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Well well well, Smogonites, we're drawing ever closer to the end of the HG/SS era in the TCG. There'll be one more mini-set where unreleased cards such as Lost Zone will see the light of day, but then we're off to Black and White. As you know, Triumphant has been out for a good month or so now, and it's time to go over what's in it.
I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say Machamp Prime is one of the most powerful cards of the new set. We already know that the regular Machamp from Stormfront is one of the most powerful SP counters in the game, but now here's a card that allows that build of deck to function fully on its own. Most notable is its PokePower, which allows it to not only switch from Bench to active, but pick up any Fighting Energy your active might have. This includes a weakened Machamp or something your opponent has used Luxray GL Lv.X to draw out. In fact, if you've got Machamp on the bench and you need to bring it out quickly, just attach a Fighting Energy to your active, since you'll then essentially switch Machamp to active and gain that energy anyway.
And we haven't even covered its attacks yet! For FCC (Double Colorless compatible), it does 60 and discards your opponents Special Energy cards. Rainbow, Double Colorless, Rescue, or even SP Energy – this can be especially helpful if they have a Double Colorless attached, meaning they then either need a second Double Colorless Energy or two more turns before they can attack, giving you ample time to attach another energy and use Champ Buster. For only F more, you do 100 damage, plus 10 more for each Pokemon on your bench with damage counters. That's potentially 150 damage, not counting any external modifiers. When you consider that cards like Donphan Prime, who has Earthquake doing 60 for F and 10 to your bench and a high retreat cost, are great partners for Machamp, this can easily tear apart your opponent if they can't deal with it. A great card, definitely look out for it.
Gengar has been very famous in the competitive scene for a while now – CurseGar's ability to rotate damage around your opponent's playing field, PolterGar's Fainting Spell ruining all hopes of a comeback, or Gengar Lv.X's Compound Pain have all been a high-ranking choice for players, since it's incredibly easy to use and has devastating potential.
Gengar Prime is most notable for its PokeBody, which makes any Pokemon that is Knocked Out get sent to the Lost Zone instead of the discard pile. This means they're irretrievable, no matter what. Quite scary, actually. On top of this, Gengar Prime's first attack allows you to look at your opponent's hand and send Pokemon there equal to the number of Psychic Energy attached to Gengar to the Lost Zone, meaning that you don't even have to play these cards for them to be annihilated anymore. Its second attack, Cursed Drop lets you put 4 damage counters on your opponent's side of play in any way you like. This is especially dangerous when combined with Gengar Lv.X's Compound Pain, potentially dealing 30 damage to 4 different Pokemon at once. It has lots of potential in PsychoDark control decks.
It might not be the biggest kid on the block, but he is definitely something to look out for – with the capacity to have free attacks dealing 70 damage or a 40 snipe on turn 1, it's pretty good; it's Gyarados without the setting up. Considering cards like Judge, Copycat, and Let Loose Giratina all force the same sized hands are in high abundance, abusing his Insight isn't difficult. It's also only a Stage 1, so it's easy to pull it on your first turn, provided you play second. And it's that early game where there is unlikely to be a large change in hand sizes, thought not impossible, that's why you play cards like Copycat.
So being able to attack and retreat for free is all good, and considering Luxray GL Lv.X is being used more as a tech and less as an attacker, it doesn't have that Lightning weakness to worry about. However, what are you going to do when the game gets into full swing and your control of hand size peters out? Well, Yanmega's attack costs aren't that expensive, so while your opponent is still setting up while you slap his Pokemon, you can just afford to drop some Grass Energy and a Cyclone/Rescue Energy ready to continue the onslaught regularly. Or, you could abuse the free retreat and pull out the other attacker you've been setting up which is more powerful, such as Tangrowth Lv.X or Supreme Victors Yanmega.
It's a powerful card in every definition of the word, but don't expect to see it regularly, since Grass Aggro is becoming rarer and it just can't compete in the long run with Gyarados, or any other attacker that isn't DCE compatible.
Junk Arm, at first glance is what it says on the tin; Junk. Discarding two cards to put a Trainer back into your hand. It's like Itemfinder from the good ol' days. Except this is much better, for a variety of reasons. The premier reason is that Pokemon SP have their own line of tutoring cards, but all of them are Trainers: Poke Turn, Energy Gain, SP Radar, Power Spray, etc. Which means if you ever run out, there is a way of retrieving them. The other notable card is Luxury Ball, which can only be used provided there isn't another Luxury Ball already in your Discard Pile. Well, yanking the old one out solves that problem. In fact, any useful Trainer such as Super Scoop Up, VS Seeker, Energy Exchange, or even Pokemon Tools can be cycled back.
