Bad Meta Forecast

I know this isn’t a news blog, but when I find that I’ve not got any major insights to offer or recent competitive goings on, I usually find that it’s about time to look forward and see what’s coming next. I tend to avoid ‘newsy’ stuff and predictions because i) other website do it better; ii) it’s a constant thing not a weekly thing; and iii) this isn’t a news site and I hate baseless speculation. (Also in pre-release 2 Buzzwole and 36 energy is broken apparently!)

Predicting the Usual Predictions

Prediction Pokémaniac
I predict… a NEW SET!

Also, as a rule I generally hate the ‘predictions discussion’ EG: “oh but in next block X will be good (and then I’ll beat you!)”. While these are popular online and at most casual meetups, I don’t think that I’m alone in this view.  Don’t get me wrong – looking to see what is coming is fun, even exciting and it can help inform you of what potential decks you might need to get components for via trades etc. My faith in humanity is that I have to believe that’s where these people are coming from, love of the game, just at a different angle.

Prediction Type Chart
My crude type chart. (Yellow = resistance)

It’s just that if you’re looking at building competitive decks, unless you literally have the cards in your deck sleeves ready to roll, it’s almost all hypotheticals so the speculation and predictions don’t really help develop the metagame.

An example is a statement such as: ‘In the next set Psychic will get a boost, therefore Buzzwole is dead LOL RIP, it’s not worth playing Buzzwole now’. When laid out like that it seems rather illogical. In the future the deck will be bad, therefore don’t play it now? I understand that if you don’t have the cards to make the deck it might not be worth trying to get them if you think the next set will render that deck useless. That’s sensible, but invalidating a proven archetype on baseless speculation is a little premature.

The Predictions Loop

While  I’m sure my Buzzwole deck will loose to a strong Psychic deck, the new stuff in Forbidden Light but it doesn’t worry me. Principally because the above belief is fundamentally wrong on many levels. Firstly Psychic might be a non-starter. Case in point you can still play a decent psychic deck and do well as of SM5, but people aren’t really. Unless the impact of the new cards has been tested (as opposed to just speculated about) we don’t know for certain.

Beast Ring TLATEFor example I also know that Fighting is getting a boost as are Ultra Beasts, that’s 2 distinct factors from the ‘Psychic boost’ factor. And so the Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock cycle continues. The reason simply is that until the meta gets settled, everything is conjecture and as a scientist person (though without the love of Magnemites), I generally believe that speculation doesn’t lead to productive predictions! A good example is the Magnemite + Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX deck which was overhyped but by the time it came to being played the reason for playing it (Gardevoir) was dying off. The deck suffers from consistency issues and the payoff – steel type damage and OHKOs, isn’t worth it compared to a similar deck in a different colour such as Vika-Bulu where the type sometimes is relevant in the meta.

Below I try to dissect the above statement about the Psychic buff. I believe that it is a more likely outcome (I’m not giving a guarantee!), but a bit more complicated. I’m going to assume that you’re an intelligent person, but as a species we tend to prefer, and therefore believe, simpler explanations. Couple this with the internet and we encounter trouble dissecting nuanced arguments.

I think this is a rational approach, but I know that I’m not in full control of all of the facts, and additionally there may be random confounding elements (such as all the top worlds players go crazy and use quad bidoof so it appears as if it is a good deck!) that cloud the ability to make predictions. So in case I’ve not made this clear – this isn’t science, but it helps to approach it logically and methodically when at least attempting to make basic predictions of the meta.

Ultra Beast Energy TLATESo let’s take the above predictions about Psychic becoming dominant due to Buzzwole and the new stuff from Forbidden Light. Let’s then look at the knock on effect: Say Psychic does do well,  initially religating Buzzwole to meme tier (RIP Superfly), then Dark stays popular since it resists Psychic giving it back an edge it didn’t have before, and in some cases has type advantage.

But then Fairy (which resists dark and loves all the energy that Psychic types need to attack) pops back. Steel still sucks so now Fairy just rampages all over the place like around SM3+. Consequently people play less psychic. In the two weeks of chaos Buzzwole players discover Beast Energy, Beast Ring, Beast Ball and Diancie Prism Star meaning that Superfly is back!!

Unfortunately I’m not a seer, nor is anyone I’ve met to date, so until it hits and we’ve got a couple of tournaments we just don’t know. Our predictions are imperfect, so I would caution you against believing anyone who claims to know otherwise.

