The EX Factor

Zorua

Zedd
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Credit to X-5 for the banner​


Introduction

With the release of Hail Blizzard and Psycho Drive in Japan, our game as we know it has changed a great deal. With these sets, the mechanic of "EX" Pokemon has been brought back, bringing along with it new factors to our metagame. Now, we don't know exactly how these cards will impact our metagame in the States, but they are making waves in Japan. We won't know for sure what happens when EX's hit our metagame, but we can look at these cards and their pros and cons to see how they could potentially change our game.

Psycho Drive EX's

The first EX card from Psycho Drive that we'll be looking at is Shaymin EX;


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Shaymin EX – Grass – HP110
Basic Pokemon

[G] Synthesis: Choose 1 Grass Energy card from your deck and attach it to one of your Pokemon. Shuffle your deck afterward.
[G][C] Revenge Burst: Does 30 damage plus an additional 30 damage times the number of Prize cards your opponent has already taken.

Pokemon EX Rule: When Pokemon EX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: Fighting (-20)
Retreat: 1

Now, taking a first glance over Shaymin EX, it has a decent 110 HP, good resistance to fighting, ok retreat cost, and a very bad weakness, combined with the EX rule which lets your opponent take two Prize Cards upon knocking Shaymin EX out, creates quite a few problems. Shaymin EX is weak to fire types, taking x2 against fire attacks. With the prevalence of Reshiram in this format, a fire weakness is practically the worst you can have. A Reshiram with 60 damage on it can OHKO Shaymin with an Outrage.

Shaymin's attacks aren't really worth looking over with all of the cons it has stacked up against it already, but we'll examine them anyway. For 1 {G} energy, Shaymin EX searches your deck for a {G} energy and lets you attach it one of your Pokemon. As an energy acceleration move, it's sort of ok, but on Shaymin EX, it just isn't worth the trouble. Shaymin EX's second attack, Revenge Burst, does a minimum of 30 damage, with another 30 damage added onto it for every Prize Card your opponent has taken. This can be an ok attack late game if your opponent is leading in prizes, but once again, all of Shaymin EX's other problems stacked against it don't really make it worth the trouble.

Summary

Playability: In our current format, where Fire is one of the most played and well played type decks, and the EX rule giving away two prizes on a Pokemon that has 110 HP and has weakness to fire, Shaymin EX is just not that playable of a card. Rating: 1.5-2.0/5

Artwork: Shaymin EX has very nice artwork with its stance and leaves flying around the border. Shaymin EX's Full Art card looks even nicer with the beautiful background going on. Non Full Art Rating 3.5/5 Full Art Rating: 4/5

Our next EX from Psycho Drive that we'll be looking at is Kyogre EX:

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Kyogre EX – Water – HP170
Basic Pokemon

[W][C] Smash Turn: 30 damage. You may switch this Pokemon with one of your Benched Pokemon.
[W][W][C] Dual Splash: Choose 2 of your opponent’s Pokemon, and do 50 damage to each of them. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance when damaging the Bench.)

Pokemon EX Rule: When Pokemon EX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 4


Taking a first glance over Kyogre EX, we see a very nice 170 HP, a very heavy 4 energy retreat cost, no resistance, and a bad weakness to Electric. With Zekrom's huge influence in our current metagame, Kyogre EX is OHKO'd by a Bolt Strike or an Outrage if the Zekrom has 90 damage on it. This is a major turn off when looking at Kyogre EX, and even if Kyogre EX is on the bench, Catcher can bring it up.

Now, the above doesn't completely rule out Kyogre EX as a playable card. Kyogre EX's first attack, Smash Turn, does 30 damage and lets you switch Kyogre EX with one of your benched Pokemon. Now, this attack isn't awful, but doesn't have anything going for it either. Kyogre EX's second attack is where it really shines. Dual Splash, which does 50 damage to any two of your opponent's Pokemon for two Water energies and a Colorless energy. This may seem like a big cost for it's attack, but the energy might not be so hard to get.

Kyogre EX can actually be a very nice card in Kyurem/Feraligatr Prime. Kyurem spreads 30 damage to each of your opponent's Pokemon for two Water energies and a Colorless, while Feraligatr Prime provides the energies with it's PokePower, Rain Dance, letting you attach as many Water energies to your Pokemon per turn as you'd like. After spreading damage with Kyurem, Kyogre EX can be used to finish off what Kyurem started with Dual Splash.

