A Soft Spot for Stage 2s

Out in T64 of the Players Cup, Thoughts on the Event, and a Darkness Ablaze Set Review
The full English set list is finally out.

Hello again readers, I’m back with you for the second time this month to talk about a few things that have happened since last time. That includes my run in the Players Cup and the long-awaited full set list of Darkness Ablaze. I’ve been wanting to go through the set for a long time now, and I finally have the chance to do it. So let’s jump right into it.

T64 @ the Players Cup

Taking an iffy PikaRom matchup turned out to be a bad idea. Who knew?

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you already know that I’m no longer in the event, and it is somewhat ambiguous if I’m even allowed to publish my list yet, but it’s 2 cards off from the list I published a while back. I went into the event knowing that no matter what deck I played my run would be determined by the matchups I would hit. So, me being me, I decided that taking a very mediocre PikaRom matchup was somehow a good idea. For four whole rounds, my rather unintelligent view was valid.

LucaMetal/Zacian pretty much beats every other deck in my opinion, and was a pretty good choice for the event. Unfortunately for me, after a 4-0 start, I hit two PikaRom in a row, and went 4-2. I’ll be the first to say that I played terribly in the first three rounds and was never punished because my matchups were great. During the second week, I managed to get my act together and start playing well. I definitely could have played a bit better, but between some weird Prize cards and a general lack of preparation for PikaRom, I was knocked out of the event.

Thoughts on the Event Itself

I have a few thoughts in general on the event. First, the qualification system could have been far better than it was. There were a lot of no-shows in all of the regions, and that probably could have been avoided if there was a method of qualification that didn’t catch people who didn’t want to play in its net. Unfortunately, there were people that got up to three byes in the first three rounds, which left a sour taste in the mouths of many players.

Second, the NA event was run pretty well (all things considered) and didn’t have any major issues to my knowledge. There was at least one DQ given out for someone who was using someone else’s account, but that was resolved before the event even started. That also was not the fault of the judge staff, and should not be laid at their feet. I’m pretty sure that almost any and every issue could have been or was avoided simply by people following the established rules.

Finally, one thing I want to note for at least the NA region is that almost every “notable” player whose TCGO username I recognized lost before the third week of the event. To be fair, I don’t know a lot of the usernames of players, but I only recognize three of the players that have advanced into Week 3/Top 16. I don’t know if the absence of the “top” players advancing can be traced to anything in particular, but it’s interesting to note.

Darkness Ablaze Set Review


At first glance this set seems a lot worse overall than the first two Sword & Shield expansions. Of course, there are cards that stand out and will impact the game, but the concentration of playable cards feels lower than the past two sets.

Grass G

Butterfree V(MAX)

The V is terrible, but I think that the VMAX could have some potential. The HP is a little low compared to other Pokémon VMAX, and the Fire Weakness is something that is never good. The card has a few draws to it, such as its free retreat and an attack that deals Confusion. Will it ever be a Tier 1 deck? Unlikely. Will it maybe fill a niche? Also unlikely, but it’s certainly possible in the future.


I’ve already sworn to make this card playable and play it to an event at some point, and I think that it’s going to be possible. The draw here is the typical Safeguard effect that has been around for ages. However, there’s a certain draw to its better attack and higher HP than a typical Safeguard Pokémon. I think that Decidueye is going to have to be kept in mind when building decks centered around Pokémon VMAX. It probably won’t be the best deck ever, but it definitely has a spot in the game going forward.


My friend Wes and I had a very long and drawn-out debate on whether this card would be playable or not. I personally think that the best it ever does is earn a 2-2 slot in a deck that already plays Twin Energy and needs to hit for Grass Weakness. I don’t think the card will be able to hit high enough numbers because most players should be able to avoid over-benching Pokémon-GX and V.

Fire R

Charizard V(MAX)

Aside from being a card that is gonna be really expensive and annoying to get ahold of, it’s not the strongest card ever. However, there is potential in the ability to attack for 300 damage every turn. 300 damage is ironically not enough to 1HKO most Pokémon VMAX, but it’s possible to hit higher numbers with cards like Vitality Band and Galarian Zigzagoon SSH. The Water-type Weakness is probably a lot better than the Lightning Weakness that I feel like could have been a possibility. However, there might be a possibility of Frosmoth SSH becoming relevant at some point.


