What’s up, Beachgoers? Steve here with another article for you, this time detailing some of the key releases from the brand new Fates Collide expansion and a look at one of my early favorites going into the National Championships this summer.
Why Nationals and not Regionals? Because, simply put, Expanded and I do not get along. We haven’t been buddies since October of 2014, when I rode the Expanded train on day two of the Fort Wayne Regional Championships to a Top 4 finish with my Plasma Lugia-EX build. I had bubbled into Top 32, going 6-2-1 with Virizion-EX / Genesect-EX on the first day, and proceeded to win four consecutive rounds to open up day two. It eventually came down to an ID in the final round of Swiss and a victory over Donphan in the Top 8. The journey ended in the hands of Jimmy McClure’s Yveltal-EX / Garbodor deck in the semifinals. Since then, Expanded and I have been bitter rivals. Thus, I’m going to stick with Standard for this article.
Anyways, let’s not waste any more time on the past; instead, let’s talk about the present. Fates Collide has introduced a plethora of interesting cards into the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Below, I will discuss new cards and concepts that have come about from the release of this set. I am also going to explain how I feel each of them will impact the game. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The “Fates Collide” to Shake Up the Game
The Flare Witch Project
The first card worth mentioning is Delphox BREAK. While the mystical fox Pokemon’s BREAK Evolution doesn’t offer a new attack, it does offer a powerful new Ability that allows you to attach a Fire Energy from your deck onto one of your Pokemon each turn. Now, you may be wondering if it’s worth BREAK evolving a Stage 2 Pokemon just for this effect, and I’m glad you’re curious. On its own, the answer would be no. However, Fates Collide offers a new Delphox card to go with Delphox BREAK, and Delphox has an extremely powerful attack called Psystorm. This monster of an attack deals 20 damage for every Energy on the field, both yours and your opponent’s. This allows for a potentially devastating amount of damage. What’s better than that? The attack costs only three Colorless Energy, meaning Delphox can be run in a deck of any type.
Delphox is a Stage 2 Pokemon, but with excellent draw support such as Octillery, Shaymin-EX, the XY version of Delphox, and the return of N to Standard, there are more than enough resources to help set up this wrecking ball of an attacker. Of course, with Delphox BREAK you’ll want to be running a few Fire Energy in order to accelerate from the deck, but the fun doesn’t end there.
Blacksmith and Max Elixir can both be used as additional forms of Energy acceleration in Fire-type decks, while Scorched Earth and Battle Compressor can increase consistency as well as fuel the discard pile with Energy for Blacksmith to take advantage of. Then there is Double Colorless Energy, which will increase Delphox’s damage output by 40 with just a single attachment, as opposed to the usual 20 damage from the attachment of a basic Energy. With all of these Energy acceleration options, it doesn’t take long to start hitting heavy.
Overall, Delphox and Delphox BREAK are outstanding cards that will definitely be played and have enormous potential for success, as long as the format doesn’t become ruled by Item lock. Evolution decks haven’t been competitive for the longest time; this could possibly be a turning point.
There is one immediate question in regards to building a Delphox deck: what additional attackers can be used effectively? Admittedly, it can be difficult to find space for more attackers in a deck that is built around such a massive Evolution line, but one or two spaces can be made. While Houndoom-EX is appealing due to its ability to accelerate even more Energy via Grand Flame, I’m going to stick with Entei, Charizard-EX, and Emboar-EX as the best options here. Charizard-EX seems like the most effective attacker because it is capable of dishing out a respectable 150 damage while not having to discard any Energy, unlike Emboar. If you wanted an Expanded variant, however, you could try Entei-EX or even Victini for an additional attacker.
Finally, there needs to be a way to balance the draw power so that it isn’t entirely reliant on Supporters, since Blacksmith is such a key component to this deck. Scorched Earth is an outstanding form of draw power that can also double as a counter-Stadium in several matchups, while cards like Trainers' Mail, Acro Bike, and even Roller Skates can be used to draw more cards without having to burn through the Supporter for the turn. A trio of Shaymin-EX should be included as well, effectively turning every Ultra Ball into more draw power, should it be needed.
With the inclusion of the aforementioned draw supports, Energy acceleration, and attackers, I’ve created a core list for a Delphox BREAK deck, so let’s take a look at it here:
As you can see, even without additional cards like Max Elixir or Roller Skates, this list is packed tightly. I’ve opted against Max Elixir largely due to the fact that it’s unable to attach Energy to evolved Pokemon, while Roller Skates’ reliance on a coin flip makes it less attractive than cards like Trainers' Mail and Acro Bike. I’d also like to fit more copies of Skyla in here, but due to the deck’s need to use Blacksmith repeatedly, I’ve opted to only include a single copy.