Summary

Playability Kyogre EX's weakness to Electric really turns people away from it, but it's potential to be combined with Kyurem and Feraligatr Prime make it worth at least a second look. Rating 2.5-3.0/5

Artwork The art of Kyogre EX is absolutely amazing. The detail the artists put into the Non-FA card is just stunning with the "Popping out of the picture" and water around the border is spectacular. Kyogre EX Full Art is a little less appealing than the Non-FA card. It looks as if there just wasn't any effort put into the design of the card. Rating: Non-Full Art 4/5 Full Art 2/5

The last EX card from Psycho Drive is Mewtwo EX;

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Mewtwo EX – Psychic – HP170
Basic Pokemon

[C][C] EX Ball: Does 20 damage times the number of Energy attached to each player’s Active Pokemon.
[P][P][C] Psycho Drive: 120 damage. Choose 1 Energy attached to this Pokemon and discard it.

Pokemon EX Rule: When Pokemon EX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2


Skimming over Mewtwo EX, it may seem that we have found the EX from Psycho Drive that may actually have a real influence in our metagame. Mewtwo EX has 170 HP, a decent 2 energy retreat cost, and an ok Psychic weakness. The only real hindrance Mewtwo EX has going for it is it's weakness. With Gothitelle/Reuniclus still being an influence in our current format, Mewtwo EX can be OHKO'd by a Gothitelle with three Psychic energies attached to it. The good side to this is the fact that Gothitelle also has a Psychic weakness, so Mewtwo EX can also hit Gothitelle for weakness.

Mewtwo EX's attacks are what make him worth looking at. Mewtwo EX's first attack, EX Ball, which costs two colorless energies, does 20 damage times the number of energies attached to the Defending Pokemon. This attack can be useful against high-energy decks, but not really in any other situation. Mewtwo EX's second attack, Psycho Drive, which costs two Psychic energies and one Colorless energies, does 120 damage and requires you to discard one energy. This attack is very similar to Reshiram from Black and White's Blue Flare attack, which does 120 damage and requires you to discard two Fire energies. The difference being, Psycho Drive only requires one energy to be discarded, and any energy at that.

The one thing Reshiram has over Mewtwo EX is that Reshiram has a form of energy acceleration. Yet, Mewtwo EX will actually be receiving its own form of energy acceleration, with Gardevoir from Hail Blizzard;

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Gardevoir – Psychic – HP110
Stage 1 – Evolves from Kirlia

Ability: Psycho Mirage
As long as this Pokemon is in play, each Basic Psychic Energy card attached to your Psychic-type Pokemon provides 2 units of Psychic energy. This effect can’t be stacked, regardless of how many Pokemon with this ability you have in play.

[P][P][C][C] Mind Shock: 60 damage. Don’t apply Weakness or Resistance for this attack’s damage.

Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2

Gardevoir makes it so that each Psychic energy attached to any of your Psychic Pokemon counts as two Psychic energy. This makes it so that Mewtwo EX only needs two Psychic Energy to power up Psycho Drive. With other cards like Jirachi from Unleased/Call of Legends, Mismagius from Unleashed and Metagross from Unleashed, Mewtwo EX really has a lot going for it. Also, being able to abuse Eviolite/Rocky Helmet, Mewtwo EX will definitely find its way into Tier 1.

Summary

Playability Mewtwo EX is definitely one of the most playable EX's that we've seen so far. With an attack that does 120 damage for 2 Psychic and 1 Colorless energy, and the amount of energy acceleration we have and are going to get for Psychic, the only thing Mewtwo has hindering it is its Psychic weakness, which shouldn't be a problem for a fast build of Mewtwo EX. Rating: 4.5/5

Artwork Both versions of Mewtwo EX have really nice art, which is a first for the EX's that we've looked at. Mewtwo EX's Non Full-Art card looks really nice with Mewtwo's pose and accompanying effects. Mewtwo EX's Full-Art card is one of the most amazing I've seen so far. With the amazing background, Mewtwo really stands out on the card. Rating; Non Full-Art 4/5 Full Art 5/5

Now that we've finished looking over at all the EX's from Psycho Drive, we'll now take a look at the EX's from Hail Blizzard;

Hail Blizzard EX's

The first EX from Hail Blizzard that we'll be looking at is Groudon EX:

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Groudon EX – Fighting – HP180
Basic Pokemon

[F][C] Trample: 20 damage. This attack also does 10 damage to each of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance when damaging the Bench.)
[F][F][C] Giant Claw: 80 damage. At the time of dealing damage, if the opponent’s Active Pokemon already has 2 or more damage counters on it, this attack does an additional 40 damage.

