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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.
Special thanks to Bullados for assistance in revising the article.
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 one Stage 2 line and one Stage 1 line. 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.
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 is Trainer heavy, so other than draw and search Trainers, you may need to go light: if no Trainer you include is for searching or drawing cards from you deck, try not to use more than five. Again, this is rarely a concern since with most sets you are fortunate to pull one or two Trainers. This set, most people had at least two Trainers in their decks that I saw, and I myself drew many Trainers and wish I had left out some because they ended up being dead in my hand too often, even though they were useful cards.
How to Evaluate a Pokémon
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.
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 Weakness to it 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.
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. It is relatively rare to find a Basic Pokémon that isn’t a Pokémon-ex with 90, 100, 110, or 120 HP, 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 it’s 70 HP for acceptable, 80 for good, and anything more is great. A Stage 2 needs at least 100 HP to be solid, and anything more is good. Add 20 to the required score if the Stage 1 or 2 Pokémon is a Pokémon-ex.
Weakness: Weakness is more complicated than normal. Here’s a quick breakdown of the amount of each Pokémon-Type you’ll see in this set. The ones are just used as tallies and to create a simple, hopefully almost universally easy to view visual comparison.
Colorless : 1111111111 10
Darkness : 111 3
Fighting : 111111111 9
Fighting/Metal : 1 1
Fire : 11111111 8
Fire/Metal : 1 1
Grass : 11111111111 11
Lightning : 111111 6
Lightning/Metal : 1 1
Metal : 1111 4
Psychic : 11111111111 11
Water : 111111111111111 15
In spite of splitting them out for the above chart, I will “double” count Dual-Type Pokémon for rating the possible Weaknesses and Resistances for the set. My rating is based on both how strong the Pokémon of the Type are overall, how easy it should be to run said Type, and how often I saw the Type at the Ames, IA Pre-Release. 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. My personal experience matters since you never know what a newbie will do. ;)
So, how does Weakness break down? Well, of course no Weakness is best, and nothing is Colorless Weak this set so that’s out, but of what is left and does exist from best to worst (to have) Weakness, the order is Darkness, Metal, Lightning, Fire, Fighting, Grass, Psychic, and finally Water. The reasons are as follows:
As a whole, only Darkness and Metal Pokémon are under-represented this set, so no Weakness is truly safe: even those two Types solid hitters in them. There is no Metal Weakness in the set, though.
Colorless Pokémon [(C)] are fairly well represented this set, and that’s how it normally is. Too bad for them there aren’t any Colorless Weak Pokémon this set.
Darkness [(D)] Weakness appears to be the safest, as there are only three Pokémon of that Type in the set, and as you’ll find out when you read the descriptions, none are apt to see much play.
Fighting [(F)] is well represented, as is often the case. However, it is more “top heavy” in terms of Rarity than normal, and thus is roughly in the “middle of the pack” in terms of how bad a Weakness it is.
Fire [(R)] Pokémon are less abundant than Fighting, but a little better represented in the lower Rarity levels. As such, Fire Weakness is worse than Fighting.
Grass [(G)] Pokémon are tied with Psychic for being the second most abundant Type, and they have some good cards in all Rarity schemes. Still this is the third worst Weakness to have just because Psychic Pokémon are that well represented this set.
Lightning [(L)] Pokémon are a little lower than anything but Darkness and Metal in amount, but shouldn’t be ignored.
Metal [(M)] Pokémon are a minority this set, with only Darkness having fewer representatives. They do have a decent Common Pokémon but it doesn’t matter anyway, as no Pokémon in this set is Metal Weak.
Psychic [(P)] Pokémon make a great showing this set, with great Pokémon at all Rarity levels… even Pokémon*! Psychic only barely come in second to Water as the Worst Weakness.
Water [(W)] Pokémon are the dominant Type this set, with strong showings at all Rarity levels but Pokémon*.
Resistance: Naturally, the best to worst Resistance runs opposite the Weakness: Water is the best Resistance and Metal seems fairly pointless. No Resistance is the worst. Since having “no Resistance” is so common, I won’t go into great further detail about what is best or worst. Just realize that given the scarcity of Resistance, it can sometimes justify a sub-par card. Nothing too horrid, but if said card has only a single minor defect, Resistance can offset it.
