No More Night March! Celebrating the New Standard Format and Some Theorymon
I was a little salty with how Nats went for me.
This was my second year in a row playing with a M Manectric-EX build (I paired him with Jolteon-EX and Max Elixir this time around), my second year in a row going 5-1-3, and my second year in a row whiffing Day 2 because of some unpredictable craziness (I tied against a rando M Ampharos-EX deck). Finishing 66th in the Blue Pod, I understood that the next two days would include catching up with friends I haven’t seen in a while, competing in side events that seem to get worse every year, and making trades that never end up going my way. This is all while being completely detached from pressures of battling for the mouth-watering $10,000 cash prize.
What I didn’t expect, however, were the news of the 2016-17 rotation.
It’s Day 2 in Columbus and I had slept in and arrived at the Greater Columbus Convention Center a little later than I would’ve liked. I end up eating philly cheesesteaks with a bro in the “Open Gaming” room when a bunch of binders lined with foils for days catches my eye. Page after page was Ultra Rare after Ultra Rare, and I couldn’t not see what this guy had to offer. Seconds later, I’m flippin’ through a dude’s crazy collection of Standard, Expanded, and retro format goodies when my phone vibrates in my pocket. Taking a brief moment from the shininess, I turn away, unlock my phone, and find some big news.
People were playing Super Smash Bros. Melee on the other side of Open Gaming.
But then I find another notification that details the next Standard format as Primal Clash-on! I jump to my feet, freak out, recite the information to the people at my table, and realize the gravity of the rotation. This new format puts a great deal of important sets on the chopping block and out of Standard play; it is at this time we, with great sadness, wave good-bye to XY, Flashfire, Furious Fists, Phantom Forces, and, most notably, the Kalos Starter Set.
I snap back to reality (oh there goes gravity) – binder upon binder of potential meta-breaking cards for the future format sit at my disposal for an exchange of a good chunk of bulk. I start to think…what could be the play for the upcoming season? Which of these cards can ensure that I don’t fall short next year? How can I make the greatest possible investment in the new Standard right now?
Out with the old, in with the new, Pokémon Masters! (Or Pokémon Noobs…I dunno how good you are at the game.) I’m scribblin’ up another article for the team to get us geared up for the upcoming season. I know I’m dropping this new-meta knowledge like two months prematurely but you know what they say, it’s never too early to Theorymon! (Ok no one actually says that let me live.) If you’re a scrub at the game (like me) and/or prioritize other life commitments ahead of Pokémon (like me) then Worlds in August is not on your calendar. Rather, you’re looking forward to a fresh start in September and beginning to think about what in the name of Arceus is gonna be good in the upcoming format.
If you’re me, Post-Nationals Depression is transitioning from its “I don’t know what to do with my life” phase to “I don’t know what to do with my life but I should think about the next format” phase. While the new season actually began on the 11th of July, we won’t see the shift in Standard format until the 1st of September. Nonetheless, we’re gonna wanna test what we’re gonna be playing for the majority of next year. Steam Siege’s full setlist has yet to be released, but there’s a ton of hype for some of the game-changing cards we do know already. I’d go through those with you, but there’s already another free resource by a fellow PokéBeach author that’s given the 411. Take a peek at member PMJ’s article on a few goodies out of the next set for a quick rehash on those.
Before we dive into my Primal Clash-on speculation, let’s visit the most significant of the rotated comrades one last time and give them a proper farewell from the Standard format. While many of these will find plenty of prominence in Expanded and potentially Fall Regionals, they will more than likely not find themselves in next year’s decks (unless they get reprinted).
Rest in Spaghetti, Never Forgetti
It’s important to go over what we lose from Standard before we go into what we keep because we see from what the metagame is about to become. Meaning, is the format going to get faster, slower, more emphasized on Basics, Stage-2s, what will we see more of, less of, etc. Let’s take a peek at some of the cards we’re losing and see what we can expect from their rotation.
We Can Play Items Again
This is a great feeling, and it’s because the two biggest forms of Item lock, Seismitoad-EX and Trevenant, are getting the ban hammer. No more praying to go first. No more praying your opponent doesn’t have a Double Colorless Energy in their opening hand. From what we know now, we are liberated from the worry of a consistent first-turn Item lock. Sure, Vileplume will still be around thanks to Forest of Giant Plants, but its best partner is gonna take a hit from the rotation as well. (We’ll discuss that later.) This alone will encourage decks that require a couple turns of setup to seep back into the format with the pressures of Item lock lifted from their shoulders. We could very well see Stage-2 decks not named “Greninja” make a comeback and it would be refreshing to see.
