Finally we see the Ultra beasts show up in the PTCG, and along they bring some awesome cards. While this set does not have much to offer in playability, it does have some new unique cards as well as a few new staples. Let’s dive into the set together and see what it has to offer.
(caution, most of this was written before the English cards were revealed and thus, may contain mistakes, wrong translations or other problems.)
Simply the best Kakuna we have right now. Essentially, this is Water Duplicates Frogadier for the Beedrill line and has great potential.
Karrablast, Accelgor & Shelmet
These three are made to be played along with each other and probably will never see play otherwise. Then again, it is unlikely that they will see any serious play at all. You can evolve Karrablast into Accelgor in your first turn or right after putting it onto the bench by discarding a Shelmet. However, without Karrablast, Shelmet is absolutely useless (Escavalier isn’t very good either). And even if you pull off the combo, so you have a first turn Accelgor, it can not even attack because the only useful attack it has needs two energy attachments.
This card can be gamechanging, to the point of me considering to play a 1-1 line just to attach a bunch of fire energy late game essentially for free, and have access to much more resources than I would usually have. The attack Burning Bonemerang isn’t too bad either, up to 160 damage including the burn for three energy is not outstanding, but good enough to use it in a pinch. Overall a very good card, I would be surprised if it didn’t see some play.
The best Magikarp we have right now. Having your low HP Magikarps get sniped on the bench always was a problem when trying to play any Gyarados. Now Magikarp protects itself from that. Just be careful when facing things like Silent Lab and Alolan Muk.
Milotic’s first attack is very interesting. There are several tactics I can think of that can make good use of such an effect. Placing damage counters on benched Pokémon with cards like Decidueye just to instantly remove them with Milotic does not score you any prize cards, but you can completely negate any work the opponent put into setting up their Pokémon. Drag a Pokémon with high retreat cost into the active spot with Guzma, then start picking off your opponent’s Pokémon off one by one, until the opponent runs so low on resources that you can easily overwhelm them. Likely not a card to be seen in tournaments, but a great card nonetheless.
Regice, Regirock, Registeel & Regigigas
The “Regis” have some kind of pseudo-synergy in this set, which seemingly will be further built upon in the next set. For now, I see no reason to play them together. In fact, except for Registeel, they are not worth putting into a deck at all in my opinion.
Registeel on the other hand is quite good at accelerating energy, kind of like a steel type Oblivion Wing Yveltal.
With Stadium cards playing a huge rule in the PTCG, this card will almost always have free retreat. The fact that Alolan Raichu does not need any colored energy to attack, makes it splashable in any deck and it can use double colorless energy. A very reliable card that can rather easily deal a decent amount of damage.
It seems like Gengar cards are always at least decent. Using this card with the Milotic from the same set can cause some interesting situations for the opponent and halt their progress almost entirely. Having multiple of this Gengar on the field can make the opponent think real hard where to put their energy cards. Keep in mind this effect does not kick in when the energy card comes from the discard pile or deck. Fade To Black is a decent attack, recently we have seen how useful confusion can be, thanks to Espeon GX. Stalling the opponent some more thanks to confusion makes Gengar’s ability even more useful. And as if the ability and attack together were not annoying enough, this Gengar also has free retreat, so it can easily go back to the bench where it is safe.
Chaos Wheel for a single energy. That should be everything I have to say about this card. Having access to such a strong ability that can potentially shut down players entirely for multiple turns or even the whole game is amazing. The only real drawback is the considerably low damage and Misdreavus being a stage 1 Pokémon, not a basic. Besides that, this is an awesome card that I assume will see some play, if not right away.
The ability to simply cut 30 from almost all damage it takes can make a big difference, but often simply won’t be enough. Also I expect fire decks to stay strong, and since the ability does not cut damage from fire Pokémon, it lacks in a very critical area. The attack, Cross-Cut also does not quite cut it (terrible pun, I know). 120 damage for three energy are pretty basic and should not be reliant on the opponent being an evolved Pokémon.
Discarding heavily damaged Pokémon from your bench can be very useful, to deny the opponent prizes. Especially when the discarded Pokémon are EX or GX. The biggest problem with this ability though, is that it is on a stage 2 Pokémon that needs quite a bit of setup itself. If this kind of ability was on a basic or even stage 1 Pokémon, I would appreciate it way more. At least Hydreigon is decent at attacking, with a fixed 120 damage for three energy and a potential energy discard, if necessary.
I would like to pretend the second attack of this card doesn’t exist. War Cry is amazing though. As long as you have less Pokémon on the field than your opponent, this is a 120 damage attack for a double colorless energy. Sadly, this attack on a stage 2 Pokémon is still somewhat difficult to pull off and probably not worth it.
Repeatedly being able to heal 90 HP by doing something you normally do anyway is simply awesome. The only issue with this ability is, that Miltank has to be active to trigger MooMoo Malt. Miltank can be switched in and out with Float Stone or/and Zoroark’s Stand In ability to heal your active Pokémon and stay safe on the bench. Gardevoir GX is a great partner for Miltank, since its ability allows you to place a second energy card down each turn, effectively enabling you to heal 180 HP each turn, as long as you have the resources.
Probably one of the most fun cards one could play, encouraging player interaction and potentially actually being pretty good. Getting two cards back from the discard pile can be scary for the opponent, but 80 damage for a single energy also is scary. Manipulating the opponent´s decision by picking specific cards seems like it could be fun. I want to see this card be played a lot, but it probably will not be.
