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Otaku on Pokemon
This guide assumes you have access to scans or a spoiler of the cards. You can find scans from Pokébeach here.
Basic Guidelines for Deck Building
Remember the normal limit of four of a card doesn’t apply, though if the card itself limits how many you can use (like Pokémon* do), that still applies.
You will often need to run 1-1 and 1-1-1 lines. “Line” refers to a series of related Pokémon, for those not familiar with the term. So the “Charizard” Line is Charmander, Charmeleon, and Charizard. A 1-1-1 line would be one each of those Pokémon. A 2-1-1 line means two of the Basic, and one of each Evolution. You generally want at least one Stage 2 line and one Stage 1 line in your deck, backed by enough Basic Pokémon to bring your total count of Basic Pokémon up to at least 10. If you do have a several big Basics or a good 2-2-2 or two 2-2 line etc. you can be more discriminating and opt to not run a 1-1-1 line or 1-1 line alongside it. Expect to have about 20 Pokémon in a good Limited deck. For those not familiar with the term, Limited is the Format that Pre-Releases use: it refers to building your deck with the limited supplies you get at the tournament.
Any Trainers and Special Energy cards you pull are almost guaranteed a spot in your deck. The biggest exception comes from highly specialized cards that are completely incompatible with your deck or only compatible with a few cards or in special circumstances. Generally, if less than five cards can make use of it; you probably shouldn’t run a particular Trainer or Energy. This set has quite a few Trainers (12 of the 101 cards) so you should get at least one or two. This set also has six Special Energy cards, though you may pull some you can’t use or at least use well.
How to Evaluate a Pokémon
Some of you may know that I have done this kind of massive overview before. It is not easy, though mostly it’s a matter of finding time to look at each card and type up a summary of its potential. This time, I am writing before I have had a chance to participate in a Pre-Release, so there is a lot of guesswork involved. Also, remember that this is Pokémon, a TCG distributed through semi-randomized booster packs: lucky pulls, even in multiple, happen and can radically alter the environment from the norm.
In order to go faster, I am going to focus on getting to the point much quicker, especially for cards that are bland or weak. Much of this can be accomplished by reminding you all that this guide is meant for viewing with a Spoiler or Scans of the cards handy (there is a link to the top for card scans), and that you are supposed to read the guidelines here carefully, so that you can understand what I mean when I list something simple like “good Attributes”. By Attribute, I am referring to pretty much everything about a particular card other than Poké-Bodies, Poké-Powers, or attacks. Something with “good Attributes” it has one great Attribute and a bad one, one above average Attribute and the rest all average, and other potential combinations that have the net result of being “good”. So having a reference to the card in question will make it clear what I am saying.
Stage: All Stages are important, but it’s much more balanced in Limited: Stages that aren’t the end of their line can still win you many games. Generally, you look for reasons to disqualify a Stage 1 or 2, as if you can find nothing significantly wrong you should be running it. As always, remember that “I won’t have enough room for Energy” is a valid reason to avoid running an otherwise good card.
I don’t penalize Stage 1 and 2 with respect to their scores: the assumption for my scores is that you pull a workable line. I do, however, give a small bonus to Basics and even less substantial bonus to Stage 1 Pokémon due to the ease of their use. This, combined with rarity, reflects how easy they are to run well (as opposed to run at all). This might appear as mere score inflation, but it reflects my experience with Limited: availability can put a weaker card over a stronger one, but only by so much.
Type: Pokémon Type is not something that can be easily evaluated: it varies by what people pull and play. Don’t assume a type to be “good” or “bad”: just focus on having reasonable Type matching capacity: even if you pulled a solid line of something, if that line’s Weakness is apt to see a lot of play, don’t run it unless your deck can cover its Weakness well. Resistance is less a concern only because it is so rare, but if you see many Pokémon with it, try to cover that angle as well. An example would be if Fire appears easy to run and run well, then even if you can run a Grass line in your deck you shouldn’t unless you already have Water Pokémon in the deck to cover the Fire Weakness.
One can’t even assume that a Type is good because its Weakness is very common: good players do pay attention to that kind of thing and will avoid what seems like an obvious choice of Pokémon in order to avoid an unnecessary vulnerability that is well represented in a set. There is also the luck of what is pulled: someone may run a line that would seem foolish because they pulled several copies of the Basic and Stage 1 or even the Stage 2 Pokémon.
Still, it’s good to know raw numbers, so here is a crude chart. The ones are just used as tallies and to create a simple, hopefully almost universally easy to view visual comparison.
Pokémon Weaknesses Breakdown
No Weakness : 11111111 08
Colorless : 1111 04
Fighting : 111111111 09
Fire : 11111111 08
Grass : 11111 05
Lightning : 1111111111111111111 19
Psychic : 11111111111111111111 20
Water : 1111111111 10
And here is one for Resistance.
Pokémon Resistance Breakdown
No Resistance : * 73
Fighting : 1111111 07
Fire : 1 01
Grass : 1 01
Lightning : 1 01
Water : 111 03
*No, I am not making 73 ones for the chart – there isn’t enough room without going down a line and that defeats the purpose.
Now, take the difference between Weakness and Resistance and the apparent order of best to worst type would be Psychic, Lightning, Fire, Water, Colorless, Grass, Fighting, Metal, and Darkness. Obviously, the greater “net Weakness”, the higher I rated the type, with the tie between Water and Fire broken by Fire only being Resisted by a Pokémon-ex, the tie between Colorless and Grass broken by the obvious superiority of the Colorless Pokémon (see their individual reviews), and the same for the tie between Darkness and Metal.
