– SM Celestial Storm
August 24, 2018
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Gotta say, I don’t think there’s been any one Pokemon that’s hit the Top 10 spot as much as Rayquaza has. It’s shown up at least 7 times – 3 of those being solely Rayquaza-EX from Dragons Exalted. Needless to say, there’s no shortage of good Rayquaza cards out there in the world, and a lot of us at least agreed that Rayquaza-GX should end up somewhere on the Top 10 list.
Rayquaza-GX is a Basic Dragon-Type Pokemon-GX, 180 HP, with a Fairy Weakness, no Resistance, and a Retreat Cost of 3. His Ability Stormy Winds lets you put the top 3 cards of your deck into your discard pile if you play him from your hand, and if you do, you get to attach a basic Energy card onto him from your discard pile. Basically, if you mill 3 cards, attach an Energy – simple! Dragon Break then is an odd mix of Grass/Lightning/Colorless and deals 30 damage for each basic Grass or Lightning Energy on all of your Pokemon, and Tempest GX costs only 1 Grass and discards your whole hand to draw 10 cards.
I can definitely see the appeal of Rayquaza-GX easily. It’s one of the reasons he ended up on my list – he’s got a means of putting a lot of cards in the discard pile, whether by milling them out or discarding from your hand with Tempest GX, he’s got a pretty powerful attack that on its own might as well be at least 3-for-60 (though more likely 90 with the 3rd Energy) and that’s not even including what’s on the other Pokemon, and he can draw you 10 cards from your deck all in one go. All of that means that Rayquaza-GX is gonna speed up any deck he’s run in significantly, and it’s likely going to be hard to push back against that. On top of that, there’s one particular Pokemon that can not only make the deck go faster but also make Rayquaza-GX more powerful at the same time: Vikavolt. Combined with Stormy Winds and a little Switching, Rayquaza-GX could easily come out swinging with Dragon Break the moment he gets put into play!
So what would be the big issue? What weaknesses does the deck have? Well I think that, for starters, there’s a little issue of getting Vikavolt out into play, if he ends up being your partner of choice. As a Stage 2 Pokemon with only…one real evolution line (that’s been established since Sun & Moon), Vikavolt doesn’t exactly have a quick means of getting into play, even with the massive draw power of Rayquaza-GX’s Tempest GX. If you did start out with a Grubbin, you’d still need to play Rare Candy and have Vikavolt in hand to put down in order to get the combo rolling (or a Charjabug, but that eats up an extra turn), and if your Rayquaza-GX is already in play, that likely means you’ve started out with it so it can’t use Stormy Winds to power itself up (though that’s not that big of an issue since you’ve presumably used Tempest GX by this point). On top of that, Dragon Break’s not going to be very strong until you get that Vikavolt out, and you still have to at least wait the whole extra turn to get that going – by which point you’ve given your opponent nothing less than 2-3 turns to set up and start moving on their own. It’s doable, but they’ll likely be hitting harder than you will on their 2nd or 3rd turn.
There’s also the minor issue of decking out, which means there may have to be some cycling of cards; Cynthia can only do so much, but you don’t exactly want to shuffle back more cards than you draw, and you do run the ultimate risk of milling out cards that you could use to either power up your Rayquaza-GX or recycle your other resources that got milled out by Rayquaza-GX himself. Obviously Energy getting milled out isn’t a concern, but valuable Items, Supporters, and Pokemon could definitely slow the pace of the deck down to a point where it can’t recover from a huge loss. It’s something that plagued a lot of the earliest Dragon cards, since they were more focused on milling cards on top of the dual-Energy motif. Kinda reminds me of Lightsworns from Yugioh in a way.
Still, Rayquaza-GX does have enough of a card pool to work with that he could very easily push out the other big partner to Vikavolt, Tapu Bulu-GX, who could hit for 180 by discarding all of its Energy and even heal off all of the damage it took. Rayquaza-GX could not only hit for higher numbers, but it doesn’t have to discard the Energy from itself to do so – though he will have the problem of not being able to heal himself. There’s a lot to figure around Rayquaza-GX, and personally it’s these challenges that kept him away from my own #1 spot. But at the end of the day, there’s certainly a lot of appeal surrounding him, and I’d be hard-pressed not to acknowledge that he’s likely going to be the next big deck of the format, especially after rotation.
Standard: 4/5 (he’s a strong card with a lot of benefits, though a lot of risks as well)
Expanded: 4/5 (combined with the right partner, he’d be a terror to face in most cases)
Limited: 5/5 (but without that partner, he can only get away with so much)
Arora Notealus: A lot of factors have to work in Rayquaza-GX’s favor to make him see competition, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he does end up becoming a major contender. With rotation coming up, a lot of the tools that could be used to disrupt a successful Tempest GX will get pushed out, and a lot of decks that worked with some of the older cards will get nerfed to some degree, which ultimately favors Rayquaza-GX in the long run. His biggest competitor may still be Buzzwole-GX, who doesn’t suffer as much from rotation, but he’s got a good amount of speed to compete with Buzzwole’s own moves.
