Tag Team Pokemon get even more support. Will this make them even more of an oppressive force or will this set change who dominates the game? Let’s find out!
Note: most of this was written before the English cards were revealed, so mistakes and mistranslations may always have snuck in.
Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor GX 7/10
I am not very pleased with a Tag Team Pokemon GX being used as a setup tool, especially when it does not capitalize on said setup itself. Evolving into a Stage 2 Pokemon on turn 1 with ‘Super Growth’, maybe even in combination with Meganium’s ‘Quick-Ripening Herb’, is very strong but I do not see myself using a Tag Team Pokemon GX for this task as the main focus. If the deck has synergy between the Stage 2 evolution chain(s) and the palm and owl duo, my view on this changes. Though I do not quite yet see a Stage 2 Pokemon I would rather play with Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor than simply Rare Candy or Meganium, the possibility for one getting released soon is high. The relatively high 270HP this Tag Team GX boasts synergize greatly with its own attack, ‘Calming Hurricane’. Though I still have no idea how a hurricane can be calming, it heals Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor some and works great with the many other healing effects Grass-Type Pokemon and support cards have. Though ‘Tropical Hour GX’ has a horrifyingly strong extra effect when used with 6 Grass-Energy attached, getting this many Grass-Energy on this card is a difficult task by itself and makes me assume the card-designers intended a combo with Tsareena from this very set. I am still unsure about the usefulness of Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor, but it has a very high ceiling.
An interesting card, that will be useless a lot of the time but can cause some problems if used well. Devolving a Stage 2 Pokemon that has evolved with the use of Rare Candy makes ‘Time Spiral’ potentially remove an attacker or resource for the remainder of the game. Against decks that run no evolved Pokemon whatsoever, Celebi has no use and can just be used as fodder for an Ultra Ball. Some Grass-Type decks will run a single Celebi to get the upper hand against decks with Stage 2 Pokemon. A tech-choice not many will expect.
This evolution line has an interesting theme going, all but one Sewaddle preventing damage from attacks. But only Leavanny is interesting, preventing damage dealt to all your Grass-Type Pokemon, not just itself. ‘Tailored Wrap’ does not stack with itself though, so a maximum of 40 damage can be prevented at a time without outside help. If it were not for Fire decks being so prevalent, Leavanny might see some fringe play, but not in the current environment.
Though the Ability ‘Spread Spore’ sounds pretty powerful at first, especially in combination with Breloom’s ‘Sleep Strike’ attack, it has a major downside. Under normal circumstances, this Ability can be used 5 times at most, which would fill your entire field with Foongus and Breloom. They have great synergy, but once you have no access to new ‘Spore’ Pokemon anymore, your deck just loses. There is potential, but there are surely ways to do this with less effort.
Both ‘Petal Blizzard’ and ‘Sol Slash’ have their uses. Even though ‘Sol Slash’ implies that you would have to attach Fire-Energy in addition to the Grass-Energy cost of the attack, Unit Energy [G][R][W] should do the trick. Without this, however, ‘Sol Slash’ does not deal enough damage to be worth two types of Energy being attached to Lurantis.
Energy acceleration is something we do not often see for Grass-Type Pokemon, so Tsareena fills an important role in its typing. ‘Queen’s Reward’ is a strong Ability, sadly it is attached to a Stage 2 Pokemon, greatly lowering its effective use. Unlike Malamar’s Psychic Recharge’, ‘Queen’s Reward’ attaches the Energy Card to the active Pokemon, which depending on the situation can either be worse or better. Tsareena is likely to still see some use, especially in the company of a strong Grass-Type Tag Team Pokemon GX.
Other than the funny imagination that the Pokemon searched for with ‘Seaweed Net’ is being dragged onto the bench against its will and then just sits there all grumpy, Dhelmise has no redeeming factors.
Heatran GX 6/10
Mostly useful for quick unexpected knockouts by using a combination of ‘Burning Road’ and ‘Heat Bomber GX’, Heatran GX will be a one-of in some fire decks.
Potentially massive damage for a single Energy, support in the form of Dusk Stone and a powerful effect that can quickly snowball into an unbeatable field, Chandelure is an awesome card. The last part of ‘Soul Burner’ does not specify whether the discarded Pokemon has to be a Basic Pokemon or not, thus putting a Stage 1 or even a Stage 2 Pokemon that was discarded with ‘Soul Burner’ onto the bench is a very real possibility. Stage 2 Fire-Type Pokemon that would normally not be worth the effort of being evolved into, can be used with Chandelure to quickly make the field a nightmare for the opponent. The difficult part about this is discarding the right Pokemon with ‘Soul Burner’ to put them onto the bench in the first place. This can be done with cards that set up the top card(s) of your deck of course. Shortly after the release of Unified Minds however, Mallow will rotate out of Standard format, making this task quite a bit more difficult. Overall, Chandelure has high potential that will only get higher and higher with every upcoming release, making it a card that people should always keep in the back of their mind.
Though ‘Strong Flare’ is a halfway decent attack thanks to Triple Acceleration Energy enabling this attack rather easily. There normally are better ways to make use of Triple Acceleration Energy, but Camerupt also has access to Normalium Z Tackle. Without much more playtesting, it is difficult to judge the value of the tool cards that allow for non-GX Pokemon to use GX attacks as well as the respective Pokemon, however, my assumptions lead me to Camerupt being rather mediocre.
Victini has one major problem, it requires Fire Energy to use ‘Victory Sign’. This makes it more unreliable than a first-turn Energy-Acceleration attack should ever be. If ‘Victory Sign’ required Colorless Energy instead of fire type, it would be a much better card. As it is though, most decks that already run fire energy can just rely on Volcanion to do an equal if not even better job.
Fletchinder and Talonflame 4/10
Talonflame can not keep up with most other Stage 2 Pokemon, not even in a Chandelure deck. Though the decent damage to the active Pokemon and a Pokemon on the bench is decent, there are better options. A singleton copy in a Chandelure deck is the most this card will see play as.
