Tuesday, August 8, 2017

SM3 Burning Shadows Set Review

 
Burning Shadows is out now in stores everywhere! Here's a look at the most competitive cards that this set offers:
 
S-RANK CARDS (The Best)
 
Seviper
 
Seviper is easy to see as a threat because it's a pseudo-revival of one of the most broken Stadiums ever printed: Virbank City Gym. Seviper takes Virbank's power and increases it even further by offering up to TWICE as much extra punishment per turn: With 4 Seviper down, you'll deal 50 Poison damage every single turn - possibly even more if you're playing in Expanded with Virbank.
 
Of course, the trouble with Seviper in our current Standard meta is finding a Poisoning Pokemon to play it with. We don't have Hypnotoxic Laser anymore, so we'll have to find Pokemon-based methods of inflicting toxins. A Victreebel GRI deck with this and Forest of Giant Plants could be fun, but it won't last past the rotation - and it's a really bad idea, anyway. Other than that, I can't find anything modern worth using this with.
 
Seviper's gonna be really crazy in the Expanded Format since it already has an established arsenal to work with, but its Standard fame is gonna have to wait a bit longer. Maybe SM4 will give us something good, huh?
 
Marshadow-GX

Aw yeh, Marshadow makes his debut, too, and he's pretty swood. It has low HP (like just about every Mythical), but is otherwise monstrous. Beatdown is a great 3-for-120, Peerless Hundred Blows GX has an infinite damage cap, and then there's Shadow Hunt. Oooooh, I love Shadow Hunt.

Remember Mew FCO? This is kind of like it, but it takes attacks from discarded Pokemon instead of Benched Pokemon. This is a TON better because it keeps the Pokemon in mind off of the field of play. If you played this in Night March, you wouldn't even need to play any Joltiks or Pumpkaboos on your Bench!

There are two other great uses for Marshadow that I want to cover as well - that's right, this thing does more than just boost Night March!
         The first is its Fighting Type. Fighting Types in Expanded get a TON of damage modifiers to work with, such as Fighting Stadium, Strong Energy, and much more. Since Marshadow is a Fighting Type, too, you could use it to copy the attack of a non-Fighting Pokemon for a huge damage bonus. Imagine using Marshadow to copy a Seismitoad-EX's Quaking Punch - the possibilities are endless!
         On a similar note, Marshadow's Fighting Type makes it a great Type Advantage attacker. Our  format never had a truly great Fighting Weakness abuser that didn't need Maxie, so this Marshadow is a fresh change of pace. It's especially good at getting rid of Raikous and Vikavolts.

I can't think of a specific deck designed around Marshadow, but everything about the card is so good that I'd honestly be shocked if it didn't get played with one of the ideas brought up here. Definitely keep an eye out on this one.
 
Gardevoir-GX

Of all of the new Pokemon-GX in this set, I think Gardevoir has to be my top pick in terms of viability. This card has already seen a strong amount of success in the Japanese meta, so it's only natural that America would adopt some of that force into its metagame, right?
 
Gardevoir functions a lot like a stronger version of the omnipotent M. Mewtwo-EX: It has pretty much the same attack, but now boasts slightly higher HP, a good GX attack, and a self-acceleration Ability. We all know that Mewtwo was a great card, so Gardevoir should obviously perform on a similar level, or maybe even higher.
 
So, what makes Gardevoir so good right now? The easy answer is Twilight GX. Y'see, in this metagame, every viable deck has to be designed around the presence of Garbodor GRI, which absolutely destroys decks with high emphasis on Item cards. But Gardevoir's Twilight gives itself a smart way to recover its used Items back into the deck, preventing Trashalanche from dealing any substantial damage to Gardy.
          With no worry about Trashalanche, Gardevoir is able to do what no other deck in this meta can do: ABUSE ITEMS. Even past that, Gardy is such a generally great attacker: High damage output AND built-in acceleration worked great for Vikavolt SM and Metagross-GX, so I don't see why it wouldn't work here, too. Gardevoir is destined to be one of the top threats at Worlds, that's for sure.
 
Acerola

Acerola is a re-hash of AZ that can grab all parts of a Pokemon but only works on Pokemon that have been damaged. Personally, the trade-off is completely fine. This is a better version of AZ in just about every way. Sure, the damage thing can be annoying to build around, but if you just run some Rainbow Energy or a Stadium that damages you I think it'll be manageable - and in most cases, you'll be using this on a Pokemon that's just been attacked anyway.
 
