Team Up brings us the first Tag Team Pokemon, which are another level over Pokemon GX. Will they succeed at breaking into the meta or crumble under the weight of giving the opponent 3 Prize cards when defeated? Additionally, what other new awesome or terrible cards does this curious set bring with it? Let’s find out!
Note: most of this was written before the english cards were revealed, so mistakes and mistranslations may have snuck in.
The seemingly intended way to use Beedrill is to cause Damage to it by using ‘Reckless Charge’ and then knocking out a threat alongside itself with ‘Destiny Stinger’. However, there surely are more reliable ways to cause knockouts using ‘Destiny Stinger’ without having to use ‘Reckless Charge’ beforehand. Even with a way to make ‘Destiny Stinger’ more easily accessible though, Beedrill is still a Stage 2 Pokemon that has not much else to offer but a conditional but strong attack that costs you a prize card. An interesting idea, but not worth the effort.
Shaymin Prism Star 7.5/10
As a basic Pokemon with free retreat that can hit hard, Shaymin Prism Star may find a place in many Grass decks. The Energy Cost of ‘Flower Storm’ is a little unfortunate for decks that are not exclusively Grass-type, but it is not too much of an issue. An above average Prism Star card that gives many decks access to a Pokemon with free retreat, which often is extremely valuable by itself.
Though ‘Continuous Blaze Ball’ has the potential to deal massive damage and knock out Stage 2 Pokemon GX in a single attack, there are better and more reliable options than a Stage 2 Pokemon that damages itself with the ability ‘Roaring Resolve’. Though the damage is minimal and the acceleration is very strong, it still makes a Stage 2 Pokemon even easier to knock out with a single attack. For a deck that plays no Pokemon GX, Charizard may be a somewhat viable option, however, the effort put into evolving it and setting it up to attack is too much still.
Though random, ‘Powerful Squall’ is a strong acceleration Ability that just happens to be on an otherwise pretty useless Pokemon. The damage of ‘Hydro Tackle’ is just 10 too low to be useful against many commonly used Pokemon, which is especially a dealbreaker on a Stage 2 Pokemon like Blastoise. Quickly setting up two Blastoise with Rare Candy to use ‘Powerful Squall’ and set up strong Pokemon like Magikarp & Wailord GX or Vaporeon GX early may be a valid but somewhat risky tactic.
Water keeps getting more and more tools, and they all have great synergy. Articuno plays very well into this toolbox that Water seems to always have, by not only protecting the bench from Guzma and some other cards but also sharing its Energy around when attacking with ‘Cold Cyclone’. Quagsire from Dragon Majesty allows the Energy to be transferred right back to Articuno, allowing it to attack every turn and keep ‘Blizzard Veil’ active. This allows for a lot of options offensively as well as defensively, making Articuno a very strong and possibly essential card in water decks.
This card has some fringe uses, as it can search itself from the deck once per turn. These extra copies then can be used for Ultra Ball, Pokemon Communication or Lost Mixer to have a minor consistency boost. Realistically speaking, Emolga is unlikely to see much use though but will be tried out by some players for the above-mentioned reason. We are still far from a ‘Nuzzle’ deck archetype though, even with every new set bringing us another furry addition.
A one-time use Ability that uses two spots of deck space and is not even strong. Electrode is almost useless and with careful planning, ‘Electro Shaker’ should never be needed.
Zapdos is the new best Lightning attacker, as cards like Zeraora GX, Jolteon GX, Tapu Koko GX, Switch/Escape Rope and the Escape Board – Jirachi combination make meeting the condition for ‘Assault Thunder’ very easy. The 80 damage this attack deals can easily be increased with Choice Band and Electropower to either knock non-GX Pokemon out in one hit or knock out Pokemon GX in two hits. The extremely easy access to high damage for a single Energy is amazing and makes Zapdos guaranteed to be used a lot.
Tapu Koko Prism Star 9.5/10
This card is more of a Prism Star item card than a Pokemon since almost always the only use of this card will be ‘Dance of the Ancients’. In dire situations, Tapu Koko Prism Star can be used to attack with ‘Mach Bolt’, but this is absolutely a last ditch effort. Access to Lightning Energy from the discard pile will be very useful in any Lightning deck, making this card a must play.
