Monday, October 16, 2017

Quick note: Because of bad timing, my busy schedule and God knows what else, the Crimson Invasion Set Review probably won't come until after the set actually releases. This is mostly because I'm already busy writing about Shining Legends, the mini-set that releases this month.

Like all of my numerous failures, I'll try to make up for this one by making it worth the wait. I'll see you guys later with the review next month!

Card Leak: Starter Deck Solgaleo GX & Lunala GX cards, Type-Shifted Lele

So, Japan is getting special Starter Decks next month that feature Solgaleo and Lunala. Thing is, they're brand-new Pokemon-GX cards. I just expected them to toss in the originals and call it a day. But I guess I can appreciate them wanting to put more out there to use.
Solgaleo-GX – Metal – HP250
Stage 2 – Evolves from Cosmoem
Ability: Shining Mane
Each of your Pokemon has no Weakness.
[C][C] Turbo Strike: 120 damage. Attach 2 basic Energy from your discard pile to 1 of your Benched Pokemon.
[C][C] Prominence-GX: Heal all damage from each of your Pokemon. (You can only use 1 GX attack in a game.)
When your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
Retreat: 2
Lunala-GX – Psychic – HP230
Stage 2 – Evolves from Cosmoem
[C][C] Glide: 50 damage.
[P][P][C][C] Luna Javelin: 200 damage. Discard 2 [P] Energy from this Pokemon.
[P][P][P][C] Requiem-GX: 250 damage. (You can only use 1 GX attack in a game.)
When your Pokemon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Darkness (x2)
Resistance: Fighting (-20)
Retreat: 0
Solgaleo-GX is a really solid addition to any deck already playing the Cosmog line. It provides Weakness immunity, A DCE version of Mega Manectric-EX's Turbo Bolt, and a full recovery across the entire board as its GX attack.
         I already see this becoming a staple way to play the original Solgaleo-GX now. The Weakness immunity gives you a fighting chance against Ho-Oh/Salazzle and Volcanion decks, while the new Turbo Strike attack lets you recycle Metal Energy back onto SM1 Solgaleo-GX after it uses a Sunsteel Strike. It's a great pair, really. I'd be genuinely surprised if nobody put this combo to use.
Lunala, on the other hand, just seems like filler. None of its attacks deal damage worth working for. The only positive thing I can really say about it is that it gives SM1 Lunala-GX a somewhat decent tech attacker, but that isn't enough to help it anyway. Lunala needs a good Psychic Energy engine before it'll have any chance in our current field of play.
Lele is also receiving a Type-shifted reprint. Knowing this, I'm sure all of the other non-GX Tapu cards will receive the same treatment, too.
All in all, there's not much to say about this card since I've already covered it once before. The only real difference with this card is that you would play it in Fairy decks instead of Psychic ones. Thing is, I'm not sure how many Fairy decks will actually be able to make use of Magical Swap. The whole reason Magical Swap is receiving so much hype is because to can be used in Expanded with Trevenant BREAK to centralize spread damage and end games. However, there aren't any major Fairy decks that could use a strategy like that.
Eh, seeing how broken the effect is anyway, I'm sure it'll be used in most Fairy decks just for the heck of it. That's the way it is with Basic Pokemon.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Card Leak and Thoughts: Grass-Type Araquanid SM from SM4+

Okayokayokay I'm R E A L L Y sorry I didn't get back to you guys sooner. I was gone for nearly a whole week on a trip with my family.
But now I'm back. For now.
I will probably have another excuse for a lack of content again next week, too.
Anyway, here's what's new:
Do you notice something odd about these Araquanids? Despite what they may seem, they're actually identical, save for their artwork and Typing. Both have immunity to Fire attacks, a 3-for-70 attack, 100HP, and 2 Retreat. Mechanically speaking, their dedicated Typing is the ONLY difference between the two.
From what I understand, Pokemon has almost never done this. There are examples of reprinted Pokemon, and there are examples of Pokemon with varying Types, but I don't think I can name any other card that was a perfect reprint EXCEPT for its Type.
       Here's my thought, though: WHY would the Pokemon Company make a Type-shifted reprint of a card that wasn't even that good? It seems like a pointless waste of an otherwise awesome gimmick. In fact, I'd say it's almost t o o suspicious.
       If I were a betting man, I'd bet my bottom dollar that this won't be the only Type-shifted reprint in SM4+. I'm sure at least a decent number of other cards from the SM series so far will get the shift treatment, too. The big question is exactly which Pokemon, though.
I'm guessing it would be any of these cards:
-Decidueye, Incineroar and Primarina (The non-GX versions from the Theme Decks)
-Shiinotic (But it searches for Fairy Pokemon instead of Grass)
-Vikavolt (Probably would be banned in Expanded though)
-Golisopod (Water version would give Goliso-GX decks bonus Type coverage)
-Rayquaza (The card is more often associated as a Dragon when possible)
-Bewear GRI (Would be miles more viable with bonus Type coverage)
Are there any other cards that stand out that would be a good subject for a Type-shift? Let me know below!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Deck Highlight: VikaBulu