This definitely gives Tapu Koko-GX some leverage again. I know Darkrai-GX is better than it overall, but I think the benefit of Aether Paradise and this new Acerola give it some unique flair that will set it aside from Darkrai.
          To be more specific, I see Darkrai and Koko as two sides of the same coin: They're both similar decks, but have structural traits that make them unique from one another. Darkrai is quicker to play down and therefore is more aggressive, but Koko's Trainer support defines it as the tankier and more defensive version of the two. I wonder which one will be more commonly played in the meta.
 
Guzma
 
Ya boi is finally here. He's a Lysandre and a Switch fused together, and just about the same in terms of viability.

Guzma could be considered worse in some regards because it might force you to make a bad Switch, but I think the Switch benefit is a nice touch that opens up new combo ideas. Besides, it's not too hard to design around Guzma: Just drop a Free Retreat Pokemon on your Bench, swap into it, then Retreat back into your desired attacker. Simple as that.

This is definitely gonna be played in place of Lysandre once the latter rotates. I'd recommend picking up a few for your decks while they're still cheap. Every deck will play this, just like with Lysandre.
 
A-Rank Cards (Very Playable)
 
Golisopod-GX
 
It's a no-brainer that Guzma's signature Pokemon would appear in the set promoting Team Skull, and I'm thankful that it's actually playable.
 
Golisopod's claim to fame is First Impression, a reprint of Scizor-EX's Gale Thrust, but THIS time it's better.
          First Impression is much better than Gale Thrust for many reasons. Here are most significant ones:
  • First Impression costs 1 Energy instead of 2. Not only is this more efficient, but it also gives you the option to run Max Potion if desired.
  • Golisopod has more HP than Scizor
  • Golisopod is a Grass Type and is therefore granted a damage bonus from Lurantis SM-P.
  • The new Guzma from this set has built-in synergy with Golisopod (though I guess this doesn't really matter when it can do the same with Scizor, but whatever)
So, my idea of playing Golisopod is to abuse Lurantis SM-P , Switching effects and Max Potions to create a consistent 210HP wall that can deal 120+ damage every turn. Remember that old idea I had with Incineroar-GX's Hustling Strike? Well, this is pretty much the same thing, but faster and more powerful. I definitely think this concept has a shot.
 
Ho-Oh GX
 
Even though Charizard is the most popular of the three Fire Type GXs included in Burning Shadows, Ho-Oh is the main mascot. It matches the set's rainbow theme and compliments the appearance of Necrozma the Prism Pokemon. It even fits perfectly with Ho-Oh's appearance in the 20th movie!
 
Now, here's the odd thing: Eternal Flame GX is definitely the most unique thing about Ho-Oh, but I don't think I would say it's the BEST thing about it. It drops 3 Fire GX's or EX's onto the field, which is geat, but kind of hard to use right now. There are only two different Fire Stage 2 GX's right now, and both o fthem are underwhelming. You COULD play this with a Mega Evolution army, but I don't see too many good Fire Megas, either.
         Until Ho-Oh gets better GX's to team up with, its defining trait will definitely be Phoenix Burn, a powerful 4-for-180 that can be powered up in just 1 turn with Kiawe. This is raw Basic power at its finest and most raw.
 
         Thing is, I'm not sure if it will stand out above other options available right now or not. Volcanion and Turtonator have already solidified their stance in the meta as the biggest Fire Basics, so Ho-Oh would have to contend ahead both of them to stand playable in this meta.
         The other issue with Ho-Oh is its 4-Energy attack cost. This is a VERY impractical cost because it leaves you severely susceptible to Energy-based counterattacks. Most decks already run Tapu Lele-GX, and the new Gardevoir-GX absolutely smokes this thing.
         And lastly, Ho-Oh's usually gonna be played with a Kiawe engine, which means there are many turns where you'll have to pass without attacking. Wishful Baton is a necessity for keeping Energy locked in play after a KO, but even that strategy can be countered by a simple Field Blower.
 
Ho-Oh's a strong attacker with a great GX attack, but I don't forsee a Rainbow Revolution from this guy until a much later format.
 
Alolan Ninetales
 
The non-GX rep for Ninetales is finally here. This one brings back Safeguard and updates it stop both Pokemon-EX AND Pokemon-GX. Most decks in this format play Pokemon-GX as their main attackers (Metagross, Lurantis, Turtonator), and the few that don't usually run an additional GX to bring a sweet GX attack or power attack (Drampa, Espeon, Tauros), so there will always be at least one reason to play this.
 
