Let’s Fire It Up — What’s Good from Steam Siege and a Look at Volcanion-EX
Aloha everyone! There’s a lot of exciting news coming out for Pokemon recently. With all of the news about Sun and Moon coming out, there’s a lot to look forward to in the world of Pokemon. In the realm of the TCG, we have a brand new set that just released not too long ago, which means new decks, new strategies, and changes to already existing decks. My favorite part about new set releases is the deck ideas that pop up and how deck building changes. It offers a fresh take on decks and challenges players to alter their decks to be able to overcome new obstacles posed by a new set.
However, not all sets of cards are created equally. Some are good and some are bad, which can greatly or insignificantly alter the metagame. For example, I loved Noble Victories as a set because it offered a lot of great cards that found a home in the metagame immediately and throughout its time in Standard. Terrakion, Durant, N, and Eelektrik are all great cards that emerged from this set that were popular and a part of great decks at one point. The best part is there are numerous other cards from this set that had an impact on the format at some time. It’s one of my favorite sets that I’ve been able to play around with, and continues to hold value to this day.
So, whenever a new set is released, I always try to look at the cards within a specific meta as well as in a vacuum. This lets me know both if a card is worth getting on release, waiting to get it later on or skipping it altogether. If I know a card will be good in the current metagame, I’ll pick it up immediately to keep my options open. By looking at card specifically on its own merit, I can decide whether or not the card on its own is good and whether or not I should buy it. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding on if a card is worth a spot in your binder, and I’ll be doing my best to inform you all about what I think are the cards that are worth your money, and which ones are good to skip.
The Immediate Purchases
There are some cards that are just going to be immediately useful in the coming formats. For anyone attending Worlds, there are certain archetypes that are worthwhile to explore. For everyone else, there are certain cards that could be a worthwhile venue to try as well. Either way I think these cards are going to be the ones you’ll want to have on hand just in case because they could make a serious impact if used properly.
This is the most obvious pick up of the set. These two cards have a natural synergy with each other, which allows them to create a deck archetype all on their own. Volcanion-EX has an Ability called Steam Up which lets you discard a Fire Energy from your hand, and makes all of your Basic Fire Pokemon’s attacks do 30 more damage. The best part about this Ability is it stacks between multiple Volcanion-EX, so the max damage increase you can have is a whopping 120 damage! This Ability pairs well with the regular Volcanion‘s first attack, Power Heater. For a single Fire Energy, it does 20 damage and attaches a Fire Energy from your discard pile to two of your Benched Pokemon. Energy acceleration is always a useful strategy because it allows you to break the normal attachment rule for the turn and creates a very strong board state. Combine that with the ability to boost damage and you have a very powerful combination.
Stick around to the end of the article where I go much more in depth on this deck concept, complete with a deck list and break down on the overall strategy!
Next up we have Xerneas BREAK. Xerneas BREAK gives Fairy types a bit of a boost in power that it’s been lacking since it first came out. It has always seemed like Fairy Pokemon were on the verge of being really good, but lacked a reliable source of damage output to really put it over the top. Xerneas BREAK gives Fairy Pokemon a more reliable source of damage that synergizes well with Xerneas‘s Geomancy attack. The attack, Life Stream, does 20 damage times the number of Energy attached to all your Pokemon. This BREAK works especially well since Xerneas is a Basic Pokemon and doesn’t need to evolve before being able to BREAK evolve. It also works well with Double Colorless Energy and Double Dragon Energy, which will add an extra 40 damage for one Energy attachment. With Geomancy, Max Elixir, and Mega Turbo available to accelerate Energy, there are plenty of options that could help make this a formidable deck this season.
Yanmega, Yanmega BREAK
Yanmega is probably my favorite card from this set. It’s a lot like Yanmega from Triumphant, but with a slightly different Ability. Yanmega‘s Ability is Sonic Vision, which allows Yanmega to attack for free if you have exactly four cards in your hand. With 110 HP, free Retreat and a good attack, Yanmega has a lot of potential to be a good deck in the coming format. Its attack normally costs three Colorless Energy and does 50 damage plus 70 more if the defending Pokemon has a Tool attached to it. With Yanmega‘s Ability, you have the potential to do 120 damage for no Energy. Yanmega BREAK gives Yanmega a more stable form of damage output as well as boosting its HP to 140 instead of 110. Again, for three Energy the attack does 100 damage and ignores Weakness, Resistance, and all other effects on the defending Pokemon. So, you have the potential to do 100 damage for free consistently every turn.