I am torn on this card. While very useful when you are behind, having a card in the deck that often is just simply dead does not appeal to me at all. I would personally not play it.
Whenever you search your deck for anything (with Tapu Lele GX for example) you know what cards are your prizes and thus, you know what cards Gladion can get you. This means you have 6 specific cards Gladion can grab from your prizes, an otherwise not reachable resource. This is amazing, especially for decks that rely on a specific card like Double Colorless Energy. A must play in my opinion.
Quite the attractive card for GX decks. Not much special about this card, but it might find its uses somehow. Perhaps when Brigette rotates out, she will see some play.
Looks like the new VS Seeker is a lady now. Likely a must play, but much slower than VS Seeker being it a supporter rather than an item card, thus not as likely as VS Seeker was back in the day.
Sea Of Nothingness
An interesting addition to poison and paralyzing themed decks, especially since Seviper from Burning Shadows is now a thing.
Poison still gets removed when a Pokémon goes to the bench, but this is a nice support card for poison decks.
A must play for any deck that does not purely rely on single energy attacks (like Greninja Break does) or attacks that only have identical energy requirements (like Buzzwole GX). As long as you can make use of the colorless energy AND the specific energy this card can provide, there is no way you should NOT play this card.
A Switch attached to an energy attachment. For some decks, this is a better Switch or even a better Float Stone. Especially fast decks that do not rely on having a specific basic energy type at all times can make good use from this card.
A Gyarados with huge HP and huge retreat cost, but a not so huge GX attack quality wise. It is rather rare that energy is spread wide on the field. However, Dragonic Disaster” is M Groudon EX’s Gaia Volcano for one more energy, but with no Spirit Link required. Not a very good GX card in my opinion, we have a better non-GX Gyarados available.
Alolan Golem GX
Super Electromagnetic Tackle with a Choice Band can one-shot a large amount of GX Pokémon, but still falls short by 10-20 hitpoints too often. Heavy Rock GX, on the other hand, is a great GX attack stopping the opponent from doing anything but drawing a card and attacking on their next turn. Still, thanks to being a stage 2 GX with no redeemable features that stand out among stage 2 GX’es, Alolan Golem GX is not very good.
A great card all around. The ability allows you to use this card in almost any deck as a pseudo-Hypnotoxic Laser, especially with Chaos Tower. The first attack has decent damage and a rarely useful effect, but requires, just like the GX attack, pure psychic energy. The GX attack, however, is downright amazing. Forcing the opponent to take two more prizes to win the game (and milling them by 2) is brutal. A very strong card that will see a fair amount of play.
Above average HP for a basic GX, a strong first turn attack, a potential one-shot GX attack and another decent attack. Buzzwole GX has almost no flaws and will therefore most likely see a lot of play. This muscle-packed mosquito might be just as annoying as the real live ones.
While this card was amazingly fun to play in prerelease events (only D energy, this guy and you go all in), in the real world, this card probably wont see that much play. Eat sloppily is random and if you are unlucky, you end up with having to attach five energy for pure damage and nothing else. Pure damage that will, often enough, simply lack. Knocking an opponent’s Pokémon EX or GX out with Glutton GX will be incredibly satisfying though, when it happens that is.
Well, isn’t that the simplest GX attack ever? And a good one at that. Simply taking a prize for a single metal energy brings you not only closer to victory but also gives you one more card in hand. But Kartana is not only good for that. It also gets rid of special energy, which with Double Colorless Energy and Counter Energy will be everywhere now. Gale Blade also can be pretty useful, even though it does lack in the damage department, it can save Kartana GX and thus, prevent the opponent from taking 2 prizes by knocking it out.
Metagross GX just got company.
Alolan Exeggutor GX
A below decent card all around. Sadly, dragon types do not hit for super effective damage against anything and fairy type currently is very popular as well, so making this card dragon type really hurts its playability. Beside that, all attacks do not need more than a single grass energy, no two specific energy like dragons usually do nowadays. Tropical Head can be used to snipe the opponent’s bench for decent damage, depending on how much energy you have. The other, rather expensive attack Dragon Hammer is a bit on the low end of damage and not really worth using. Tower-Go-Round, while it has a funny name, also has a useful effect. However I would not want to waste my once-per-game GX move on that.
One of the best GX cards yet. Great utility ability that is useful for almost any deck and two great attacks without any colored energy requirements. Talking of energy, Silvally GX even accelerates energy to your bench with Turbo Drive, while dealing a more than decent 120 damage at the same time. Rebel GX almost always is sure to one-shot whatever it damages, especially when the opponent’s bench is full with tech Pokémon like Octillery and Tapu Lele GX. Silvally GX will see a lot of play for sure, since it does not even have to be in specific decks to be useful. Even without any energy attached to it, the ability usually helps your board greatly and even can be used greatly alongside this set’s Miltank. As a side note, with the “Memory” items released in this set and the ones after this one, you can use Silvally GX to counter your deck’s weakness, making it for example a water type to counter fire, if you use it in a grass type deck.
This set only has few good cards, but the ones that are playable, are really good. Buzzwole GX, Silvally GX, Counter Energy, Warp Energy and Gladion are must haves. Some people really like Counter Catcher, but I still do not see the appeal. Maybe that will change in the near future. I assume early on, as any new set, this set will be high on demand, but probably not for very long.