One thing I don't like about it, though? It's a Stage 1. Every Safeguarder from before was good because it was a simple Basic tech; you can't play Ninetales without a Vulpix, though. It doesn't help that Shining Legends will give us a nice Basic Hoopa with the same Ability, either, rendering this one irrelevant.
 
But despite all of that, I'd say Ninetales is still a good addition to pre-existing Ninetales-GX decks. At least those decks already run the Vulpix line, and you can actually use Water Energy to attack with Aurora Beam when needed. I think just about any Ninetales-GX decks should consider even 1 of these.
 
Raichu
 
Now, Raichu is a card I like. I mean, I REALLY think this is good. It's Servine FCO, but without the coin flip. Think about that for a moment: An Ability that is GUARANTEED to Paralyze your opponent when activated. This is really, really playable.
 
Is it perfect? Of course not. Switch, Escape Rope, Metagross AOR and Zoroark BKT all negate this card's disruption. And don't forget Guzma either, which every deck is going to play next format. In addition, Raichu itself is a Stage 1 and doesn't have a flexible attack to be played with, so finding a good deck partner for it could be difficult.
 
But at the very least, I'm sure that other pre-existing Raichu decks will tech a copy of this guy into their builds for that little added disruption. Raichu GEN has been making some rogue appearances with Lycanroc-GX, and Shining Legends will introduce a VERY playable Raichu-GX. I'm sure that Raichu will at least be played in those archetypes, and maybe even some other lesser-known decks, too.
 
Darkrai-GX
 
Darkrai is undoubtedly the main mascot of the SM2+ block, and for good reason. Darkrai boasts one of the best Basic 2-Prize attacks in the game: Dark Rift. This may not be the best attack, per se, but it deals the most damage of any 3 Energy attack and suffers no additional recoil or drawback.
         In this format, 130 is a great sweetspot for taking out most non-EX/GX threats in a single hit while smoking everything else in two. This is just right for taking out Garbodors, Zoroarks, and non-BREAK Greninjas.
 
But Darkrai's viability doesn't stop there: It's Resurrection Ability lets you throw it into play for free while netting an extra Energy for your efforts. If you used Resurrection, Max Elixir and a hand attachment all in the same turn, Darkrai could be powered up immediately. Pretty great.
 
The only thing I don't like about Darkrai is its GX attack. I have to give it some kind of credit for killing literally everything, but it'll only work against something that's been hit by a Special Condition. This forces you to run something like Ariados AOR or Salazzle GRI as a tech - and it can only be used once-per-game. I wouldn't hate it if something like Hypnotoxic Laser was still relevant, but our current options just aren't suffice.
        If you're playing Darkrai, I'd recommend playing a different Basic GX attacker, like Drampa-GX.
 
Now, as a whole, I think Darkrai-GX can be seen as a lightspeed version of Tapu Koko-GX: All in all, the cards are very similar. Thing is, Koko hasn't been very common in our current format, so I'm not sure if a Darkrai-GX deck would be able to run against today's threats, either.
         But on the other hand, I think this Darkrai-GX can fit perfectly into pre-existing Darkrai-EX BKP decks. Resurrection is great for pulling extra Energy onto the field for mass damage. This would probably be the best combo for Darkrai-GX right now.
 
Darkrai
 
With a potential return of Darkrai-EX thanks to the new GX in this set, I think it's only right that a 1-Prize version of the Pitch-Black Pokemon would come with it.
 
Dark Raid punishes GX decks immediately for using their GX attacks. 3-for-160 on a Basic is nothing to scoff at. An attack like this can put a heavy burden on any deck running Drampa-GX for an early draw buffer. The same goes for decks like Solgaleo-GX and Turtonator-GX, both of which are GX's that rely on their one-time attacks to get Energy into play.
 
The attack cost is the only thing I don't like about Darkrai. Darkrai-EX and GX don't really run DCE, so it might be kinda hard to get a Dark Raid going without throwing down a few Max Elixirs. Now, I DO like running this in Zoroark BREAK since that deck already runs that same Energy Type.
 
Either way, this is definitely a great addition to Dark's repertoire of powerful Basic techs.
 
Diancie
 
Diancie's Sparkling Wish is the same as Wally in the form of an attack. While I do really like this attack, it's a shame that it costs a solid Fairy Energy instead of a Colorless Energy. Had it been the latter, I could see just about every Stage 2 deck teching this in, but the solid requirement limits Diancie's usefulness to just Fairy and Rainbow decks.
 
