Hey everyone, Isaiah back again with another article! Since my last article, a lot has happened in the Pokémon Community. Notably, Zach Lesage won Players Cup II with the classic Pikachu and Zekrom-GX. Additionally, Players Cup III was also announced and is coming up soon. Lastly, a lot of stores have begun their Team Challenge Qualifier events, my local store included. In my personal Team Challenge experience, I lost the final round of my Qualifier two weeks ago to miss the team with some unfortunate luck, but I am looking forward to the next Qualifier!
Amidst all of this, I have admittedly been a bit burnt out of playing the Standard format. With the inherent stale nature of playing against the same five decks in 95% of your games, I have been turning to other formats to see what they hold, such as the Expanded format, which I briefly covered in my last article. However, as of late, my number one format of focus has been Pokémon TCG Online’s third major format, Legacy! Today, I will be explaining what Legacy is, what some members of the community have decided to ban, and lastly a few cheaper decks for those looking to get into the format for the first time.
What is Legacy?
Our story begins back in 2016, a time where Joltik and its Night Marching friends ruled the world. In March of that year, Pokémon announced that they had created their fourth major format: Legacy. Joining Standard, Expanded, and Unlimited (which was HeartGold & SoulSilver-on on the Pokémon TCG Online), Legacy provided another ladder format to play for players who were bored with the current formats, and it became an instant success. Legacy is played in the HeartGold & SoulSilver to Legendary Treasures format, pulling together the two oldest blocks of cards on the Pokémon TCG Online.
In the Legacy format, decks are built quite differently than what is seen today. Obviously, the biggest change is that there is a huge drop in card power level, so a lot of cards that would not be viable in the Expanded format. Notably, things like Genesect-EX, Weavile, Keldeo-EX, and more are able to shine because they are played alongside the cards they were originally designed to compete with. In addition to being able to use some of the more iconic Pokémon-EX from the Black & White era, you can also mix in Pokémon Prime and even Pokémon LEGEND for use in the Legacy format, allowing for some extremely unique (and likely unintended) interactions. The most prominent of these interactions is certainly Celebi Prime + Genesect-EX creating a hyper-aggressive version of the legendary Virizion-EX / Genesect-EX decks from 2013-2015. Alongside these unique Pokémon options, playing the Legacy format opens up some cool Trainer interactions, such as the combination of Junk Arm and Life Dew to produce infinite Life Dew on a Pokémon like Sableye to produce potent control, lock, or stall strategies, similar to what we have seen in the past two years with Oranguru.
Unfortunately, Legacy also tends to be rather unpopular due to one very significant factor: low accessibility. Fortunately, I am one player that has been playing since HeartGold & SoulSilver was last legal in Standard (then called Modified) eight years ago, but I know many people that do not share the same experience. As a result, it is near impossible for a lot of players to access the format. With a finite number of tradable copies of some of the more influential cards in the format, such as Tropical Beach or Celebi Prime, they carry an astronomical amount of value, with Tropical Beaches hovering around a whopping EIGHT HUNDRED Vivid Voltage packs worth of cards (frame of reference, a Secret Rare Quick Ball, which is considered Pokémon TCG Online’s “gold standard” is around 100 packs, and one Tropical Beach is about eight of those) and Celebi Prime being about 190 Packs or about two Secret Rare Quick Ball. With that being said, with some dedication, a player getting into the format can feasibly access a lot of the cheaper trainers like Junk Arm or Twins just by opening a lot of Triumphant packs, which conveniently also has Celebi (Prime), from the in-game store using Trainer Tokens.
What Has the Community Banned?
As of late, unofficial Legacy events have been popping up semi-frequently since the only way to really play the Legacy format otherwise is the Pokémon TCG Online ladder. With a tournament meta developing, a few decks have taken strangleholds on the format, and were banned as a result. However, one disclaimer that I must make is that not every event bans every one of these cards, so if you plan on participating, make careful certainty that you know what cards will be legal. Additionally, it should go without saying that, since these cards are not officially banned, you CAN still play them on the Pokémon TCG Online ladder.
The first and most unanimous ban is certainly Vileplume. Similar to the Ancient Origins Vileplume, the one from Undaunted locks Items (referred to as Trainers prior to Black & White). However, unlike the modern Vileplume, this one cannot even be shut off by Garbodor, as it has a Poke-Body instead of an Ability. With this inherent power, Vileplume easily takes control of the format by providing an Item lock that only ends when Vileplume is no longer on the field. Vileplume’s power goes even further by being able to abuse the Pokémon Tool Silver Mirror in order to protect it from damage from the ever prevalent Team Plasma Pokémon, the most relevant of which being Genesect-EX, which can normally use Red Signal to drag up Vileplume and take a Knock Out. Normally, Genesect-EX would use G Booster to get through Silver Mirror, but thanks to Vileplume’s Item Lock, they cannot even do that.