Pokemon EX Rule: When Pokemon EX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Water (x2)
Resistance: Lightning (-20)
Retreat: 4


A quick look over Groudon EX, it's clearly evident that he is one of the least playable EX's. Groudon EX has a nice 180 HP, an extremely bulky 4 energy retreat cost, a good Lightning resistance, and a not so great Water weakness. Groudon EX's main problem's are within its Weakness and it's attacks. With the presence of Kyurem in the format, Groudon EX is KO'd with 3 hits by Kyurem's second attack, Glaciate, and Groudon EX is also OHKO'd by a Kyurem with 90 damage counters on it if it were to use Outrage. With the small presence of Blastoise in the format, Groudon EX has another threat going for it also.

Where Groudon EX really loses its appeal is in its attacks. Groudon EX's first attack, Trample, does 20 damage and 10 to each benched Pokemon for a Fighting and a Colorless. With a card like Donphan Prime in the format which does 60 damage for one fighting energy, and has its own pros included, Groudon EX is just outclassed. Groudon EX's second attack, Giant Claw, does 80 damage and an additional 40 if the defending Pokemon has 20 damage already on it. You could make a case that this is an ok attack, but the cost to use the attack, 2 Fighting energy and 1 Colorless, is just outmatched by other cards that do 120 damage for the same amount of energy, but with their own energy acceleration like Reshiram or Zekrom.

Summary

Playability Groudon EX is really just not viable in our current format. With high energy cost attacks which do not so spectacular amounts of damage and no form of energy acceleration for Fighting, Groudon EX is outclassed by many other cards currently in the format, but is still somewhat playable. Rating 3/5

Artwork It is clearly evident that plenty of work was put into the artwork of Groudon EX, primarily the Non-Full Art version. Groudon's stance, expression, and attack that it is performing in the attack all look spectacular, almost 3-D. Groudon EX's Full Art version on the other hand looks a little more bland. Groudon has a pose we've already seen before and nothing really interesting going on in the background. Rating Non-Full Art 4/5 Full Art 2/5

The second EX from Hail Blizzard that we will be looking at is Regigigas EX;

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Regigigas EX – Colorless – HP180
Basic Pokemon

[C][C][C] Giga Power: 60 damage. You may do an additional 20 damage. If you do, this Pokemon also does 20 damage to itself.
[C][C][C][C] Raging Hammer: Does 50 damage plus an additional 10 damage times the number of damage counters on this Pokemon.

Pokemon EX Rule: When Pokemon EX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 4


With a brief glance over Regigigas EX, we see a nice 180 HP, a bulky but expected 4 energy retreat cost, a not too horrible Fighting weakness and very energy heavy attacks. The only real flaws or issues I see in Regigigas EX are it's attacks and the weakness. Donphan Prime has lost a lot of play recently, but is still a contender in our metagame, and Regigigas EX is two-shotted by Earthquake and OHKO'd by Heavy Impact. Should Regigigas EX become established in the metagame, Terrakion from Noble Victories could also be implemented as a counter which can OHKO Regigigas EX for two Fighting energies and one Colorless energy.

The main setback for Regigigas EX is that all of it's attacks have a very high energy cost.
Regigigas EX's first attack, Giga Power, does 60 damage plus an optional additional 20 damage, but also does 20 damage to itself if you chose to add the 20 damage to the attack for three Colorless energies. Now, this probably looks like a lot to ask for an attack that only does 80 at most and damages yourself at the same time, but if you include Regigigas EX's second attack in the mix, it just might work out. Regigigas EX's second attack, Raging Hammer, does 50 damage and 10 times the number of damage counters already on Regigigas. The obvious combo with this attack would be Reuniclus from Black and White which lets you move damage around from any of your Pokemon to another. You can stack damage onto Regigigas EX, and then hit your opponent for very big damage. The one drawback is that Raging Hammer costs four Colorless energies, which is a lot to ask for an attack very close to Outrage which Reshiram, Zekrom and Kyurem all share and only costs two energies.

