pokémon in the format. I’d love to find a way to abuse Max Potion, but I’ve found that a Dragonite in hand is worth much more than a clean one on the Bench, and with Lasers, there’s little room to spare.
What Dragonite needs is an Energy accelerator. Virizion-EX fulfills that need better than Thundurus LTR ever could (for whatever reason, I considered that card viable at one point). While Virizion allows you to start chaining multiple Dragonite on turn 3, this is now faster than you would be able to do it with 3 normal Energy drops. Virizion offers protection from Special Conditions and a solid check for Seismitoad though, so I consider the card worth it.
I don’t exactly think Dragonite-EX is going to become a standard card in VG decks, though I’m not sure if the Genesect heavy version is still strictly better. I feel like mixing Genesect and Dragonite isn’t the way to go. I’m choosing to focus on what Dragonite does best (its ability to “heal”). I want to play to the strengths of the card more than I want G Booster’s power, which is basically the only reason (albeit a big one) to also play Genesect in here. Playing Lightning Energy basically forces the deck to give up Plasma Energy. Red Signal is half of Genesect’s strength, and without it, I can’t justify playing Genesect alongside Dragonite.
The Supporter count is minimal, mainly because once the deck has Energy in play, it does a good job of playing itself. The only additional draw I’d want would actually be an Electrode PLF line, but the Bikes work out fine:
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 38
Energy – 13
Unlike most people, I’m still not sick of Genesect, even after Worlds. The deck has always been viable, and I definitely would have ran it at Worlds had I attended. Since I ran the deck with Sigilyph at New England Regionals last season, I’ve always enjoyed running it. People who don’t play VG underestimate the skill the deck takes to play, and the deck often gets pushed away in fear of Fire.
Sometimes the old standard is still be best option. In all honesty, Virizion/Genesect is probably still a better deck than the Dragonite option. Even though the deck won Worlds, it’s still being overlooked in favor of newer and more exciting Furious Fists decks. I think the community will soon come back to their old favorites.
I’m calling it now, Pyroar is going to plummet in popularity. Seismitoad and Garbodor lock Pyroar out of the game, and if that weren’t a large enough nail in its coffin, Beartic FFI deals with Landorus while also easily answering Pyroar’s Intimidating Fang.
I think VG has a great chance to shine while Pyroar’s success is being stifled by bigger threats. Unfortunately, Virizion/Genesect lost Skyarrow Bridge, one of the cards that helped the deck so effectively pivot between threats. Thankfully, Switch is still a card. Playing a suite of those allows the deck to easily play a Beartic line of its own. Double Colorless fits the deck, but it encroaches on the Grass count, which hurts especially badly because of the loss of Super Rod. I think Energy Switch does the job in here, but DCE is a viable option for sure.
Although the list below runs Beartic, I’m not sure that it is actually necessary. If Pyroar proves to be an unpopular choice in the metagame, VG can probably deal with Landorus effectively enough without needing to run Beartic. Any of the many lists I’ve given for Virizion/Genesect in the past also work (minus Skyarrow of course). I’m still amazed that my Regionals list from 5 months ago is still relevant. Though I’m not sure if that is a good thing, or just a sign of a perpetually stale metagame. I don’t think VG will stop being a good choice anytime soon, especially at smaller events. As we saw at Worlds, the deck is consistent and well rounded. While Beartic might not be needed, I figured I’d offer SixPrizes something other than the personal list that I’ve been spewing on here for the last 4 months:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 35
1 Town Map
Energy – 14
VG isn’t the only longstanding deck that is still strong today. Plasma decks are also quite well positioned right now. Jay and Jon both covered Plasma recently, and I know Jon has much more experience with it than I do. Jay probably does as well. I’ve never been much of a Plasma player, but the deck seems to answer Landorus and Seismitoad quite well. Deoxys-EX finally has Lucario-EX to hit for Weakness as well. A shift in the metagame leaves more room for both Virizion/Genesect and Plasma to profit. Jon and Jay both gave good lists for the deck, so rather than restate what they’ve said, I’ll leave it at that.