Psyduck & Slowpoke GX 9/10
Finally, we get the Water-Type Tag Team GX we needed. Unlike the currently popular Tag Team Pokemon GX, Psyduck & Slowpoke requires a certain tactic to be highly effective. In exchange for that necessity, Psyduck & Slowpoke GX has an incredibly high ceiling, capable of knocking out tag Team Pokemon GX in a single hit for just 2 Water Energy. Discarding 7 Supporter Cards for ‘Ditch and Splash’ to knock out a Tag Team Pokemon GX sounds incredibly difficult to accomplish, but far from it. This very same set gives us Lapras and Misty’s Wish, which in combination make accomplishing this quite easy. Unlike ‘Ditch and Splash’, the GX attack ‘Thrilling Times’ is more or less worthless, even with eight Water Energy attached, you still run the risk of dealing a measly 10 damage or even just 110, completely wasting all the effort put into using the attack in the first place. For 2 Energy, the attack so unreliable that it can only be used to deal guaranteed 10 damage without having to discard any Supporter cards. Psyduck & Slowpoke GX is a fast and strong attacker that likely will be underestimated at first.
Standing on its own, Lapras has not much use. Neither does Misty’s Request grabbed by ‘Mermaid Call’ . In combination with either Psyduck & Slowpoke GX or Lt. Surge’s Strategy, Lapras can be a strong playmaker though that enables combos otherwise inconsistent or impossible. Most commonly seen will Lapras be in Psyduck & Slowpoke GX decks though, as this is where it has by far the biggest and most obvious impact.
This card has no effective use in the current and seemingly the future metagame. Even if some decks get impaired by having their Energy put onto support Pokemon on the bench, most Fire deck hardly care and neither do decks that run Quagsire. Lumineon has free retreat and requires no colored Energy, but this does not save this card from a life in the trade folder.
For a single colorless Energy, ‘Group Devour’ deals up to 80 damage to any benched Pokemon. This sounds great until you realize that this not only requires you to have not a single Basculin in your Prize Cards but also none of them in your discard pile. Consistently keeping a bench of 3 Basculin in addition to an active Basculin is difficult and likely not worth the effort at all, but the cost of a colorless Energy and thus the access to any type’s support might make this stronger than it seems at first.
Unless the defending Pokemon has 3 or more retreat cost, ‘Aqua Impact’ is simply an underpowered attack. Pokemon tool cards have had nowhere as big of an impact as to warrant using an Ability on a Stage 2 Pokemon to shut them off. However, Carracosta could become a single copy counter against decks that use the Shedinja strategy, but because of all the effort a fossil Pokemon such as Carracosta needs to even be on the field, this is likely exclusive to decks already revolving around strong fossil Pokemon such as Aerodactyl GX, Archeops, and Aerodactyl.
Pretty unimpressive at first glance, Aquaranid can be part of a very oppressive control-style deck. Increasing the Energy-cost of every attack an opponent has to use leaves many decks with much fewer attacks in total since most decks have quite specific and limited amounts of Energy-cards in them. These decks will be faced with an unusual threat, as they will either quickly run through their limited Energy resources and/or Switch cards. Of course, this goes very well with the “hammer” cards, but also has synergy with Wondrous Labyrinth, further increasing the cost of the opponent’s Pokemon. This increases Araquanid’s attack cost by one as well though. There is great potential for this card to become a sleeper hit, especially since the upcoming set rotation takes Guzma with it.
Wimpod and Golisopod 7/10
Offering a 50% chance to stall an unfortunate position on the board makes this the best Whimpod I am sure, but that Golisipod is a disappointment. There is no reason for ‘First Impression’ to cost a massive 4 Energy. With Quagsire, ‘Emergency Exist’ is easily accessed and makes the Quagsire + Naganadel combination quite obvious. Even with this much Energy-Acceleration available, ‘First Impression’ could and should easily have been a 3 Energy attack. With the condition met, at least ‘First Impression’ actually deals a quite impressive amount of damage and can even knock out basic Pokemon GX. Even with the too-high Energy-cost, I assume Golisipod will make a few appearances in tournaments.
Self-damaging Pokemon seem to be a more common thing recently and are not doing too bad. So now with Froslass placing up to 7 damage counters on itself and dealing up to 140 damage in the process, this theme has possibly become much stronger. To knock out Fire-Type Tag Team Pokemon GX in a single attack for just a single Energy is absolutely worth keeping this card in mind and unleashing it on unexpecting Fire-decks. The potential Froslass has in a deck that cares about your own damage counters is something I am not sure about. However, this card easily deals 140 damage for a single Water Energy. That should never be something to be forgotten and will surely come in handy quite often, depending on the meta.
Not even worth a second glance, the damage is too low, the effect on ‘Quick Freeze’ is way too situational and nothing stands out positively about this card. I can see people dig this card out of their folders once Water-type decks are as popular as Fire-decks were in the past weeks to get some cheeky wins.
Though “Item-lock” can be way overpowered (see Trevenant from XY base set), Cryogonal takes it a few too many steps backward. The key to “Item-lock” is to gain advantage while preventing the opponent from doing so. Cryogonal lacks half of this and thus, is not a viable “Item-lock” card. Stalling for a turn or two until the opponent retaliates is a possibility, but a highly unreliable one.
Keldeo GX 8/10
Even if only one of the strongest current decks is focused on a Pokemon GX, a single copy of Keldeo GX can win you games on its own. Though Keldeo GX can beat a copy of itself thanks to ‘Sonic Edge’, the attack is somewhat underwhelming otherwise. This hardly matters though, since being immune to any attack while dealing 110 damage each turn is still enough. In any matchup where Keldeo GX does not shine by being immune to the main attacker of the opponent’s deck, it can simply get discarded. Even taking the decent ‘Resolute Blade GX’ into account, Water-Type simply has better attackers than this uni-pony.
Tapu Fini 4/10
Against Ultra Beast Pokemon, Tapu Fini’s ‘Nature Wave’ has great value. Against anything else, this is just a below-average card. At best, Tapu Fini is a decent counter to Blacephalon and Blacephalon GX as it can knock them out for a single Energy.
