Hey SixPrizes readers! We’ve reached the end of another Pokémon TCG season with a lot of interesting things happening, such as the release of new sets and Zoroark-GX winning tons of tournaments, including the North America International Championships 2019. And speaking of which, we’re actually waving the Illusion Fox Pokémon goodbye from the new Standard format. Since the card’s release back in 2017, it won a whopping 16 Regionals around the world, six Internationals, and one World Championship—all that in less than two years!
Goodbye Insane Cards, We Will Miss You
However, this year’s rotation goes way beyond Zoroark-GX. Despite it being one of the strongest and most victorious Pokémon card of all time, we’re also losing cards that were as powerful and successful as the Dark-type fox, such as Double Colorless Energy, Ultra Ball, and Guzma. The former has been around since Base Set. It actually rotated for a few years, returned to the format, and now is leaving it once again. It has always been a strong and widely-used card. Ultra Ball showed up in 2012, stayed in the format for seven years, and has always been part of the strongest decks in the game. And Guzma was released two years ago, although beforehand we had Lysandre, Pokémon Catcher, and even Base Set’s Gust of Wind. In other words, “Gust effect” cards have always been very strong and important to this game.
In a nutshell, we lose cards with effects that have been around and relevant since the game’s early eras. With the rotation and release of Unified Minds, Pokémon TCG is in for great changes. We players will have to adapt our strategies and let go of cards we’ve been using over the last seven years.
Philosophy for Early-Format Testing
My goal with this article is to start thinking about post-rotation strategies, but without presenting completely new lists, full of cards that we don’t even know will see the light of day with the new set. At the time of writing this article, the Unified Minds official set list hasn’t been announced yet [Editor’s Note: Coincidentally, the Unified Minds sets list was leaked early this morning.], so the idea here is to present my starting points for UPR-on: start working on and adapting decks that were strong in SUM-on, such as Green’s ReshiZard, PikaRom, and Malamar/Ultra Necrozma-GX, to the post-rotation format.
This is a deck that will suffer a bit with the rotation but will continue to be very strong. I believe it’s a great starting point, as it was the face of the pre-rotation format and heavily supported by cards that were released in the latest set, Unbroken Bonds, such as Green’s Exploration and Welder.
What will hurt this deck the most are the departures of Choice Band and Professor Kukui, which will prevent ReshiZard from dealing more than 230 damage with Flare Strike. This is a huge problem because if it can’t 1HKO Pokémon with over 230 HP, then it will be at a disadvantage against the TAG TEAM threats of the new format, such as PikaRom.
I thought about a way to solve this problem and came up with an interesting solution to bring back ReshiZard’s 1HKO power.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 39
Energy – 11
Turtonator is in the list to give us the power of Knocking Out any Pokémon in one hit, which is something ReshiZard decks have lost with the departure of Choice Band and Professor Kukui. We still have Double Blaze-GX to deal 300 damage, but after using it once, we are stuck with Flare Strike’s 230 damage cap and Outrage.
Without Guzma in the format, your opponent will hardly ever spend Custom Catchers to Knock Out a Turtonator DRM, which makes it good candidate to sit on the Bench and attack at the right moment. We can also use the new Tag Switch card to move up to 2 Energy from 1 TAG TEAM to Turtonator and get it ready to hit big numbers, without relying exclusively on Welder.
I believe Turtonator makes so much sense in the new format that adding a 2nd copy might be a good idea.
My reasoning for playing this here is the same as in other two decks below: I believe Oranguru UPR will be mandatory in almost every deck, mainly because of Custom Catcher. Custom Catcher will become virtually essential with the loss of Guzma. Gust effects have been strong and present in Pokémon TCG since Base Set. Before rotation, 3–4 copies of Guzma were necessary, but post-rotation, on average, we will only be able to use 1 Gust effect per game (a pair of Custom Catcher). It’s not an easy task to draw 2 copies of Custom Catcher at once, and it’s even harder to do it twice with only 4 copies available. If none of the 4 copies is prized, then you might be able to take advantage of Custom Catcher’s combo effect more than once.
In order to use two pairs of Custom Catcher somewhat consistently, it will be necessary to use Oranguru UPR. I know it may sound weird to use Resource Management to get Custom Catchers back, but I believe it will be worth it in the new format. With so few Gust options available, you might as well burn a turn to recover these highly valuable resources.
It may sound weird to use 2 Pokémon Communication in a list with only 10 Pokémon, but thanks to Green’s Exploration it’s possible to do so with reasonable consistency. I want to have the option of searching for Volcanion UNB, Turtonator DRM, and Oranguru UPR whenever necessary, and while testing this list, I managed to get some consistency with 2 copies of Pokémon Communication. In situations where I desperately wanted one of my non-Pokémon-GX, I used Green’s Exploration to search for a Cherish Ball, get a Pokémon-GX, and trade for a non-GX with Pokémon Communication.