And there is the crux of this article: those 4 words are probably the scariest in the English language. If you said ‘Doctor will I recover from being Snorlaxed?’ and she said ‘we just don’t know’ that’s BAD. It’s fear inducing. The expert doesn’t know – PANIC! If she said ‘you’ll be dead tomorrow’ well it’s bad but at least you’ll know. Again it’s that in a game where we try to control and predict outcomes, unknowns are out of our control and thus ‘scary’. It’s the same with why I think meta-predictions aren’t fruitful.

Concluding Predictions

I don’t like attempting to give predictions about the impact of new sets because the reality is that no one person has all of the required information. As such I find predictions fun, but unhelpful at best. Some predictions may be insightful but on the whole I’d hold off until the set actually hits!

Finally to wrap up in future I want to do another ‘best in class’ check list such as the ‘Top 10 to watch‘ and an updated ‘Viable EX/GX‘ list. I also want to revisit my own predictions to see how accurate I’ve been (if at all!).

Ultra Necrozma Revealed

Forbidden Light

The NEXT set has been announced! Not the SM5 Ultra Prism that’s being pre-released next weekend, but next one – due out in May 2018, named ‘Forbidden Light’!

Featuring Ultra Necrozma, (see below for its breakdown) it also ties in with the rumours that Dragon types (Ultra Necrozma being Psychic/Dragon in the VGC) are getting support.

Also reported online, Lucario, Greninja, Zygarde and Yveltal are getting GX cards, suggesting a Kalos/Gen 6 revisit – begging the question of what happened to Gen 5? Additionally Naganadel is getting a GX card suggesting that this set is tying together all of the new Pokémon and formes from Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon which will bring the TCG up to date with the Video Game.

Finally the set includes 5 more Prism Star  Cards including an Arceus which requires [W][G][L] to be able to attack. I’m grateful that they’re continuing the Prism Star type in Forbidden Light.

Ultra Necrozma-GX

Basic Dragon Pokémon– HP190 [Ultra Beast]

[P][M] Photon Geyser: 20+ damage. Discard all basic [P] Energy from this Pokemon. This attack does 80 more damage for each Energy card discarded in this way. If only there was a way to recycle or reattach metal energy such as Magnezone or Metagross-GX?!

[P][M] Destructive Light GX: This attack can only be used if there are 6 or less total Prize cards remaining in play. Place 6 damage counters on each of your opponent’s Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.) Like the baby Necrozma but hitting each of your opponents Pokémon, not just GX/EX

Weakness: Fairy (x2)     Resistance: none     Retreat: 2

So all in all Forbidden Light looks to shake things up in a good way.

Warp Energy – Shining Legends

Warp Energy

All news about Shining Legends indicates that Warp Energy will see a reprint.

Warp Energy

Warp Energy is a special energy, so you can attach it like a normal energy card from your hand and it provides 1 colourless energy. However when you attach it to your active Pokémon you can then switch it out for one of your benched Pokémon!

As you can probably guess, this makes for a very interesting card! In essence it is a 2-for-1; it provides an energy but also functions like the ‘Switch‘ trainer card.

A major benefit is that it enables you to switch your Pokémon but isn’t an item – so doesn’t count against your for when Garbodor‘s Trashalanche is opposing you.

This is also a clever way of getting around any item lock type effects from Pokémon such as Siesmitoad-EX, Vileplume or Noivern-GX. Normally if you haven’t got the energy to retreat, being item locked means that you cannot attach a float stone to escape so you are stuck.

Item Lock

Combinations

We’re really looking forward to the arrival of the new sets – even this one new card really shakes ups the game and will provide loads of deckbuilding opportunities. The ability to switch Pokémon really helps out Golisopod-GX and similar pokemon that rely on being mobile.

To reiterate, Warp Energy enables you to switch Pokémon without using a Supporter (such as Olympia or Guzma) or an item (such as Switch or Super-Scoop-Up). By combining it with Guzma you can switch both yours and your opponents’ Pokémon and then switch your old active Pokemon back in! In a format without Lysandre this could be really useful!


Lastly, it would really help us out if you could share this post with your friends and fellow Pokéfans! Any feedback on articles or content is always appreciated too!

Shining Legends Announced!

Shining Legends Announced

The next TCG expansion, Sun & Moon: Shining Legends has been announced.  This news via Pokemon.com;

This new expansion features appearances by Legendary and Mythical Pokémon, including Zekrom, Latios, Keldeo, and more. You’ll also find some of your favorite Pokémon as extra-powerful Pokémon-GX, including Entei-GX and Mewtwo-GX. If that wasn’t enough, another cool aspect of this expansion (and the feature from which it takes its name) are the Shining Pokémon that can be discovered—be on the lookout for Shining Jirachi, Shining Volcanion, and many more.

