Meta Monday – Ultra Prism Decks

I have to admit, I’m not nearly as hyped about Ultra Prism as I think a lot of people have been. It’s a bit like Crimson Invasion – a few good cards, one or two really great cards and then a lot of chaff. However with the 2 recent regionals it’s time for Speculation & Conjecture time!

The Ultra Prism Champ

Weavile Ultra PrismThe stand out card, judging from recent tournaments, has really been….. Weavile!

 

Case in point Evil Admonition stands in good stead against the dearth of Tapu Lele-GX, Zoroark-GX and others. Even with Garbotoxin, Pokémon still have abilities (even if they don’t do anything) so Evil Admonition still works!

Being in-type with Zoroark-GX only helps and running Dark energy might even give Zoroark a chance for a GX attack.

However the weakness to Fighting is still a liability in a Buzzwole heavy meta. That being said, it didn’t feature heavily, was more of a tech option in a 2-1 or 2-2 line along with Zoroark.

Ultra Prism Damp Squibs

Glaceon Ultra PrismGlaceon-GX – Much hype surrounded this Eevolution because of it’s ability to lock down the abilities of your opponents GX/EX Pokémon.

However it must be active for the ability to function. Couple this with a lacklustre 90+30 attack for WCC and a mediocre GX attack leaves you wanting more. Finally add in the weakness to Metal, which is only going to get more popular, and you can probably realise that Glaceon-GX is okay, it’s just not great.

Obvious Ultra Prism Decks

So here’s the ‘new’ decks that have emerged with the release of Ultra Prism. However none have been seriously featured in the 2 tournaments. This could be due to players being unwilling to try untested decks, or the fact that actually none of these are strictly better than existing proven archetypes.

Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX Ultra PrismMetal – Metagross-GX or Magnezone + Solgaleo Prism Star + Dusk Mane Necrozma

The Metal acceleration deck is a pretty obvious play given the hype that metal has had in this set. Yet since each variant runs Stage 2 Pokémon you’ll need to dedicate about 12 slots to it before generating a way to retrieve/attach the energy.

Also Dusk Mane Necrozma is making people have conniptions about Fairies, however the 220 (+choice) or GX on a Dusk Mane would knock out a Gardevoir-GX even without weakness so it really little to no difference! There’s also very few Pokémon with more than 220 HP anyway so it does seem like a strong play irrespective of the format. It’s just that it needs the correct support.

Right now it stands as a clunkier, less reliable version of VikaBulu that hits Gardevoir for weakness – although Dusk Mane Necrozma would OHKO most things anyway. Like VikaBulu, highly vulnerable to disruption or ability lock. It will get better with SM6 where the Supporter ‘Lady’ will let you search out 4 energy so I would say sit on this for the moment.

Cynthia Ultra PrismGarchomp / Lucario – This is essentially a theme deck – ‘Cynthia’s Champion‘ – but up-rated to include the proper amount of trainers, energy and so on.

The fundamental strategy is to use Cynthia, enabling Garchomp to hit for 200 (+choice band) and using Lucario’s ability to search out cards to keep up the momentum. That being said, it again is a stage 2 deck, needs 2 energy attachments and you must use Cynthia which means no Guzma or N to mess with your opponents plans.

At 150 HP it dies really easily though and then you have the problem of having to recycle a stage 2 Pokémon and recover the energy. Hopefully card advantage established by Lucario is so strong much advantage that they can keep sustaining indefinitely but the reality is that an unlucky set of prizes or not having puzzles of time or a special charge to get back energy can cause it to slip and fall hard.

Needless to say this didn’t make any top cuts because it just isn’t that good. The fighting version of Garchomp might make it a little better (Strong Energy, lack of Fairy weakness) but it will still suffer from being extremely obvious in it’s approach.

Empoleon Ultra Prism Empoleon/Zoroark – both exploit bench space to do damage.

Both Zoroark and Empoleon rely on the amount Pokémon in play to deal their damage. Zoroark-GX is 20x # of your Pokémon in play (so 6×20=120 without Sky Field) . Empoleon counts both your and your opponents benched Pokémon for a maximum of (20x(5+5)=200) 200 damage without Sky Field.

The main issue again is that Empoleon is a Stage 2, the weakness isn’t too big of a factor and 160HP is a fair amount for a non EX/GX Stage 2.

Empoleon is an interesting card, although might be better in Expanded via Archie’s Ace in the Hole and some Sky Field Shenanigans.

Other random decks might be Metagross with Dawn Wings Necrozma. Both of the Necrozma variants have great ‘catch up’ GX attacks with tie in with the cards like counter catcher and counter energy that are starting to see more play.

Concluding Thoughts on Ultra Prism

Recently, there’s been some Paw Patrols as well Zoroark with Gardevoir/Gallade doing the rounds but they’ve been played by some top players, in a developed meta. What’s been great in the SM4 Standard is that with each major competition the meta has evolved and changed but not massively. More recently we’ve had Buzzwole/Lycanroc, Buzzwole/Garbodor and Golisopod/Zoroark do quite well in Regionals.