Most of the lock decks that feature Vileplume in Legacy are based around abusing the inability to play Switch . Some of these locks include Gliscor + Dusknoir, Snorlax, and Accelgor. I personally play Gliscor the most when I am playing Legacy in my free time, as I like the concept of pulling together a ton of pieces over the course of a game to create an unbreakable lock in that style. Accelgor is built similar to Gliscor, as it abuses the Paralysis lock provided by Deck and Cover to stop the opponent from attacking while you rack up damage. Interestingly, this lock also plays Garbodor since it can shut down pesky Abilities that break the lock, such as Virizion-EX’s Verdant Wind or Keldeo-EX’s Rush In. However, the most prominent of these locks, and the first that truly expressed the potency of Vileplume was the Snorlax lock. In a format filled with support Pokémon such as Celebi Prime, Smeargle, Deoxys-EX, and more, Snorlax can easily lock something active with Block and that Pokémon is unable to move for the entire game. This lock is frequently paired with Latias-EX or Sigilyph in order to give more options while denying the Opponent the ability to take Prize Cards.
Following the ban of Vileplume, there was a pseudo-arms race for who could abuse the loss of the powerful Item Lock. Naturally, people revisited heavily Item-reliant decks such as Flygon and other Stage 2 decks, but in addition, Sableye decks finally were provided their time to shine. Of the Sableye decks, one in particular stuck out to most people, that being “Sable Snag” which combines Sableye along with the extremely powerful Weavile. This deck is built with one goal in mind: destroy the opponent’s hand, and it is very good at that job. Unlike modern forms of hand destruction, like Jessie and James or Mars, Weavile let’s you choose what to discard while looking at their hand. Historically, effects like this have been very powerful (see Persian), and this one is no exception. It is very rare that someone will have more than one or two pivotal cards in their hand at any given time, so Weavile alongside Devolution Spray (and Junk Hunt to recover it) allows for a loop of Hand destruction to inevitably leave them with nothing as your opponent’s Active Pokémon slowly perishes to Poison as provided by Hypnotoxic Laser. Not just that, but some versions of this deck include Slowking in order to control exactly what the opponent will draw, never allowing them to see a relevant card for the duration of the game. With this deck’s near instantaneous surge to the top, there was a broad outcry for a ban, and there a ban came.
Now that I have explained what Legacy is and how it is balanced with recent bans, I felt I also needed to include a few decks. As I mentioned earlier, Legacy suffers a ton from being extremely low accessibility thanks to some extremely expensive cards and other cards’ general age. All of the decks I am including here are heavily focused on being relatively inexpensive, aside from HeartGold & SoulSilver era Trainers such as Junk Arm, which can be acquired relatively easily by opening packs. Additionally, I omitted both of the banned cards so that these decks are tournament ready, should you decide to play in an event.
Reminiscent of 2012-2014, Darkrai-EX is a powerhouse in the Legacy format for the same reasons as always: power and consistency. In the Legacy format, a lot of the major EX attackers have 170 HP, so most of the deck’s advantages come from the ability to take a four-Prize card turn by doing 140 with Dark Claw, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Virbank City Gym and then using Pokémon Catcher to bring up the Pokémon that took 30 from Night Spear’s Bench damage and repeating the combo. Aside from this, the deck does not have a lot else it can do unless you include Lost Remover as a tech for Special Energy decks, but I decided against this in favor of more consistency.
Sableye takes a place in this deck as it does in pretty much every single Dark-type deck. The power of Junk Hunt cannot be understated, especially in a deck like this where Items are critical. Junk Hunt takes on the role of providing reliable Energy acceleration by recovering Dark Patch, providing extra Hypnotoxic Laser or Dark Claw, and much more. Additionally, it helps with the “seven Prize card” game where you force your opponent to Knock Out 3 EXs and 1 non-EX to take their Prize cards. All in all, Sableye is just the perfect utility card.
Similar to Sableye, Absol helps a ton on the front of making a “seven Prize card” game possible. However, unlike Sableye, Absol does it while also dealing damage instead of recovering resources. With Absol’s Mind Jack dealing 120 if the opponent’s Bench is full, Absol grants that extra damage to reach for a one-hit Knock Out on 170 HP Pokémon EX, which is sometimes critical. However, this heavily relies on either being a surprise or on certain matchups, as most people will avoid over benching if it is possible. With that said, Absol is still able to do a pretty reasonable amount of damage, hitting for about 90 to 110 on average with the help of Hypnotoxic Laser.
Spiritomb is one of the more unique cards from the Black & White series of expansions, as it disallows the use of Ace Specs like Computer Search or Dowsing Machine. However, in Legacy, Spiritomb is largely important because it stops the use of G Booster in Celebi Prime / Genesect-EX, making the matchup much more favorable. Additionally, blocking Scoop Up Cyclone has some benefits, especially considering how reliant this deck is on spreading damage onto your opponent’s Pokémon to take multiple Prize cards at once.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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