Retreat Cost: A Retreat Cost of five is horrid, and low enough to warrant passing on an otherwise good pick: bench manipulating attacks and Special Conditions are a common sight in Limited. Four is almost as bad. Three is about as big as you want to risk unless the card is really great. 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.
Abilities: Much like Retreat Cost, 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 Double Rainbow Energy is in the set, so you might be able to use such a Pokémon if it is an Evolution and not a Pokémon-ex.
Poké-Bodies and Poké-Powers normally count against some other aspect of a card; that is, if a card has a good Poké-Power it might only get an average attack, or its HP may be a bit lower, etc. This set actually contains some anti-Poké-Power/Poké-Body cards so Poké-Bodies and Poké-Powers this set will have the potential to be a draw back for a card.
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.
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 overall this will cover the cards in set order number. Pokémon δ are in this set, but only a few cards help and hurt them, so it is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage.
Banette is a promising card for Limited. Although pulling a Pokémon-ex isn’t an auto-win, it will greatly help a player. Banette turns a Pokémon-ex into deadweight via its Safeguard Poké-Body. On its own, this wouldn’t cut it, especially for a Stage 1. Fortunately it has the unlikely-to-be-seen Darkness Weakness, a useful Resistance, a good Retreat Cost, and an attack that hits Basic Pokémon extra hard. Basic Pokémon have to be used in Limited, so Night Murmurs should Confuse them quite often.
Blastoise δ: 3.25/5
Blastoise suffers from a serious drawback: it’s nice, straightforward Skull Bash attack has a good price except that the colored portion is a Metal Energy requirement. So even if you can attach Double Rainbow Energy you end up hitting for 50 points of damage for three. That is unlikely to occur, so you'll have to rely on Enraged Linear Attack. This means you can’t hurt the opponent until they hurt you, though most of the time it should let you even out on Prizes, and if you get him out when the opponent can only hit for 10-20 damage a turn, you might rack up a win just through Blastoise. If you have a good haul of Squirtle and Wartortle, he does make a good bench sitter as his Poké-Body will get rid of your Active Pokémon’s Weakness.
Camerupt appears to be a fine piece of work. Water Weakness is a big risk this set. You aren’t apt to get more than one copy of this card, however, and so you probably can work other Pokémon into the set to deal with the Weakness. You want this for the inevitable opponent using mostly or all Pokémon δ. When someone does, try to get this out, and let Delta Protection render many of your opponent’s Pokémon harmless while you use Linear Attack to snipe the opponent’s bench. When something big does get Active and it needs to be KO’d, Combustion hits for a respectable amount of damage.
Charizard δ: 3/5
Charizard is saved by its lower Stages and potent Poké-Power. It’s more or less dead weight on its own since it needs two Metal Energy to attack, which it then discards. Both Charmeleon in this set are so solid and Peal of Thunder so useful, it can be worth retreating a nearly KO’d Charmeleon, Evolving, and using Peal to (ideally) fully power your next big hitter. If the lower stages weren’t so good then this card would probably be a waste to play.
Dugtrio just has too low an HP score to be very effective. Everything it does is great for Limited, but not on a 70 HP Stage 1 that is Grass Weak. Note that it damages itself. No coin flip (like some later cards), but automatic. And that is the deciding factor. Two solid hits or one big one and you can’t use your best attack. If you pull several of them, go ahead, and since it doesn’t say “Only while Active” Sand Veil would be nice to protect your Bench.
Ludicolo δ: 4/5
Ludicolo is a definite winner. His Poké-Body is handy given how many Pokémon-ex are in the set, even if most are Stage 2 Pokémon. Now, even without the opponent having a Pokémon-ex in play, Knock Off tends to be potent in Limited: you may be more apt to hit something simple like a Basic Energy, but with the low amount of draw/search power most cards are often vital. Fire Punch is straightforward, solid damage, also very useful for Limited. Its lower stages are not Pokémon δ and thus are Water, but its okay because Water Energy is optional for them.
Luvdisc is great: a bigger Basic wonderful for opening the game with and has no specific Energy requirements. It gets you Basic Pokémon, though there is a catch: it only gets you one Basic for each of your opponent’s Pokémon in play. Still, that’s a minimum of one per turn, even if the opponent can’t or refuses to play more Pokémon than the minimum lone Active. Stadium play will be hard to use much of the time, but when you do, it’s pretty great. There are two Stadiums this set, but the one will be useless with the attack. Still, it’s a great bonus for a Pokémon so effective at setting up.
