– Crimson Invasion
November 21, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Kartana GX (Crimson Invasion, 70/111) slices its way into the meta from the Crimson Invasion expansion set. A 170 HP Basic Metal Pokemon, it has an ability and two attacks. Its ability, Slice Off, came in pretty handy for all of those Metal Toolbox decks this weekend in London. Slice Off allows you to discard a Special Energy (henceforth referred to as SPE because I’m going to be talking about that a BUNCH here in the next couple of paragraphs) off of any of your opponent’s Pokemon. Yep, that’s right, to the dismay of Garbodor (Guardians Rising, 51/145) fans everywhere, it’s Enhanced Hammer (Guardians Rising, 124/145) as an ability, another non-Item alternative to supplant a popular Item card.
So I’m going to go way off point here, but I’ll get back to Kartana eventually (probably).
I say GRI Garbodor fans everywhere, but that certainly wasn’t the case last weekend in London. GRI Garb was nowhere to be found. A Pokemon six months ago tore up the meta and dominated the field in multiple major tournaments was completely AWOL this weekend at the largest tournament in the history of Pokemon in Europe. And here comes that stat that’s REALLY going to blow your mind:
The top eight decks last weekend ran almost as many Items as the top eight decks at NAIC and Worlds.
Uh-huh you heard me right. The top eight decks in London this past weekend ran a combined total of approximately 133 items, 16.625 items per deck. There are a couple of asterisks to note here:
The top eight decks at NAIC ran a combined total of 145 Items, an average of 18.125 Items per deck. Worlds was four more, 149 Items, 18.625 Items per deck. NAIC decks averaged less than 10% more Items; Worlds decks averaged 11% more items.
Long story short (I know too late): you can’t begin to tell me that Grampa wouldn’t have done just fine in this tournament. There were plenty of Drampa GX’s (Guardians Rising, 115/145) sprinkled throughout various decklists, so don’t tell me it was because of Fighting weakness to Buzzwole GX. Plus, Buzz is weak to Garb. The best Grampa deck there came in 15th, the only one in the top 32. Sorry, but I’m just not buying that the Drampa GX Garbodor combo has just suddenly gotten bad. I think people just didn’t want to play it. Maybe they’re getting tired of it – peace, that’s fine. Just don’t try to tell me that it’s not a good deck anymore.
Anyways, getting back to Kartana GX, how great is that Slice Off ability? Look at it this way, seven of the top eight decks at London ran SPE. 71% of the meta decks I’ve faced this month have run SPE. Back on July 20th, we reviewed Enhanced Hammer as a throw back card, and I did a small study that showed that I wasn’t playing it, even though I came across a fair number of decks running SPE.
I’m telling you now, after this weekend, PLAY ENHANCED HAMMER. It came in so handy for the players running it in London, there’s no question it’s a must run in decklists right now. Especially since nobody’s running GRI Garb anymore, right? We should all just go back to putting thirty Items in our decks again. I don’t know that I’d play Kartana GX if I weren’t running Metal energy in my deck, but I’m definitely putting one in all of my Metal decks.
But that’s all I’m putting in. Kartana GX’s main attack is a very disappointing 3 attachment (1 Metal and 2 Colorless energy) Gale Blade that does only seventy damage. Three energy and only seventy damage? On a GX? Are you kidding me? It does have the side effect of allowing you to scoop up Kartana GX and all the cards attached to it and put them back in your deck. But that means you lose at least two if not three energy attachments, and seventy damage just doesn’t cut it in today’s meta. Honestly, I wonder if that seventy wasn’t a typo or misprint of some sort. We’re hard on GX’s that only do 120 or 130 as the base damage on their main attacks, this is barely half of that.
Kartana’s GX attack, however, is pretty amazing and makes it worthwhile to attach at least a single energy to it. Blade GX costs only a single metal energy and allows you to take a prize card. That’s pretty awesome – a single energy attachment attack that allows you to take a prize card guaranteed. That really good attack redeems Kartana GX and makes it worthwhile to play as a tech in one of in Metal Toolbox decklists.
Standard: 2 out of 5
If that Gale Blade attack did 120 damage, Kartana GX would have seen A LOT more play this weekend and probably taken down even more Gardevoir GX decks. As it is, Kartana GX is definitely worth a card slot in all Metal Toolbox decks. I don’t think it’s worth more than that, and I don’t think I’d run it in a non Metal Type deck, but its ability is really useful in the current meta, and its GX attack might help turn a seven prize match sort of into a six prize one.
Today’s 4th place pick is Kartana! Kartana is a corrupted name of Katana, a Japanese Sword! You probably won’t see as much katanas anywhere now due to its history, but Pokemon has a way of incorporating such weapons into a creative virtual design. That’s probably how Kartana was made, and being an Ultra Beast to boot (that’s how lethal this thing is)! This is actually my favorite Ultra Beast; it’s reasonably fast and can hit very hard!