Weekend Thought: Do you agree with our list? Think some cards should have been higher up? Think some cards didn’t deserve to get on the list or should have been ranked lower? Are you optimistic over a few cards in the set? Do you think there are any broken combinations to take advantage of? Will Rayquaza-GX be the power-packed Pokemon to beat?
So we finally come down to the best card of the set, and yet I still find myself scratching my head pondering why this is the most exciting card of the set. Not that the card is bad, it actually isn’t; I had it on my list. But it comes with caveats. The attributes is one thing, but the effects on this card are another thing. What’s already established is that it is a Basic Dragon type with 180 HP, weak to Fairy, and a retreat cost of three. And it gives out two prizes if it’s knocked out.
Stormy Winds is a risky ability to initiate. You give up the top three cards from your deck just to get back a Basic Energy card and attach it to this Pokémon. Unless you have cards that lets you rearrange some cards like Pokedex, you have no control on what cards are in there. And you may risk losing cards that you might need later on. Mostly item and Stadium cards (outside of Lusamine) are harder to recover.
Dragon Break costs GLC and does 30 damage times the number of basic Grass and Basic Lightning energy attached to all of your Pokemon. The wording makes it that Double Dragon Energy doesn’t count, which is unfortunate since you can’t further amplify the damage, or fortunate for some players if they are worried about this Pokémon being overpowered that it already is. Vikavolt from Sun & Moon is a good partner for this Pokémon as its Strong Charge Ability fetches both Grass and Lightning energy to be attached to any of your Pokemon. While you need eight energy and a Choice Band to OHKO anything in the game, Leafeon Plasma and Frost Rotom also needs eight energy and Choice Band to OHKO Rayquaza-GX. Although these Pokémon are not frequently seen, those two can be teched in just to deal with this Pokémon.
And then there’s Tempest-GX, which costs G while discarding your hand and draw 10 cards. Two major problems happen with this attack. First, you’ve just used your GX attack of the match, locking access to your other GX attacks. Second, because you just used your attack, during your opponent’s next turn, your cards are in the mercy of your opponent, whether it be shuffled (see N or Judge), discarded (see Delinquent), or copied (see Copycat). I get that this GX attack is meant to compensate for Professor Sycamore that just left rotation, but putting it as a GX attack is not a good way to imitate it. Even if it wasn’t a GX attack, it’s still something that’s not worth using.
Putting those caveats together, I can’t bring myself to scoring it highly. But then again, who am I to judge? As with other cards, I am judging a book (deck?) by its cover. Maybe I’m still adjusting to Pokémon since I thought certain discards would be unbearable. And with Worlds approaching, maybe I will get proven wrong and Rayquaza-GX could be worth the excitement. But until then, this is what I think about this card for the time being.
Standard: 2.5/5 (Eyeballing a lot tends to undermine what would’ve been a great card…)
Expanded: 2.5/5 (…and I can’t even ignore the cons.)
Limited: 4/5 (This format should be less hostile, I hope. On a +39 deck, the ability will be very useful.)
Rayquaza GX (CES 177) comes in as our number one, best card coming out of the Celestial Storm expansion set. And it’s easy to see why: a thirty times multiplier across your entire board is absolutely overpowered. I have frequently been able to hit for more than 300 damage on a sustainable, repeatable basis. Plus, Rayquaza is a good starter card because of Tempest GX, which allows you to put ten cards in hand if you discard all of the cards in your hand. Personally, I think it should allow you to draw into twelve cards as Drampa GX’s Big Wheel has the precedent of drawing ten cards and allowing you to shuffle your hand back into your deck. As shuffle and draw usually nets less than discard when looking at draw Supporter cards, to maintain consistency, Rayquaza should draw for something more than ten cards, but putting ten cards in your hand – regardless of whether you shuffle or discard – is an incredibly strong advantage.
The downsides I’ve experienced with Rayquaza are Fairy Weakness, Shrine of Punishments, and special condition attacks. Gardevoir needs only a single Fairy energy to easily OHKO Rayquaza GX, SoP can turn your 180 Rayquaza into a 130 or 140 HP easy knockout after only a couple of turns, and it’s sometimes difficult to get Rayquaza out of the active if it’s been paralyzed or confused or put to sleep.
Aside from that, however, Rayquaza is a big bad Basic Pokemon that can set up quickly (especially in worlds 2018 format with Max Elixirs) and hit for more than enough damage. I don’t think it will win it all at worlds because of the above mentioned weaknesses, but I will say this: if you need to hit 1000 damage for a Dragon PTCGO challenge, this deck might be able to hit that challenge for you in a single game.
Standard: 4 out of 5
When paired with Vikavolt and Wishful Batons, Rayquaza GX can usually get enough energy on the board so it will OHKO anything your opponent throws at you without any negative side effects (discarding energy cards, not being able to attack during the next turn, etc.). I really enjoyed playing with this archetype and won quite a few matches with it. You can find the post rotation decklist I came up with here.