Manectric scores so well because of it hits a lot of Weakness and Lightning Pokémon aren’t really big this set, it’s first attack is disruptive, and there are just enough Pokémon Tools this set that you might get Strong Current to nail the bench once, twice, or quite a bit if you can luck out and pull a Cessation Crystal. While the last case is unlikely, it seems comparable to pulling a good Stage 2 line. It is nice it has a Resistance… but this set doesn’t have a lot of Metal so it’s not apt to come in handy.
Mawile has an okay first attack if you pull enough Trainers or Tools… but the second attack can’t be used, and while a Resistance is handy I saw a lot of Fire Pokémon being played despite the large amount of Water Pokémon this set. Only run it if you pulled several great Trainers and have an extra slot for a Basic Pokémon. Usually you’ll have room and no Trainers or Trainers and no room, though.
If you pull this and don’t run it, your deck better be perfect without it. Excavate let’s you plan ahead and if necessary, eliminate dead draws. It works on the bench even. Disable is a great attack for Limited, and this version actually does damage while locking out one of the opponent’s attacks. Combine this with 60 HP, no Weakness, Colorless Resistance, and a mere single Energy Retreat Cost on a Basic and it’s pretty much perfect.
Swalot has a single real blemish: Psychic Weakness in a set with perhaps the greatest Psychic presence in quite some time. Its other Attributes are average for this format, Pick and Choose is sadistically cruel and quite effective in Limited, and Reactive Poison is a fantastic finisher after you’ve loaded the opponent with a Special Condition or two. I would think Paralysis and Poison, followed by Paralysis and Burn would be most effective, as if the Defending Pokémon isn’t KO’d by those two Special Conditions then Reactive Poison will smash them for 90 points of damage… and they probably only got to attack once. I should mention that Gulpin is an Uncommon though, so it may be harder to have a stable base to the line.
Tauros main drawback is its lack of a big attack. Crush Chance is an okay Poké-Power that’s only drawback is how rarely you’ll be able to discard a Stadium with it. Call for Family is a great attack and reason alone to run this. The 70 HP is just a nice bonus after that. Horn Attack means it still can be useful to buy time while making simple attacks. Pity it doesn’t have an attack along its classic lines: Rage, Rampage, Retaliate, etc. would have been delightful after using Call for Family to fill your bench and taking a few lumps.
Wigglytuff is quite nice and only falls short in the big damage department. Fluffy Fur is wonderful lets you avoid being attacked about 25% of the time: you attack it, and half the time you’re asleep. But that half the time you go to sleep, you can’t attack so odds are you’ll wake up and be able to attack again. Of course, it’s possible someone will defy probability and never Wake up or stay Asleep. When they do stay Asleep, Pester can hit them for a healthy 50 damage, but if they aren’t afflicted by a Special Condition its only 30 damage. Fortunately, this all rests on a squishy but strong pillar of 90 HP on a Stage 1 and using Collect to draw three cards.
Blastoise has good lower Stages, and the Poké-Body and Attack work well together. By the time you Evolve into this, you should have three Energy attached. Once you get two more (and at least three are Water) you should be hitting for a magnificent 90 damage. Given your HP should be low by then, the Poké-Body may trigger and you could be dishing out 130 damage. Granted, once should assume it will be lucky to hit these highs, but without any of the bonuses it’s a solid Pokémon at the top of a good line. Its failing is that it forces your deck to run a lot of Water that it might not need.
Cacturne δ: 4/5
Cacturne is a good, solid card with a very useful Basic, which is what puts its score so high. Its stats won’t make or break it, but it has a handy Poké-Power that in some cases acts like a very weak second attack each turn the opponent has an injured Pokémon in play. Triple Needles has little stopping power, but when combined with Spike Storm your opponent’s Bench will become a real mess. The low cost makes it possible to get this out between big hitters so it doesn’t get KO’d to quickly, and Light Punch actually hits fairly hard for a Stage 1, a solid 50 damage. Its main problem is actually going toe-to-toe with another heavy hitter: its not that it will often lose, just that most of its potency requires it survive a few turns.