The Fire Goes Out
Without cards like Blacksmith and Fiery Torch, it’s gonna be harder for Fire-type Pokémon to find a niche in the new Standard. While not as popular as they were earlier in the format, Fire-types like Entei and Charizard-EX saw potential because of how quickly they could power up big attacks with high Energy costs to take one-hit Knock Outs on the first turn. Stage-1s that worked in tandem with Flareon saw nice Energy acceleration benefit with Blacksmith as well (and was especially true with Expanded in Bees decks). These aforementioned Fire-type Pokémon will be sticking around for the rotation, so maybe this form of Fire support will get reprinted. Until then, however, we are only assured that the typing takes a big hit with the absence of our bearded buddy Blacksmith.
Losing the Fighting Spirit
While Strong Energy hangs out for another season, we lose a ton of big Fighting-type support altogether. Fighting Stadium was a popular counter-Stadium pick for Fighting-types that brought tremendous advantage against big EX decks. Focus Sash gave Fighting-types a glimmer of hope against Night March in the form of a Pokémon Tool. By leaving the Fighting-type Pokémon with 10 HP left when supposedly taking an OHKO, Focus Sash was a way to even up the Prize trade and kept the Pokémon alive for another turn. The biggest hit to the archetype has got to be in the form of Korrina. This Supporter was the definition of consistency for Fighting by grabbing both a Pokémon of its type and an Item card. Keep in mind, you have access to the same drawpower as other decks do alongside Shaymin-EX and Trainers' Mail. You can use those in combination with the Gym Leader to get exactly what you need, whether that be that extra damage with Muscle Band or the guarantee of a Supporter next turn with VS Seeker. Korrina kept options open and players running Fighting will definitely miss her like I miss not having adult responsibilities.
Bye-Bye, Battle Compressor
Undoubtedly the biggest card getting rotated, many are cheering to see Battle Compressor leaving Standard. If you read my previous article on Battle Compressor or have even been awake at all this past season, you know how devastating Battle Compressor is. This Item gave tremendous power to decks like Vespiquen / Vileplume and Nationals-winning Night March / Bees, but also delivered consistency to many other lists as well for VS Seeker fuel or Energy acceleration through the means of Yveltal or other Pokémon. Seeing it go means that Vespiquen and other Pokémon that require Discard Pile-utility will see a significant nerf. Of course, cards like VS Seeker will continue to see play in the format because of just how consistent they are, but Bees players will find it far more difficult to pitch enough Pokémon in the Discard Pile for Bee Revenge. Players wanting to build a deck around Archie's Ace in the Hole or Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick need to find a creative way of ridding their deck or hand of their desired Stage-1 or Stage-2 Pokémon. Battle Compressor changed the game last format, and now its absence will be a change we’ll need to adapt to as well.
So Long, My Love…
Guys…this is it. I can’t believe I have to see M Manectric-EX go, and I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m going to have to build a different deck. I’m going to have to say words other than, “Turbo Bolt.” In honor of the rotation of my trusty Nationals partner that I may see in Expanded, I have composed a haiku:
We are the 5-1-3 boiz
We lost to Night March
Where’s the Hype?
With an overhaul of dominant non-EX Pokémon being pushed from the format, the big and bad two-Prizers are primed to take the battlefield once more! I’m gonna list off just a few of the decks that are getting a bit of attention in discussion of the upcoming format and explain why they’re a forced to be reckoned with.
I have to address the dragon in the room first, M Rayquaza-EX. This deck, with no doubt in my mind, is going to be the number one deck to look out for next format. Number one. Why? The deck didn’t lose anything.
Take a look at this deck core and check what the rotation forces out. You’ll find it’s not much. Heads up, there are eleven spots available for whether or not you wanna include Jolteon-EX or other techs like Jirachi. You’re gonna wanna play four to five Basic Energy, and it might be a good idea to include a second Hex if you’re insistent on chaining the Ability lock. There’s a lot you can do here (and I’ll mention some possible techs later) but those are just some of my suggestions.
If you’re unfamiliar with how Speed Ray works, here’s the 411 real quick: Mega Ray has one attack, Emerald Break, that does 30 damage per Pokémon you have on your Bench for three Colorless Energy. While a powerful attack indeed, it’s not the only thing he has going for him. Its Ancient Trait, Δ Evolution, permits the player to Evolve into Mega Ray on the turn that a Rayquaza-EX (whatever form he comes in) is played. Maybe you’re starting to see why the deck is called “Speed Ray.”