But I guess that's not too bad in hindsight, since a big Stage 2 Fairy deck is on the way already: Gardevoir-GX. Japanese players have already started running 1 copy of Diancie in their versions of the deck, so I wouldn't mind playing one in a Western spin, either.
 
Noivern-GX

Noivern marks the return of Seismitoad's Quaking Punch, but with some alterations here or there. For one, it deals 20 more damage and exists in a format with TONS of damage modifiers (Kukui, Choice Band), but the trade-off is that Noivern has to evolve and can't run on DCE. You CAN use Double Dragon Energy, but that card will be rotating after Worlds, leaving you to apply 2 manual attachments for optimal anarchy.
 
But I DO love that Noivern has two other great attacks to go with it. Sonic Volume deals tons of damage and can entirely shut down DCE-based decks like Vespiquen and Zoroark. Also, 120 is just a generally great number since it 2HKO's everything that isn't Metagross-GX or Solgaleo-GX.
        Boomburst GX also sets up easy KO's and can eradicate the few NFE's in the format with less than 60HP, mainly Magikarp and a few others I can't think of.
        The major problem with Noivern, though, is that it's a Dragon Type. Once DDE rotates, you'll only be able to use Sonic Volume and Boomburst if you play 2 different Types of Energy. I think the strategy is still potent to work regardless of the mixed Energy cost, but it would likely be difficult either way.
 
If I were to play Noivern in a BKT-on format, I'd run Yveltal XY for Energy Acceleration and a Smeargle BKT tech to give myself whatever Energy I need. Tapu Lele is also a must since you're already running a few Psychic Energy for Tapu Cure GX. Sure, Gardevoir-GX will murder this thing, but most other decks seem like a fair matchup.
       Besides, ITEM LOCK. Item Lock is ALWAYS good. ALWAYS.
 
Porygon-Z
 

Porygon-Z's Ability devolves all of your opponent's Pokemon in play once activated. Now, in all seriousness, this is a CRAZY powerful attack. Most Devolution effects on your opponent have to be activated through an attack, so you can't hit them and devolve them in the same turn. But Porygon-Z's spin still lets you throw a punch across the field.
        This Ability SEVERELY cripples Pokemon-GX's that are Stage 2's: Most players run Rare Candy to get those cards in play, so if you de-volve a Candied GX, they'll revert back to a lowly Basic with just 60HP or less, ripe for a quick KO.

But here's the thing about Porygon-Z that stinks: Even though it has a great Ability, there is absolutely nothing else about it that's good. And as a Stage 2, it takes up a TON of space in the average deck. The only decks possibly capable of running this card are decks that already run Stage 2 Pokemon and Rare Candy: Vikavolt is a good example of a deck that could use it.
 
And, like I've mentioned before, I have a gut feeling that Basic Pokemon will return to their prime position in the spotlight. If that's true, Porygon-Z will become even worse. But if not, it'll be hilarious to see people's reactions to losing all their attackers in a single turn. I'd pay to see that.
 
Bodybuilding Dumbbells
 
Bodybuilding Dumbbells is like Fighting Fury Belt, but for Stage 1 Pokemon and without the Plus Power effect - okay, I guess those two differences make it quite unusual, but you get the idea.
 
So, generally speaking, Dumbbells is a great card. 40 extra HP is so much more powerful than what people think. And with some Stage 1's, you could even stack two on at a time to boost your HP by 80. Imagine AT Gyarados with 210HP!
But more often than not, you'll probably be using Dumbbells with Stage 1 Pokemon-GX. There are a lot in the format right now that could benefit greatly from an HP boost. Lurantis-GX, Alolan Ninetales-GX and Lycanroc-GX would gladly play this, and I'm sure the new Golisopod-GX would run it, too.
 
Thing is, even though Dumbbells isn't a bad card, per-se, it's very easily countered in this meta. Y'see, Dumbbells's effect is passive, meaning it only affects the state of play during your opponent's turn. If your opponent counters it with a copy of Field Blower, you're outta luck. Choice Band is guaranteed to deal extra damage since it can be played and activated in the same turn, but Dumbbells forces you to pray that your opponent didn't draw into a Blower.
 
I think Dumbbells is gonna be played, but not as a defining Tool card. I think it's more likely that players will run a single copy in Stage 1 decks alongside Choice Band as a surprise game evener. As long as Field Blower is the hot thing, this one just doesn't seem reliable enough.
 