Raichu & Alolan Raichu GX 7.5/10
Just like Zapdos before, Raichu and Alolan Raichu GX want to repeatedly switch into the active spot to use their attack to full potential. The payoff is pretty massive in the rodents’ case, causing guaranteed paralysis as well as at least 160 damage for just 3 Energy. Just like with Zapdos, there are several ways to fulfill this condition. With the upcoming set rotation, however, some cards that help to do so will leave the standard format, potentially making this a bit more difficult to accomplish. A deck fully focused around this switching mechanic, featuring Zapdos, Raichu & Alolan Raichu as well as Zeraora GX seems like a powerful deck to run post rotation. As for ‘Lightning Ride GX’, it is a decent attack but does not stand out among the many, more powerful GX attacks out there. Pikachu & Zekrom GX, which is a direct competitor to Raichu & Alolan Raichu GX, seems like a more consistent option with a higher ceiling and will likely remain the most used Electric-Type Tag Team GX.
Pikachu and Alolan Raichu 4/10
‘Electro Rain’ has huge potential, but falls short thanks to the massive amount of resources required to cause decent damage with it. The damage for each discarded Energy should be 40 at least. ‘Lightning Ball’ on the other hand is pretty useless, no matter how you look at it. A pretty underwhelming card that would need just tiny adjustments to be decent.
Possibly hitting two different weaknesses would be useful, but no commonly played Pokemon have Electric or Metal weakness right now. The attack ‘Magnet Bolt’ requires Electric-Type Energy regardless, so adding the Metal attack type to an Electric-Type deck is all Magnezone does. Though adding any trainer card from your discard pile to your hand is a strong effect, it is not strong enough to warrant evolving up into a Stage 2 Pokemon for it. There have been much better Magnezone recently, this one can not keep up.
Though applying weakness on attacks targeting benched Pokemon is a novel idea and seems to be the theme of Galvantula, Electric-Type weakness is generally rare and will rarely be useful. Galvantula can be used in a spread damage deck to knock out heavily damaged benched Pokemon though.
Electric-Type Pokemon are known to accelerate Energy quite well, especially with Tapu Koko Prism Star and Pikachu & Zekrom GX. This makes reaching the requirement of 4 (or more) required Energy attached to your Pokemon rather easy. However, Eelektross does not place itself in the active spot as part of ‘Electric Swamp’, making it much more difficult or resource-heavy to use than it should be. Even if Eelektross is placed onto the bench as a Stage 2 Pokemon without the need of evolving, it still has a vastly underpowered attack in ‘Hover Over’ and nothing else. Unless the Energy taken with ‘Electric Swamp’ was going to be sent to the discard pile otherwise, I would not want to have it on Eelektross. Even with the similarities to Talonflame from Steam Siege, Eelektross is not a good card.
As implied by the card’s art, Thundurus and Tornadus are a team in this set and do quite well at it. While both of them are in play, they add extra effects to one of the other’s attacks. Though ‘Gale Thunder’ is the worse one of the two attacks to gain an extra effect, it still allows the duo to use exclusively Colorless Energy and ignore ‘Lightning Strike’. Though the downside of ‘Lightning Strike’ is pretty big, it can be used to your advantage with some cards. Thundurus and Tornadus make for a decent low-risk team but their damage output just can not keep up with most strong decks. Using this duo with the right cards may lead to a pretty decent deck though.
Tapu Koko 4/10
For three Energy, Tapu Koko can knock out most Ultra Beast Pokemon in a single hit, including Pokemon GX. This sounds good at first, but without the opponent’s active Pokemon being an Ultra Beast, ‘Nature Dive’ is merely an attack with average damage no extra effects. A situational card that has too few uses to be played at more than a single copy, if any.
Another Ultra Beast Pokemon that has an attack for a single Energy, which deals massive damage if either player has a specific amount of price cards left. With how powerful Electric-Type decks already are, Xurkitree makes for a great addition. ‘Three Mirrors’ allows for at least 120 damage at the cost of one, or even no Energy at all, if Thunder Mountain is in play. The condition of the opponent having exactly 3 Prize Cards left can easily be reached once Pikachu & Zekrom GX gets knocked out. Xurkitree is likely to become the most commonly used of the Ultra Beast Pokemon with attacks that rely on remaining Prize Cards, thanks to the synergy with the already powerful Electric-Type decks.
Mewtwo & Mew GX 10/10
Mewtwo & Mew GX’s Ability could not be named any more fitting than it already is. This is without question the best Pokemon GX we have yet seen, but only because of how powerful Pokemon GX already have been and are likely will continue to be. The more Pokemon GX are in your discard pile and bench, the more options ‘Perfection’ gives you, the more powerful this card becomes. Though not necessary, if the deck Mewtwo & Mew GX is played in uses Psychic-Energy at all, ‘Miraculous Duo GX’ not only deals decent damage but can also heal every single Pokemon on your side if there are 4 or more Energy attached to this card. The combinations this card allows for are almost impossible to count and until Pokemon GX are no longer a thing, Mewtwo & Mew GX will always be one of the strongest cards in the game.
Espeon & Deoxys GX 6/10
Up to 160 damage for 3 Energy, including the possibility of using Double Colorless Energy, assuming it gets reprinted. This sounds like quite a powerful attack, and it is. There are a few issues with ‘Psycho Circle’ though. The deck surrounding Espeon & Deoxys GX is pretty much built for you by how this attack is worded, giving you very few options for Pokemon to support this Tag Team Pokemon. Not having a full bench of 5 Psychic Pokemon reduces ‘Psycho Circle’s usefulness drastically and depending on how many Pokemon are missing from the bench, makes it a vastly underpowered attack. For the same amount of Energy as ‘Psycho Circle’, ‘Cross Divide GX’ distributes 10 damage counters among opponent’s Pokemon, double that if twice as much Energy is attached to Espeon & Deoxys GX. Either version leads to a win late game if partnered with spread damage, implying this card to be a good one-of addition to the already existing Weezing spread damage decks.