Combusken is another Pokémon you might mistake for a Pokémon δ. It is part Fighting normally, but it’s just almost always presented as a Fire Pokémon. High Jump Kick is fairly affordable and does enough damage to OHKO most of the Fighting Weak Basics. Otherwise, as long as the opponent isn’t apt to KO you on their next turn, Focus Energy will let you get a solid strike in. Due to the nature of the Limited Format, this situation can actually happen quite a bit as the opponent is forced to stall with a weaker Pokémon while setting up something good. Watch that Psychic Weakness though.
Dusclops is hurt because it’s just not so hot for Limited. Will-o’-the-wisp and Psychic Shield hit for solid damage, and Psychic Shield’s secondary effect is a lifesaver if the opponent uses a Pokémon-ex. The Weakness is about as good as it can be this set and the Resistance is appreciated. Sadly, the Poké-Body is essentially a waste in this format, Duskull is a bit puny.
Fearow δ: 3/5
Fearow is very dependant upon your other pulls. Surprisingly, there aren’t that many Pokémon δ this set. If you pull quite a few, then this card is great. If you pull a 2-2 or 3-2 line of this card, its also well worth using if you can run Lightning Energy in your deck to fuel it just because it helps set itself up and exploit the commonly seen Lightning Weakness. Fighting Resistance doesn’t hurt either. However, it still scores low since it has a mere 60 HP and a Retreat Cost of one (usual for a “Flying Type” Stage 1).
Grovyle δ: 3/5
Grovyle has a major selling point: Water Resistance is huge for this set. Its other Attributes are all acceptable, but not stellar, and the attacks are likewise solid. Agility suffers from being better as a supporting attack and by needing a Psychic Energy. Remember, the other Grovyle and one of the Treecko are Grass Pokémon and need Grass Energy. If you’re not already running Treecko or Psychic Energy or Water Weak Pokémon, don’t bother.
Grumpig has two main drawbacks. First, it needs two Psychic Energy for its only attack (and a third of any Type), so it basically forces you to run a Psychic deck. Second, it is Weak to its own Type. Unlike normal, this set has a lot of “Ghost” Pokémon that are Psychic but not Psychic Weak. Still, Grumpig is just that good here that it scores so highly. It’s Poké-Body reduces damage from the most numerous Type this set (Water) and one of the Types that people just always seem to play if they can (Fire). That is huge. It also has Circular Steps as its attack. While pricey, you should be hitting for a good 60 damage most games because you’ll be trying to fill your Bench and your opponent probably will have a few in play before they realize you’ve got Grumpig. It is possible you could even be hitting for up to 110 points of damage, since some people won’t catch on right away or know what Grumpig does until you play it. It is either on even footing or has an advantage over the other top picks this set, another thing to pay attention to.
I believe this is the first Pokémon (for sure released here) to have a Poké-Body and Poké-Power. Unfortunately it only has a use if you have Jigglypuff, hence its low score. If you have Jigglypuff, even just one, run it since Baby Evolution will let you make an opponent waste any attacks they used on Igglybuff without KOing it, and even if you don’t use Baby Evolution, Hover Lift turns Jigglypuff into a free Retreating Pokémon and make Wigglytuff a little better too if you pulled it.
Kingler suffers from a horrible Retreat Cost and its first, “opening” attack requires Metal Energy so Double Rainbow Energy is the only way to use it this set. Its second attack is okay if you have no Pokémon Tool attached. If you do pull a couple Pokémon Tools or Cessation Crystal, this goes from “okay” to brilliant once you assemble the line… which isn’t that much harder, when you think about it, than a Stage 2 line.
Loudred is so potent you almost don’t mind it’s a Rare. The Attributes are passable, but the attacks are brilliant in Limited. Surprise is much more effective when the opponent has little to no draw/search power, and Bass Control hits the bench for a fantastic 40 damage. That’s enough to KO a few of the Basics in this set, and finish off pretty much any injured Pokémon an opponent tries to save via retreating. 40 damage, even for three Energy, is enough that it isn’t totally horrid if you had to use it against the opponent’s Defending Pokémon instead of their Bench.
