Discussing the Dual-Types: Are They Viable or Just Cool to Look At?

If you read the doobly-doo about myself on the right, you would know that my Pokémon journey began in the winter of 2006 upon my attendance of an EX Legend Maker Prerelease. (If you haven’t, now’s the time to redeem yourself.) The hip-and-happenin’ gimmick introduced in this set was utility with a new Special Energy card: React Energy. Pokémon released in EX Legend Maker would find new strengths in attaching React Energy to em, encouraging its play and hopefully providing new options to the competitive scene. During my first Nationals ever, (actually during the summer of that year), I saw some of that React Energy potential and reacted (I’ll show myself the door) by piloting a super n00by Gengar / Seaking / Curse Powder r deck in the Seniors Division. I would use Seaking’s Triple Breach to spread damage across the board where I saw fit while powering up Gengar’s first attack, Cursed Reaction. With a Psychic Energy I could drop two damage counters wherever, but with an additional React Energy I could drop four damage counters! In addition, Gengar had a cool Poké-Power in Shadow Curse, allowing me to place three damage counters on any one of my opponent’s Pokémon if Gengar were to get Knocked Out. Pair this with Curse Powder…and I was placing six damage counters on Pokémon with every Gengar Knock Out! With all of this damage manipulation, my twelve-year-old self thought this was an unbeatable strategy!

It was a beatable strategy.

I can remember losing game after game to powerful Pokémon ex like Blastoise ex and Medicham ex, (yeah, even with Psychic-typed Weakness I lost to yoga boi), and using mediocre attacks for mediocre damage. Regardless, I was sold to React Energy and took the bait from the starter deck manual hype, despite how underwhelming its effect was on the overall metagame at the time. Combinations with React Energy were EX Legend Maker-exclusive and we haven’t seen cards that utilized it ever again. With the arrival of Steam Siege, however, we are being reintroduced to an old mechanic that a lot of us should start cheering for once more: dual-type Pokémon.

How we feelin’, team? John’s doin’ it again with another article on a fresh slice of nostalgia here. If you’ve been playing the game for some time, you know all about dual-type Pokémon. They’ve been around for more than a decade but it’s just now that we’re seeing a resurgence of a good friend. Why am I dubbing dual-types as a friend of mine? Frankly, I’ve always been a fan of Pokémon that could take on the likes of more than one type. You see a mixture of support and synergy between two different classes of cards and see how the dual-type in question can build off of the variety at its disposal. You’ll see what I mean in just a second here.

I’m gonna take you and your sweet ol’ grandmother (or whoever reads these with you, I dunno, maybe a pet goat?) on a field trip to a time when dual-type Pokémon first stepped foot into the competitive scene of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Were they good? What impact did they have? That sort of thing. We’ll move on from those to a couple of other sets and finally stop at our newly-released Steam Siege, where I’ll analyze each dual-type there. Yup. Even the dinky ones (but I’m not spending nearly as much time on those). You might even find a list or two on the ones I think might see mild success in the next format, you’ll just have to keep reading. After covering these bases, I’m hoping you’ll end up with a little extra knowledge on these pretty dope-looking cards. If you don’t, I suggest you return to preparing for school that should be arriving here shortly. If you’ve already finished school, go back, major in something else, (no, “Flamboyant Pumpkin Carving” wasn’t a legitimate major and you should be ashamed of yourself for wasting so much money), and take a hold of your life.

Dual-Type Pokémon: A History Lesson

If you were to scroll through the thousands of cards that make up the game, you’ll find that dual-type Pokémon weren’t actually introduced until 2004 in the EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua set. While the dual-type had been established as a legitimate mechanic of the game upon the release of this set, we’ve seen a few expansions with Pokémon switching types or becoming a strange derivative of dual-type using other methods. Let’s take a look!

January 2003: Crystal Pokémon Get Close

We’re starting off ’03 right. On the fifteenth day of the month, the second set of the e-Card series was released: Aquapolis. This massive 186-card expansion was the first to include Crystal Pokémon, a handful of Secret Rares that were exclusive to only Aquapolis and Skyridge, the third and final set of the e-Card series. Only appearing in nine different Pokémon over these two sets, (in both holofoil and reverse holofoil form), these were some of the most rare and aesthetically pleasing cards to collect during this time. Arguably, they still are.

Crystal Nidoking
If you’re thinking about collecting these…good luck.

What differentiated Crystal Pokémon from other Pokémon in the past (other than their unprecedented beauty) is their unique Poké-Body called “Crystal Type.” While the Energy type for each Pokémon differ in the description, they all read the same otherwise as follows: “Whenever you attach a [first Energy], [a different Energy type], or [a third one] basic Energy card from your hand to [Pokémon], [Pokémon’s] type (color) becomes the same as that Energy card type until the end of the turn.” So are Crystal Pokémon dual-type Pokémon? What we have here is the Crystal Type Poké-Body getting close to that. With an Energy attachment, they could change their type to whatever type basic Energy was attached in order to potentially hit for Weakness and adjust to the matchup at hand. Why these aren’t considered dual-type Pokémon is self-explanatory. While Crystal Pokémon can assume more than one different type, they can’t assume multiple types at the same time. If by some method you could attach two Energy in a turn, the second Energy type would override the first. Therefore, referring back to the original question…in the case of the Crystal Nidoking depicted, the answer is “no.” Unfortunately, Crystal Nidoking couldn’t become Grass-, Lightning-, and Fighting-type. (The Fire Energy in the Poké-Body was a printing error.) But let’s be real here. That would’ve been sick.

Unlike future dual-type Pokémon, Crystal Pokémon didn’t receive any specific support for its unique Poké-Body. As you can see from this example, attacks were expensive and if you wanted access to both of Nidoking’s here, you would have needed to attach six different Energy to pull that off. Sure you have the pleasure of playing a gorgeous card, but it’s still bad. Maybe it’s better off in the binder. Actually, it’s far better off in the binder. Put that in a perfect fit sleeve while you’re at it. Ok actually take it out of the binder, slide the card in a perfect fit, then a penny sleeve, then a toploader, and lock it away in a safe so it never gets damaged. Also make sure you washed your hands before touching the cards cuz chances are you’re sweating out of excitement.

September 2003: The Color Swap Pokémon Swaps…Colors. And is Essentially a Dual-Type. Or Multi-Type.

We finally see a glimpse of the actual dual-type mechanic appear in Kecleon out of EX Sandstorm (that was released before EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua, actually). Kecleon could characterize itself with two types by means of a Poké-Body. Heck, Kecleon could be a three- or four- or five-type Pokémon if it survived and you happened to get as many different basic Energy onto it as possible. Just to continue on this theme of Kecleon abilities, future Kecleon cards will include Poké-Bodies or Abilities that allow type changing. There’s one Kecleon in particular out of Rising Rivals that is banned from Unlimited play (usually) because it becomes nine different types just for being in play! Super cool, no lie, but busted when paired with the right card (like Xerneas for example).

