Hello again ‘Beachers! It hasn’t been too long since I wrote my last article, but I wanted to have a look at some of the most impactful cards from our new set, BREAKpoint. Boasting interesting new Pokemon like Golduck BREAK and M Gyarados-EX alongside some game-changing Trainer cards like the heavily discussed — and feared — Delinquent, the tail-end of U.S. Winter Regionals are sure to be shaken up by BREAKpoint’s release. Many of the decks emerging from this expansion have the potential to take over the high tiers and I wanted to discuss what makes them so strong in our current metagame.
Afterwards, I want to have a peek at something that has had me significantly excited for 2016. The European Challenge Cup (ECC), occurring at the same time as U.S. Regionals, brings in players from all around Europe and beyond to compete for the chance at National-level Championship Points. Any players with the skill and luck needed to snatch a top placement are almost certain to stay within the top 22 rankings at the end of the season. I haven’t had the chance to compete in the ECC before, but this year my availability has aligned and I’m ecstatic that I can attend this huge event. However, for an event the size of the biggest U.S. Regionals, preparation is key. Extensive knowledge of the format and a good grasp on the current metagame from around Europe as well as U.S. Cities are essential to achieve a solid performance. I have done dozens of hours of testing and I feel more than prepared to take home a solid placement at this highly competitive event. For the final part of this article, I’m going to share my preparation for the tournament — including highly tested lists for the two decks I believe are the strongest plays for the tournament — and what I expect the metagame to consist of.
BREAKpoint — What’s New?
BREAKpoint consists of over 120 new cards, and adds an astounding 11 Pokemon-EX to the already massive EX pool and five new BREAK Pokemon. The set looks to be made up of Japan’s Rage of the Broken Sky set, the Golduck BREAK / Palkia-EX Deck released in Japan, and finally the Emboar-EX versus Togekiss-EX Deck, also released in Japan. Let’s start off by highlighting the best contents of the Golduck BREAK / Palkia EX Deck.
Palkia-EX – Water – HP180
[W][W] Aqua Turbo: 40 damage. Search your deck for 2 [W] Energy and attach them to 1 of your Benched Pokemon. Shuffle your deck afterwards.
[W][W][W][W] Pearl Hurricane: 120 damage. Choose 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. This attack does 30 damage to it.
When a Pokemon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Grass (x2)
Equipped with a similar move to the well-known Virizion-EX of the past, Palkia-EX boasts two Water-heavy attacks in Aqua Turbo and Pearl Hurricane. Pearl Hurricane — while costing a massive four Water Energy — lets you OHKO any Water-weak Pokemon in the format, including any Mega Evolutions like M Houndoom-EX plus set up a KO on a 170 HP Pokemon the next turn, provided you can find a Muscle Band to attach.
Palkia-EX‘s Aqua Turbo is an interesting attack that’s nice to have in Standard, but doesn’t have too many uses at the moment. The main use of Palkia-EX could be with the new Mega Evolution, M Gyarados-EX, which I’ll talk about later in its own section. Other than that, Palkia-EX will have to wait for a partner like Genesect-EX to release for a true spot in the metagame.
As with many newly released cards, facing the daunting card pool that Expanded offers can be hard for weaker Pokemon, and Palkia-EX cannot stand up to stronger Water types like Keldeo-EX and its Energy-accelerating partner, Blastoise.
Golduck / Golduck BREAK
Golduck – Water – HP100
Stage 1 – Evolves from Psyduck
[W] Derail: 20 damage. Discard a Special Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
[W][C][C] Hydro Splash: 70 damage.
Weakness: Grass (x2)
Golduck BREAK – Water – HP140
Ability: Hyper Transfer
As often as you like during your turn (before your attack), you may move a Basic Energy from 1 of your Pokemon to another 1 of your Pokemon.
This Pokemon has the attacks, Abilities, Weakness, Resistance, and Retreat Cost of the Golduck it Break Evolved from.
Golduck certainly could have been a better card to BREAK Evolve from compared to a Pokemon like Zoroark. Derail is useful in a pinch against any decks utilizing high counts of Special Energy. Hydro Splash combined with a Muscle Band can take down a Water-weak Pokemon-EX. Obviously Golduck wouldn’t be worth talking about without its BREAK Evolution. Golduck BREAK gains an extra 40 HP and the Hyper Transfer Ability, letting it move around any basic Energy from one Pokemon to another.
Golduck BREAK is a step up from Pokemon such as Aromatisse and Hydreigon. The ability to move around all types of basic Energy on the field opens up more doors for using different Pokemon in conjunction with the Energy-transferring Ability. Another thing that needs to be considered is the reprint of Max Potion. The reintroduction of this card makes Pokemon with transfer-based Abilities much more potent. You can place a bulky attacker in the Active, have it take a chunk of damage, transfer its Energy to the Bench, then start it anew with Max Potion. Pairing Golduck with bulky, high HP Pokemon that require specific Energy costs makes the most sense, since Aromatisse is a better pair with Fairy types and any Pokemon that use Colorless Energy to attack such as M Mewtwo-EX Y. My first thoughts come to high-HP Mega Pokemon-EX with massive damage outputs, but, with the need to set up a Stage 1 BREAK Pokemon and a Mega Evolution, if your opponent is able to Knock Out one piece of the strategy, the entire setup is sent straight back to start. Mega Evolutions have usually been unable to take advantage of a Energy-moving Pokemon due to the need to play a scarce four-count of Rainbow Energy to activate Aromatisse’s Fairy Transfer Ability. If enough of these Energy were removed from play via Knock Outs the deck could no longer function.
