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Yu Yu Hakusho
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Pojo's Pokémon Card of the Day


Top 10 Cards Lost to Set Rotation

#3 - Shaymin EX

- Roaring Skies

Date Reviewed:
August 9, 2017

Ratings & Reviews Summary

See Below

Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale.
1 being horrible.  3 ... average.  5 is awesome.

Back to the main COTD Page


Having Ability-based draw is pretty good stuff! And so is Shaymin-EX. 

As the quintessential draw Pokemon, Shaymin-EX became a staple one-of in many decks with his Set-Up Ability. But on top of that, he also had Sky Return, which for 2-for-30 bounced him and any cards attached to him back to the hand to reuse his Ability all over again! It's just a bunch of synergy thrown together, and it's made a powerful ally in this little guy. 

And I totally forgot to put him on my list. 


Standard: N/A (...I'm pretty bad at this list thing sometimes) 

Expanded: 4.5/5 (like wow did I drop the ball on this guy) 

Limited: 5/5 (he's only a staple, man, he should be on the list by default) 

Arora Notealus: Lysandre I nailed, but noooooooo, forgot the Shaymin-EX I did. And the Hex Maniac...and like a couple other guys...yeesh... 



Shaymin EX (Roaring Skies, 77/108) needs no introduction.  For almost the entire time that I’ve been playing this game, Shaymin EX has been the most valuable card in the meta.  It has been the most coveted and desired card, with a single regular art copy costing about $60 or $70 USD … and some decks would run four of them.  Players would save all of their coins on PTCGO and spend them on massive 100 pack openings of entirely Roaring Skies packs.  Earlier this year, TPCi even gave Roaring Skies an additional print run almost two years after the set’s initial release.  According to Pokebeach, “this is the first time a set has had a major print run this far after its initial release,” (Pokebeach, http://www.pokebeach.com/2017/01/roaring-skies-getting-another-print-run).

We all know what Shaymin does.  Like Trainer’s Mail (Roaring Skies, 92/108) yesterday, Shaymin gives you the opportunity to accelerate your development.  It lets you put cards in your hand that you otherwise wouldn’t have had.  It gives you more options.  And the more options you have, the more choices you have, the more opportunity you have to accomplish what you want to accomplish, which naturally puts you in a superior position to win the match.  Shaymin helps you win… but it also helps you lose.

One of my most memorable matches was a game in which I was running Rainbow Road Xerneas (Breakthrough, 107/162).  I don’t even remember exactly what deck I was up against, but I remember I used two Galvantula (Steam Siege, 42/114) in the last two turns to take four prize cards and win a game I 100% should have lost.  I had no business winning this match, but, because my opponent had benched two Shaymin EXs, I was able to do sixty damage to both of them on the last two turns of the game and steal a match I should have lost.

Shaymin EX was a HUGE liability.  Many Pokemon have no problem doing 110 damage.  So while Shaymin EX can give you a boost of an extra few cards, it then sits on your bench doing nothing but holding up a big bullseye saying, “KO ME!  I’m worth two prize cards!” 


Standard: 3 out of 5


Once the most highly regarded cards in the game, it has fallen to a position much lower than that.  It still sees some usage, but, overall, the combination of Tapu Lele GX (Guardians Rising, 60/145) and its low HP vulnerability has caused Shaymin EX to virtually disappear from the meta.


Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) is the third place finisher for our countdown of the top 10 cards we’ll miss in Standard play after losing them to the September 1st rotation.  Shaymin-EX is a Colorless, Basic Pokémon-EX with 110 HP, Lighting Weakness, Fighting Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], the Ability “Set Up”, and the attack “Sky Return”.  Set Up triggers when you Bench Shaymin-EX from hand during your turn and allows you to draw until you have six cards in hand.  Sky Return costs [CC] and does 30 damage, then bounces Shaymin-EX and all cards attached to it to your hand (or whatever Pokémon is using the attack, in the case of attack copying).  This Shaymin-EX has been reviewed twice before, debuting here as our first place pick from XY: Roaring Skies and then returning to claim the same spot on our Top 10 Cards of 2015 list.  Don’t mistake it for the original Shaymin-EX (BW: Next Destinies 5/99, 94/99; BW: Legendary Treasures RC21/RC25); much less impressive, it still managed to take 10th place for our BW: Next Destinies Top 10 (plus a re-review here).  There’s even a third version available - Shaymin-EX (XY: Black Star Promos XY148) - which we reviewed here; they can’t really compete with today’s version, I won’t be detailing their effects or usage, but I at least wanted to acknowledge their existence. 

