This is a follow-up to a previous article you will find here. Reading it before reading this article isn’t essential, but it will make things a little clearer. I hadn’t planned on doing this article but realized it was needed; I was writing a Card of the Day review and had to spend a good bit of page real estate explaining what I am about to cover here… and I’d have to do it for every card that was a part of the countdown. What a waste!
Here on Pojo, we generally like our countdowns, so one covering the cards that would so no longer be legal for Standard Format play makes sense. If you’re new to Pokémon, the Standard Format is the default rules used for official Pokémon TCG play. Most relevant here are the rules about what cards may be used; once the set or other product which contains a card gets old enough, The Pokémon Company International (TPCi) will no longer allow it in the Standard Format. Yes, this does force players to buy newer product, but if it was just about selling cards, making the new stuff blatantly stronger while reprinting the older, still strong stuff would be easier. Instead, this is about keeping the competitive scene from becoming stale, as it is very hard for the game’s designers to make sure that every card released over the past 20 or so years doesn’t create unforeseen decks or combos that take over the entire game because they’re so good you either use them or lose to them.
Older cards do not leave when they reach a certain age, but instead, once per year, the list of allowed releases (sets, Theme Decks, etc.) is updated, with the oldest ones being removed. This is what is called “rotation”. Sometimes, specific cards will also be banned, but this is relatively rare. Rotation is not as scary as it may sound. What will rotate is announced months before it happens, and while the exact date isn’t always the same from year to year, it usually happens on or around September 1, not long after the yearly World Championships.
As with our other countdowns, while we are trying to find the “best” cards that are going away, Pojo.com allows the individual reviewers participating to create and submit their own list of cards without specifying what makes a card “the best”. Someone then takes these lists and uses them to create the site’s official or “master” list, which is used for our review schedule. Commonly considered criteria are how successful a card has been while it was Standard legal, another is how good a card is at the moment it rotates, and another is how good the card may have been had it not rotated. Unlike our other countdowns, we are allowed to consider a reprint so long as an even more recent printing isn’t keeping it Standard Format legal past the rotation (as that would mean the card is not actually lost to Standard Format play). More than once a card has been reprinted after our countdown is underway, so if we seem to be violating this requirement, now you know why.