My first idea of a pair for Golduck BREAK is M Mewtwo-EX X, the lesser used of Mewtwo’s Mega Evolutions. Using Mega Turbo and Landorus as forms of acceleration to get the two Fighting, one Psychic, and one Colorless Energy needed for M Mewtwo-EX to attack shouldn’t be a challenge. The deck will take at least three turns to fully set up since Golduck BREAK is a technical Stage 2, so sitting behind the one-Prize Landorus should provide you with enough time to get multiple Energy onto the field. Since M Mewtwo-EX’s attack requires a Stadium for the 50-damage boost, playing Shrine of Memories while using the Damage Change Mewtwo-EX is an extremely strong healing option. Being able to return all damage onto your opponent’s Active Pokemon, which could result in a KO, adds some more flexibility to the deck in terms of attacking. Once everything is set up M Mewtwo-EX should be hitting for 200 damage each turn, taking a hit, then using Mewtwo-EX’s Damage Swap to return any damage done to the opponent. The other option is to move all Energy to the Bench via Golduck BREAK, drop down a Max Potion to heal all the damage, move the Energy back to M Mewtwo-EX, and swing for another massive 200-damage attack, with your opponent still staring down a 230 HP threat. The main weakness this deck would face is Night March builds, specifically Pumpkaboo. This non-EX is able to OHKO your attacker and cause some serious problems in both Prize exchange and the need to set up another M Mewtwo-EX. In a metagame where Night March is sparse this deck is a serious contender. Decks like Yveltal-EX / Zoroark / Gallade or Entei that are unable to OHKO this mammoth EX will be faced with an uphill battle.
Another Mega Evolution Pokemon that pairs well with Golduck BREAK is the forgotten Primal Groudon-EX, a card that has taken top spots at Regionals in the past. Ancient Traits seem to be taking the sideline in Standard at the moment, but this pairing could bring Primal Groudon-EX back into the scene. Primal Groudon-EX decks are built on Korrina as a strong setup engine, as well as Mega Turbo and basic attachments to get Energy into play. The last piece is wall Pokemon such as Wobbuffet and Robo Substitute. Although Wobbuffet may seem counter intuitive due to shutting off your own Hyper Transfer, once it’s out of the Active, Hyper Transfer can be used again. Shutting down the majority of your opponent’s Abilities means they will need to use their Supporter slot to draw cards and get some sort of setup, and will have trouble using disruptive Supporters to bring up Groudon-EX that haven’t had the chance to Primal Revert yet. Finally, for the new element, a healthy line of Golduck BREAK alongside two-three copies of Max Potion needs to fit within the deck, making for a tight list. Tools that cannot be removed from Primal Groudon-EX due to Ω Barrier play a key role in the deck and should be included as well, such as Focus Sash to guarantee the Primal EX will survive into the next turn. Primal Groudon-EX has already proven itself before, and the inclusion of Golduck BREAK is another option for the Primal Evolution to use. The deck can handle any threats once it sets up, but therein lies the main problem. Setting up takes time even without adding in the BREAK Evolution, and due to this will have a hard time versus quick decks like Night March and Vespiquen. The speed these decks produce can leave you with little time before all of your walls like Robo Substitute have been KO’d, requiring Primal Groudon-EX to come Active before it’s ready to attack. If someone is able to build a list that handles this problem well, Primal Groudon-EX / Golduck BREAK could become a top-tier threat in the metagame.
There is one more viable Mega Evolution to pair with, M Gyarados-EX, which I will talk about in its own section.
The obvious and most probable partner for Golduck BREAK in Expanded is Ho-Oh-EX, where on a flip drops three movable basic Energy onto the field. Ho-Oh-EX hasn’t been able to do too much in Expanded recently, but should see some play as a toolbox-based deck using Golduck BREAK instead of the one-time-use Energy Switch. The main way a toolbox deck wins is by using a mix of differently-typed Pokemon to hit for Weakness and generally strong attackers that deal damage for little Energy. Cards to include could be Stunfisk and Terrakion as Revenge attackers to hit Pokemon like Yveltal-EX and Darkrai-EX for a OHKO; your own Yveltal-EX for an all-around attacker along with the ability to hit for Dark Weakness; a Safeguard Pokemon such as Suicune or Sigilyph to provide some protection against EX heavy decks, forcing a Hex Maniac to be played; and finally, as there are multiple types in the deck, Xerneas can reach into the 150-180 damage range with Rainbow Force, taking out any big EX threats where Weakness isn’t a factor. The main problem for this deck is consistently getting the Golduck BREAK into play to move Energy around. The need to evolve twice leaves the Golduck BREAK’s pre-Evolutions vulnerable to Lysandre in the early turns. Another notable issue is any non-EX attackers like Vespiquen and Joltik that could cause some Prize exchange problems, since they can take a KO on Ho-Oh-EX any time they draw a Lysandre. The best way to get around these issues would be to fit in an Articuno or two to match the Prize trade, taking two Prizes against their low-HP attackers or hitting for Weakness on other attackers such as Flareon. The release of Golduck BREAK should bring Ho-Oh-EX back into higher tiers. This toolbox deck is a strong choice to counter a known metagame using Weakness and Energy manipulation to topple many of the top threats.