Similar to the Crystal Pokémon, Kecleon outta Sandstorm wasn’t much of a threat with this Poké-Body. This was due to having pretty garbo HP and a pretty garbo attack. Oh, you have to flip to attack, too. All in all, the card was bad, but it did set the precedent for our first set of actual dual-type Pokémon! We’re gonna skip EX Dragon (one of my favorite sets because of the beauty that is Latias ex and Latios ex) and move onto…

March 2004: Dual-Types Arrive!

Aaaaat laaaaast (sing it like Etta James) we get to the first set of “actual” dual-type Pokémon. As prefaced, EX Team Magma vs Team Aqua is the first expansion to advertise the dual-type mechanic to competitive players and provide specific support for it too. In this set, Pokémon would assume their usual type or their usual type in combination with Darkness, such as Team Aqua's Cacturne and the Worlds-winning Team Magma's Groudon. These cards are the first to actually integrate two types into a single Pokémon and have it denoted in a specific box (that I actually enjoyed from a card design perspective). We’ll see this trend ease in and out of the format over the years, as you’ll see, but this is where it all started. (Like, officially.)

While the success of the Team Magma and Team Aqua archetype can be attributed to all kinds of Team Magma and Team Aqua Trainers, we can’t forget about the Energy cards. You know, the cards that actually correlate to those types we’re talking about. We’ve already touched on the subject of Groudon’s success, so let’s use him as our example. His attacks require at least two Energy (in addition to four Team Magma Pokémon due to Power Saver) with Pulverize being the more powerful at a three-Energy cost. Worlds winner Tsuguyoshi Yamato included four Magma Energy as well as four Darkness Energy in his list, and you’ll see why. Magma Energy was essentially built for Team Magma Pokémon and made it easier to pay for Groudon’s attack costs by providing two Fighting and Darkness Energy. The niche is in Darkness Energy, a Special Energy card that has seen changes in its effect since the olden days of Neo Genesis. This reprinted Darkness Energy only provided strength to Pokémon with “Dark” in its name or in Darkness-type Pokémon…how convenient! While attached, damage these Pokémon dish out do 10 more damage. And you bet it stacks. Pulverize does a base 50 damage with minimum Energy requirements but can do 70 if the Defending Pokémon has 2 damage counters on it already. If that third Energy just so happens to be a Darkness Energy, that’s 80 for three – a pretty big deal in these times.

Players saw the biggest benefit in dual-type Pokémon when they discovered they could take advantage of support from other types. Being a Fighting-type is cool, but being Fighting- and Darkness-type is even better when you can reap the swag Special Darkness Energy delivers. We’ll see more of this in future dual-type Pokémon when Special Energy come to life for more than just Darkness and Metal.

June 2004: Making Matches with Metal

After devoting an entire set to dual-type Pokémon that used Darkness as their secondary type, we see a couple of dual-type Pokémon that hold hands with Metal this time around. And I mean that – there are only two dual-type Pokémon in this set that have adopted Metal as their secondary type. Those come in the form of one of my favorite cards in the set, Jirachi, and in the Iron Leg Pokémon, Metagross. Both Pokémon weren’t half-bad in their own right. Jirachi’s first attack, Make a Wish, evolved one of your Pokémon for a Colorless Energy and a damage counter on the Jirachi. This expedited setup for decks involving Stage-1 or Stage-2 Pokémon for minimal sacrifice, all the while including a super-cute Pokémon in your list. The ladies are gonna love you. Metagross’s Poké-Power, Metal Juncture, allowed you to move as many Metal Energy from your Benched Pokémon to the Active. You could move these precious Special Energy cards from damaged Pokémon (potentially Metagross ex, a nifty partner at the time with a crazy amount of HP and bulk) to fresh ones ready for battle. Real quick, we also meet the first “Dark” Pokémon in Dark Celebi that has actual duality with Darkness (of course). I couldn’t leave that card out; I love the artwork.

At this point of the Pokémon TCG, we’re seeing what’s about to be a bit of a fad with dual-type Pokémon. The mechanic is going to stay relatively consistent for another two years but you’ll see em in different forms. It soon wasn’t uncommon for a Pokémon to be dual-type and, frankly, it was refreshing to the game.

November 2004 – August 2006: Dark Pokémon and Delta Species Don Dual-Typing

Arguably one of the greatest eras of the Pokémon Trading Card Game, we see a large span of Pokémon within this solid twenty-one-month period swaggin’ with double colors. Dual-types took a hiatus during EX FireRed & LeafGreen, (you know, the set with the gorgeous Charizard ex), before being rebooted in EX Team Rocket Returns. If you think back to the original Team Rocket set from 2000, we still had “Dark” Pokémon. Unlike these Dark Pokémon, (and even Dark Celebi as mentioned earlier), they did not share Darkness typing because Darkness Energy (or even the Darkness type for that matter) wasn’t even an actual thing in the Trading Card Game at that point.

In EX Team Rocket Returns, we see all of the Pokémon with dual-type potential paired with Darkness…as expected. Playing with these new-and-improved Dark Pokémon was encouraged with Darkness Energy still providing dat dank 10 damage boost as well as the release of R Energy, an Energy card that fulfilled two Darkness Energy requirements to a Pokémon with “Dark” or “Rocket’s” in its name. Now that I think about it, I remember playing against a Dark Tyranitar (I know it’s not the good one but I was in Seniors remember) deck during that same Nationals from the intro and watching him power up Second Strike in just two attachments with this card. How’s that for a trip down memory lane. I’m pretty sure I got trashed because of Gengar’s Weakness to Darkness. Rest in pepperoni.


We’re gonna take another break here for a couple sets before we see dual-types again in the October 2005 set: EX Delta Species, one of my favorite sets of all time. Three of the next four sets will include dual-type Delta Specie Pokémon that greatly impacted an already-diverse meta and included a ton of support for this new archetype. What EX Team Rocket Returns was to Darkness is EX Delta Species to Metal, as all dual-type Delta Specie Pokémon are paired with the Metal type. To further encourage Delta Specie play was the revered Holon Engine. It centered around “Holon” Trainer cards and maximized consistency like we haven’t seen before, using Holon Transceiver as the main method of searching for whatever Supporter you needed. While the only Holon Supporter that targeted Delta Specie Pokémon is Holon Researcher, it and the other Holon Supporters significantly increased the popularity of a new wave of dual-type Pokémon. Additionally and thankfully, the designers of the set realized, “Oh crap, we need an easier way for players to meet Metal Energy requirements because they’re Special,” and released Holon Research Tower. While the card didn’t make much of an impact on the competitive level, the idea was there that maybe players would want the Stadium support for the dual-type Delta Species.