Kiawe
 
Kiawe is LIT. Four Energy straight from the deck for FREE?!? Crazy. Obviously, an effect as strong as that has to be hampered down by a side-effect, and it's quite an annoying one: Your turn ends. Now, ending your turn isn't a problem during the first two turns of the game, but during a fierce mid-game bout? Yeesh. That can be costly.
 
Since Kiawe's most effective during the start of the game, it's definitely going to need to be played with Tapu Lele-GX, which can grab it straight from the deck. As for attackers, I think Kiawe is great with Ho-Oh-GX,  but I also see potential for this card as a tech in existing Fire decks, like Volcanion-EX and Turtonator-GX.
And hey, you can run this with any Type of Pokemon, so if you want to make a nitro-charged version of Tapu Lele-GX or Gardevoir-GX with this, be my guest.
 
Plumeria

Just like how Guzma is a modified version of Lysandre and Switch, Plumeria is a modified version of Team Flare Grunt and Ultra Ball. Plumeria is stronger than Grunt because it can discard Energy from any side of the field, but it suffers tremendously because it has to satisfy a discard requirement. For some decks, this isn't bad, though. Darkrai-GX and Vespiquen AOR would definitely play this over Grunt since they already need resources in their discard piles. The same could be said for Marshadow-GX and Metagross-GX, too.

I don't think this is better or worse than Grunt, per-se, since each one has different use based on the deck it's being used in. Discard-based decks? Plumeria. Beatdown decks? Grunt. Pick the one that matches your deck best.
 
Po Town
 
Po Town is the much stronger of the two new Stadium cards in this set. Ironically, THIS one is a revision of Magma Base. Weird, huh?
I've definitely noticed that our current format is more Evolution-centric than previous ones. The meta is clearly established around Pokemon-GX right now, and many of those are also Stage 1 or Stage 2 Pokemon. But I've noticed that Burning Shadows is bringing about lots of strong Basic GX Pokemon, as well as support cards that help a few pre-existing Basic decks.
       Because of that, I think Po Town is going to be established as the format's 'neutral Stadium' for Basic decks. In other words, if you don't already have a Stadium of choice, Po Town should be your go-to pick. A single Po Town tech could also help out a lot in just about any Basic deck, for that matter. Free damage is always good.
 
Wishful Baton
 
Wish Baton is the only new Item card introduced by SM2+, but man oh man is it crazy. Think of it as EXP. Share on steroids. If the Pokemon it's attached to falls in battle, you'll instantly get to power up another Pokemon on the Bench. This kind of effect is absolutely BUSTED. Literally the only reason this isn't perfect is because it can be easily countered by Field Blower, but other than that, it may just tie with Float Stone and Choice Band as one of the best Tool cards yet.
 
So, what's good with it? Just about anything that runs a high count of Energy. SM3 and 3+ introduce a lot of new Pokemon-GX that are ESPECIALLY strong thanks to this card. The new Gardevoir-GX (I'll cover it soon) runs it like a madman. This card is also great in just about any deck that deals damage based on Energy in play, so that includes the current Darkrai-EX and the October-slated Raichu-GX.
 
B-Rank Cards (Possibly Good)
 
Salazzle
 
Salazzle-GX is a really weird card: Every attack it has is 'okay'. Wicked Claw is great for closing matches when you're only 1-2 Prizes away from victory, Heat Blast deals a ton of damage for just 2 Energy, and Queen Haze GX is a decent technical GX attack against high-Energy attacks - though admittedly, there aren't many of those around anymore.
 
The trouble with Salazzle is that it just isn't a very good standalone attacker. Wicked Claw may be strong, but it won't do anything worthwhile until you've already taken half of your Prizes. Heat Blast is also good, but it lacks the punch needed to work as a standalone attack; 110-for-2 may be good, but there's not a whole lot that sets Salazzle's version of the attack above other alternatives like Gallade BKT.
 
I think a Salazzle could work as a great tech attacker in other Fire decks, but the logic with that kind of partnership is inherently flawed. The biggest Fire decks right now use Volcanion-EX as a base engine, but Salazzle is incompatible with it because it's an Evolution. There's little reason to run this in Volcanion if you're already dealing super-high damage through Steam Ups.
 
Salazzle's not bad, but somebody will have to do some primetime brainstorming to figure out how to get this thing working properly.
 