At first, Exeggutor seems like a horrible card. Discarding your entire hand every time you attack is pretty bad, leaving you without resources but ‘Judgment’s high damage. At second glance though, the damage ‘Judgment’ provides is incredibly high for 3 Energy on a non-GX Pokemon and is possible to be worked around. A simple ‘Smooth Over’ activation from Magcargo (Celestial Storm 24) leaves you with a full new card if a supporter card is picked, repeated use of Judge can also refresh your hand while keeping the opponent’s low and giving you less to discard every turn. ‘Judgment’ can knock out any Pokemon in the game within 2 hits at most and hits the extremely powerful Mewtwo & Mew GX for weakness, making this an almost unwinnable matchup for the Tag Team. Getting the necessary Psychic-Energy onto Exeggutor is also relatively easy thanks to Malamar (Forbidden Light 51). There surely are other ways of making this walking palm tree into a scary threat that not many will see coming. Very high potential. Just needs a little workaround to fully unleash its destructive power.
Alolan Marowak 3/10
As usual with Alolan Pokemon, Alolan Marowak possesses an attack without Energy cost, ‘Soul Breaker’. This attack heavily relies on the opponent’s deck, the top card of said deck in particular. Most decks contain about 20 Pokemon, giving this attack an estimated initial 33% ratio at best, but most players also fetch several of these Pokemon from their deck on turn 1, reducing the ratio even further. Unless there is a way to put a specific Pokemon on top of the opponent’s deck to make ‘Soul Breaker’ work consistently, this attack is sadly worthless. Even with the potential to knock out any Pokemon in the game in a single attack for no Energy, the extreme inconsistency of this attack makes Alolan Marowak way too unreliable until there is a way to make ‘Soul Breaker’ work every time.
With the growing amount of Pokemon that focus on your Pokemon having damage counters, Jinx may always have some kind of importance in them. Sadly ‘Weird Stance’ moves only a single damage counter a turn, but that may be enough already.
Latios GX 3/10
Sure, ‘Power Bind’ will rarely be an issue, but why does it exist in the first place? Latios GX is not anywhere good enough to warrant a negative Ability dragging it down. The rare times that ‘Power Bind’ stops Latios GX from attacking will not be a huge issue since it can easily retreat for free, but neither ‘Tag Purge’ nor ‘Clear Vision GX’ are strong enough to warrant sometimes being forced to retreat. In fact, ‘Clear Vision GX’ is useless in many matchups and becomes useless a lot of times after just a few turns. So the most effective way to use ‘Clear Vision GX’ is as first turn attack, to stop the opponent from using an attack they never rely on using in the first place. Against Tag Team Pokemon GX, ‘Tag Purge’ is a more than decent attack, anywhere else it’s just an average attack on a below-average Pokemon GX. Latios GX tries desperately to be like Keldeo GX and fails in multiple ways.
Jirachi GX 2.5/10
The only place I can imagine for this card would be a single copy in a Mewtwo & Mew GX deck, either to defend your own Tag Team Pokemon from weakness damage in a mirror match, or have a first-turn acceleration attack for the Tag Team in ‘Star Search’, assuming the deck even plays Psychic-Energy in the first place. Anywhere else, Jirachi is entirely trash, can not even deal damage without using the way underpowered, one time per game GX attack and has an Ability that is way too situational to be worth using a Pokemon GX for. To add insult to injury, ‘Psychic Zone’ also protects opposing Psychic-Type Pokemon from weakness damage, so in a mirror match between Mewtwo & Mew GX, this card helps both players. In any way, this otherwise garbage card is a very useful support card for the likely strongest card currently in the game. If you do not play Mewtwo & Mew GX, ignore this card’s existence.
Since Tag Team Pokemon typically have very high retreat cost, giving them the ability to retreat for free is great. This has an especially big impact once the Standard format rotation takes away some manners of retreat, including the powerful Guzma supporter. In dire situations, ‘Spinning Attack’ can be used in any deck, as it needs no colored Energy. A single copy of each a Drifloon and a Drifblim are what will likely be found in some decks that focus on a Tag Team Pokemon GX.
Uxie, Mesprit and Azelf 1.5/10
To even get the slightest use out of this trio, you need to have half of your field filled with otherwise useless Pokemon. Though Mesprit’s ‘Contact’ can do this by itself, you still have a maximum of 3 spaces for actually attacking Pokemon. These Pokemon then must hit the weakness of the opponent’s deck, else ‘Secret Territory’ is wasted. The effort for this to work is just too much. I expect some fun decks to surface, using the lake trio, but nothing more than that.
In a meta that is dominated by decks with large amounts of Special Energy cards, this will be a vital card in control decks thanks to ‘Dimension Talon’ and the possibility to stall with the confusion caused by ‘Fade To Black’. Any other deck will likely play one Giratina at most, likely none at all.
An average 70 to 80 damage over two turns, assuming you are not really unlucky and flip tails twice after ‘Rest Up’. That’s all Musharna is capable of. Though 80 damage for a single Energy sounds good, it is far from good enough the effort necessary.
Triple Acceleration Energy lets you use ‘Mystery Noise’ with a single attachment, ‘Mystery Noise’ allows you to shuffle Triple Acceleration Energy back into the deck without discarding it. This is the most obvious, but also quite the powerful synergy. Hit and run strategies are often powerful and Beheeyem throws an item-lock effect into the mix, making it even more difficult to get through. Once a great Pokemon to switch into is found, or a new Robo Substitute gets released, Beheeyem decks will get popular for sure.
Honedge, Doublade and Aegislash 8.5/10
For a single colorless Energy, Aegislash can deal up to 130 damage, which sadly is just 10 damage shy of knocking out a Mewtwo & Mew GX with weakness. Choice Band or Shrine Of Punishment can easily deal with those 10 HP, once the Standard format set rotation happens though, Choice Band no longer can fill this gap. Filling your discard pile with 13 items is already easy in a deck not focused on doing so, a deck that plays even more ball-cards, Judge Whistle and maybe a few Crushing Hammer will have met the limit by turn two with no problem. The lack of any colored Energy in the cost of ‘Rubble Slash’ allows Aegislash to be mixed with any other Pokemon, giving this card a wide variety of possible combinations to work with. To top this off, ‘Undying Sword’ allows for a constant flow of attackers, extremely fast ones if combined with Meganium’s ‘Quick-Ripening Herb’. Aegislash has huge potential and will especially be strong in a meta dominated by Mewtwo & Mew GX.
