Hello ‘Beach travelers! It’s been a minute but I am back again for another article here on PokeBeach! I have just returned from 1955, err, two grueling weekends of Fall Regional Championships and now I am ready to set my sights on BREAKthrough, the set that will carry us all the way through the most exciting period of the Play! Pokemon season, City Championships! BREAKthrough Prereleases will be taking place throughout the next couple weekends and I’m sure you’ll want to know which cards are going to stun the future City Championship metagame. In this article I’m going to BREAK into the future and review the standout cards from BREAKthrough, then go in depth with my favorite Standard deck to come out of the new set! So hang on tight and grab your hoverboards, cause the future is a crazy place!
But before we talk about the future, I’d like to go back to the past and talk about the recent Fall Regionals I participated in. Unfortunately, I was not able to finish in the Top 32 at Lancaster or Fort Wayne Regionals this year. I did get myself on the Championship Point board though, finishing in the Top 64 out of 490 Masters at the Fort Wayne Regional Championships. I chose to pilot Night March / Archeops at Fort Wayne along with fellow PokeBeach writers Jimmy Pendarvis (who finished in the Top 32) and JW Kriewall. Despite my performance, I still think Night March was a solid play for last weekend. I was able to go 4-0 at the event before losing back-to-back matches to Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX decks. I won one game in both of those series but simply wasn’t able to pull it out in the end. Then, I went on to defeat a M Manectric-EX deck and an Yveltal-EX deck before ultimately playing a mirror match for the win-and-in round. My resistance was good enough for me to intentional draw my way into top cut, however, my opponent was not confident in his resistance, so I had to play the series out. My opponent played a version of Night March with Life Dew and I played a version with Computer Search as the Ace Spec. I really don’t like Life Dew in Night March. I think a fifth out to an early Double Colorless Energy is far too valuable to pass up over the course of a long tournament. However, my opponent was able to open Dew in both of his starting hands and proceeded to wail on me in a brisk 2-0 series. As insult to injury, I opened a Shaymin-EX and no draw support in game one! I finished the tournament very bitter about how things went. I felt as though I had fought hard and played a solid deck and was robbed in the end. Why couldn’t I have been paired against literally anything else in the final round!? These kinds of things happen though, and I was relieved to be finished with a long day.
Even though Night March didn’t work out for me at Fort Wayne, the deck still had a solid showing, earning multiple Top 32 placements and landing a spot in Top 4 in the hands of Ross Cawthon. Where my friends and I had teched our lists to beat Vespiquen (of which I played zero in nine rounds), Ross teched his list to beat Toad / Giratina with the inclusion of cards like Enhanced Hammer and Xerosic. I can’t say how effective these cards were for him over the course of the tournament, but I can say they were not enough to stop my friend Matt Price from beating him in Top 4 and taking his Toad / Giratina deck to face down Frank Diaz in an exciting finals! This was my friend Matt’s first big run at a Regional Championship, and an incredible one at that! Overall, half of the six players in my room ended up making Top 32, so I still had lots to celebrate even though I had not lived up to my personal expectations. Watching my roommate Matt take on a seasoned veteran in the finals of the biggest Regional ever was an awesome experience and reiterates what I believe to be true about competition. Success doesn’t have to happen gradually! Keep putting yourself out there, applying yourself, and surrounding yourself with encouraging people that have like-minded goals and you are bound to BREAKthrough to success, potentially sooner than you imagine! Before we move on, I’ll share my updated Night March / Archeops list, just for reference.
1x N (NVI #92)
Overall I am satisfied with this version of the list and I am happy with how it performed this past weekend. A few pairings could have gone my way, but as far as consistency and having solid all around matchups go, I think this list is very successful. A 1-1 Archeops / Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick line has proven to be enough to get the Prehistoric Bird out on a consistent basis and seems to be the golden standard in most decks running Archeops now. Even without Acro Bike I would say that I can get the turn one Maxie’s play about 1/3 of the time. When you take into consideration that you don’t really need Archeops on the first turn of the game to defeat many Evolution-based decks, this proves to be just enough to tilt matchups like Vespiquen in your favor. Vespiquen decks have begun to play Wobbuffet in order to evolve past Archeops’ Ability, however, I haven’t seen this work successfully enough to defeat a fully-throttled Night March list. Up until the tournament, I had been playing with only three copies of Professor Juniper in order to make room for Town Map, but I ended up bumping to four copies to protect against early Ghetsis plays that may have increased due to Vespiquen’s prominence the weekend prior. As I mentioned previously, Ross played a variety of techs in his list which are worth considering. JW and I were having a good laugh at Fort Wayne trying to figure out where he fit all of his interesting one-ofs. In addition to Enhanced Hammer and Xerosic, he also played Teammates, Colress, Town Map, Silver Bangle, Hex Maniac, and Super Rod.
