Wednesday, September 20, 2017

News: Crimson Invasion Prerelease Promos!

The four Prerelease Promos for SM Crimson Invasion are now officially revealed! The Promos are Alolan Raichu, Salazzle, Regirock and Registeel. Prerelease Promos are special Holo versions of cards that are randomly given out to players who attend Prerelease tournaments.
In case you haven't seen these cards before, here are the official translations for each one.
Salazzle – Psychic – HP110
Stage 1 – Evolves from Salandit
[P] Nasty Plot: Search your deck for 2 cards and put them into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.
[P] Severe Poison: Your opponent’s Active Pokemon is now Poisoned. Put 4 damage counters instead of 1 on that Pokemon between turns.
Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 1
Registeel – Metal – HP130
Basic Pokemon
[M] Turbo Arm: 30 damage. Attach a basic Energy from your discard pile to 1 of your Benched Pokemon.
[M][M][C] Black Steel Fist: 90 damage. If Regice is on your Bench, heal 30 damage from this Pokemon.
Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
Retreat: 3
Alolan Raichu – Lightning – HP110
Stage 1 – Evolves from Pikachu
Ability: Surge Surfer
If there’s a Stadium in play, this Pokemon has no Retreat Cost.
[C][C][C] Psychic: 70+ damage. This attack does 20 more damage for each Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: Metal (-20)
Retreat: 2
Regirock – Fighting – HP130
Basic Pokemon
Ability: Rocky Mountain Howl
Your Registeel’s attacks do 10 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokemon.
[F][F][C] Hard Swing: 110 damage. This attack’s damage isn’t affected by Resistance.
Weakness: Grass (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3
       Out of the four Prerelease Promos featured here, Registeel will definitely be the most valuable. It's the only card of the four being featured that is guaranteed to show competitive appeal in the main metagame. It kinda stinks that we didn't get better Pokemon in the place of the other suckers: I would've liked Promo versions of Alolan Marowak or Mismagius.
In the actual Prerelease tournament, though, I'd say that all four of these cards have some good use.
         Alolan Raichu is probably the best of the four because of its Colorless attack Cost. It's good to have a strong attacker that can run on any kind of Energy requirement.
         Salazzle's Nasty Plot is busted in Prerelease play. Players are rarely given access to good Trainer cards, so it's always nice to have a strong search option from one of your Pokemon. Severe Poison can also deal some decent passive damage for a small fee. In most cases, you'll want to Poison your opponent, then use Nasty Plot while waiting for the toxins to finish them off.
         Regirock's Ability is pretty much useless in Prerelease play: The chances of pulling Regirock AND Registeel from the main set are embarrassingly low. However, I do think that 3-for-110 on a Basic is very powerful. It's a good attack to look out for.
         And finally, there's Registeel. Even though Registeel is the most competitive card in regular play of the four Promos, it's actually the worst of the four for actual Prerelease play. 30-for-1's good, but you'll rarely get extra Energy from the attack without access to Ultra Ball. 90-for-3 isn't too bad either, but compared to Raichu's 70+-for-3-Colorless or Regirock's 110-for-3, I don't like it as much. Again, it's not bad, but it'll be the least helpful of the four in the actual event.
When we figure out which Pokemon will be featured in the Evolution Packs for the Prerelease, I'll be sure to put that on tabs. Keep an eye out, Trainers.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Card-Of-The-Day: Lucario [SM Burning Shadows]