In the last few years, Pokémon seems to have been making an effort to effectively print the souls of old lowercase-ex era cards on the skeletons of new EX-era ones. Rayquaza-EX is one glaring example of an old card being buffed to compete with 10 years of power creep. The legendary beater of 2004 from the EX Dragon set was definitely… exalted. Ha.
Let’s not forget Dragonite-EX, who’s a spitting image of Zapdos ex RG, albeit an image with an extremely lame name on one of the coolest Abilities ever conceived.
Dialga G shut down Stage 2 decks like no other card of its day with its Deafen attack. The card had perfect synergy with Cyrus’s Conspiracy and Dialga players would quite often get first turn Deafan off. 10 damage and Trainer/Stadium lock might not seem very strong, but it was basically the dream for any SP player. To anyone fed up with the Basic EXs that have dominated the game for the past several years, prepare to be sad (I have mixed feelings). Dialga G’s ghost is here to haunt us again.
I’m sure the readership knows what Seismitoad-EX does. It’s probably the most talked about card in the newest set. I remember reading the reactions on the day it was spoiled. Several people mentioned its Grass Weakness, others brought up the insignificance of 30 damage and how bad the second attack is, but most of the discussion focused around the Toad’s utter brokenness. I’m pretty sure this card is the nail in the coffin for the hopes and dreams of Stage 2 Pokémon far and wide. Funny how I think this card is actually a step down from the power level of Dialga G, Seismitoad’s older, but smaller, second cousin.
My reasoning is as follows:
- Seismitoad’s opponent will get at least one turn before it can lay down the Item lock under the not-so-recent rule change.
- It must have a Double Colorless to attack efficiently.
- It needs a secondary attacker. Seismitoad-EX doesn’t do enough damage on its own, especially with Yveltal-EX around.
I don’t think Seismitoad is quite as busted as the talk suggests. The card can’t really be compared with anything modern however. It’s a terrible standalone EX with a weak attack that happens to have an incredibly strong effect. It can’t stare down most EXs in the format 1-on-1, nor can it Item lock to protect itself against said EXs. Virizion, Lucario, and Yveltal-EX can all take Seismitoad down with little help from Items in the early game. Seismitoad runs into more trouble in the late game, where the fallout from Quaking Punch is unlikely to make waves against a fully built board. I think people will come to understand these weaknesses more clearly as time goes on.
Quaking Punch isn’t a broken attack, and it’s totally possible to play around.
Unlike Dialga G, Seismitoad doesn’t have any other good attacks to fall back on. It was easy for Dialga to pivot back on its natural tankiness, Remove Lost, and Second Strike attacks. One Dialga G LV.X could carry a game with proper support. Seismitoad-EX isn’t quite so strong. Its HP isn’t particularly beefy relative to the many high-powered attacks that exist right now (think Evil Ball, G Booster, and X Ball). While the Item lock provides relative safety from Hypnotoxic Laser, Muscle Band, and others, I think Seismitoad needs to do more lifting and make more gains before people compare its strength to Dialga G LV.X’s unmatched ability to carry games on its back.
Seismitoad does have Hypnotoxic Laser, which is easily abusable with Quaking Punch. If a Defending Pokémon stays Asleep, there is almost no chance for the Pokémon to wake up without access to Switch and similar Item cards. Thinking about those terrible sleep checks was the only time I considered Seismitoad’s brokenness. I’m totally happy with Quaking Punch in a vacuum, but with Laser’s sleep potential thrown into the mix, those 25% chances become nightmares. Even with this considered, I feel like the metagame will adapt. There are answers to even Quaking Punch/Laser heads. As awkward as it sounds, Virizion-EX and Rainbow Energy are an option for almost every deck if Seismitoad-EX becomes a great enough threat.
Seismitoad’s attack cost is both a strength and a weakness. DCE is basically a requirement to use Quaking Punch. I can’t think of many partners for Seismitoad that will function while your attachments are being sucked into powering your Item lock enabler. Seismitoad works best while it is stalling and creating a strong board position in the early game, not while it is sitting on the Bench waiting to go. Getting a DCE on Seismitoad-EX early is crucial, but successfully doing so can pay off hugely against decks that focus on Pokémon that depend on setup or are Weak to Water (Landorus-EX specifically, whose new tricks gave him an absurd power spike).