There is a decent deck plan that comes with this card, but the execution will be difficult. Set your deck up with a bunch of either strong or helpful Stage 1 Pokemon, make Nidoqueen the searcher and main attacker, and you are set. The problem is that you need a lot of specific cards at the right moment and time and your main attacker and searcher is a Stage 2 Pokemon. Also, ‘Power Lariat’ is rather useless without a fully set-up-board. Nidoqueen sure is worthy of building a fun deck around it, but not more.
Usable in any Water or Psychic deck, ‘Strange Wave’ accelerates a lot of Energy from the deck for a single Colorless Energy, greatly accelerating decks that need a lot of Energy. This, however, comes with the caveat that Starmie is a Stage 1 Pokemon and needs to be evolved first, of course. It does have free retreat though, so that can come in very handy at times. Starmie likely won’t play a central role in most decks but may be added as an Energy acceleration tech against slower decks.
Mr. Mime 8.5/10
There is only one reason for this card to have as high of a rating as it does; It messes with the more and more popular stall-type of decks. One Mr. Mime on the bench makes Acerola useless and makes stalling potentially much harder for many decks.
and Kabutops 6/10
Of the few problems Omastar and Kabutops have, easily the biggest one is that Fossil Pokemon are way too hard to get on the field. The Abilities ‘Fossil Barrier’ and ‘Fossil Barrier’ are very powerful, but setting up a Stage 2 Pokemon that evolves from Unidentified Fossil is hardly worth it. Unidentified Fossil is way more difficult to search than any basic Pokemon would be, and can not do anything on its own. Though having either one of these two can make a big change, getting them on the field is too much effort and very inconsistent.
The mere existence of Absol on the field cripples the Jirachi – Escape Board combo. Just having a single Absol on your bench can make a huge difference in gameplay and slow down an opponent’s setup drastically if they rely on Jirachi even a bit. Multiple Absol can cause ‘Shadow Seeker’ to deal massive damage against Basic Pokemon, but against most Pokemon, the damage it causes is below average. Absol should be used because of ‘Dark Ambition’ being a useful tech against meta tactics, and for no other reason.
A generally rather weak card that mostly is interesting for being one of very few Dark-type Basic Pokemon with free retreat. ‘Derail’ can sometimes be useful against the occasional Special Energy heavy deck, but otherwise, Yveltal is just a Pokemon with free retreat and will be used for just that.
When there is an entire deck archetype named after an attack, you can be sure a Pokemon with this attack will have at least some relevance. Sadly, Doublade is a Stage 1 Pokemon with low HP, but ‘Tool Drop’ has more base damage than the Trubbish version had not too long ago. The large amount of Metal support recently and the massive damage potential of ‘Tool Drop’ might bring Doublade a few tournament wins, we will have to wait and see.
Attaching Escape Board to Jirachi allows it to easily retreat for free even after sending itself to sleep with ‘Wishing Star’. This combo will frequently give you access to more Trainer cards and allows you to play out out your turn before retreating into the Pokemon you want to finish your turn within the active spot. ‘Wishing Star’ will make Jirachi a staple card in most decks not only for the consistency boost it provides, but also the easier access to necessary cards like Beast Ring in Ultra Beast decks. Nothing but the Ability about this card is worth mentioning though. Jirachi on a skateboard will be a common sight after TEAM UP gets released.
A better Alolan Sandslash. Picking 1 out of 2 cards each turn and adding it to your hand is a much more powerful effect than it may seem at first. This will make Pidgeotto not necessarily played a lot, but it will be useful for sure.
Lycanrock GX 7.5/10
Free Energy discards and decent damage make Lycanrock GX a puppy no one wants to mess with. Just evolving Rockruff into Lycanroc gives you a free Crushing Hammer with guaranteed ‘heads’, already feeding into the promising ‘Splintered Shards GX’ that will get a one-hit knockout late-game for sure. Playing Lycanroc GX along with cards like Crushing Hammer and Plumeria can make for a deck that keeps the opponent’s speed in check while attacking for decent damage. The rise of stall-type decks makes this kind of control not as powerful as it may otherwise be, but Lycanroc GX is still a great card that will see play on some level.