After taking more time to learn various forms of art like drawing and painting, I've come to really appreciate all the work that Pokemon's artists put in to make these amazing card illustrations. This Lucario is a favorite of mine in that regard: The use of shading and lighting effects just OOZES with raw power. You really feel the strength of Lucario's Aura eminating out of his body just by looking at it.
Unfortunately, Lucario's actual card is mediocre at best.
How come most cards with fantastic artwork are unplayable?
Anyway, Lucario's 3-for-120 attack with no side effects is a bit on the uninspired side, but it gets the job done. It's a solid amount of damage for a 1-prize Evolution overall. This attack can also be powered up further by using Strong Energy, Choice Band, Regirock-EX, and Professor Kukui. The three-Energy requirement is really bad by hand, but much better through recyclable effects like Carbink BREAK.
       Lucario's Stance Ability also gives you a chance to power up Submarine Blow without risking your resources. Upon evolving, Lucario is granted a full turn of invincibility from damage and secondary attack effects. The smartest way to make use of this technique is by charging up Riolu in one turn with a hand attachment and a Diamond Gift, then pulling him up the following turn, evolving, and then swinging hard with Submarine Blow. You'll get a free turn without damage this way.
This Lucario/Carbink strategy honestly isn't too horrible in hindsight: It's a 1-Prize Stage 1 that's capable of dealing 180+ damage per turn while safeguarding itself temporarily. It's a great deck concept that's easy to learn and could definitely be used as an introductory deck for newcoming players. Besides, what young kid doesn't want to play a deck featuring Lucario? Lucario's easily one of the Top 10 most popular 'mons right now.
But back on topic, even though a Lucario/Carbink build would be fun, it honestly has no place in our current competitive meta. There are tons of factors going against this card right now.
         First and foremost, Guzma is now a staple to every deck in the current format. Guzma's swapping effect cripples Lucario like nothing else: It can be used to destroy a Benched Riolu before it evolves, or it can bypass a Stanced Lucario's defenses. Using Guzma at any point against Lucario is almost guaranteed to net you a Prize and set their strategy back two steps.
         Even if Guzma wasn't an issue, Lucario is just a generally clunky attacker. If you're going to invest three Energy into an attacker, it should REALLY lay down a beating to make up for it. Frankly, I don't see what makes Lucario more efficient than something like Tapu Koko-GX, Darkrai-GX, Golisopod GRI or GX, or really any other playable GX right now. The work needed to get Submarine Blow running is excessive compared to other alternatives.
Lucario's not going to win any big tournaments, but it gives new players an easy way to learn the ropes of the game. And just as a whole, there's something really fun about charging this guy up and Submarine Blowing your opponent into oblivion. Lucario's childlike sense of power just feels exhilirating to mess around with.
7.7/10 A cut above most Lucario cards.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Card Leak: All SM4 Translations!

The entire SM4 set was leaked by the official Pokemon company last night. Pokebeach was able to get their hands on them quickly and translate them all. You can hit the link above to see them all. They don't have the Secret Rare and Rainbow Rare cards yet, but since all of those are just reprints, it's nothing to worry about right now.

Admittedly, I don't like SM4 very much. There are a LOT of mediocre filler cards that have almost no practical use - we're talking Phantom Forces levels of useless. Still, there are a small handful of interesting cards, so I'll list them all below. You can expect me to cover these when I eventually run the Set Review for Crimson Invasion next month.

Here they are:

-Alolan Marowak
-Buzzwole GX
-Kartana GX
-Silvally GX
-Counter Catcher
-Psychic/Fighting Memory

-Gyarados GX
-Counter Energy

Overall, nothing from this set immediately jumps out to me and says 'hey, I'm gonna be the next big thing'. Almost every good card in this set makes me think 'hmm, that looks possibly playable' and nothing else. I can't say I'm all that excited for this set, but I'm at least glad it has a few notable things to redeem itself.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Card Leak: Gyarados and Alolan Golem GX, Counter Catcher