Marshtomp is like a Water Loudred. Rain Splash hits hard and fast but doesn’t disrupt like Surprise, Mud Splash hits both the Defending Pokémon and an opponent’s Benched Pokémon for 30. There are two Mudkip this set, a second, Fighting-Type Marshtomp, and two potential Evolutions in this set, which may make it easier to run a good line of this card. Unfortunately, you need Water Energy for each attack, and Grass is pretty well represented this set, and both of these detract from Marshtomp’s use.
Medicham is another talented card for Limited. It works well in a mono-Fighting build, and if you can make room for a few Fighting and Psychic Energy, in just about any deck. I wouldn’t go to that much trouble if the deck doesn’t already use a decent amount of one Energy or the other unless you pull at least a 2-2 line though. The Poké-Power let’s you exploit two different Weaknesses, you have a decent stalling attack that can use any color Energy, and the main attack needs only one of the three Energy be Fighting and it ignores Resistance. Only the Psychic Weakness leaves room for concern.
Pelipper δ: 3.5/5
Pelipper is very similar to Fearow δ except it has 10 more HP and a second, useful Colorless Attack. Delta Transport is less useful than Delta Sign (the Poké-Power of Fearow δ) but is easier to re-use (you could theoretically retreat one Pokémon δ several times).
Echo Draw means you run this card if you can. Thankfully, there is a useful Pokémon attached to an “extra draw” Poké-Power. The rest of Swampert is a solid Fighting Pokémon whose attack is fairly priced and ignores Resistance. Pity they didn’t give it its own Resistance, and be careful of the Grass Weakness. 120 HP and good lower Stages easily offset that without factoring in the Poké-Power, though.
Even though Chlorophyll is all but useless for a Limited tournament using this set (one obscure use) and with a Retreat Cost of three, Venusaur has a lot going for it. Green Blast provides a means of dealing raw damage without dumping copious amounts of Grass Energy on Venusaur, in fact working wonderfully since you can use it while powering up other Pokémon on the Bench. As long as you aren’t already in a bad situation, it should be good for an easy 40-60 points of damage with only deck size constraining its top damage. Toxic Sleep is pricey but potent: “double poisoning” the opponent and putting them to Sleep means about half the time they will end up with four damage counters on them and won’t be able to attack you before your next turn, when a Green Blast will probably finish them off. The other half, they probably will be forced to retreat out to get rid of the Poison, still making it hard for them to attack you. There are two of each lower Stage, which makes it easier to get into play.
Charmeleon loses points for being Water Weak and Energy intensive. Otherwise, it’s another intermediate Stage 1 Pokémon that gets to strut its stuff in Limited. Rage is a fantastic attack since 70 HP means most non-Water Pokémon will take at least two shots to KO it, and if the opponent is hitting for only tiny amounts of damage, then Rage will just have that many more chances to hit, even if it’s at less damage. Rage also lets it attack if you have to run it without Fire Energy or can’t afford Flame Thrower. Flame Thrower let’s you hit hard, especially by Limited Standards, quickly and repeatedly if you can keep a steady flow of Fire Energy coming to it. Most of the time that probably won’t be the case, so try to use it when its good for a OHKO or you’re about to be KO’d.
Charmeleon δ: 4/5
Charmeleon as a Lightning-Type means it hits most Water Pokémon as hard as they hit it. Slash is a serviceable attack. Thunder Jolt is quite good, even though it hurts itself, as it’s only about half the time. So even with 10 HP left, you can risk going for a big hit. Since only one of the three Energy need to be Lightning, it makes the card much easier to work into your average Limited deck.
Combusken is an “average” Stage 1 this set due to Water being so prominent. Both attacks are useful for Limited, and the 80 HP is nice, so if you can make room for it and pulled a decent line, it’s a nice addition provided the rest of your deck is good against Water.
Grovyle succeeds better than the above Combusken do to slightly more affordable attacks but mostly due to Water Resistance. One still shouldn’t run it unless they have a good line available and can afford to run a few Grass Energy since the card can’t do any damage without it. Since it doesn’t do that much damage with Grass Energy, it really is fortunate to have two possible Treecko, another Grovyle, and a Sceptile ex to round it out.
