a new set is just around the corner and I’m sure many of you are already busy preparing for the World Championships! I recently started taking a closer look at all the cards that await us and am here to share my initial thoughts with you.
As usual, since these sets are way too big to talk about 10 cards only, I’ll first quickly go over all the other interesting options from Unified Minds.
- Aerodactyl-GX has a great Ability, good typing and good GX attack. Some decks, like Pikachu & Zekrom, will have a big problem dealing with it, but there will also be decks that don’t really care about it, so I don’t think Aerodactly will be a very successful main attacker. Its use as a tech suffers from Unidentified Fossil being hard to search for, but I could still see it being played in some decks that have realistic options for powering it up, like Malamar decks with Fighting Energy.
- Slowpoke & Psyduck-GX sounds like a meme, but has pretty impressive damage output. With built in Support from Lapras and Misty’s Request, lots of HP, good typing, and only a 2 Energy attack cost, this could certainly be a real deck.
- Rowlet & Exeggutor GX could be a strong tanking archetype, similar to what Celebi & Venusaur used to be before the release of the Fire support in Unbroken Bonds. The prevalence of Fire is still a big concern, but the built-in healing, paired with the possibility of setting up a Leavanny with the first attack, make it look like a real threat if not considering the awful weakness. Maybe Guard Energy could be enough to make it competitive, maybe it needs a different meta to shine, but the card has potential.
- Dragonite-GX looks like a card that’s hard to make work, but I don’t think it’s impossible. With Triple Acceleration Energy, the attack cost doesn’t look as bad, and against Tag Teams, all that’s needed is to somehow make two attacks happen. You could take all game setting up, and then win in two turns! And if not in its own deck, Dragonite will likely find a place in Mew & Mewtwo decks.
- Breloom, paired with Mareep, is a cool new non-GX deck. Doing a consistent 120 or 140 (with Diancie) damage isn’t bad, especially as a Fighting type, and sleep is an annoying status condition in a format with no Guzma. I don’t know if that’s enough to keep up with a broader metagame, but it’s an interesting concept.
- Hoopa can fit into any deck and helps against specifically Malamar Giratina decks. Thanks to Weakness, Evil Admonition will usually be enough to knock out Giratina in one hit, while the 130 HP and Psychic Resistance mean that Giratina isn’t able to do the same in return.
- Heatran-GX isn’t an overly impressive attacker, but does just enough damage to OHKO most 1-prize Pokemon, and can blow up any threat with its GX attack in later stages of the game. This should be good enough for it to take a spot in some of the many Fire decks.
- Latios-GX could be a good addition to Shedinja decks, giving it a way to avoid taking losses to troublesome GX attacks like Naganadel’s Stinger, Magcargo’s Burning Magma (an easy 1 card tech in Fire decks that play Mew & Mewtwo Tag Team), or the newly released Mega Sableye & Tyranitar Tag Team. Latios also has a reasonably useful regular attack, which could see use in Mew & Mewtwo Toolbox decks.
- Zygarde is a really strong addition to Zygarde-GX decks, and could help make them competitive again, even after the rotation of Double Colorless Energy hurt them a lot. The deck still has its problems, but it’s also worth noting that Verdict became a much better GX attack with the rotation of Guzma and release of Reset Stamp.
- Xurkitree is a Lightning type version of Sledgehammer Buzzwole, but works at 3 prizes, which makes it useful in even a Tag Team based deck. Additionally, it can take advantage of Electropowers. Dedicated Pikachu & Zekrom decks might not need this option, but something like a Shrine of Punishment Toolbox deck will happily add a Xurkitree. Also, if Lightning ever becomes a popular Weakness to hit, I would expect to see this teched in a lot of decks, the same way that Buzzwole is.
- Hapu is the best supporter coming from the set, and while it won’t be a staple on the level of Lillie or Cynthia, I expect it to see a good amount of play. Especially decks with discard synergy will like it, but every other deck can also add it in lower counts to dig for specific cards on key turns. Additionally, Shedinja might prefer it over Ingo & Emmet when aiming to go through the deck as fast as possible.
- Coach Trainer & Blue’s Strategy are two other interesting supporters that might find their place in specific deck builds.