In the new Standard, we maintain our key and explosive options of getting a bunch of Pokémon out in Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX. Hoopa-EX picks three Pokémon-EX out of the deck (fueling Emerald Break) while Shaymin-EX draws into your resources. Thinning the deck with these two Pokémon increases the likelihood of drawing and then playing as many Ultra Ball as we can to get even more Pokémon on the field. To make even more room on your Bench, Sky Field bumps the number of Pokémon you can have there to eight, making the maximum damage output for M Rayquaza-EX a ridiculous 240. And all of this, if you hit the right cards, can be done in one turn. You can drop, easily, four or five Pokémon onto the Bench in a turn until the ambiguity of hitting Sky Field or Rayquaza Spirit Link settles. Whiff the Link? No first turn attack. No Sky Field? You’re capped at 150…which is still a lot of damage. And if you think that’s devastating, Mega Ray players aim to chain Hex Maniac turn after turn to prevent you from mounting any sort of resurgence. With the bulk of the deck still Standard, there are still different ways to pilot the deck in terms of techs. Losing Battle Compressor means that it may be more difficult to fire off a Mega Turbo to go for a turn one attack, so will we see this card dropped? Will we see players sliding in a couple lines of Zebstrika to combat the mirror? Is Speed Ray going to adopt Manaphy-EX for Retreat Cost-free mobility? Being a Colorless-type deck provides plenty of flexibility with what you can pair the Sky High Pokémon with, so it’ll be interesting to see what players can come up with.
Primal Groudon / Wobbuffet / Carbink BREAK
They’re back, folks! Guys, you heard it here first. Or second. Or third. But listen up when I say that this deck is gonna see some play because Wobbuffet is really good. I know there’s a little subjectivity and it won’t happen all the time, but if you start Wobb, you’re shutting down a lot of setup potential for your opponent in its Ability, Bide Barricade. As long as Wobbuffet hangs in the Active spot, neither you or your opponent’s non-Psychic-type Pokémon can fire off Abilities. What it’s really saying is…no Shaymin. With Ninja Boy at our disposal, even if we do start Groudon-EX…we can just swap him out with a Wobb from our deck. We’re obviously gonna receive the greatest benefit from going first to lockdown our opponent as best as we can, but it isn’t bad if they have a slower start than normal also.
Another option being looked at is Carbink and Carbink BREAK. Basic Carbink has an incredible Ability in Safeguard, reminiscent of older-format Pokémon like Sigilyph and Suicune, that prevents all effects of attacks, including damage, done to it by Pokémon-EX. This either forces your opponent to Lysandre around this floating rock thing or use Hex Maniac to nullify the Ability. An excellent stall Pokémon, Carbink could very well sit out there for a couple of turns while you freely set up Primal Groudon. To expedite the process, Evolve into Carbink BREAK and take advantage of Safeguard while also having an Energy-accelerating attack in Diamond Gift. For just one Fighting Energy, you hit for an eh 20 but attach two Energy from your Discard Pile to one of your Fighting-type Pokémon. This is obviously going to be a little more difficult without Battle Compressor, but with a couple of Ultra Ball and careful resource management it isn’t unfathomable.
Primal Groudon-EX has always been good…but as of late, it just hasn’t been great. With a glaring Grass-type Weakness in a once Vespiquen-infested format, we can no longer hide in fear! (Somewhat, we’ll talk about this later.) Primal Groudon flexes with a few factors, one of them simply being a Fighting-type Pokémon. This alone grants us access to Strong Energy, the Special Energy designated for Fighting-types. Attach it and the Pokémon now deals 20 extra damage before Weakness and Resistance, which is critical when we look to take big Knock Outs on higher HP-Pokémon. Gaia Volcano is Primal Groudon’s only attack that requires three Fighting Energy and a Colorless Energy. The attack’s base damage is 100, but if there’s a Stadium card in play, you deal anotha one…hundred. (You have to discard the Stadium, however.) But check this out – with Strong Energy, you can max out at 280 if you have all four attached to the one Primal Groudon. How likely is this? Un. But it’s a cool thought.
Groudon’s Ancient Trait is also insane in nature. Ω Barrier states, “Whenever your opponent plays a Trainer card (excluding Pokémon Tools and Stadium cards), prevent all effects of that card to this Pokémon.” This 240-HP behemoth already boasts plenty of bulk, but because it is also unaffected by Trainers…Groudon becomes even more of a problem. Why? Your opponent can feed you one-Prize Wobbuffet or Carbink until his or her main attacker is all charged up because you can’t target Primal Groudon-EX with Lysandre. At this point, they can kinda sweep.