Seismitoad pounds on Landorus and disrupts every viable deck that plays any Evolved Pokémon, especially those with Abilities. Most decks that use Seismitoad should also run a 1-1 line of Garbodor LTR at minimum, thanks to the amazing synergy Quaking Punch has with Garbotoxin. In order for those Stage 2 decks to remain effective, they must actively work to combat Quaking Punch.
Unlike Dialga G, Seismitoad can’t stand alone against the format very effectively. Decks with Seismitoad should probably include several Float Stone to use alongside both Garbodor and the Toad. Against matchups like Virizion/Genesect, you obviously want to keep a Grass-Weak EX as far away from the Active position as possible.
It’s only natural that the world would want to combine one overpowered card with another solely on the basis that both cards are extremely powerful on their own, and I do like the Seismitoad/Landorus builds that have been floating around. I agree with Jay when I say that Seismitoad is a natural fit with Landorus-EX. Not only is Hammerhead absurdly strong with Muscle Band, Strong Energy, and other damage-buffing cards, Land’s Judgement synergizes extremely well with Quaking Punch. Ideally, an early Item lock would create a defense of sorts to protect Landorus-EX while you build up enough Energy to do 150 (likely more).
Speaking of a defense, is it weird to anyone else that I think Rock Guard could actually be kind of playable with Seismitoad? Aside from Lysandre, there is not feasible way for popular decks to avoid taking the extra 60 damage. If you could find a way to stick a Rock Guard under Seismitoad and keep that Seismitoad alive, you might have a strong rogue deck on your hands.
But as much as I love playing bad ACE SPECs, Computer Search is just strictly better in here. The ability to get DCE out of the deck early is amazing for Seismitoad’s consistency.
I haven’t tested it, but 4 Rainbow Energy and Virizion-EX is seems like it may be viable to deal with any type of Seismitoad mirror quite well; being able to keep Conditions off Pokémon like Mewtwo is key to prevent Poison damage from stacking up and preventing bad Sleep flips from ruining a game is always good. If I were to do this, I’d dump the little Landorus.
A thin Garbodor line is enough to deal with any Stage 2 decks that might be played, but it might not be necessary at all. At the moment, a 1-1 line if probably worth playing to at least lock down the Pyroar matchup. I attempted to avoid superfluous Items at all costs to better deal with other Seismitoad-EX. Playing this mirror match is going to be a nightmare, but this list is slimmed down to better deal with that problem:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
I think this list utilizes the new tools out of Furious Fists quite well. But unfortunately for anyone who loves Landorus, Beartic FFI is an extremely splashable new Pokémon that obliterates Water-Weak Pokémon without even trying. Beartic is a bit of a niche option, but if Landorus is big enough in the metagame, this card will see all kinds of play. In fact, the hype is already worrying. The Pokémon community always likes to counter before it conforms, especially when the cards are absurdly expensive. It also happens that Beartic is also moderately strong against Seismitoad-EX.
I’m actually very happy Beartic was made in the first place. It’s a balanced counter that is good against several threats, while absolutely wrecking the card it was designed to destroy (Landorus, I’d imagine). Unlike Raichu XY which came before it, Beartic can actually pull its weight in many matchups. It’s good to see a tech card designed in a way that doesn’t make it total deadweight in every other matchup it’s played against.
Landorus-EX is a great card, but I don’t know how effective it will be as the only attacker for decks in a metagame where Landorus is the card everybody wants to beat. For people who want to splash Beartic, it only requires Colorless Energy and does good damage in a lot of matchups. If Landorus is seeing a lot of play regardless of the threat, Beartic is a tech worth playing. I don’t know why Beartic has hardly been talked about among the Underground writers, but I think the card is worth more discussion than what its been getting.