Our number one pick from SM – Celestial Storm is Rayquaza-GX (SM – Celestial 109/168, 160/168, 177/168). Rayquaza-GX made all five individual top 10 lists and earned 107 voting points, and was my personal sixth place pick. Rayquaza-GX is first and foremost a Pokémon-GX; we seem to be getting more and more cards which care about this, most acting as counters but a few rewarding something for being a Pokémon-GX as well, and you should never forget about it being worth an extra Prize when KO’d and having a GX-attack (even a bad one is better than none at all) Being a Basic Pokémon is the best, while Being an [N] Type Pokémon might actually be the worst for now; they’ve got some great stuff coming and they had some great stuff leave Standard last rotation. Pretty soon, the only drawback to being a [N] Type will be how only BW-era [N] Types are [N] Weak. 180 HP is good for a Basic Pokémon-GX, often able to take a hit. [Y] Weakness isn’t happy, as they’re slated to get more support soon as well, but even then it won’t be the worst Weakness. No Resistance is the worst and Retreat Cost [CCC] is the second worst unless Heavy Ball proves relevant.
“Stormy Winds” is an Ability that can only be activated when you play Rayquaza-GX from your hand to your Bench. If you use it, you’ll have to discard the top three cards from your deck, but if you do, you are then able to attach a basic Energy card from your discard pile to this Pokémon. Note the wording; if you were to find a way to avoid discarding from your deck, then you won’t get to attach any Energy even though the Energy attachment is from the discard pile and not just the cards discarded via this effect. The discard cost is not insignificant, but a well-made deck can deal with it, running cards that are easy to recycle, structuring the deck so that nothing too vital can be lost, and/or winning so quickly you don’t feel the pinch. “Dragon Break” is the card’s regular attack, and it costs [GLC] while doing 30 damage times the amount of basic [G] and [L] Energy attached to your Pokémon. This prevents some of the crazy combos we might see due to cards like Counter Energy or – in Expanded – Double Dragon Energy, but still works well with its own Ability, Max Elixir, and other forms of Energy acceleration that work with basic Energy cards. The GX-attack is “Tempest-GX” and it costs only [G] to use; you discard your hand an draw 10 cards. A solid setup attack, and perhaps that will allow Rayquaza-GX decks to effectively use Hala post-rotation (no need for Hala before then). Just be mindful if you go for broke, open with four Rayquaza-GX, and then use Tempest GX your deck will be down 22 cards before worrying about your opening draw or any other card effects.
As I am short of time, let’s get right down to it; Rayquaza-GX decks are expected to be the new, major deck in the Standard Format and possibly in the Expanded Format as well. Dragon Break uses a now-familiar approach where you load your field with Energy, spread out among protected Bench-sitters or backup attackers (probably the latter) so that you can take OHKO after OHKO while shrugging off even a OHKO against your Active Rayquaza-GX. The only reason I’m not calling this the BDIF right now is that so many saw it coming, the metagame question is “Will it or won’t it be countered by everybody and everything at Worlds?”. Not that the counters available against it all three of easy, reliable, and potent: [Y] Weakness can be exploited, Abilities can be denied, Energy can be removed, and a deck that mills itself this much might need only a small shove to go over the edge.
So why did I only rank this card sixth on my own list? I thought Latias [Prism Star] was an important part of the combo, and the short version is it ain’t. I also expected more out of Latias [Prism Star] as general [N] Type support than I really ought to have, given how many [N] Type Evolutions Evolve from non-[N] Type Basics. So I split the “credit” between the two and gave more of it to Latias [Prism Star]. Also, for some reason, I just don’t seem to like this card. Yes, that is petty and a failure on my part as a reviewer. Would Rayquaza-GX top my list if I were to rewrite it? Probably not; I favor cards I see as more general over those that are deck-specific. I try to adjust for a strong card that only appears in one or two decks, to the point it shifts the entire metagame, but I think I’d still rank Acro Bike and Magcargo above Rayquaza-GX.
Remember, when it comes to the Standard Format, BKT-On is pretty much over unless you’re attending this Weekend’s World Championship or really big on grinding in the PTCGO for the next week. I’ll be scoring the card for SM-On. For the Expanded Format, the mixed blessing is that Rayquaza-GX decks are going to rely on a lot of “moving pieces”. An opponent locking down one of those pieces ASAP hurts, but it doesn’t stop the deck. Well, the Ability is important but I expect most folks to drop two to four Rayquaza-GX on their first turn. I’m more worried about how many other hard-hitting decks it must compete with, decks that can OHKO Rayquaza-GX pretty reliably while expecting to be OHKO’d back. When it comes to the Limited Format, Rayquaza-GX can be amazing if it shows up in time. You can guarantee you open with it by running just Rayquaza-GX, but that means you cannot use the Ability so it is three turns before you can start attacking. That may or may not be enough, so you take your chances.
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