Kingdra
 
Kingdra is certainly interesting, to say the least. Its Brine can snipe for easy KO's just about anywhere, and Tornado shot deals consistent damage while preparing an unassuming foe for a Brine-based KO. This card operates on just 1 Energy as well, which makes it especially effective in this Gardevoir-and-Lele-filled format.
         Thing is, even though Kingdra can dish out some pretty rapid fire, it feels underwhelming when compared to the other major Water Stage 2 of our format, Greninja BKP. Greninja may deal slightly less damage, but it makes up for it with Frogadier's Water Duplicates, its Shadow Stitching disruption attack, and Greninja BREAK's Giant Water Shuriken. Kingdra just deals a Night Spear every turn, which is still really good for a Stage 2, but doesn't seem as good as Greninja.
 
Kingdra will definitely be the defining deck in friendly games, but will be mediocre on the serious field. Outclassed cards just have no use.
 
Tapu Fini-GX
 
Tapu Fini's GX attack is definitely its most appealing trait. It doesn't look like much since it doesn't actually give you a Prize and it can't be used to donk an opponent, but past that it has a lot of utility.
      This is AMAZING for stomping down Greninja BREAK decks, as well as other Stage 2 decks as a whole. It forces your opponent to re-establish their playing field while you can keep advancing your other Pokemon like nothing happened. I like the idea of using this to get rid of a pesky Decidueye-GX, too.
 
Elsewhere, Tapu Fini's Hydro Shoot deals a nice 120 snipe anywhere on the field - just enough to KO Shaymin-EX's and most non-GX Stage 1's. I get major vibes of the similar Raikou-EX from Dark Explorers when I see this card: Raikou was used as a tech attacker in pre-existing Lightning boxes to eliminate potential threats before they jumped up, so I guess Tapu Fini could be played the same way in other Water boxes. That's the most logical reason I can think of, anyway.
 
Necrozma-GX
 
Necrozma's TCG debut finally arrives, and it's certainly an interesting one.
 
Black Ray GX is definitely Necrozma's calling card: It blows 100 damage onto every EX and GX in play. I think this is a really good GX attack, all things considered: It can be used in (almost) every deck, and the Pokemon it targets are incredibly common. Greninja BREAK and Vespiquen are literally the only decks I can think of right now that don't need to use GX's or EX's to win - but even Vespiquen needs Shaymin, the most obvious target for a Black Ray.
 
Sadly, Black Ray's the only thing about this card I actually like. Light's End is a neat defensive Ability that can provide some additional defense against Crayquaza and Drampa-GX, but Crayquaza rotates after this format. I wouldn't play this Ability just to stop a Drampa.
 
         Prismatic Burst is Necrozma's other attack. It's not awful, but it just doesn't have a place in this format. There aren't enough practical ways to get Psychic Energy constantly back from the discard.
         I know Metagross-GX could work fairly well with this, but Metagross seems to work better when its attacking on its own. Metagross also forces you to play 2 different Energy Types: Metal for Metagross' attacks and Psychic for Necrozma. You COULD drop Metal entirely and focus on just Prismatic Burst, but that just feels un-focused.
 
Necrozma excels at setting up easy KO's on your opponent's board, so I encourage you to play it that way. The Metagross setup seems to hard to get working, though. Just settle for the GX attack right now.
 
Crabominable
 
I'm surprised I didn't notice Crabominable at first, because it's a pretty hefty card: It deals 80-for-1, has 140HP, and needs no setup to start attacking. Best of all is Crabominable's Fighting Type, which lets it hit extra numbers with Strong Energy and Regirock-EX. If you run 4 Regirock, a Strong Energy and a Choice Band, Crabominable will deal 170 for a single Energy. All in all, it's pretty strong.
 
Or even a Dumbbells/Max Potion strategy could work!
 
I guess my main concern with this card, though, is similar to the opinion I had for Kingdra: It can dish out consistent damage, but doesn't have the heavy-hitting capabilities of other decks. Also, hitting 170 forces you to get VERY lucky with which modifiers you draw. And even then, I think the Psychic Weakness kills this card a bit too much: I don't like how susceptible this guy is to Garbodor GRI at ALL.
 
Lycanroc Midnight Forme
 
Lycanroc doesn't fair so well as a standalone attacker, but I think it could be good because both of its attacks have indirect synergy with Midnight Lycanroc-GX.
       This Lycanroc is best used after pulling in a new victim with Lycanroc-GX's Bloodthirsty Eye. Dangerous Claw can get rid of a low-HP Basic for just 1 Energy, or Corner can lock an unwanted attacker into play for a turn. After locking your opponent, you could follow up with a stronger attack to seal the KO for good.
 
