Separating the Good from the Bad — A ‘Sun & Moon’ Set Review and Three New Decks

Hello there, Beach-goers! Dalen back again, this time with an article on our newest TCG expansion, the Sun and Moon base set. Before I get too in-depth in the analysis, though, I want to point out that this will actually be a two-part article. Part one covers the Trainer cards from the set as well as a handful of Pokemon, including Decidueye-GX, Oranguru, and Passimian. Part two, written by Andrew Mahone, goes over some of the other hyped Pokemon from the set, such as Tauros-GX and Umbreon-GX. By separating the set analysis into two articles, we can go deeper into each card, and the two articles combined will cover everything you need to know about Sun and Moon!

The Pokemon


First up, naturally, we have the new Pokemon, and Tsareena is a great place to start. Reminiscent of the old Weavile from Undaunted, Tsareena provides the game with the uncommon Ability to directly control your opponent’s hand. Sure, we have cards like N and Delinquent that do disrupt your opponent’s hand, but none of them give you complete choice in exactly how you set them back. If being this control-based isn’t enough for Tsareena already, it comes with the amazing bonus of being a Grass-typed Pokemon. This allows Tsareena to abuse Forest of Giant Plants to evolve quickly, and potentially even multiple times in a single turn in conjunction with Devolution Spray. Tsareena’s attack isn’t too spectacular, so most utility of the card will come from its Ability; coupling this wonderful Ability with our other hand-controlling cards can make your opponent’s board position spiral quickly out of control. Nobody has discovered Tsareena’s “perfect partner”, but there is one standout option to initially try: Gumshoos-GX (see below for Gumshoos’s review and a sample deck list for Gumshoos / Tsareena).


Similar to Tsareena, Decidueye-GX is another Stage 2 Grass-type Pokemon. Decidueye also has an extremely impactful Ability, although Decidueye’s is direct in its strength, unlike Tsareena’s indirect advantage. With Forest of Giant Plants, you can build up a board of multiple Decidueye in no time. To put this into perspective, think of the popular Yveltal-EX / Garbodor deck. We all have seen the strength of Fright Night Yveltal‘s Pitch-Black Spear attack, softening up one of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon-EX. Now, imagine being able to place that Bench damage onto their field, all without even attacking! Decidueye’s Ability is without a doubt incredible, but its great attributes don’t stop there! Decidueye comes with a whopping 240 HP, safeguarding it from essentially ever being OHKOd. Its GX-attack is also great; recall some decks that use Puzzle of Time, like Gyarados and Sableye / Garbodor. Being able to recover any two cards from your discard pile is certainly game-changing, so imagine how monumental getting back any three cards from the discard pile is. Albeit, this comes at the disadvantage of only being able to be used once per game as it’s a GX-attack. Still, for a single Grass Energy, Decidueye’s GX-attack is too good to pass up. While Decidueye’s first attack falls short of the high bar set by its GX-attack and Ability, 90 damage is nothing to scoff at for only a Grass Energy and a Double Colorless Energy, especially with the damage you can rack up with its Ability.

One question many players seem to be divided upon is does Decidueye-GX replace Crobat in Expanded decks, including Seismitoad-EX / Crobat and the lesser popular Landorus-EX / Crobat? To answer this question, I’m going to use a little bit of math. Let’s say that in your decks, you played a thick 4-3-3 line of Crobat, and an equal 4-3-3 Decidueye line (counts that I would strive to fit, if possible). In Crobat decks, Super Scoop Up is commonly played to reuse your Bats, but Decidueye decks will likely not play Super Scoop Up due to needing to fit Forest of Giant Plants at a maximum four copies. Let’s assume Crobat decks will play four SSU and Decidueye decks will play zero, for this example, at least. Let’s also assume that in both cases, you’re able to get all three final stage evolutions out in a single game, and the Crobat deck will flip heads on exactly half of its SSU flips. Our final assumptions we need to make are that the Crobat deck will get two out of three Stage 1 evolutions on turn two, with the final Stage 1 and two Stage 2s being played turn three; the final Stage 2 will be played turn four. Decidueye will get out one Stage 2 and one Stage 1 by turn two (thanks to Forest), with the second Stage 2 on turn three and the final Stage 2 on turn four. Now, let’s figure out how much damage each damage engine can output in a given game.

  • Crobat: Each full Crobat evolution line deals 50 damage, with Crobat itself dealing 30 and Golbat placing 20 damage. If you evolve all the way into Crobat five times (three natural evolutions and two SSU pick-ups), you get 250 damage total.
  • Decidueye-GX: We assumed that by turn two you will have one Decidueye-GX in play, and you’ll evolve into one more for each of the next two turns. This means that turn two, you deal 20 damage. On turn three, you deal 40 damage, while every turn after you deal 60 damage. Just to round out our calculations, let’s say that an average game goes on for six turns (for both players, that is), an average of one Prize card per turn or one Pokemon-EX KO every other turn. Totaling all of these damage drops, Decidueye can deal around 240 damage throughout the game.

Now, from these numbers, it appears that Crobat is slightly a better choice than Decidueye in terms of damage output. One important note, though, is that luck can, and will, change these numbers around. You may have one of your evolutions stuck in your Prize cards in a game, limiting the number of evolutions you can pull off. Crobat decks may flip more heads than tails in a game (or the opposite). Decidueye might be able to get out all three by turn two with good draws. Because of all of these dynamic factors that are difficult to model without pages of assumptions and conditions, I like to think of Decidueye and Crobat as dealing roughly the same damage in a game. The differences between the two come in what they do outside of their Abilities. Crobat’s attack isn’t that great, but it has zero Retreat and only gives up one Prize card. Decidueye sacrifices two Prizes and has a hefty Retreat Cost, but it comes with an amazing GX-attack. These two damage engines are so close, I tend to chalk up the difference to personal preference; Decidueye is a more risky choice, but comes with more options.