Another gimmicky Stage 2 Pokémon? You already know I’m going to try and build it somehow. It has a damage output that is a little too low to deal with Eternatus VMAX, which is the biggest draw of being a Fighting type going forward. It does deal with all of the V and GX Lightning types though.

Centiskorch V(MAX)

Oh wow, a Pokémon V that has a VMAX but isn’t really terrible before it evolves. The first attack does feel a little counterintuitive, but there will be games where you can buy a lot of turns through Energy denial. The VMAX is also one of the most anticipated cards in the set because of how competitively viable it is. The attack would normally be mediocre at best, but when you consider the fact that Welder is a thing, you realize just how fast the numbers grow.

I’ve also joked about building a version of the deck that plays Porygon-Z UNB, Hyper Potion, Heat R Energy, and Recycle Energy (for Hyper Potion). However, that variant is probably a horrible dumpster fire in the consistency department. That probably won’t stop me from building it though.

Water W

Wow, this type is really bad when you look at the number of cards it got (20).

Galarian Mr. Rime DAA 36

No, this card isn’t viable, but if Jirachi p was still around when it comes out, it would be incredibly funny to swap the Jirachi p that your opponent swapped into the Prizes with their topdeck. If for some reason Oranguru SSH became way more popular, you could play this to prevent them from stacking their next topdeck.


I really want this card to be good because of how much it reminds me of Vanilluxe NVI. Flipping for paralysis is something that seems alright, but as a Stage 2, this is probably not great. It’s a card to watch out for in the future.

Lightning L

Vikavolt V

Oh, lovely. Item lock is back. Pre-rotation, this card is absolutely broken because of all of the Lightning support that exists. Post-rotation, it’s probably (hopefully) less good. I have a few ideas on how to build it in the TEU–DAA format, but nothing concrete yet. I suspect that it will become the topic of one of my future articles.


On the surface, this card seems mediocre at best. However, for what is essentially a Stage 1 with a slightly harder-to-find Basic, it provides something that this format lacks: high enough damage modifiers to actually make a difference. Yes, it’s not an actual modifier, but it functions the same way. For instance, in the Mad Party deck, you cannot 1HKO Pokémon VMAX. If you have 1 or 2 Arctozolt in play, every Energy your opponent attaches is basically equal to 1 or 2 Mad Party Pokémon in the discard. With Welder in the format, having 2 Arctozolt in play is equivalent to 80–120 damage during your opponent’s turn, which is absolutely crazy when you think about the fact that it’s a Bench-sitter and isn’t your attack for the turn.

Psychic P

Mew V

It’s adorable, but bad. I was really hopeful when I first heard there was a new Mew coming out, because historically multi-Prize Mew cards have been very strong competitively. As it is, it’s a worse Victini V.

Dedenne, Polteageist

I hate the fact that this gimmick is back, and is even “better” than it has been in the past because there are now 16 Mad Party Pokémon. I think the deck will probably be viable at some point, just because of how inherently strong decks of this nature are. Twin Energy might finally get to be played in a real deck for once.


The one millionth iteration of Heal Block. Yay. Depending on the future healing cards, I think Mimikyu could become a solid tech in a few of the VMAX decks that will struggle to 1HKO, or that do significant snipe damage.

Fighting F

Rhyperior V

Well, it’s a Fighting type, and is actually capable of dealing more than Blaziken’s 130 base damage, so it could see play. Both attacks are decent here, with a built-in Energy denial attack and a solid swing for 210. The attack costs are rather forgiving too, and make the card somewhat viable in Welder decks.

Darkness D

Crobat V

Oh look, it’s Shaymin-EX ROS but actually balanced. Crobat is likely to be a staple going forward because of its Ability, so this is definitely something that would be worth owning at least 2 copies of. It will also undoubtedly be the lifeblood of the Eternatus VMAX archetype, so if you’re ever interested in playing that then you’re going to want to own 4 copies.