The last two sets that included dual-type Pokémon in the EX era were EX Holon Phantoms and EX Crystal Guardians. All of these dual-types were still Delta Specie Pokémon, but not all Delta Specie Pokémon were dual-type. For example, we have cards like CARD NOT FOUND and CARD NOT FOUND that still team up with Metal but we also have cards like CARD NOT FOUND and CARD NOT FOUND that just assume a completely different type than their original one. Reducing damage with Metal Energy was less significant when the more versatile CARD NOT FOUND and Holon's Castform were released in EX Holon Phantoms. While Holon’s Castform’s nifty effect of replacing an Energy card with itself from the hand to provide two of whatever Energy wasn’t unprecedented, (see Holon's Magneton and Holon's Electrode from EX Delta Species), it doubled as a fantastic starter for Delta Specie decks and wasn’t a dead draw later when needing to cover Metal Energy requirement for attacks.

After the drop of EX Crystal Guardians in August 2006, it would be a while until we saw dual-types again. I personally loved the design of the Delta Species and the added metallic look made the cards look super sleek and professional. This is my favorite series of dual-types by far out of the ones we had at our disposal. Lemme touch on one more moment in history before we get into Steam Siege chatter.

May 2010: Dual-Types Become Full Arts…Kinda.

It takes almost four years before dual-types make a comeback. But lemme be real…they do so in great fashion. (Or should I say…LEGENDary fashion! ;D …I’ll never write an article again. I promise.) So you think you’ve seen Full Arts with what we have right now, but LEGEND cards show those right up. If LEGENDs are the Mona Lisas of the Pokémon Trading Card Game, then Full Arts are the stick figures you drew in elementary school. Boasting gorgeous artwork, these beauties were first introduced in HeartGold & SoulSilver. In order to play a Pokémon LEGEND, you needed both the top and bottom pieces in your hand, just like we see Lugia if you click on those links right there. I’m a huge fan of the LEGENDs because I think it was with these that I finally believed that Pokémon could pump out cards with artwork just as good as (if not better than) Magic: The Gathering does with their TCG. I was super bummed when I realized they were going to be discontinued after just four sets. :( But I digress.

What differentiate HeartGold & SoulSilver LEGENDs is that their LEGEND cards include only one Pokémon and only one type. HS-Unleashed, the next set in the series, (and actually every other HS-set after), include two Pokémon per LEGEND and therefore, you guessed it, two types! We see Entei & Raikou LEGEND actually get some tech-choice popularity (not necessarily as a dual-type but as a solid card in general). We can fast forward to HS-Triumphant a few months later and watch Rayquaza & Deoxys LEGEND tearing it up in late-game situations against bulky Pokémon Prime. Unfortunately, nothing particular was released to hopefully elevate the game for LEGEND cards (ok, yeah I know Legend Box exists, but is it that good? No). Consistency was an issue and the Energy requirements for attacks were expensive. In addition to having two types, you also had two Weaknesses. Look at the Kyogre & Groudon LEGEND depicted – Grass- and Lightning- type Weakness. If you know anything about this era of competitive Pokémon play, you would recall Yanmega Prime and Magnezone Prime dominating this era. MegaZone would rip through the Hoenn legendaries and for two Prizes at that – yup. If you KO’d a LEGEND, you took two Prize cards. Of course this is just one example, but you can see why most players opted against these and left dual-type Pokémon to die once more.

Until now.

August 2016: Dual-Type Resurgence in Steam Siege

Yup! Welcome to today, where dual-types have finally returned in an awful and clashy design on cardboard that has probably halved in quality since the previous sets we just now discussed. Guys – I don’t like the way the new dual-types look, especially after I’ve been spoiled with the likes of Delta Species and LEGENDs. The colors don’t blend harmoniously as they should in a Pokémon being characterized (as one entity) with two different types, and I don’t like how they tried to shove two Energy symbols in the top right there. Sloppy.

Jaw drop
mfw dual-types came back

My only compliment to the new kids on the block is that most of the new dual-type Pokémon are represented by Shiny versions of themselves. I don’t get upset pulling the same Uncommon because it’s a Shiny and it’s a nice change of pace from the regular card. Also, if you pull the reverse holofoil, you have one symbol scattered throughout on the left half and the second on the right half. Neat stuff. You’ll know it when you pull it.

Steam Siege includes eight dual-type Pokémon. I’ll argue that the majority of these cards are kind of garbo making the exception of a nifty rogue or League Challenge fun dec. I won’t do more than blurb on em, but I’ll throw a list at you for a couple just for making it this far in the article and supporting the cause. Thanks man!

The Meh: Azumarill, Bisharp, Galvantula, & Shiftry

These four cards are more than likely not going to make a significant impact in the next format and it’s unfortunate because the typing for these are pretty sweet. It’s a shame that the strength of a card isn’t determined by the coolness of its colors. Anyways. Lemme break it down for you:

  • Azumarill: The card’s an Uncommon for a reason. While I’m a big fan of the golden Azumarill design in combination with the pink and blue from its Fairy- and Water-typing, the card’s not good. At all. Guys, I don’t really need to get into this one all that much because other than the fact that it’s a cool-looking card, there’s nothing going for it. For a Double Colorless Energy, you can maybe do 60 damage off a coin flip. I’d rather play a Night March deck and do 180 for that Energy cost. 100 HP for a Stage-1 is awful, and…do I need to keep going? Save it for the binder or the box of bulk you’re keeping.
  • Bisharp: I really like the way Bisharp looks here. The black. The silver. The blue. Actually doesn’t look half bad. In terms of how competent it is in competitive play…meh. This card could be techworthy later, but certainly not now. The Pokémon that are picking up steam for the next format don’t have a Weakness to Darkness or Metal so that Bisharp could take advantage of its first attack, Retaliate. Just like many cards with an attack similar to this before, (see Druddigon and Bouffalant), Retaliate’s damage output rises from a measly 30 to a more formidable 90 if any of your Pokémon were Knocked Out during your opponent’s last turn. What would bring Retaliate to the forefront of potential play is if the meta adapts to a Pokémon with a Weakness to either of Bisharp’s typings. 90 could become 180 and score big Knock Outs on Pokémon-EX and swing big Prize trades in the player’s favor. I love these kind of “trick” plays where the opponent might not be familiar with an attack and you surprise em with an attack like this one. Right now, I’m not seeing anything too groundbreaking that would call for Bisharp (especially since the Sword Blade Pokémon has a dinky 100 HP and an underwhelming second attack and is a Stage-1) so go ahead and put it in the bulk box for now.
  • Galvantula: This card actually received an errata for its first attack, Double Thread. While the original text includes the possibility of hitting the Active and a Benched Pokémon, the new text rewords it so Double Thread targets Benched Pokémon only. Seen mainly as a tech option for Night March players in sniping other Joltik or Benchsitting Shaymin-EX , it doesn’t provide much umph in the upcoming format. The main reason we’re likely not going to see Galvantula is because there won’t be a viable Joltik in the next rotation, which is kind of strange to say. Sure, the Lightning typing might hit a Rayquaza-EX or a Shaymin for 60, but that’s it. Electroweb is pathetic. You’re a Stage-1. You might as well play Raichu.
  • Shiftry: I’m pretty excited for Shiftry and it’s probably the least meh out of this meh list. Thanks to Forest of Giant Plants, you can whip out Shiftry on your first turn if you have everything (lol right? I’m saying it like it’s nothing but seriously it’s a lot of work) and start pestering the opponent with Wicked Wind. Wicked Wind is pretty disruptive, hits for 40, and makes the effects of any Pokémon Tool and Stadium dead until the end of your opponent’s next turn. This is pretty big for decks that focus on that explosive first turn setup like M Rayquaza-EX or require Spirit Links in general like…every Mega lol. You force them to burn a turn evolving so you can continue hitting with Wicked Wind. Its second attack, Extrasensory, is a strong attack in that it could hit for 120 for only two Energy, but you’re gonna need to play around your opponent’s hand size just so you can pull it off. Now, the reason this card’s on the “Meh” list is because we’re closing in on an era where Fire is probably going to be dominant and Grass and Darkness don’t do much at all. If we’re looking at Worlds or the previous format, Shiftry would have had wonderful matchups against Trevenant and Greninja BREAK, hitting for Weakness and shutting down Bursting Balloon and Rough Seas. Now…what’s Shiftry good against? In addition, 40 damage turn after turn isn’t much and you’ll still have to maintain a streak of some other disruption if you plan on winning. Tool and Stadium control isn’t as powerful as Item lock or Supporter lock, so you’d need to be prepared for something else.