Deck: VikaBulu
Primary Cards: Vikavolt SM, Tapu Bulu-GX,
Secondary Cards: Tapu Koko-GX, Tapu Koko SM-P, Tapu Lele-GX, Energy Recycler
Main Function:
Use Vikavolt's Strong Charge Ability to play Energy onto your Tapu Bulu-GX. One use of Strong Charge and a single Grass attachment from the hand will completely power-up a Bulu in a single turn. From there, Bulu can swing hard for 120 every turn. If you discard after attaching, Bulu can deal 180 per shot, and with a Choice Band you'll reach 210 max, an amount needed for KO-ing many popular Pokemon-GX like Alolan Ninetales and Drampa.
         Tapu Koko-GX gives you a good secondary attacker that can feed off of Lightning Energy when Grass isn't available. The non-GX version of Koko is also needed for setting up perfect one-shots against Pokemon with more than 210HP, like Gardevoir-GX and some Pokemon with Fury Belts and/or Dumbbells.
Why it works:
The BKT-on format is much slower than previous formats. This more properly-paced format gives room for bulky Stage 2 decks to make a return, and VikaBulu is just that. Vikavolt does an amazing job of supplying Energy every turn, and unlike most Energy engines, it can actually dish out heavy damage of its own when needed.
        And just generally speaking, Bulu is a strong, heavy Basic tank. Nature's Judgement deals good, flexible damage against most cards, and it can strike big at the expense of discarding your Energy - though admittedly, the Energy discard effect isn't even a big deal if you run Energy Recycler. Bulu is also very bulky for Basic standards: It has good HP, no Weakness, compatibility with Aether Paradise and/or Fury Belt (if desired), and a GX attack that completely heals itself.
       VikaBulu's success could also be attributed to its use of multiple Types of attackers: Lightning AND Grass. Vikavolt and Koko's Lightning coverage gives you an edge against Yveltal-EX and Ho-Oh-GX, while Bulu's Grass coverage can screw with Lycanroc-GX and Lapras-GX. It's also true that Bulu's lack of a direct Weakness alleviates the issues of bad Type matchups against yourself.
        Lastly, while this is a small detail, it should be noted that Bulu's Nature's Judgement attack can get rid of its own Energy, which can sometimes be a good thing. Getting rid of your Energy can reduce damage received from Gardevoir's Infinite Force and Lele's Energy Drive. It's a little detail, but I think it was valuable enough to merit a mention.
Even with the slower format in mind, VikaBulu is still technically a slow Stage 2 deck, and as such will still suffer from the usual Stage 2 trappings. Obviously, Bulu won't be doing much at all without Strong Charge to get its Energy into play, so if your opponent stops your Charges by block Abilities or killing your Vikavolts, then you're screwed. VikaBulu's Garbodor matchup can also be a pain since this deck needs so many Rare Candies, Choice Bands and Heavy Balls.
Benefits from future sets:
Shining Legends brings some new Lightning Pokemon such as Raichu-GX and Raikou, but I doubt either will impact the viability of this deck. Raichu isn't needed when Bulu already does the job well, and Raikou's Lightning support isn't needed because Bulu relies more heavily on Grass Energy.
Crimson Invasion doesn't do anything to help this deck, either. None of the new Lightning or Grass Pokemon have any good synergy, nor do any of the other Pokemon Types featured. There aren't any good Trainer cards that fit into the deck's structure, either.
VikaBulu is a really good deck right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if it failed to keep that steam as the format moves in the coming months. With no good support from either of this year's next sets, it's hard to forsee a future for this deck. The only possible hope for VikaBulu is if SM4+ or SM5 gives us something new to keep the deck relevant. Until then, we might as well enjoy VikaBulu while it's still here.
Overall Rank: Tier 2

Monday, October 2, 2017

Card Leak: Magearna from SM4+

It looks like SM4+ will not only be giving us brand-new Pokemon-GX cards, but regular 1-Prize Pokemon as well. I hope we get some good stuff outta this set.
Magearna – Metal – HP90
Basic Pokemon
Ability: Redress
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may return a Pokemon Tool card attached to 1 of your Pokemon to your hand.
[M][C][C] Ball Attack: 60 damage.
Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
Retreat: 1
Magearna would've been absolutely fantastic if it released just one year before. During past formats, Mega Evolutions always struggled with their nasty Spirit Link requirements: Getting a Spirit Link before actually getting the base Pokemon could be troublesome, and once you actually evolved, you wouldn't be able to put a new Tool on the Pokemon you attached to. Magearna would've solved both of those problems in the XY-on and PRC-on formats, but it sadly never came out back then. The closest thing we had to Tool Retrieval Abilities in those eras was Weavile STS, but it was a Stage 1 Pokemon of all things, so there wasn't any practical way to play it.
Well, Magearna is obviously late to the Mega Evo party, but is there anything else it can do? Well, I think there are still a few other great ways it can be played. I think it's great that this card can move Float Stones around on a whim. A similar strategy could be used with SM4's Dash Pouch, which is good for decks that stream Energy from the hand, including Gardevoir-GX.
Yeah, I'd say Magearna is good overall. It may not be as good right now as it could've been long ago, but it still has enough tricks to stand as a playable card right now. I like it.
Now here's another question: What other kind of Pokemon will appear in SM4+? We know it'll mostly be a reprint set, with stuff like Garbodor, Solgaleo-GX, and more. But we do also know it should have a decent number of new Pokemon. So, which kinds of cards will we get? Maybe secondary Type versions of the starters, like a Psychic Decidueye? Or maybe we'll finally get non-GX versions of Necrozma and the Ultra Beasts. At this point, who knows?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Card Leak: Xurkitree-GX