 

All of these Pokémon will feature their shiny colours. Normally shiny or shining means holofoil or reverse holofoil cards. However for Shining Legends this means that the Pokémon have different sets of colours.

Shiny Pokémon

Shiny Pokémon are extremely rare occurrences in the video game. At less than a 0.1% chance of occurring you could play through a game and never discover one! Some have subtle differences whereas others such as Shiny Charizard are dramatically different.

shiny comparison

As well as being ‘Shining‘ the featured Pokémon will also be ‘Legends‘ – we are expecting to see Hoopa, Mewtwo, Ho-oh, Zekrom, Reshiram, Latios, (and Latias?), Entei (Raikou & Suicine?), Jiriachi, Volcanion and more!

I would fully expect at least a shiny Charizard, Rayquaza, and Luiga as well seeing as how these Pokémon are so iconic to the series. Charizard and Rayquaza are known for their dramatic colour change when they are shiny.

Shining Legends Boosters

Each Booster for Shining Legends will have 11 cards instead of 10, 2 of which are holofoil – so you have more chance of getting the truly shiniest of shinies!

However boosters will not be for sale individually, they will be in boxed sets which we expect to be similar to how the Generations sets were released.

Best of XY Collection

Best of XY Collection

XY Collection Hex Maniac
Full Art Hex Maniac

Rumours are just trickling through but by November 2017 we will have a best of XY Collection. The new “Premium Trainer’s XY Collection” will be released in America and Europe on November 17th!

This limited edition set will feature full art versions of several key cards from the XY card series In particular, key Supporters that never had secret rare/full art versions such as Hex Maniac.

The set is not 100% officially confirmed although rumours can be found on popular Pokemon news websites.

Set List

New Alternate Full Art prints of the following cards:

XY Collection Delinquent
Full Art Delinquent

Shaymin-EX
Jirachi-EX
MCamerupt-EX
Regirock-EX
MSharpedo-EX
Aegislash-EX
Yveltal-EX
N
Hex Maniac
Blacksmith
Karen
Delinquint
Shauna
Team Flare Grunt

 

With the new ‘Alternate Art’ set mark the cards are not ‘re-legal’ so Shaymin-EX will still rotate out following Worlds 2017. We will of course be stocking these so head over to the store to find out more!

Expanded Rotation 2017/18

Expanded Banlist Announced!

As discussed recently, only one card, Shiftry was banned in the Expanded format of Pokémon TCG. Shiftry expandedL Trump Card - Banned

However as of 18th August 2017 Forest of Giant Plants and Archeops will be banned from Expanded while Shiftry will be unbanned.

Unlike many other TCGs this is not common. Pokémon tends to be quite well playtested, resulting in very few bans. Why print a card if you’re just going to render it obsolete? In the example of Shiftry it was banned before it was legal to play – it was a massive exception as stated by TCPI:

No cards were banned from the Standard format. It will be an extremely rare occurrence for cards to be banned from the Standard format.

Another recent, banned card was ‘Lysandres Trump Card’ which could have lead to infinite game length and so was banned. Again the theme of what’s best for the game seems to shine through in the reasoning. Long may it continue!

What this means – Banlists?

 

However, this recent announcement of a bigger banlist, even if it only adds of a pair of cards, is a huge step for the Pokémon TCG!

Triad of Awesome

This means that in future Pokémon TCG may have other banned cards depending on the type of the decks played. Key points include preventing Turn 1 or Turn 0 wins/knockouts before your opponent has had a chance to play anything. This seems reasonable and keeps the expanded format mature. Interestingly Sableye with Life Dew and Puzzles of Time is still fine!

 

 

Why these cards?

Forest of Giant PlantsForest of Giant Plants [XY Ancient Origins 74/98]

– This is probably the most ‘controversial’ in that the effects are numerous and widespread. Forest of Giant Plants enables rapid evolution of grass type Pokémon. This facilitated Stage 2 Pokémon to be played on turn 1. While facing a  Turn 1 Venusaur might not be ideal, Pokémon like Vilplume could item lock you. Alternatively a bench full of Decidueye-GX could easily snipe you off the table.

The effect of this ban are immediately obvious – many grass decks, or decks that had a large grass component, will be nerfed. Decidueye-GX/Vileplume, Lurantis-GX/Vileplume, Seismitoad-EX/Vileplume – in fact most Vileplume!

In this instance it wasn’t the actual card itself, but the strategies which it facilitated that led to it being banned.

