Unveiling the Hidden Potential of 151 — Exploring New Strategies and Impactful Cards

Hello, PokeBeach readers! This is Gabriel Semedo, back with another Pokemon TCG article. This time, I’m discussing the 151 set, which has recently become legal in Standard format competitive tournaments.

The new 151 set may initially introduce just one card into the competitive scene, Mew ex. However, it also brings potential possibilities that haven’t received much attention yet. It’s true that this set (or half set) is one of the weakest in recent times and has limited impact. Previous sets have introduced strong decks, such as Charizard ex in Obsidian Flames, Chien-Pao ex in Paldea Evolved, and Gardevoir ex in Scarlet & Violet. In contrast, 151 hasn’t made a significant impact, at least not in Japan. Half sets or commemorative editions can contain valuable cards and don’t necessarily have to be less competitive. The Celebrations collection introduced cards that only became part of the metagame later in the Standard format, like Zacian V and Flying Pikachu VMAX. Mew ex will likely follow suit in 151, but for now, it’s the only standout card.

There are some minor additions, such as new Charmander, Charmeleon, Pidgey, and Pidgeotto cards that complement current Charizard ex decks, but nothing justifies a substantial impact. Wigglytuff ex is a powerful Pokemon, but it still needs to find its place in the metagame. Alakazam ex shows promise by introducing the possibility of attacking from the Bench, but creating a truly competitive deck with this card remains challenging, and requires extensive research and testing. Dodrio is a mandatory inclusion in Hisuian Zoroark VSTAR decks, but isn’t enough to reach competitive Tier 1 status. A new Ditto improves your chances of starting with the desired Pokemon you want, while Aerodactyl aims to be a solution against decks that struggle against Charizard ex. Zapdos ex is another valuable addition to Miraidon ex decks, and Mew ex stands out as the MVP of the set. While there are potential Trainer cards, none have the same impact as an Iono.

Here is a more in-depth analysis of my top cards from the new 151 set.

Highlights from 151

70 HP Charmander

The introduction of a 70 HP Charmander in the current Standard format allows you to place two of them on the Bench without the risk of them being Knocked Out by a Sableye in the second turn, making the matchup against Lost Box a bit easier to play.

Even with the new Charmander, the old 60 HP Charmander that deals 30 damage for a single Fire Energy still holds value, as this modest damage can be critical for your Charizard ex to secure significant Knock Outs later on. Many times, the damage inflicted by Charmander proved sufficient to eliminate an opponent’s Shining Arcana Gardevoir, which had already taken 120 damage from Gardevoir ex’s Ability. It often becomes the single-Prize attacker that the deck frequently lacks.

My suggestion is to include a 60 HP Charmander alongside every other 70 HP Charmander in your list.

50 HP Pidgey with Call For Family

The strength of the new Pidgey’s attack is truly impressive. It’s the perfect attack for a Stage-2 Pokemon deck, and it might give you the impression that it’s a necessary addition. Who doesn’t want to setup two free Basic Pokemon to the Bench from their deck? However, the 60 HP Pidgey becomes a liability if you’re concerned about Sableye in your metagame.

It’s true that if you have two 60 HP Pidgey on the field, Sableye can take a Knock Out on both of them. So there’s no distinction between using the 50 HP or 60 HP Pidgey in that scenario. However, the difference becomes apparent when you’re running Charizard ex / Pidgeot ex deck, which features the new 70 HP Charmander. If your field consists of only 60 HP Pidgey and two 70 HP Charmander, this means that Sableye won’t be able to KO two single Prize Pokemon; it will need to target Pidgey and distribute damage counter to the other Pokemon.

100 HP Charmeleon

Using this Charmeleon may seem like a better choice due to its higher HP, but the Charmeleon from Obsidian Flames offers the most practical and valuable attack. For just two Fire Energy, it deals 70 damage, which proves sufficient to Knock Out important single Prize targets, such as Comfey and Ralts. In contrast, the new Charmeleon deals 90 damage for three Energy, which presents a significant advantage, but this extra Energy often falls short for other attackers.

However, if your Charizard ex deck already includes an effective single Prize attacker, doesn’t utilize Level Ball, and rarely requires Charmeleon, then the 100 HP Charmeleon is undoubtedly the superior choice. Radiant Greninja cannot take a surprise Knock Out when Charmeleon is on the Bench, and the 100 HP makes it slightly more challenging for Sableye to secure Knock Outs.

80 HP Pidgeotto

Using Pidgeotto in decks featuring Pidgeot ex isn’t a very common addition, but it’s not a bad idea if there’s room in your list. Despite its 80 HP, slightly less than the other Pidgeotto with 90 HP, the new Pidgeotto offers the advantage of having free Retreat Cost, a valuable attribute.

The more I play with the Charizard ex / Pidgeot ex deck, the more I find myself inclined to include Pidgeotto. Pidgeot ex becomes the most appealing and viable target for your opponent after the third turn. When you have two Charizard ex, an Arceus VSTAR (which you’ve already used its VSTAR Power), and a Pidgeot ex on the field, what is the most valuable target that can give your opponent hope of winning? Undoubtedly, it’s Pidgeot ex because without it, you can’t keep searching for Boss's Orders turn after turn to pick up Prizes more, nor can you find for Iono to thwart your opponent’s strong turns. With Pidgeotto, you can more easily prepare for the inclusion of a second Pidgeot ex without the need for both to be fully evolved on the field.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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