'olp, we got another one, folks. Another Ultra Beast - and thank goodness, this one's actually playable.
Xurkitree-GX – Lightning – HP180
Basic Pokemon (Ultra Beast)
Ability: Flash Head
Prevent all damage done to this Pokemon by attacks from each of your opponent’s Pokemon that has Special Energy attached to it.
[L][L][C] Rumble Wire: 100 damage. Discard the top card of your opponent’s deck.
[L] Lightning GX: Your opponent reveals their hand. Choose 1 card there and put it face-down as 1 of their Prize cards. (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: 2
Xurkitree is a revival of Aegislash-EX by nature. They both share the same defensive Ability, and thus will probably be used in the same way. In some ways, Xurkitree is actually a bit better than Aegislash because of its new GX Attack. Lightning GX adds a card from your opponent's hand to their Prizes, forcing a 7-Prize game - which could technically be an 8-Prize game if you use just Pokemon-GX attackers.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Deck Highlight: Gardevoir-GX

As most of you know by now, I'm not what I would consider a 'Pokemon TCG pro' - in fact, I think just about everybody who actually reads what I write is more qualified than I am. I have practically no writing talent, little experience in the competitive Pokemon TCG field, and an embarrassingly small fanbase. Realistically, I'm probably the last person you should ask for TCG advice.
And yet here you are reading this.
Well, since I haven't done a proper analysis of the new Pokemon metagame yet, I figured I should finally get around to that. Y'know, get up to speed on what's playable, figure out the popular archetypes, go-to techs - stuff like that. I'll do a quick rundown of every popular deck right now, analyze why they run so well, and then highlight any potential benefits that they could receive from the new Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends sets later this year.
I'll be writing up quick posts about popular decks as they come and go every week. Most (if not all) of these will be on the topic of decks that are either currently good or are set to become good in the future. I may even cover rogue decks or goofy gimmick decks - heck, YOU can recommend a deck to me and I'll do an overview of it, too!
Anyway, today I'm gonna cover Gardy, since she's arguably the most popular deck right now.
Deck: Gardevoir-GX
Primary Cards: Gardevoir-GX, Gallade BKT
Secondary Cards: Octillery BKT, Alolan Vulpix GRI, Sylveon-GX, Diancie BRS
Main Function: Set up an army of Gardevoir-GX as fast as you can, spill Energy into play with Secret Spring, then swing for high numbers with Infinite Force. Gallade can set up strong draws and provide Type coverage. Various combinations of Octillery, Vulpix, Sylveon and/or Diancie are used to help support these attackers.
Why it works:
Gardevoir can be best described as a stronger version of Mega Mewtwo-EX from last season: It has more HP, doesn't require a Spirit Link, can power itself up quicker with its built-in Ability, and has a strong bonus GX attack. It's the textbook example of taking an already-strong deck and making it even better.
       Gardevoir's Twilight GX is also a strong deciding factor in why it's so good. Garbodor GRI would ordinarily have a crazy-good matchup against this deck, but Gardy's Twilight gives it the chance to stop a Trashalanche before it hits. With no fear of Garbodor, a Gardy deck can be built with as many Item cards as its user pleases.
Gardy's high reliance on Evolution Pokemon and low-HP Basic Pokemon is an issue when played against decks with anti-Evolution techs. Snipe attacks like Decidueye-GX's Feather Arrow and Tapu Koko SM-P's Flying Flip can severely punish NFE Pokemon on your side of the field. Po Town can also leave your Evolutions with a dent once they're put into play.
        Gardy's Metal Weakness also leads to a terrible matchup against Metagross-GX. A Metagross with three Energy will kill Gardevoir AND Gallade every time. The matchup isn't absolutely impossible, but the natural disadvantage certainly defines it as the most troublesome one out there.
Benefits from future sets:
Zoroark-GX will be a fantastic replacement for Octillery: It has a stronger Ability AND an attack that you can actually use. There's almost no reason not to play this over the 'squid.
Miltank from Crimson Invasion also has a neat recovery Ability that has perfect synergy with Secret Spring. When Active, Miltank's Ability heals 90 damage from a Pokemon whenever an Energy is attached to it from the hand. You can attach once by hand and then once again with Secret Spring to heal 180 in a single turn!
Overall Tier Rank: Tier 1