Whoah, more Pokemon-GX cards that AREN'T Ultra Beasts? That's really weird. That means we won't be getting Phermosa, Xurkitree or Celesteela in this mean set, then. They've already been confirmed to appear in SM4+, so I can only assume that they'll be exclusive to that set, and then America will get them later as Promos.
Gyarados-GX – Water – HP240
Stage 1 – Evolves from Magikarp
[W][C][C] Waterfall: 70 damage.
[W][C][C][C][C] Dragon Calamity: 100+ damage. This attack does 100 more damage if there is a Stadium in play. Then, discard that Stadium.
[W] Dread Storm GX: Discard 1 Energy from each of your opponent’s Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
When your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Lightning (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 4
Eh, personally, I just don't think Gyarados has much going for it. I'll be fair: Dragon Calamity is REALLY powerful, isn't too hard to power up if you have Rayquaza GRI and Aqua Patch, and kills everything with Choice Band and Kukui. BUT, everything else about it just doesn't seem very strong. Five Energy is just too much in my eyes: Not only will it take forever, but Energy-countering attackers like Espeon-GX and Gardevoir-GX will make mincemeat of you. Besides, there are more practical ways to hit high numbers in this format.
Alolan Golem-GX – Lightning – HP250
Stage 2 – Evolves from Alolan Graveler
[L][C][C] Hammer In: 80 damage.
[L][L][C][C] Super Magnetic Tackle: 200 damage. This Pokemon does 50 damage to itself.
[L][L][C][C] Heavy Rock GX: 100 damage. Your opponent can’t play any cards from their hand during their next turn. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
When your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Fighting (x2)
Resistance: Metal (-20)
Retreat: 4
Golem is somehow worse than Gyarados. Neither of its primary attacks are playable in this format whatsoever. It's almost a shame that its super-cool Heavy Rock GX is a waste of cool disruption because you'll never play the base card in the first place. What a bummer.

Counter Catcher – Trainer

You can only play this card if you have more Prize cards remaining than your opponent.
Choose 1 of your opponent’s Benched Pokemon and switch it with their Active Pokemon.
You may play as many Item cards as you like during your turn (before your attack).
Now this is a good Catcher replacement. I like it. Guzma's great and all, but nothing beats the original Pokemon Catcher, and this is a nice re-balanced version of it. I'm almost certain that every deck will try teching in a copy or two of this. It's such a nice option to be able to come back from a Prize drop by using Catcher to vacuum up 2 more Prizes against a GX.
This Counter Catcher combined with Counter Energy also opens up new combos for Electrode EVO decks. With these tools, you could theoretically get 4 Energy in play in one turn AND get a free Lysandre effect on the board. I see some potential in a Tapu Koko/Electrode revival thanks to this card.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Open Table: How Come Japanese Players Get Better Theme Decks?

Theme Decks: Nobody in the competitive community likes 'em, they rarely come with genuinely playable cards, but kids buy them anyway. As odd as it seems, Theme Decks are HUGELY popular among casual fanbases. These Theme Decks come with just enough cards to play the game with a friend, and they often feature fan-favorite Pokemon in the mix, too. They may not be good for veterans, but newcomers to the TCG fanbase get a full deck and some cool cards out of them - for just $13, too. You can't beat a bargain like that.
But if there's one thing that's often debated in the competitive spectrum, it's the ongoing discussion on whether or not Theme Decks are strong enough for the average consumer. The most common argument is that Japan gets fully-playable Theme Decks with Ultra Rares and high Trainer counts, so it would only be fair for the west to start receiving decks like that, too.
        The common rejection to that argument, though, is that Japan's fanbase isn't nearly as broad as the western fanbase. In Japan, there is much more emphasis on playability over collectability, while the western community has many sectors with dividing opinions: Some westerns collect, others play seriously, others play casually, and so on. The variety is much more noticable over here.
        The other thing is a small detail in the name of the game: Pokemon is referred to as Pokemon Card Game in Japan, while the rest of the world knows it specifically as a Trading Card Game. The western Pokemon division has always emphasized the social, trading aspect of the game, and making rare cards too easily accessable would definitely reduce the player's need to trade around to get better cards. It's a bad marketing ploy, but it at least makes sense.
That's all I have for today. I'd like to write more small posts like these now and then: These posts me a quick way to analyze a topic for a few paragraphs and keep up to date with the fanbase. Sometimes I get too busy or too overwhelmed to write full articles, but these are just quick snippets that anybody can log-on and enjoy reading. I'll be sure to write more like this in the coming future.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Card Leaks: Counter Energy, Octillery, Xerneas, Mismagius