Hit Points: A Basic Pokémon with an HP of 50 is acceptable, particularly for a support role, while 60 HP is good and 70-80 is great. 40 is normally weak, but its so very common this set that it will be tolerated for cards. It is relatively rare to find a Basic Pokémon with 90, 100, 110, or 120 HP, that isn’t a Pokémon-ex but such cards tend to be fantastically good so long as they have something useful they can do. Basic Pokémon-ex need to be at least 80 HP to be acceptable with 90 being good, and 100+ being great. For a Stage 1, 70 HP is acceptable, 80 is good, and anything more is great. A Stage 1 Pokémon-ex, on the other hand, needs at least 100 HP to be acceptable. A Stage 2 needs at least 100 HP to be solid, and anything more is good, unless it is a Pokémon-ex, in which case it needs at least 140 HP to be acceptable.
I feel I should once again mention that Pokémon in this set, as a whole, are fairly “small” in HP. While there are a few that are fairly high, many are lower than anticipated. Several Basic Pokémon come in at 40 HP this set.
Weakness: Here’s a quick breakdown of the amount of each Pokémon-Type you’ll see in this set.
Pokémon Type Breakdown
Colorless : 11111 05
Darkness : 111111 06
Fighting : 11111111111111 14
Fire : 11111111111111 14
Grass : 111111 06
Lightning : 111111111 09
Metal : 111111 06
Psychic : 11111111111111 14
Water : 111111111 09
Thankfully, there were no dual-type Pokémon to make matters more complicated. My rating is based on both how strong the Pokémon of the Type are overall, and how easy it should be to run said Type. So if all cards of a Type are strong, that matters, but if they are mostly higher rarities, than that is more important still. Additionally, not all Pokémon can deal significant amounts of damage.
So, how does Weakness break down? Well, of course no Weakness is best, and in order from best to worst Weakness to have its Darkness, Metal, Grass, Colorless, Lightning, Water, Fighting, Psychic and finally Fire. Nothing is weak to Darkness or Metal Types in this set, but they are included for the sake of posterity, and to flesh out how I evaluate Weakness to a Type. I should mention that for the most part, this set should find most Weaknesses to be on equal footing as most have about the same amount of worthwhile attackers.
The reasons are as follows:
Colorless Pokémon [(C)] have the fewest representatives in the set. However, as they can use any Energy to attack, they are quite easy to “splash” into just about any deck. Colorless Pokémon in this set consist of a Common-Uncommon-Holographic Rare Stage 2 line and a Common-Rare Stage 1 line, both of which have worthwhile abilities for Limited play, making them more formidable than some of the slightly more abundant Types.
Darkness [(D)] Weakness appears to be the safest – too bad (for certain cards) it doesn’t appear in the set. Of the Darkness Pokémon in this set, only the Nidoking-line can attack without the aid of δ Rainbow Energy or Scramble Energy. Even then, the attacks that don’t need Darkness Energy tend to be vanilla or low in damage. Finally, the rarity distribution for this Type skews high: with just two commons, one Uncommon, one Rare, one Holographic-Rare, and a Pokémon*!
Fighting [(F)] Pokémon have a solid distribution in this set, but most worthwhile ones will be at least Uncommon. They have one Pokémon-ex, two Holographic-Rares, and a normal Rare. All the Fighting Pokémon have good abilities for Limited, though most are also fairly low HP for their Stage, keeping them from beating out Fire and Psychic.
Fire [(R)] Pokémon are as prominent as Fighting and Psychic Pokémon this set. I see some nasty Stage 1 Pokémon at reasonable rarities this set, giving them enough of a push to beat out Fighting but not Psychic Pokémon.
Grass [(G)] Pokémon have as few representatives as Darkness and Metal Pokémon do in this set, but with a slightly friendly rarity scheme (two Commons, an Uncommon, a plain Rare, a Holographic-Rare, and a Pokémon-ex). One of them can’t attack for damage, though, and all need one to two Grass Energy to hit hard (if they can hit hard).
Lightning [(L)] Pokémon are not as rare as several other Types this set, but if you aren’t running a deck with several Lightning Energy, they won’t do you a whole lot of good. They have some potent Pokémon but said cards are Holographic-Rares and two Pokémon-ex. The one Pokémon-ex is a Basic, though and anyone who pulls it will be a fearsome foe, which is why this faired so well even though it has almost as few good Pokémon in the set as the previous, less numerous Types.
Metal [(M)] Pokémon are a rarity in this set as they normally are. Nothing is Metal Weak, but if it were it’d fair quite well, and only a hair worse than Pokémon that would be Darkness Weak. At least the Nidoqueen-line can attack without access to a Metal Energy-substitute, and unlike her beaux Nidoqueen has access to a big Colorless attack. Metal Pokémon also have a slightly nicer rarity scheme than Darkness Pokémon, but only by one card (an additional “Normal” Rare Basic as opposed to a Pokémon*). Still, there are so few in the set it’d have been a pretty safe Weakness.
Psychic [(P)] Pokémon are once again very prominent, and at the lower rarities, surprisingly. This may not seem like much, but it is indeed enough to make them the worst Weakness.
Water [(W)] Pokémon favor the higher rarities in this set, and most have Water-Type energy requirements in their attacks. Still, all three Pokémon-ex and the Pokémon* Water Pokémon are formidable for Limited.
Resistance: Resistance runs parallel to the “best Type” breakdown. Adjusted for what is missing, Lightning Resistance then is the best this time around, followed by Fire, Water, Grass, and finally Fighting. Still, any Resistance is a good one.