Summary

Playability Regigigas EX has a lot going for it, and a lot going against it. With other cards in the format that can do what Regigigas EX does for less, Regigigas EX's playability factor is lessened. Yet, what makes Regigigas EX stand out gives it a chance to definitely see some play. Rating 3/5

Artwork Art-wise, nothing was held back in the artwork of Regigigas EX. Regigigas EX's Non-Full Art card just looks like a boss. The amazing rainbow background and border makes Regigigas really pop out of the picture. Regigigas EX's Full-Art version looks amazing in it's own way. Regigigas' stance plus the background make Regigigas EX's Full-Art card really stand out. Rating Non-Full Art 5/5 Full Art 5/5

Our last EX from Hail Blizzard that we have to analyze is Kyurem EX;

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Kyurem EX – Water – HP180
Basic Pokemon

[W][C][C] Freezing Wing: 60 damage. Choose 1 Special Energy attached to the opponent’s Active Pokemon, and discard it.
[W][W][C][C] Hail Blizzard: 120 damage. This Pokemon can’t use Hail Blizzard during your next turn.

Pokemon EX Rule: When Pokemon EX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Steel (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3

Our initial overview of Kyurem EX shows us a nice 180 HP, which seems to be the standard for EX's, a not too bad weakness to Steel, a bulky 3 energy retreat cost, and a decent roster of attacks. Kyurem EX's weakness would only hinder it against Cobalion, which shouldn't be too big of a threat with the large presence of Fire types in the format which should scare Cobalion away easily enough. The only other real downside Kyurem EX has is it's very bulky three retreat cost, which makes it hard to switch out of the secondary effect of it's attack, Hail Blizzard.

Kyurem EX's first attack, Freezing Wing, does 60 damage and lets you discard one special energy attached to the defending Pokemon, for a Water energy and two Colorless energies. This is an ok attack, and can be used against Reshiram to hit for 120 damage with weakness and with the use of a PlusPower, get an OHKO. This attack can also be used to hinder decks that primarily use Double Colorless energies or Rescue energies. Kyurem EX's big focus is on it's second attack, Hail Blizzard, which does 120 damage and doesn't let you use Hail Blizzard next turn, at the cost of two Water energies and two Colorless energies. If Kyurem EX didn't have such a bulky retreat cost, this wouldn't be too big of a problem as you could retreat out of it, and the only other way to change this would be to play Dodrio from Undaunted. The energy cost is also pretty high, but can be gotten around by using Feraligatr Prime from Heart Gold Soul Silver.

Summary

Playability Kyurem EX will more than likely find it's way into Kyurem/Feraligatr Prime decks, but isn't playable enough to stand on its own with the drawback of its second attack and its high retreat cost. Rating 3/5

Artwork Kyurem EX's Non-Full Art card could've been excecuted a little bit better by adding more of an effect on Kyurem like the effect on Mewtwo EX, but is still a nice looking card. Kyurem EX's Full Art card is quite stunning with Kyurem's awesome pose and amazing background. Rating Non-Full Art 3/4 Full Art 4/5

Reshiram and Zekrom EX

Reshiram EX and Zekrom EX were both EX's released in their own respective theme decks. As per not being a part of Hail Blizzard/Psycho Drive, and Reshiram and Zekrom already having a huge influence on the format, Reshiram EX and Zekrom EX each get their own analysis.

We will first take a look at Reshiram EX;

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Reshiram EX – Fire – HP180
Basic Pokemon

[R][C][C] Shining Claw: 50 damage. Flip a coin, if heads this attack does an additional 30 damage.
[R][R][C][C] Brave Fire: 150 damage. Flip a coin, if tails this Pokemon also does 50 damage to itself.

Pokemon EX Rule: When Pokemon EX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Water (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3

This card practically screams "Put me in Reshiphlosion!". Reshiram EX has a high and pretty standard 180 HP, an ok three energy retreat, and a not too bad Water weakness. Reshiram EX's Water weakness can hinder it with cards like Kyurem and Blastoise, but Reshiram EX OHKO's both of these Pokemon, so if faced against any of these Pokemon, it's really just a battle of speed, and Reshiram EX has the upper hand. Reshiram EX's high energy attacks aren't much of a problem with the amount of Fire energy acceleration in the form of Typhlosion Prime and Emboar. The last problem left with this card is the after-effects of it's second attack, but there's an easy way to get around it.

Reshiram EX's first attack, Shining Claw, does 50 damage and asks you to flip a coin, if heads, the attack does 30 additional damage all for the cost of one Fire and two Colorless energy. 80 damage is a bit low for what it's asking, but what really makes Reshiram EX shine is its second attack. Reshiram EX's second attack, Brave Fire, does 150 damage and asks you to flip a coin, if heads, Reshiram EX takes 50 damage to itself for the cost of two Fire energies and two Colorless energies. The first problem with this attack, the high energy cost, is already covered with the two current forms of Fire energy acceleration. The second drawback, the coinflip, also has a solution, brought to us in the form of Victini, or Reflip-Tini. Victini lets you ignore the results of any coin flips, and lets you redo-them. This gives Reshiram EX a 75% chance of not taking the 50 damage to itself, which is very good and gives Reshiram EX the little extra help it needs to bump up its playability.

