– Sun & Moon Promo
November 27, 2017
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
With our most recent top 10 countdown complete, let’s take some time to catch up on recent promos. As a Pokémon-GX, Tsareena-GX (SM: Black Star Promos SM56) gives up an extra Prize when KO’d, can’t make use of support like Counter Energy, and is the target of Pokémon-EX/GX counters like Choice Band while enjoying more HP, three effects (one being a GX-attack), and access to Pokémon-GX specific support. Grass Typing means she won’t gain access to any really amazing support in Expanded or Standard, but it does have a few nice tricks, especially if we expand it to cards that benefit [G] Energy and not just [G] Pokémon. Like almost all anti-Type effects, those targeting [G] Types aren’t that good, save Parallel City (and that is only because of its other effects); even then, it just reduces the damage a Grass Type does by 20. Grass Weakness isn’t a major exploit, but with many Water and some Fighting Types sporting it, it does come in handy; there’s also no naturally occurring Grass Resistance (we aren’t worried about Unlimited).
Being a Stage 2 slows her down and ensures she’ll take quite a bit of deck space to run. 230 HP is only 20 below the current printed maximum and makes it unlikely Tsareena-GX will be OHKO’d outside of Weakness. Fire Weakness is dangerous, however; Volcanion-EX decks are one of the oldest competitive decks that are still Standard legal and doesn’t look to be going anywhere; if it is safer in Expanded, it is only due to the sheer competition offered by a larger cardpool. No Resistance is typical, but still technically the worst. A Retreat Cost of [CC] is low enough you can often pay it but high enough you’ll rarely want to; you’re just not totally dependent upon alternatives to retreating at full price as you often are with something more expensive.
Tsareena-GX has three attacks, the first of which is “Side Eye” for [G]; this attack allows you to promote one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon, replacing his or her previous Active Pokémon and leaves the new Active Confused. Controlling what your opponent has Active is good, and making it Confused is helpful, but using an attack to do it delays combos that the multiple non-attack options enable. The next is “Jumping Sidekick” for [GCC], doing 90 damage plus another 90 if your opponent’s Active Pokémon is Confused. Before the effect, 90-for-three is a decent enough deal, and with the extra 90, you can score OHKO’s against quite a bit. Side Eye can be used to lead into Jumping Sidekick, but remember that it isn’t a OHKO in that case (you’re using two attacks). Even using something else to Confuse the target, this is the main attack on a Stage 2 Pokémon-GX, and even with a Choice Band and Professor Kukui, it won’t OHKO the biggest Pokémon-EX/GX. Also for [GCC], we have the card’s GX-attack, “Queen’s Command.” This forces your opponent to discard four cards of his or her choice from hand. It might be broken in other games, but Pokémon has larger hand sizes, more abundant (and easy to use) draw, plus some decks want certain cards in the discard pile. It might be worth it with a combo or luck, but not in general.
The rest of the Evolution line doesn’t do much to help Tsareena-GX. Barring some inefficient and overly complicated combos, Bounsweet (Sun & Moon 18/149) is a requirement; she’s a Basic, Grass Pokémon with 60 HP, Fire Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [C], and two attacks. The first is “Sweet Scent” for [G], which heals 30 damage from one of your Pokémon, while the second is “Splash” for [C] and doing 10 damage. These are filler attacks, though on rare occasions they might come in handy. Next is Steenee (Sun & Moon 19/149), a Stage 1 Grass Type with 90 HP, Fire Weakness, no Resistance, Retreat Cost [CC], and also two attacks. Sweet Scent is the exact same as for Bounsweet, but Splash is replaced by “Stomp” for [CC], doing 20 damage plus 20 on a successful coin flip. You also have the option of using Rare Candy; due to anti-Item effects plus Devolution effects, a mixture is probably best.