The Best of BREAKthrough
One of the first things you might notice about our future BREAKthrough set is that it seems a little… bleak! You mean we need to play all the way through February with this? THIS IS THE FUTURE? Is this some dystopian future movie? Am I in the correct timeline here? Surely there is an alternative dimension where our hyped new BREAK Evolution mechanic gets at least one obviously playable card! Last year’s Cities set, Phantom Forces, introduced the staple, VS Seeker, the now infamous damage-piling Crobat line, and three brand-new archetypes in Metal, Night March, and M Manectric-EX! And now this!? There’s no obvious standouts like Shaymin-EX, Giratina-EX, or Hoopa-EX, that’s for sure. But with some investigation we’ll find that there’s actually a lot of cool stuff going on in BREAKthrough. Let’s think back to some of our first few Mega Pokemon-EX from Flashfire. M Kangaskhan-EX saw some play with Fairies as a tank, but both M Charizard-EX cards were miserably unplayable. It took Pokemon a few sets to hit their stride with Mega Pokemon, eventually releasing Spirit Links to increase their playability. My thought is that Pokemon will gradually increase the playability of BREAK Evolutions as the year goes on as well.
In stark contrast to the big Basic Pokemon-EX heavy sets that have carried us for the last few years, the most exciting cards from BREAKthrough are almost entirely Evolution cards. Even the Pokemon-EX in the set are all part of their own Mega Evolution lines! There are no standalone Pokemon-EX in this set, something that Pokemon hasn’t done since the reintroduction of Pokemon-EX with Next Destinies! One of the major complaints I hear from Pokemon players is that Evolution cards have been phased out of the competitive scene in favor of “big Basic” cards. With our newest game mechanic focusing on Evolution, it seems as if Pokemon is addressing this issue head-on. Though this naturally results in less exciting big basic Pokemon-EX, I think it’s an excellent direction for the game overall and I am ready to embrace it. The Evolutions in BREAKthrough have a lot of potential! Let us remember that Crobat from Phantom Forces was criminally underrated going into Cities last year. It wasn’t until Winter Regional Championships that Crobat was able to steal the limelight and carve out a sturdy foothold in the metagame for the rest of the year! So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the best of BREAKthrough!
Oh baby! I have been excited to write about this card since I first heard about it. 150 HP! Great Ability! Fighting typing! Efficient damage output! Retreat Cost of two! Gallade is a game changer. Fighting has been patiently waiting for a splashable Double Colorless Energy attacker for way too long. M Manectric-EX has been able to run around unchecked for the last six months because of its ability to tank hits from most decks in format. But now we have an efficient, consistency-boosting, hard-hitting Fighting-type attacker that can effortlessly slide into any deck that runs Battle Compressor and Double Colorless Energy thanks to Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick!
Gallade’s Ability, Premonition, allows the player to look at the top five cards of their deck once per turn and rearrange them however they like. This has some obvious synergy with cards like Acro Bike, Trainers' Mail, Shaymin-EX, Slurpuff, and Unown, which allow the player to dig a few cards deep into their decks. Premonition gives these draw cards an opportunity to be selective in a way that they weren’t previously, vastly improving their potency. Imagine Gallade’s utility in a Vespiquen deck! All of a sudden, Unown might as well read, “look at the top five cards of your deck, choose one and put it into your hand!” Premonition is a solid consistency boosting Ability to have sitting on the Bench, but I’m not sure that Gallade would get much play for the Ability alone. Fortunately for our slashing friend, it also has an extremely formidable attack in Sensitive Blade!
For a DCE, Gallade hits 60 damage plus 70 more if a Supporter was played during your turn. This might be one of the most agreeable damage boosting conditions of all time and is definitely welcomed. I imagine that Gallade will predominately be used to cover Weakness to M Manectric-EX decks while also boosting consistency. At 130 damage, Gallade makes swift work of a M Manectric-EX for only one Energy attachment while easily surviving any attack Manectric has to throw back at it. Natural partners that come to mind for Gallade are Yveltal-EX and M Rayquaza-EX, but Gallade could also be played in M Manectric-EX decks to have a leg up on the mirror match! In addition to easily dispatching Manectric, Gallade also hits perfect numbers against Shaymin-EX! 130 is just enough to hit through Shaymin-EX’s Fighting Resistance for a OHKO. Finally, Gallade gives Pokemon-EX-centric decks like Yveltal a hard-hitting non-EX option to help combat non-EX threats like Vespiquen. Gallade is easily one of my top picks from BREAKthrough and I am positive that the Psychic Swordsman will have a place in the future of our game alongside Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick!
Zoroark / Zoroark BREAK
Zoroark is a Pokemon that has been living on the fringe of playability since its original release in Black & White, but I finally believe that the Dark Fox’s time to shine has come in the Standard format! The regular Zoroark from BREAKthrough boasts a familiar Ability in “Impersonate” which allows the Benched Zoroark to swap places with the Active Pokemon once per turn. Keldeo-EX has already proved the utility of Rush In to us with years of relevancy, but can the same Ability be playable on a Stage 1? Lucky for us, Keldeo’s best friend, Float Stone, is being reprinted in BREAKthrough as well, which should bolster the Fox’s playability.
