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Professor Bamboo Professor Bamboo - June 3, 2021

Trading Your Way To Victory – Zoroark-GX/Raticate Expanded Deck Prof...

One of the fundamental strengths of a good deck is consistency. This is what made Zoroark-GX such a dominant archetype in both Standard and Expanded meta-games. The consistency enabled by the “Trade” ability gave players the feeling that their games would be rather stereotypical, even in best-of-1 environments.

Today, Zoroark has struggled to stay relevant in the top levels of competitive gameplay but every now and then a variant breaks through. I will go over a list that manages to completely ignore recent and possibly future power creep and seriously give Zoroark-GX a fighting chance in the meta-game.

Zoroark-GX

Zoroark-GX

Pokemon

Historically, Zoroark-GX served as both the main attacker and draw engine. With Sky Field active, Zoroark-GX with a Choice Band threatened 210 damage, where 210 was about the highest HP Pokemon you would encounter. Nowadays, Zoroark-GX takes a backseat role in terms of attacks since it will not be one shotting your opponents Tag Team nor VMAX Pokemon. Instead, Zoroark-GX will use its Trade ability to set up the Raticate one-shot combo.

Raticate’s attack for three colorless energy (provided by Triple Acceleration Energy) will place damage counters on your opponent’s Pokemon until they have just 10HP remaining. While the attack itself does not fully knockout your opponents Pokemon, you can precede your attack by playing Hypnotoxic Laser. In effect, you opponent will become Poisoned and take 10 damage in between turns. With Raticate’s Super Fang attack, the remaining 10HP will be dealt via poison damage which is a one-shot knockout combo. All you must do is repeat this combo to close out the game and win.

Exeggcute is another key component of this strategy. Zoroark’s ability requires you to discard a card in order to draw two cards. When Exeggcute is discarded by Zoroark’s ability, its own Propagation ability allows you to return it to your own hand. What this means is that anytime you need to discard a card for any card effect or ability, Exeggcute makes it free. This includes discarding cards with Ultra Ball. Using this synergy will allow to conserve all resources in your deck without having to compromise for additional draw.

Finally, one copy of Ditto Prism is necessary as it will allow a more consistent setup of both your Zoroark and Raticate lines.

This ratio of support Pokemon is what I have found much success with. We run many single copies of supporter cards and while Zoroark may be able to use Trade to draw into them, sometimes immediate access is necessary. Playing two copies of Tapu Lele-GX buffs your deck with added consistency when you want to search for specific supporters. Similarly, during your early turns where Zoroark-GX is not in play, we rely on Dedenne-GX and Crobat-GX to draw additional cards. They become less useful in the late game so we only play one copy each.

These Pokemon are your techs against the current expanded meta-game and significantly improve your odds of surviving your opponent’s attacks. Sudowoodo’s Bench Barrier ability makes it one of the most popular Expanded meta-game answers to decks like Eternatus VMAX, Turbo Dark, and even opposing Zoroark-GX Decks. Denying your opponents bench space while having an extended one yourself (via Sky Field) often hinders both your opponent’s ability to set up their board and mitigate their overall damage output. This is especially the case when facing decks like Eternatus VMAX.

In match-ups where your opponent threatens your bench, this can significantly hinder your ability to develop Raticates. In particular, Pikachu & Zekrom and Garchomp & Giratina Tag Deam decks are notorious for being able to clear threats rather easily on their opponent’s bench. Mew serves as a single prize buffer between these threats and can often buy you the single turn you need to safely pump out Raticate and access your one-shot combo.

  • 1 Galarian Rapidash V

This is a brand new Pokemon V that has already been making waves in the current Standard Format. For two colorless energies, Libra Horn (like Super Fang) is an attack that places damage counters on your opponent’s active Pokemon – until they have 100HP remaining. This may seem less useful than Raticate’s attack but consider this: Raticate involves a multi card combo that can often be difficult to assemble even with the tremendous draw power of Zoroark-GX. Rapidash can close out a game simply by offering itself as a two prize bait after it uses Libra Horn on a three prize Pokemon. You simply clean up the remaining HP with Zoroark-GX’s Riotous Beating. The inclusion of Galarian Rapidash V simply allows for a more consistent path to victory.

Supporters

This deck runs eight unique supporters. This may seem completely random and inconsistent. However, Zoroark-GX with four copies of VS Seeker allows you to access any one of them rather conveniently throughout the game.

These are your main draw supporters. Colress is particularly useful when you and your opponent have capitalized on Sky Field. Colress can draw yourself up to sixteen cards.

N and Marnie together provide the much-needed hand disruption this deck needs to survive. Before Marnie, N was the main form of hand disruption. In the late game, when your opponent has 1 prize card remaining, N is a fantastic supporter to significantly disrupt your opponents ability to access game-ending pieces.

However, N has it’s downsides. For one, using an emergency N in the early game can sometimes help your opponent. You never know when your opponent also has a bad hand and using N can seriously help them. Marnie offers an alternate route to disruption. An early Marnie, unlike N, does not refresh your opponent with a six card hand. Instead, Marnie resembles the now banned Marshadow with the Let Loose ability. This forces your opponent to start with a four card hand while refreshing your own can often win you the game.