- Tag Switch, an upgraded version of Energy Switch for Tag Teams, is for sure one of the more interesting Item cards in this set. For now, it should see play in Pikachu & Zekrom decks, to guarantee the option of a fully powered Tag Bolt even after Full Blitzing to the bench. However, compared to regular Energy Switch, it’s less useful for powering up the initial Full Blitz, so it won’t be an easy 1 for 1 replacement.
- Stadium Nav is an easy way to search for Prism Star Stadiums, and could be seen in Pikachu & Zekrom decks to find a quick Thunder Mountain. The coin flips make the card unreliable though, which makes even less sense than it did on Timer Ball, because the upside of potentially getting two stadiums is reduced by the fact that it’s not possible to use both of them in the same turn.
- Pokemon Research Lab is a creative attempt to make Fossil Pokemon more relevant. With the help of Stadium Nav, it could make for a consistent engine, but one that takes up a lot of space in the deck. I think something like Aerodactyl-GX can just as well evolve regularly, and setting up a tech Pokemon like Omastar doesn’t become much less inconvenient with this card either.
- Giant Bomb is a very interesting card, given a format with big damage output and little Tool removal (although the prevalence of Shedinja might force players to overtech for tools). I’m not quite sure what to think of this card, but there’s certainly decks that it could be good in.
- Black Belt’s main use will likely be for setting up Marshadow & Machamp’s Revenge attack. With Fighting staying one of the most relevant Weaknesses, I believe a lot of decks will at least try to include this combo.
- U-Turn Board is an alternative to Escape Board, and even as a single copy, can provide a lot of value. But since Jirachi is a big part of the meta, and having outs to Special Conditions is becoming more important, I think Escape Board will still be the more popular of the two, at least for now.
- Recycle Energy greatly improves decks based on Porygon-Z. Possible partners include Blissey, Whimsicott-GX, or even the new Dragonite-GX. Recycle Energy can also be a 1-of in any other deck that has at least 1 Colorless cost in its main attack.
- Weak Guard Energy is our replacement for Weakness Policy, and will probably see the same sporadic play. Being an Energy means the card isn’t useless in any matchup where weakness isn’t relevant, but also that it is a bit harder to use in the matchups where it is.
When this card was first announced, I thought it was insane. Safeguard is one of the best Abilities possible, and the rest of the card is reasonable as well.
One of the main issues with Keldeo, compared to its very popular predecessor Hoopa, is the existence of an easy one card counter in Power Plant. However, while I think that this does hurt its viability, the card is still good. Most GX decks, that Keldeo is supposed to be good against, don’t like Power Plant themselves, so only a few Green’s Exploration builds will even have this option, especially in a format where many decks will be forced to play heavy Lysandre Labs instead of whatever stadiums they’d usually prefer.
A concept that always pops up with these kinds of cards is simply playing an attacking Quad Keldeo deck, but I think the rotation of Aqua Patch destroys most hope for that to be successful. Without any real form of Energy Acceleration, I don’t see it winning against any deck that has decent options of attacking into Keldeo.
Be it strong 1-prizer decks, the existence of Power Plant, or Shred type attacks (ignoring effects when doing damage), there’s enough reasons why Keldeo might end up flopping, but I believe a GX with this kind of Ability paired with other decent stats deserves a spot on this list.
9 Great Potion
Good healing cards always find a place in the meta, and this is definitely one of them. With Max Potion and Acerola rotating, all that’s left are “fair” healing cards (if we don’t count Super Scoop Up), and Great Potion is arguably the best of them.
A clean 50 heal is enough to stop most smaller attackers from taking a 2HKO on a big Tag Team. If not one, then two will almost always do the job. Mixed Herbs have been played successfully before, and this card just makes it a lot easier, while also healing an additional 10 damage. Decks built on a Green’s engine might still prefer Herbs because of their use against Status conditions, but Great Potion should see play in a wider variety of decks.
I could imagine seeing this card as a 4-of in more than a few Tag Team based lists, but also as just a situational 1 or 2-of to sometimes gain an extra turn. Either way, it should be an impactful card.
As demonstrated by Zoroark during the past two years, drawing cards is pretty good. Naganadel’s Ultra Conversion isn’t quite on the level of Trade, but a wonderful Ability nonetheless. With access to both this card and Ultra Space, a dedicated Ultra Beast deck has a really consistent engine.