The Eh?: M Gardevoir-EX & Volcarona

So these two cards are some that may see some play at your local League for fun. They’re not going to necessarily belong in the bulk box immediately, too. Like, you’ll look at em…think…and be like, “Yeah, I might be able to do something cute with these,” and set em aside for later. I don’t think either are meta-breaking by any means, but they look cool and might be fun to play around with. Let’s take a glance at em.

M Gardevoir-EX is found on the cover of the pack art, so she’s gotta be good right? Um…let’s just say I put her in the “Eh?” list for a reason. Let’s just look at the card as a whole and see what we’re working with. I’ll make it kinda quick.

  • 210 HP: So this is kind of a big deal because 210 HP is simply not enough to deal with the threats Mega Gardy needs to look out for. I know that Genesect-EX is dead in the new Standard because we lose Bronzong, but M Scizor-EX is picking up a bit of popularity because of its Special Energy-discarding potential. M Scizor-EX hits for Weakness and OHKOs (short for “one-hit-Knock-Out”) M Gardy no problem, but what’s a little more embarrassing is that baby Scizor-EX has the ability to OHKO it as well with Gale Thrust and hit for 220. Furthermore, Mega Ray needs only seven Benched Pokémon to Emerald Break for a OHKO rather than pushing for a full eight, (with Sky Field of course), another discouraging factor to take into consideration. While 210 HP is pretty standard for a Mega, we would have liked to see even just 10 more HP to deal with Mega Ray a little easier. (We’ll touch on the Metal Weakness in a second.)
  • Fairy and Psychic Typing: UGH. Why did you have to go so soon Dimension Valley?! This is definitely the biggest blow to being a Psychic-type post-rotation and immediately makes the allure of being Psychic less attractive. Heck, we don’t even have access to Mystery Energy anymore to mobilize our Mega. I mean, Fairy Garden kind of gets the job done so that’s nice, but it would have been pretty cool to see that spot used for Dimension Valley instead. Fairies are missing out on a ton of support without Aromatisse and, can we be real for a moment, Wonder Energy is pretty mediocre as a card in general. So there’s the idea of using the Fairy-specific Special Energy. I guess there’s the neat type advantage over M Mewtwo-EX which could help argue for using M Gardevoir…and that’s just about it. The pink and purple look really clean together, but we can only hope that the Psychic support (and/or the Fairy swag while we’re at it) gets reprinted.
  • Despair Ray: THIS IS WHY DIMENSION VALLEY WOULD’VE BEEN DOPE. For a Fairy and a whatever, you can hit for 110 and 10 more for however many Benched Pokémon you discard. This is an ok attack for what would have been a lot better with Dimension Valley. (Can you taste the salt here?) Anyways, Despair Ray is decent in the fact that you can discard all those Shaymin and Hoopa-EX you used that are now just sitting the Bench. We can do what the cool Mega Ray players do and actually use Sky Field if you want and fill the Bench with a bunch of these dead cards and discard them in the same turn. If you somehow pull this off, you can swing for 190 if you discard all eight of your Benched Pokémon. Not bad, but still not as good as Night March lol. This prevents your opponent from taking two easy Prizes off of a Lysandre and increases your damage output significantly while you’re at it. The lame thing about Despair Ray is that once you discard the Pokémon on your Bench, that hip-and-hop 140 or 150 you just dealt drops back to a lackluster 110. The attack is nice that you can at least OHKO Shaymin and 2HKO just about everything else, but with Fighting Fury Belt still around…you may need to dig for big numbers on a more consistent basis. And Despair Ray, unless you play like twenty Pokémon, just can’t do that.
  • Metal Weakness and Darkness Resistance: We touched on the Metal Weakness up in the HP section, and it’s not a good Weakness to have right this second. Sure, it’s not a completely terrible one either, I get that, but Scizor and Steelix can very well make an impact in the meta and discourage Mega Gardy from seeing playing time. I’m not sure how big Dark is gonna be next format other than in the form of Darkrai-EX / Giratina-EX / Garbodoror the occasional Zoroark deck, but any Resistance is better than none I guess. The funny part about having a Resistance to Darkness is that those Darkness-type Pokémon usually have a Resistance to Psychic-types…which is what half of Mega Gardy is. Not much of an advantage after all.
  • Two-Energy Retreat Cost: Well, without Dimension Valley we’re looking at Fairy Garden to help us out unless you’re willing to sacrifice deck space for more switching Items. The mobility isn’t much of a big deal as it would be if we were playing with Dimension Valley, where we’d probably focus more on hitting 110, using Max Potion, attaching another Energy and swinging again with no problems. Now we have to hope we can keep fresh attackers up front to prevent Knock Outs while we can. I don’t like this heavier Retreat Cost and it doesn’t do Mega Gardy any favors at all especially when she has plenty of struggles on her shoulders already.

So there’s that on M Gardevoir-EX. I don’t expect to see it used anytime soon, but you never know what jank could be released in the future that makes the card viable again. I’d hold onto Mega Gardy because I think it’s a pretty card with the blues and stuff, but you’re more than likely going to try and trade this off for something with a little more swag.

Enough of that guy, let’s get to Volcarona because I think the Sun Pokémon (I dunno how this bug is a “sun” Pokémon, like, you’re a bug) might have a shot at the limelight here. A lot of people were quick to point out that Volcarona’s first attack, Shimmering Scales, is reminiscent of the Lilligant out of Emerging Powers in Bemusing Aroma. Shimmering Scales, like Bemusing Aroma, hits for 20 for a single Grass Energy and prompts a coinflip to inflict some kind of Special Condition. If you flip heads, you cause Confusion, and if you flip tails, you cause Paralysis. This is a pretty disruptive attack and with Forest of Giant Plants access, (yup, you’re part Grass!), you could be starting the headaches as early as turn one. Somebody grab the ibuprofen. And don’t take it on an empty stomach. (Legitimate life tips in Pokémon articles. Who knew?)