Guzma deserves little explanation. It allows your to take down threats on your opponent’s bench, often used to close out a game. In other scenarios, a well timed Guzma can trap a Pokemon in the active spot forcing your opponent to commit resources to retreat it.

In my play-testing, these are cards that are constantly useful. Guzma & Hala has the ability to search any energy in the deck, a Float Stone and the Sky Field. All of which are key consistency cards that are often required in your early game set up. During the late game, Guzma & Hala can be used simply to search out that Triple Acceleration Energy you’re digging for to close out the game with Raticate.

Professor’s Elm’s Lecture is, in my opinion, better than Bridgette. Both options are used to search out a Raticate, Zorua and Ditto Prism during your early turn setup, but Elm lets you search the Exeggcutes into hand. This added flexibility makes me prefer Elm of Bridgette.

Red’s Challenge is the exact same as Computer Search, except it’s a supporter. Its inclusion in the deck and essentially free cost when used with Exeggcute basically means that this deck runs two Ace Specs.

Pokemon Breeder’s Nurturing is a spicy little inclusion in the list because it can often save you resources and kick start your early game. Immediately evolving Pokemon from your deck not only saves you the time and energy you would otherwise spend to search those cards out, it also provides a nice boost to consistency. Consider a scenario where you really need to evolve a Pokemon but you don’t have a reliable route into your deck. Instead, you can use Breeder to solve that problem.

Items/Tools

The two item cards that deserve an explanation are Target Whistle and Great Catcher. Zoroark-GX decks often arrive at the late game with 12+ cards in their hand. Chances are, you will be holding onto these cards as you attempt to take the last 2-3 prizes. Your opponent will probably recognize this and try to not develop any game-ending liabilities on their bench. You can bypass this by bringing back a previously multi-prize basic Pokémon onto their bench and target it with Great Catcher and knocking it out to win. With Dowsing Machine, even if you lose either of these pieces, you can recover them during the late game.

Closing Thoughts

Zoroark-GX in general is a rather difficult deck to pilot. It involves several micro-decisions and sequences that need to be executed perfectly. Despite this, Zoroark-GX paired with Raticate is a surprisingly consistent strategy that has the capability to take down some of the top threats in the Expanded meta-game. Furthermore, the overall cost of the deck (compared to others) is rather low. This archetype would make for an excellent competitive investment that has the ability to stay competitively relevant for years to come; no matter how high Pokemon HP’s become in the future.

Get all your board game news at The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

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The Fossil Maniac The Fossil Maniac - June 2, 2021

Top Ten Cards in Chilling Reign!

It’s the Fossil Maniac here, coming at you with another Pokémon TCG Top Ten list. This time, we celebrate the arrival of the latest Pokémon set Chilling Reign.

Honorable Mention: Zeraora V

Zeraora V adds a new flavor to the Rapid Strike deck with its powerful lightning typing. With the arrival of powerful water-type support, lightning coverage might be crucial now more than ever. Stick this Pokémon in a Rapid Strike Urshifu build and reap the benefits.

#10: Echo Horn

Echo horn is an extremely versatile item card that is sure to see play in the ever-popular Rapid Strike archetype. Searchable with Octillery from Battle Styles, Echo Horn’s strength is reinforced by its synergy with Urshifu Rapid Strike VMAX. Simply return an opponent’s Pokémon from their discard pile onto their bench and use Urshifu’s G-Max Rapid Flow to slap 120 damage onto that newly benched creature. Because it’s an item card, you aren’t limited to using a single copy per turn either. Using two in a single turn lets you hit multiple targets with Urshifu’s powerful attack to collect multiple prize cards at once.

#9: Galarian Moltres V

As the bird trio returns in their Galarian forms, their brand-new typing allows them to support some of the most powerful Pokémon in the format. The darkness typing of Galarian Moltres V is notable for its ability to power up your Eternatus VMAX. This powerful phoenix can attach Darkness energies from your discard pile onto itself. Follow through with an Energy Switch to attach this energy onto your Eternatus VMAX and accelerate into its Dread End attack. With this classic bird by its side, Eternatus VMAX may even be able to stand up to its greatest fighting-type threats.

#8: Passimian

The Rapid Strike archetype adds a new basic Pokémon onto its roster in the form of Passimian. Passimian’s ability allows his fellow Rapid Strike Pokémon to deal an additional 30 damage onto your opponents benched Pokémon-V and Pokémon-GX. This ability is extremely powerful in decks tailored for damaging the opponent’s bench. It also combos great alongside Echo Horn and Urshifu Rapid Strike VMAX.

#7: Galarian Zapdos V

Another one of the classic birds reimagined in a new form is Galarian Zapdos V. This card can be splashed into any deck which uses Aurora Energy to easily take down an opponent’s Eternatus VMAX. Since its Thunderous Kick attack costs [C] less for each of your opponent’s Pokémon-V in play, a single [F] energy is all you need to one-hit-KO your opponent’s Eternatus VMAX or Crobat V.