Players are pointing out that if this deck doesn’t start Wobb then Mega Ray can run right through it with needing just one turn to make big plays. Furthermore, M Rayquaza-EX does have Fighting-type Resistance, making it tougher to take those big KOs on Ray if they don’t have Lysandre in-hand to make effective Prize trades. In general, Groudon players cannot expect to sit around and manually attach every turn to win the game. Otherwise, it becomes a game of catch-up, and games of catch-up usually end up as losses. The glaring Weakness to Grass is starting to spark interest in M Sceptile-EX decks which have seen eh success on a global scale. We’ll talk about this deck soon. Furthermore, Regice and Glaceon-EX still exist. With Resistance Blizzard and Crystal Ray respectively, they can nullify Gaia Volcano damage completely. Speaking of Water-types…
Yeah, yeah. I know. Seismitoad-EX, the key player in WaterBox is done for (hallelujah). On the other hand, this is the only big card being removed from the deck. Integrating four Max Elixir, big Water-type Basics, and mobility in Manaphy-EX, the deck will continue to be a very strong contender next format. Some of you might be like, “Bruh where the type advantage at,” and I’m gonna be like, “Rough Seas is still around b.” If you didn’t know, Rough Seas is busted. Healing 30 damage from Water- and Lightning-type Pokémon everywhere is nothing short of fantastic. And if you have Fighting Fury Belt attached to your Pokémon, you make it more difficult for your opponent to hit OHKO numbers. Manaphy-EX’s Aqua Tube Ability permits Pokémon with Water Energy to Retreat for free, meaning you can remove your damaged attacker from the battlefield and let em rejuvenate while you fight with another.
A card that’s being considered to replace that ugly frog thing is the other Primal, Primal Kyogre-EX. Another 240-HP Pokémon, Kyogre also comes strapped with a powerful Ancient Trait – α Growth. When you attach an Energy card from your hand, you can choose to attach two instead of just the one. This being said, you could power up the Sea Basin Pokémon’s Tidal Storm attack in just two turns. On the subject of Tidal Storm, this attack, similarly to Primal Groudon’s, requires three of its type and one of any kind. It hits for 150, 20 or 30 shy of the more prominent Pokémon-EX, but splashes 30 damage to any Pokémon-EX on the Bench. In addition, you must move two Energy off of Kyogre to another of your Benched Pokémon.
While the 150 is a little underwhelming, the damage spread is very nice. It’s been done before, and players will attack an opponent’s EX for the 150, Lysandre for an already-damaged EX the next turn, and fire off a second Tidal Storm to take four Prize Cards. This is absolutely devastating and very possible in a card that has plenty of bulk and access to Rough Seas. Discussion of including Articuno has also circulated as a target for Tidal Storm Energy mobility. Primal Kyogre can whittle down an EX to just-enough HP for our Team Mystic mascot to swoop on in and take advantage. Articuno’s Ancient Trait, Δ Plus, states that Knock Outs taken by that Pokémon earn an extra Prize Card. What does this mean? Tri Edge would pick up an incredible three Prize Cards on an EX! Even if the bird isn’t the target for Tidal Storm, (and another Kyogre is), Articuno already has fantastic synergy with Max Elixir. There are plenty of ways to accelerate Energy with this deck!
WaterBox in general will see an advantage over Mega Ray in the fact that Regice and/or Glaceon-EX hard counters it. Of course, with time, we’ll see Ray players fill in those empty slots with potential techs, but for now…we’re not sure exactly what those might be. The problem with the deck is its reliance on Max Elixir – some games you’ll run hot and hit all of em and some games you’ll go out like a buster and whiff. If you don’t get a turn one or two Resistance Blizzard or Crystal Ray, Ray players can Lysandre the threat before it has a chance to attack, rendering it useless. I could see Ray players adapting and including a copy or two of Escape Rope to work around those prevention attacks as well. Additionally, in the case of Primal Kyogre, there’s a Weakness to Grass. This makes Sceptile even more popular, knowing he’ll have coverage over both Primal Pokémon that have decent potential in the next format.