Unless you’re quite new to the game, I shouldn’t need to explain why today’s Shaymin-EX became a major part of the competitive metagame; since its release, it has been rare that I’d write a CotD without needing to mention it.  While 110 HP is dangerously low, making this an easy OHKO since the day it released and into the foreseeable future, non-Supporter-based draw power is a premium.  By that, I don’t mean every example is worth it, but that when it works it tends to work really well.  In this case, Shaymin-EX has an effect that originally appeared on the Supporter Professor Birch and later on the Supporter Bianca.  Neither Supporter was ever great and we now have Lillie (a better Bianca that doesn’t see much competitive play), so what makes Shaymin-EX so much better?  As the Ability on a Basic Pokémon-EX, it was often easy to use in multiples (assuming you had multiples), even within a single turn and in addition to your Supporter for the turn.  This allowed explosive opening combos, and could free up your Supporter usage for the turn; important whether you need to use Archie’s Ace in the Hole, Lysandre, Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, Hex Maniac, Wally, etc.  Ultra Ball made it easy to fetch Shaymin-EX from your deck and helped thin your hand in preparation for Set Up while Hoopa-EX could fetch it alongside two other Pokémon-EX you needed for your side of the field (provided you could spare the Bench space).  All of this also made Shaymin-EX a method of recovering from N shrinking your hand. 

Bounce effects like AZ, Scoop Up Cyclone, and Super Scoop Up allow you to get Shaymin-EX out of harm’s way after using it or to reuse Set Up.  Shaymin-EX with Super Scoop Up enabled Seismitoad-EX decks to rip through themselves before using the (now banned) Lysandre’s Trump Card to toss the discard pile back into the deck.  Sky Return also provided a way of bouncing Shaymin-EX back into hand; 30 damage for two Energy isn’t great, but it could often be surprisingly handy, and as everything attached to it returned to the hand alongside Shaymin-EX, you could freely use Double Colorless Energy and Muscle Band to make the hit a little better.  When using multiple Shaymin-EX in a single turn, this was sometimes an important trick to thin your hand without a valuable Tool and/or Energy card.  Ninja Boy also combos nicely with Shaymin-EX.  All these wonderful tricks meant that, even though Shaymin-EX offered such an easy two Prizes, it was an obvious two count in most decks, with some running three or even the full four.  Note the past tense; now Shaymin-EX has finally fallen out of “staple” status, with more decks opting for one or none.  What happened? 

Tapu Lele-GX provides another way for Ultra Ball and similar Pokémon search to bail you out of a dead hand, without the Achilles’ Heel of a large hand diminishing (or denying the help - a real risk with Shaymin-EX and its Set Up Ability.  Of course, this does not lend itself to as explosive of an opening; Tapu Lele-GX can fetch a draw Supporter, while Shaymin-EX could be used alongside a draw Supporter.  Tapu Lele-GX is less vulnerable on the Bench (it has no Weakness and 60 more HP) and can deal a decent bit of damage when used as an attacker.  Octillery (XY: BREAKthrough 33/162) and its “Abyssal Hand” Ability has often been thought of as the budget version of Shaymin-EX, allowing you to draw until you have five cards in hand (once each turn) without requiring a fragile Pokémon-EX (though as a Stage 1 and not a Basic).  Oranguru is another still recent rival; its “Instruct” Ability only allows you to draw until you have three cards in hand but not only is this another “Once per turn…” effect, it is a Basic with 120 HP and worth only a single Prize and a still decent attack.  The other big shift for the metagame has been how Item usage is becoming more subdued due to a somewhat hostile metagame.  Tapu Lele-GX can still bail you out of a jam against Item lock, while Garbodor (SM: Guardians Rising 51/145) discourages decks from running the Items that were easy to spam from your hand… together, this makes lowering your hand size to capitalize upon Set Up more difficult (sometimes impossible). 

Shaymin-EX has not vanished from the competitive scene, but it was really shocking for me when I actually looked at things like the Top 8 decks from Masters Division of the North American International Championship and realized five of the eight decks were not running Shaymin-EX, and even those that did had it alongside one or more of the alternatives.  So, even if we got a surprise reprint - as opposed to the Alternate Art printing that won’t change the card’s legality - Shaymin-EX just isn’t what it once was, and probably never will be again.  At the same time, it isn’t useless; until the powers-that-be disappoint me by releasing a superior replacement (hopefully years from now), it should remain a useful card in Expanded play, just no longer a staple.  As with the rest of this countdown, you aren’t likely to get a chance to use this in a Limited Format event, but should it happen, it will be a valuable pull but possibly not quite how you’d expect.  Thinning your hand tends to be difficult here, but Sky Return is a more valuable attack and the smaller deck size/lack of other draw power should make the smaller draws from Set Up still potent.  Just skip Shaymin-EX if you pull a big, Basic Pokémon-EX worth running solo. 