#6: Fog Crystal

It’s no secret that the psychic type is making its most impactful return since the release of Dragapult VMAX all the way back in Rebel Clash. Fog Crystal is a powerful item card which allows you to add a Basic [P] Pokémon or a [P] energy from your deck to your hand. This will help you quickly filter out your most powerful cards in the early game. You will be able to establish and accelerate a Shadow Rider Calyrex V or Cresselia onto the board right away.

Chilling Reign

#5: Melony

Melony is the best the archetype-specific supporter in Chilling Reign, if not in the entire Sword & Shield TCG series. Comparable to the Welder trainer card for Fire-type decks, Melony has the ability to accelerate a [W]-energy onto your powerful Pokémon-V right from your discard pile, while drawing you 3 cards from your deck. This supporter undoubtedly has the potential to carry any Water-themed deck to victory and allows them to compete at top tables with ease.

Chilling Reign

#4: Cresselia

Cresselia is an all-new Psychic-Type incarnation of Volcanion from Unbroken Bonds. Every Shadow Rider Calyrex V player will want this absolute unit of a basic Pokémon as their starter at the beginning of each game. For just a single [P] energy you can attach three additional [P] energies onto your Shadow Rider. Search it out with a Fog Crystal on your first turn to make sure that your Shadow Rider Calyrex V is accelerated and ready to knock out any Pokémon in its way as soon as turn 2!

Chilling Reign

#3: Path to The Peak

Path to The Peak is one of the strongest stadium cards introduced in the modern Pokémon TCG. Though it may be impervious to your opponent playing their own stadium cards, Path to The Peak stops all abilities from any Pokémon with a rule box. This includes reliable draw cards such as Crobat V and Dedenne-GX who can individually replenish an opponent’s empty hand. Path to The Peak is the ultimate anti-meta stadium card, stopping even the all-powerful Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in its tracks.

Chilling Reign

#2: Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX

Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX is the Water-type superstar of Chilling Reign, using your opponent’s numbers to your advantage. Its Ride of the High Kings attack deals 30 additional damage for every one of your opponents benched Pokemon. If you have Melony in hand, you can also freely use its Max Lance attack to inflict 120 damage for each energy you discard from it. Follow through with Melony to attach your discarded energy right back onto it or simply attach two more using Frosmoth’s (Sword & Shield) ability!

Chilling Reign

#1: Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX

Much to the dismay of its Water-type counterpart, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX rides to the number one spot of our Chilling Reign Top Ten list. The advantage of running a deck centered around this regal rider is its fantastic typing which puts it in a position to hit weakness on Urshifu Rapid Strike VMAX. Combined with Cresselia and Fog Crystal, Shadow Rider Calyrex V and VMAX are introduced with a complete psychic-type package.

This Pokémon also comes with built-in acceleration. Its ability lets you attach a [P] energy from your hand to a benched Pokémon while drawing you two cards. This allows you to build up a devastating attack which deals 30 additional damage for every [P] energy you have in play, knocking out any Pokémon your opponent can throw at you.

Chilling Reign

That’s all for today everyone. As always, we appreciate you tuning into The Bag of Loot’s very own Top Ten Pokémon TCG list. Catch you at the pre-release!

Advice from a fossil: Learn from the past, don’t fall apart under pressure, and make a good impression!

Chilling Reign comes out June 18th!

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

Get all your Pokemon needs at Three Kings Loot! www.threekingsloot.com

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - May 25, 2021

Pokemon Sword & Shield: Chilling Reign

The Galarian rule has arrived! Chilling Reign is coming soon to your nearest board game shop!

Lean into the mystery and ghostly world of winter, utilizing brand new strategies to the Pokemon Standard meta! Chilling Reign will see the arrival of the Galarian Legendary Birds variants, as well as the introduction of Calyrex V and VMAX!

Chilling Reign Chilling ReignChilling Reign

However, it’s not just the Legendary Birds getting a Galarian upgrade. Numerous cards are getting an Galarian boost in this upcoming set! Check out Sirfetch’d, Slowking, and Runerigus!

Chilling Reign Chilling Reign Chilling Reign

Pokemon: Sword & Shield – Chilling Reign comes out on June 18th!

Get all your board game news from The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

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Professor Bamboo Professor Bamboo - May 24, 2021

Bad Manners or Big Brain? – ADP Zacian Expanded Pokemon Deck Profile

Perhaps the most infamous Pokemon card to ever be printed is Arceus, Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX or ADP for short. For some, playing the deck means you love torturing your opponents with a despised archetype and/or are just capitalizing on the most powerful strategies in the meta-game.

The two energy Altered Creation GX attack is one of the most powerful attacks in the entire game to date. Once resolved, you can take an extra prize card per knockout and all your Pokemon have their attack’s damage increased by 30, which is nothing short of a monstrous buff. This has led to faster games and even saltier losses (“What do you mean I lost because you KO’d two of my Dedenne-GX!?”).

For those reasons, its existence in the competitive meta-game has been a topic of fierce division, particularly in the Standard format. Games with ADPZ seem to ignore your entire deck’s strategy/identity by punishing you for playing universally used/required two-prize support Pokemon like Crobat V and Dedenne-GX. But what about in Expanded?