This Cosmog has free retreat, which makes it a contender for the best Cosmog we have. In my opinion, Cosmog from Team Up is still the better card though. But there can be an argument for either one.
Unit Energy, Recycle Energy or Weakness Guard Energy are likely the easiest and most useful ways of fulfilling the condition for ‘Special Laser’. Dealing 160 damage for three Energy is good, especially for a single prize card attacker. This can knock out any Pokemon in up to two hits, or knock out a Mewtwo & Mew GX in a single hit. There are better ways to accomplish this though, especially with special Energy being the most difficult resource to fetch from the deck when needed.
Though ‘Last Scene’ is highly unlikely to meet the condition it asks for, the rare times it does, Poipole can win you the game. This is more than most basic Pokemon that are meant to evolve can offer. This makes this Poipole the best choice in any deck that plays either Naganagel or Naganadel GX, either of which is quite powerful in their own right. Poipole is not a good card in itself, but the best at being a Poipole.
Though the massive 220 damage of ‘Giga Shake’ is appealing at first glance, the negative effect of this card makes this card unfit for serious play. Channeler from this very set makes a great companion to Steelix, but this is quite an inconsistent combo that will not get you any wins in a tournament. Knocking out a Tag Team Pokemon or even a Stage 2 Pokemon GX also takes at least 3 turns with ‘Giga Shake’, making this attack almost always worse than if it was just half the damage without the negative effect.
Aerodactyl GX 8/10
The stadium card Pokemon Research Lab searches for 2 Aerodactyl GX and places them on the bench, making this the easiest fossil Pokemon to access right now. A strong Ability, viable GX attack and a decent regular attack combined with free retreat make Aerodactyl a well-rounded card that is above average in every aspect. This makes it a difficult card to get past in a reliant way. Decks that use a very specific amount of Energy cards will have a huge problem with Aerodactyl GX. Thanks to ‘Rock Smash’ dealing exactly 120 damage, it can knock out a Pikachu & Zekrom GX in a single hit. Many Tag Team Pokemon will also get knocked out in a single hit by ‘Wild Dive GX’ since they require huge amounts of Energy attached to them. The only real flaw this card has is that ‘Prehistoric Wind’ does not affect evolved Pokemon, making Aerodactyl GX fight on equal ground. Since it does not stand out in any aspect, many evolved Pokemon can rather easily get the upper hand.
If you happen to run this card and pull off the once per game ‘Ring Reversal’, congratulations, you just made your deck worse and gained not even a single prize card for it in the process. You even give them all the tool cards and Energy cards back with this attack instead of discarding them. Against literally any deck not containing a Tag Team Pokemon, Heracross is even worse than that. Horrible card.
With the many ways to cause sleep on opponent’s Pokemon, Breloom is likely an excellent Pokemon that can deal massive amounts of damage for a single Grass Energy while taking advantage of Fighting weakness of the currently popular Electric-Type and not taking weakness damage from Fire-Type Pokemon. This card has massive potential and will surely see some play while getting better with every released card that can cause sleep outside of attacks.
Meditie and Medicham 5/10
Very high ceiling, very low floor. Medicham is a high-risk high reward card but lacks the consistency to be used in tournaments. In a best-case scenario, ‘Master’s Blow’ deals 160 damage for a single basic Fighting, assuming Martial Arts Dojo is on the field, Medicham is equipped with Karate Belt and you are at least one prize behind. That’s a lot of things that have to come together for this card to have reached its full potential. In the end, this card is not one any deck should or even can rely on, but more so an emergency button to deal 120 to 160 damage quickly. A 1-1 line would be a good idea in a fighting deck that could easily work without this card.
Just like with Medicham, relying on being behind on prize cards is never a good thing. But unlike Medicham, Garchomp is still a very strong Pokemon even when you are not behind on prize cards. Garchomp deals up to a massive 240 damage for two Energy, though one of them needs to be discarded in the process, you need to be behind on Prize cards and Martial Arts Dojo needs to be on the field. That is a lot that needs to happen at once, however, 120 or even 80 for is enough damage for two Energy. Garchomp could be the centerpiece of a fast new Fighting-type deck after set rotation.
This card is a great addition to the already existing, but rather unsuccessful Lucario and Melmetal GX decks. Stacking the damage reduction effects allows for Lucario & Melmetal GX to even survive a Fire-Type attack without the need of Metal Frying Pan. The fact that there can be multiple Lucario on the bench and ‘Tag Coach’ stacks can make it extremely difficult for many decks to deal enough damage. Mixed with healing effects, this can make the opponent possibly unable to knock even a single Pokemon out. Of course, the benched Lucario is a wide-open target though, so this is not a foolproof tactic by any means. Lucario’s ‘Tag Coach’ will also protect many other Tag Team Pokemon from common two-hit knockouts or even one hit knockouts. An important card to keep in mind when building a deck around a Tag Team Pokemon.
A Stage 1 Version of Oranguru (Ultra Prism 114) that shuffles the targets into the deck instead of placing them at the bottom. This may or may not make a difference to some decks, but there are enough ways to search for the cards placed at the bottom anyway that the extra shuffle does not make up for evolving into a Stage 1 Pokemon. But the 1 extra card that ‘Rototiller’ shuffles into the deck compared to Oranguru’s ‘Resource management’ can possibly make a difference. In the end, this card has only a very fringe use.
The slower the opponent’s deck, the better this card. Though nowhere bad against fast decks, Archeops decimates decks that have little to no Energy-Acceleration or that rely on a certain, limited amount of Energy. Against any other deck, Archeops has not as huge of an impact but the fact that it deals 80 damage for a single colorless Energy makes it still a very fast and cheap attacker, especially in combination with Pokemon Research Lab. Archeops also does well in a hit-and-run strategy thanks to ‘U-Turn’, giving it a home in a few decks for sure. A promising card.
Terrakion makes for a great team with Spiritomb (Unbroken Bonds 112) and Jynx from this set. In a properly set up deck, the condition of ‘Cave King’ is rather easy to meet and will make for a devastating attack for just 3 Energy. An attack that can even be used with only two attachments as it can utilize Double Colorless Energy once it gets reprinted. In dire situations, one more Energy allows for ‘Rock Smash’ to be used if the condition for ‘Cave King’ can not be met. Also worth noting are the rather huge 140 HP Terrakion has. Though it may be difficult to make Terrakion the centerpiece of a deck, it absolutely can be a great complimentary piece to self-damaging decks.