While it doesn’t hit for Weakness, it is a consistent form of damage if your opponent doesn’t have a Tool attached. However, Mega Pokemon seem to be on the upswing for the coming format, which means there is a higher possibility for tools like Spirit Links to be on your opponent’s main attackers. Yanmega also gets the benefits of Forest of Giant Plants and the Eeveelutions that give Yanmega the ability to hit for Grass, Fire, and Water Weakness, all of which could be very effective next format to hit Pokemon like Zygarde-EX, Volcanion-EX, M Sceptile-EX, and M Rayquaza-EX for big OHKO’s for no Energy at all. The main obstacle in this deck’s path is Garbodor, which shuts down your whole strategy. While Yanmega seems like a big player in the upcoming months, it may need a partner in background to take care of certain threats.
I have personally always loved Klefki as a Pokemon and now it finally has a card that could be very useful next format. It has an Ability called Wonder Lock, which lets you attach Klefki from your Bench to one of your Pokemon as a Pokemon Tool. While it is attached, prevent all damage done to that Pokemon by your opponent’s Mega Pokemon. Then you discard it at the start of your next turn. Mega Pokemon are looking very strong next format, which makes Klefki a powerful counter to those Pokemon. It does get discarded when your turn starts again, so cards like Super Rod are going to be very important to keep Klefki around. It works well in decks like Vespiquen because it helps prevent damage while giving you an option to discard Pokemon outside of Ultra Ball and Professor Sycamore since Battle Compressor is leaving the format.
Clawitzer is a very interesting Pokemon that has the potential to be very good next format if Mega Pokemon become popular. Its Ability is Mega Boost, which lets you attach a Special Energy card from your hand to one of your Mega evolved Pokemon once per turn. Double Dragon Energy and Double Colorless Energy are probably the most likely targets of this Ability, but since any Special Energy can be targeted, there are a lot of possibilities for this card. It is a Stage 1 and the energy has to be in your hand to use the Ability, so maybe a thinner line of Clawitzer would be best to get the most use out of the card’s Ability. I would mark this down as an immediate purchase just due to its potential to help boost the consistency of Mega focused decks.
Special Charge is a really interesting Item card that I think will be really impactful next format. It’s an Item that shuffles two Special Energy cards from your discard pile back into your deck. Since you are only able to have four copies of a Special Energy in your deck, Special Charge lets you to manage your resources a bit more easily since you have a way to get back your Special Energy. I think it is used best like how Super Rod is used: as a one-of. Playing more than one copy is taking away valuable spots in your deck, but a single copy can completely change how your deck runs in the late game. Any deck that relies solely on Special Energy may want to consider running a second copy, but for most cases I think one will be sufficient.
Pokémon Ranger is a really cool Supporter that really helps to counter a lot of problems decks are having. Ranger removes any effects from attacks on all Pokemon and both players. Attacks like Quaking Punch, Flash Ray, Stardust, and Chaos Wheel can have all of their effects removed with Pokémon Ranger. This opens a lot of doors for decks that struggle against attacks like these because they now have a way around certain autolosses and bad matchups. Pokémon Ranger does not prevent future effects of attacks like Yanmega BREAK‘s attack, but having an out to crippling attacks is too good to pass up.
Captivating Poke Puff, Ninja Boy
I’m putting these last two cards together because they’re both very niche at the moment, but I always recommend getting all the Trainers from each set because it’s hard to know when a Trainer will be playable. Right now Captivating Poké Puff only really has a home in Zoroark decks, but it is a cool effect with some benefits. It lets you look at your opponent’s hand and put any Basic Pokemon you find there onto their Bench. Being able to look at your opponent’s hand is a strong effect since it shows you the strength of their hand, what plays they could make on their next turn and whether or not you should play that N you’ve been holding onto. What separates this card from Hand Scope is the added benefit of forcing your opponent to bench Pokemon they don’t want to in order to give you an edge.
Ninja Boy is an interesting card, but I don’t exactly know what the best use for it is right now. So, I think it’s best to pick it up and play around with it for a while until you find a good way to utilize its effect.
These are the cards that may not be immediately useful, but you may want to look into snagging them up at some point in the future. These three cards are ones to keep your eyes on, and I think they have the potential to be very good at some point in their life span.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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