Hello again, PokeBeach! It has been quite a while since I wrote here, but I am glad to be back! Over the summer I took a bit of a hiatus from the Pokemon Trading Card Game because I was busy studying music in Colorado. To give you some insight on what I was doing, I was accepted into a program for classical musicians to learn more about our craft. Musicians from around the world were invited to perform multiple concerts a week for a two month span in the beautiful town of Breckenridge, Colorado. While here, we learned a bunch of music, made good friends, and had lasting memories! Some of my favorite time was spent hiking in nature. I was able to hike five mountains over 14,000 feet! While it was fun, we also worked extremely hard. I loved the festival because it attracted people from around the globe for a common goal. It sounds a lot like the Pokemon TCG!
Enough about me, though. Let’s turn our attention back to the game. Regionals are some of my favorite tournaments and I have always loved attending them. And now, I’ll love attending them even more with the huge prizes on the line! We here at PokeBeach strive to give you the most comprehensive coverage of what to expect, but even that is limited at the moment because of the high amount of playable decks. It seems like every card is playable at the moment! Greninja, Serperior, Vespiquen, M Rayquaza-EX, and many others all have playable decks in the current meta. This makes it extremely difficult for any writer to cover every possible deck when the metagame is so wide open. However, I have been working on perfecting a few lists for the Standard format and I’d love to share them with you.
First things first, I wanted to talk about the best cards in the upcoming set, Evolutions! I think Evolutions will be a great set for the health of the game primarily because there doesn’t appear to be a new archetype built into the set for intended use. As an example, Steam Siege brought us Volcanion-EX which in conjunction with Volcanion forms a formidable and obvious combo. The game designers intended for these two Pokemon to be used in conjunction and created the combo to highlight the set. There is no such obvious combo in Evolutions. In fact, many of the cards being included in Evolutions are reprints. However, there are a few gems that I’d like to highlight for their playability. While none of the cards in the set can form a deck on their own, I believe plenty of the cards will be excellent additions to preexisting decks. With that, here is my rundown on the best cards in the upcoming set.
Evolutions Set Review
Blastoise / Venusaur / Charizard Spirit Links
Finally, our starter Pokemon get Spirit Links! Will this make these Mega Pokemon playable? Perhaps at League, though someone is bound to win a tournament using their favorite starter Pokemon Mega Evolution. Charizard? While an Expanded version of the deck might include Blacksmith for Energy acceleration, the attack cost might still be too high. Venusaur? Auto paralysis is fantastic, but again, with a four Energy attack cost this Mega might not see much play. Additionally, Fire Weakness is not the best to have with Volcanion proving a formidable deck in both Standard and Expanded. Blastoise might be my favorite Mega of the three as reminds me of Primal Kyogre-EX with its’ Bench hitting attack and typing. It only takes three Energy to attack which is pretty decent for what is effectively a super-charged Night Spear. With a workable Grass Weakness, I could see Blastoise being played in an Aromatisse deck in the Expanded format, however, that format might be too fast or disrupting for an Aromatisse / Blastoise deck to flourish.
Those of you who have played for the last decade saw Brock’s Guts and immediately thought of Flower Shop Lady. Flower Shop Lady was a moderately played Supporter during the HGSS era and saw play in decks like Reuniclus / Vileplume to recover resources that were difficult to recover under Trainer-lock. Generally speaking, if a strategy worked in the past, it can work in the present and Brock’s Guts will definitely find a home in a deck that employs Vileplume or a deck where Super Rod just doesn’t recover enough resources. I can easily see Brock’s Guts sliding into a Trevenant deck where taking a turn to recover discarded Trevenant lines would be beneficial.
An otherwise ho-hum card is worth pointing out for its playability in a hit and run style deck like Donphan. Abilities that prevent the opponent from attacking were much more effective before Hex Maniac existed, but at least the option is out there. Unfortunately, major Evolution decks such as Trevenant BREAK and Greninja BREAK work by placing damage through attacks and Abilities respectively, so the chances that Mew survives long enough to enhance your board state is slim. However, we haven’t seen an Ability like this on a Pokemon yet which makes the card worth mentioning.
Starmie is a rehash of Magneton from EX Power Keepers. Its Ability Galactic Spin allows you to discard any card and pick two Energy cards from your discard pile and put them into your hand. This has obvious synergy with Archie’s Blastoise in the Expanded format. However, I would love to see this played in Standard in Volcanion! Volcanion may not need a card like Starmie as it takes up valuable Bench space, but the returns are massive. Thinning your deck of unwanted cards while simultaneously providing Volcanion-EX with Steam Up fodder is pretty great. Getting Starmie into play would effectively render opponent’s N‘s useless as you could always ensure that you’d be able to recover Energy to attack.
Starmie BREAK also could see play with an attack that hits all Pokemon BREAK for 100 damage. This is nothing to sneeze at, but likely doesn’t have high playability at the moment simply because of how easy it is to play around. While it might dismantle Trevenant BREAK and Greninja BREAK decks, the opponent could choose not to drop the BREAK Evolutions until Starmie was removed from play. Still, Starmie BREAK serves as a playable evolution card that has uses should Starmie find its’ way into decks.
