What’s up ‘Beach goers? With Prereleases for Fates Collide going on now, the Pokemon TCG scene is brimming with excitement. Players around the world are anxious to discover what combinations of cards will be relevant at the most prestigious events of the year! In this article I will be detailing the cards from Fates Collide that have the most potential. Then, I will debut a new running section called the play-by-play. In the play-by-play section of my article I will explain the rationale behind a few relatively complex in-game turns. My hope is that by including play-by-play sections in my articles, I can give you insight into the way I play and the reason behind specific in-game decisions I make. At the end of the article I will debut a deck I am testing for the new format!
If we take a look at last year, we might recall that the National and World Championship metagames caught many by surprise. The early front runner, Raichu / Crobat, failed to impress on the main stage while totally rogue threats, Blastoise and Wailord-EX, took their respective tournaments by storm. Night March, which failed to produce significant results at Nationals, took three of the top 10 finishes on the World Stage. And Seismitoad-EX / Garbodor, which took first at the United States National Championship, flopped at Worlds.
My predictions for Nationals last year missed the mark. I clung too close to my early success with Raichu and it blinded me from seeing the deck’s weaknesses. By Worlds I knew I had to reassess my understanding of the metagame altogether. I tested fervently and came to the conclusion that Night March and Blastoise were top plays. I took my Night March list to Worlds and was able to finish 9th after grinding through day one of the competition. I plan on working even harder this year to hopefully one-up my success. I am going to learn from my mistakes by not limiting myself to certain archetypes throughout the preparation process. I am going to explore every nuance of this format. No stone will lay unturned. This is the beginning of the end of the 2016 season. We have just over two months until Nationals. That’s just eight weeks to figure out what we’re doing here, so let’s get to it!
N is Back
And I love it. I know that N has his haters, but N is my homeboy. My friends would probably tell you that I only like N because I lead the country in unbelievable top decks, but I really think this card balances the game. N, by nature, focuses the TCG on board stability and deck consistency. N will punish players who take quick Prizes without establishing a reliable board while also punishes decks that can’t consistently operate with a limited hand size. Most importantly, N provides better Supporter-draw for decks that don’t take advantage of the Battle Compressor-engine. Until now, decks like Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX and Toad / Crobat played an incredibly awkward draw line that consisted of four Professor Sycamore, a Judge, a couple Professor Birch's Observations, and a full suite of Trainers' Mail to try and make up the difference. This burn-style draw-engine doesn’t compliment these decks at all, requiring that they discard valuable resources with Sycamore. N allows these decks to reliably shuffle draw, allowing them to conserve their resources for the right time.
At first glance this card seems amazing. The art is great. 120 damage with the added effect of removing a Special Energy for the cost of a Double Colorless Energy? 120 HP? Free Retreat! Colorless typing! But then you remember that Aerodactyl is a dreaded Restored Pokemon. Restored Pokemon have to be rolled into play with their respective Fossil Item cards, which requires you to reveal that Restored Pokemon in the bottom seven cards of your deck. You could potentially revive the Prehistoric Bird with the help of the new Omastar, but that’s a lot to set up. I really want this card to be good, but the Restored-engine might keep it from seeing the light of day.
Omastar / Omastar BREAK
Speaking of the dreaded Restored Pokemon engine, Omastar provides a new way to bring Fossils to life. The issue? Omanyte is a Restored Pokemon too! To my knowledge the only Fossil Pokemon that has seen widespread play is Archeops via Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick. Archie’s and Maxie’s have proven themselves reliable thus far, supporting the likes of Archeops, Gallade, and Blastoise in successful archetypes. Because of Omastar’s Water typing it is a viable target for Archie's Ace in the Hole, allowing us to forgo the miserable Restored Pokemon engine. When in play, Omastar allows you to summon a Restored Pokemon from the deck and place it on the Bench once a turn. That means that it is possible to stream Restored Pokemon starting on the first turn of the game if you can achieve a turn one Omastar. Given the right Restored Pokemon, this could be a great Ability. However, I’m not sure that there is a Restored Pokemon strong enough to warrant devoting the space to setting up Omastar. That is, unless we also have a use for Omastar’s BREAK evolution.
Omastar BREAK packs an awesome Ability of its own. Omastar BREAK allows you to pull one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon-EX into the Active position once per turn. An automatic Catcher effect for Pokemon-EX is an awesome Ability. Think of the applications: if a
Trevenant player Benches a Shaymin-EX, you can break their lock by pulling Shaymin-EX into the Active position. You can access your opponent’s Shaymin-EX with ease! If you play Target Whistle, you could potentially summon that Shaymin-EX to the Active multiple times a game. Though Omastar BREAK’s Ability only works on Pokemon-EX, Pokemon-EX are the best targets for Lysandre anyways. By using Omastar BREAK for your Catcher effect, you also free up your Supporter use for something more powerful like Teammates, Professor Sycamore, or N. Imagine a deck with Hawlucha and Omastar BREAK. You could Korrina for Target Whistle and Hawlucha to set up a game ending play with Omastar’s Ability! Omastar and Omastar BREAK definitely have potential, but I suspect lower maintenance strategies will see more success in the months to come with the popularity of turn one Item-lock decks on the rise.