On the TCG, we have Kartana-GX to review. It is a Metal type with 170 HP, weak to Fire, resists Psychic, and a retreat of one. Solid attributes to begin with but then we get to the effects. It’s coming-into-play ability, Slice Off, works if you bench Kartana-GX. If you do, you discard a special energy from 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon. You could consider this as a ability based Enhanced Hammer that doesn’t feed Trashalanche’s damage output. Gale Blade costs 70 for MCC with an optional effect of bouncing this Pokémon to your deck. This could actually conserve resources. A damaged Kartana with three energy and a Choice Band? Hit for 100 and get that Pokémon away from play! You’ve just not only deny your opponent 2 prizes, but you get another opportunity of Slicing Off their Special Energies should you eventually search for this Pokémon.
So far, looking great over here, but none of the GX attacks that I’ve seen so far has caused me extreme laughter until today. The GX attack in question is Blade GX that costs M energy. And what does it do?
Take a prize card.
That’s it! No ifs or buts, just do as you’re told. This is a crazy attack. This could be used if the card that you need is in the prizes. Probably even better would be to use Town Map so that you don’t have to worry about getting the right face-down card. So that’s useful in that regard. However, if you have only have one prize left, use this GX attack and you win! Doesn’t matter if the Pokémon is too hard to be OHKOed or having any immunities or whatnot, take a shortcut.
Kartana-GX brings a lot of utility to the table. I would put one in my deck for both the ability and the GX attack. In Limited, the damage output 3 for 70 is slightly underwhelming, but as I said about the effect, getting rid of damage is worth the investment. And Blade GX is ridiculous as ever in any format.
P.S. Also shoutout to Shinx and Luxio from SM5! Instant Evolution and a single colorless attack that does item-lock?! Sign me up!
One of the very few cards that is top-tier purely to counter the current metagame, Kartana-GX not only helps fill a niche in the meta, but it also can function as a decently powerful attacker in all stages of the game.
Being a Metal type, Kartana does enjoy the state of the meta it resides in, where many Pokemon are weak to Metal. It’s 170 HP is low by Pokemon-GX standards, but it is not a main attacker in most of the decks it will find home in, just like Nihilego-GX. It has the standard Fire weakness and Psychic resistance, and also it has a retreat cost of 1 which is nice. But Kartana is mostly a supporter, as its combination of Ability and attacks shows.
Slice Off, its ability, allows it to force discard a Special Energy in play, such as Double Colorless Energy, Rainbow Energy and Counter Energy from 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon when it is played down, allowing for major disruption and annoyance. Think of the many decks that loves Special Energy; Gardevoir-GX plays DCE, Golisopod/Drampa/Espeon + Garbodor plays Rainbow and DCE, and many 1 prizers will love their Counter Energy, which Kartana can just say “No” with its ability. This ability alone, much like Aegislash-EX (XY PHF) used to do with its Mighty Shield ability that is also a piece of Special Energy hate history, will make Kartana-GX very splashable in many, many decks that struggles against archetypes that loves using Special Energy.
Its attacks are not too shabby either. It could be worse, but thank God it’s been given two very good ones. Gale Blade is cheap at 1 Metal and 2 Colorless energies, deals 70 damage and gives the Kartana player the option to shuffle Kartana and all the cards attached to it back to the deck. This gives many advantages; it allows you to conserve resources, prevents decking out, prevents a grab of easy 2 prizes against Fire decks, and also most importantly it allows the Kartana players to draw the Kartana again and reuse Slice Off, furthering the annoyance of your opponent as you can have up to an unlimited amount of Slice Off happening.
Blade GX is another story; it’s also a very powerful move where you just..
Draw a prize.
That’s it. Are you stuck with the 1-2 prize scenario where you can’t just take the last prize card because none of your opponent’s Pokemon are in one shot range? Well, in comes Kartana, attach a Metal energy and draw that last prize. Are you annoyed because that crucial card you want is in the prize? Well, in comes Kartana to grab that prize off and take game momentum. Remember, it doesn’t need to be a Metal energy; decks that use Rainbow Energy can also use Blade GX to help smooth setup output as well.
As far as weaknesses goes, I can’t say much about Kartana-GX, apart from maybe it having low bulk and a rather common weakness. But as a support Pokemon, it is, as far as I’m concerned, without peer and it can fit in any deck that use Rainbow or Metal energy like no other.
Standard: 4.5/5 (An extremely splashable tech Pokemon that will definitely help against the majority of top tier decks that plays Special Energies, and its not a one trick pony either.)
Expanded: 4.6/5 (There are a LOT more decks that rely on their Special Energies in Expanded, making an inclusion of maybe 2 copies of Kartana-GX a solid option.)
Limited: 4/5 (Gets rid of pesky comeback decks with their Counter Energy shenanigans.)