M Sceptile / Ariados
A deck that saw a good chunk of hype upon the release of Ancient Origins in 2015 that ended up not seeing much success may see a revival in a couple of months! Let’s welcome back M Sceptile into the ring. First and foremost, we gotta give it to Forest of Giant Plants that makes the deck explosive at the least. While M Sceptile-EX doesn’t have a built-in Ancient Trait that allows it to Evolve on the same turn like Mega Ray, we have this. You can even go as far as to slap Ariados on your Bench to start building up Poison damage with Poisonous Nest. Anyways, we love this nice foliage Stadium. Secondly, shouts out to Jagged Saber. A two-Energy attack that’s far easier to charge up as opposed to the Primal Pokémon’s four-Energy attacks, we can manually attach and potentially hit a Mega Turbo and start swinging right away. While it hits for an ok 100, you can attach up to two Basic Grass Energy from your hand to your Benched Pokémon. If you do, you remove all damage counters from that/those Pokémon. This. Is. Crazy. If your opponent can’t hit 220, they’re in for a world of struggle trying to take Knock Outs. Third, Sceptile is the best Hoenn starter evo.
In all seriousness, the deck certainly has a fair bit of potential moving into next season. As I said, hitting for 100 is really kind of cringeworthy. Not even one-shotting Shaymins and Primals even with Weakness is pretty bad. Ariados, however, can help to an extent. Poisonous Nest can deliver the extra counter of damage to take the Shaymins out and even bring Mega Rays to a two-hit Knock Out. Hit em with 100, 110 with Poisonous Nest going into the Ray player’s turn. 120 going out from her turn, and then another 100 to finish the Ray. Another option is to look at the baby Sceptile-EX that has a pretty solid second attack. For a Grass and a whatever Energy, you hit for a base 60 damage and an additional 70 if your opponent’s Active is affected by a Special Condition. I shouldn’t have to explain why this and Ariados work well together. Unseen Claw would hit for 130 and then 260 for Weakness to take those big Knock Outs on the Primals if you just so happen to have it in play. It’s a good idea to have this guy as a back-up for big damage where the Mega falters.
So while the damaging aspect of the Mega is mediocre, look at Mega Scep’s longevity. We like the healing factor more than anything else and can rely on the Energy acceleration to stream attacker after attacker. Using the words “healing factor” reminds me of my boi Wolverine. You know, from X-Men? You could put bullets in this guy and he would survive and continue to straight up rip through enemies (you guys have seen the movies, right?). Sure, his adamantium claws aren’t as devastating at first glance as opposed to what the other heroes have going for em, but they could get the job done as long as he recovered from whatever damage the bad boys tried to deal. The same as with Sceptile – unless you hit him with a big attack, all he needs to do is Retreat to a different Mega and reap the rejuvenation benefits of Jagged Saber. You do need to be patient when playing this deck, and you’ll be taking a lot of damage. But hang tight, make sure you keep Energy in hand, and you’ll soon overwhelm your opponent as you continue to wipe counters off your Pokémon.
Some Sceptile builds in today’s Standard found benefit in Assault Vest, a Pokémon Tool that reduces damage by Pokémon with Special Energy by a ridiculous 40 damage. The Tool may continue to find prominence in the next format as well with all the Mega Ray hype to survive a fully-powered Emerald Break. The Tool itself could help Sceptile survive two or even three attacks before needing to refresh em, relieving the player of needing to Retreat or have a Switch-like card and Energy to get a second M Sceptile in the Active spot. There’s a bit of room to get creative in M Sceptile builds, so we’ll see what players can come up with for the upcoming format.
After kicking all kinds of booty at the Origins Gaming Convention just a week before Nationals, (and taking three spots in Top 8), DarkTinaGarb found itself as a top contender for the biggest tournament of the year. A combination of Darkrai-EX, Giratina-EX, and Garbodor as the name suggests, DarkTinaGarb adapts to its matchup through efficient Energy acceleration in Max Elixir and bulk in the form of Fighting Fury Belt. Take a look at a sample list here:
We’ve got four spots leftover here. I know Latios-EX was popular, but I don’t know about next format when there aren’t any Night Marchers to donk…so I wouldn’t let him on the team. I would consider a second Yveltal, a Hydreigon-EX for mobility, or even a Tyrantrum-EX to get rid of pesky Jolteon. Usual DarkTinaGarb lists only include one Parallel City, but with Mega Ray hype…it’s hard for them to recover after two Parallel City hits. (I took the liberty with making that tech option in the list.) You could choose to throw in a third N for consistency or even a Hoopa-EX and use Parallel City on yourself to remove free two-Prizers after getting a sizable Bench. Do what you want.