I usually recommend 400 to 600 milligrams with food for mild headache or pain. Drink plenty of water with it too. See your pharmacist for more information.

A popular partner for Volcarona is Vileplume, especially if FOGP is already in the deck. You can focus primarily on keeping your opponent from setting up all the while preventing your opponent from attacking with Paralysis or forcing a flip with Confusion. Irritating Pollen combined with an irritating attack could very well cause a great deal of frustration and watching friends deleting you from Facebook. I would imagine the deck being built in a similar fashion to Vespiquen / Vileplume, but without the discarding Items like Battle Compressor in place for more disruptive cards like Team Flare Grunt. With Irritating Pollen affecting the Volcarona player is well, this would eliminate the idea of using Crushing Hammer or Enhanced Hammer to remove Energy. We would rely on choosing bulky Pokémon-EX for Lysandre targets and stalling them in the Active slot, forcing your opponent to burn through resources to get enough Energy to Retreat.

What I really like about Volcarona is its second attack, Power Hurricane. Power Hurricane unfortunately asks you (although politely, I might add) to discard all Energy in order to deal 120 damage, meaning you don’t need to stall as long with Shimmering Scales for that key Knock Out. By diverting to Power Hurricane, you also give your opponent less time to draw into a Hex Maniac or a Lysandre to help get herself out of the lock. You can maintain pressure with Vileplume and call for inconsistent attacks while you build up for Power Hurricane. Unlike Lilligant, Volcarona has the opportunity to capitalize on a Knock Out more quickly than Lilligant could have. Compensating for the fact that Volcarona doesn’t inflict Poison and Muscle Band isn’t in the format any longer, your only source of damage output is the sad 20 and Confusion damage if your opponent flips tails on an attack – if he decides to risk it for the biscuit. Not a bad ace in the hole.

The problems I see with Volcarona is its Weakness to Fire and inconsistency altogether. We’ll talk about Volcanion‘s popularity in a hot second here but Fire-typed Weakness isn’t too great at the moment. While 110 HP barely saves you from a baby Volcanion’s Power Heater charged up by big Volcanion-EX‘s Steam Up, it’s still a tall order to take down when Fighting Fury Belt is around and you’re trading one-Prize attackers. A big reason with why Bees were really good this past format was because the deck had access to Battle Compressor to burn dead cards. Therefore, Trainers' Mail plays and Shaymin-EX draws were more likely to net you the exact cards you needed which improved the deck immensely overall. Now…not so much. You can try going the Acro Bike route at the risk of milling some important cards so you can push for that first-turn Vileplume, but it might not fare well for you late game. Maybe my skepticism will be refuted by a top player throwing something together with this card. Should be interesting.

The YAAAAASSSSS: M Steelix-EX & Volcanion-EX

These two are just a couple of the few breakout cards (Pokémon-wise) for the set no doubt, with the latter being moreso than the former. (Like, they have the whole steam thing going on…set is named “Steam Siege”…there’s a lotta hints here. It’s gotta be good.) Both boast two different types of course and they’re actually super helpful as to why they’re better-suited for the meta right now.

Compared to the other Mega, M Steelix-EX is somebody with a little more potential and a lot more beef. Its typing is better, its attack is better, there’s just a lot more going for this guy. You’ll see what I mean after we finish analyzing the card.

  • 240 HP: YES LAWD. Just 10 shy of the biggest Pokémon to ever touch the Trading Card Game, (which is Wailord-EX), Steelix fans are not disappointed with the amount of stamina this card has. We force Mega Ray to have a full Bench, (and even then we might be able to avoid the OHKO), Raichu players to…yeah they’re not getting close, and M Mewtwo-EX to have four Energy attached to swing through M Steelix’s Resistance to Psychic (this is considering if Steelix already has the five Energy already needed to attack…and if he doesn’t, that’s a lot more Energy Mewtwo needs to compensate). This is a big number and one of the nicest selling points M Steelix has to offer.
  • Metal and Fighting Typing: This is so good guys. Steelix can take advantage of Special Energy versions of both types which have some of the most solid effects out of the others. Shield Energy isn’t one we’re used to seeing because Metal from the past rotation used Metal Links Bronzong. And because of the verbiage on Shield Energy, you can’t attach it from the discard pile to your Benched Pokémon, calling for Metal players to solely rely on Basic Metal Energy. This isn’t the case for Steelix though. We’re gonna use Shield Energy in tandem with a special seafood Pokémon to attach multiple at a time and reap the benefits of decreasing damage done to Steelix by 10 before Weakness and Resistance. You can just imagine the frustration on your opponent’s face if you have multiple Shield Energy attached as they struggle to Knock Out a 240-HP behemoth with damage-reducing Energy. So while a strong defense is a strong offense, we also have Strong Energy. While Strong Energy’s attached to a Fighting-type, (which Steelix so conveniently is, thanks dual-typing), attacks dished out do 20 more damage. This is gonna help Canyon Axe jump from that kinda subpar 160 to the 180 we need to take those key OHKOs on Pokémon-EX. I’m sure you’re starting to see just how formidable M Steelix can be with all this Special Energy support.
  • Canyon Axe: The attack is expensive. The attack is kind of underwhelming. But the attack sounds cool. We would write this card off entirely if we couldn’t take advantage of its typing and boost its strength because five Energy is a LOT. Thankfully we can hit bigger numbers with the aforementioned Strong Energy and the 10-damage snipe across your opponent’s board can relieve the stress of needing Strong for future attachments (which can be replaced with Double Colorless Energy instead).
  • Weakness to Fire: Ouch. We’re gonna talk about Volcanion in the next section here but he and its EX and its partners are going to run right through Steelix. We need a good amount of resources to get our Steelix in play and our opponent can quickly outmaneuver us if we fail to pick off the big EXs in time (so that he can’t Steam Up the little dudes). Volcanion-EX can use Fighting Fury Belt to make OHKOs a dream for us and can make the matchup very difficult. With the amount of popularity Volcanion’s getting, I wouldn’t be too hasty to write this downside off for our trusty Mega here.
  • Resistance to Psychic: Alright, so the main Psychic-type Pokémon we’re most likely going to see in the upcoming format has got to be M Mewtwo-EX. We’re glad that we have Resistance in the first place to make sure the opponent commits as much Energy as possible to the Active to try and score a Knock Out. This is because if we KO it, there’s a good chance the opponent doesn’t have much of a board leftover with a ton of Energy in the discard pile. What’s great about having an attack with a huge Energy cost (which is something you rarely say) is that in this situation, (if you have a Canyon Axe powered up), M Mewtwo hits you for a minimum of 180 (this is with one Shield Energy being accounted for if we go with our list below). This is going to discourage your opponent from using any Damage Change / Shrine of Memories shenanigans, so they’ll be pouring resources into powering up the fattest Mewtwo they can. Sure, 2HKOs are possible, but that’s another turn of Canyon Axe damage onto Benched Mewtwo that help with the math. Look at this, just 10 damage means you only need to commit two Strong Energy to a Steelix for 200 damage rather than three. That one turn is critical man.
  • Four-Energy Retreat Cost: LOL. Yeah. We don’t plan on moving Steelix when he’s already in the Active spot unless he’s been Lysandre’d up and has nothing attached. We’ll use Switch.

