Hello everyone, and welcome back to part 4 of my guide to this year’s rotation. Today, to celebrate the recent rotation taking effect, we’ve got a bumper edition! We’ll be covering the mini-set Dragon Majesty, the Sun and Moon Promo cards, and the first half of the final set to rotate, Lost Thunder. Let’s dive in!
Victini Prism Star
Another great Prism Star Pokémon, Victini was great at recovering energy cards from the discard pile while scoring big OHKOs on high HP opponents. It’s two most popular partners, Baby Blacephalon and Reshizard, required high amounts of energy to attack, meaning that them being knocked out only fuelled Victini’s Infinity attack even more. After hitting big numbers with its attack, the energy would be ready to go again thanks to the like of Giant Hearth, Fiery Flint and Welder.
Also helping out with energy, Quagsire’s speciality was being able to make sure that you could always have a powered-up attacker. After an unsuccessful relationship with Lapras GX, Quagsire formed a formidable partnership with Naganadel, whose ability to accelerate to itself from the discard pile was used to great success to power up attackers in a single turn, all while ensuring you never ran out of energy.
Primarily used for its Sonic Edge attack, Altaria was useful in Welder Mewtwo in dealing with another Sonic Edge user, Keldeo GX, who could completely wall all other GX Pokémon thanks to its ability. However, with Keldeo completely dropping off in play after being dropped in favour of Zacian V to partner ADP, Altaria GX was no longer needed.
Since Explosive Jet synergised so well with Welder, Turtonator was played in a wide variety of Welder decks for its late game burst potential. High HP Pokémon such as Mew3, Reshizard and Heatran GX requiring lots of energy throughout a game, you could play down a Turtonator with a Welder and detonate a TagTeam Pokémon with ease thanks to your other powered up attackers.
Probably the biggest card from this set to be rotating out, Fiery Flint was first played with Reshizard, before being replace by Giant Hearth to ensure energy for Welder. However, as well as this new Stadium, Fiery Flint was paired with Baby Blacephalon to form one of the most popular (and, at the same time, unpopular) archetypes in the game. With 1 Fiery Flint, you were only a Giant Hearth or Energy Retrieval away from being able to score a knockout on any Pokémon in the game.
Lance Prism Star
A powerful Supporter on paper, Lance Prism Star was, unsurprisingly, used to search out Stage 2 Dragon types with powerful abilities. These were mainly the two Dragonite cards from Team Up and Unified Minds, which allowed you to search out Supporter cards from the deck, and accelerate additional energy, respectively.
Switch Raft was another great card in theory, providing some free healing since almost all decks played Switch anyway. However, since none of the universally played Pokémon (Jirachi, Dedenne GX etc.) were Water type, meaning that if you played this card you opponent could gust and trap any of your non-attacking Pokémon that were of a different type. A shame, really, considering that healing 120 damage for free is something that doesn’t come around very often…
The first of 3 significant Promo cards which rotate out this year, Lucario GX’s peak was with the other great Fighting type GX cards, and Zoroark of course. It was paired in a variety of ways with Buzzwole GX and Lycanroc GX to take sudden quick knockouts with Aura Strike, or finish of a big threat with a Cantankerous Beatdown GX, an attack which also saw Lucario GX feature in some Ultimate Mewtwo varients.
Speaking of Mewtwo and Mew GX, Turbo Strike was (along with Welder), the main way of accelerating energy in the fire-based builds of the deck. Finishing your first turn with 5 energy on the board was great when a lot of your attackers required numerous energies in their attack cost. Also, it could be used to reload energy onto your Pokémon towards the late game, all while doing a significant amount of damage. The loss of Solgaleo GX is so big to Welder Mewtwo, that it probably signals the end of the archetype altogether.