This card single-handedly makes Zygarde GX a strong card. Though not often going to happen, Zygarde GX can deal up to 130 damage for any two Energy and 210 damage for 4 Energy. Without direct drawbacks such as discarding Energy or skipping an attack, these numbers are crazy high and especially in a meta where Electric-Type is as strong as it is right now, the Zygarde + Zygarde GX deck has a real competitive chance. What will likely be overlooked but is important, is that ‘Boost Fang’ is a more than decent attack and will be even stronger with a bunch of ‘Cell Company’ on the bench. This is the kind of Energy-Acceleration Fighting-Type needed. An all-around great card in the right deck, maybe even without Zygarde GX in tow.
Umbreon & Darkrai GX 9/10
‘Black Lance’ is a very strong attack with above average damage and a strong effect that deals extra damage, perfect to enable knockouts.
Two hits with ‘Black Lance’s effect and a direct hit with it knock out almost every Tag Team Pokemon. One hit with the effect and one direct hit knocks out most Pokemon GX up to Stage 1, two direct hits knock out any Pokemon in the game. The numbers on ‘Black Lance’ are perfect against any deck focused on a Pokemon GX, the base damage is still average against decks without Pokemon GX. This already makes Umbreon & Darkrai one of the best Tag Team Pokemon. In addition to this, we have the rather weird ‘Dead Moon GX’. The basic effect is useful in almost all stages of the game, but especially as a first turn attack. In the late game, setting up Umbreon & Darkrai GX with 6 Energy should not be terribly difficult thanks to Weavile GX. This allows you to knock out any Pokemon in the game in one fell swoop and possibly win the game right there. Umbreon & Darkrai GX is a very powerful card that will bring the Darkness-Type back into the meta, but it has to compete with Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX.
Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX 9.5/10
Though at first glance both attacks seem extremely expensive, there are ways to get to 5 Energy rather easily. With a combination of Weavile GX from this set and Naganadel (Lost Thunder 108), getting a bunch of Energy on Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX is no problem. The massive HP, as well as damage this card boasts, are a clear threat to any deck it can face. Decks focused on a Pokemon GX that has 210 HP or less is easy game for this card. Two knockouts on any Pokemon GX with ‘Greed Crush’ are enough for Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX to win the game. ‘Gigafall GX’ is only really useful if the 40 damage more are very much required to win or get out of a bad situation. But the extra effect of ‘Gigafall GX’ can be treated as if it does not exist in the first place. This is an excellent card that will see a lot of play and may even scare Basic and Stage 1 Pokemon GX out of the meta entirely.
Weavile GX 8/10
Quagsire (Dragon Majesty 26), but for Darkness-Energy. Just like Quagsire, Weavile GX will sit on the bench and move Energy all over the place, especially in combination with either Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX or/and Umbreon & Darkrai GX. If necessary, Weavile GX can even set up your bench with ‘Night Order GX’ or attack for decent damage with ‘Claw Slash’. An all-around decent card that will see a lot of play, mostly as an enabler for some of the strongest Tag Team Pokemon.
Quite an interesting stall-card. This in combination with cards like Giant Bomb from this set allows for a weird mirror-damage deck but this feels like a fun deck to use on PTCGO rather than a serious tournament.
The wording of this card makes it an almost automatic win against any deck that does not run any evolution Pokemon. Though the Supporter card Channeler can remove the effect of ‘Shadow Nail’, not every deck will run it or have immediate access to it. This card may be a sleeper key-card against a meta dominated by Tag Team Pokemon.
For a two Colorless Energy, ‘Raid’ can deal up to 140 damage and gets less and less powerful as the game goes on, assuming you are not getting steamrolled. This is quite a decent attack for the early game, which makes Scrafty an interesting option for Darkness-decks that need a little while to get set up.
Since most decks have a bunch of Pokemon with Abilities they use for multiple purposes, ‘Evil Admonition’ can often be a devastating attack. Since this attack requires only a single colorless Energy, Hoopa can be added to most decks to make for a decent single Energy attacker. It is likely that Hoopa will see frequent play as a single copy in a variety of decks just for ‘Evil Admonition’.
Mawile GX 5/10
Though Mawile makes the impression to attempt to be part of a themed deck, I think this card is much more efficient as a single copy in decks that already run Unit Energy (Ultra Prism 138) or Metal Energy anyway. An unexpected ‘Hustle Bite’ for 160 damage may make the opponent not only think twice before putting Pokemon onto the bench (though there is no more Mawile GX, which they do not know) but also is quite a lot of damage for low Energy cost. A deck themed after Mawile GX will get predictable quickly. Sadly, ‘Hustle Bite’ deals, not quite enough damage to knock out most basic Pokemon GX in a single hit, but enough to knock out any Tag Team Pokemon in two hits. Mawile GX fits in a weird little gap for low Energy attackers that it does not even seem to be designed for.
A perfect card for combo decks, Whimsicott does everything a toolbox card should. Decent attack for a single colorless Energy, an Ability that searches for any single card and free retreat cost, Whimsicott is quite a powerful card that is essential in many combo decks in the future.
Garchomp & Giratina GX 9.5/10
Garchomp & Giratina GX’s own ‘Linear Attack’, Weezing (Unbroken Bonds 74), Giratina (Lost Thunder 97) and Spell Tag are just a few options to spread damage counters on the opponent’s side of the field to make ‘Calamity Edge’ a scary powerful attack. Even in the rare situations where there are no damage counters on the target, this attack still has above average damage for three Energy. While ‘GG End GX’ can win you the game by sending one or even two fully set up Pokemon to the discard pile, it is rather difficult to get to the 6 Energy this attack requires for the extra effect to activate. Even then, discarding the Pokemon will not earn you any Prize Cards and only is useful if the target is a fully set up attacker. This does not make Garchomp & Giratina GX any less of a hugely impressive monster of a Tag Team. The two dragons are one of the strongest Tag Team Pokemon we have yet seen.