With Startling Megaphone and Xerosic rotating, when those Belts hit the Basic…they’re there to stay until they’re Knocked Out. You can apply a lot of pressure when you’re staring your opponent down with 210- and 220-HP Basics that can hit very, very hard. This is the new case with Garbodor as well, a devastating blob of trash that’s ready to shut down Abilities with one of its own: Garbotoxin. While a Pokémon Tool is attached to Garbodor, all other Abilities don’t work. That’s all there’s to it, but it means a lot. Nullify Carbink’s Safeguard. Forget Shaymin’s Set Up. It’s great, you just straight up poop on anything that has an Ability. The only way you’re getting rid of Garby is if you Lysandre it. This may bring DarkTinaGarb players joy as they force you to waste your Supporter and take a one-Prize Knock Out while they potentially take a two-Prizer.
Where Garb chooses to negate Abilities, Giratina chooses to turn away Megas and decks that rely solely on Special Energy. Renegade Pulse prevents all effects of attacks and damage done to Giratina by any Mega Evolution Pokémon. If you’ve been paying any attention, that’s like all the aforementioned Pokémon. Primals. Mega Ray. They can’t touch this guy! If you fire off a Chaos Wheel, you can force Parallel City in play until you whiff a turn of it, which can put immense pressure on how your opponent tries to mount a comeback…if he can.
Darkrai’s niche in this deck is simply for Dark Pulse, its first attack. Dealing 20 base damage and an additional 20 for each Darkness Energy attached to your Pokémon, it’s quickly stackable with the likes of Max Elixir and Double Dragon Energy counting as two Darkness Energy while attached to Giratina. With Fighting Fury Belt, you have a tank of an attacker with 220 HP that can commit little Energy for its attack while powering up backup Pokémon.
A big problem with the deck is not being able to take OHKOs regularly. You can get away with Lysandre-ing out Shaymin for a turn or two, but these bigger Pokémon can blow right through you. Your reliance on Renegade Pulse is compromised by a single Hex Maniac. Attackers like Regice and Jolteon-EX can win the matchup against this deck singlehandedly, which is why I suggested Tyrantrum-EX. Its Ability forces its attack to go through 100% of the time regardless of the effect on the Defending Pokémon, critical for breaking the lock on your other attackers. The problem? You’re forced to discard three Energy. Another problem? The Energy cost for Tyrantrum’s Dragon Impact is two Fighting, a Metal, and another Energy. You can only attack if you have at least two Double Dragon Energy (because you don’t run any of the Basic counterparts) and you would be forced to discard them for the attack to go off. Some might opt for Hydreigon because it hits for 80 with a similar effect but without the discarding component. Unfortunately, unlike Tyrantrum, you’ll spend an extra turn or two trying to Knock Out the threat because of its own Fighting Fury Belt or even Rough Seas. Yeah. It’s not an easy matchup.
Other Decks to Consider
So these bulleted decks are ones that have yet to be seen or are ideas on the drawing board. There’s a little chitter-chatter about em but nothing remotely close to the ones I’ve written about above:
- Rainbow Road: You might have seen Rainbow Road in action in this Japanese commercial advertising their version of Steam Siege or during your most recent lap of Mario Kart. In this deck, Xerneas holds the torch of being the main attacker with its first attack, Rainbow Force, that hits for 10 base damage and 30 more for each different type of Pokémon on your Bench. In the commercial, you see the player in first person dropping a variety of Pokémon along with plenty of Special Energy. This opens plenty of options to get techy and adjust to the matchup in front of you. This, in turn, means you could be reliant on Ninja Boy for trick plays or making sure that one counter card you need isn’t Prized. The downfall of this deck is a pretty heavy reliance on Special Energy. We’re not sure how popular Jirachi is going to be just yet, but it’s something to look out for when considering building Rainbow Road. You don’t want one dinky Pokémon discarding all of your Energy. Rip.
- Flareon-EX / Volcanion-EX / Volcanion: The only hope for Fire seems to be in the form of these guys right now. Flareon-EX is found as an Ultra Rare only in Generations packs (which means they’re essentially Commons). While seeing little to no play at all this format, it might be something worth checking out in the next format. Flareon is your standard 170-HP attacker with a Keldeo-EX-like attack in Blaze Ball. Doing a base damage of 50 for three Colorless Energy, you deal 20 more for each Fire Energy attached. Replace your whatever Energy cost for Fire ones and you’re doing 110 for three Energy. It’s not nearly as good as Mega Ray’s attack, but we find synergy in our next release’s Volcanion-EX to help us with the damage output. Its Ability, Steam Up, calls us to discard a Fire Energy to boost the attacks of Basic Fire-types by 30. And what’s really cool about Steam Up is that it’s stackable. Unfortunately, this would combo really well with Blacksmith when we’re literally asked to put Fire Energy in the Discard and it’s being rotated. We do have a baby Volcanion being released in the next set with an attack that could potentially remediate this issue. Its first attack, Power Heater, costs one Fire Energy and hits for 20 damage. At the same time, you can select two of your Benched Pokémon and attach a Fire Energy to each. Fire Energy discarded by Steam Up can be recycled with Power Heater and Flareon-EX can move said Energy with its own Ability, Flash Fire, to further strengthen Blaze Ball. With a couple of Max Elixir, Fighting Fury Belt, and some Fire Energy in-hand for Steam Up, you could apply some strong early-game pressure and cause some problems for your opponent. Definitely not a big one on the radar, but a potential rogue play?