Ampharos GX 2.5/10
Ampharos GX can fill the spot of a low Energy cost attacker in more than just one way. Either using as many Electripower as possible to then recycle them with ‘Power Recharge’, or using ‘Impact Bolt’ to deal heavy damage that deals significant knockouts but also needs Electripower and Choice Band to do so. Either way, Ampharos GX not only needs a lot of setup and deck space because it is a Stage 2 Pokemon but also additional help to deal enough damage to be a significant threat. Sadly ‘Electrical GX’ is also not worth the use of GX attack, especially on a Stage 2 Pokemon. Searching Pokemon from your deck is easy enough with Ultra Ball, Nest Ball, and Pokemon Communication, we do not need to waste our once-per-game attack for that.
Mr. Mime GX 3/10
Just like the Magic Evens Mr. Mime that except for the Ability is identical, it is easy to play around and will not see much if any play.
Cobalion GX 4.5/10
The condition for ‘Duel Sabre’ is extremely easy to meet, since every deck plays some kind of Stadium card. Especially with the difficult to get rid of Prism Star Stadiums. Even with the condition met though, it does not deal enough damage to knock out some Pokemon GX in 2 attacks. Though attacking might not be the main reason to play Cobalion GX, as ‘Metal Symbol’ supports any Metal deck from the bench and even some decks that play Unit Energy. Special Conditions are quite rare so there might not be much use coming from using Cobalion GX for this reason either. ‘Iron Law GX’ may be useful to buy you that one extra turn you need for the final knockout or give you time to dig for that one more card you need to get the advantage. Besides those few and in-between situations, it is just a waste of a GX attack, especially when compared to other single Energy GX attacks we have already seen. In an environment where Special Conditions are rather common, Cobalion GX is going to be a must-have. Any other time though, it is decent, but just not good enough.
Hoopa GX 7/10
Besides the GX attack with a name that will surely get changed when the card gets localized, Hoopa GX is rather unoriginal. This does not mean it is bad though, quite the opposite is the case. To start with, ‘Rogue Ring’ searches your deck for any 2 cards, something that is very strong in a time where few cards are able to shuffle the hand of the opponent into the deck. This allows for rather secure setups or forces an early Judge. Though Dark has nowhere as much support as Lightning or Water do, ‘Dark Strike’ is a powerful attack that can knock out most basic Pokemon GX in a single hit, assuming Hoopa GX carries a Choice Band. This leaves Hoopa GX vulnerable in the active spot though, only able to use either ‘Devillish Hands GX’ or ‘Rogue Ring’, only the one per game GX attack actually dealing damage. Though Hoopa GX has a few downsides it easily is the best Dark-type basic Pokemon GX we currently have and will see play for that reason alone.
Incineroar GX 7.5/10
Incineroar GX is equal amounts amazing and disappointing. The Ability ‘Scar Charge’ allows Incineroar GX to be independent from other sources of Energy, which means the regular Energy attachments and other sources of Energy acceleration can be used for any other Pokemon. The damage Incineroar causes to itself by using this Ability, however, allows many Pokemon to knock this big Stage 2 Pokemon out much easier than they otherwise would. Especially Buzzwole, Onix and Larvitar come to mind. Though not many decks use Special Energy, ‘Crushing Punch’ still deals acceptable damage and might slow some decks down. It is not an especially good attack for 3 Energy, but at least they attach themselves. The Synergy between ‘Scar Charge’ and ‘Darkest Tornado GX’ is great, allowing an Incineroar GX that is only damaged by itself to take 3 more damage counters, and deal 310 damage with a single attack, knocking out any Pokemon in a single attack except a Wailord & Magikarp GX, Eevee & Snorlax GX or Venusaur & Celebi GX equipped with Buff Padding. Though Incineroar GX is not a meta-changing card, it will appear in a few decks.