Like Zoroark before, Naganadel has good synergy with Persian-GX. Discarding Pokemon to draw more cards adds to Persian’s damage output, and both are Triple Acceleration Energy users. Naganadel’s own attack seems less useful when considering that most decks will probably be playing a Mew, but since it’s supposed to play more of a supporting role, that’s fine.
A strategy similar to the Zoroark Persian Naganadel deck that was played at NAIC could still be good, especially since Stinger GX is now a built-in part of the main Pokemon line and most healing cards have rotated. Damage a Tag Team, set up a board of only GX, reset the prizes, and once the opponent takes a KO, simply Cat Walk into whatever is needed to take the win.
There’s many ways one can go about building a deck around this card, and I’m personally looking forward to try making it work. Other than the focus of a deck, it can also be a 1-of in existing Blacephalon decks.
7 Garchomp & Giratina-GX
At first I wasn’t a big fan of this card, but now I think it could be an upgrade from Ultra Necrozma for Malamar decks.
240 damage for 3 Energy is very efficient, and while the condition is awkward, Giratina’s Distortion Door makes it work well enough. The Tag Teams biggest advantage is of course the high HP, that makes it almost impossible to OHKO and can create favorable trades. GG End GX is also a really unique and useful option. It doesn’t take prizes, but discarding a fully powered up Pokemon can be impactful enough for it to be worth anyway.
Giratina & Garchomp is not only naturally better at dealing with Pikachu & Zekrom than Ultra Necrozma is, the Fighting energies also allow to add other techs like Marshadow & Machamp-GX, or even Aerodactyl-GX, to deal with what looks like the frontrunner of the format.
Overall, I wouldn’t call the card amazing, but it’s another strong Tag Team and fits well into the Malamar deck, so I expect to see it around.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Pokemon with an Ability like Weavile’s, but almost all of them (Aromatisse, Hydreigon, Klinklang, and others before) have been centerpieces of top tier meta decks. They were reliant on Max Potion usually, but I believe Weavile has enough support to succeed even without it.
Unified Minds brings 3 more cards that fit perfectly with it, that aren’t particularly impressive on their own, but look like they were made to be played together: Umbreon & Darkrai-GX, Mega Sableye & Tyranitar-GX and Night City.
Umbreon & Darkrai can attack as early as turn 2 with the help of Weavile and some form ofEnergy acceleration – Naganadel and Darkrai being the main options. 150 damage to the active, and 60 to the bench isn’t as impressive as what some other Tag Teams can produce, but sets up perfectly for Sableye & Tyranitar to come in and take an extra prize with its Greedy Crush. Since both Tag Teams have immense HP and can be switched around freely thanks to Weavile and Night City, it’s really hard to take KOs or get rid of Energy against this deck.
Additionally, both have useful GX attacks that can completely swing a game, or at least take a huge knockout. I particularly like that Gigafall acts as a built-in Shedinja Counter, but sadly it’s not all that reliable as they might just tech a Latios-GX.
As a fan of anything that attacks for Darkness Energy, I’m excited for this deck. Fun Fact, it has three different ways of skipping Beast Rings against Blacephalon. Now if that isn’t impressive?
5 Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX
Another really good Tag Team, and this time not as the center of a new deck, but as an addition to the already powerful Lightning decks. After burning through a bunch of Electropowers, Pikachu & Zekrom can struggle with some of the bigger Tag Team rivals. After all, Full Blitz doing 150 damage isn’t overly impressive and becomes less impactful after the initial one.
That is where Raichu and its Tandem Shock attack can come into play instead. 160 damage is only slightly more damage, but the Paralysis is huge in a format with no easy switching. If the opponent fails to get rid of it, that’s almost just as good as doing a direct OHKO. Some decks might not even play options to get rid of Paralysis, and others can be hit with hand disruption and simply miss.
To add to that, the Raichu Tag Team has a respectable 260 HP, which puts it out of range of a lot of attacks that Pikachu & Zekrom wouldn’t be able to take.
While Tag Bolt will likely still be the go-to GX attack, Raichu’s Lightning Ride is a valid alternative if just wanting to take a big OHKO. Given how popular Mew seems to be at the moment, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this attack used a lot.
I expect to see at least one Raichu Tag Team in most Lightning decks going forward.
4 Giant Furnace
I think if this Stadium was a Prism Star, no one would be surprised, and auto include a single copy into every Fire deck, just like Heat Factory.