It’s important to note that Stage 2 decks can be difficult to build due to the amount of space a Stage 2 line takes up on its own, but they can still be worth using with the right attacks and/or Abilities. Delphox definitely fits the bill.
Let’s Hit the Bar(baracle)
Barbaracle has been made into a Water type for the first time in his Pokemon TCG career, and he’s also been made into the best card he’s had yet. While the attack may not be enticing, Barbaracle comes armed with an Ability as well. This Ability prevents the opponent from playing any Special Energy cards from his or her hand as long as Barbaracle is in play and you have a Stadium card in play. If it simply required any Stadium card, this Ability would be game-breaking. As it is though, Barbaracle’s Ability won’t remain online if the opponent puts a Stadium card into play.
As a tech card that ends up being a Bench-sitter, you probably want a more reliable effect out of this card, or at least a more reliable way to keep its effect active. Ninetales or Giratina-EX are Pokemon that could be used to lock your Stadium card into play, but that might be overdoing it a bit. Ninetales seems like a bit of a stretch since it is a Stage 1 line tech, while Giratina-EX can simply lock the opponent out of Special Energy cards by using its Chaos Wheel attack to begin with!
Barbaracle is a neat idea, but I’m afraid it doesn’t quite measure up to the current standards of a playable, Bench-sitting tech card. Keep an eye on him though, as he might become playable down the road.
A Lesson In Spoonbending
The Harry Houdini of the Pokemon World, and most famous Psychic-type Pokemon in the first 149 entries of the original Pokedex, Alakazam, is back and better than ever! Due to legal issues with Kadabra, there hasn’t been an Alakazam card since the Pokemon SP era roughly six years ago — talk about a long time coming!
So does Alakazam-EX live up to its hype? Well, let’s see. For starters, Alakazam-EX has a subpar 160 HP, which is 10-20 HP less than the average Pokemon-EX. However, the Psychic King offers a solid attack called Suppression, dealing out three damage counters to each of the opponent’s Pokemon that has any Energy attached to it. Did I mention it also has an Ability? That’s right, when Alakazam-EX evolves into M Alakazam-EX, you get to drop more damage counters onto the opponent’s Pokemon; two onto his or her Active Pokemon and three more onto one of their Benched Pokemon! What’s better than that is M Alakazam-EX can take advantage of all the damage spread out by its previous form, dealing 10 damage plus 30 more damage for each damage counter already on your opponent’s Active Pokemon! With Dimension Valley in play, both Alakazam-EX and M Alakazam-EX can attack for a single Psychic Energy, meaning you don’t even have to devote many slots in your deck to Energy and can still claim easy KOs through this deadly combo! I wonder if anything else can drop damage counters with an Ability…
Ah, that’s right — Bats! Trained by Bruce Wayne themselves, Golbat and Crobat lay down two and three damage counters, respectively, when they are put into play. The entire Crobat line can also spread damage via their attacks, all of which can be used at no cost if Dimension Valley is in play! While none of these attacks are going to be able to OHKO any of the opponent’s Pokemon-EX, they can lay down enough damage for M Alakazam-EX to clean up afterwards. This makes it even easier to pull Prize cards each turn and corner the opponent into an uncomfortable position after just a couple of turns. Talk about a rough day at the tables!
Fellow PokeBeach premium writer Nicholena Moon recently wrote an article with more details on the M Alakazam-EX / Crobat deck, so I’m not going to go into great detail about the list, as hers is extremely similar to my own. It may seem clunky at first glance, but this thing can go off at any moment and make even the more secure of opponents fall out of their chair in a single turn. The first time this happened to me, I briefly pondered the idea of finding a new hobby. Maybe juggling spoons?
A New Species Has Arrived!
Charmanders are red, Squirtles are blue
Night March is broken, and now it has Mew
Poetry aside, let’s have a look at this new Mew card, and why it has been gaining so much hype lately. To put things simply, Mew’s Ability is reminiscent of the Mew-EX that still sees a lot of play in the current Expanded format. While Mew-EX is only legal in Expanded, Mew takes over in Standard and has a few more things going its way. First and foremost, it is not a Pokemon-EX, so it only yields one Prize card to the opponent when it gets Knocked Out. Secondly, it can retreat for free, and who doesn’t love a free retreating copycat Pokemon?