Great Potion will replace Mixed Herbs in this deck in most cases. I still like Mixed Herbs though, and I believe its single-use effect has a lot of potential, since Special Conditions will likely be strong again post-rotation.
This card really caught my attention after first testing it. Thanks to Tag Switch, it’s much easier to alternate between attackers, or even make strong moves like powering up a Turtonator DRM without relying on Welder. Overall, Tag Switch allows us to make unpredictable plays that can totally change the outcome of a match.
PikaRom is a deck that did very well in the last three International Championships, winning one of them and reaching Top 4 in the other two. It will continue to be one of the main decks of the game, especially with the release of Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX, a card designed for the post-rotation format. Additionally, this deck didn’t lose much more than Guzma, Ultra Ball, and Choice Band with the rotation.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
Energy – 12
pokellector.comSimply put, Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX is a Lightning-type Golisopod-GX that deals more damage and whose attacks have a stronger effect. (lol.) Jokes aside, this card goes extremely well with Zeraora-GX for free retreat and Pikachu & Zekrom-GX for easy setup. Moreover, I think its two attacks will be very effective without Guzma and Acerola around. Tandem Shock paralyzes the opponent without requiring a coin flip. This means: If the opponent doesn’t use Switch, Escape Board, or something else to heal the Special Condition on their turn, they won’t be able to attack or retreat. Before rotation, it was common to see Guzma and Acerola being used in similar situations. The other attack, Lightning Ride-GX, deals 250 damage (with the + effect) and allows Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX to switch to the Bench. Now, without Guzma, chances are the Raichus will be safe and sound on the Bench.
It certainly is an appropriate card for the new format.
I like this card for allowing me to 1HKO any Pokémon in play. With the only “Gust effect” Trainer card in UPR-on being Custom Catcher, Discharge can be quite powerful if used at the right time. With the arrival of Tag Switch, I can see Zeraora as a much more powerful attacker that is way easier to set up.
Zapdos is no longer the Pokémon it was with Guzma in the format, but it’s still important, especially in situations when your opponent leaves a low-HP Pokémon in the Active spot. Additionally, it’s a non-GX that deals reasonable damage for a single Energy.
One thing I learned while practicing for UPR-on is that we are hard-pressed to discard certain resources in our hand in order to use Dedenne-GX or Lillie. For example, it would be a delicate situation to use Dedenne-GX with a Custom Catcher, Reset Stamp, or any other important card in hand that cannot be easily brought back from the discard pile. Remember, we no longer have access to Rescue Stretcher.
As I moved on with my training sessions, I realized Dedenne-GX was only useable in tough situations or when I wasn’t drawing resources I needed with Lillie (which I tried using in the hopes of not having to discard important cards in the first place).
I also realized Volkner was good, as it allowed me to draw another copy of Custom Catcher or find Reset Stamp at the right time, while Cynthia helped me draw a good number of new cards without making me discard resources.
Of the decks I trained with, Malamar/Ultra Necrozma-GX was the one that struggled the least with the rotation. Although strong, the deck wasn’t among the best in SUM-on, as it suffered with consistency and demands that the player find many resources early on to keep up with the speed and strength of decks such as Zoroark-GX and PikaRom. In the new format, though, the absence of Guzma will do good to Malamar decks in general, since now these squids will be safer on the Bench and hardly ever become targets of Gust effects.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 31
Energy – 10
There are not many secrets to this list. I opted for a list that is as consistent as possible and used all of the extra spots to do so. In rotation scenarios, we commonly have to use more spots in the lists so that decks can do the same things as they used to before rotation. At the same time, I don’t miss any cards of the rotated cards. Giratina LOT is an amazing non-GX attacker and Ultra Necrozma-GX can Knock Out any Pokémon in play with its unlimited damage cap. This is a strong, consistent deck with good answers to several different situations.
This is only the beginning of our rotation discussion and I am confident many other ideas will arise. I look forward to knowing exactly what 236 cards will be in Unified Minds before digging deeper into completely new strategies. [Editor’s Note: Again, the Unified Minds set list leaked early this morning, prior to the writing of this article.] Every time a new set is released, or the game goes through a rotation, I like to explore the format from the beginning, that is, starting with decks that were popular from the previous format. Huge hype often revolves around new cards and then, when tournaments happen, we see the old same decks ranking first. Over the past few years, it was Zoroark-GX + something else.
We know ReshiZard, Raikrom, and Malamar are still solid, consistent, strong and well-structured decks. My next step is to finish updating other preexisting decks that may have potential, such as Blacephalon-GX, Weezing, and Baby Blacephalon, and then start testing new ideas with Unified Minds cards.
Of course, you, SixPrizes readers, will be the first to learn the details for the outcomes of my research and testing sessions.
I hope you enjoyed today’s article and I’ll see you next time!
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