Barbaracle is a Stage 1 Pokemon that is gaining some attention because of its Ability to block the opponent from attaching Special Energy from their hand. The only catch is that Barbaracle’s Ability is contingent upon you having a Stadium in play. Easy enough, right?
Since Barbaracle is a Water type, it is also a potential target for Archie's Ace in the Hole. This means that decks using the Battle Compressor-engine, like Night March, could potentially obtain a turn one Barbaracle going first. If used in a Night March deck, Barbaracle could keep decks like Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX or Yveltal / Zoroark / Gallade, neither of which play high Stadium counts, from attaching Energy when they want to.
The prospect of Barbaracle gets more interesting when we consider how it might effect the Night March mirror. If a Night March deck gets a turn one Barbaracle with Dimension Valley going first, it will spell disaster for the opponent. No amount of Hex Maniac will make up for a Barbaracle lock in the mirror. Eventually the opponent will not be able to Hex. However, a copy of Delinquent or Paint Roller could be included in Night March decks in order to get around the Barbaracle-lock if it becomes popular.
When first revealed, Marowak was championed as the savior of the format. Marowak’s unique Body Guard Ability prevents all effects of attacks done to your or your hand by your opponent’s Pokemon. This means that Giratina-EX and Seismitoad-EX finally have an outright counter! What’s got people worried is that Marowak seems to be a boon for Night March, a deck that already reigns as king of Standard.
Marowak could find its way into Night March alongside Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick as a way to beat Toad / Giratina. I might argue that Night March already has more reliable ways to beat this deck though. If we are wasting two spots on the chance to set up Marowak, we might as well spend those two spots on Xerosic and Enhanced Hammer, two cards that have already proven they can sway the Toad / Giratina matchup and prove useful in other situations. We could also play Mew / Jirachi in our Night March decks to counter Special Energy reliant decks like Seismitoad.
Marowak will probably see the most play in decks that already run the Maxie’s engine for Gallade. Yveltal / Zoroark / Gallade could use the Bone Slinger to have an easy out versus Item-lock decks. Since YZG already runs the Maxie’s engine, it would only cost one card slot to throw Marowak in the mix. If Night March ends up playing the Maxie’s engine for Gallade, I could also see sliding Marowak in to Night March as well.
This Mew is so hot right now. I’ve been hyped on this card for months and its finally here! I don’t even know where to start. First of all, pick up as many of these dudes as you can find. It’s a holo rare in the set so I’m sure it’s price will rise after people realize how sick the card is.
Mew is great because it has the Ability to use the attack of any of your Basic Pokemon in play. It is also Psychic type, meaning that it gains access to Dimension Valley. So Mew can use any Basic Pokemon’s attack for one less Colorless Energy. What else?
I’m glad you asked! Mew is also a 50 HP non-EX, has free Retreat and an attack for the cost of one Colorless that allows you to search your deck for any Pokemon and put it in your hand. The attack may seem largely irrelevant, but you’re gonna be glad you have it if you start a dead hand with a Valley or need a way to search out Jirachi under Seismitoad-EX-lock.
Mew is a natural fit for Night March. With Mew in deck, you can use Night March for one Basic Energy when you have a Joltik and Dimension Valley in play. Mew also pairs with Jirachi to remove Special Energy with ease, which is especially good versus Toad and Giratina-EX, but is also good against Vespiquen. Mew also allows Night March more flexibility in regards to discarding attackers meaning Night March can essentially “go harder”. Previously, you had to make sure that you didn’t discard too many Night Marchers as you may need anywhere from three to five to close out a game. With Mew, you may only need two Night Marchers to win a game. You can discard all your Night Marchers but a couple and lead with Mew, only transitioning to actual copies of Night Marchers if need be or to finish off the game.
Contrary to popular belief, Mew is not only good in Night March! Mew will also be good in Dark, Manectric-EX, and Seismitoad decks. Ever wish you could use that Fright Night Yveltal twice to successfully snipe a Benched Shaymin-EX? Mew can do that. Ever wished you could Quaking Punch and not promote a Pokemon-EX? Mew can do that too. Ever wanted to Overrun for free or Assault Laser for one Basic Lightning Energy? Mew does all of this and more. Not to mention, Mew gives any deck with Basic attackers a nice free retreater and Psychic Weakness Coverage! Mew can even use that sweet new Lugia’s attack for just a DCE! How cool? Mew’s potential is through the roof and I expect this card to be popular in multiple archetypes for years to come. The card is just good, plain and simple.