So that’s the general idea of what M Steelix-EX has for the good of the community. And you know what, for making it this far in my article, here – here’s a skeleton list to give you a vision of what we’re working with:

Pokemon (13)

3x M Steelix-EX (STS #68)3x Steelix-EX (STS #67)2x Clawitzer (STS #34)2x Clauncher (STS #33)1x Hoopa-EX (AOR #36)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (27)

3x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (FAC #105)1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)1x Lysandre (AOR #78)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)3x Steelix Spirit Link (STS #106)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Special Charge (STS #105)2x Reverse Valley (BKP #110)

Energy (12)

4x Strong Energy (FAC #115)4x Shield Energy (PRC #143)4x Double Colorless Energy (PHF #111)

So we’ve got eight slots remaining with this list. I know I went ahead and made a couple tech decisions in this list myself so there might even be more space if you decide against those, but this should kind of be the standard for what we’d wanna see in a M Steelix build. Let’s talk Pokémon lines first, alongside some tech options.

Pokémon Lines Alongside Some Tech Options:

  • 3-3 M Steelix, 2-2 Clawitzer: These two go hand-in-hand like peanut butter and jelly. The 3-3 baby-to-Mega ratio is pretty standard across the board, so I went with this count. Now let’s draw our attention to the shrimp in the room. M Steelix has a really expensive attack, so we’re going to use Clawitzer’s Ability in order to alleviate that problem with Mega Boost. This Ability allows you to attach a Special Energy card from your hand to one of your Mega Pokémon, which is huge and even opens up the possibility for a second-turn Canyon Axe. And if you check out our Energy list, all we run is Special Energy! Forget the rules when we have Clawitzer around to attach two, maybe three, Energy per turn! Some might opt for a heavier line of Clawitzer just so we can guarantee having multiple on the field early on. With that, some don’t mind having Clauncher start so you can focus on charging up a Steelix-EX on the Bench while sacrificing a one-Prize attacker. Whether it’s a 2-2 line or a 3-3 line, go with what you feel man.
  • 1/2 Hoopa/Shaymin: This is also a pretty standard route to go. You don’t need more than one Hoopa because one Scoundrel Ring’s enough – grab your three Pokémon-EX, (probably a baby Steelix, a Mega for next turn, and a Shaymin), and go home. Two Shaymin is strong for consistency with Set Up and…ok. This card’s been out for more than a year now. You know what he does. He’s good.
  • Tech Option – Cobalion: A brand new card out of Steam Siege, Cobalion could very well squeeze its way into a Steelix list as a one-Prize Pokémon that stalls and as a Pokémon with massive late-game sweeping potential. Already a solid Basic in his own respect with 120 HP and Psychic Resistance, his attacks are what bring Cobalion into the limelight. Quick Guard doesn’t do any damage but it prevents Cobalion from taking any damage next turn. This is strong in the fact that you can effectively take another turn to attach Energy to a waaayyy bigger attacker than the Iron Will Pokémon and/or force your opponent to use Lysandre if they plan on putting a dent in any of your Pokémon. Cobalion’s second attack, Revenge Blast, is a copy-and-paste version of the old Shaymin-EX. Yeah. This one. Judging by the name, if you guessed that it gets better the later in the game you use it, you’d be right. Dealing 30 base damage, it does 30 more for every Prize card your opponent has already taken. So if you do the math, the damage cap on this guy is a huge 180 for two Metal Energy. If you guessed it was 210, your opponent has taken six Prize cards and you have lost the game. I could see why the Metal Energy requirement could be a deterrent (because technically we only play four) but I still suggest you refrain from knocking it before you actually give it a go. (That’s definitely not how that phrase goes.)
  • Tech Option – Jirachi: Yup, you’ve seen him before and he’s back to put in more work! This cute lil guy’s ready to sprinkle some Stardust and discard more Special Energy if you’re willing to include Jirachi in your list, and I don’t think it would be a bad decision. We have a lot of up-and-coming decks that are gonna incorporate the likes of DCE and…yeah. That’s your main Special Energy you’ll probably see or maybe Double Dragon Energy if Giratina-EX gets big. But you can still buy yourself a turn or two while doing just the most mediocre amount of damage. If you find yourself around a lot of Mega Ray and Mewtwo or maybe even Raichu, this is probably worth teching in.
  • Tech Option – Magearna-EX: This is probably a must-have. Because we only run Special Energy, we are extremely susceptible to other Jirachi. With Magearna’s Mystic Heart Ability in play, we protect ourselves from having to discard those precious Energy. Heck, we would protect ourselves from any Special Condition that our opponents try to inflict in attack form as well. Lol, I was talking about Damage Change earlier and even that won’t go through haha. It’s one slot and it’ll be worth it – play Magearna.

Talkin’ Trainers and Tools

So at first glance you’ll notice I only included three Professor Sycamore in the deck and two N. This is for some flexibility – some players might not dig discarding a whole lot early because of the limited ways we have of bringing Special Energy and Pokémon back. If you’re a more aggressive player like myself, yeah. I’m playing four Sycamore and just the two N. Some will go for a 3/3 split. Do what you gotta do. I’m not gonna tell you how to live your life.

The Hex Maniac is huge and can make a difference in your Fire matchup or even Mega Ray. Just making sure they can’t hit big numbers or get set up on the first turn gives you another turn to get a couple of your Steelix ready to go. There’s nothing special to talk about when it comes to Lysandre – it’s a really good card. I could see you wanting to bump that up to two just so you can take free Knock Outs on Shaymin while softening up the bigger guys you know will try to fight you off later. Ninja Boy might sneak his way through here but I’m not 100% sold on him. In a Battle Compressor format where you could take these one-of Supporters and ensure you have it at your disposal with VS Seeker was one thing, but you have to actually see the Ninja Boy before you make the decision to discard it for later or play it then. Magearna starts or Hoopa starts would really put a damper on some fun, but maybe a Switch or two would be better justified than another Supporter. The maxxed out VS Seeker, Trainers’ Mail, and Ultra Ball is the gold standard for consistency, while the three Steelix Spirit Link ensure we don’t waste a turn Mega Evolving.

