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Today, I'd like to give you a brief overview of some of the most interesting and competitive cards of the new TCG set, Boundaries Crossed. With the release of Pokemon Black 2 and White 2, Nintendo has released a new TCG set based loosely on the games. Included for the first time in card form are Black and White Kyurem, Keldeo, and Meloetta. Additionally, a new card mechanic revolving around one-use trainers has been implemented with the new Ace Spec cards. New EX Pokemon are also here, varying drastically from "meh" to fantastic.
Here are some of the most notable Normal Pokemon the set's given us. Do keep in mind that "notable" ranges from competitively viable to simply kind of interesting and pretty darn gimmicky.
Vileplume was one of the earliest cards of the set to be revealed, and it's still one of the most interesting. While Vileplume traditionally revolves around shutting down trainer or item cards for your opponent, this Vileplume is quite different. Its Ability, Allergy Flower, changes all weaknesses from 2x to 4x. The only really interesting thing that comes from this is a possible deck that revolves around setting up low energy attack cost Pokemon to deal surprisingly heavy damage. Imagine, against a Mewtwo-EX with a Double Colorless Energy attached, you can lay down a Meloetta and hit it for a clean knock out at 200 damage! Darkrai-EX troubles? Throw down a Stunfisk and smack it for 80 or even 160 damage.>
That's where the fun ends though for Vileplume. It might sound interesting, but it's always troublesome to get a Stage 2 going with a three retreat cost. It's only a catcher and two Night Spears from Darkrai-EX from going down in flames, leaving you with a bunch of weak attackers. I don't see it becoming a very competitive card anytime soon, but it looks like it can lead to some very entertaining decks.
On top of all the new formes this set is putting into card form, we've also been given a few classic Pokemon with this set. Charizard clocks in at 160 HP and a retreat cost of three, making it the fattest Charizard we've ever gotten. Charizard is back with its standard "hit for enormous damage with ridiculous energy costs" card archetype with this set's print of him. Its first attack, Split Bomb, does 40 damage to any two Pokemon on your opponent's side for a Fire and two Colorless energy. It's nothing special to be honest. Its second attack, however, is where things get interested. For five energy, you deal 150 damage and discard a single Fire energy. That's enough to KO any Pokemon in the format that isn't resistant or an EX (beyond enemy Charizards). There's potential with this attack; the lone Fire energy discard is far easier to work with than the massive four from the Base Set Charizard. Having four Colorless energy in its attack cost means that it could start firing away in as little as three turns.
Overall though, I don't think Charizard will see much play. It's weak to Water, which is huge considering Blastoise and Keldeo are some of the best cards to come out of the set. Additionally, there's always the awkwardness of getting a Stage 2 onto the field. Charizard also doesn't have many energy acceleration options. Emboar's still around, but Emboar's still the big hulking blob of fat that can sit in your active position until it dies as soon as your opponent has a catcher. Not to mention that would involve running two Stage 2's!
Blastoise makes its return to the TCG with a spin on its old Poke-Power, Rain Dance. Blastoise now has the Ability Deluge, which allows you to attach Water energy from your hand to one of your Pokemon as often as you'd like. This is incredible energy acceleration that a number of solid cards appreciate. Mewtwo-EX can build up an obscenely powerful X Ball in a single turn. Kyurem, who's fallen out of the competitive scene lately, gets a nice buff being able to rapidly fire off Glaciates. By far the most powerful pair Blastoise can create, though, is with Keldeo-EX who blasts right through opponents with enough Water energy attached. Keldeo-EX can also remedy Blastoise's huge four retreat cost thanks to his ability, but more on him later.
Blastoise isn't without its weaknesses. It's a Stage 2 Pokemon, which will always lead to a few problems fishing him out. At the very least, Blastoise has an easier time getting onto the field thanks to Skyla, Computer Search, and Squirtle's awesome Ability to dodge damage on the bench. Additionally, Blastoise is in dire trouble if a Garbodor hits the field, cutting off the awesome energy acceleration he provides. At the very least, it's one of the more viable cards from the set and definitely something to look out for at regionals.