- Anything + Garbodor: I touched on this guy talking about DarkTinaGarb but I think he’s going to cause a lot of problems in the meta, not necessarily in just the one deck. With the only way of getting rid of the goon of garbage is via Lysandre, players are also sacrificing one-Prize Knock Outs for potential two-Prize ones. Of course, if you decide to pick Garby for your team, you’re more than likely going to want to play a deck that doesn’t rely on Abilities all that much. Cards like Yveltal and Yveltal-EX work in tandem simply through the baby’s Oblivion Wing and Max Elixir, so that might be a potential option. Stage-1s with exceptional power like Zoroark and Raichu could be good partners as well with Sky Field. Feeding one-Prizers all game long (unless your Shaymin gets Lysandre’d) could prove very annoying for your opponent. While this card hasn’t been officially announced yet, Special Charge ensures we can continue to attack with plenty of Double Colorless Energy in the deck if we just so happen to mismanage resources or too many of our attackers get Knocked Out.
What Do I Do With My Money?
So while the meta obviously hasn’t developed, I do have some suggestions on what you should and should not spend your money on while there’s still time. I’m expecting the following cards to either increase or decrease drastically in price and I’ll explain to you my reasoning on those changes. I’ll list off the cards you may wanna pick up first, then tell you what you wanna say “buh-bye” to. There are bound to be some that I forget that I encourage you guys to leave in the comments!
- Zebstrika: But, John…it’s just a Rare. Yeah, but it is also a very hard counter to Mega Ray and Yveltal, while also taking down Shaymin. You’re playing Pokémon Go anyways – walk around the parking lot, find some change, and then cash in for a couple of these guys. For a single DCE, Zebstrika’s taking OHKOs on the aforementioned Pokémon and is pretty splashable because of that Energy cost. You might even include Zebstrika in your own Mega Ray build to counter other Mega Ray decks, but do be warned of any Altaria they may have teched in to fend off Lightning-typed Weakness. Throw in the zebra into your Stage-1s and Friends build with Garbodor and see how that works. I don’t expect the price to go from like seventy-seven cents to thirty bucks, but it might cost you a couple more dollars in the long run. So just get em now.
- Blitzle: You can’t have Zebstrika without Blitzle, so go and sort through your bulk real quick.
- Ray things: I’m riding the hype train here guys. I’ve been talking about it all article. The deck’s still good, and for now, it’s relatively inexpensive. You can get the baby Rays from the tin for cheap, so that’s taken care of, and you can nab the Hoopas…also from the tin…for a few bucks apiece. The deck, if you’re looking for a solid option for next format, isn’t a big hole in the wallet to put together (minus the Shaymins) when a good chunk of the cards are Promos.
- Garbodor: We hyped the heck out of this guy already, but I’ll rehash the main points for you. As of now, there is no foreseeable way that Tools can be removed with a specific card. If your opponent chooses to Lysandre, you can make an opportunity out of that turn to get ahead in the Prize trade also. Better safe than sorry; try picking up a couple of these pieces of trash for no more than like a dollar at most shops just so you have em on hand.
- Giratina-EX: Whether you’re playing DarkTinaGarb or SpeedTina or FairyTina, I think its viability is justified when the aforementioned Megas are getting hype. Ancient Origins is a set that’s only getting more ancient (see what I did there) and those cards are more difficult to get a hold of. An early Chaos Wheel can shut down decks reliant on Special Energy and you can cripple an opponent’s setup by keeping a Parallel City in play. If you can swing a good deal for one, make the purchase – it may be worth it down the line.
- Paying off school debt: Why on Earth are you devoting precious paycheck money to shiny pieces of paper when you’re thousands of dollars in the hole? You know that interest rate is brutal too – let’s get Fifth Third off of our backs and then we’ll figure out the meta.