Max Potion‘s reintroduction to Standard brings light to some previous decks that had trouble reaching the top tiers due to the lack of healing, such as Aromatisse. The main use of Max Potion has been in Energy-moving decks to let a bulky attacker take a hit and heal all the damage off without removing Energy, or in decks that use Pokemon with low attacks costs like Thundurus-EX or Landorus-EX. Cleaning these Pokemon of all damage increases the amount of turns the Pokemon has on the field, while any loss of Energy is minimal.
Without this crucial card Aromatisse builds were forced to innovate and use multiple copies of AZ to recreate the healing Max Potion provided, alongside Pokemon like Giratina-EX and recently M Mewtwo-EX. A usual routine using AZ would be to have a high-HP Pokemon take a good chunk of damage from an opponent’s attack, move the Energy to a Benched Pokemon using Aromatisse’s Fairy Transfer, AZ to put the damaged Active into your hand, either retreat back into the same Pokemon by moving a Fairy Energy and retreating with Fairy Garden or send up a new attacker better fit for that situation, then finally move the Energy back to the Active Pokemon ready to attack again with full HP.
However, the use of AZ left the deck without its Supporter slot on any turns it needed healing. In Giratina-EX’s case it needs another Dragon Pokemon to move Double Dragon Energy onto, while M Mewtwo-EX needs another Mewtwo Spirit Link — preferably attached to another Mewtwo-EX ready to Mega Evolve that turn — to keep up the pressure with Psychic Infinity. Max Potion sorts these problems out entirely. With the same basis of how AZ was used, Max Potion removes all damage from the Active after the Energy has been moved to the Bench. You both keep your Tool attached so you don’t have to find another Spirit Link or Muscle Band, and get to use your all-important Supporter for the turn. This lets you find crucial Energy attachments, another attacker to put into play, or Lysandre a Pokemon you need to damage or KO.
A 210 HP M Mewtwo-EX utilizing AZ was already hard enough to deal with for most decks. Adding Max Potion in place of AZ lets you keep the Mega Pokemon in play along with using another Supporter for your turn, meaning the deck’s set up is much smoother. Xerneas provides Energy acceleration along with thinning the deck early on in the game. Max Potion can be played as a full four-count so an attacker can be feasibly healed whenever you need it to. M Mewtwo-EX / Aromatisse will be incredibly hard to outpace. Opponents will need to use other tactics to take down a tank like M Mewtwo-EX, such as Weakness.
The obvious, recurring problem is going to be Pumpkaboo using that oh so painful Weakness to Psychic I just mentioned. The best way to deal with this would be to play Seismitoad-EX and Double Colorless Energy to limit their damage output by removing Items from the equation on turn two, or even turn one if you open the Toad or opt to play Float Stone. Paired with Max Potion, a single Seismitoad-EX can survive multiple attacks by Night Marchers since they should be unable to get the full nine Night March Pokemon in the discard. You are able to move any Energy off the Toad using Aromatisse’s Fairy Transfer and heal. Through multiple turns of Quaking Punch the Prize lead should be in your favor due to your opponent struggling to find their own Double Colorless Energy. Aegislash-EX could also be a nice one-off to have, forcing a Hex Maniac from the Night March player to remove Mighty Shield so they can attack using Double Colorless Energy.
As previously mentioned, Max Potion fits in any Golduck BREAK decks that arise in the new format. As for other decks not based around Energy transfer, Yveltal-EX could make use of the reprinted Item, being able to Y Cyclone their Double Colorless Energy onto a Benched Pokemon and leaving a single Darkness Energy on the Active. Upon surviving the next turn, Max Potion would make Yveltal-EX usable again on later turns with little setback, since another Benched Pokemon received an Energy from Y Cyclone the previous turn. M Manectric-EX pairs well with one or two Max Potion to heal all damage from a Pokemon, discard its basic Energy, and reattach them with Turbo Bolt on the same turn. It’s amazing that a single card can both bring back old archetypes and have an all around use in many other decks as well. So, for me, Max Potion is a welcome return in the Standard format.
Top Picks from Rage of the Broken Sky
Even though the BREAK-based names are fun, I wish we could get a set with such an intense name like Rage of the Broken Sky. This set makes up the majority of BREAKpoint and includes a couple of cards that will have a huge impact once they’re released.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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