Retreat Cost: A Retreat Cost of three can hurt a Pokémon, making them vulnerable to becoming “stranded” in the Active slot. Two is neither good nor bad, barring other cards making it difficult. A Retreat Cost of one is great. It is even better than it normally is in Constructed play because of the importance of not giving up Prizes and shaking the effects of several Pokémon abilities (like Special Conditions). A free Retreat Cost is fantastic, but alone it still won’t justify a Pokémon being included in your deck. It will usually offset one major issue or two minor ones e.g. low HP, or a useless Poké-Body and bland attack.
In this specific set, only four Pokémon have a free Retreat, 60 have a retreat Cost of one, 15 a Retreat Cost of two, and four a Retreat Cost of three.
Abilities: The basics of evaluating attacks are the same, but the spectrum is more stretched out: requiring more than two of a single color really limits a Pokémon, so lacking even a token Colorless attack can be troublesome. Effects of attacks that were a nice bonus are often major factors in deciding on a card now: Special Conditions are much harder to get out of without a solid Trainer base! Attacks requiring a Metal or Darkness Energy normally would have to be ignored, but Scramble Energy and δ Rainbow are in the set, so you might be able to use them if it is on an Evolution and not a Pokémon-ex and you are behind on Prizes or a Pokémon δ. In either case the attacks aren’t particularly reliable when they are so dependant upon such circumstances, are become merely fringe benefits.
Rarity: While rarity does affect the metagame in constructed, there it is more a matter of who has more disposable income. In Limited, it becomes another attribute and balancing agent. Commons, simply put, are the most abundant cards and thus tend to be the best for Limited events like Pre-Releases. Each subsequent rarity is harder to use, but at the same time becomes more precious due to your lack of alternatives. Most of the time you should focus on Commons and Uncommons; they will be what you normally encounter. Still, remember you will run into Rares, Holographic Rares, Pokémon-ex, and even the occasional Pokémon* and plan accordingly. Additionally, the normal restriction on four copies of a card per deck is waived for Limited play, so a good common can be quite good indeed. Obviously once you have a card, you have a card, so like with Basic Pokémon and Evolutions, I merely tend to give a slight bonus to the more common rarities, as again this reflects my experience with the game.
Miscellaneous: I will indicate a Pokémon is a δ Delta Species Pokémon by simply following its name with a “δ” symbol.
δ Delta Species Pokémon (Pokémon δ for short) are the norm in this set. The Pokémon δ aiding cards only matter if you pull them and can use them, but the Pokémon δ punishing cards matter if anyone else at the tournament can pull and use them. Therefore, I will give a small bonus to “plain” Pokémon in this set.
My evaluations will normally assume you can pull at least one a form’s lower Stages with its upper Stages. I have separated the cards by Rarity, except for Trainers and Energy which I am lumping together and sticking between commons and Pokémon-ex, so that this will cover the cards in set number order. I am unlikely to comment on an Attribute that is fairly well covered by the above introduction unless I feel it is still noteworthy.
Ampharos δ: 3.5/5
Ampharos may have players excited for constructed, but in Limited it is hard to utilize its Poké-Body: simply put, all Pokémon you’ll have will already be Pokémon δ.. What that leaves is a Stage 2 Colorless Pokémon with an attack that is “okay” to “good”: Delta Circle won’t top 60 points of damage, though it does a minimum of 30 and can “attack from nowhere” since this set contains Boost Energy. The Attributes are a bit low, but that’s “average” for this set.
Feraligatr δ: 4/5
Feraligatr has great Attributes, as a whole: best HP it can have, okay Retreat Cost, okay Weakness, Type hits a prominent Weakness, etc. Its damage increasing Poké-Body means that it’s probably worth running even as a 1-1-1 line in a deck with few Lightning Energy. Drag Off can frustrate an opponent all by its lonesome if you use your head. If you can justify running Lightning Energy, Sharp Fang is a simple, straightforward attack that compliments Drag Off’s more strategic nature. Together, both attacks should allow you to score a KO every other turn and make it hard for the opponent to counter-attack. Still, it does require a good deal of Lightning Energy in your deck to fully realize its potential, and any player who has studied the will make an effort to include a good Lightning Pokémon in their deck: almost one in four Pokémon are Weak to them.
Heracross δ: 3/5
Heracross looks better than it actually is: Shining Horn only works if it is your only Pokémon in play, Dig Deep doesn’t work too well without a method of discarding Energy, and since it requires Fire Energy Extra Claws won’t justify running the card either. If you already have room for Fire Energy, then the card is a good pick. You can risk Heracross as your only Basic while it is fully healthy and the opponent has just Basics that are low on Energy in play. If you can’t attack with Extra Claws, though, Dig Deep isn’t worth the eventual loss of a Prize after Heracross finishes stalling (that is your opponent gets an Evolution out).
Meganium δ: 4/5
Meganium has great Attributes, attacks, and a Poké-Power. The main drawback is you have to have a Fighting Energy to attack (even if its just one in either attack’s cost). Actually having a Resistance is huge, Delta Reduction means you can trade blows with any non-Fire Pokémon that does 60 or less damage and come out ahead, and Mega Impact is that solid, straight damage attack that lets you burn through an opponent with only Basics in this format.
Milotic δ: 3.75/5
Milotic has solid Attributes for a Stage 1 Pokémon, and a useful Poké-Power. Sharing will mostly prove useful because it lets you see what your opponent is capable of: it is doubtful they will have a Supporter most turns. Still, it’s phenomenal when they do. The reasons this card doesn’t score high are it comes from Feebas, an extremely weak Basic, and requires two Fire Energy for its three Energy attack. Since Fire Pokémon aren’t super-abundant in this set, that means dedicating a good deal of Energy to a Type you probably only have a few users of.