When it comes to Decidueye, its has two downfalls in the Standard format that I see. The first is the inability to effectively get rid of Garbodor‘s Tool card, which can completely shut down Decidueye. The second setback is its lack of a great partner, like it has in Seismitoad-EX in Expanded. In brainstorming a few partners for Decidueye in Standard, I came up with two that I feel warrant a little bit of consideration.

With Trevenant-EX

Trevenant-EX hasn’t seen much competitive play at all since its release, other than its occasional use in Vileplume Toolbox decks or last season’s M Manectric-EX decks, but Decidueye-GX might be the partner it was looking for all along. Both Trevenant and Decidueye are Grass-types, which means they can benefit off of the same Energy, starting their synergy off well. Where I think this combination shines, though, is the amazing strength you get by combining Trevenant’s first attack, Dark Forest, with Decidueye’s Ability. Often the overlooked attack, Dark Forest doesn’t do much damage, but it stops your opponent from retreating his/her Active Pokemon during their next turn. With so many Bench-sitters like Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX out right now, the goal is to Lysandre up one of those liabilities and trap it Active with Dark Forest, all while you pummel their other Pokemon with Decidueye. Wood Blast isn’t a terrible attack to finish off a softened-up Pokemon, but it’s typically better just to slowly whittle them down while they have a useless Pokemon stranded Active.

The main issue with this deck is other decks being able to clean their board of any good Trevenant-EX targets. If they don’t play down Hoopa-EX, you lose that option, and Shaymin-EX can always be bounced back to the hand with its Sky Return attack, although it does come at the benefit of one of your opponent’s turns being wasted. In situations where you can’t trap anything Active, this deck’s game plan becomes all-out aggression, trying to overwhelm the opponent with Feather Arrow and Wood Blast. Decidueye isn’t a bad attacker in this deck either, actually dealing more damage than Trevenant-EX unless Trevenant has three Grass Energy attached, and Decidueye’s GX-attack will hardly ever not be used in a game.

With Yanmega BREAK

One partner that I’m excited to test with Decidueye is Yanmega BREAK. Yanmega’s biggest attraction is free attacking thanks to its pre-evolution Yanmega, provided you have exactly four cards in your hand. With Judge in the format to put yourself at just the right number, and Ultra Ball to discard cards from a large hand size, it’s rare that Yanmega can’t pull of a free attack. Unfortunately, this deck suffers from one of the weaknesses of the Trevenant-EX / Decidueye deck, which is Garbodor. Not only does Garbodor stop your gameplan of using Decidueye to spread damage, but it even shuts down Yanmega’s free attacks. Since Abilities are so pivotal to this deck, I find it necessary to tech in a Beedrill-EX or two. If your opponent is unsuspecting of Beedrill and over-invests on Float Stone, a well-timed Beedrill can get you out of the annoying Garbotoxin lock for the rest of the game, leaving Garbodor as a Bench-sitter for the entire game. If you Lysandre Garbodor, you can put 100 damage, if not more, onto their field before they can ever retreat it, and you can just Lysandre it back Active again. Since you’re already playing Grass Energy to use Decidueye’s GX-attack, playing a copy of Trevenant-EX may also be a great tech in the Yanmega variant, giving you another option for the situations in which Yanmega is suboptimal.

By Itself

Sometimes no techs at all is the best decision and straightforwardness is invaluable, and this may be one of those cases. Decidueye-GX on its own is extremely powerful, with its biggest nuisance being Garbodor. With Beedrill-EX, an anti-Garbodor card, you can keep the Float Stone off of Garbodor, giving you access to your Abilities. Since you don’t plan to attack with Decidueye that often, you can run four Max Potion to make Decidueye even more of a tank. Max Potion will likely be the targets of Hollow Hunt GX, effectively giving you seven uses per game. If you have the room, you can also run four Puzzle of Time to give you up to 11 Max Potion uses! Denying your opponent Prizes 11 times while placing 60-80 damage per turn is spectacular, not to mention the occasional 90 damage attack. While coming with fewer game plans and strategies, straight Decidueye may just be the best option.


A card I’m particularly fond of, Lunala-GX, is one of the two icons of Sun and Moon; I can’t pin down exactly why I like Lunala so much, but I have to guess that it’s due to Lunala’s Energy-moving Ability. I, like many other players, have always enjoyed having the freedom to move my Energy around as I please, such as with Klinklang and Aromatisse. Both of Lunala’s attacks are quite strong, too. Lunala’s regular attack has the rare effect of blocking your opponent from healing the Pokemon hit by the attack. Right now, healing cards aren’t popular, but in a format when OHKOs become less common and Max Potion is used to make even 2HKOs hard, Lunala’s first attack can really shine. Lunala’s GX-attack is amazing, since it only specifies the target must be a non-GX. This means that in our current EX-era, Lunala can, in fact, take two Prizes with its GX-attack, cleaning up even the bulkiest of your opponent’s Basic Pokemon.

Since our metagame now is focused on taking quick Knock Outs and trying to do so in as few attacks as possible, Lunala may not become a solid contender in the metagame just yet. As the format becomes slower though, and once we eventually get an English copy of the new non-GX Lunala released in Japan (see here for information on the new Lunala), Lunala as a deck has extreme potential. Both the predicted rotation next August and the new Lunala coming out bode well for the Lunala archetype, so I would definitely suggest picking up Lunala-GX while they’re cheap: the price may not go up, but it certainly won’t fall much lower.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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