A lot of players seem to have been writing off mono-Fighting decks in favor of decks with a focus on Landorus, Garbodor, and appropriate partners. Lucario-EX has been overshadowed by the massive hype around how broken Landorus-EX is said to have become. Landorus is definitely a stronger attacker than little Lucario, but Landorus-EX’s baby brother certainly has some qualities to recommend him. Corkscrew Punch is fantastic. Very rarely do we see an attack that does damage and draws cards on a quality Pokémon. With its high base damage and low Retreat Cost, Lucario works well alongside Landorus to help him deal with his fear of water and polar bears.
Being able to draw up Machamp FFI AND Rare Candy with Korrina is absolutely INSANE. Having Corkscrew Punch to draw cards is immense when you are spending your Supporter making big plays with Korrina. Korrina has her limitations, but this is the one deck I think she is strictly better than Skyla in. Lucario-EX synergises very well with the new Machamp. The synergy is so real that I can even overlook how somebody decided to ruin a perfectly good card by calling one of its attacks “Machamp Crush.” At least I’ll never have to say those words, because that isn’t an attack I’d ever want to announce. Fighting Fury, on the other hand, is an amazing Ability given the Pokémon that can use it. 150 HP is about as high as you can get on a Stage 2 Pokémon as well. Machamp is surprisingly impressive, and the card has definitely grown on me.
Not only does Machamp give Korrina enough targets to be viable, the clunkiness of a Stage 2 line is smoothed out considerably by the draw power from Corkscrew. Lucario-EX, while not Weak to the new Beartic, is Weak to the old Mewtwo-EX, which is still the most easily splashed Pokémon in the game.
Lucario-EX also has no easy way to deal with Mewtwo on its own, compounding the problem. Three Energy for 100 is a pretty terrible damage-to-Energy ratio. A powered-up Corkscrew Punch is mainly what you want to be attacking with, but none of Lucario’s attacks are very effective against Mewtwo. I’d only attach that 3rd Energy if you’re looking for a one-shot. I’d actually consider Landorus the finisher in this deck. By the time you’ve fully set up several Machamp, Landorus-EX is going to be doing some serious damage with either attack you choose.
The deck deals with early Quaking Punch better than some. Lucario-EX can match Seismitoad’s damage with card draw of its own. Machamp isn’t crucial for the deck to function either. Mewtwo is a natural fit with Seismitoad however, and this deck really struggles against it.
I’m not yet sure how to best balance Machamp, Lucario, and Landorus, but this is my attempt at doing so. This list is only moderately tested, and I really don’t know what the best option for a Stadium is, if any. Fighting Stadium is mediocre, but I really find myself wanting a counter to Virbank. The deck can’t afford to play DCE, which makes playing a Mewtwo of your own as awkward as this list is tight (very):
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
Now, I’ve talked a lot about the new Fighting-type offerings from the newest set, and the best surviving deck from pre-rotation in my opinion, Virizion/Genesect. I still haven’t talked enough about Seismitoad, which I think is among the most intriguing cards in Furious Fists. Item lock doesn’t stifle creativity at all in my opinion. I believe Seismitoad isn’t anything close to broken, and there are a lot of ways I have in mind to use Item lock as a more defensive tactic. In this case, think of Quaking Punch not as a lock, but as a barrier.
A long time ago, I heard of an idea to use the Togekiss PLS to shield the Bench and draw cards while setting up Lugia-EX on the Bench to take 6 Prizes in 2 turns. Believe it or not, the idea worked extremely well, but then Thundurus-EX hit, and Lightning became one of the best types in the format. Although I trashed the deck, I always wanted to play it more. This deck directly below, I’m having tons of fun with.
I see hope for the idea to live on in spirit through Seismitoad. Seismitoad ensures that Lugia won’t be bothered for a few turns while also doing damage. Generally, we want to be trading a Lugia for 3 Prizes. That’s a fine trade to make while playing this deck, though you might not always want to make that trade while playing TDK or something similar. If Lugia-EX gets knocked out, it’s not a big deal. Quaking Punch is an incredibly safe followup, and you can just get back to setting up another Lugia-EX:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 37
1 Life Dew
Energy – 13
Muscle Band is another huge buff to the deck since I played Lugia-EX with Togekiss, 140 damage Plasma Gale can KO most EXs after Quaking Punch. The way to beat this deck is to keep the Active Pokémon out of the KO range of Plasma Gale. This list doesn’t have many great ways to reach the Bench. Quaking Punch actually makes life hard for many Pokémon in the metagame. So many of them have huge Retreat Costs, and denying them Switch is huge.