There's only one reason to use Raticate, and that's for its second attack, Super Fang. Three Colorless energy knocks any opposing Pokemon down to 10 HP, whether it be a flimsy 30 HP Tynamo or a hulking 180 HP Darkrai-EX. It's going to be troublesome pulling off a Super Fang though, as Raticate only has 60 HP to work with, making it easy to KO for just about everything. Being a Stage 1 makes it easier to get out than a Stage 2, but it still needs to go through a turn of being an even more vulnerable 30 HP Rattata. Don't expect Raticate in any top decks anytime soon, but be sure to watch out for it.
Delibird is only really worth mentioning for is first attack, Present. For a Colorless energy, you can flip a coin and, if heads, you can search your deck for any one card. Being able to search for one card is huge. Have a dead hand? Search for a supporter for a new one. Have a Stage 2 in hand for your basic on the bench? Find a Rare Candy and evolve it next turn. This is all on a coin flip, so I don't expect much from Delibird, even with a Victini, but it's still an interesting supporting card in a rule set with very few.
Dusknoir has a very, very scary Ability in its hands in the form of Sinister Hand, which allows you to freely move around damage counters on your opponent's side of the board. This makes for some cheeky maneuvers; for instance, you can move damage off of stuff from heavily damaged Pokemon-EX to smaller basics for mid-turn prize cards. Dusknoir looks to pair very well with Pokemon that spread around damage. Possible candidates include Registeel-EX who can fire off Triple Lasers for Dusknoir to manipulate the following turn, and Darkrai whose 30 extra damage from Night Spear can be moved around to set up tricky double KOs.
Don't get me wrong, Dusknoir does have a lot of problems on those sinister hands of his. Dusknoir is weak to Darkness, making its life hard in a format filled with Darkrai-EX centric decks. Dusknoir also has to deal with the classic ailments of a Stage 2 with the time it takes to get out and a large retreat cost. It definitely has potential, it's just waiting for someone to find the right deck for it.
Meloetta makes its first appearance in the TCG with a rather solid card. The big draw here is Psychic which, for one Psychic energy, does 10 plus 20 more for each energy attached to the defending Pokemon. Meloetta stands out as one of the few non-EX Pokemon that can stand up to a Mewtwo-EX without being a Mewtwo-EX itself. If a Mewtwo-EX's going nuts with four energy on it, Meloetta can squeeze out just enough damage thanks to Mewtwo-EX's weakness for a OHKO. Meloetta might see some use as a tech in the future for decks that find fitting in a Mewtwo-EX of their own awkward.
Honestly, this card probably doesn't deserve much of a mention, but the Durant-like attack makes it slightly noteworthy. Psychic doesn't have much in the form of energy acceleration, but this thing could get a lot scarier if a Gardevoir hits the field.
Liepard should only see use for its second attack, Assist. For a Darkness energy, two Colorless energy, and a coin flip, you can use any one of the attacks of your benched Pokemon. This can lead to some silly maneuvers where you can utilize a powerful attack that normally has a serious drawback like an energy discard free of charge. For example, you could copy a Landorus-EX's Land's Judgment and get the 70 damage boost for free thanks to Liepard lacking Fighting energy (more on Landorus-EX in just a bit). However, I think the relatively high attack cost, the coin flip, and Liepard's HP hold this card back from any real success.
Ditto is a very strange Pokemon. All Ditto has to it is its Ability (no really, it doesn't even have an attack), which allows you to play a basic Pokemon on top of Ditto and treat Ditto as that new Pokemon. This card allows you to pull off some interesting tricks; you can start laying energy on Ditto and later on decide what you're attacking with, or lay down a basic and its evolution on the same turn. There are a few problems, most of them being based around Ditto's 70 HP and transforming into basics with lower HP, but it might find the space in a few decks.
Stoutland's major asset is its Ability, Sentinel, which blocks the opponent from playing supporters while Stoutland is the active Pokemon. The Ability has potential, but it's ruined by a few ever-looming problems. Pokemon Catcher is the biggest, since if one's played, Stoutland's taken out of the active position and your opponent's free to use whatever supporter they wish. Stoutland's also a Stage 2 with an attack that isn't half bad, but nothing to write home about. If we ever get a Pokemon that can block the use of items while on the bench, I can see Stoutland having potential. For now, however, he seems regulated to mediocrity.