Dusk Mane Necrozma
A nice one prize option, Dusk Mane Necrozma was great at finished off damaged GX Pokémon on your opponent’s bench for game. With Zacian V (its most popular partner) unable to OHKO a TagTeam Pokémon in one hit, Dusk Mane Necrozma offered a nice, low risk option that could lead you to taking multiple prizes per turn thanks to the Jirachi Prism Star combo.
It’s sort of a cliché nowadays that the only way a Stage 2 Pokémon will see play is if it has an absolutely crazy ability. Meganium is a perfect example of that cliché, as Quick-Ripening Herb is so powerful that it would be kind of unfair if it was printed on anything other than a Stage 2 Pokémon. It paved the way for 2 crazy decks centred all around these evolution Pokémon, with Swampert providing the draw, and either Greninja GX or Nidoqueen supplying the firepower. With Meganium now rotating, it’s now back to Rare Candy for the rest of the Stage 2 cards left, with no chance of any other support in sight…
Skiploom and Jumpluff
Next up, we have Sun and Moon’s take on Night March, a deck built around low HP Pokémon who had potential to deal massive damage. This version, built around the Lost March attack, required you to put you Pokémon in the lost zone instead of the discard pile in order to power up the attack. However, while the deck saw some success, getting Skiplooms into the lost zone required you to evolve into it, something that was never going to be as easy as simply discarding it from you hand (or the deck as Night March could!). With the Sword and Shield variant, Mad Party, back to requiring Pokémon in the discard, there could be life in this type archetype yet.
Fresh Squeezed, a Battle Compressor for Energy cards, Shuckle as it happens never saw play with one of the most prominent energy accelerators of the SUM era in Malamar. Perhaps this was because it risked players missing early attachments, but it didn’t stop Shuckle seeing play in decks that needed lots of discarded energy early on. Namely, it was key in Alolan Exeggutor, which needed many different types of energy to be discarded, and Boltund V, which wanted to use Zeraora GX’s Full Voltage GX to get up to 8 energy on board at the end of your first turn.
Meanwhile, Shuckle GX was much more focussed towards stalling archetypes, namely Regigigas Hoopa. The ability to completely wall Pokémon who didn’t require lots of energy to attack could leave your opponent helpless for multiple turns while you’d rack up damage and paralyse with Triple Poison and Wrap GX.
Celebi Prism Star
An interesting card, in that it provided a twist on Celebi’s usual evolution antics by allowing you to devolve your own Pokémon to reuse coming into play abilities. However, this same affect could be done through item cards, in Devolution Spray Z and Scoop Up Net, which allow you to use your attack for damage rather than just an effect on your own Pokémon.
While Sunshine Grace was always a strong ability, the fact that it was exclusive to a Stage 1 Pokémon inherently meant that it was less likely to see play. Searching out evolutions to use with Rare Candy or more basics to evolve on future turns was always strong, but that didn’t stop Grovyle from seeing minimal play outside of Sceptile GX decks.
Speaking of Sceptile GX, this Pokémon could set up some nice 2HKO on opponents with Leaf Cyclone, moving energy to another attacker which was being set up, before finishing them off with a Mach Cut. Jungle Heal GX was also another powerful attack and could be extremely effective if used on other GX Pokémon.
Although it never saw serious play, Dustox’s Hazardous Evolution was always powerful in combination with Devolution Spray Z, which could see you paralyze opponents multiple turns in a row while racking up 30 damage in between turns with poison, as well as whatever damage you were doing with your attack.
Played in two tanking Grass archetypes, Celesaur and Eggrow, Shaymin could provide some phenomenal healing if you managed to get a few onto the bench, in combination with Life Forest Prism Star, meaning that you could heal over 100 damage in a single turn without playing a single Item or Supporter card. And then Welder came along…
The final significant Grass Pokémon from this set, Virizion GX saw play primarily for Breeze Away GX, where it saw play with two walling archetypes, Vileplume and Obstagoon. In both of these decks, Virizion would scoop up all Pokémon in play, bar those with the basic-hating abilities, meaning that players could pass their way to victory if their opponent had no answer to them.