Lycanroc's not amazing by any standards, but I like the potential combos and trick opportunities provided by the card, so I'll probably fit it into any pre-existing Lycanroc deck for the heck of it.
 
...'course, not too many people play Lycanroc anyway, but that's another thing.
 
Alolan Raticate
 
Alolan Raticate's 60-for-0 definitely interests me. Throughout various metas, there have been scenarios where Basic or Stage 1 Pokemon have been played for Type Advantage purposes, and I could see Raticate being used in that same vein. With Choice Band and Professor Kukui at its side, it reaches 220 for no Energy. Granted, Zoroark BKT already does decent damage for just a DCE and has a good Ability to boot, but Raticate's free Energy cost could prove to be useful either way.
 
There isn't a major need for a Dark Type Weakness abuser right now, but the future might have something in store for that kind of card, so I'll keep Raticae in mind as the meta changes in the coming years.
 
Alolan Muk-GX
 
I'll be fair: Even though Alolan Muk is one of the lower-tier GX's in the set, it's still kinda interesting. It has great HP for a Stage 1, and it's definitely a fun Pokemon to use: I like that every attack it has is entirely unique and affects the board in a different way.
 
By far the best thing about Muk is Crunch, a simple 4-for-120 that also gets rid of an opponent's Energy. It's a nice solid 2HKO that eliminates your opponent's resources in the process. Unfortunately, the Energy needed to activate it just isn't worth the trade-off. There are plenty more powerful attacks that deal the same (or more) damage for less Energy, and the discard effect doesn't mean crud if you're gonna KO your opponent anyway.
           Chemical Breath costs less and can deal more, but needs a Status-afflicted target to do anything significant. The obvious combo here is to run it with Salazzle GRI, but that would force you to net Devolution Sprays every turn. The end result is very satisfying, though: 150-for-3 is okay, the Poison/Burn damage turns it into 180, and it can become 210 with a Choice Band.
           Eh, but Tri-Hazard is a mess. It doesn't cost any Energy and can auto-Paralyze, but it's otherwise too weak to leave any lasting effect on the opponent. In a meta with Drampa-GX, there's no good reason to waste a GX attack on this unless you're desperate. I can understand using this to create a sweetspot for Chemical Breath, but will the benefit of that outweigh a 10-card hand? I'm not sure.
 
Alolan Muk will definitely stand tall as one of the funniest rogue's in the meta, but I don't predict it actually being a viable deck. It needs too many bells and whistles to achieve its magic 210. I think most other decks have more practical means of dealing that much punishment.
 
Weavile
 
Weavile's Rule of Evil is a shockingly great attack. The attack deals 60 damage to all Pokemon in play that have an Ability - and yes, that does include your own, so I recommend playing a copy of Mr. Mime BKT alongside this. Anyway, Dark Awakening is great because just about every deck runs a few 2-Prize attackers with Abilites. 
          But Weavile itself suffers from an immense design flaw: Itself. If your opponent knows you're playing a Weavile as your primary attacker, they're gonna keep all of their Ability-based Pokemon off of the field for good. Weavile can sort-of play around this if you use PokePuff or the new Dusknoir, but it's still gonna be terribly inconsistent.
 
C-Rank Cards (Fridge Concepts)
 
Charizard-GX
 
Charizard-GX, the most infamous of the new Pokemon-GX cards. Despite being the most popular GX featured in the set, Charizard is obviously the worst of the entire bunch, as most Charizard cards usually are.
 
This Charizard boasts Crimson Storm, a crazy-powerful 300 damage attack... that costs 5 Energy and discards 3 after being used. Don't be fooled by its tempting numbers: Crimson Storm R E E K S. There's no way you'll build up enough resources to consistantly score KO's with it. You could run Burning Energy and Kiawe to supply the cost and sacrifice demands, but if you're going through all that work to reach OHKO's, why not go with a better GX for that, like Solgaleo-GX?
 
Charizard's only saving grace is Raging Out-GX, a neat attack that completely mills your opponent by 10 whole cards. Believe me, this is a great GX attack, but you have to play a full Stage 2 just to use it, which just isn't very practical in our current meta. Besides, 10 cards usually isn't enough to mill an entire victory: You'll still have to play something else to reach those final mill numbers.
 
TL:DR - This Charizard is just as bad as the other ones. Stay away from it - unless, of course, you're a collector.
 