Nidoking δ: 1.75/5
Nidoking has good HP and the ability to hit a Benched Pokémon for 30 damage… but unless you pull a couple δ Rainbow Energy, that will be all its good for, and that’s pretty pathetic. Still, if you pull multiples of the lower stages, this final stage can still be useful.
Nidoqueen δ: 4/5
Nidoqueen has solid but with a great Poké-Power and attack. Early game Nidoqueen might seem weak, but she should be used for set up at that time, while other solid cards to go down fighting. Then let her come out and swing for big damage. The all Colorless attack is especially nice for Limited.
Ninetales δ: 3.5/5
Ninetales was clearly meant to support another version of it’s self. Volunteer’s only real use is, if you get multiples, to use it to shake Special Conditions (it apparently still works when afflicted by one) and thin your deck. Trick Tail isn’t too bad but it’s hard to dump Energy in Limited. Ninetales has a free Retreat Cost, which is a selling point, and its attack is for just two of any Energy. This means it can be worked into most decks so long as something better isn’t available.
Snorlax δ: 4/5
Snorlax is a novelty, having no attacks but both a Poké-Power and Poké-Body. While he can heal himself if he is awake and hurt the opponent with damage counter placement while Asleep, its all up to chance, and remember if you do Sleep through two turns straight and place 4 damage counters on the opponent, you won’t be able to use the Poké-Power to heal! Still, with its impressive 80 HP and ability to heal most turns, it should be a great stall Pokémon.
Togetic δ: 4/5
Togetic is very small, a 60 HP Stage 1. It has great bottom Attributes, and a sick first attack (given the set), plus a decent fallback attack. So it’s Togepi δ being so weak combined with Togetic’s HP and Wave Splash needing Water Energy that keeps it from being a must-run winner.
Typhlosion δ: 4.25/5
Typhlosion is good, but you have to build your deck around it. Shady Move is useful, letting you move a damage counter once per turn, including moving it from one player’s Pokémon to another, but it only works while Typhlosion is Active. That means you still need it to be able to attack. Typhlosion needs three Energy to attack, and one needs to be a Psychic Energy. This gives you a straight forward damage attack. If you have at least two Fire Energy attached, then you score auto-Burn as well. As you can still attack without Fire Energy, it’s a nice option: some decks can ignore it if they don’t have room, and many can just add two Fire Energy and hold them back for Typhlosion.
Arbok δ: 4/5
Arbok is a great Pokémon for Limited. With all but four Pokémon in the set being Pokémon δ, it’ll almost always be doing 80 with Strangle. Burning Venom is also quite nasty, given the potency of Special Conditions in Limited. Other than that, solid Attributes for a Stage 1 end form.
Cloyster δ: 3/5
Cloyster is an alright card, with a useful Poké-Body that protects your bench and a respectable attack. Unfortunately, that Fighting Energy requirement means you can’t run it in a deck that can’t reasonably meet the requirement: the Poké-Body just doesn’t seem worth the room.
Dewgong δ: 4.5/5
Dewgong isn’t perfect, but it’s close. As a Colorless Pokémon with Colorless attacks, it can fit into just about any deck. Solid Attributes and being a Stage 1 Normal Rare makes it easier to get for your deck and into play. You need Water Energy to fully utilize Surge, but since its not a necessity you can risk things like running just two Water Energy in a deck. Of course, the main selling point is Delta Reduction, which will reduce damage from almost all Pokémon in this set by 40 points!
Gligar δ: 3.75/5
Gligar is just so easy to fit into most decks that one might as well do so. The first attack is flippy and the second can be handy against the inevitable Pokémon-ex you’ll face. Still, if you are tight on space you should drop it for something more vital to the deck.
Jynx δ: 3/5
Jynx is pretty average: even if you got Smoochum δ and are able to Evolve it, you’re merely knocking a single Energy off the retreat cost of your Fire and Psychic Pokémon. The attack is fair and straightforward, but not enough to warrant adding Fire Energy to a deck.
Ledian δ: 2/5
Ledian has a nice free retreat cost and excellent Poké-Power, but unless you pull a δ Rainbow Energy it probably isn’t worth running since it won’t be able to attack. If it can attack, it’s unlikely to get the draw effect since that requires a Pokémon Tool. Still, some will consider it if they feel they can risk a spot on their Bench for what will end up being just a “free retreater” after Evolving.
Lickitung δ: 4.5/5
Lickitung is an almost guaranteed play: solid HP, a great first attack, and if you can make room for some Psychic Energy, also a great second attack. Lap Up is draw power any deck can use, so almost every deck will want to make room for it. Delta Mind is also great, and might be worth adding just one or two Psychic Energy on the off chance you get lucky and draw into them at the right time.
Mantine δ: 2.5/5
Mantine has an okay Poké-Power (you won’t use it most of the time) and a useful attack (not much damage, but it keeps it alive) and they do work okay together (provided you have Energy you need in the discard). Still, it’s basically on par with man Basics that Evolves (even though Mantine itself doesn’t). The need for Lightning Energy to attack and self-damage if you use the so-so Poké-Power hold it back.
Quagsire δ: 3.5/5
Quagsire δ is a solid Stage 1 Pokémon, but it requires you run at least a few Grass Energy if you want to attack, and if you don’t have any Pokémon Tools, both the Poké-Power and additional effect of the attack are wasted. Wooper δ is wonderful, though.
Seadra δ: 4/5
Seadra needs a Fighting Energy to use its second, bigger attack, but it has Smokescreen for its first attack. Smokescreen is devastating in Limited, so if you pull more than a 1-1 Seadra-line, make room for some Fighting Energy.