Next on SM Crimson Invasion:
Mother Beast has taken a new form after she silently left from Samus Aran’s eyes…
Fourth place goes to Kartana-GX (SM: Crimson Invasion 70/111, 106/111, 117/111). That is right, another Basic, Ultra Beast Pokémon-GX. Being a Basic makes this card easy to run whether it is as TecH, a maxed out line or something in between. Being an Ultra Beast doesn’t mean anything yet, but I doubt it will remain a meaningless trait for long. Being a Pokémon-GX is a mixed bag: enjoy the extra HP, three effects (one being a GX-attack), even a little support just for them, but don’t forget they give up an extra Prize when KO’d, they can’t use certain goodies, and some stuff specifically counters them. The Metal-Type has solid (good, in Expanded) support and Fairy-Types – like Gardevoir-GX – are Metal Weak, so that’s a good thing as well. 170 HP is on the small side of typical for a Basic Pokémon-GX. Fire Weakness is not your friend; Volcanion-EX is still most definitely a competitive deck. Psychic Resistance is handy, even if it only reduced the damage taken by 20; Garbodor (SM: Guardians Rising 51/145) missed the final Top 8 at the European Regionals, but three of them made the Top 32. A Retreat Cost of [C] isn’t perfect, but its close; you’ll usually be able to afford it, at least in the short term.
Kartana-GX has one Ability, one regular attack, and one GX-attack. The Ability is “Slice Off”, a nice name for a nice effect; when you Bench Kartana-GX from your hand, Slice Off triggers, allowing you to discard a Special Energy card (if any) that is attached to one of your opponent’s Pokémon. Some games, you won’t be able to make use of this Energy because your opponent has no Special Energy in play. Other times, you won’t be able to make good use of it because you’d just be KOing whatever has a Special Energy attached anyway (so why discard it?). There are enough times, though, that I still think this is a definite benefit of the card, and perhaps its main purpose. The regular attack, Gale Blade, costs [MCC] and does 70 damage, while giving you the option of shuffling Kartana-GX (or whatever used the attack) back into your deck along with all cards attached. This is enough to set up for a 2HKO against most Basic Pokémon-GX/EX, but the main purpose is probably to give you a chance to recycle Slice Off. There are a few other perks, but I’ll explain those when we go into more detail about actual usage. The GX-attack, “Blade-GX”, is deceptively simple. For [M], you take a Prize; you don’t KO anything, you just take a Prize. This makes it a useful finishing move, especially when your opponent has tried to force a “seven Prize” game and only has a bunch of hard-to-KO targets in play.
Now, let’s put it all together. You’ve got the stats of your typical Pokémon-EX/GX beatstick, even if the HP is on the smaller side of things. You’ve got an Ability that is great some of the time, useless some of the time, and just “okay” some of the time. You’ve got two attacks that need [M], but the three-Energy attack just needs one source of it and can use things like Double Colorless Energy for the rest, while the other attack just needs a flat [M]. Gale Blade shuffling Kartana-GX back into the doesn’t just allow you to recycle this card’s Ability, but whatever is attached to it; if you slap a Rainbow Energy, Double Colorless Energy, and Choice Band on Kartana-GX, you may lose them from the field, but you’ll have it all back in your deck to play again later. Unless you really need Kartana-GX to stick around, in which case you just choose not to use the shuffle effect. Rainbow Energy, a single basic Metal Energy, etc. lets you use Blade-GX with relative ease, and if your opponent doesn’t score a OHKO, that can lead into a gale Blade the next turn. Speaking of Gale Blade, it will take a Choice Band with a Professor Kukui, but it can OHKO a Gardevoir-GX.
No one thing that Kartana-GX does makes it a must run, but all three together? It gets harder to argue. For decks that specialize in filling their Bench, in particular, those that fill, discard, and refill it (whether by choice or due to an opponent countering them), Kartana-GX becomes an obvious inclusion, whether it is Standard or Expanded Format play. Decks that already have a source of [M] Energy in them or can be easily modified, should really, really consider Kartana-GX, unless we have a radical metagame shift and people start shunning Special Energy, Gardevoir-GX falls off the face of the earth, etc. Plenty of decks are still going to be better off using whatever they already had dedicated to these things (if any) so don’t throw your Enhanced Hammers away just yet! It is still a good Item, it just has a little more competition now. Unsurprisingly, this is a really nice pull for the Limited Format, but don’t try running it as a +39 deck. I mean, it is still somewhat tempting, thanks to Blade-GX and the fact that this format starts with only four Prizes, but even though 70-for-three is better here than in the Constructed Formats, I’m don’t think it will be enough to reliably take three more Prizes before your opponent finishes off Kartana-GX. Just about any deck other than a +39 build should make use of it, though; you might be able to discard a Counter Energy, but being a big, Basic with those attacks is the main thing.
Kartana-GX does three things, and it does them pretty well; punish Special Energy usage without using a Trainer or attack, exploit Metal Weakness without needing a lot of actual [M] Energy, and have a way to take one last Prize without having to actually KO something. This is why it had a solid showing at the European International Championship, and hopefully why it finished fourth place on our collective top 10, fetching 38 voting points and appearing on five individual top 10 lists. Not only is this seven more voting points than yesterday’s fifth-place finisher (Silvally-GX), but it’s only four shy of tying our first place pick! I had Kartana-GX as my third place pick; I’m glad it at least took fourth place.