Dusknoir
 
Dusknoir offers a decent attack and a crafty Ability that have a bit of synergy, but otherwise doesn't do a whole lot to impress me. A Mind Jack deck strategy just doesn't seem to work for ol' Dusky when Zoroark BKT has already been doing that for 2 years phenomenally. The added HP and disruptive Ability don't make up for the extra Evolution and attack cost.
 
Yet, even though I don't think this card will be played, I have this weird itching in the back of my head that tells me I should keep my eyes out for this one. Dusknoir cards have a history for being played in some ridiculous ways, so there's still a very big chance that this one could pack some major heat, too.
 
One day, I swear. One day...
 
Rhyperior
 
From a design perspective, Rhyperior is just a re-hash of Aggron DRX, a card that saw only a minimal amount of useage by anybody. It was neat, but too slow to leave a damaging mill effect on the opponent. This Rhyperior is very similar in that regard.
         There are some aspects of the card that are inherently better in this era, like the ease-of-play with Heavy Ball and Alolan Vulpix, but Rhyperior doesn't get the same Sableye DEX combo that Aggron had. Without a way to recycle Items, Rhyperior can't get Devolution Sprays consistently enough to break down the opponent's deck size.
 
You can't play this at all right now, but it could be good someday. I'll keep it in-binder for now.
 
Lunatone
 
Lunatone is a perfect example of a stellar card that will probably be useless because it's too situational AND too easy to counter.
         The basic gist of Heal Block is to stop opposing use of Rough Seas, Max Potion and Tapu Cure GX. It's a great effect, all things considered, but not very good right now.
          First of all, this combo takes up 2 slots on your Bench. With Sky Field rotating soon, most decks won't be able to afford the stolen space.
          Second of all, if either Solrock or Lunatone is removed from play or loses their Ability, the lock ends and your opponent is free to recover all the health they want.
 
Anyway, I don't believe this card will be very playable, but I figured I should bring it up anyway. Hey, miracles DO happen.
 
Passimian
 
 
This Passimian is another one of those tech Basics that isn't too strong on its own but could pose a threat when splashed into something else. 2-for-90 is a pretty hefty amount of damage. If any Carbink BREAK decks came into light over the next format, I bet Passimian could provide a killer punch in it.
 
That's really all I have to say about it: 90-for-2 is good on a Basic, moving on.
 
Mount Lanakila
 
Mount Lanakila is our Aqua Base replacement for the next rotation. Thing is, nobody really played Aqua Base, and this card is actually WORSE. I really don't see a combo for this card, and with so many better Stadiums out there, I don't see the point of playing this over anything else. Save this one for the play binder just in case a combo comes out someday, but otherwise, you can ignore this one.
 
Olivia
 
Don't get your pants in a rustle just yet: This FA version of Olivia won't actually be in our main Burning Shadows set. The FA was originally released as a Promo, and everybody knows that Pokemon LOVES to delay Promos until later sets (July's Emboar/Togekiss decks didn't appear in English until half-a-year later). It's likely that Crimson Invasion will contain the Full Art print. For now, we'll just receive the original Ken Sugimori version in our main set.
 
And the card itself is... meh. It's not bad, it's just... unnecessary. If you're playing a GX deck and you need Pokemon search benefits, chances are that Alolan Vulpix will be the better choice. Now, I can understand the inclusion of Olivia in decks that run several different kinds of GX's (like Solgaleo/Metagross), but those decks are few and far between right now. I really can't think of anything in the popular meta that would go trigger-happy with a card like this.
 
Wicke

Wicke is today's last card - but it's honestly not that good.

Wicke forces both players to shuffle and draw a new hand equal to what they already had. This is... almost completely useless. Why?
Well, consider the two reasons you would use this: Draw Power and Disruption.
 
If you play this to draw for yourself, most often it's gonna be pretty average. Play it with a low-size hand and you get nothing in return. It's alright if you have a big hand size, like 7 or more, but will the draw really change your state of play that much at that point? Seems impractical.
 
And if you're playing this to disrupt your opponent, that won't do ANYthing. Small hand size? They still have a small hand size. Big hand size? You're giving them another big hand in return.
 
Wicke is one of those cards that sounds better on paper than in execution. I highly doubt that anybody will bother running this in their decks -
- but I'm sure they'll put it in their binders for, um, 'other' reasons. Especially the FA version
 
Pokemon fans are filthy.
 
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That's a wrap on everything playable in Burning Shadows. If I missed anything, let me know and I'll cover it sometime. If you liked this post, be sure to share it with your friends, and don't forget to stay cool.
 
-Jax
 
 

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