Venusaur & Celebi GX 5/10
There are not many reasons why Venusaur & Celebi GX stands out. Every single attack costs too much for what it does and what the attacks do is underwhelming. For the massive cost of 4 Energy, ‘Solar Beam’ does what other attacks do for 3 Energy, and ‘Pollen Hazard’ is a virtual 80 damage and confusion at the very least and more or less forces a switch, but that is still not worth 3 Energy on a Pokemon GX. The only attack that can redeem Venusaur & Celebi GX now is ‘Evergreen GX’, and it somewhat does. The damage is low, but for an extra Grass Energy, you can save yourself from decking out or recycle resources that a well-built deck would either not need or be able to recycle anyway. The important part is though, that the extra effect of ‘Evergreen GX’ in connection with Aether Paradise Conservation Area, ‘Floral Heal’ Shaymin and such allows for interesting deck-out tactics. Without such a tactic though, Venusaur & Celebi GX is just an underpowered Energy-dump of a Pokemon that gives 3 Prizes when knocked out.
Magikarp & Wailord GX 8.5/10
The massive 300HP this card possesses make it an obvious contender for a stall-type deck. The card Buff Padding brings this huge Tag Team to an impressive 350HP, which without hitting the Grass weakness is extremely hard to knock out in one attack. Both attacks of this card have huge Energy cost (at least if we ignore the 10 damage for a single Water Energy GX attack) which makes Wailord GX either a terrible attacker or a good surprise attacker if you can unleash ‘Towering Splash GX’ with the extra effect. Mainly, this card is a huge damage-sponge, however, Articuno and maybe even Blastoise from this very set may be good partners for Magikarp & Wailord GX if you plan on attacking with it.
Pikachu & Zekrom GX 9.5/10
Despite my inherent dislike for Pikachu and this card’s weakness to Fighting, it is undeniable that Pikachu & Zekrom GX is an amazing card that will get played a lot. The start with, Lightning already has a lot of support that this card will benefit from. Though ‘Full Blitz’ does not deal enough damage to knock out most commonly used Pokemon, the damage can be increased with Electropower and Choice Band for one hit knockouts against most Pokemon GX, or knock out any Pokemon in two hits without the help of items. In addition to the decent damage ‘Full Blitz’ deals, it also grants exceptional Energy Acceleration that can either set up Pikachu & Zekrom to use ‘Tag Bolt GX’ with the extra effect or fully set up a benched Pokemon for later use. Though having 6 Lightning Energy attached to this card is a massive cost to activate the extra effect of ‘Tag Bolt GX’, it pays off greatly by knocking out up to 2 Pokemon in one attack, granting 4 Prizes in a best-case scenario. With many decks playing Tapu Lele GX which has 170HP or even support Pokemon on the bench like Oranguru, getting 3 or even 4 Prizes with one attack is quite easy. As previously mentioned, this card is amazing and will make many high ranked appearances in tournaments.
Gengar & Mimikyu GX 7.5/10
Without knowing how many Trainer cards are on the opponent’s hand, ‘Poltergeist’ is always a risky attack. This can be either avoided by playing Lavender Town and looking at the opponent’s hand, or by using Garbodor from Guardians Rising in the same deck, making the opponent either play all their Item cards to avoid huge damage from ‘Poltergeist’ but making ‘Trashalanche’ stronger in the process, or the other way around. Mindgames like these can easily lead the opponent to make mistakes or makes them gain much fewer resources than they normally would. As ‘Horror House GX’ requires the same amount of Energy for the extra effect to work as ‘Poltergeist’ normally requires, it is easy to use as well. The extra effect seems like somewhat of a negative at first, but since the opponent can not use any of the cards they drew, ‘Poltergeist’ is very likely to deal massive damage the next turn. Gengar & Mimikyu GX has Potential but needs a bit of easy to access help to really get going. This card stands out among Tag Team GX for being more of an offensive control card rather than a huge beatstick.