ADP In The Expanded Format

Ironically, despite the clear power it has in the Standard Format, ADP does not hold the same meta share in Pokemon’s alternate competitive format, nor the same degree of “gatekeeping” against single prize decks. This is largely due to the robust buffering effect of the Expanded legal card pool. Cards like Pokemon Ranger (a card usually considered to be a ‘bulk box’ trainer) and Pyroar are few among a long list of techs that answer a turn 1 Altered Creation, but also serve other niche uses without interfering too much with deck consistency. This then begs the question: Is ADP Zacian a good deck in Expanded?

The simple answer is that ADP Zacian is indeed an incredibly powerful deck in Expanded and you will usually see a few in the top cut of almost every major Expanded tournament. While it might not always win a tournament, players still view it as an extremely safe pick to top a tournament with. Let’s look at a typical list to find out what makes it so successful.

Monster List

2 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia

Pokemon

3 Zacian V

1 Cobalion GX or 1 Mawile GX

Pokemon Pokemon

ADP is played at two copies to ensure that you will have ample opportunities to pull off a turn one Altered Creation Attack. Once resolved, ADP is far from useless. Ultimate Ray is another insanely powerful attack that does 150 damage and accelerates 3 energies of your choice from your deck. Keep in mind that after Altered Creation, Ultimate Ray does 180 damage in total and possibly 210 with a Choice Band or 200 with a Muscle Band. With these numbers, you are not only able to immediately set-up a benched Zacian V with 3 energies from deck, you are also able to knockout many Pokemon GX and V for an immediate 3 prize advantage.

Now with three energies attached, Zacian V has one of the highest damage three energy attacks on a basic Pokemon. With Altered Creation, Brave Blade does 230+30 damage. Toss a Muscle Band or Choice band onto that and you’re now reaching 280-290 – this is one shot territory for Tag Team Pokemon.

Cobalion GX is something that I have found success with. There are a handful of annoying status conditions that can affect your ADP and Zacian, preventing them from attacking and slowing down your game plan. Cobalion’s ability allows you to protect your Pokemon with metal energies attached giving you an added layer of protection. Furthermore, Cobalion’s attack can also serve as a damaging attack. Consider this: with Altered Creation and a Choice Band, Cobalion can hit 170 damage – enough to knockout a Tapu Lele GX for 3 prizes.

If you’re not a fan of Cobalion, consider Mawile GX. Often times, your opponent will recognize that playing a Dedenne GX, Crobat V or Tapu Lele GX will become a 3 prize liability on their bench and hold it in their hands, out of reach from your attackers. Mawile GX has the ability to force them onto your opponent’s bench, making them easy targets to pick off.

Supporters

4 Professor Sycamore

Pokemon

4 Guzma

Pokemon

2 Guzma & Hala 

Pokemon

For many decks, this might seem like a very high number of supporters in a format that has VS Seeker. You often see these many copies of these because the deck does not plan to play past turn three or four. Thus, VS Seeker can be a dead card in many situations, especially when you desperately want to access your first copy of Guzma in the game.

Four copies of Sycamore and Guzma will allow you to reliably access their effects in the early turns of the game and give you a sense of comfort knowing that during the mid game, you will have ample opportunity to see additional copies, making your deck perform extremely consistently.

Finally, to bridge the gap between all the pieces that are required to pull of your turn one Altered Creation, two copies of Guzma & Hala are included. This Tag Team Supporter allows you to pull a Double Dragon Energy, Tool, and Stadium from your deck. Seeing this in your opening hand is extremely favorable.

Items/Tools

4 Trainers’ Mail

Pokemon

4 Metal Saucer

3 Max Elixir

3 Tag Call

Pokemon

1 Great Catcher

Pokemon

1 Target Whistle

Pokemon

As if it wasn’t already easy to setup multiple attackers with Ultimate Ray, Expanded gifts ADPZ with the most powerful energy acceleration items in the game. Metal Saucer is particularly versatile as you can use it to re-establish an attacker after losing one. To improve your consistency and card access, 4 Trainers’ Mail are in my opinion pseudo-mandatory in the deck. In a deck that typically accesses its resources consistently, Trainers’ Mail extends your reach that much more.

To complement this even further, play 3 copies of Tag Call. I mentioned how incredibly useful Guzma & Hala is above, and since it has a Tag Team tag, it can be the target of a Tag Call search alongside ADP. In effect, a single copy of Tag Call can route into 4 cards in your deck.

The ADP Zacian game plan is not a particularly hidden or malleable concept. It typically follows a rigid sequence of Altered Creation to KO to KO, where each KO is against a two prize Pokémon which you will take three prizes for. You may find your opponent actively starving you of two prize Pokemon to attack by discarding them out of their hand or on their bench.

Target Whistle can force your opponent to bench a Dedenne from their discard that can subsequently be the target of Guzma or Great Catcher. In fact, you can KO 1 Dedenne for 3 prizes, then follow it up with a Target Whistle to get Great Catcher sequence to KO the same Dedenne and close out the game. Insane, right?