Tropius δ: 2/5
Tropius should only be used in most decks for the Poké-Power if you think you can spare the room for it. Unless you pull several δ Rainbow Energy, it can’t attack.
Vibrava δ (24/101): 3.5/5
Vibrava has solid Attributes and a decent attack, making it a solid choice for most decks. If you can afford to add even a few Psychic Energy, the Poké-Body can make it even better. It also helps that there are two Trapinch δ and another Vibrava δ in the set.
Xatu δ: 1/5
Xatu can’t attack without δ Rainbow Energy or a Scramble Energy, nor can Natu δ. The attack is just okay so the only reason to run this is if you are fortunate and pull a Pokémon-ex that you feel can carry this in your deck.
Bayleef δ: 3/5
Bayleef is a solid Stage 1: it has a single, okay attack but its Water Resistance helps offset the lack of options. It does need one Fighting Energy to attack, though, so a deck should already have some Fighting Energy in it (or room to add it) if you want to use this card.
Croconaw δ: 3.75/5
Croconaw benefits because it is a Lightning Type and that is the second most abundant Weakness this set, and with its reasonably priced Slash Attack, it can exploit it fairly well. If you pull at least a 2-2 line of this, you should really try to work it into your deck.
Dragonair δ: 3.25/5
Dragonair is just a hair above average because it lacks a Weakness. Otherwise, as is normal for a card of this score, it’s a good if you already have or can easily add some Grass Energy to your current deck: otherwise forget it.
Electabuzz δ: 4/5
Electabuzz has merely okay Attributes, but Swift will be a life saver if you run into some of the Pokémon with defensive effects like Dewgong δ. That alone doesn’t explain the score, though: Elekid δ is an alright Pokémon and if you Evolve Electabuzz from it you get a free extra draw from the bottom of your deck once a turn!
Flaafy δ: 3.25/5
Flaafy has average Attributes and a merely okay attack, but since said attack is Colorless and it can be used in any deck with room for some Pokémon cards, it gets a slight boost.
Horsea δ (31/101): 3.25/5
is a bit low on HP,
but in a deck
Reverse Thrust can
be a life saver,
Kirlia is a reprint. This version is fairly good: as long as you can match the amount of Energy the opponent has, you can hit hard. Try to Paralyze with Psyshock if you can’t match up. Both of those are pretty obvious. What isn’t so obvious is to that as a non-Pokémon δ, it doesn’t have to worry about things like Delta Protection on Dewgong δ. There is also a Kirlia δ, a Ralts δ, and a plain Ralts in the set: this too is worth a small bonus, as it increases the likelihood of a well developed line.
Kirlia δ: 3.25/5
Kirlia won’t be much good outside of a deck with Fire Energy, but it works well enough to still be a good, average Stage 1 line… that gets a bonus due to there being not only itself and its Basic form (Ralts δ), but also a plain Kirlia and Ralts it can work with.
Nidorina δ: 2.75/5
Nidorina is a Stage 1 with solid Attributes but a somewhat weak attack unless you have δ Rainbow Energy or Scramble Energy handy. It’s not particularly good, but it’s not too bad either.
Nidorino δ: 3/5
Nidorino is a decent Stage 1 Pokémon that can work in most decks since its Horn Drill has no colored Energy requirements. If you can get some form of Darkness Energy on it, it can also use Rage, a decent attack (but that’s unlikely).
Quilava δ: 3/5
Quilava is a fairly standard Stage 1 Psychic Pokémon for Limited: it can be used in non-Psychic Energy utilizing since the first attack has Colorless costs, but since it doesn’t hit hard without Psychic Energy that should only be done when nothing better is available.
Seadra δ (37/101): 3.5/5
Seadra can be splashed into any deck and still hit for okay damage. It’s a bit better in decks with Fighting Energy. It also benefits from hitting Pokémon-ex extra hard (still without needing a specific Energy Type) and there being two Seadra δ and Horsea δ in the set, increasing the odds of getting a stable line.
Shelgon δ: 3/5
Shelgon is another fairly standard Stage 1 Pokémon for Limited: it can be used in decks lacking Water Energy since the first attack has Colorless costs, but since it doesn’t hit hard without Water Energy that should only be done when nothing better is available.
Smeargle δ: 4.5/5
Smeargle is just handy to open with, drawing a few cards before its solid 60 HP are taken out. The fact that it can annoy Pokémon-ex and works in any deck makes it go from good to great.
Swellow δ: 3.5/5
Swellow has a Resistance and a free Retreat Cost and Agility is often very useful in Limited. The Poké-Body will probably rarely come in handy, though some might be lucky to pull a usable Stage 2 Pokémon-ex with this. The main draw back is it specifically needs Fire Energy to attack.
Togepi δ: 1/5
Togepi should only be run if you absolutely need another Basic Pokémon and it is Togepi or nothing, or if you are running Togetic δ.
Vibrava δ (42/101): 3.25/5
Vibrava shows up again in this set and is still even a Pokémon δ. This helps it work very well with the other version. This version has no Weakness, which is pretty nice, and can attack (though only weakly) for any Energy. With Psychic Energy, it can annoy Pokémon-ex by Confusing them.
Bagon δ: 1/5
Bagon should only be used if you have to have another Basic and it’s your only choice, or for Shelgon δ.
Chikorita δ: 3.25/5
Chikorita has low HP like most in this set, but has Water Resistance to offset that and useful, Colorless attacks.