Latias & Latios Tag Team GX 7.5/10
It seems that Malamar from Forbidden Light may be the perfect partner for Latias & Latios Tag Team GX, possibly recharging ‘Buster Purge’ every turn. The damage of this attack is massive, easily knocking out anything that is not a Stage 2 Pokemon GX or a Tag Team GX. For mostly anything that is worth only a single prize, ‘Luster Purge’ is wasted resources, though using it may still be necessary a lot of the time. Just like Zeraora GX’s ‘Full Voltage GX’, ‘Aero Unit GX’ is fast Energy acceleration, but also can provide immunity to attacks if used while 2 or more Energy are attached to Latias & Latios Tag Team GX. This gives the card not only capabilities to set up the field and itself while being safe but also hit very hard and quickly collect Prizes. A deck focused on Latias & Latios Tag Team GX will likely run out of steam against a deck without Pokemon GX though, so a secondary attacker is most likely needed. Still, a promising card that has the potential to break into the meta every so often.
Eevee & Snorlax Tag Team GX 6/10
As strong as it is adorable, this snuggly team cannot only deal a lot of damage but also take a lot of it. Sadly, the weakness is somewhat of a problem, as Buzzwole GX has no problem knocking out Eevee & Snorlax GX even when they carry Buff Padding. Mostly anything else will have to work knock this card out. Most of the time, ‘Cheer Up’ will be used to equip an Energy card to Eevee & Snorlax GX itself, a Double Colorless Energy if possible. For 4 Colorless Energy, ‘Dump Truck Press’ either deals below average damage to any Basic Pokemon, or massive damage to any Evolution Pokemon. The damage is just short of knocking out most Stage 2 Pokemon GX, which is somewhat upsetting but a Choice Band can remedy that. Lastly, we have ‘Megaton Friends GX’ which deals massive damage but is just short of knocking out many Stage 2 Pokemon GX when holding a Choice Band. It does knock out pretty much anything else though, that is not a Tag Team Pokemon GX. If you manage to attach one more Energy to Eevee & Snorlax GX, you also get to draw up to a full hand of 10 cards, which sounds more like repaying you for the massive amount of resources you put into this card to begin with. Eevee & Snorlax GX is not as good as other Tag Team GX cards, but still a decent card.
The simple fact that most decks do not even use Stage 2 Pokemon makes this card wasted space in most circumstances. The effect is strong, but the condition is way too hard to meet to make this card worth using at all.
Same problem that Dana has, but to a lesser extent. Most decks use some kind of Stage 1 Pokemon, mostly the support kind. They rarely are in the active spot though, making Evelyn rarely useful. The effect is not especially strong either, for such a condition.
The condition for this card is much more likely to work than Dana and Evelyn, but it still is a condition you can not control. The effect is too weak, though at least somewhat disruptive. It makes the opponent draw the Energy card you put there, but that’s barely an issue and really not worth using a Supporter card for. A weak card overall.
If you ever get to play Morgan, you are extremely lucky. You are more likely to face a Pokemon’s attack that copies Morgan’s effect from your hand than using her yourself. At least the effect is powerful. But that means nothing if it never can be used.
Bill’s Analysis 6.5/10
Likely a card people will add to their deck as additional semi-draw Supporter. The effect will almost always add two trainer cards to your hand, and depending on the deck these cards can further advance your plays. Often though, Apricorn Maker is just plainly better.
A search for a single Metal Pokemon is a little underwhelming, but still decent. If you go second with this card either on your starting hand or searched out, you get a huge search of 5 Metal Pokemon, which can give you a head start and even set up your entire field. This seems to be meant to set up a Stage 1 or even Stage 2 Pokemon, but sadly gives no extra search for an item or Energy like Volkner or Korrina do. A pretty underwhelming card in most circumstances, but in select decks, Jasmine can give you a massive head start.
Ingo & Emmet 5/10
A decent draw supporter that takes a few important spots. It can draw cards from the bottom of the deck like Looker does, but also lets you draw from the top. Discarding your hand instead of shuffling it in may be the better option to some. There are better draw supporters than Igno & Emmet though, only select decks will pick more than one of this card.
Erika’s Hospitality 9.5/10
Getting down to 4 cards in your hand is easy, and drawing up to 6 additional cards without having to shuffle cards back in as Cynthia would is amazing. Erika’s Hospitality is a new must-have draw Supporter that will sneak its way into many decks. However, the exact number as to how many of this card should be played is still something to find out for yourself.