Blazing Energy was always a cool ability (which had an even cooler animation on PTCGO!) that was only ever taken advantage of with one card, the Centickorch from Sword and Shield. It could mill a massive amount of card thanks to Typhlosion and Porygon Z working together to create a lot of Fire type Special Energy but was sadly never more than a rouge archetype thanks to its need to set up two Stage 2 Pokémon.
The great thing about Magcargo GX was its versatility. It was played as its own deck in combination with the Magcargo from Celestial Storm to take advantage of Crushing Charge to up Lava Flow, it was a tech in Mill decks so it could finish off games with Burning Magma GX and it was a key piece in Welder Mewtwo which made use of both if it’s attacks. Magcargo GX was a really well-balanced card, and it will be greatly missed by many.
Onto a card will also be missed, Blacephalon GX first paired up with Charging Up Naganadel to deal massive damage thanks to its ability to accelerate multiple energy cards in a turn. It then moved into Baby Blacephalon for its Burst GX attack which could quicky finish of games where you otherwise might not have enough resources to take another knockout.
An interesting one prize option, White Kyurem could deal great damage for a somewhat awkward attack cost, but as it happens it saw play thanks to Field Crush in Regigigas Hoopa stall decks as well as its own deck.
One of those rare cards that could inflict instant status conditions, Mareep was firstly seen in Breloom Froslass decks where it could guarantee your opponent would be asleep before hitting with Breloom. However, more recently, it saw the vast majority of its play in mill decks, where it could take advantage of Slumbering Forest to keep your opponent asleep (unless they flipped double heads between the right turn) while you continued to mill their deck.
Another rarity in the form of a draw engine, Zebstrika, saw play with a number of aggressive single prize decks such as Granbull, Zapdos and Excadrill, all of which loved digging through the deck as fast as possible to find the next combo piece. While we still have Cinccino, it pales in comparison to the power that Zebstrika could bring to a deck.
One of the bigger losses from this set Zeraora GX was key in Pikarom so that its attackers could quickly pivot into each other, especially at the start of a match if you were able to pull off that illustrious Full Blitz on your first turn. Plasma Fists was also a handy attack in the deck for dealing with Dedenne GX, while Full Voltage GX was especially for archetypes built around powering up Boltund V.
One of two playable Unown’s from this set, Unown Damage saw play in stall archetypes as a possible win condition if you managed to rack up enough damage on you board with your tanky defensive walls.
The more complex of the Unowns, Hand also saw play in stalling decks as you looked to rack up a massive hand size over the course of a game. It was also the centre of an entire deck which took advantage of Salazzle and Zacian V to draw a lot of cards in a turn. You just had to watch out for Marnie…
An anti-Prism Star card, Wobbuffet was primarily played as a tech to stop the likes of Diancie, Ditto Tapu Koko and Victini Prism Star, all of which were vital for either early or late game pushes, depending on the deck.
What made Get Lost such a good attack was that it had a colourless cost, meaning that it saw play in any and all control decks. Girafarig could send important Supporters, Pokémon or even Energy to the lost zone so that the opponent couldn’t use them for the rest of the game, punishing early discards of important resources with the like of Dedenne GX or Professor’s Research.
As soon as a card like this is revealed, players begin speculating what kind of decks they can create and what kind of annoying Pokémon they can keep in the active that won’t give up any prize cards. As it so happened, the cards of choice where Resource Management Oranguru, which could recycle your Shedinja pieces back into the deck, or the aforementioned Girafarig, which could send your opponents used cards into the Lost Zone.
The final card from this first look a Lost Thunder, Giratina was best friends with Malamar for many, many formats. Its Distortion Door ability meant it could be recycled over and over again and continue to use Shadow Impact without suffering from the condition of placing damage counters, since they could be placed on Giratina with no consequence as it would likely be knocked out in return.