Cyndaquil δ: 2.5/5
Cyndaquil can use Swift to get around some problem cards, but it needs Psychic Energy and is so small most games it would be a liability, so leave it alone unless the deck is Psychic (or of course using Quilava δ).
Dratini δ: 2.5/5
Dratini is another slightly puny Basic HP-wise, but it can be a body in any deck and lacks a Weakness.
Ekans δ: 3/5
Ekans can be a decent body in any deck, and with Fire it’s an okay Basic.
Elekid δ: 3.25/5
Elekid only has 40 HP like too many of the Basics in this set, but it has a potentially great Poké-Power (see Electabuzz δ), and Thunder Spear can be pretty handy too.
Feebas δ: 1/5
Feebas is another Pokémon you only use if you have its Evolution or have no other choice.
Horsea δ (50/101): 3.25/5
Horsea can work in any deck and Sleep can be good for stalling. It also benefits from there being another version of it and two versions of its Evolution, Horsea δ in the set.
Larvitar is a reprint of a not too good Larvitar, but in this set it becomes okay for Fighting decks since it does have 50 HP and so many have only 40, it has two potential Evolutions and a Pokémon δ counter-part, and it is not a Pokémon δ.
Larvitar δ: 3.5/5
Larvitar here has a decent HP score (unlike so many others), is a Type that many cards in the set are Weak to, has a splashable main attack, and has a non-Pokémon δ counterpart and two possible Pupitar to Evolve into.
Ledyba δ: 1.75/5
Ledyba is mostly filler as its Evolution isn’t too good.
Mareep δ: 2.5/5
Mareep is just another okay Basic in this set, though it has decent Evolutions.
Natu δ: 1/5
Natu is for Xatu δ or desperate filler.
Nidoran (Female) δ: 3/5
Nidoran (Female) is a decent Basic for this set: no specific Energy types needed to attack.
Nidoran (Male) δ: 2/5
Nidoran (Male) is an okay filler Pokémon.
Pupitar benefits from being a “plain” Pokémon in a set with Pokémon δ counters, and having two potential Basics to Evolve from, another Evolution for those to Evolve into, and being a Common Stage 1.
Pupitar δ: 3.5/5
Pupitar benefits from and having two potential Basics to Evolve from, another Evolution for those to Evolve into, being a Common Stage 1, hitting a very common Weakness, and having a potentially Energy removing attack.
Ralts is a fairly poor filler Pokémon: in a deck without Psychic Energy, it can only put the opponent to Sleep. However, it is a surprisingly good choice for a deck with Psychic Energy, even if you run just one copy: Psychic Boom tends to be quite useful for delivering a quick, KOing blow to several Pokémon (especially the Psychic Weak). Then there is the benefit of there being a Ralts δ and Kirlia δ in addition to a plain Kirlia this set.
Ralts δ: 3/5
Ralts δ is an okay choice for Fire decks, and can work in some Psychic decks if you’ve got the plain Kirlia to Evolve into. Since there is both a Kirlia δ and a plain Ralts and Kirlia, this adds a little extra to the cards usefulness.
Seel δ: 3/5
Seel is a solid Pokémon, at least giving that so many Pokémon have low HP scores this Set. The lack of specific Energy needs allows it to work anywhere, so it is a good “filler” candidate.
Shellder δ: 2/5
Shellder is okay for Fighting decks and decks using Cloyster δ, but should be ignored otherwise unless be left out.
Smoochum δ): 4.5/5
Smoochum on its own is actually a good Pokémon, useful for setting up thanks to Alluring kiss. If you pull a Jynx with it (and are running a few Fire Energy) it becomes even better.
Swablu δ (66/100): 2.5/5
Swablu is filler for Water decks, but pretty decent filler thanks to an effective attack and Resistance. A must if you pull Altaria ex δ.
Taillow δ: 2.5/5
Taillow is filler for Fire decks, but pretty decent filler thanks to a solid attack and Resistance. Obviously better if you have its Evolution.
Totodile δ: 2.5/5
Totodile gets a slight bonus for its Type being a very common Weakness for the set. Otherwise, it belongs only in decks using some Croconaw δ or filler for a deck running Lightning Energy. Rage is merely “okay” on a small Pokémon like this (they have to hit your for exactly 20 or 30 damage to be better than Scratch but not KO you).
Trapinch δ (44/101): 2.5/5
Trapinch is a filler Pokémon if you don’t have either of the Vibrava δ in the set handy, but with two potential Evolutions to pull and another Trapinch δ in the set, it’s a bit better than the average filler.
Trapinch δ (45/101): 2.5/5
Trapinch is a filler Pokémon for Psychic decks if you don’t have either of the Vibrava δ in the set handy, but with two potential Evolutions to pull and another Trapinch δ in the set, it’s a bit better than the average filler.
Vulpix δ: 2.5/5
Vulpix can only put the Defending Pokémon to Sleep without Psychic Energy, so unless you pull a Ninetales δ to go with it, it is merely solid filler for Psychic decks and next-to last filler for non-Psychic decks. At least it has the “normal” HP for Basics that Evolve: 50.
Wooper δ: 3/5
Wooper has Amnesia, and in Limited that is a very potent attack: many Pokémon have only one attack they can use, so either Wooper keeps them from attacking or the opponent has to Retreat or get lucky (with an Evolution or the like). Obviously a must for Quagsire δ, but useful for most deck (not a “must, though).
Trainers and Energy
Buffer Piece: 4.5/5
Buffer Piece isn’t a necessity, but it is so very good here that you should do your best to make room for it. It only lasts a turn, so don’t waste it: use it too soon and the opponent will just use a non-damaging attack. Try to wait until they have something fairly big out and use it so that they can’t get the OHKO they normally would, or if you really need something to survive and this could make a difference.