Devolution might not just be an effect your opponent inflicts upon you because there is one last member of this card family: Tsareena (Sun & Moon 20/149; SM: Black Star Promos SM26). A Stage 2 Grass Type with 140 HP, Fire Weakness, no Resistance, and Retreat Cost of [CC], she also has one Ability and one attack. The Ability is “Queenly Majesty”, and it triggers when you Evolve one of your Pokémon into her; you may then look at your opponent’s hand and discard a card of your choosing from it. Other than having to discard a card if you choose to look, this Ability is pure good… well, for you. Unless your opponent has no hand or only cards he or she would want in the discard pile, it can’t really backfire. It might not mean much of an advantage, either, but it could be crippling. For [GCC] Tsareena may use “Trop Kick” to do 80 damage while healing 20 from herself. Players tried to build a control deck around Tsareena, but I don’t think it has had any major competitive success; if not entirely, then recently. So, how does Tsareena-GX fit into all of this?
While I am not convinced it will prove competitive, Tsareena-GX seems like a natural inclusion for Tsareena decks. While split Evolution lines aren’t easy, they are almost always easier than running the same Pokémon as two separate, full Stage 2 lines. Decks would already be inclined to run some Devolution Spray, to try and reuse Queenly Majesty; Acerola is also an option, though it means rebuilding a Stage 2 attacker with three Energy attached from scratch. If you’re crippling your opponent’s setup, however, that can still prove effective. Side Look into Jumping Side Kick may also prove effective so long as you’ve got your opponent stuck doing little to nothing on his or her turns. A real question is, does one use Nihilego-GX to enable big hits from Jumping Side Kick in a single turn, or Alolan Muk to deny your opponent access to Abilities? Oranguru (SM: Black Star Promos SM13; Sun & Moon 113/149) and Tapu Lele-GX are threats to your quasi-handlock, and I don’t think the deck has room to effectively run both.
As too many competitive decks are running heavy draw, outs to draw power, or both I wouldn’t sweat the details too much. Besides Oranguru and Tapu Lele-GX, you’ve got reusable, Ability-based draw from Pokémon like Octillery (XY: BREAKthrough 33/162) and Zoroark-GX, or players simply topdecking a Supporter like Professor Sycamore. I suspect it will be worse in Expanded, where your opponent might have an Item like Bicycle, and lower Supporter counts are offset by cards like Shaymin-EX (XY: Roaring Skies 77/108, 106/108) and VS Seeker. Counters to all of these are available, but that requires additional deck space I don’t believe is available, and/or would also mess with your own combo. What is really needed is a good way of controlling what your opponent draws at the beginning of his or her turn, but the best option I can recollect is Trick Shovel, and that can be thwarted by your opponent having two useful draw cards in a row. Tsareena-GX isn’t legal for any Limited Format option of which I am aware, but where she re-released in a future expansion, she’d be a pretty good pull as long as you got the rest of her Evolution line as well. Everything about her works better in a slower format with substantially less draw power.
Tsareena-GX tries to do a few things but doesn’t succeed in doing any of them especially well. Even what she does do works best when she is working in tandem with several other cards, where she may not even be a prominent figure. Nonetheless, she isn’t particularly bad at any of the things she does, and it is more than okay for a card to rely on the rest of your deck. If we see an effective, compatible means of manipulating your opponent’s initial draw for the turn, the combo of Tsareena and Tsareena-GX becomes a competitive deck, possibly even a great one.
This week, we will be looking at promo cards. Today, we will be looking at Tsareena-GX while Throwback Thursdays is Seeker from HS Triumphant and the other three promos in the Ultra Beast Premium Collection. So, let’s dive in to it one at a time.
Tsareena has three attacks. Side Eye costs G and provides a “Gust of Wind” effect as well as inflicting Confusion on the new defending Pokémon. Jumping Side Kick costs GCC for 90 damage, plus 90 more if the Defending Pokémon is confused. You can see the synergy from these two attacks. Unfortunately, two-turn strategies can get played around………..a lot. A confused Pokémon can still normally retreat, removing that Special Condition and reduce the effectiveness of Jumping Side Kick.