Energy-Acceleration from the hand is just not efficient. Dragonite seems to be made to be paired with Dragonite GX, but it just falls behind the other much stronger and more efficient Energy Acceleration cards we already have. If there was a card to be released similar to Professors Letter, Dragonite might find a home. As things are right now though, Dragonite does not live up to how promising it seems at first glance.
Dragonite GX 7/10
Though there are going to be a few decks that will play Dragonite GX as the centerpiece, they are likely going to be nowhere as strong as the Mewtwo & Mew GX decks using this card. The Tag Team’s Ability ‘Perfection’ will allow it to use ‘Sky Judgment’ and deal with other Tag Team Pokemon quite easily. Even a Mewtwo & Mew GX that has Jirachi GX on the bench will get knocked out by this.
Another impressive Dragon-Type Pokemon from this set, this one being a single-Prize attacker. The damage of ‘Powerful Axe’ can become very scary very quickly and can be increased not just with ‘Grind up’ but also using other Energy-Acceleration such as Welder. Though there need to be a massive 6 – 7 Energy attached to Haxorus to knock out a Tag Team Pokemon in a single hit, the fact that nowhere close to impossible on a single-Prize attacker is impressive, to say the least. Within a single turn, with a manual attachment, Welder and ‘Grind up’, ‘Powerful Axe’ deals enough damage to knock out some Tag Team Pokemon already. Though this is rather unlikely to happen, it still is a very scary thing for a Single-Prize attacker to do. This kind of deck will have to run a lot of Energy and Energy-Acceleration though, possibly making it rather inconsistent. The more consistent a player can make this deck, the more powerful this card becomes.
The new Tapu Koko. Instead of a Double Colorless Energy, Noivern takes a single Colorless Energy to do the same thing. The drawback is that Noivern is a Stage 1 Pokemon which makes it much slower and more inconsistent. Noivern has free retreat cost just like Tapu Koko but will not hit anything for weakness damage. Possibly a substitute for the soon to be rotating out Tapu Koko but likely not able to live up to Tapu Koko’s legacy.
Naganadel GX 7.5/10
Support and attacking, Naganadel GX fills both positions neatly. Though ‘Venom Shoot’ is rather expensive, the three Colorless Energy in its cost allows for any Energy to be used for it. This brings Recycle Energy as well as Triple Acceleration Energy into the discussion, one returns to your hand every time it gets discarded for ‘Poison Shoot’s cost, while the other pays for most of the attack’s cost on its own as well as for the Energy discard effect. Special Energy use like this makes Porygon Z come to mind, but this is not the only way to consistently pay for Naganadel GX’s attacks. Malamar (Forbidden Light 51) can recharge the Energy necessary every turn, assuming Naganadel GX gets on the bench somehow. Talking of the bench, ‘Venom Shoot’ can knock out most basic Pokemon GX on the opponent’s bench, such as Dedenne GX and knock out any Tag Team Pokemon in two hits. The sheer variety of ways how to use this powerful attack makes Naganadel already quite interesting but there is more. ‘Ultra Conversion’ allows for potent card draw, if you have enough Ultra Beast Pokemon to discard. Lastly, ‘Injection GX’ is a nice early game trick to force the opponent to fight more for a potential win, giving you more time to win yourself. Just be careful not to give them a strong card they then have access to whenever they knock a Pokemon out. Naganadel GX is a powerful card that will see play but may be halted by how much the entire deck will have to be built around it.
Lickitung & Lickilicky 9/10
I despise this card before having faced it in a serious match. The huge variety of negative effects this card provides for just three Colorless Energy is impressive and will run you dry of resources quickly if you can not act against it. Though below average damage, ‘Lickilicky Dance’ gives the deck an extra win-condition in deck-out, slows down any attackers by getting rid of their Energy and cuts off the supply from the hand. After just a few attacks, many decks will have a very hard time keeping up with Lickilicky. To top this all off, Lickitung and lickilicky have 4 retreat cost, which synergizes very well not only with Lickitung’s attack, ‘Sumo Draw’ but also the new Supporter card Poke Maniac. A deceptively strong card that will absolutely see play and maybe even win tournaments.
Though ‘Tag Impact’ seems impressive at first, dealing up to 250 damage, this also requires your entire field to be full of Tag Team Pokemon, which means no other support Pokemon. It also means you just stuck 4 Energy on a Kangaskhan when you could have set up a Tag Team Pokemon.
Slaking, the laziest Pokemon in existence has an Ability which makes it smack you back when you attack it. While I struggle to understand the possible reasoning of this, ‘Strikes Back’ is a decent Ability. Free damage is always good, especially when many Pokemon can simply not knock Slaking out in a single hit. But for Slaking to be a target in the active spot, it should be more than just lay there and get hit. Either it deals a very weak 100 damage, or it does something more than lay around and deals an impressive 200 damage. The latter makes Slaking much more easy to knock out though, which is where the mind game comes into play. The tool card Giant Bomb on turns where the extra 100 damage were chosen makes attacking Slaking a suicide mission, dealing an additional 140 damage to the attacker. This can knock out any Pokemon GX in the game, which is a very good Prize-trade for a single-prize attacker. If you have no access to Giant Bomb though, Slaking becomes rather unimpressive. The mind game this card offers can make for some interesting decks, but relying on the opponent to do what you want them to do is never a good idea, as it will often backfire.
The second half of the Thundurus and Tornadus combo. While Thundurus deals the high damage, Tornadus makes the knockouts possible with spread damage. Without Thundurus on your bench though, Tornadus is way underpowered.
Though horrible in almost every case, this card has a place in mill decks. This card can make an opponent draw enough cards to lose even if they have a way to keep shuffling card into their deck. A likely must-have in mill decks, but absolute trash in any other deck.
Blaine’s Quiz Show 1/10
Why does this card only make you draw 4 cards? Why not something that other cards can not do? If this card let you search for any 2 or even 1 card in your deck if you win, I’d consider suggesting it in the ‘Nuzzle’ decks that seem to become stronger over time. But like this, just play any other decent Draw Supporter card.
Blue’s Tactics 3/10
Most decks want the draw effect of their Supporter immediately to make strong plays, so having to wait until the end of the turn to get any of the benefits of the one-per-turn Supporter card is often absolutely horrible.