On the flipside, Mew has only 50 HP. Apparently a 70 HP setback is the price to pay to give up one Prize instead of two. Mew’s Ability also only allows it to copy the attacks of your Benched Basic Pokemon, rather than Mew-EX, which could copy the attacks of all other Pokemon in play. Still, this is a boon in Night March decks due to providing an extra attacker without the need for Revive or Buddy-Buddy Rescue. It also makes Vespiquen a bit less necessary as an alternative attacker, at least for those who prefer that build in particular.
Mew can also take advantage of Dimension Valley. If there is a Joltik on your Bench, it can copy Night March for a single Energy. This reintroduces the concept of basic Energy cards into Night March, thus granting Night March players a more reliable way to deal with Giratina-EX. That said, I do feel that Mew has been a bit over-hyped. I don’t expect to see much of this card outside of Night March decks. Sure, you could try to use it in a Seismitoad-EX deck as a single-Prize puncher, but with only 50 HP this little guy will get KO’d fast and will likely end up being a waste of a precious Double Colorless Energy. Nonetheless, I feel Mew is worth mentioning, as Night March will likely continue to see play and Mew is bound to be included in post Fates Collide lists.
I’ve composed a simple deck list that demonstrates the synergy between Mew and Night March:
Mew‘s ability to use Night March as an attack essentially offers an additional Night Marcher to attack with. You can then be even more reckless with the deck and have fewer repercussions for doing so. As you may already know, I’m a huge fan of aggressive gameplay. In the past, I’d often paired Night March with Vespiquen so I wouldn’t run out of attackers from being hyper-aggressive with Battle Compressor and Professor Sycamore. Cards like Puzzle of Time and Milotic are able to reinforce this strategy even more since they are able to retrieve Double Colorless Energy and Pokemon from the discard. With Mew, I’ve found myself able to leave out Vespiquen and still maintain enough Pokemon and Energy to continue to attack, still using Puzzle of Time as a fallback option in the case that I do happen to run out of resources.
Jirachi is an excellent card in the current format and a solid answer to Night March’s problem with Giratina-EX. With Jirachi and Dimension Valley both in play, Mew can use Stardust with no Energy attached, ditching a Special Energy card from the opponent’s Active Pokemon and making Mew invulnerable for a turn. Stardust can also work against Jolteon-EX with a Double Colorless Energy, even if they’ve used Flash Ray on the previous turn. This can also be effective in the mirror match or against Zoroark variants to buy you a turn should you whiff an Energy to use Night March instead.
1x Startling Megaphone
This card was dropped from a lot of competitive deck lists since many players of stopped playing Garbodor. It became a Lysandre target instead of an obstacle. While Garbodor still doesn’t warrant the use of Startling Megaphone in most decks, Focus Sash, Fighting Fury Belt, and Assault Vest can all create problems for Night March, but can be easily dealt with by this card. While Xerosic can also deal with Pokemon Tool cards, it also uses up your Supporter for the turn and thus can’t be used as part of a broken Teammates play. While some players might think Startling Megaphone isn’t necessary, I feel as though the deck is running a bit thin on Tool removal with only one Xerosic as an option.
1x Escape Rope
Escape Rope has practically become a staple card for me in decks that run exclusively Basic Pokemon, as Jolteon-EX presents a rather frustrating issue for decks like this. With Escape Rope, you can send Jolteon-EX back to the opponent’s Bench, thus resetting the effect of its Flash Ray attack. Then, you can use Lysandre to bring Jolteon back into the opponent’s Active slot, allowing you to one-shot it with Night March. The inclusion of Escape Rope can also take the slot of one of the two spaces normally reserved for Float Stone. Of course, this card has other uses, but it’s primarily included over a second Float Stone due to Jolteon-EX’s presence in the format.
2x Psychic Energy
Basic Energy haven’t seen the light of day in Night March lists since Puzzle of Time was released in BREAKpoint. With Mew‘s ability to use Night March for a single Energy, the list can effectively include one or two basic Energy again. While they remain ineffective when attached to Joltik and a bit slow with Pumpkaboo, the Energy can also fuel Jirachi‘s attack if you don’t have a Mew available or want to conserve Mew to use as an extra Night Marcher. As for Energy type, either Psychic or Lightning Energy work here. I’ve chosen Psychic Energy due to Pumpkaboo needing an extra Energy to use Night March, and both of their first attacks deal a lousy 10 damage for one Energy.
Overall, this list is similar to the Night March lists that had performed well during the State Championships. While it has fewer tech cards due to the addition of Mew and the basic Psychic Energy, the engine and support remains nearly identical. However, despite the addition of Mew to Night March, I feel that the reintroduction of N into Standard will make this deck slightly less powerful than it has been over the last six months. I’m not saying Night March won’t be a good deck, but rather, it won’t be the format’s lone top tier deck anymore.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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