Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed my Top 5, because we’re moving into the meat of the set now. With a set so massive, it’s hard to cover everything, but I’m gonna do my best. I think the best approach here is to go through the set by type, and talk about what I believe the noteworthy good cards are. Let’s get into it:
Trevenant GUR is a card that’s received some buzz for pretty obvious reasons. It and this iteration of Phantump are both Grass type, which is a first for the Trees. This is the main reason they’re receiving any attention — because of the synergy with Forest of Giant Plants, and, of course, Vileplume AOR. Trevenant’s notable attack is Poltergeist, which does 30× the number of Trainers found in an opponent’s hand.
Trevenant/Vileplume is the obvious combo of choice, and will likely be more purely consistent than Decidueye/Vileplume (as it’s a Stage 1 paired with Stage 2 instead of a pair of Stage 2s). This could be a threat, but I’m unsure if it’s better than the Owl. Vileplume and FoGP are likely to be rotating here at the end of this season, and when that happens, I expect Trevenant to head to the binder anyway. Alex will take a look at this concept on Thursday, though, and it may have some pre-rotation merit.
Golisopod GUR sticks out to me only because it’s a very bulky card that actually trades very well with EX/Pokémon-GX. It’s a Stage 1 with 130 HP, but its Ability makes that effectively 160. Its attack can hit 150 against an EX or GX, which can be raised to 180 with Choice Band. That’s a free knockout on any of the Guardians, on Tauros, and on every EX that isn’t a Mega — even Wailord! Eeveelutions/Golisopod is a potential option, as Golisopod can fit right into a deck that’s already running DCE and multiple basic energy (which likely means Professor’s Letter), giving them a powerful Grass attacker. I like this card a lot and think it will see play throughout its lifetime.
This is another spiritual reprint, this time of “Fliptini” from Noble Victories. It has a bit more HP and a slightly stronger attack this time around, but you’re really here to flip coins. Fliptini saw virtually no competitive play whatsoever the last time, and I don’t really expect it to see much this time either. This is wholly dependent on the flip effects in the format, of course, but none jump out at me immediately compatible.
This is another in a long line of damage manipulation abilities. This time, Chandelure moves one counter from any one Pokémon to another, including an opponent’s. To balance this, of course, Chandelure is only allowed this Ability once per turn. It does stack, so if you have multiple, you can use it multiple times. Judging this card is tricky. The last time a Chandelure had a damage manipulation ability, it was part of one of the most intricate, cool lock decks the game has ever seen. This Chandelure will likely only see play in a deck that strives to create a similarly intricate lock. I don’t think we’re currently at a point to support this sort of archetype, but down the line, it may have hope.
Finally the boost that Incineroar needed!
This card offers pretty solid support for Volcanion-EX decks. The first attack is mediocre, but I guess can buy you time if your start is poor. The second attack does 160, which is notable because it starts at a higher base damage than Volcanion-EX. This allows you to reach for the top of the EX/GX HP range easier, at the downside of discarding Energy. Of course, that’s no problem for the deck. The GX attack is great in the late game or when you lose a Volcanion, immediately refreshing your board and giving you a great shot to close out a game. This card is solid, and I expect it to see play — even if it’s only in Volcanion. Also, this is a hilariously named Pokémon.
I would normally say that this card probably wouldn’t see too much play because one extra card every turn usually isn’t worth the space, but we did get a Supporter that’s another spiritual reprint, which searches for two cards and places them on top of the deck. This little combo allows you to basically search for any card with Sandslash, which can be useful. I don’t think that this combo will be all that impactful, though.
Vulpix’s attack is off the wall. It allows you to search your deck for two Pokémon for free. I earnestly believe it will see play in a ton of setup decks going forward because it can be splashed anywhere. This card is one of my favorites of the set, and I will absolutely be working with it in decks going forward.
This card is interesting. Upon first glance, it looks kinda underwhelming. Not too much HP, a decently powered snipe attack, a decent main attack, and a spooky GX attack. But, upon further inspection, this card is actually very strong. Ninetales is very versatile! 50 damage is a great number for sniping weak basics like Oddish. The second attack does 160 base (190 with Choice Band), and with the snipe attack, that’s very strong. The GX attack is like Damage Change on steroids, and can be a huge momentum swing in a game. Synergy with Aqua Patch also goes without saying — and, this card is absolutely gorgeous. Definitely expect to see this card in the competitive meta.
Man, this card sucks. If the non-GX attack didn’t cost five energy, the same as the GX, then it actually likely would see play, thanks to Aqua Patch. That isn’t the case, though, so Lapras is superior in pretty much every way. I guess maybe this could see play as a 1-of in Waterbox because of the cannon that is the GX attack, but even then, I just don’t think it’s worth it. Maybe a Ninja Boy/Aqua Patch/Attach combo off of a charged Lapras could help, but I really don’t see it. When Lapras rotates, it could maybe…nah, they’ll probably print a better option by then. Sorry, brohan.