I really hope that this thing is playable at some point because I’ve always had a soft spot for Hydreigon cards. Unfortunately, I think anything that currently exists will be overshadowed by the efficiency and damage output of Eternatus VMAX.


So it’s Zapdos TEU, but without Electropower. The only place I think this will see play is in Eternatus VMAX as an extra D Basic that isn’t totally terrible.

Grimmsnarl V(MAX)

Well, the V leaves a lot to be desired, so I’ll skip over it and head straight for the VMAX. If there’s ever going to be a partner for Hydreigon, then this is it. The biggest issue is that the attack caps at 270 damage for some terrible reason. Unfortunately, that might remove this concept from the realm of viability, but I’ll probably be trying to build it at some point though, because I have an obligation to build mediocre Stage 2 decks.

Eternatus V(MAX)

BulbapediaAhh, the “best” card in this set. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to live up to the hype it’s getting. Everything I’ve seen and heard so far has been, “Well, X deck beats most everything other than Eternatus.” Eternatus is incredibly efficient in relation to its maximum damage output. You also get to have 8 Benched Pokémon, which allows you to play a rather large amount of Galarian Zigzagoon. Those Zigzagoons make up for the missing damage in a few matchups.

Metal M

All of the Metal types in this set are just bad.

Colorless C

Salamence V(MAX)

Once PikaRom is out of the way, I think that this might actually be a good card. It has a really strong version of Jet Punch, and is capable of hitting decent numbers when paired with the new Powerful C Energy. I don’t think it’ll be the best deck ever, but it’s also not bad, which is more than can be said for a lot of the Pokémon VMAX.


This style of attack is something that has pretty much always intrigued me. Picking up your attacker and putting it into your hand isn’t always the greatest thing ever, but with the amount of Wall Pokémon in the game right now, Greedent might actually be good.


Bird Keeper

The gimmick with Sky Circus (on Rowlet DAA, Starly DAA, and Swanna DAA) is bad. However, I think the card itself is very strong. With Vikavolt V (i.e., Item lock) in the format, Switch is a lot less good at times. Bird Keeper doubles as a Switch and as a draw Supporter. If we played Tate & Liza, I see no reason for this to not be playable as well.

Cape of Toughness

Why? Literally just why? Did someone say 270-HP Zacian V? Tool Scrapper somewhat ruins the value of this card, but that’s still another card that your opponents need to find and are also forced to play in their lists.

Familiar Bell

This one is a really weird Ball search card, but I think that it might have a place in Mad Party.

Glimwood Tangle

Oh boy, more ways to manipulate coin flips. The whole theme of this set appears to be coin flips. Fortunately, this Stadium specifies attacks only. Off the top of my head, there’s not many attacks that flip coins that I’ve cared about recently, but with a solid way to manipulate flips, I’m going to have to revisit a lot of cards.


I mean, I guess it’s okay? The saving grace for this card is that it can search for Special Energy and Crobat V. I don’t know if that’s enough of a saving grace to be playable though.


Why yes, I would love to discard my hand in exchange for Energy acceleration. This might actually be good at some point, because the number of Pokémon VMAX will keep increasing.

Rose Tower

Oh look, a card that is obviously meant to be paired with Rose. It would be a shame if there was a Chaotic Swell in play though. In all seriousness, this card is pretty decent even without Rose being in the picture. Oranguru was playable. The biggest issue here is that it helps both players rather than just you.


This is a really cool card. Is it good? Maybe not. I could see this serving a similar purpose as Arctozolt does in Mad Party, but it is somewhat less reliable. Spiritomb likes to see this though, especially with the rotation of Rainbow Energy.

Turbo Patch

Why was this necessary? There’s already enough Energy acceleration in the game, and this just added onto the pile. Of course it’s a coin flip. I really dislike this card for the increased variance in games that didn’t need it. I would rather they had printed it as an all-type Patch with no flip. They didn’t even exclude Pokémon V from this thing for some reason.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been waiting for literal months at this point to look at the final set list. Hopefully the next format (TEU–DAA) matters at some point, even if it’s just for major online events. I really don’t have much to say today outside of that. If anyone has any questions, feel free to PM me. Stay safe everyone.

Until the next one.

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