ArcheopsArcheops [BW Noble Victories 67/101] – Again nothing exists in a vacuum. Archeops was often combined with Maxies Hidden Ball Trick. This card enabled Archops, or indeed any Fighting Pokémon to be reliably played from the discard pile. Generally Gallade and Archeops were chosen for their abilities. (And Gallade has a decent attack too!)

Archeop’s Ancient Power Ability stopped evolving. Outside of Evosoda or Wally type effects, neither player could evolve. This could easily stop several decks (including those relying on Forest of Giant Plans!) dead in their tracks. While the Maxie+Archeops trick relies on several cards (E.G. Battle Compressor to put the Archeops in the discard pile) it seemed that the most direct route was to ban Archeops itself. Several other strategies (Dark Patch, Dowsing Machine, Bees, Night March) rely on Battle Compressor so that would’ve been a bad choice and Maxies’ isn’t overpowered by itself. Unfortunately for our favorite fossilized bird, the easiest thing was to ban it! I’m sure it’s time will come around again however.

Rotation 2018 – Into the Unown

 

Rotation diagram 2017-2018
2018 Standard Legal Expansions Courtesy of The Pokemon Company International

It’s fitting that our first post is about the future and rotation of Pokémon 2017-18. 2018 is going to be a big season for us. We’re going to be hitting the competitions and reporting back to you. We look forward to bringing you the latest news and products!

Last night (BST) The Pokémon Company International announced which expansions will be leaving the Standard format and which are safe for another year. TPCi generally rotates three to four sets a year (or season). This is usually done in the themed blocks in which they were released. This season we will see Primal Clash, Roaring Skies, Double Crisis and Ancient Origins rotate out leaving BREAKThrough, BREAKPoint, Generations, Fates Collide, Steam Siege, Evolutions, Sun & Moon, Guardians Rising and all future sets in the format. We also retain all Black Star Promos XY67 and above, and SM01 and up.

So what does this actually mean?

Key cards we’ll be losing (barring future reprints):

Sad Shaymin by Jidyi, Rights TPCi
Sorry, Shaymin! Artist: Jidyi
  • VS Seeker – item – pull Supporters back from the discard pile
  • Trainers Mail – item – look at the top four cards of your deck and take a trainer you find there
  • Hex Maniac – supporter – stop all Abilities for a turn
  • Teammates – supporter – search your deck for two cards and put them in your hand
  • Lysandre – supporter – pull a different Pokémon into your opponent’s Active spot
  • Dive Ball – item – find a Water Pokémon in your deck and put it in your hand
  • Rough Seas – stadium – heal 30 damage a turn from your Water  and Electric Pokemon
  • Sky Field – stadium – you can have eight Pokémon on your Bench
  • Forest of Giant Plants – stadium – you can evolve Grass Pokémon straight away
  • Team Magma’s Secret Base – stadium – place two damage counters on any Basics you play from your hand
  • Mega Turbo – item – attach energy from your discard pile onto your Mega Pokemon
  • Shrine of Memories – stadium – you can use the attacks of your Pokémon’s previous evolutions
  • Shaymin-EX ROS – Pokémon – when played draw cards until you have six in hand
  • Vespiquen AOR – Pokémon – does damage according to Pokémon in its discard pile
  • Gyarados AOR – Pokémon – does damage according to the damage on its Benched Magikarp
  • Mega Rayquaza ROS – Pokémon – dose damage based on its Benched Pokemon
  • Jolteon/Vaporeon/Flareon AOR – Pokémon – adds extra Types to all your Stage 1s to hit for Weakness
  • Vileplume AOR – Pokémon – Ability that stops all items from being played

As you can see, many decks currently winning competitions are affected by rotation. We will see many decks either disappearing entirely or losing some important cards.

Decks Lost to Rotation

Vespiquen variants, the deck that does damage based on the number of Pokémon in its discard pile, has completely rotated. Both the main attacker and several utility cards rotate including Unown (Farewell Letter); Vaporeon/Flareon AOR; Shaymin-EX; VS Seeker and Acro Bike to help quickly cycle through the deck.

Mega Rayquaza has also rotated as it has lost MRay, Skyfield, Shaymin-EX and Mega Turbo.

Full Retaliation Gyarados, winner of the Birmingham Regionals back in June, rotates alongside Rough Seas, Dive Ball and Team Magma’s Secret Base which puts the vital damage on the Benched Magikarp.

Less popular decks also waved goodbye to are Sceptile-EX/Ariados, Wailord-EX, Primal Kyogre-EX, Primal Groudon-EX, Sharpedo-EX and Mega Ampharos-EX.

Let’s turn to decks which haven’t lost their main attackers but have been affected by rotation.