Standard: 3.75/5 (Soon to be N/A) 

Expanded: 4/5 

Limited: 4/5 


Shaymin-EX is still a wonderful source of additional draw power, but the shifting metagame has finally made it dangerous to run heavily, as we have been since almost its release.  I may have lowballed its contemporary Standard Format score; embarrassing, but it is hard to judge a card that has fallen a little from a great height, as opposed to having never been so significant or having fallen much further.  The Expanded Format only faces some of the same concerns as Standard play; I think Shaymin-EX will fare better here in the long run, but still as a one-of loose staple that is occasionally a two-of. 


Shaymin-EX earned its third place finish with 29 voting points, awarded across four lists.  This is three above yesterday’s Hex Maniac and five below tomorrow’s second place finisher.  Shaymin-EX was my number two pick but I think I favored its past performance a bit much; for what it is worth, if I were rewriting my list, Shaymin-EX might only clock in at fourth place now.  Which means third place is still about right.


We are almost done of this list, but we still have three cards left to review!  Our 3rd place pick is Shaymin-EX!  Even if players don’t know what this card does has been the subject of being the number one card of both countdowns of the top 10 cards in XY Roaring Skies and the top 10 cards of 2015.  So…………………..why did Shaymin-EX made the pinnacle of these lists?  That’s because Shaymin-EX has features that nearly every player would want in their decks: Non-supporter, Ability based draw and a way to bounce this Pokemon from play.  When there are situations where you cannot decide whether to play a draw supporter or other supporters of different effects, Shaymin-EX gives you an escape from one of these traits.  It’s like “Hey, I’ll draw you some cards and you play a non-draw Supporter!”.


Its ability Set Up, a familiar name originating from Uxie (DP Legends Awakened), lets you draw cards until you have 6 cards in your hand.  If you can constantly reduce your hand size, then the payoff will reach its highest potential.  Sky Return costs CC and does 30 damage with the effect being that you put Shaymin-EX and all cards attached to it to your hand.  An ideal setup is having Shaymin-EX, Double Colorless Energy, and a Fighting Fury Belt or Choice Band so that not only you’ll improve the damage output of Sky Return, but also deny your opponent the KO by putting a damaged Shaymin-EX back to your hand.  Unfortunately, the new active Pokemon would have to take the brunt of assaults in place of Shaymin-EX.  If you are forced to start with Shaymin-EX in the beginning of the match, then Ninja Boy can swap a basic Pokemon with another Basic from your deck.


Although there are benefits to using Shaymin-EX, there are also very few shortcomings.  After the moment you put down Shaymin-EX, it is being susceptible to being dragged active and be OHKOed if you didn’t bounce.  Even bench snipes can be troublesome as well, since 110 HP means 2 Giant Water Shurikens or 6 Feather Arrows can KO it.  It’s also worth two prizes, giving the opponent one-third of their game.


With Shaymin-EX gone, we have other Pokemon that also provide ability based draw such as Octillery’s Abyssal Hand which lets you draw cards until you have 5 cards in your hand and Oranguru’s Instruct which lets you draw until you have three cards in your hand.  These two provides multiple uses of ability based draw, unlike Shaymin-EX whose ability are one-time use.  It will continue to see play in Expanded, where players can’t deny the speed of drawing cards when you badly needed it despite these shortcomings.  I recall they run no more than two copies due to deck space and/or fear of starting the game with it.  In Limited, this is the worst Pokemon in a +39 deck, since if you used Sky Return, you just lost the game due to no other Pokemon in play!  So better have more than one Pokemon.  Even if you do have another Pokemon, cards in your hand tend to clog up rather than reducing it, limiting Set Up’s effectiveness.  An ideal deck would be two Shaymin-EX and 38 energies (a pretty tall order for 4 packs).  The goal in Limited is to have two Shaymin-EX in play; one on the bench waiting to replace Shaymin-EX that just used Sky Return.  It’s a matter of time until the opponent finally does 110 damage in one turn.




Standard: 5/5 (It’s not often that I’d be giving perfect scores.)


Expanded: 5/5 (But Shaymin-EX does extraordinary stuff!)


Limited: 5/5 (It’s alright in Limited, just use two Shaymins and you’ll be fine!)


Notes:  Ability based draw is something we value in every deck, hence why I chose this card to be in my 1st place pick.  Seeing it at number three surprised me a little, I guess the other two cards are even more impactful than Shaymin-EX.



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