But then, there’s one more attack to cover. Queen’s Command GX costs GGC and your opponent has to discard 4 cards from their hand. If your opponent happens to have 4 or less cards in their hand, they will have nothing to use and has to rely on top decking. However, certain decks love to have certain cards on the discard pile, potentially helping your opponent. Additionally, you cannot control which cards to discard; your opponent makes the decision.
Limited: N/A (promo)
Hey, look what we have here! A full week of nothing but SM Promo cards, and we’re on a haul here. So where should we start this week’s reviews from? Oh yes, the last of the BUS-era promos, Tsareena-GX!
As we have seen with Gardevoir-GX, despite 230 HP being on the low side for a Stage 2 Pokemon-GX, it is still relatively bulky and it should last quite a bit on the field. However, the weakness to Fire does put a big question mark on its longevity; Fire decks seems to make a strong comeback thanks to all the Metal decks support it obtained over the future sets. A retreat cost of 2 is alright; it may not be as movable as the 1 retreaters, but its still manageable. Being a Grass type, it does hit lots of the good stuff for Weakness; Lycanroc-GX (SM GUR), Zygarde-EX (XY FCO), Lapras-GX (SM Base), alongside many others.
Looking at its attacks though, it seems that Tsareena-GX has been chosen to go down the deck harassment theme; that is not to deal too high of a damage but it applies enormous game pressure to be able to force its opponents to play more resources, as we have seen with Espeon-GX/Garbodor decks. Side Eye gives you the Lysandre (XY FLF, XY AOR) effect and it automatically confuses them afterwards for a single Grass energy. By itself, the confusion status and giving a force switch effect where you can control it are on their own nice, but doing that while ending your turn, on a Stage 2 Pokemon? That’s the part I don’t like. Your opponent can just use something like a Guzma (SM BUS) to remove the debuff, making it a 50:50 that the Side Eye effect stick. If it does, however, this chains well into its second attack; Jumping Side Kick adds a DCE cost to Side Eye and it deals 90 plus 90 more if your opponent has the confusion debuff. 180 is a really nice number for 2 energy attachments; with a Choice Band you are hitting 210, enough to destroy most Stage 1s and all Basic Pokemon-GXs, and maybe with a Lurantis (SM25 Promo) it can do more! But we do need a secondary way of getting confusion to stick well; a combo I’ve grown to enjoy is using it with Nihilego-GX for its Empty Light ability and the Sea of Emptiness stadium to help against evolution decks (both from SM Crimson Invasion), making sure the confusion debuff stick well when you need the 180 nuke. This is what Tsareena-GX will mostly be doing; forcing switches and dealing nukes as punishment if your opponent cannot respond well. But a deck that revolves around nukes from Special Conditions has been long existing in the meta, and none of them are world-beaters, as they can just retreat or use a Rush In style Pokemon to replace the confused original Active Pokemon and deny the main strategy. This time, with Zoroark-GX (SM SHG) being used in the masses, its little XY BKT brother, which has that same ability, is everywhere and it does question the viability of Tsareena decks nowadays.
The GX attack seems out of whack for what Tsareena does; Queen’s Command GX forces your opponent to discard 4 cards (of their choosing) from their hand for 2 Grass and a Colorless energy. Well, the resource denial it gives is amazing, especially if chained with something like Delinquent (XY BKT) to really strip bare your opponent’s hand. This may be useful if your opponent can respond to your attack or when you can stall turns, but its still wildly different from how its main strategy operates; it feels out of place. Not that I hate it, but the GX attack can be better.
Overall, Tsareena-GX is a good attacker. It punishes your opponent in all stages of the game and gives you a nuke as well if you can make that punishment stick well. But with the meta condition being fierce to its main strategy, I don’t feel like putting it as a top-tier deck. Maybe a rogue deck is fine, but its not a really huge, unstoppable threat like Naganadel is to Smogon OU.
Standard: 3/5 (It does offer unique qualities, but it is easily counterplayed)
Expanded: 3/5 (Same reasons)
Next on SM Promo Land:
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