Cash in your…
- Jolteon-EX: While you still have the chance, get rid of em now. The upcoming format doesn’t necessarily nerf Jolteon’s strength, but from speculation of the top contenders it’s going to consist of a lot of Evolved Pokémon. We saw Jolteon sneak its way into Rayquaza lists to combat Night March, but now that the threat is gone…what purpose does he have? He makes DarkTinaGarb an almost-autowin (but can be countered with Tyrantrum) but…that’s about it. Unless another Basic Pokémon threat appears within the next few sets, Jolteon’s price should drop substantially. Furthermore, Generations booster packs are easier to get a hold of now than they used to be. The idea of supply and demand comes into play here, so sell your Jolteon while you can.
- Fighting Fury Belt: Similar reasoning as to what we said with Jolteon – Basic Pokémon aren’t going to be as prevalent. Therefore, Fighting Fury Groin Cloth isn’t going to see as much play. Now – keep your playset because you never know what’ll happen, but if you have spares…sell em. But sell em around Expanded format time. Night March and Dark decks will still be popular and this is when you can make the most bang for your buck. Based on what we have at our disposal right now and what we might get from Steam Siege, it’s safe to sell your extra copies before they go down in value.
- Greninja: So this card could have been mentioned in the previous portion of the article. But due to the meta shifting to bigger, beefier Pokémon so that Shurikens can’t pick up multiple Prizes in one turn…the frog’s facing a tougher crowd. As we saw in the last format, Greninja didn’t mind dropping damage counters on low-HP Night Marchers and Stage-1 predecessors. But it’s a different Standard now, and with no reliable way to get around Garbodor, the deck’s potential will be severely set back.
- Zygarde-EX: They’re floating around eight dollars apiece for some reason and the Promo’s going for like six. I don’t believe that Fighting-type Pokémon not named Groudon are going to do well because of all of the support they’re losing. Regirock-EX has a great Ability but can become a two-Prize liability on the Bench – especially with a fat three-Energy Retreat Cost. If you can’t hit a Float Stone or some sort of switching card…then you’re stuck. Of course, you can try pairing Zygarde with Carbink BREAK if you wanted to go that route and play the deck similarly to Primal Groudon, but you’re not hitting for 200 consistently like Groudon and you don’t have a boss Ancient Trait like Groudon. So, just don’t play Zygarde.
- High school class ring: Your local pawn shop might give you a pretty penny for that token of dark memories, and you’re really looking for some quick funds anyway. When did you graduate? Like, five years ago? Why would you be wearing this now? No judgment, but it looks silly. Make a little money off of it. If you get sentimental, you can buy it back later. And no worries, no one’s gonna try and take it because no one went to your high school and/or want to walk around reppin a giant pink rock. People who wear rings that big either won a Super Bowl or are in the rap game. Chances are…you’re associated with neither.
Getting Ahead of the Game…or Getting Ahead of Myself?
Have you ever looked at a card online, found it to be kinda cheap, but scroll past it thinking it won’t be any good? …only to find a month later it doubled, tripled, maybe even quadrupled in price? This was how I felt about Trevenant before BREAKpoint was released and now I’m upset. And Empoleon before Orion Craig used it in his list with Flareon seemingly forever ago. This time around, I actually pulled the trigger on potentially top-tier cards. I picked up a couple of Glaceon and another Primal Kyogre, so I’m hoping I can call the strength of WaterBox in a few months. I grabbed a four-dollar Ray at one of the vendors at Nats because…they were there. I traded off my Zygarde and just received four reverse Wobby bois in the mail the other day.
Here’s to hoping my predictions are right and that I’m not digging myself a financial hole. And if you’re following my advice, that you don’t either.
Thank you all for giving another one of my articles a read! Readers like you that make it this far only encourage me to continue writing, and I truly appreciate your time. Even if you scrolled all the way down in hopes of a tl;dr, (sorry, there isn’t one), you at least gave my article a peek or something sparked your interest.
There’s a lot of discussion to be had based on our position in the new meta, and I’m hoping you got something out of it and I’ve started some dialogue with you. If the article inspired you to pick up a couple of cards, tell me what you got! If you felt the need to quit Pokémon because of where you think the format’s headed, tell me about that too! Just wanna talk about Pokémon Go? I’m sorry, but this is the wrong thread for that. But I would love to chat about Go with you. What a great game. But forreal, there’s gotta be other cards or other decks I whiffed on. Lemme know in the comments about what I forgot and let’s talk next-format viability.
Take it easy,
John / Serperior