Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here, and I am happy to be writing another article for you all. Last time, I talked about Arceus VSTAR and how it fit into the Scarlet and Violet metagame in the final weeks of the format before the release of Paldea Evolved. As expected, the deck did reasonably well at the Milwaukee Regional Championship, with Arceus VSTAR / Giratina VSTAR placing third in the hands of Ben Cryer, and Fresno saw Sawyer Melban piloting Arceus / Aerodactyl VSTAR to a respectable seventh-place finish.
Unbelievably, the Fresno Regional Championship also marks the end of Regional Championships for the season. After a long, long ride, the 2023 season is coming to a close, with just the North America International Championship and a handful of small Special Events remaining. For many players, the North America International Championship will be the most important event of the season: the make-or-break event for their World Championship invitation, or maybe just the capstone of their year. Regardless, the event is going to be biggest Pokemon tournament of all time outside of Japan, with over 2,000 players currently registered, and as a result, the meta diversity will be massive, as is typically the case at the North America International Championship.
However, this year will also be a bit different because, unlike previous years, the North America International Championship will be the first major event with Paldea Evolved legal. Typically, a new set will shake up a metagame a little bit, often adding a new archetype or two, maybe adding a new staple card to the format, but Paldea Evolved is different. This set completely changes the game and how we have to approach it. Between new archetypes, new Trainers, and even a new Special Energy, the meta is bound to look significantly different in this format, and the decks that do stick around are going to get an astounding makeover.
With that said, the focus of this article is going to be on several of the new cards that I deem the most impactful, as well as one of my favorite new archetypes, Chien-Pao ex / Baxcalibur. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the new cards first.
The New Cards
This card is, without question, the card in the highest demand with the release of the new set. Iono is the long awaited “reprint” of the beloved N from the Black and White and XY blocks (or Rocket's Admin. from the original ex era, for those who prefer that time period). It is hard to put into perspective how big of a deal this card being printed is for the current state of the Pokemon TCG. Since Reset Stamp rotated back in 2021, the game has almost completely lacked any cards that offer the potential of a true comeback.
While Roxanne is strong when used for this purpose, it’s only usable in the latter half of the game, which is enough to reduce its play down to just the occasional one-of. Additionally, in decks that play it at all, Roxanne is more used as a way to close out the game in an advantageous position than to try and make something out of being far behind. Iono, on the other hand, acts as both a form of strong draw support and a source of comeback potential. In a format that has let building up a large hand go largely unpunished, barring the occasional Judge, Iono acts as a refreshing way to break up these gigantic hands without losing too much of your own hand in the process.
However, Iono and N have one seemingly minor difference that happens to actually be massive. In the case of N, the hands were shuffled directly into the deck, meaning that a player could redraw the same cards they shuffled in. On the other hand, Iono requires each player to put their hand, shuffled, on the bottom of their deck, similar to Marnie from last format. This difference, while small, plays a huge role in the cards’ relative strengths, and in the case of Iono, its particular effect is generally much better in the current format.
While Lost Zone decks failed to win a major event in the United States, they were public enemy number one by far when it came to decks to beat in the Scarlet and Violet format, largely thanks to Sableye‘s role as a gatekeeper of a lot of fringe strategies. Of the Lost Zone decks that were popular, though, none was as successful as Kyogre. Coincidentally, there is also no Lost Zone deck that struggles with Iono more than Kyogre due to the combos that the deck needs. When you play an Iono, the Kyogre player’s combo pieces are not just broken up out of their hand, but also randomized at the bottom of their deck, offering them a minimal chance to redraw them on a critical turn that you may need to win the game.
Iono is very clearly a card that will completely revolutionize the way we play the game. Considering things such as being able to shuffle the deck after an Iono, thinning the deck in the proper manner to draw what you need off the top, and remembering what cards will be at the bottom of the deck because they were in your hand will all be valuable skills that will mark the difference between the good players and the great players in the next format.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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