Sorry that I've only had enough time to write Card Reveals and not actual posts. I'll see if I can pick up the pace in the coming days.
Counter Energy – Special Energy
This card provides 1 [C] Energy.
When this card is attached to 1 of your Pokemon (excluding Pokemon-GX and Pokemon-EX) and you have more Prize cards remaining than your opponent, this card provides 2 Energy of every type.
Counter Energy is a fantastic variation of Rainbow Energy, and I seriously cannot get enough of it. But the clauses going against it keep me from calling it 'perfect'. Counter Energy's 2-Energy supplement can be consider downright broken in many cases, but because you can only attach it to weak 1-Prize attackers and it ONLY activates when you're behind.
      Still, despite its limitations, Counter Energy could still prove to be a useful addition to any 1-Prize decks for picking up early game traction after losing an unlucky Prize. I don't see too many non-GX decks in this format that could really make use of it, but I'm sure there will be more as time goes on. This'll be good some way.
Octillery – Water – HP100
Stage 1 – Evolves from Remoraid
[C] Ink Spit: If the Defending Pokemon tries to attack during your opponent’s next turn, your opponent flips a coin. If tails, that attack does nothing.
[W][C] Special Cannon: 40 damage. You may discard a Special Energy from this Pokemon. If you do, this attack does 80 more damage.
Weakness: Grass (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 2
Remoraid STINKS. Ink Spit has appeared on NFE POkemon of all things, and Special Cannon is just impractical. There's some cool synergy here with Counter Energy, but 'cool' is something I'm only saying as a descriptor of the attack's style, rather than its actual worth. 120 isn't nearly enough to deal with most modern threats, and you STILL can only use it when you're behind in Prizes. I don't like this Octillery at all.

Xerneas – Fairy – HP130
Basic Pokemon

[C] Lead: Search your deck for a Supporter card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.
[Y][Y][Y] Bright Horn: 130 damage. This Pokemon can’t use Bright Horn during your next turn.
Weakness: Metal (x2)
Resistance: Darkness (-20)
Retreat: 2
Eh, Xerneas could have been good in a past format, but there's not a really good reason to use it right now. Lead is entirely inferior to Tapu Lele-GX's Wonder Tag: There's literally no benefit to using this over the Ability version because it ends your turn.
      I guess in some ways, though, Xerneas' Bright Horn is still a solid 3-for-130, but you would only be able to get something like this working in a deck with heavy Fairy Acceleration. Gardevoir-GX and Xerneas seem like a good fit at first, but in most cases, Gardy will deal more overall damage. Xerneas would only be playable as a 1-of tech.

Mismagius – Psychic – HP110
Stage 1 – Evolves from Misdreavus

[P] Chaos Wheel: 30 damage. Your opponent can’t play any Pokemon Tool, Special Energy, or Stadium cards from their hand during their next turn.
[P][C][C] Black Magic: 20x damage. This attack does 20 damage times the number of cards in your opponent’s hand.
Weakness: Darkness (x2)
Resistance: Fighting (-20)
Retreat: 1
Mismagius interests me with its great revision of Chaos Wheel. This attack was great during Giratina-EX's lifetime. I think there's a lot of synergy with this attack and Trashalanche: Chaos Wheel can force your opponent to burn resources to come back, and Trashalanche will punish them for it. They both even use the same Energy.
          The sucky thing about Mismagius compared to Giratina-EX, though, is its overall damage: 1-for-30 just isn't what it used to be. Choice Band can boost it to 60, but that's still not a whole lot of damage. That's probably the defining reason why this card wouldn't be played.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Open Table: Alolan Exeggutor-GX, Lusamine and the future of Red GX's (Ultra Beasts)