Closing Thoughts

With the release of Chilling Reigns on the horizon, you may be wondering if it will affect ADPZ’s postion in the meta-game but I think it is relatively safe. Keep in mind, Fairy Pokemon have been discontinued, so there is a finite list of fairy type Pokemon that can KO ADP before it gets to use Altered Creation. VMAX Pokemon with HP totals higher than 300 have been a problem for ADPZ but then again, two shotting a VMAX pokemon nets you 4 prizes which is not a bad trade.

Furthermore, VMAX Pokemon must evolve on top of two prize Pokemon V. And lastly, most decks still run Dedenne, Crobat and Tapu Lele. So long as your selection of prey remains constant, ADPZ will also be in a position to capitalize.

Get all your board game news here at The Bag of Loot! www.thebagofloot.com

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Avatar Tyson Fraleigh - March 15, 2021

Pokemon: The Villains Yearbook

Pokemon World may be a place of adventure, great friends, and… well, Pokemon – but it is also a place of infinite dangers. Evil hides behind every corner, ready to strike down on any enterprising young Trainer looking to make their name in the world.

So let’s look at the greatest dangers you will be facing as you journey out into Pokemon World, shall we?

Most Likely To Stay Friends After High School – Team Rocket

Team Rocket might be real suspect in their dark dealings, but there is one thing for certain… you can’t take away the fact they are definitely the best friends you could ever ask for.

Sure, they work for an evil mob king known as ‘The Boss’, but does that really counteract their clear affection for one another?

They’re wearing matching uniforms and have practiced their battle ready pose for goodness sake. This is a friendship for the ages to come, even after the Boss fires them for ineptitude.

Maybe they could get a different job with matching uniforms. Maybe Ben & Jerry’s is hiring?

Most Likely To Do Something Because You Said Not To – Rival

There is nothing more sad than a bad guy who worries about what his opponent thinks of him. When you have unintentional control of everything that your opponent does just because you give him attention… well, you know that kid had a rough upbringing somewhere.

Your Rival throughout the games have seen multiple iterations, but  every one of them has had one constant character trait – obsession. Your Rival secretly follows you everywhere, then jumps you suddenly while you are walking through tall grass just to fight you. Stalker much?

I mean, you get to name your Rival, and they listen to you. How pathetic is that?

Pokemon

Most Likely To Be Pokemon’s Next BBEG – Snorlax

Look – I know Snorlax is cute. He looks like a big ole Pokemon that would be a great cuddler. I get it.

But Snorlax is a master of disguise. He plays the part of a gentle giant, but instead is preparing to destroy the Pokemon World.

How do I know this? How can I dare say such a dramatic thing about a gentle creature?

Well… the answer is simple.

Snorlax is trying to cripple the infrastructure of Pokemon World by falling asleep on roads.

Think about it – a big sleeping Pokemon falls asleep on a main road, and no one can get through. Suddenly trade agreements are destroyed because trade between cities becomes impossible. Thousands of workers lose their jobs because the things they are building stop being shipped. Riots spark in the streets as the economy fails, leading to anarchy.

You might say it’s a coincidence, but I say no! Who falls asleep on a road? Especially a wild creature?

I’M NOT CRAZY, YOU JUST DON’T SEE HIS VISION! SNORLAX IS COMING! HEED MY WARNING!

Pokemon

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Professor Bamboo Professor Bamboo - April 25, 2020

Rebel Clash set review by Professor Bamboo

Pokémon Sword & Clash Rebel Clash

Hey Trainers! Professor Bamboo here. Man… what a crazy past few months this has been. After months in self-isolation, the cancellation of the 2020 Championship series, Rebel clash prerelease at-home and being on the tail end of the current meta, I’m sure I’m not the only one itching for some new cards! Thankfully, Pokémon isn’t holding back and we’re about to dive into their latest set – Rebel Clash

Rebel Clash is the second installment in the Sword and Shield block and it’s packed with exciting new Pokémon and trainers. One of the joys of reading through a new set is the opportunity to craft new deck ideas and improve older ones. While some ideas are better than others, the sheer depth of possibility is what I think makes Pokémon so fun. Of course, with this much new content, the task of reading every card can be daunting. For those of you out there that are just tuning in to Rebel Clash, I’ve gone ahead and done the research for you (That’s what a Professor does right?).

Rebel Clash First Impressions

Gust Of WindGuzma There are a lot of cards being hyped out of Rebel Clash and for many it’s well deserved. One of the biggest changes Rebel Clash brings to the standard metagame is the return of reliable gust effects. Gusting is arguably the most powerful mechanic in the game. The ability to bring up an opponent’s benched Pokémon into the Active Spot adds another dimension of gameplay that demands that players pay extra attention to how they manage their bench. Back in the Sun and Moon era, Guzma absolutely defined the standard metagame. In fact, the best decks in each format were often the ones that could abuse Guzma or other gust effects the most (Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX, Golisopod-GX variants, Zapdos/JirachiAhh, the memories).

Fast forward to 2020, we just saw Zach Lesage’s Fire Box deck do well at OCIC and lo and behold – it runs an amazing gust engine: Ninetales. It might not be so surprising then that a deck like Fire Box managed to make it all the way to the finals of OCIC.