Gulpin isn’t something to toss into just any deck, though as long as you have even a few Grass Energy available so it can use its second attack for damage, the first attack (Amnesia) is well worth using in Limited. It will often ruin Pokémon used for set up; in turn buying you time to set up. Then start hitting the Defending Pokémon with Sludge Toss.
Ivysaur (34/100): 3.25/5
Ivysaur’ has Attributes that are solid but watch the Psychic Weakness. Sleep Powder can be handy and Vine Whip is a bit bland but solid. I probably wouldn’t recommend Ivysaur unless you have a good line for it and already are running some Grass Energy. Due to there being two options for it, it’s a little sturdier than what you’d think it would be.
Ivysaur (35/100): 3.25/5
Ivysaur, take two! This version is a little more varied than the last one, hitting the bench and doing more damage with its second attack but on a coin flip. Even though it has 10 HP, it’s just as good as the other one. Due to there being two options for it, it’s a little sturdier than what you’d think it would be.
You need the Double Rainbow Energy from this set for it to be able to attack for damage, and using said card makes the return for the Energy rather low. It is a Stage 1 that doesn’t help set up and it can’t just get by on using Roar, so don’t bother with it.
Lombre is a solid Water Stage 1 Pokémon. Its Attributes aren’t especially good or bad, and its second attack is pretty straightforward though a bit annoying since it does need one Water Energy as part of the cost. The first attack can use any Type of Energy, but it’s not quite good enough to use in just any deck. Plunder is very handy this set due to the potential Tools an opponent might have pulled, specifically Cessation Crystal since it will stick around for more than a turn. So you still should run this only if your deck already has some Water Energy or the rest of the line in it, but you’ll get a slightly better return than you’d expect.
Marshtomp is a solid Fighting Stage 1 this time around. Its second attacks hit fairly hard, at least for Limited, and its first attack tends to be useful. It needs a Fighting Energy as part of the cost for its second attack, and the first isn’t useful enough to warrant running it unless your deck already has some Fighting Energy or the rest of the line in it.
Nuzleaf has a pretty poor Basic to Evolve from (Seedot) and the lack of Darkness Energy renders its first attack useless. However, it has great Stats otherwise and a solid second attack so if you pull enough of it and Seedot, they are good to run. Shiftry ex is your only Evolutionary option this set so don’t count on it.
Shuppet should be played for three reasons. The first is universal for Basics: nothing else you pulled is playable. Reason number two is obvious: you want to run Banette. Reason number three is you really need to worry about Fighting Type Pokémon. It should be obvious that Ascension is great for Banette and that most decks won’t be that concerned about Fighting Pokémon to run this thing. Its 40 HP and low yield Tackle keep it so specialized, and unfortunately make the score a bit misleading.
Skitty can be worked into any deck, and unless you’re pressed for room and have something better for that slot or that does what Skitty does, then it really should be used. Tail Whap isn’t much, but Feint Attack is often useful for KOing a Pokémon that retreated to avoid being attacked.
Wartorle (42/100): 3/5
Wartortle with Bubble and Tackle is just a good solid Pokémon you should use if you either pull a good line for it (easier than it sounds since there are three Squirtle this set, a second Wartortle, and two Blastoise) or if you already planned on running some Water Energy in your deck or have room to add it.
Wartortle (43/100): 3.75/5
Wartortle with Tail Whip and Bite scores high because of 80 HP and said attacks having no colored requirements. Tail Whip isn’t great, but at least it can stall and Bite is a solid attack. The other Wartortle hits harder, but that lone Water Energy requirement is just enough to keep it from working in any deck (unlike this Wartortle).
Aron can work in any deck, but since Lairon isn’t worth running in Limited, it isn’t particularly great.
Bulbasaur (45/100): 3/5
Bulbasaur is an okay card if you need it to get to Ivysaur or just are running some Grass Energy anyway. The second attack is a bit overpriced but the potency of Poison in this format means you’ll rarely notice.
Bulbasaur (46/100): 3/5
Bulbasaur has what seems like a handy attack Growth, but not that useful if it’s only to use Vine Whip.
Cacnea should be run unless you pulled several of another Pokémon that can search your deck for Basics. Rising Lunge is okay and Grass Weakness seems reasonably common due to the high Water content of the set.