This is where things get a little more dicey – I include two Float Stone because they provide more of a long-term solution to Lysandre than a one-time Switch. On the other hand, a stray M Steelix with a Spirit Link already attached could be toast or something we just don’t wanna invest in – he’s gotta get outta there! Depending on your taste or astrological sign, you should add a Switch or Escape Rope. To round out the Items I have a single copy of Special Charge that should probably be two. Unlucky Sycamore discards could cause you to burn through more Special Energy than you’d desire, so replenishing four dead Specials over two would make sense. In addition, your matchup might call for you to recycle a particular type of Special Energy. If you need to get big Knock Outs on Mewtwo or Volcanion or just simply need to survive multiple hits, you’ll have your pick and have more of whatever Special you need at your disposal.

For Stadiums, two Reverse Valley is a must. We’ve got plenty of bulk and we’re gonna use it, and Reverse Valley further capitalizes on said bulk. When the top half faces you, damage done to Metal-type Pokémon is reduced by 10 damage after Weakness and Resistance. This is great yo. Any counter Stadium that strictly helps one player is super advantageous, and is why Stadiums like Dimension Valley and Rough Seas were so powerful in the last format. If you didn’t pack your deck with a few Stadiums to counter these, you were hurtin’. You can try a third Reverse Valley if you wanted, or you could even go the Sky Field route. You can drop as many of your Shaymin or Hoopa and then play the Reverse Valley to rid your Bench of those sitting duck EXs. This is probably a more inconsistent route, but it’s an idea to keep in mind if you’re looking for other options.

The knife in the side for Steelix boils down to its reliance on Clawitzer to keep up. A well-timed Hex Maniac can prevent you from mounting a response to a Knock Out on your Active M Steelix and can very well cost you the game. The sheer amount of Energy required to power up that Canyon Axe is no simple feat either. The T2 Canyon Axe is possible if you’re able to draw into a Double Colorless and can get a Clawitzer in play to string some Energy together, but a lot rides simply on having that extra attachment from Mega Boost. It’s important you test the 2-2 versus the 3-3 line and decide which techs help the most so you aren’t relying too heavily on a sea dweller for Steelix’s success.

Overall, the card’s not as awful as I think too many believe. With access to the support of two different types, it can truly take advantage of what being a dual-type’s all about. The defense in Metal combined with the strength in Fighting could very well create a tank that simply won’t go down. It’ll be fun to see where top players guide it (if they do) and where Steelix ends up in the overall meta, especially when we still need to talk about Volcanion.

  • 180 HP: This is on the higher end of the Pokémon-EX HP spectrum, and we’re gonna take it. Any time we can force Mega Ray to have Sky Field in play in order to Bench that sixth Pokémon for a Knock Out…we’re gonna take it. More HP is never a bad thing, and for a Basic EX this is even better. We can use Fighting Fury Belt to jack that number up to 220 all the while increasing damage output by 10. We like this.
  • Fire and Water Typing: Alright. So Fire had a pretty small support base other than in the form of Blacksmith if we’re being real here. And now that he’s gone, being Fire-type isn’t fantastic. On the other hand, Water has so much swag still left: Dive Ball and Rough Seas are the first couple of cards that come to mind when I think about how good Water has it. We can utilize these, right? Wrong. Ok well kinda. You could, but it’d be kinda pointless.You’re going to find that Volcanion-EX is more about being a strong Pokémon that just happens to be dual-type because of how it doesn’t really take advantage of that Water support. Unfortunately, Volcanion-EX and Volcanion are more Fire-centered based on their Ability and attack respectively, meaning the boys at The Pokémon Company International had the intention of making Volcanion for Fire-type decks with the wow-cool effect that we’re reminded it’s part-Water too. Kinda lame. To those thinking that you could include Dive Ball in your Volcanion decks because you could grab the EX for free: don’t. It hurts consistency and you more than likely won’t have any Water-types in there unless you’re a n00b.
  • Steam Up: Guys – this is why Volcanion-EX is good. Steam Up is an Ability that, when you discard a Fire Energy from your hand, increases the attacks of your Basic Fire-type Pokémon by 30. The best part about this is that the Ability is stackable, so the more Volcanion-EX you have in play and Energy you discard, the harder your Pokémon are gonna hit. You can see why the EX and baby partner up so well – activate the EX’s Steam Up to throw Energy away and hit with the baby’s Power Heater for an increased 50 while reattaching said Energy to somebody else. This helps out the math immensely as you can hit a big EX for 50 and attack with Volcanion-EX’s Volcanic Heat to hit the magic 180. Baby Volcanion’s 20-damage Power Heater looks weak on paper but with Steam Up…you can make those fearsome Megas 2HKO-able.
  • Volcanic Heat: This attack isn’t awful, but it has the drawback of not being able to attack next turn. You’ll attack and then find yourself stuck or forced to discard all three Energy used to attack in order to promote something else. At that point I guess it’s not the worst thing in the world because you would have at least fueled your discard pile for another Power Heater play, but it’s kinda inconvenient. 130 is solid in the fact that you’re taking Shaymin Knock Outs no problem and OHKOing those bigger Basics like Yveltal and Xerneas if they so happen to be around.
  • Weakness to Water: This is hilarious. So you’re part Water but you’re weak to yourself? I dunno. Strikes me as goofy. (I guess this was a thing all the way back even when the game first came out when Psychics were weak to themselves also you know, remember those dreadful Mewtwo-EX wars? That’s what I’m referring to.) I think Water Toolbox could stick around for a little and cause problems and obviously opposing Volcanion-EX could OHKO you no problem. Greninja isn’t going to be as popular after Startling Megaphone rotates and has no answer to Garbodor, so we wouldn’t worry about that as much.
  • Three-Energy Retreat Cost: Removing all the Energy isn’t a bad way to go. This way, you can choose where you want the Energy to be for a couple of Power Heater plays and potentially send a fresh Volcanion-EX up to fight. The other argument sounds like wishing Volcanion-EX had a two-Energy Retreat Cost so that you could send just the right number of Energy to the discard pile for Power Heater. Attach one of those discard Fire Energy from Power Heater to the EX and manually attach the next turn to promote the Steam Pokémon once again for another big 130 (or 160 or 190…however many Steam Ups you use.) We could Theorymon about this all day but I’m not upset about the heavier Retreat Cost.

With this all being said, lemme show you what a usual Volcanion skeleton list looks like. There are already so many different builds out there, but they generally have the following in common. I’ll go a little more in-depth like I did with the Steelix list in terms of what other suggestions I have for you, but here’s the backbone of a Volcanion list.