And if you think the discarding two is a bad thing, well, that's where you're wrong. Gyarados becomes more powerful as you discard Magikarps. Well, what better way to get Magikarps in the discard than by Junk Arming them for something useful? Like another Luxury Ball to get that Regice you need, or another Expert Belt from something else already KOed for more damage. The converse applies for cards like Typhlosion Prime who can cycle energy from the discard before putting them to good use - throw more energy into the discard and you can do either larger damage or attach more energy.
Junk Arm's a good card. Like, seriously. There's no situation where you don't think "Hm, that's not a bad card to have in my hand." If you don't use it, then it's still fodder for discarding cards, or for using Bebe's Search on. One or two might make an appearance here and there. It's definitely high on my list of deck fillers.
I'd say this is a pretty handy card. Most Pokemon being played often have at least C in their attack costs (unless you're running a dedicated Feraligatr Prime build), so Rescue Energy is always a good choice to throw in. While you lose any Energy and Pokemon Tools on the old Pokemon, everything underneath is returned to your hand. Cards like Gyarados (who don't have an attack cost to worry about anyway) or Mew Prime (who aren't sticking around for very long) can afford to have this slapped on them early on and attack without a care in the world.
The only problem is that Rescue Energy is one-time use. Rescue Energy itself gets discarded, so be wary. As well as this, it is a Special Energy card, so there are difficulties getting it into your hand. However, it's definitely worth it if you know your deck relies on getting one big attacker out, or is full of frail attackers.
If there's one card people said they wanted something better than, its Super Scoop Up. The problem with Super Scoop Up? It requires a coin flip, which can go wrong during desperate situations. Seeker is a Supporter, and it doesn't let you choose your active, which can be problematic, but it does let you pick up a Pokemon from your bench while keeping all cards attached to it. This makes it incredibly useful for recycling Uxie, Crobat G, or a weakened attacker.
The catch? Your opponent picks up something too. This can be a hindrance or a benefit. If your opponent's bench is sparse and they have an attacker all set-up, you can use Seeker to force it back to their hand, delaying them even more. Alternatively, they could pick up their Uxie, Crobat G or weakened Pokemon as well. The best way to summarize this card is that it can make or break games depending on when it's played.
It can only be played when you have more prizes than your opponent, so instantly that rules it out of any deck where the idea is to gain quick momentum, such as SP or Grass Swarm. However, when used, it lets you search your deck for two cards, and put them into your hand. Bang. This can actually be immensely helpful, since some decks like the idea of sacrificing one of their set-up Pokemon, such as Sableye to let them get a free switch in, or they could have a Pokemon that requires being Knocked Out to use its effects, such as Final Wish Jirachi or Electrode Prime, meaning even more cards can be pulled. There's almost never a bad time to use this card, when possible, since it is most likely the definitive search card.
These guys might not be so amazing, but they do have some nice perks.
It has an immensely useful PokePower of Dimension Transfer, allowing you to return a Trainer from your discard pile to the top of your deck. Cards like Luxury Ball or VS Seeker can be constantly reused without much hassle, allowing you to still progress your tactic without wasting draw power. On top of this, this is the first legal Porygon-Z, allowing you to use Porygon-Z Lv.X, whose PokePower of Decode is even more useful, taking 2 cards from your deck and putting them on top of your deck. Combine this with Magnezone Prime, who provides endless draw power, and you have a self-sufficient drawing engine. Cool.
This is one of those troll cards. Neither of their attacks do damage. Instead, they serve only to annoy. Dialga's attack, Time Control, for MMC, you discard all Metal Energy and make the top 2 cards of your opponent's deck prizes for them. Yes, you just read that right. There's a Heatran Lv.X, where at the end of your turn, if any of your Pokemon discarded Fire or Metal Energy as part of an attack cost, you can put those energy from the discard back onto those Pokemon. It's good for a laugh.
I went to a Pre-release event, and I was lucky enough to get this card in a booster. It's surprisingly helpful for when there's no Azelf, and while you don't actually get anything, if you can take control of the battle then you know what prizes to choose. Of course, it is absurdly rare, so good luck getting hold of one.
Triumphant is the biggest set in the Heart Gold/Soul Silver series, at over 100 cards. It contains a splattering of good and interesting cards, but generally nothing too devastating bar Machamp Prime. Most of the cards in this set tend to make you think "Hey, that's not bad, maybe I'll add one or two into my deck." Nothing major though. If you want more detail however, feel free to take a listen to The Smogcast for an in-depth chat about the set. Merry Christmas and Happy Drawing!
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