Excitingly, Rebel Clash introduces reliable gusting effects that all types can now abuse. With that in mind, here are some cards that I think will make the biggest splash and a few that are – well – just plain fun.

V and VMAX in Pokémon Rebel Clash

The power creep in Pokémon these past few years has been anything but subtle. At the start of the Sun and Moon block, we were blown away by how Stage 2 Pokémon could have 230-250 HP and, for a while, these had to be two-shotted. By the end of Sun and Moon, we were slugging it out with Tag Team-GX Pokémon that not only rocked 250-300 HP, but were all basic. Just when we were getting comfortable with massively tanky basic Pokémon, the GX era concluded and a new wave of ginormous (literally) Pokémon was ushered in. With HP exceeding 300, Pokémon VMAX are the new kings in town and this time around (let’s be real, the VMAX from base set kinda sucked) are poised to re-mold the standard metagame.

Dragapult VMAX

Dragapult VMAX - Pokémon Rebel Clash In my opinion, this is one of the best VMAX Pokémon out of Rebel Clash set. Electropower does not seem like a powerful card but it has a lot going for it in terms of support and I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a serious Tier 1 contender. Max Phantom has a very manageable energy cost and, if used repeatedly, can set up double Pokémon knockouts. Dealing 130 damage to the active Pokémon and then spreading 5 damage counters across your opponent’s bench can devastate boards. Especially if you pair this with Boss’s Orders, Team Yell Grunt, and Giant Bomb. This combo is great for many reasons. Dealing successive 130’s and spreading damage counters will make your opponent desperate to return a knockout but with Giant Bomb attached they’ll have to think twice. If they ever do manage to set up or get close to that, you can disrupt them by gusting in a Pokémon with no energies using Boss’s Orders or slow them down with Team Yell Grunt and spam them again with Max Phantom. Having 320 HP also makes Dragapult VMAX an extremely annoying Pokémon to take down, especially if your opponent is playing Mallow & Lana.

Note: Horror P Energy buffs this strategy greatly and will be discussed later.

Toxtricity VMAX

Toxtricity VMAXToxtricity VMAX is another beast of a Pokémon that has the potential to extend Lightning’s presence in the standard metagame. G-Max Riot is a powerful attack that can potentially end games quickly. 160 base damage is nothing to write home about but if your opponent’s Pokémon is poisoned, it’ll deal another 80 damage. Poison itself will deal 10 damage when you pass the turn. Already, you’re looking at 250 damage. Most lightning decks play Thunder Mountain and four copies of Electropower extending the damage ceiling to 370 – enough to knockout any Pokémon in the game for just 2 energies. If you’re looking to knockout an opposing Dragapult VMAX , inflicting poison with Koga’s Trap and two Electropower will deliver an OHKO once the turn passes back to you if they don’t recover from poison. If Giant Bomb is annoying you, luckily you have a base damage of 160 so you could adopt a two-shot strategy without heavy repercussions.

 

 

 

Ninetales V

Ninetales V from Rebel ClashFor many players, a common frustration is not having the best Pokémon attackers. These are often very expensive and hard to find. It doesn’t get worse than playing a mediocre deck into an opponent that clearly spent last month’s rent on their deck. Ninetales V is a clear and cheap solution where you can take advantage of your opponent and copy their Pokémon’s attacks. Simply attach fire energy and activate Welder to load up Nine-Tailed Shapeshifter and watch your opponent experience their own attacks. Oh, how the tables turn with Rebel Clash

 

 

 

 

 

Eldegoss V

Eldegoss V from Rebel ClashIf you played during the XY era or have recently taken a dive into the Expanded format you should be familiar with VS Seeker. This card allowed you to get any supporter from the discard and place it back into your hand. This meant many things for players beyond just reusing supporters. In many ways, it gave a sense of security where you could reliably use a supporter at any time so long as you had one ready in the discard. This reliance on keeping supporters in the discard also made them the preferred targets for discarding cards with Ultra Ball or Mysterious Treasure, allowing you to conserve the rest of your hand. Eldegoss V is a carbon copy in this way and being a Pokémon, it can be searched using cards like Quick Ball, Net Ball, and Pokémon Communication. I can easily see this card being used to get that game-winning Boss’s Orders – 154/192 – Holo Rare – Reverse Holo or Welder or, if you’re in a pinch, give you a route to a draw supporter in a similar way to when Tapu Lele-GX was in the format.

 

 

Non-V Pokémon from Rebel Clash

Often, single prize Pokémon take a back seat in terms of the metagame. They usually either support higher tier Pokémon, serve niche uses, or, for the most part, are just plain awful (e.g. Unfezant). However, sometimes these little guys shine just as bright as their GX and VMAX counterparts.

