The Light on the Horizon

Pablo’s First Look at Top Contenders from Forbidden Light

Hello 6P! It’s been a while since my last article landed, and coincidentally April has been an extremely “slow” month in regard to tournaments, as there were no Regionals anywhere in North America. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping up with Pokémon though, as livestreams, videos and coaching are still in full swing, with League Cups taking place all over—and, finally, the next International Championship on the horizon.

Having whiffed points at both London (4-4-1) and Sydney (5-4-0), I’m definitely looking for redemption at São Paulo. Ironically, in both tournaments I was 4-1-0 at one point and in a great position to close out games to put myself at 5-1-0. Sadly, luck turned around and made me lose those key games, and both tournaments spiraled out of control then and there. Hopefully São Paulo is finally the IC where I manage to score points, so that I can keep up my current place in the LATAM rankings.

I’ve been keeping track of every single games of Pokémon I’ve played in 2018 (in a combination of testing, streaming, coaching and the tournaments themselves), and I’m almost at 1,500 total games as of writing this article. I guess that gives you a little insight on the amount of Pokémon that happens behind the scenes amongst pro-players, although since I’m one of the few that is doing this full time, the number might be higher than the average “pro”.

I’ve definitely enjoyed this month-long break between Portland and Brazil, but I’m also very eager to go back to competing. May and June are going to be absolutely crazy months, with every weekend having a Tier 2 event—up to NAIC, for me. This includes the LATAM IC, 4 Regionals and 3 Special Events (and possibly 4!). At this point, with a decent run of results, I could easily expect to obtain more Championship Points in this 2 month stretch than in the whole season up to this point. We’ve had periods of back-to-back-to back Tier 2 events, but nothing as crazy as the May/June grind that’s about to happen, and all of this right before NAIC, likely the biggest tournament in Pokémon history.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely excited about this, but so much traveling and all the high tier events definitely put a dent in the time I have available for coaching and other non-Pokémon related activities during weekends. Balance is key to maintaining a healthy life, and I’m a bit worried too, about what the outcome of the 2 month long intense grind will be.

Granted, we have a brand new set coming up, Forbidden Light. Honestly Standard needs it for a nice shake up in an otherwise-stale (or “figured out”) metagame. Standard reminds me of Expanded when the season first started, where there were just a lot of different and very viable decks, with no clear picture of what resided at the very top.

So today’s article will be focusing more on Forbidden Light and the cards that I think will actually have an impact in the metagame. Next week, I’ll touch on a Brazil preview and Expanded thoughts, as we have Salt Lake City Regionals happening immediately after the LATAM IC.

In no particular order, here are what I consider the most likely-impactful cards from Forbidden Light, and my thoughts on them:

Forbidden Fruit: Preview Forbidden Light

Beast Ring – Search your deck for up 2 Basic Energy, reveal them, and attach them to 1 of your Ultra Beast Pokémon. Then, shuffle your deck.

There’s a very clear focus on Ultra Beasts at the moment, as the Prize mechanics and this card will definitely be making an immediate impact upon release. It is an immediate inclusion into Buzzwole-GX based decks, but I think it’ll have other uses too.

Buzzwole-GX has a really good first attack for one Fighting energy, but Knuckle Impact is the real game changer in my opinion, as usually, with Strong Energy, Choice Band and Regirock-EX support, it is able to 1HKO pretty much anything. The issue with it is the hefty FFF cost. Now, with Beast Ring, it’ll be easy to power up multiple Buzzwole-GX’s in the middle of the game, by playing 1-2 copies of this card on the appropriate turn. The current iterations of Buzzwole-GX decks almost always have a very strong start, but then tend to fizzle out or struggle in closing out games, relying on Sudowood or Lycanroc-GX’s to do so.

Beast Ring will definitely be a card that allows more straightforward Buzzwole decks to arise—those that don’t need the extra support. You’ll be able to have multiple 3 Energy Buzzwole fully powered up and ready to close out any given game.

Malamar – Ability: Psycho Recharge
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may attach a P Energy card from your discard pile to 1 of your Benched Pokémon.

One of the Pokémon that might actually bring equilibrium to the power of Beast Ring/Buzzwole decks is Malamar. Its ability is, of course, the main draw of this Pokémon, as it allows you to attach extra energy per turn from the discard. In the past, these sort of Abilities have always been meta-defining, such as Eelektrik NVI and Blaziken RS (which, coincidentally, is getting a reprint in a future set too!). Psychic typing is coveted right now, as Buzzwole-GX and Lucario-GX are important threats, but the best partner for Malamar will likely be Ultra Necrozma-GX.