Retaliate can work in any deck, and its upper stages are quite nice. However, unless you do have a Charmeleon of some sort, I recommend you keep this in Fire decks, and then it’s what you use before you get to the real filler cards, like a Shuppet when you lack Banette.
Charmander δ: 3.25/5
Charmander is the same as its non-Pokémon δ counterpart, has faces slightly better type matching due to being a Lightning Pokémon.
Diglett is adequate if you need a Fighting Basic and already have Fighting Energy in the deck and of course if you have a Dugtrio.
Duskull may score average, but it has low HP and an overly priced Super Psy Bolt. However, Fighting Resistance tends to be valuable and Collect is a useful attack.
Electrike is another “standard” Basic Pokémon that you run if you have a decent line for it or your deck already has Lightning Energy in it. The recycling aspect of the first attack is tempting, but it requires you have something worth recycling. Early game, when it won’t be KO’d so quickly, you probably won’t.
Jigglypuff can work in any deck, and stalls while doing a little damage. You should probably run it unless you have something very good to run instead.
Krabby has one nice attack and can fit into any deck but has a low HP score keeping it down.
Lotad is a solid Basic, but if you have a Water Energy attached it gets a useful free Retreat Cost, and since its attack needs no specific Energy type it can be added to any deck that needs it.
Meditite suffers from a “wasted” type. Pure Power is a handy attack but Fighting Weakness is a reasonably common sight and you can’t hit for more than 20 damage with it. Run it if you have Medicham or if you really need something that can hit the bench.
Mudkip (57/100): 3/5
Mudkip exists to get Marshtomp into play, but the Poké-Body means at least its safe on the Bench.
Mudkip (58/100): 3.25/5
Mudkip being able to heal two damage counters allows it to stall, but it shouldn’t be used just for that. If you won’t have Water Energy or Marshtomp to Evolve into, leave this out.
Numel is ultimately an average Basic Pokémon. It may be able to work in any deck but its only attack is self damaging, a large risk for this format.
Seedot is a filler Pokémon or an Evolution requirement. It is small and weak.
Spearow has low HP and can’t attack for damage, but it can draw a card and is Fighting Resistant. There is worse filler, but not much.
Spoink can work as a Psychic splash for any deck, but if you have access to Psychic Energy then Psywave is often a good way to soften up or finish off a Stage 1 Pokémon.
Squirtle (63/100): 3/5
Squirtle lacks a strong enough colorless attack to warrant splashing it, but it can hit fairly hard if you have at least a few Water Energy for the second attack, and of course is great if you have the line.
Squirtle (64/100): 3.25/5
Squirtle isn’t a bad Pokémon for decks in general because it can stall okay, especially against weaker Pokémon since even when they aren’t Paralyzed, they do 10 less damage.
Torchic (65/100): 3/5
Torchic has only one attack that fails half the time, but it can use any color Energy. If you’re desperate for Fire or have the line, run it.
Torchic (66/100): 3.25/5
Torchic has a low HP score but it has an excellent stalling attack for Limited and can be used in any deck.
Treecko has solid attacks that can use any Energy type but a low HP score means you should use it only for Grovyle.
Treecko δ: 2.5/5
Treecko has low HP but solid attacks. It needs Psychic Energy to do anything significant, though, so in the end you should just use it if you need it for Grovyle.
Whismur can work in any deck and with some luck stall the opponent by Confusing them, and then safely wail on them.
Wingull should only be played for Pelipper δ or as filler (with its Resistance making it a little better).
Trainers and Energy
Bill’s Maintenance: 5/5
Bill’s Maintenance is draw power in Supporter form, so run it if you draw it!
Castaway is a hair confusing since I don’t know if you just do as much of the effect as you can or if it’s all or nothing. If it is the latter the score is a one out of five: it is too temperamental. If it is the former, then it is a four out of five and should only be left out if you are short of deck space.
Celio’s Network: 5/5
Celio’s Network is Pokémon search power in Supporter form, so run it if you draw it!
Cessation Crystal: 3.75/5
Cessation Crystal is good because it’s unlikely that you won’t have something to safely wield it, though if you are short of space you can skip it since it won’t affect too many of your opponent’s Pokémon badly.
Crystal Beach: 3.5/5
Crystal Beach will be run mainly to knock out the other Stadium in the set, though it can affect the Double Rainbow Energy in the set.