There will rarely be uses for Nanu, but when he finds a place and time to be used, he will have a great effect on the board state. The most common use, for now, will likely be to get an at least partly set-up Hoopa GX on the field or to circumvent the effect of Hoopa GX’s ‘Dark Strike’. But there will likely be many more uses in the near future.
Sabrina’s Suggestion 1/10
You can just play a Supporter card with an actual effect over Sabrina’s Suggestion. At least this card does not force you to play a Supporter you find, but you can just as well play another Lillie or Erika’s Hospitality. I would suggest staying away from Sabrina’s Suggestion.
Wondrous Labyrinth Prism Star 9.5/10
An extremely powerful must play card for every Fairy deck. There is no reason not to play this card in a Fairy deck, as it severely slows down the opponent’s Pokemon and drains more resources than the deck intended to use. Easily one of the best cards in the set.
Black Market Prism Star 9.5/10
Another must play Prism Star card, this one belongs in every single Dark deck. The massive safety blanket this card provides is impossible to pass up. A must have.
Viridian Forest 6/10
Searching for Energy is always helpful, especially in a deck that either requires a lot of it or plays very few. The opponent can use this same effect, however. So the use of Viridian Forest has to be handled carefully, with it being such a universally useful effect. This card is likely going to make appearances in some decks, but not in high numbers.
Lavender Town 5/10
To make the few cards that require specific cards in the opponent’s hand viable, Lavender Town is great. In any other deck, it is giving the opponent the exact same advantage and thus is a worthless addition. The most obvious use of Lavender Town is likely Gengar & Mimikyu GX because of the otherwise random damage of ‘Poltergeist’.
Buff Padding 5/10
Very useful for some decks that heavily rely on big boys like Magikarp & Wailord GX, but has obviously no value in any other deck. The huge HP some Pokemon like the previously mentioned Magikarp & Wailord GX can reach is impressive and can lead to scary stalling decks.
Dangerous Drill 3/10
The wide range of cards this card can get rid of is astounding, but the cost is usually not something one would want to pay. There are some cards this can work well with, like Darkrai GX, but usually, a deck would want to capitalize on discard cost or use cards with extra cost to speed up the deck. With Dangerous Drill, one would have to want to use this card and have a Dark Pokemon they don’t care getting rid of on the hand at the same time. Though the uses seem to be many, the card itself is not very reliable. Field Blower is almost always the better option.
Judge Whistle 7.5/10
Simply put, using 4 of these makes you play a virtual 56 card deck, giving you easier access to the important cards. It also gives you easy access to Judge when needed, making certain control and mill tactics even easier to use. A great card overall, sometimes simplicity is key.
Fairy Charm UB 6/10
Among a lot of different types Fairy-type Pokemon can be immune to with Fairy Charm tools, now Ultra Beasts are among them. Not much else to say here. A useful tool that can come in very handy in a UB heavy meta.
Return Label 1/10
If it ever happens that I need to add such an incredibly specific tech-card to my deck that otherwise does not benefit me or has any other use, I will call it quits. At least this kinda messes with Night March decks…? No thanks.
Pokemon Communication 9/10
Another must-have, but the player must evaluate how many to play since many decks capitalize on sending cards to the discard pile with Ultra Ball or can just use Nest Ball for a free search. The cost of Pokemon Communication can be used as an advantage, for example to shuffle an Eeveelution into the deck to then get it back with Eevee’s Energy-Evolution. All around an awesome card that will see play, but how much is going to be seen.
Random, with an effect that might not even benefit you even when you flip heads. Electrocharger is not a good card at all, as the effect shuffles a card back into the deck if you are lucky and does not give you access to it by itself. At least the card it attempts to return to you is a pretty powerful one.
Metal Goggles 5/10
One might wonder if it isn’t just better to use a choice band to do 30 extra damage rather than withholding your opponent from doing 30 more. Still could make some already tanky metal Pokemon even bulkier which could be an annoyance for your opponent at best.
A strong set with quite a few cards that will show up in many new decks. Especially the Tag Team cards are interesting, not only for players but also for collectors thanks to their amazing artwork. The value of this set will likely be somewhere between medium and high, depending on how well the new Tag Team Pokemon do in competitive play.
Meta impact: Medium/High
Collectors value: Medium/High
8.0 / Great