Ultra Necrozma-GXPM Photon Geyser: 20+ damage.
Discard all basic P Energy from this Pokémon. This attack does 80 more damage for each Energy card discarded in this way.

This is the Pokémon that the whole set is based on. In the videogame, Ultra Necrozma is one of the most powerful Pokémon, so it seems fitting that the TCG card would be playable as well. Its main attack, Photo Geyser, is similar to Rayquaza-EX’s Dragon Burst, so Malamar/Ultra Necrozma is a throwback to the old Eelektrik/Rayquaza archetype.

The attack cost seems a bit awkward due to the Metal energy requirement, but we’ve had this combinations in the past and have been able to deal with them. It’s unfortunate that the “Basic” word is there, as otherwise the new Unit Energy PML released in Ultra Prism would’ve been great to make Ultra Necrozma-GX a very efficient attacker.

Regardless, the base 20+ damage and 80× multiplier allows this Pokémon to hit some very good numbers without committing too much energy. Here are the most relevant Pokémon with their corresponding HP:

1 M Energy + 2 P Energy = 180 damage

Relevant Standard metagame Pokémon KO’d at this threshold: Tapu Lele-GX, Tapu Bulu-GX, Volcanion-EX, Drampa-GX, Greninja, Vikavolt, Garbodor, Magnezone, Gallade, Octillery, Malamar, Oranguru

1 M Energy + 2 P Energy + Choice Band = 210 damage

Relevant Standard metagame Pokémon KO’d at this threshold: Zoroark-GX, Golisopod-GX, Lycanroc-GX, Sylveon-GX, Espeon-GX, Glaceon-GX, Buzzwole-GX, Turtonator-GX, Ho-Oh-GX, Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX, Ultra Necrozma-GX

1 M Energy + 3 P Energy = 260 damage

Relevant Standard metagame Pokémon KO’d at this threshold: Gardevoir-GX

So as you can see, the investment needed for 1HKOs isn’t enormous, which also puts less pressure on setting up 3 Malamar, as usually 2 might be enough.

The fairy type weakness is not ideal due to Gardevoir-GX only need 3 energy or 2 and a Choice Band to score the 1HKO. However, responding with another Ultra Necrozma-GX probably wouldn’t be too hard as setting up a Basic Pokémon is much easier than the Stage 2.

To top it all of, Ultra Necrozma-GX is an Ultra Beast, so you could use Beast Ring along with Malamar in case your Abilities are being denied or the Inkays were sniped. Malamar + Ultra Necrozma-GX is another “spoon-fed” combo that will have an immediate impact and become its own archetype as soon as the set is legal.

Diancie p – Ability: Princess Veil
If this Pokémon is on your Bench, your F Pokémon’s attacks do 20 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokémon.

Fighting seems to be getting all the love lately, and Diancie p is just icing on the cake. A Basic that’s searchable through Brooklet Hill and immediately acts as a Strong Energy for all Pokémon is really good. Now, with a Strong and Diancie, a Buzzwole can Jet Punch for 70 on turn 1 on non-GXs, meaning Riolu, Wimpod and even Trubbish are no longer”safe” from getting KO’d on turn 1.

The extra 20 damage on every attack puts less pressure on this deck to find Strong Energy, or simply allows it to hit those magical 200-230 damage ranges a lot more easily. Not only that, but 2 very realistic “magical number” situations I could definitely see occurring in regular play are the following scenarios:

Buzzwole-GX’s Jet Punch (30) + Diancie p’s Ability (50) + Strong Energy (70) + Regirock-EX’s Ability (80) + Choice Band (110) hitting on a Zoroark-GX = 220 damage.

So, with Weakness, Buzzwole-GX can now somewhat easily, 1HKO a Zoroark-GX with a single Strong energy.

Lucario-GX’s Aura Strike (120) + Diancie [*]’s Ability (140) + Strong Energy (160) + Regirock-EX’s Ability (170) + Choice Band (200) hitting on anything = 200 damage (or 210 with 2 Regirock-EX).

This means Lucario-GX can 1HKO any of the 170-190 HP Basic Pokémon-GX, or any of the 200-210 HP Stage 1 Pokémon-GX.

Prizing Diancie p will, of course, always be a potential issue, but in theory that only happens 10% of the time, and it’s definitely an “always-include” into any and every Fighting type deck you intend to build.