Crystal Shard: 1.75/5
Crystal Shard is good if you are running mostly Fighting and/or Water Pokémon, as their Resistance isn’t too uncommon and you might have a deck of mostly those types and their Resistance is in the set in a reasonable amount.
Double Full Heal: 3/5
Double Full Heal can be a life saver but will often be a dead draw or dead in hand. If you get one, run it if you have room.
Dual Ball: 5/5
Dual Ball is a search Trainer, therefore you run it.
Holon Circle: 3.5/5
Holon Circle is good for stalling for a turn.
Memory Berry: 2/5
Memory Berry suffers because you may not have enough Evolutions to make use of it, or at least regularly. If you have at least five Evolutions, you should be running it.
Poké Ball: 5/5
Poké Ball may fail about half the time, but it is search power.
PokéNav may be very limited search power, but it’s still golden for Limited.
Warp Point: 4.5/5
Warp Point is fantastic since the opponent will usually be forced to burn Energy retreating manually and it can get you out of a jam.
Windstorm hits Stadiums and Pokémon Tools, so it isn’t useless, but it won’t do much this set. Leave it out.
Energy Search: 3.5/5
Energy Search can at least thin a deck even if it’s a mono-type deck. If you are low on space, you can leave it out.
Potion is very valuable because players have to think ahead several turns and this throws off calculations while denying them a prize.
Double Rainbow Energy: 3/5
Double Rainbow Energy is a must if you run three or more Pokémon that can use it. Otherwise it will be dead too often.
Pokémon-ex and Pokémon*
Aggron ex: 2/5
Aggron ex isn’t something you should run unless you like long odds. Split Bomb and the Poké-Body are nice but Lairon is dead weight.
Blaziken ex: 3.75/5
Blaziken ex should be run as long as you can run Fighting and Fire Energy. Like most Pokémon-ex it is raw power, but since it hurts itself and is worth two Prizes you must be cautious.
Delcatty ex: 4/5
Delcatty ex should be run in your deck, even if it is as a 1-1 line. Constrain will probably not matter much and thus Upstream will good for one decent hit, but Tail Slap is still an easy to use, strong attack. Watch the Fighting Weakness and low HP, and remember that while Upstream can replenish your deck but at the same time end up burying the cards you were “finally” going to reach.
Exploud ex: 4.75/5
Exploud ex is a great card you should run if at all possible. Of course, the rarity scheme may make that tricky. The Poké-Body is good against other Pokémon-ex, Derail will rarely discard an opponent’s Energy but still hits hard, and there are lots of Pokémon with Poké-Bodies or Poké-Powers that Hyper Tail will hit hard.
Groudon ex: 3.75/5
Groudon ex should be run as long as you have a decent amount of Fighting Energy in the deck. If stuck active while powering up, its Poké-Body can be quite nice and Power Blast is Energy intensive but hits hard. It helps that the discard cost is for any type.
Jirachi ex: 4/5
Jirachi ex just needs a few Psychic Energy in the deck and its great. All of its Abilities are great.
Kyogre ex: 3.75/5
Kyogre ex should be run as long as you have a decent amount of Water Energy in the deck. If stuck active while powering up, its Poké-Body can come in handy and Power Blast is Energy intensive but great for sniping the bench. It helps that the discard cost is for any type.
Sceptile ex: 4.5/5
Sceptile ex should be run as long as you can work a few Psychic Energy into your deck.
Shiftry ex: 1.5/5
Shiftry ex should only be played if you pulled several (at least three each) Seedot and Nuzleaf since it can’t attack. Its Poké-Body may occasionally be handy though, and works from the Bench.
Swampert ex: 4.25/5
Swampert ex can power itself from the discard pile and if you can afford the discard hit the active hard and the bench. Run it if you can and have at least a few Water Energy in the deck.
Alakazam* is very potent but you may not want to run it due to its value. Still, it can be used with any kind of Energy and even to access attacks for Pokémon you might not be able to run due to lacking their lower Stages. Just remember you still have to be able to pay the normal Energy costs of the attack.
Celebi* should be run as long as you have even a few Grass Energy in the deck and don’t mind risking a valuable card. It doesn’t hit hard but has a 50% chance of not being KO’d and instead returning to the bottom of your deck.
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