If this doesn’t tell all that’s needed about this card, just look at how good and popular Viridian Forest is, even though it gets only a single Energy and helps the opponent just as much.
I honestly don’t know what else to say about it, Giant Furnace is a crazy stadium and I expect to see it in high counts in almost every Fire deck.
3 Cherish Ball
Most good Ball cards have rotated out, but we’re getting this really important new one.
Together with Dedenne-GX, Cherish Ball will be the consistency base of most GX based decks. The existence of it, coupled with the lack of good search option for anything that isn’t a GX, might push the meta in a very GX heavy direction.
I once again feel like there’s not much else to say here, Cherish Ball is quite simply really good, but it’s also “only” a search card and doesn’t do anything crazy, so I think the next two cards deserve to the above it.
2 Mewtwo & Mew-GX
Now we’re getting to the absolute highlights of this set. Mew & Mewtwo is an incredible card, I’m sure one could even argue about it being one of the best cards of all time.
The Mew typical ability of copying attacks and being flexible has existed before, and even won the World Championships a long time ago. It usually comes with the downside of being more fragile than the various Pokemon one could copy, but this time, it’s on a 270 HP Pokémon! Being able to use the attacks of discarded Evolution Pokemon is crazy as well.
The first obvious use for this card is as a tech is about every other GX deck to diversify Weaknesses. For example, Mew2 can’t use Electropowers, but against a Fighting deck, it’s still basically a better Pikachu & Zekrom. Similarly, if you’re playing the Darkness Toolbox deck and facing something Fighting, you’d rather use a Mew2 than any of your usual GX.
Aside from its use as a tech, one can build a deck around it as the main attraction, with a lot of Pokemon and good attacks to copy. Popular partners seem to be Altaria, Solgaleo, Greninja and Dragonite, but there’s tons of options. To no surprise, Mew2’s own GX attack is good as well.
A card that makes this strategy even better is Jirachi-GX. A lot of polarized matchups in Pokemon are caused by Weakness, and it just completely removes this factor from the Mewtwo & Mew deck. And not only that, if playing a list with access to Rainbow or Psychic Energy, it also has a nice attack to copy in the early game to get additional Energy into play.
I’ve been focusing on only the Standard format so far, but I believe that it’s worth noting this card might be even better in Expanded. Access to almost 8 years worth of attacks to copy, paired with Dimension Valley… who knows what’s possible! At the very least, I’m sure it’ll be a good Quacking Punch user.
We’ll see a lot of this card at about every tournament it’ll be legal for.
1 Reset Stamp
As a big fan of N in the past, I’m hyped about this card. Mew & Mewtwo is an amazing Pokemon, but Reset Stamp changes the whole dynamic of how the game is played, which makes it the #1 card from Unified Minds for me.
Comebacks will be a real part of the game again, and building a strong board instead of relying on cards in hand will be much more important than before. I’m a fan of this, because it’ll be easier to recover from a slower opening, and it should create more smaller decisions that can alter the outcome of the game.
Reset Stamp is of course not exactly an N reprint, and it’s hard to predict the exact impact it’ll have. It’s not a consistency out, so playing 4 in a deck will be hard to justify, and finding it at the right time gets more difficult.
On the plus side, since it’s an Item, and doesn’t affect your own hand, there’s a lot more combos you can do with it. Some decks might be able to follow up a Stamp with Mars, or in the future, Jessie & James. It can also be combined with other disruptive Supporters, like Koga’s Trap.
A card that will benefit from Stamp’s release is Mismagius. It feels like Mismagius was designed with this effect in mind. Tag Team decks can use it to put opponents down to 1 prize, and with that 1 card in hand, while forcing them to take 3 more prizes anyway. On the other side, having a Mismagius on the bench is the perfect protection against an incoming Stamp.
One of my main objectives when preparing for the upcoming World Championships will be finding a deck that can use Reset Stamp the best. A deck like Zoroark Garbodor last year, that’s not afraid of falling behind, because it’ll just make the comeback anyway (Yes, I’m very biased 😋).
I feel like this set is overall slightly weaker than the last two, but once again full of interesting and strong cards. New expansions are crazy these days, and I’m happy about that.
Worlds will be exciting, and I’m looking forward to trying to figure out this format!