Copycat is draw power, and fairly good at it (it’s been reprinted multiple times). A must for Limited since it is draw power, just realize it is much harder to get more than a few cards out of it in Limited unless your opponent is beating you really badly or losing badly (either of which is accompanied by a larger than normal hand).
Holon Legacy: 4/5
Holon Legacy will get rid of Weakness and shut off Poké-Powers! A pretty good pull unless you have a lot of Poké-Powers, and that’s not an unlikely scenario: I count 15 Poké-Powers in this set. Still, most are only on the higher rarity Pokémon, so even if you’ve got one or two you could still use it. Just try not to drop it when you aren’t shutting off the opponent’s Poké-Powers or your opponent isn’t hitting your Weakness.
Holon Mentor: 5/5
Holon Mentor is a must: it’s a three Basic Pokémon search in Limited!
Holon Hermit: 5/5
Holon Hermit is another must: not only is it draw power (even drawing just two cards is great for Limited), but one of the classic cries of defeat in a Limited tournament is “No, it was in my Prizes!” Used early game, it almost halves the likelihood of something being stuck in your Prizes. It is “almost” because after revealing half of the starting four you need to still KO an opponent’s Pokémon to get them. Especially nasty if used right before KOing a Pokémon-ex.
Mr. Stone’s Project: 5/5
Mr. Stone’s Project is another “must run”, of course. Since most decks will be running multiple kinds of Basic Energy, this will make that a little safer. Even if you are successfully using a mono-Colored deck, this gets Energy out of the way of your normal draws.
Old Rod: 4/5
Old Rod has the ability to recycle a Pokémon or a Trainer and this is quite potent. It chooses which for you and fails half the time you use it, however, so it isn’t a must run. Still, even with the “flippiness”, it is really worth a spot in most decks.
Professor Elm’s Training Method: 5/5
Professor Elm’s Training Method is a search Supporter, therefore you run it. It may be restricted to Evolutions, but that is usually what you’d be searching for anyway (and it can get Pokémon-ex!).
Professor Oak’s Research: 5/5
Professor Oak’s Research is draw power in Limited. You pull it, you play it.
Strength Charm: 5/5
Strength Charm is so useful in an environment where ever damage counter matters and the odds so against you pulling enough of anything else to crowd it out of a deck that it gets a perfect score.
TV Reporter: 5/5
TV Reporter is draw power in Limited. You pull it, you play it.
Switch is a classic and a must run: Energy conservation, Type matching, curing Special Conditions… it does all that and those things are huge in Limited.
Holon Energy FF: 3.75/5
Holon Energy FF can be incredibly potent, but only if you have enough room to run Fighting Energy and/or Fire Energy. Ignoring Weakness is incredibly handy for many decks, and Resistance does matter to a few (Fighting Pokémon appropriately needing it the most). If you have to chose access to one effect over the other, favor ignoring Weakness.
Holon Energy GL: 3.75/5
Holon Energy GL can be incredibly potent, but only if you have enough room to run Grass Energy and/or Lightning Energy. Special Conditions are a threat to most decks, and a little anti-Pokémon-ex insurance is good against the inevitable lucky pull of one someone can use. If you have to choose access to one effect other the other, run Grass Energy to ignore Special Conditions.
Holon Energy WP: 4/5
Holon Energy WP can be incredibly potent, but only if you have enough room to run Water Energy and/or Psychic Energy. Special Conditions and other attack effects are really nasty in Limited, so being safe from them is huge. A Retreat Cost of 0 is a wonderful strategic option as well. If you have to choose access to one effect over the other, go with ignoring everything but damage from attacks, as that is incredible.
Boost Energy: 4/5
Boost Energy is a must so long as you have at least one really useful Evolution that has at least two Colorless Energy requirements in its attack cost. That being said, if you don’t have more than one, this is one of the first cards you might have to toss if you’re over you’re 40 card limit, and that is reflected by its score.
δ Rainbow Energy: 4.75/5
δ Rainbow Energy works on all but four Pokémon in this set, and so it’s effectively impossible that you could assemble a winning deck without having quite a few Pokémon δ. Therefore, the only reason to forgo this card is that you have a mono-Color deck. Everyone else should be running this.
Scramble Energy: 4.5/5
Scramble Energy is so good that unless you lack a single, legal target you should run it. This card, when combined with an Evolution, tends to turn around losing games. It may be all but a dead draw if you’re winning, but then again, you were already winning so it’s probably not an issue.
Pokémon-ex and Pokémon*
Altaria ex δ: 4/5
Altaria ex has a double Resistance and that’s pretty huge in Limited. Watch out for its Colorless Weakness though. Healing Light is a great attack and it needs to be: Extra Boost is difficult to use even if you did pull a Pokémon-ex and can run it, so it’s as if it does nothing.
Dragonite ex δ: 4.5/5
Dragonite ex is one of those cards it’s almost impossible to come back against. While not especially good, its lower Stages are decent thanks to their lack of a Weakness (like this card its self). Deafen won’t do much against most Limited decks since they won’t have a lot of Trainers, but the damage is solid and occasionally the opponent will have a Trainer they want to play. Dragon Roar should OHKO most Pokémon your opponent has and given the amount of small Basics one will have to run this set, it may score two Prizes at once quite often! The only thing really hurting the card, aside from rarity issues, is that it needs two Grass Energy for its best attack, and that is a bit restrictive on deck building.