Summary

Playability Reshiram EX has the perk of already having a deck built around Reshiram in the format, and one that does quite well. Reshiram EX will definitely find it's way into other already existing Reshiram decks, if not it's own with the help of Victini and Typhlosion/Emboar. Reshiram EX will definitely make its way straight into Tier 1. Rating 4.5/5

Artwork Reshiram's expression of, "I'm about to bite your face off", makes for a nice appeal. The fire effect along the border of the card also make it look a lot nicer and make Reshiram stand out more against the card itself. Rating 4/5

Lastly, we will now look at Zekrom EX;

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Zekrom EX – Lightning – HP180
Basic Pokemon

[L][C][C] Shining Claw: 50 damage. Flip a coin, if heads this attack does an additional 30 damage.
[L][L][C][C] Strong Volt: 150 damage. Choose 2 Energy attached to this Pokemon and discard them.

Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3
Pokemon EX Rule: When Pokemon EX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Zekrom EX at first glance seems like he'd be a perfect inclusion in the already existing ZPS/ZPTS decks, but after taking a second look, that might not necessarily be the case. Zekrom EX has a standard 180 HP, a not too bad Fighting weakness, and pretty high 3 retreat cost. Zekrom EX's only major threat in the format is Donphan Prime, but Zekrom EX can also OHKO it, so it depends on who's up and hitting faster.

Zekrom EX's first attack, Shining Claw, does 50 damage plus an additional 30 should you flip heads on a coin flip, for one Lightning energy and two Colorless energies. This attack is almost an exact copy of Reshirm EX's Shining Claw, but Zekrom EX requires a Lightning energy for the attack rather than a Fire energy. Again, this attack isn't spectacular for what its asking, but is ok for finishing off the Defending Pokemon. Zekrom EX's second attack, Strong Volt, does 150 damage and requires you to discard two energy attached to this Pokemon, for the cost of two Lightning Energy and two Colorless energy. The good thing about this is that Zekrom EX can be setup Turn One with the help of Pachirisu and Shaymin and possibly donk, which Zekrom BW could also already do. The problem with Zekrom EX is, to continuously use Strong Volt, it would be preferable to use Double Colorless Energy, and that being the energy that you discard. With the maximum number of Double Colorless Energies allowed in a deck being four, Zekrom EX can only continuously hit for 150 for four turns, assuming that nothing else has been interfering with energies. If Double Colorless Energy wasn't used, it would be extremely had to attach two energies a turn, even with the Pachirisu/Shaymin engine because it would've already been used to power up Zekrom EX the first time around, making it difficult to make a repeat play. One way to get around this drawback is with the use of Eelectrik, which lets you attach an Electric energy from your discard pile to one of your Pokemon. With this card already finding its way into almost every Electric deck out there, Eelectrik's addition in a deck with Zekrom EX will not be too bad at all.

Summary

Playability Zekrom EX, like Reshiram EX, has the advantage of having Zekrom already be an established deck in the metagame. Zekrom EX will definitely be included in most ZPST lists or Zekrom EX's own independent decks, but would make use of the Pachirisu/Shaymin engine either way. Zekrom EX's only downfall is the after-effect of Strong Volt, but isn't hard to get around with the use of Eelectrik. Rating 4/5

Artwork Zekrom EX's artwork is one of my favorite artworks out of all the EX's. The electric currents surrounding Zekrom make for a very nice effect and make Zekrom seem really bold and bright. Rating 4.5/5


Conclusion


After looking over all of the currently released EX's, we can see that EX's are very diverse in their playability and their possible effect on the metagame. Mewtwo EX, Reshiram EX. and Zekrom EX seemed to be the most playable after an analysis on all of the EX's. It is clear that the artwork of all of the EX's had a lot of time put into it, making a lot of the EX's look very nice and appealing. We won't know for sure exactly how and if our game will change once EX's hit the United States and other parts of the world, but basing off of their influence in the Japanese metagame, EX's will definitely be played and highly sought after. I hope you enjoyed reading this article and look forward to many more. :)

A special thank you to [member]X-5[/member] for the banner and [member]The Yoshi[/member] for proof-reading this article.
 
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