Oh look, I guess Silvally isn't the only non-Ultra Beast GX in the set. Huh.
Alolan Exeggutor-GX – Dragon – HP220
Stage 1 – Evolves from Exeggcute
[G] Tropical Head: Does 20 damage times the number of Energy attached to this Pokémon to one of your opponent’s Pokemon (Don’t apply Weakness or Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)
[G][C][C][C] Dragon Hammer: 120 damage. The Defending Pokemon is now Confused.
[G][C][C][C] Tower-Go-Round GX: 180 damage. Move as many Energy attached to your Pokemon to your other Pokemon in any way you like (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)
When 1 of your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Fairy (x2)
Resistance: none
Retreat: 3
Eh, I don't really like it. Tropical Head doesn't deal enough damage to make back its Energy cost, and neither of its other attacks are very powerful, either. I see justification in the lack of base strength because of how Shining Legends Venusaur can give this Pokemon quicker attack costs, but even with Venusaur, I don't think this is very good at all. There are a million better ways to deal 120-for-2.
Taking a cue from the Gladion reveal, Pokemon finally gave us a look at the new Lusamine supporter, too.
Lusamine – Trainer
Put 2 in combination of Stadium and Supporter cards from your discard pile into your hand.
You may play only 1 Supporter card during your turn (before your attack).
Lusamine retrieves Supporters from the discard pile, kinda like VS Seeker. Let's be real though, using a Supporter to find another one is very counterproductive since you'll still need to wait another turn before you can use whichever Supporter you grabbed.
        The good thing about Lusamine is that you get the option of grabbing a Stadium as well. I appreciate the variety.
        As for whether or not Lusamine will be played, I have this itch in the back of my mind that people will still find some use for it. One thing for sure about BKT-on is that it's gonna be a much slower format: No Shaymin, no Trainers' Mail, no VS Seeker, or anything like that. Considering the slower pace of the game, it seems like having Lusamine around wouldn't be a bad replacement for VS Seeker: It's a more balanced way to keep Supporter retrieval in the format without absolutely ruining the way decks are built.
        Overall, I don't mind it, but I definitely feel like it could've been better.
Now, here's a weird question I wanna tackle for the moment: How come Lusamine's Supporter card doesn't seem to have any effect related to the Ultra Beast GX's?
        See, if you look at the Buzzwole above, you'll see that it says 'Ultra Beast' on the top corner near the HP. It's kind of like how Team Plasma Pokemon were given unique titles, too. But why would all of these Ultra Beasts be given a unique name, but no support to work with? Surely the character in Sun & Moon would most prominently ties in to the Ultra Beasts [Lusamine] would have an effect that provides extra support for these cards, right? If Lusamine of all things doesn't support them, will any other cards from this set function in tandem with them, either?
        I still think there's a possibility that Ultra Beast tools are in the works, though. Colress and Ghetsis from the Plasma sets didn't specifically support Plasma Pokemon, but there were still other cards that did, like Deoxys-EX and Colress Machine. There are still positive odds that the Ultra Beasts could get some unique support to play around with, like their own Special Energy or a Pokemon Tool card with bonus effects.
        There are still three Ultra Beast cards we have yet to see, too: Phermosa-GX, Xurkitree-GX and Celesteela-GX. One or more of those cards could possibly be an Ultra Beast support engine. The only evidence going against it is the contrast to Plasma Pokemon-EX cards: EVERY Plasma Pokemon had a Plasma Energy-related function to use, but none of the four Ultra Beasts seen so far have exclusive traits like that.
        Overall, there's enough evidence for and against the argument. The Pokemon company gets confusing with what they choose to specialize and what they don't: One minute you think you understand their whole plan for a set, and then they throw a curveball and just mis-mash everything together. At this point, we can only wait and see to truly find out what the new cards will be like. That's all I can really say.