Flygon ex δ: 5/5
Flygon ex is probably the card that can win you the game the fastest. As it has two Vibrava δ and Trapinch δ to Evolve from in this set, it makes it a bit easier to pull a working line than its fellow Stage 2 Pokémon-ex. Given that most players will be forced to keep at least a few Basics in play, Sand Damage should score some KOs if it can only stay Active four turns. Psychic Pulse, while forcing a player to run quite a few Psychic Energy, will often score a KO while getting everything on the Bench one turn closer to a KO themselves. Given that so many Basic Pokémon in this set have only 40 HP, two shots from Psychic Pulse combined with Sand Damage going off twice between them should easily net your four Prizes! Did I mention that this card also lacks a Weakness?
Gardevoir ex δ: 4.25/5
Gardevoir ex has a pretty good Poké-Power, but its probably not going to be life or death since most decks won’t truly be built around abusing a Poké-Power or Poké-Body. Still, Flame Ball has a decent, Energy conserving trick (most useful right before you are going to be KO’d) on top of great damage and Gardevoir ex has solid Attributes. The double dose of Kirlia and Ralts this set will make it easier to pull a solid Evolution line.
Kingdra ex δ: 4.25/5
Kingdra ex is more defensive than most of the other Pokémon but still packs an incredible punch. 140 HP is a bit lower than its peers and Lightning Weakness can be annoying, but its Poké-Body reduces the damage it takes, Energy Link powers up for the second attack, and Protective Swirl does good damage while blocking its Weakness. Having two Horsea δ and Seadra δ in the set makes it a bit easier to pull a solid Evolution line as well.
Latias ex δ: 4/5
Latias ex is a good card, but you have to be careful with it. The Poké-Power is best early game, when it will be superior to most potential attacks. The attack is great… if it doesn’t score an actual KO. Most of the time, though, you’ll KO something and have to discard, meaning you’ll need Fellow Boost to build up an large supply of attached Fire Energy early on. You’ll also have to run a lot of Fire Energy in your deck or have this be a Bench sitter (either being realistic approaches to the card).
Latios ex δ: 4/5
Latios ex is good Pokémon-ex because it’s so solid and reliable. Its Poké-Body will normally just give it a free Retreat Cost, which is a pretty handy thing. Ice Barrier a nice opening attack, especially against Pokémon-ex and Hydro Splash is a straightforward, good damage attack. You’ll need to run some Water Energy since both attacks need one as part of their cost, but this is just a nice, all around good card.
Rayquaza ex δ: 4.75/5
Rayquaza ex is an almost automatic run if you pull it. The only reason you don’t is that you absolutely cannot fit in a few Lightning Energy cards so it can attack. While you’re ahead in prizes, it’s a good Basic on par with Latios ex δ: Rayquaza has no Weakness and 110 HP, making it hard to KO quickly, and Special Circuit will let it hammer 31 Pokémon in this set for 50 damage, and all others for 30, even if they are on the Bench. Sky-high Claws is one of those straight-up damage attacks that, once powered up, will probably rack up KO after KO since it hits 70 damage. Only 20 Pokémon in this set can survive one hit from that second attack, and only six (all Stage 2 Pokémon-ex) can survive two hits without outside help. Still, four Energy is a lot to power up, and both attacks need at least one of the Energy to be a Lightning Energy. Why is it so good? Its Poké-Body will eliminate all the Colorless Energy requirements if you’re behind in Prizes. So just (LL) for 70, and (L) for the super sniping. By the time you even things up; you probably will be able to afford the Colorless costs anyway. This is the best Pokémon of the set.
Salamence ex δ: 4.25/5
Salamence ex has great Attributes thanks largely to its double Resistance: over a fourth of the Pokémon will find their damage reduced by 30 without outside help. With its Type Shift Poké-Power, almost as many will take double damage from Salamence ex. Dual Stream is a nice, strategic move: so many Basic Pokémon in this set have just 40 HP that you have a decent chance of scoring two OHKOs, and a good chance of softening something up for a KO next turn while nailing something else for a KO on the Bench. Claw Swipe is a solid attack, but a bit disappointing only in that it doesn’t add much to the card: it lets you hit the active for 60 and requires one less Energy than Dual Stream, but its not cheap enough to get you attacking that much sooner and is pretty useless once your have a full four Energy.
Tyranitar ex δ: 4.5/5
Tyranitar ex introduces a new game mechanic that basically lets it two-hit KO anything in the set. Most of the time, that won’t matter because it will just be easier to OHKO them with Hyper Claws: I count 60 Pokémon that either have 70 or less HP and aren’t Stage 2, or are Lighting Weak Stage 2 Pokémon with 140 or less HP. The Shock-Wave counter goes away if the opponent Evolves, so it is great if they are trying to build something up on the Bench and already have it fully Evolved. Having two versions of each lower Stage, and as Commons no less, makes it much easier to pull a full line of this card and helped boost its score.
Charizard* δ: 1/5
Charizard* needs to meet a quadruple Darkness Energy requirement to use its big attack, and provide for a single if it wants to use its first, therefore it is little more than a 90 HP hunk of filler for most decks. Besides, its rarity means it’s better off in the binder, at least for now.
Mew* δ: 5/5
Mew*, on the other hand, is a must for any deck thanks to its Mimicry attack. Just realize that an opponent can thwart you by putting something into play that is very hard for Mew* to copy since it still needs to meet the Energy and all other requirements of the attack Mew* is copying. Still, it’s rare for someone not to have something with at least a puny attack you can copy. If you have the room to include or are already running multiple Basic Energy types, then an opponent will need a diverse Type selection to avoid Mew* racking up a lot of damage with Rainbow Wave. Given its rarity, you might want to avoid running it despite its potential potency.
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