Pokemon (9)

3x Volcanion (STS #25)3x Volcanion-EX (STS #26)3x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)

Trainers (32)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)2x N (FAC #105)1x Lysandre (AOR #78)1x Ninja Boy (STS #103)4x Ultra Ball (FAC #113)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)4x VS Seeker (PHF #109)3x Fighting Fury Belt (BKP #99)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)1x Energy Retrieval (PRC #126)1x Escape Rope (PRC #127)1x Professor's Letter (BKT #146)1x Super Rod (BKT #149)3x Scorched Earth (FAC #110)

Energy (11)

11x Fire Energy (EM #102)

In this list, I’ve left eight slots (yo that’s the magic number of the day) open for your judgment. Immediately, I’d look at some attackers to fill in some of those empty spaces. A combination of Entei and Flareon-EX is most likely going to be your best bet, as they’re some of the stronger Fire-type Basics we have at our disposal. This Entei has a powerful two-Energy attack in Combat Blaze that does 20 base damage and another 20 for each of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon. The first deck we can think of that’s going to rely on a big Bench to do anything is…yeah. Mega Ray. We can put a 180-damage dent in M Rayquaza-EX’s HP (if they maxxed out with Sky Field) which is fantastic for a one-Prize Pokémon. Wait…180? Steam Up puts us right at 210, actually OHKOing a fearsome Mega Ray! I think they’re more likely going to see this coming if you Power Heater to an Entei and restrain themselves from dumping everything onto their Bench, but if you’ve got Volcanion-EX strapped with a Fighting Fury Belt, they’re gonna do what they can to score those big OHKOs.

Flareon-EX is the next one on the list because of its Ability in Flash Fire. Once during your turn, you can take a Fire Energy attached to one of your other Pokémon and move it to Flareon. Power Heater targets two different Pokémon, so you can redirect an Energy from something less desirable to Flareon in order to more quickly power up Blaze Ball. Requiring three of whatever Energy, it does 50 base damage and another 20 for each Fire Energy attached. Therefore, we’re dealing 110 with three Fire Energy or even more with however many Steam Up we trigger. 110 is a nice number solely because we hit Shaymin for just the right amount of damage. In addition, two Steam Ups give us enough to hit for 170 on a Pokémon-EX if the opportunity arises.

Other than these two, however, there aren’t any other Basic Fire-types I would recommend. Entei would be a little better if we could take advantage of its Ancient Trait and attach more Tools to it, but that’s not the case. Its best attack, Heat Tackle, requires four Energy to hit for just 130. We have better options in the aforementioned Pokémon that can hit for bigger damage as well. Emboar-EX might be a neat tech especially because it hits for 150 (180 with Steam Up!) and discards two Energy, but its hefty Retreat Cost after the Energy discard requires you manually attach before you remove it from the Active slot if you don’t have Float Stone. There’s no doubt this pig could make for a scary late-game attacker with a Fighting Fury Belt and could be feasible to include with Ninja Boy in our deck.

Speaking of Trainers, let’s breeze through those real quick. The majority of this is pretty usual except for maybe the Ninja Boy. I think the baby Volcanion start is critical and Ninja Boy can help make that happen. Of course, you can opt for a fourth Volcanion but there’s a point when it gets cloggy rather than helpful later on in the game. Furthermore, you could bounce between attackers that best suit the situation to surprise your opponent as well. In terms of other changes to the Supporter line, I could see a second Lysandre tossed in here or even a Fisherman to get all the Steam Up fuel you need if you don’t have Power Heater around and are fishing for some extra damage. (Did anyone see what I did there?) But other than that, I think that’s about it.

why not both
When you have to make a decision between Letter or Retrieval

The Item line is probably the most variable. The four Trainers’ Mail, VS Seeker, and Ultra Ball is pretty standard as it maximizes consistency but the rest is up in the air. Three Fighting Fury Belt is a must in my opinion, as all of our Pokémon can take advantage of its very powerful effects and compete with Megas that are bound to be popular. Two Float Stone are important for when we need to get baby Volcanion out of the Active slot so we can promote an attacker that can do a little more damage than 20 or 50 a turn. The Super Rod should be self-explanatory in wanting our good attackers back if they end up going bye-bye. When it comes down to what we do with Energy Retrieval and Professor's Letter is a little more tricky. Both grab two basic Energy, the difference is just from where. The former grabs Energy from the discard pile while the latter does so from the deck. Some like having an extra Energy Retrieval when we have extra Energy in the discard pile and Power Heater isn’t an option at this point – great for late game. Some like having an extra Professor’s Letter to guarantee Steam Up and an attachment for setting up – excellent for early game. Of course, you can try playing two of both and seeing which works best for your particular build, but those were just a few things to keep in mind. I would more likely go for two Professor’s Letter and one Energy Retrieval so that you can start off on the right foot and at least have a play on the first turn, especially when you want to apply pressure as soon as possible against big EX decks.

To wrap up the deck, we just talk about why we play eleven Fire Energy and three Scorched Earth. The 10-12 mark for this deck is about the right number Energy-wise for consistency and the Scorched Earth is most definitely a staple. You can discard a Fire Energy to draw two cards while this Stadium is in play, which not only helps you draw into the resources you need but also charges up Power Heater. It’s a win-win situation with Scorched Earth, and we’re thankful the rotation didn’t rob us of this also.

Volcanion is going to make Fire-types burn again. Like, burn with intensity. I don’t see how this deck can’t be one of the better-performing decks in the next meta because of the consistency that drives discarding and recycling Energy through Power Heater, Scorched Earth, and Steam Up. Similarly to M Steelix-EX, a Hex Maniac could take away key KO opportunities, especially when increased damage output is reliant on Steam Up. I’d be wary of this as well as Garbodor, so check your meta. It might save you from looking like a scrub.

What’s the Destiny for Dual-Types?

Alolan Raichu

Seeing as how much popularity Volcanion has been getting, hopefully TPCi is encouraged by its reception and continues to print more! How successful the cards will actually be is completely dependent on how the new meta develops as Worlds has officially ended and more players can focus on the upcoming year. I know I’m stoked for what’s next, because there’s gotta be some creativity in these double-colored cards that I’m missing out on. I mean, if M Audino-EX can win Worlds, who knows what we might be overlooking in this collection of unique Pokémon.

From the news we’ve received thus far, there hasn’t been any confirmation of dual-types returning in the next set. However, that wouldn’t be unusual given the history of these great-looking cards. Given that Pokémon Sun & Moon are gonna be released in just a few months now, I’m hoping that TPCi reintegrates dual-typing in Pokémon with Alolan forms. (I’m especially fond of Alolan Raichu and Sandslash.) These should bring a new design to the game like Delta Species did and would truly be a breath of fresh air and an overdue revival to a once-powerful archetype. I’m hoping they do more than just divide the card in half color-wise because…yeah. Dual-types outta Steam Siege were my least favorite. While I wish every card could look as good as the Crystal Pokémon, I’d settle for something that looks as smooth as the Delta Species or the Dark Pokémon. I guess I can only cross my fingers and hope for the best, but we really have no idea how dual-types will come and go.

Thank you guys so much for powering through what is definitely my longest article to date. I had a blast writing this for you guys and I hope you enjoyed a journey through some of my favorite memories as a player as well as some insight on what I think Steam Siege delivers in dual-type form. How do you think I did? Do you agree or disagree on my discussion? Drop a comment or a PM or a like or sad face Emoji so I can gauge what I need to do to improve my writing or if I should quit altogether. I really do appreciate your input.

Thanks again, take it easy, and good luck at school if you’re just starting up like me,

John / Serperior