Yes, you’re correct. You do actually see me running Life Dew in this deck. I think it’s a great ACE SPEC, and when you’re using EXs to attack 100% of the time, Life Dew easily forces an opponent to knock out a FOURTH EX to win the game. This is an incredibly reliable strategy, just because of Quaking Punch’s protection. The only way they can move Life Dew from the Active spot is to Lysandre, which is totally fine with us. We’ll just continue our master plan and they’re out a Supporter.
The current Supporter count doesn’t leave a lot of room to fall back when you’re hit with a Quaking Punch. I’m currently considering an Electrode line to mitigate this, but because the deck is reliant on Items in general, it may not be worth it. Speaking of Items, if the Dew is too cute for you, I recommend Computer Search. It’s extremely useful for getting DCE on the first turn.
This deck has a hard time against VG and Pyroar. I wouldn’t be against putting a thin Garbodor line into the deck, just to beat Pyroar. Even a 1-1 line should be enough to deal with Intimidating Fang as long as you can keep up an indefinite Item lock.
Mr. Mime obviously synergizes with Quaking Punch, preventing Pokémon like Landorus from reaching your Bench. In some matchups, you can avoid playing Mr. Mime entirely, basically forcing your opponent to play right into your sick Life Dew strats.
I this is so far the most promising idea I have personally come up with using the new cards, and I think it’s worth looking into. At very least, using Seismitoad-EX to stall and set up has to be a relevant idea in some way. Maybe adapting Seismitoad to stall to allow some unkillable Mega Pokémon to hit the field. Dreaming of combos with Mega Heracross-EX and Dusknoir FLF is what keeps me awake at night.
I’m actually fairly happy to be writing about a new set. This set feels refreshing and, for once, reasonably balanced. There are a lot of new ideas being explored here, and far fewer cards that are vanilla binder trash. There are some cards like Dragonite, Seismitoad, and Lucario-EX that can actually coexist with existing cards without blowing the old ones out of viability. As someone who has been with this game since 2004 (10 years, to the month actually), I’m glad to see that the flavor and balance of this great game are finally getting some attention.
I can say for sure that Furious Fists is the set that brought me back to the game. I love the direction that Pokémon is taking with these new cards. Before Furious Fists, my beef with the game was partially that there were too many great cards, no tier 2 cards, and the majority of cards were just bad (read Maintenance, …or Tool Retriever). Small things, like having even the bad cards do something interesting (like Hypno FFI), is a huge step up for me.
Back in 2004, the last cards published by WotC were still on the shelves. The E-sets were absolutely awful in comparison to the newly minted Ruby & Sapphire and Sandstorm sets. Unless you’re as nostalgic, interested, or as old as I am, odds are some readers have never owned any of the E-cards, with their absurdly thick yellow borders and unique Poké-Powers. While there were almost 0 good cards in the 500+ cards printed in all 3 E-sets, almost every card had something interesting going on, and that alone made the sets worthwhile for me.
There will always be good and bad cards from a competitive standpoint, but making the bad cards less terrible is a huge step to improving creativity in the game. When I read Blaziken FFI, Aurorus FFI, Jynx FFI, Gothitelle FFI, Mountain Ring, Victreebel FFI, Mega Heracross-EX, and (surprisingly) several other rares from Furious Fists, I actually stopped to think about how I could abuse those cards.
I didn’t actually finish those thoughts, one, because thinking is hard, and two, because those cards aren’t actually that great. But just the fact that I stopped to think means that they could be abused in the future. While they may not be great, they are also not bad. They’re tier 2, and that’s just fine.
– Dylan Lefavour
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