Fighting gets a lot of cool tricks in this set and Regirock-EX is one of them. For each Regirock that sits on the Bench, your Fighting Pokemon’s attacks do ten additional damage to the defending Pokemon. Neat! On the downside, Regirock has a Retreat Cost of three, making it quite the liability.
Right off the bat, Regirock seems to pair very well with Hawlucha. Currently, Hawlucha needs a perfect Muscle Band, Fighting Stadium, and Strong Energy combination to OHKO an opposing Shaymin-EX. With Regirock in play, Hawlucha only need two of the aforementioned cards to pull off an OHKO. With three Regirock in play, Hawlucha only needs one of the buffers to Flying Press Shaymin-EX into oblivion.
It’s also crazy to think that Hawlucha could potentially Flying Press for 160 damage with four Regirock in play. Gallade could Sensitive Blade for 210! That seems a little excessive though. My initial thought it that Regirock will be used in low numbers (one or two) to slightly boost the damage output of Fighting decks over the course of a game.
It’s also worth mentioning that Regirock could pair well with Landorus-EX in Expanded. With Fighting Fury Belt, Landorus rocks a massive 220 HP and can deal 80 and 30 snipe with Hammerhead. Add Regirock into the equation and Landorus could be swinging for 120 and 30 snipe for just a single Strong Energy.
Goodbye Lucario-EX, hello Zygarde-EX! Zygarde is an instantly familiar Fighting type that is reminiscent of our good friend Lucario. Lucario-EX was the ultimate vanilla attacker. Zygarde-EX is oddly similar, but boasts 190 HP and its own G Booster-like Tool, Power Memory. Power Memory is a Tool that only Zygarde-EX can use. It grants Zygarde a three Energy attack, All Cells Burn, that does 200 damage and requires the user to discard three Energy from Zygarde. Sound familiar? Power Memory gives traditional Fighting decks the option to OHKO giant threats.
My main concern with Zygarde is that the current format doesn’t need decks that can do 200 damage. Night March already does that better than everyone else. Right now, the format needs nimble decks that can go toe to toe with Night March or decks that can lock it out of the game from turn one. Zygarde is a card with potential. Its timing just isn’t right.
Carbink / Carbink BREAK
Rounding out the new Fighting Pokemon are a pair of Carbink and a nice BREAK Evolution. Both Carbink are useful, one sporting the familiar Safeguard Ability, protecting it from Pokemon-EX’s attacks, while the other protects Basic Pokemon’s Basic Energy from being discarded.
The Energy Protection Carbink is particularly useful since it will help decks that rely on Basic Energy weather the onslaught of Hammers from Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX. Though the format is not Pokemon-EX centric, the Safeguard Carbink is still useful as a wall while Carbink BREAK puts in work.
Carbink BREAK’s attack, for the cost of one Fighting Energy, does 20 damage and allows you to attach two Energy from the discard to one of your Fighting Pokemon. This effect has already proven useful in competitive decks in the form of M Manectric-EX‘s Turbo Bolt and Virizion-EX‘s similar Emerald Slash. The issue is that Carbink BREAK is an evolution and only does 20 damage while accelerating. Not to worry though, with Regirock-EX, Fighting Stadium, Muscle Band and Strong Energy, Carbink has plenty of ways to provide a formidable attack while accelerating Energy. Additionally, Carbink has access to Focus Sash which provides survivability while Carbink accelerates Energy.
Fighting now has multiple ways to accelerate Energy: Carbink BREAK, Max Elixir, Landorus, and Garchomp. But the question remains, is there any Fighting Pokemon worth accelerating to? Garchomp and Gallade, two of Fighting’s strongest non-EX attackers, don’t require Energy acceleration. But these two attackers are hindered by the fact that Item-lock is more prevalent than ever in Standard. It is difficult to rationalize decks that rely on Rare Candy and Stage 2 Pokemon in a Format dominated by Item-lock.
The new Zygarde-EX is a potential target for Carbink BREAK, but I don’t see a Zygarde centric deck being able to compete with the speed of Vespiquen / Vileplume or Night March. Nor do I see a Zygarde deck being able to beat Trevenant BREAK, who resists Fighting all together.
It’s possible that Carbink BREAK could be paired with high counts of the new Regirock-EX with the intention of attacking with Regirock. With four Regirock in play, Carbink BREAK can potentially swing for 120 damage while accelerating Energy. It’s unfortunate that Regirock, like Deoxys-EX, doesn’t boost its own attack, so he will be left swinging for a base 100 damage for the cost of three Fighting Energy.
Though powerful in a vacuum, the new Fighting cards may have to wait a while until they are truly relevant.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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