Crimson Invasion and Ultra Prism honestly haven’t been the biggest sets in terms of shakeup. Aside from Tapu Lele-GX in SM2 and Gardevoir-GX in SM3, the biggest meta change has been Zoroark-GX in Shining Legends. In truth I wanted Ultra Prism to shake things up a bit more radically but I don’t feel that it really has. I am glad to see that the Prism Star mechanic will persist in the next set too unlike previous mechanics which only last for a set.

Buzzwole-GX
We still love you Superfly!

I still quite like Buzzwole and I think it is in a strong position despite not gaining much from Ultra Prism. It still punches face efficiently and you can get multiple KOs via the spread damage. The GX attack is also strong – it allows you to jump ahead quickly – 240 for 3 energy is good value.

Cynthia is also a good shout in a lot of decks instead of Sycamore, especially  for decks with Trade.  When you don’t necessarily want something now, but might want it later on it’s a better option than discarding. Games don’t really go on long enough to see much of Pal Pad although that might change if there’s going to be more 1-of Supporters as techs seeing play. Cynthia is a card that everyone will need a playset of so is probably the card of the set.

 

 

Ultra Prism SM5 – Top 10 to Watch

 Ultra Prism SM5

So the next Sun & Moon set – SM5 Ultra Prism – is in pre-release next weekend. There is major hype surrounding the eponymous Prism Star cards themselves. Here’s the specific rule in question:

You can’t have more than 1   (Prism Star) card with the same name in your deck. If a  card would go to the discard pile, put it in the Lost Zone instead. 

And for reference the Lost Zone rules are:

The Lost Zone is an area considered to be a more advanced form of the Discard Pile. Unlike cards in the Discard Pile, cards moved to the Lost Zone are kept face-up and are considered to be “outside” the Play Area due to the fact they are not kept on the playmat if one is used. As such, cards moved to the Lost Zone are no longer considered to be in play, and cannot be retrieved at any time, or by any means during gameplay.

That being said, in my top 10 list I’ve only included two Ultra Prism Star  cards. While interesting I’ve found most of them underwhelming. The Ultra Prism Pokémon mostly have abilities which can be shut off by Garbotoxin or similar locks. Additionally you’re only allowed one of any given Prism Star  Card in any given deck which reduces consistency and most of them aren’t particularly extra-strong or broken to warrant such restrictions. That being said, I do hope that it is a mechanic they carry forward, unlike say the Steam Siege dual-types, because it might allow for some more interesting mechanics and some strategic decisions moving forward.

Anyway without further ado here’s some of my top picks from the new Ultra Prism set – first up is the breakout card – Magnetic Circuit Magnezone.

#1 – Magnezones

Ability: Magnetic Circuit
As often as you like during your turn (before your attack), you may attach a [L] Energy from your hand to 1 of your Pokemon.

This has been highly hyped and for good reason – potentially unlimited energy acceleration in a nice stage 2 package. Because there’s two types it allows for twice as much potential carnage! The Lightning version could easily power up a Raichu-GX or even Xurkitree-GX deck. There’s also a Alolan Dugtrio in the new set that discards energy to deal damage, along with a stadium that enables recycling of Metal energy. So in short there’s a LOT of Metal support in this new set.

 

#2 – Dusk Mane Necrozma GX

[Ultra Beast]
[C][C][C] – 60
[M][M][M][C] – 220 discard 3 energy from this Pokémon
[M][M][M] GX – 250 only if you have more prize cards left

Weakness: Fire, Resist: Psychic, Retreat: 3

The main thing to note about Dusk Mane Necrozma is that it’s a bulky Metal basic and not a Prism Star  Card! It does need a lot of energy in order to attack so might give a lease of life to Metagross-GX or of course the above Magnezone. However all is not lost since Metal is getting a massive boost with this set and it should fit in nicely with the overall metal theme to put the final nails in the Gardevoir-GX coffin. While a mediocre card in and of itself, I’ve put it as #2 to show how the game is shifting to bigger, bulkier basics with expensive attacks.

 

#3 – Dialga GX

[M] – draw upto 6 cards
[M][C][C] – Shred 80 / not affected by effects on opponents’ Pokémon
[M][M][M][C][C] Timeless-GX 150 / Take an extra turn after this one!

So this is one of the more interesting GX Pokémon that we are getting in this set, most notably the GX attack that lets you take an extra turn. Granted it requires 5 energy (although again Metagross-GX or the new Magnezone can help to alleviate this).

It really makes the value of a GX attack interesting since we don’t really have a lot of ‘ex-meta’ type abilities that can manipulate the actual flow of the game state in such a dramatic manner. I hope that this might signal a new shift in some interesting abilities which allow for more strategic decisions to be made and break the often obvious BDIF style metagame that we’re stuck with at the moment.

#4 – Leafeon GX

This one has been translated, so I’ll save typing out the breakdown. The key point is the Grand Bloom GX attack is essentially a Wally for all of your Pokémon in play. It only costs [G] and since that same energy can evolve your Eevee, you could use this to help setup a Decidueye-GX deck or even Golisopod-GX or Lurantis decks in your turn one. This one has the potential to be metachanging by itself so keep an eye on this one.