Celebi is among the weakest of the Pokemon-EX we've been given. Its Ability should be the only reason it's ever used. Time Recall allows all of your Pokemon to use moves from any of their previous evolutions. The ability is interesting, but there are a few kinks that prevent it from working very well. The biggest is that there aren't many Pokemon around that benefit from being able to use one of their previous evolution's attacks. Celebi-EX has 110 HP on hand. While impressive for a normal basic, that HP is very bad for a Pokemon-EX, which gives up two prizes when knocked out.
It's pretty odd how two of the Pokemon the set uses for official art and advertisements turn out to be pretty mediocre. White Kyurem-EX's first attack can do 60 for a Fire energy and two Colorless with a chance to attach an energy from the discard pile. Its second attack does 150 damage for two Fire, a Water, and a Colorless energy, but also requires the user to discard two Fire energy. Black Kyurem-EX's attacks are similar, the only differences being the side effect of its first attack causes paralysis on a coin flip, the second doesn't require a discard but can't be used the turn after it's attacked, and all Fire energy costs are replaced with Lightning energy costs.
Both of the Kyurem-EX formes are plagued by their awkward energy costs, less-than-stellar damage, and competition from Rayquaza-EX. There is energy acceleration for Fire and Lightning energy, but Rayquaza can generally do more with the energy it's given than either Kyurem can. As for their attacks, 60 for three isn't really that great and 150 for four, as strange as it sounds, isn't great either. You can OHKO most Stage 2 Pokemon with that amount of damage, but you're not OHKOing any EXes outside of those weak to Dragon.
However, Nintendo has given these two some interesting options to play with. Check the Ace Spec section for more detailed coverage.
Cresselia-EX looks like it has potential, but it doesn't look to be anywhere as annoying as its VGC counterpart. Its attack isn't anything special, dealing 90 damage for a Psychic and three Colorless energy, but it negates Cresselia's weakness for a turn. This basically translates into "not slaughtered by Mewtwo-EX the following turn." Its Ability is where things get a little more interesting. Cresselia can heal 10 damage from itself every turn. Give Cresselia an Eviolite and it becomes quite difficult to take down. To deal with Cresselia in two turns, you'll need to inflict a whopping 250 damage! Of course, if Cresselia is still powering up, all a Mewtwo-EX needs is 5 energy between the two of you (six with Eviolite) for an OHKO.
Here's where the Pokemon-EX go from alright to fantastic. We have Keldeo, a 170 HP Pokemon-EX with some bite to it. Its Ability, Rush In, is extremely handy for getting your Pokemon with heavy retreat costs out of the active spot. Its attack deals only 50 damage for three Colorless energy, but 20 damage is added for every Water attached to Keldeo-EX. This means you have the potential to one shot anything in the game with enough Water energy attached. Maybe you can start to see the underlying synergy here with Blastoise? You can Deluge as much energy as you'd like onto Keldeo, then start firing away super-charged attacks. Blastoise stranded in the active position? No problem! Simply Rush In with Keldeo and start firing off more big hits. Take caution though, as loading up a single Keldeo with a ton of energy isn't always a good idea. Keldeo is very vulnerable to Mewtwo-EX, which can inflict pretty massive damage to Keldeo with X-Ball. Keldeo-EX is also in dire trouble if a Shaymin-EX or Garbodor hits the field. Still, it's a solid card and one to look out for at Cities and Regionals.
Two excellent attacks and fantastic typing make for a very scary card, and it is thus no wonder that Landorus-EX is metagame-defining. Its first attack, Hammerhead, is amazing. For a single Fighting energy, it inflicts 30 damage to the active and 30 to the bench. Darkrai-EX has shown everyone how important an extra 30 damage on the bench can be. Throwing them out turn one is deadly. That isn't even mentioning Landorus's fantastic typing. Fighting is an excellent type to be with Darkrai around every corner. With Hammerhead, you can OHKO the Dark-type Deino Darkrai brings along in a Darkrai-Hydreigon deck and even 3HKO the Darkrai. Tynamo in the active spot are OHKOed and the ones on the bench are OHKOed as well, or left with only 10 HP. Its second attack is also very solid. 80 for three energy is alright, but there's also the option to discard all of your Fighting energy to deal 150 damage. No Darkrai-EX is safe from this attack; it's a sure-fire OHKO and an easy way to close out a game. Even though I don't see it becoming the centerpiece of any deck, it's a fantastic card that will have a big effect on the game. This may very well be the nail in the coffin for Eelektrik.