Dark-type Pokemon have enjoyed a firm place in the metagame ever since the release of Darkrai-EX in Dark Explorers. More recently, the Dark torch is being carried by Yveltal-EX and Yveltal from XY. In Standard, Dark types lose their beloved Keldeo / Darkrai combination and thus sacrifice a lot of the mobility that they enjoy in Expanded. Zoroark in combination with Float Stone helps to patch up this mobility issue, while also providing an efficient and potentially hard-hitting non-EX attacking option. For only a Double Colorless Energy, Zoroark can use Mind Jack to hit 10 plus 30 for each Pokemon on the opponent’s Bench. With a full Bench of five, Mind Jack hits a stellar 160 damage! With Muscle Band attached, this attack can hit 180 damage! Since players are filling their Bench more than ever with draw Pokemon like Shaymin-EX, I suspect Zoroark to be hitting good numbers very often. Even if it isn’t hitting for a OHKO, Zoroark will more than likely be hitting for over 100 damage on consistent basis for minimal Energy investment. If you wanted to get super spooky with it, you could also play Target Whistle to attempt to fill your opponent’s Bench for them, bolstering your damage output with Zoroark. However, I don’t really think that will be necessary. I suspect that Zoroark will prove to be a welcome inclusion to Dark decks in Standard, simply for the mobility and additional non-EX attacking option.
But that’s not all! When playing Zoroark we also have the option to play the beautiful Zoroark BREAK! I don’t know about you, but I am chomping at the bit to play one of these amazing-looking BREAK cards. For one Darkness Energy, Zoroark BREAK gives you the option to use one of the Defending Pokemon’s attacks with Foul Play. Zoroark’s HP also gets boosted to a formidable 140 HP. This may seem lackluster, since Zoroark BREAK is essentially a glorified Stage 2 without much to offer, but let’s think about the potential application’s Zoroark BREAK could have in an Yveltal-EX deck. First of all, Zoroark boasts an alternative Weakness in Fighting, which is great news for the rest of its squad. When facing off against a M Manectric-EX, Zoroark BREAK can take two Turbo Bolts before falling while dishing out Turbo Bolts of its own and accelerating Darkness Energy to the Bench. With Muscle Band attached, Zoroark Turbo Bolts for 130 damage, which is just enough to 2HKO a M Manectric-EX if we assume they use Rough Seas to heal 30 damage between turns. Zoroark BREAK also gives you the option to lock up decks that lock like Seismitoad-EX and Giratina-EX, which can prove to be very effective strategies based on the game state. Zoroark trades well with Giratina, using Chaos Wheel for far less Energy than the Ghostly Dragon. Zoroark BREAK gives you a unique option to efficiently employ the opponent’s strategy against them, and I would definitely suggest experimenting around with the card in any Dark deck that runs Zoroark!
While we are on the topic of mobility, I would be remiss not mention the reincarnation of our old pal, Retreat Aid Dodrio! Dodrio is a Stage 1 that has an Ability, Retreat Aid, which reduces all of your Pokemon’s Retreat Costs by two so long as it is on the Bench. Though Dodrio does not have a particularly useful attack, its Ability is very useful in decks that cannot reliably employ Float Stone, most notably, Vileplume decks. In Standard, Dodrio reduces Vileplume’s Retreat Cost to a very manageble cost of one. In Expanded, however, Vileplume decks can employ Keldeo-EX alongside Dodrio to form a fluid free retreating combo that is not reliant on Tools or Item cards. This mobility issue may be one of the only things holding Vileplume back from being a consistent top tier contender. Now that Vileplume is no longer threatened by a untimely Lysandre, we should expect to see much more of the Item-locking Flower in the months to come!
Fisherman? Yes! Fisherman! Our trusty Energy-retrieving Supporter is back with a fresh new look. But why is Fisherman worth talking about now? Well I’m glad you asked! Anyone who has ever played Archie’s Blastoise for an extended period of time knows the frustrations that come with burning multiple Superior Energy Retrieval just to pull off the Archie’s play. I’ve even considered playing Dowsing Machine just to have an opportunity to play a fifth Superior in that deck! But now, Blastoise players need not worry about burning their precious Energy Retrievals! With only one copy of Fisherman, Blastoise can choose to play their Supporter for turn to retrieve four Energy from the discard at no cost. This is huge news for Blastoise! One copy of Fisherman in combination with VS Seeker gives Blastoise the opportunity to double their potential Energy usage in a given game. Not to mention, Fisherman also gives Blastoise players an opportunity to retrieve Energy from the discard under Item lock, which can totally turn the tides of a game! Imagine being able to use Jirachi-EX’s Stellar Guidance Ability to retrieve four Energy from the discard while battling against Seismitoad-EX / Crobat or Vileplume! Though Fisherman’s utility is pretty much limited to Rain Dance-style decks, it is a very welcome addition to the archetype’s already potent arsenal.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
If you'd like to continue reading, consider purchasing a PokeBeach premium membership! If you're not completely satisfied with your membership, you can request a full refund within 30 days.
Each week we post high-quality content from some of the game's top players. Our article program isn't a corporate operation, advertising front, or for-profit business. We set our prices so that we can pay the game's top players to write the best content for our subscribers. Each article topic is carefully selected, goes through multiple drafts, and is touched up by our editors. We take great pride in our program!