Bug Catcher 1/10
Half of the time, this card is worse than a card that nobody plays because it’s too bad. Bug Catcher is absolute trash.
Likely a card that will be played at one copy a deck, unless the deck revolves around an attack with a huge negative effect Channeler could remove. The real strength of this card will likely start to develop over time.
Coach Trainer 9.5/10
A must-play for any deck focused on Tag Team Pokemon. The most efficient and reliable draw-support card for those decks.
A very weak effect that does not even deal free damage but rather just moves it around. Though this can move damage from a Pokemon that would otherwise have excess damage after the attack to another, or rarely even cause a knockout, the effect is just way too weak to make a substantial impact.
The most important part of this card is likely not the 2 cards to be added to your hand but the 4 cards to be discarded. Many decks with insufficient discard-engines after the set rotation will likely use this card to fill their discard pile with whatever they need.
Poke Maniac 7/10
Since 4 Retreat Cost Pokemon are becoming a theme, this card will only get stronger over time. Right now though, it is perfect for Lickilicky decks.
Misty’s Wish 4/10
Lt. Surge’s Strategy and Psyduck & Slowpoke GX are perfect partners for this card. This card will mostly be discarded over and over to attack with the Tag Team Pokemon.
Cherish Ball 9.5/10
Not much to say about this card. It is a must-play for any deck focused on Pokemon GX. A very powerful card that will see play for up until Pokemon GX are outdated.
Ear-Ringing Bell 2/10
Stall-decks might take advantage of this card either forcing the opponent to switch repeatedly or have some attacks fail. The best use for this card likely would be a Venusaur & Celebi GX stall deck with lots of healing, but the sheer dominance of Fire-decks, especially after the set-rotation, will make this impossible.
Flynium Z: Air Slash 2/10
Though the GX attack given by this card is somewhat decent, the attack ‘Air Slash’ as well as the Pokemon that have this attack are not very good.
Giant Bomb 6/10
Though the focus of this card is to deal damage as a counter-attack, Giant Bomb is more of a deterrent for the opponent to stop them from attacking and deal less damage to you overall. This is great in many decks, especially ones that are not especially fast or lack the potential to knock out some Pokemon in the meta with a single hit.
Great Potion 7/10
It seems that with the number of high damage attacks, the amount of cards capable of healing and preventing damage also increases. Though this card can only heal the active Pokemon, it is a decent heal for no other cost than the item itself. Especially Tag Team Pokemon will capitalize on this card and make knocking them out even more difficult.
Karate Belt 8/10
A Counter Gain, but for Fighting-Energy. Not much more to say. This card will see play in most if not all Fighting-type decks in the near future. Especially with Choice Band being gone after set rotation, the lack of a universal tool card will make Karate Belt a number one choice.
Normalium Z: Tackle 2/10
Just like Flynium Z, the GX attack this card provides is decent, but the Pokemon who have the required attack are not. The best contender for this is Camerupt, which still won’t see much play if any. Maybe in the future, these GX attack tool cards will be more useful.
Reset Stamp 10/10
A one-sided N. One of the most powerful disruption cards that allows for comebacks, stops opponents from utilizing many search effects properly and more. This card will be played in literally any deck that is not a mill-deck. A must-have.
Stadium Nav 6/10
With how powerful Stadium cards become recently, this may be a staple card for some decks. Especially fossil decks will run as many of this as they can to always have access to it right away. As Stadium Nav can also search for Prism Star stadium cards, the value this card can provide is rather high, but sadly tied to a bit of luck.
Tag Switch 4/10
This is the card that will get your Energy off a Tag Team Pokemon after using their GX attack’s + effects, assuming they are still on the field. Likely not worth playing in large amounts, but a single copy could come in handy once in a while.
U-Turn Board 6/10
This card will enable a whole new deck by itself; Pumpkin Board Bomb. Though this is a deck that is going to be seen exclusively in the Expanded format, it is a very powerful combination. In Standard, however, this is still a rather interesting card for decks with many Pokemon that have a single retreat cost. Escape Board is still the superior board though.
Blizzard Town 2/10
A deck that can not get a one-hit knockout will surely be able to capitalize on this, but the opponent can just avoid the effect by retreating or healing. There also are many ways to get rid of Stadium cards, which makes relying on Blizzard Town impossible.
Dark City 8/10
A universal Float Stone is a must-play for any Darkness-deck focused on a Basic attacker. A massive Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX with free retreat is a scary thought.
Giant Hearth 9/10
The perfect enabler for the already extremely powerful Welder card. Giant Hearth gives you the two Energy you get to attach with Welder right away and even set up possible discard pile plays. A must-play for any Fire-deck that plays Welder, but also most other Fire-decks.
Slumber Forest 4/10
This card will find a home nowhere but in Breloom decks, maybe not even in those. Relying on coinflips is never a good idea, even if the amount is doubled.
Pokemon Research Lab 8/10
Stadium cards are becoming more and more powerful and this card shows this very well. Placing fossil Pokemon on the bench without the need for Unidentified Fossil is a very powerful effect that will make fossil decks much more consistent. A guaranteed 4-of in any deck that has a decent amount of fossil Pokemon.
Recycle Energy 7/10
A perfect new card for Porygon Z decks as well as decks that frequently discard Energy for their attacks. Recycle Energy will see frequent play for sure.
Weakness Guard Energy 7.5/10
Just like Recycle Energy, Weakness Guard Energy will see frequent play. This is the one with the more blatant use, but not necessarily the better one. However, Weakness Guard Energy will see a lot of play in Mewtwo & Mew GX decks to prevent other Psychic decks from simply running you over.
The biggest thing I take away from this set is that it makes Charizard & Reshiram GX even more powerful by giving us exactly what the deck needs. Besides that, Unified Minds has several staple cards like Cherish Ball and Reset Stamp, but they will not be that expensive unless you look for the highest rarity versions. Darkness decks will enter the meta, but Fire decks still seem to be the most consistent and most dominant force in the game. Overall, this is a rather decent set with a huge amount of absolute garbage in it, while also adding a few new staples into the game.
7 / Decent