Buzz buzz, y’all. Beedrill is a Pokemon that hasn’t been given a playable card in recent years. In Standard, I think this Bug Pokemon has a shot at being played. The key here is to note that its’ attack can damage any Pokemon on your opponent’s side of the field, thus with three Beedrill in play, one could OHKO an opponent’s Shaymin-EX. Sure, the deck has a lower damage cap than a deck like Rainbow Road or Vespiquen, but the fact that you can take out threats before they become active is a huge positive. Will this deck rise out of the ranks of simply being trade fodder for that crazy rogue guy at League? Probably not, but Beedrill has certain attributes that are promising.
Raticate is such a great late game sweeper against decks that utilize Special Energy. With only three Special Energy in your opponent’s discard, Raticate hits for 180 damage for only one Energy! Of course, the drawback to that is your opponent must be playing Special Energy, but with the amount of decks running Double Colorless Energy, Strong Energy, or Double Dragon Energy this doesn’t seem like a drawback I’d be particularly concerned about. Though the effectiveness of this card is dependent on what deck your opponent plays, I would think this card would make an obvious inclusion in a deck like Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX for its ability to swing for heavy amounts of damage late in the game.
I love Rattata! As a card, I think Rattata has a lot of playability. Its Ability “Facetious Fang” allows you to discard a Tool from your opponent’s Active Pokemon when you play this Pokemon to your Bench. Chance Brevik gave me the idea of how playable it would be in a M Gardevoir-EX deck. One thing that M Gardevoir-EX struggles with is hitting high enough to OHKO opposing Pokemon. Usually, if the M Gardevoir-EX player can’t hit the damage necessary to KO the Active it’s because the opponent’s Active Pokemon-EX has a Fighting Fury Belt attached. Rattata is the best Tool-removal available in the Standard format and also gives you discard fodder to power up Despair Ray. Rattata can also get ride of pesky Bursting Balloons or Klefki should the opponent drop these to counter you. The synergy between M Gardevoir-EX and Rattata is incredible.
Rattata is a searchable Tool remover which is quite strong. Although it gets shut down by Garbodor there are enough decks out there that aren’t running Garbodor to make Rattata an interesting inclusion. One of the biggest downsides to Rattata is its Retreat Cost, meaning you will never want to start with it, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. I truly believe Rattata to be the card that takes M Gardevoir-EX from an average fun deck to a powerhouse in the Standard format.
Speaking of Despair Ray M Gardevoir-EX, Dragonite-EX fits perfectly into that archetype. While not as impactful as Ratatta, Dragonite-EX has a pretty insane Ability in its own right. Being able to recover two Basic Pokemon means that a deck like M Gardevoir-EX can instantly refill the Bench they depleted when attacking with Despair Ray. Additionally, M Rayquaza-EX benefits from this type of recovery as it often struggles with finding enough Pokemon to bench after a Parallel City is played. Dragonite is my favorite Pokemon and it’s nice to see it will be getting a playable card!
Electrode is pretty sweet in theory, however its perfect home has yet to be discovered. While there aren’t a ton of great Lightning attackers, Electrode has been discussed as a potential partner for M Ampharos-EX. With an option to get set up in one turn thanks to Buzzap and a Double Colorless Energy, M Ampharos-EX might just be speedy enough to hang with the top tier decks. Another option is Raichu, but with Special Charge in the format, I don’t think KOing one of your own Pokemon to power up attackers is the best strategy. Personally, I am skeptical that this card will make for a strong Tier 1 deck, but an Ability like Electrode’s Buzzap just needs the proper attacking partner to see play.
I’ve outlined what I believe to be the best cards from Evolutions. Even though no new archetypes were created by the game designers for this set, I believe there will be some cards that will see play in established decks such as Ratatta in M Gardevoir-EX decks or Dragonite-EX in M Rayquaza-EX decks. Though the cards I’ve outlined are the ones that immediately jump out to me, don’t count out cards that seem bad at the outset. M Audino-EX anyone? This set will certainly get much more interesting with the next rotation as many of the cards that seem overpowered now will be out of the format. I’ll admit, I was a bit underwhelmed at the playability level of the set as a whole, but you can’t always judge a book by it’s cover. Players will use these cards in ways no one else has thought about to create interesting strategies that win big at tournaments. I’ll see you at the next League Challenge with my M Blastoise-EX deck.
Ft. Wayne Regionals
Ft. Wayne Regionals will be my sixth time attending the Regional tournament in Ft. Wayne. It is so crazy to think about that! I love the tournament as it gives me the chance to meet up with all my area friends for a big weekend playing our favorite game. When I won the tournament in 2013, my friends and I joke that I won the wrong Regionals due to subsequent Regionals having either better prize support or being streamed by Pokemon. Now, the winner this year will be taking home $5,000 and it makes me feel like I should have waited to win! Jokes aside, I’m stoked for this tournament and I can’t wait to share what I’ve been testing. In this next section of my article, I’ll cover M Rayquaza-EX, Vespiquen / Yanmega BREAK, and M Mewtwo-EX – all contenders that I think have a real shot at winning. Let’s get started.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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