Oh man, this card is sick. Like Travis, I am a believer that Vikavolt will be a tier one archetype at some point in its competitive life. It’s super bulky and has one retreat. Its first attack does solid damage and accelerates Energy. Its second attack hits for a clean 180, with Energy discard, and its GX attack spreads 60 across your opponent’s board. With the first attack and Vikavolt SUM, you can go from 0 energy to a fully charged Vikavolt-GX in no time. Many evolving Basics have around 60 HP, meaning you might be able to pick up multiple knockouts with the GX attack, or set up for some devolution gimmicks. Expect the swarm.
For starters, all of the Guardians have the stupidest names Pokémon has ever thought of. Almost all the Tapu also share the fact that they’re incredibly powerful cards.
This card is sick. No weakness, Lightning typing, Max Elixir compatibility, a clean and easy 130 option, and a GX attack that can punish Energy-heavy decks. The Ability is the real kicker to Koko though, and it’s reminiscent of the old ZPST deck. Basically, get Lightning energy anywhere onto your board, drop Tapu Koko, use the Ability to push it Active, move those energies to it, and plow ahead. Drop another one the next turn, tag between them, repeat with Max Potion/Super Scoop Up/more Koko. I expect this card to see a ton of play, as it is likely to be one of the fastest decks in the format. Going forward, even as the game slows down, this should still be pretty speedy.
This card is noteworthy only for its Ability, which is a pseudo-Professor’s Letter. This is a card that will be strong in decks like Gardevoir or Rayquaza that want Pokémon on the Bench.
This is a hard counter to Vespiquen. For a single C Energy, it can punish decks whose strategies rely on a Pokémon-heavy discard pile. Vespiquen will now need to be wary of listlessly dumping Pokémon away, because Oricorio is a splashable counter that can ravage a Vespiquen’s board late in the game. This extends past Vespiquen to any future archetypes that attempt similar things, any deck that runs a lot of Pokémon, or even to Expanded threats Night March.
This card is pretty bad as well, and I actually forgot it was printed at first. The second attack had people interested because it inflicts an incredible Poison ticker of ten damage counters between turns, instead of just the standard one. The problem is that it costs three Psychic energy, which is a major headache to amass. The GX attack is also underwhelming. Don’t bother.
This comes eight months too late for poor M Scizor. I guess it could buff Scizor now, but it’s long past its brief moment in the sun. This card could be good in metal decks that need a tiny boost to hit a perfect number, but Solgaleo already hits 230 (260 with Choice Band), which is really all you need. It’s a neat effect, but I don’t expect to see too much of it.
This card is actually a decent companion to Lunala-GX, offering a strong all-in attack that’s built into the Lunala line. Its second attack is also solid because it moves Energy off of itself afterward, scattering them across your Bench (not having this exact effect would likely make this card unplayable). Lunala decks don’t exist currently, but they will, and this is a strong non-EX attacking option that you would not be stressed to fit into the deck. I like it, and I’m gonna test it for sure.
This card is neat because the Ability is like Mr. Mime PLF, but it also stops Decidueye-GX. If you’re worried about Decidueye messing up your deck, play this. I think this card’s playability is directly correlated to how bad Decidueye is for your deck and how popular it is in the meta.
This is another hard counter in the set. Rayquaza and Gardevoir would be hard pressed to deal with this, requiring a Hex every turn just to go back to a normal Bench size, let alone above. This card even supersedes Sky Field, which is pretty significant. If you struggle with either of those two decks, or if you just want to significantly boost your Ray/Gardy matchup, put this card into your deck. Otherwise, don’t worry about it.
For FFF, you can do 190! If you have something to protect against effects, it won’t even kill itself! It’s cute, I don’t expect it to see play. Maybe as a neat gimmick in some Lunala build that utilizes Rainbow energy, but that’s about it.
I guess I should mention this card. The attack is only even mildly worth considering because Decidueye/Vileplume is a deck, and Decidueye a card itself. I guess it can stop you from playing Supporters, but it doesn’t do anything otherwise. There’s bound to be some crazy, unhealthy strategies compatible with this card, and I just do not care to discuss them. Go look somewhere else if you’re interested in this, you fiend!
This card is one I personally really like, but one I know will probably not see play right now. This is actually a reprint of an Ability found on a Metagross from a long time ago, and that one saw heavy play. The obvious combo here is Metagross/Solgaleo, but it can also be paired with Psychic type Pokémon; maybe even…Toxapex! The attack hits for a solid 150 (180 with Band, which is important), and the GX attack is a powerful search effect. You are susceptible to a disruption Supporter/effect before you are able to use the cards, which is why I am wary of these kinds of GX attacks. If you pull it off, though, it can set up your entire board.