Decks Affected By Rotation 

Vileplume, artist: Pyrofishies, rights: TPCi
No more Irritating Pollen!
Artist: Pyrofishies

Decidueye-GX loses its partner in crime, Vileplume. The combination of the two has proved to be a formidable opponent. Decidueye players will be glad that pure Decidueye-GX has taken some top 8 finishes of its own, but with Vileplume and Forest of Giant Plants rotating, Decidueye definitely loses steam. Decidueye is now a Stage 2 with a relatively mediocre attack that can no longer start using its Ability turn 1 to place two damage counters per Decidueye per turn. With no Shaymin-EX, Level Ball or Trainers Mail to help set up, Decidueye is going to need to adapt to survive.

Darkrai-EX has largely moved away from Giratina-EX but rotation has removed the choice. Both Giratina-EX and Double Dragon Energy are rotating. Darkrai does damage based on the number of dark energy on all of its Pokémon. For Darkrai’s attack DDE counts as dark energy (and every other energy) when attached to a Dragon Pokémon. Giratina-EX was also a hard counter to Mega-EXs with its Ability Renegade Pulse blocking all effects of attacks, including damage, from Megas. But with the meta shifting away from Megas, Giratina-EX became less and less relevant and its three energy retreat cost caused it to become a Lysandre target for decks wishing to stall. Still, Darkrai-EX will be sad to see the option taken off the table in Standard.

GreninjaBREAK will be pleased to see Hex Maniac rotate out of Standard as Ability lock is definitely the bane of that deck; but with Dive Ball and Rough Seas rotating Greninja will also take a small hit to its staying power.

Mega Mewtwo-EX has declined rapidly in popularity due to its Weakness to Trashalanche Garbodor. In October we will gain Mewtwo-GX which may see some play in this deck. However, the loss of Mega Turbo and Shrine of Memories (removing access to its damage change attack for healing) may see us say goodbye to MMewtwo for good.

The loss of VS Seeker affects all decks in the meta and many – particularly the more glass canon decks – will mourn the loss of Teammates. Lysandre rotating will affect everyone too. However, the next set, Burning Shadows, brings us Guzma. Guzma allows the player to swap their opponent’s Pokémon and then switch their own Pokémon too.

Decks running Drampa-GX for its Berserk attack will lose Team Magma’s Secret Base which puts the damage on the Bench allowing it to hit for 150hp. However, there was already a move to the alternative of Rainbow Energy. Rainbow Energy requires an extra energy attachment but allows you to be more precise about where the damage falls on the Bench.

Finally lets talk about the near misses: cards which survived rotation by just one set or which would have rotated except for reprints in later sets!

Survivors

Yveltal Fright Night, Oblivion Wing and Yveltal-EX all survived rotation despite two of them initially being printed in XY Base Set and should be a strong deck going in to rotation.

Zoroark artist: xXSteefyLoveXx Rights: TPCi
Artist: xXSteefyLoveXx

Zoroark narrowly avoided rotating as its only print was in BREAKThrough, the next set after the rotated ones. With Hex Maniac rotating and the already wide proliferation of the deck in the recent meta, Zoroark should be a good play in the new Season. Pair it with Umbreon-GX, Drampa-GX or one of the multiple other options available to it. Thanks to the DCE cost of Zoroark’s Mind Jack attack, Zoroark is easily splashable into a range of other decks. Alternatively, in a dark deck Zoroark can wreak havoc with ZoroarkBREAK’s Foul Play attack. Foul Play allows Zoroark to copy any of the opponent’s Active Pokémon’s attacks for one dark energy. One card which Zoroark isn’t too pleased to see still in the format is Parallel City. However, MRay fell out of fashion and now rotates, meaning that few people choose to run Parallel City any more.

EX heavy decks including Volcanion-EX are lucky in that the Soundrel Ring Hoopa-EX (who can search the deck for any three EXs) survives rotation thanks to a reprint as a Black Star Promo. Volcanion decks that run Scorched Earth will also be happy to see that it has survived thanks to a reprint in Fates Collide.

Mega Gardevoir-EX also survives thanks to a reprint in Generations. MGard is definitely a powerful Pokémon whose Brilliant Arrow attack does 30 times the amount of Fairy energy attached to all your Pokémon. However, the rumour is that the coming Gardevoir-GX will be a popular choice at Worlds this year. Watch out for an article soon on this up and coming deck.

With some interesting cards coming in the next sets and the meta wide loss of VS Seeker, rotation this year is sure to be interesting. Comment below and tell us how rotation will affect you and whether you’re pleased or disappointed with the announcement from TPCi!