 

#5 – Glaceon GX

Again has been translated (thanks internet!) although unlike Leafeon-GX, we’re looking at the Freezing Gaze ability instead of the GX attack. Essentially while your Glaceon-GX is active it shuts off your opponents EX & GX Pokémons’ abilities. Again you could start with an Eevee and attach a [W] energy to evolve and shut down your opponent’s ability to use cards such as Tapu Lele-GX. The main attack is similar to Umbreon-GX and arguably overcosted. The GX attack complements the spread-damage type effect any synergises with other spread abilities such as Decidueye-GX or Tapu-Koko too. Of course the weakness to Metal is a liability given the forecasted rise of metal but you’re probably not going to play this for it’s bulk, just it’s shut down ability.

#6 – Cynthia

N’s yourself for 6, also required for the Garchomp/Lucario deck – which will be a thing, even if it’s just to be a rogue counter-meta deck. If nothing else Cynthia will replace N and Sycamore once they rotate out of standard since it’s a highly reliable means of non-discarding draw support. While Shauna is considered too weak to be worth playing, Cynthia hits the sweet spot of being useful enough that it can be justified.

Additionally she synergises with the new Garchomp who for [F][C][C] can do 200 damage. There will totally be a deck built around getting out Garchomp and the supporting Lucario with Cynthia for support. The main issue will be recycling the Garchomps since it’s quite fragile as well as getting the 2 attachments required to be able to attack. So it can fall behind, however it is a budget competitor that can catch people unaware.

 

#7 – Cyrus 

This is one of my 2 Ultra Prism Star  Cards on the list. In my view most of them are heavily situational and because you can only have 1 in a deck aren’t consistent enough. However their impact can be strong enough in the right deck to justify their inclusion.

Cyrus’ effect: This card can only be played if your Active Pokémon is a [W]or [M]
Your opponent shuffles their Benched Pokémon and all cards attached to them into their deck until they have 2 Pokémon on their Bench. (And of course the usual Ultra Prism Star  Card restrictions & conditions)

As you can see this is quite a disrupting card – combined with something like Sylveon’s Plea-GX attack or followed by a Parallel City it could really ruin your opponents day. Ideally you’d need a deck dedicated to disruption featuring either Water or Metal Pokémon and of course since you only have 1 Cyrus it can be hard to plan around – although you can still of course fetch it with Tapu Lele-GX etc. It has the potential to be devastating, although again a 1-of means there will be times that it’s prized and there’s a condition so it will only see play in decks with Water or Metal Pokémon – thankfully there’s at least one viable Water Deck (Greninja) and several Metal options forthcoming.

Even if Water or Metal decks aren’t built around disruption it is a card that could be worth including just for the sheer amount of disruption it can cause for a card space.

#8 – Pal Pad 

Just shuffles 2 supports from your discard pile into your deck. It’s a VS Seeker 2.0 (well not quite!) but will be heavily played thanks to the variety of supporters. Also especially more relevant after rotation when we loose N and Sycamore. Finally it enables the Garchomp/Cynthia/Lucario deck to function smoothly and allows for inclusion of thinner supporter lines in other decks.

#9 – Super Boost Energy 

Effect: This card provides [C] Energy.
While this card is attached to a Stage 2 Pokémon, it provides every type of Energy but provides only 1 Energy at a time. If you have 3 or more Stage 2 Pokémon in play, it provides every type of Energy but provides 4 Energy at a time.

 

This sounds confusing at first, but basically it’s a Rainbow Energy for Stage 2 Pokémon. If you have 3+ Stage 2s then it gives FOUR of each energy. It’s highly situational of course, and you can only have one (bye-bye consistency!) but is potentially archetype-making.

In the Garchomp deck for example, you’ll likely have multiple stage 2 Pokémon and Lucario gives you a way to find this specific card. It could also fit into decks like Decidueye. In short almost any Stage-2 deck can benefit from this card which is why I’ve included it. At worst a Rainbow Energy for no damage cost is still a good card.

#10- (Wash) Rotom 

Ability: Rotomotor -If there are 9 or more Pokémon Tool cards in your discard pile, ignore all Energy necessary to use this Pokémon’s attacks.

[W][C][C] Wash Arrow –
This attack does 50 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon.)

I’ve included Wash Rotom, but this is to cover all Rotoms – they all have the ‘Rotomotor‘ ability which makes their attacks free. There’s Frost, Ice, Mow and Heat Rotoms too. A whole deck centred around milling out your junk tools to enable a toolbox of Rotom types is bound to emerge too.

 Conclusion 

The Ultra Prism set looking to be good. Nowhere as broken as Guardians Rising or as impactful as Zoroark-GX has been on the meta, but it is definitely posed to shake things up which is long overdue. Crimson invasion didn’t really add anything too radical outside of Buzzwole-GX. There’s also some gems for use in Expanded – which is where I think that most of the Ultra Prism Star  Cards will find their niche in decks that can focus on exploiting their abilities. This would also tie in with the TPCI’s current attempt to push the Expanded format.  We can safely say that several new deck archetypes will emerge and I think that overall there will be a more diverse and healthy meta moving forward.