Town Map allows you to flip your Prize Cards face-up. This is pretty useful as it eliminates the randomness from drawing Prize Cards and turns them into a pool of cards to draw from once every KO. Though it's useful once, it's really never useful again, meaning that running more than one copy is pretty inefficient. It's a nice card to have around, but running it sucks up a card slot you could be using to add more consistency. It's interesting, but I don't expect it to find a slot in many decks.
Aspertia City Gym gives all of your Colorless Pokemon 20 extra HP. The only notable Colorless Pokemon around are Tornadus-EX, Bouffalant, and Regigigas-EX. 20 extra HP is alright, but every one of them sans Bouffalant has a lot of HP to work with already. Skyarrow Bridge gives Tornadus-EX a much nicer free retreat which is seriously limiting this card's potential.
Hugh makes both players draw or discard cards until they have 5 in their hand. Honestly, 5 isn't the best number to be drawing or discarding. It's too small to provide a worthwhile draw support and a bit too large to make a serious difference in your opponent's hand size. Many cards like Ho-Oh-EX, Eelektrik, and Dark Patch benefit from certain cards being in the discard pile, so using Hugh could cause you trouble later on.
Skyla is an awesome way to make your deck more consistent. It allows you to search your deck for any trainer card, be it a supporter, a stadium, an Ace Spec, or an item. Skyla is a very useful card for all sorts of decks, allowing you to get crucial Pokemon Catchers, PlusPowers, or Rare Candies when you need them. The biggest downside to Skyla is that it won't immediately save you from a bad hand like a draw supporter (although you if you don't mind spending the turn, you can use Skyla to search for one). Skyla also conflicts with Random Receiver, which you'll normally want to use to search out a shuffle draw supporter. Overall, it's a solid card and definitely one worth adding to your deck.
Ace Specs are a brand new sort of item card. They have pretty stellar effects, but you're only allowed to have one Ace Spec in your deck!
It's interesting to look back at the base set and see how overpowered some of the old trainer cards were. The only difference between this Computer Search and the old one is that it's now limited to one per deck, for good reason. Getting any card you want is huge, whether it be a Pokemon Catcher for a select KO, a Double Colorless energy for a first turn win, or even just a draw supporter for a fresh hand. Computer Search is particularly deadly in Darkrai-EX variants, as it means Sableye can reuse it every turn with Junk Hunt. Every single deck should be running one of these; Computer Search is a monster card.
These cards are what should be turning both of the Kyurem-EX formes into monsters. Notice the "should". These would both be really neat if it weren't for the prevalence of Tool Scrapper to dispose of pesky Eviolites. Once they hit the discard pile, there's no way to get them back, leaving you with the same awkward Kyurem form as before and no Computer Search.
Gold Potion is just underwhelming. 90 HP is great for erasing a Night Spear, but you're giving up the strength of Computer Search for just that. I suppose it can work in a Darkrai-EX deck without Hydreigon thanks to Sableye, but I'd much rather be Junk Hunting for Computer Search to access whatever I want in the deck.
So, now we've gone over the coolest cards in the set. What's left? Well, not much worthwhile, actually. This set is jam-packed with 153 cards, but pretty much everything else consists of old reprints and evolution lines for many of the cards I've mentioned above. Probably the worst thing about this set is that Nintendo has inflated the set with absolutely horrible cards. There are several cards in here that are lone basic Pokemon stranded without their evolutions. Take Pikachu, Meowth, Taillow, and Chinchou for example. Their artwork is even lazy, they just took the Sugimori art and played with the background!
This set, unfortunately, has a lot of crap diluting most of what's worthwhile in it. With the inclusion of Ace Specs, the number of secret rares in boxes has been upped from 4 to 6, but I'm not certain that's enough justification to buy one. Blastoise is part of a Theme Deck and Keldeo-EX looks like it's coming in an upcoming tin. For now, I'd just recommend buying singles of the stellar cards and avoid gathering up terrible cards like Wobbuffet.
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