Garbodor

Garbodor is an interesting (a bit underwhelming, in my opinion, but worth mentioning) print this time around. The name Garbodor used to strike fear into many hearts as it was notoriously known to either refer to the Garbotoxin print that completely locked abilities or the Trashalanche print that punished item-heavy decks. Garbodor makes a reappearance this set as a Dark-type Pokémon with a focus on poison. Poison itself has not been a very game-influencing status condition in the metagame leading up to Rebel Clash. Especially considering that the HP ceiling has crossed 300 and poison still does the same annoying little 10 damage in between turns, its effectiveness remains questionable. Rather than driving a poison focused win-con, this is likely going to be paired with Horror P Energy to reliably inflict poison for turns or builds where Koga’s Trap is not preferred.

Coalossal

Coalossal reminds me a lot of Vikavolt from Sun and Moon. The effect of loading 2 different basic energies onto a single Pokémon is not new but Coalossal maintains the whole mining theme in Galar by specifying the discard as the energy source. In my opinion, this has a few drawbacks – mainly the requirement for energies to be in the discard. Pitching energies off of Viridian Forest or Quick Ball is what comes to mind. You could also clear many from your hand using Professor’s Research or Dedenne-GX. I would be interested to see how many energies you can reliably bin to fully take advantage of Coalossal. There also is the question of who do you even load? And, even more interesting, is there a decent Pokémon that benefits from both Fighting and Fire energies? To add more salt to the wound, Coalossal is a Stage 2 Pokémon so part of your deck will have to include Rare Candy and enough trainers to search out the appropriate pieces. Despite all this, energy acceleration is never bad. As we saw with the old Tapu Bulu-GX deck – hate on stage 2 turbo decks all you want, it’s funny until you realize you’re being overwhelmed by their engine and attackers.

Galarian Meowth

It’s not always that the basic Pokémon in an evolution line gets the spotlight over its evolved form, but Galarian Meowth is a neat little buff for metal type decks. Previously Zacian V dominated the metagame as it was able to comfortably OHKO many Tag Team-GX Pokémon with its 230 damage attack. With VMAX Pokémon becoming competitively relevant, Metal fans may appreciate a more reliable way of scaling their damage. Galarian Meowth has a built-in ability that will help it search out the Galarian Perrserker so you don’t have to run extra search cards – saving precious deck space.

Rebel Clash Trainers and Energies

The trainers in a set are often skimmed over by collectors are mostly paid attention to by people that play the game. Nonetheless, there are some amazing trainers and energies in this set and I think many of them will redefine how players build their decks in standard. Here are some of my favorites:

Boss’s Orders

I’ve talked about this card a lot already so I’ll keep it short. I see a Pokémon I don’t like on opponent’s bench –> Boss’s Orders –> Bye-Bye.

Scoop Up Net

When I first saw this card I didn’t immediately realize why it was good. I thought to myself, what’s the point of picking up a non-V, non-GX Pokémon? Later I realized this card creates some crazy combos that can actually alter the course of the game. I’ll highlight two examples.

Firstly, in Dragapult VMAX decks (or any deck really), you can extend the amount of damage counters you place by playing Galarian Zigzagoon. After using its effect, simply play Scoop Up Net and play it down again to ping another 10 damage to a Pokémon. Truly a fantastic way to secure or setup multiple knockouts.

Secondly, consider pairing this card with Oranguru and Mewtwo to establish a supporter recycle system. After using a supporter, use Mind Report to place it on top of your deck again and then follow that up with Primate Wisdom to bring it into your hand. Then use Scoop Up Net to recover your Mewtwo and repeat the process until you run out of Scoop Up Nets. Essentially, this achieves the same effect as running 4 VS Seeker.

Tool Scrapper

Field Blower has been revived in a diet form. Tool Scrapper fulfills largely the same role as Field Blower. Tool attachments become less guaranteed and players may decide to opt-out of using them now that tool removal is back. Nonetheless, I would play at least 1 copy in most decks just in case.

Galar Mine

I’m particularly fond of this stadium because it can truly lock Pokémon in the Active Spot. A well-timed Galar Mine can completely trap a Jirachi even if they have Escape Board attached. This card could pressure your opponent to use Switch and drain them of their copies towards the late game.

Capture Energy

This card is basically a Nest Ball built into single colorless energy. Attaching energy and getting a Pokémon onto your bench – what’s not to like? This energy may be particularly useful to players that focus on evolution decks that need to setup up for a few turns. Capture Energy relieves the dependency of some decks on Quick Ball, perhaps saving it for a juicier target. This card has one caveat though: not many Pokémon benefit from a colorless attachment and, while getting the basic Pokémon onto your bench could be useful, it may come at the cost of a useless energy attachment.

Horror P Energy

It’s been a long time since colored special energy was printed. Horror P Energy likely marks the beginning of a new generation of these. In contrast to Mystery Energy which gave Psychic Pokémon two retreat cost-less, Horror P Energy focuses on placing damage counters on your opponent’s Pokémon every time you take damage. Considering that cards like Dragapult VMAX are already donning Giant Bombs, recycling Galarian Zigzagoons, and spreading 5 damage counters from their attacks, Horror P Energy serves as an additional deterrent to a retaliating attack.

Speed L Energy

The lightning special energy offers some insane acceleration to an already fast archetype. Attaching and drawing 2 could let decks like Pikachu & Zekrom-GX dig a little further to guarantee that turn 1 Full Blitz attack. Toxtricity VMAX builds may use Speed L Energy to dig for combo pieces to secure a full knockout. Simple and effective, this card is definitely something to get your hands on.