Beast Energy p – While this card is attached to an Ultra Beast, it provides every type of Energy but provides only 1 Energy at a time. The attacks of the Ultra Beast this card is attached to do 30 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokémon (before applying Weakness and Resistance).

Speaking of adding damage, all the scenarios pointed above can also be recalculated with Beast Energy p, as it adds a whopping 30 damage to Buzzwole’s attack. Unfortuantely, Lucario-GX is not an Ultra Beast, but having this energy on Ultra Necrozma is already almost like having a Choice Band attached.

As a 1-of, any deck that focused on Ultra Beasts will definitely be playing this, as there’s absolutely no reason not to. Especially for 1 or 2 energy attacks such as Buzzwole’s, Ultra Necrozma’s, or Naganadel’s, which I will write about next.

Naganadel-GXC Beast Ride: 20× damage.
This attack does 20 damage for each Ultra Beast you have in play.

As previously mentioned, this new set is all about Ultra Beasts. Naganadel-GX could potentially make its way as a supporting Pokémon into Buzzwole-GX decks, with a splashable attack that can 1HKO opposing Buzzwole, or it can be its own standalone deck.

Despite the potential to do huge amounts of damage with Beast Ride, there are no “support Pokémon” that are also Ultra Beasts. The maximum damage output is 120, 150 with Choice Band, or 180 with Band and Beast Energy p. However, the latter is one time use, and building a reliable deck without Tapu Lele-GX sitting on the bench at one point or another is unthinkable at the moment, hence Naganadel’s total damage output is limited.

Its other attacks are nothing too impressive either. Although its GX attack could lead to some cool scenarios, bringing your opponent back from 1 Prize up to 3, it’ll never be the focus of any deck.

Buzzwole – F Sledgehammer: 30+ damage.
If your opponent has 4 Prize cards remaining, this attack does 90 more damage.

“Baby Buzzwole” is a pretty silly name for a card, but it’s what everyone will be calling it from now on. It’s a very niche/specific-use Pokémon due to the 4 Prize requirement, but with proper planning, it could definitely take down a Zoroark-GX or even a Tapu Lele-GX, getting you closer to winning a game. As non-GX Fighting types go, it’s one of the more decent ones, but I’m not sure it outclasses Watch and Learn Sudowoodo as of now.

Mystery Treasure – Discard a card from your hand in order to play this card.
Search your deck for a P or N Pokémon, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.

This card is a big wink, wink to the Malamar / Ultra Necrozma-GX archetype, as it’s extra Pokémon search and it can even get Tapu Lele-GX, and thus turn 1 Brigette to help with setting up. It also helps in getting P Energy into the discard pile to bring back with Malamar.

Outside of that deck, perhaps other Psychic archtypes like Espeon Garbodor wouldn’t mind switching to a less resource-intense Ultra Ball, as the only Pokémon you wouldn’t be able to search for in that deck would be Eevee and/or Drampa-GX/Tauros-GX. However, after the turn 1 Brigette, almost every search focuses on Psychic type Pokémon anyway. It won’t be an Ultra Ball replacement, but it could add extra search to decks that might want to use it.

At this point, I feel it’s too early to talk about lists, especially because Prereleases are taking place this weekend and it’s not even 100% clear what will and won’t make the cut. The release schedule from Japan is now completely different than in the rest of the world, and we get mashed up combinations of some of their latest sets. We can make educated guesses, but ultimately, there might be extra cards we hadn’t considered, or some might be purposely left out so that they can be released later on as promo cards exclusively first, as happened with Xurkitree-GX and Lucario-GX.

The first Tier 2 events in which these cards will be legal will be May 19th. I’ll be participating in the first Mexico City Special Event that weekend. This event is likely to attract Top 16 candidates, and thus it should prove a good testing ground to see the real impact of the cards, before they’re shown off more at Roanoke in Expanded the week after, and Madison in Standard 2 weeks after that.

I hadn’t taken a real close look at all the new cards up until this week, simply because I feel like the excitement and imagination that comes along with a new set tends to distract me from the current events at hand. Before this set becomes legal, I still need to compete in Brazil, Utah, and Toronto under the current Standard and Expanded metagames, hence my restraint from looking at anything new with much detail until then. I won’t be building anything in real life with the new set until after Toronto, however, I will definitely explore more of these cards in my Twitch channel once the new set is live on PTCGO.

And so that will wrap up my article for today. Next week, I will go in depth on the current state of Standard, my (current) deck choices for Brazil and Utah, and more. Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this article with my thoughts on the new cards and what they will bring to the table.

As always feel free to reach out here or at any of my social media links with questions. Until next time!

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