Unlike its counterpart in Lunala, I think this card is pretty bad. If you’re going to put three Energy on a Solgaleo, do it on one with 90 more HP, one that does 70 more damage, and one that gets the ability to completely heal itself the turn after with Max Potion.
This card is alright, and could be decent in Fairy decks or in Energy manipulation decks like Lunala. This is the card that will protect your Minior from self destruction.
This card is very reminiscent of Tornadus EPO. It’s a well-statted non-EX Basic that has good typing and can be played in any deck. It charges itself and preserves energy. This could be strong with Tapu Koko-GX as another way of getting energy on the board for Tapu to accelerate to itself.
Double Dragon Energy is rotating out, making charging up this dude a pain. The GX attack is neat, but Solgaleo GUR basically does the same thing without being a GX. Its other attacks are pretty mediocre as well. Even before Double Dragon rotates, I don’t really expect this card to see play at all. Sometimes, you just gotta print bad GX cards.
This card has great healing with its Ability, which can be reused with Devolution Spray and the upcoming Super Scoop Up reprint. I don’t know exactly what it’ll be paired with, but there could eventually be some sort of super bulky Pokémon-GX that Blissey will complement well. If that situation arises, Blissey is good. Otherwise, I’m not sure how played it will be. Sure, it can pair with virtually any GX because they’re all bulky, but will it be worth the space? I don’t generally think so.
This is very strong energy acceleration on a basic for only a Double Colorless. I expect this card to see some amount of play, though I don’t know quite to what extent. At some point in its life, it will be good.
I think this card has potential with Devolution Spray and Super Scoop Up. The turns where you go off and use the Ability multiple times can be big momentum swings, but like Blissey, I just don’t think it’s worth the space in most things.
Righteous Edge is a splashable counter to Decidueye/Vileplume, the second attack can pack a solid punch with Choice Band, and the GX has the most consistency-boosting potential of any card in Standard. The problem with it is that it is susceptible to N or other disruption cards, but this is a really good option if you’re looking for a splashable GX. Travis will be writing about this in more depth tomorrow.
This card is pretty meh. Grass Pokémon want to run Forest of Giant Plants in the immediate future, and will likely be worried about Field Blower following a rotation. It could be useful down the line and it does seem strong if you eventually get it to stick, but I don’t particularly care for it.
This card seems much stronger, lowering the Retreat Cost of Psychic and D Energy-equipped Pokémon. This should see some play in those decks, because it can be valuable even if you get a single discounted retreat out of it. I expect you’ll see this card around.
Weakness Policy never saw any play, unfortunately, and I imagine this will go the same way. Just doesn’t really do anything, and it’s on your opponent to get rid of it through the use of Field Blower, Delinquent, or their own Stadium. Plus, Volcanion can likely punch hard enough to kill you without Weakness anyway. Pass.
This card is great! Strong in Fighting decks as an alternative to Scorched Earth, and the perfect replacement for Rough Seas in Water decks. I love this card; expect it to see play in those types of decks.
This kind of effect has been printed, with some variation here and there, countless times, and I don’t believe it’s ever seen play. It’s just not that useful of an effect. Don’t really expect this to see much play.
This card is interesting. Energy Switch has seen the peaks and valleys of competitive play, and this card has the option to move Special Energy as well. This card only moves from Benched to Active though, which is a mild hindrance. I guess it could be good, but I don’t know any deck that really needs this effect. I don’t think it’ll see too much play, but who knows.
I didn’t like this card at first, but I think it’s growing on me. In decks that like to use their GX attack as soon as possible, like Solgaleo, this seems really strong. In decks that run a lot of Pokémon-GX and will therefore likely use a GX attack sooner rather than later, this seems really strong. In most other decks, pretty underwhelming. Expect this to start seeing more and more play as more Pokémon-GX enter the meta.
Here’s the card that pairs with Sandslash. Without Sandslash to target the cards after, I don’t think it’s that good, but I didn’t play when Oracle saw play, so I don’t know how common it was. As long as something like Sycamore is in format, I don’t see it getting played much other than in niche situations, but someday it could see regular play.
Well, that does it! There are reprints of some trainers and a billion secret rares, but we made it through this set review! There are two things I want to comment on with this set and what could be a recurring trend:
- There are reprints of old cards, specifically very old Trainers with cool or skillful effects. This is only good for the game, and adds diversity to the card pool, giving deck builders more options to think about. I love that they’re doing this.
- So many of these cards are designed so, so well. As was the case with Sun & Moon, this is an awesome sign and I can’t wait as we move closer to a SUM-on format. This is such a refreshing trend — I can’t speak on this enough.
That’s all I’ve got for you today! Let me know what you think, and feel free to share some of your favorite cards! I love to see what other people find to be exciting in these kinds of sets. Be sure to stay tuned for Travis and Alex’s articles coming up in the next few days as well! Have a great day, and good luck to everyone at Roanoke!
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