Twin Energy

Another diet card, this time of Double Colorless Energy. There’s a restriction that makes Twin Energy somewhat useless for GX and V Pokémon but for single-prize Pokémon, this could be a much-needed buff. I’m somewhat hesitant in saying this is an amazing card despite providing up to 2 energies because there aren’t that many single-prize attackers that can really take advantage of this. Gallade might be the best option since it could deal super effective damage. But with the new weakness adjustments, Psychic and Fighting weaknesses aren’t very relevant anymore.

Meta Changes from Rebel Clash

The standard metagame is a bit controversial in terms of what that actually means. With the 2020 Championship Series canceled, there technically isn’t a sanctioned meta. Of course, local tournaments will eventually resume again and players may want to remain competitive. I’m no pro, so my talking points will be a bit broader. The introduction of actually competitive Pokémon VMAX furthers the transition from GX Pokémon. With that being said, the new HP ceiling is something to pay close attention to. 120 damage attacks may not be enough to survive in this new environment. 160-170 seems like a sweet spot for many since it can 2 shot most VMAX while simultaneously being under the threshold to trigger a Giant Bomb. Gust effects will also likely be present in virtually all decklists so players should be careful and mindful of this both when they play and build decks.

Wacky Rebel Clash picks for the casual player

My last piece before I end this article is to introduce a wacky deck idea for those budget lovers and players that are looking to have a bit of fun. I’m really interested in the Butterfree evolution line from Rebel Clash as it reminds me a lot of Forest of Giant Plants. Both the Caterpie and Metapod can evolve as soon as you play them and the new Turffield Stadium can easily allow you to setup multiple evolution lines. The deck also benefits from Net Ball. This makes for a pretty easy-to-play Stage 2 deck that can apply 3 status conditions for a single energy. Not the most competitive idea, but it sure seems like a lot of fun.

That’s all for now, folks, thanks for reading, stay safe and train on!

-Professor Bamboo

 

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Avatar Gregoire Thibault - April 21, 2020

Pokémon Rebel Clash prerelease at home

Pokémon Rebel Clash Prerelease

Pokémon Rebel Clash prerelease

Hey Trainers, Thee Kings Loot is inviting you to a prerelease at-home. Hosted by our Pokémon League Professor David-GX, through our Discord server. The Pokémon Rebel Clash Prerelease will be on Saturday, April 25th at Noon­ Eastern Standard time. David may do a follow-up prerelease the next day on Sunday, April 26th at Noon E.S.T. The idea is to have fun cracking packs of the new sets, trading, and slinging some cardboard. Join our Discord server.

Unveiling a prerelease kit

David-Gx made a video unveiling a Prerelease kit using his cellphone camera. We can get a clear video with most modern smartphones these days, so let’s play some Pokémon.

https://youtu.be/K2eqwPQ1aFg

Do-it-yourself camera stand

There are a few ways you can place your phone camera to capture the playing field. Here is a cool Do-it-yourself cellphone stand using Magic the Gathering Bundles/Fatpacks, but you can use a Pokémon Elite Trainer Box. Players can use this stand to play their prerelease at-home with other players online. We can’t promise a perfect experience, but it’s a way to play paper Magic during social distancing. Our in-store weekly events are Tuesday Pokémon League Standard tournament at 6:30 pm and Saturday Pokémon Club Standard at Noon.

Here is a 3D model version of the DIY Phone holder. Shout out to Team Bazaar of Magic from Europe for sharing this.

UPDATE: Post Prerelease

Our Rebel Clash prerelease online using Discord was a success. We will be hosting Tuesday night 6:30 pm Standard’s on Discord using Pokemon TCGO. Thank you, everyone, who participates or is watching, we know it’s not possible for everyone, whether you are new to the game or you are still upgrading your online setups. All Pokémon fans are welcome, Tuesday games are Free to play with prizes given out randomly to participants. 

Congratulations Emmanuel Ouellet for winning our Random prize, the Tag Team Premium Collector box. All participants received 9 Rebel Clash Pokémon TCGO codes. Players had fun and the event ran super smoothly thanks to our amazing host Professor Bamboo.  

Check out Professor Bamboo’s Rebel Clash set review, sharing with us his first impressions and some card interactions.

Get your Pokémon Rebel Clash Prerelease at-home kit

Pokémon Rebel Clash Prerelease kit + 3 boosters
Prerelease kits + 3 Boosters for 24.99$

Rebel Clash prerelease kits available on our website. One kit and three boosters for 24.99$. We ship on the same day orders made before 2 pm.

Pokémon Rebel Clash Sealed products and singles

Pokémon Rebel Clash Sealed products and singles

Rebel Clash Boosters ships on April 27th // Elite Trainer Box Ship on May 1st

Rebel Clash Boosters ship April 27th

Pokémon Rebel Clash Products and singles are available for preorders from our website. Booster boxes will be shipped on the 27th of April. Canadian packages usually take 1 – 2 days for 10$. Montreal is the next day for orders before 3 pm.

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