Xerneas – Celebrations
October 10, 2021
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is horrible. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Welcome to our countdown of the seven best cards from Celebrations! This latest set is not part of the typical quarterly releases, as evidenced both by the lack of a “SW” prefix to mark it as part of the Sword & Shield series, but also by packs only being available as part of things like gift sets and containing just four cards. This set is far more about collecting than competitive play, and includes re-releases of some of some iconic cards from the last 25 years of the game. Such reprints do not have regulation marks, so no, they won’t be legal for Standard or Expanded. What we’re are ranking are the cards that new cards that are Standard and Expanded-legal.
In 7th-Place, we have Xerneas (Celebrations 012/025). This is a baseline Pokémon: no name alterations, no Rule Box, no Battle Style, etc. Some of these mechanics have no drawbacks, but being a single Prize Pokémon is kind of nice right now… at least if there’s something else about it worth running. The metagame has a heavy focus on multi-Prize Pokémon, so giving up only one Prize has become something of an advantage. Xerneas is a [P] Pokémon, as the TCG Fairy type was dropped for the SW-era, with the TCG Psychic type now including VG Fairy types. This is decent for exploiting Weakness. Most anti-Type effects just aren’t worth it, though you should remember that [P] Weakness is more abundant in the sets that are pre-Sword & Shield but still Expanded-legal. Psychic types actually have some useful pieces of support, though… like Fog Crystal in Standard and that plus Dimension Valley and Mysterious Treasure in Expanded.
Xerneas has 120 HP, with is so-so anymore. Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX is is found in a few high profile decks, or just one diverse archetype if we force variants together, it can one-shot a Xerneas whether it is Active or on the Bench, thanks to its “G-Max Rapid Flow” attack. At least the 120 HP does require a semi-serious attack, though. [M] Weakness is iffy. One of the top decks is Zacian V, a Metal type, so you’d think [M] Weakness would be awful, but Zacian V easily OHKOs Xerneas before Weakness. Still, with just 120 HP, [M] Weakness means attacks doing 60-110 damage score a OHKO they otherwise wouldn’t, so supporting attackers might be of concern. No Resistance is the norm, and while it might have helped, I won’t hold it against Xerneas. The Retreat Cost of [CC] is typical, and neither high enough to be bad nor low enough to be good.
Xerneas knows two attacks. “Breath of Life” costs [CC] and lets you search for up to three basic Energy cards to attach to your Pokémon. The catch is that each of those basic Energy cards needs to be a different type, but you are free to attach them how you wish, so one Energy a piece to three targets, two Energy to one and a single Energy to another, or all three to a single Pokémon. “Up to” on a search effect like this means you can also settle for just two basic Energy cards (so one Energy a piece or two to a single target), just one Energy to a single recipient, even intentionally whiffing. Of course, if your deck doesn’t have enough search targets, you may have to settle for less.
Breath of Life’s cost makes it a bit awkward; you have to commit two Energy in order to fetch and attach three. If Xerneas is KO’d quickly enough, you’ll only net a single extra Energy attached. There’s also the fact that most decks don’t run on three different kinds of basic Energy, though I’d hazard that a few could be tweaked to do so if Xerneas’s Breath of Life proved useful enough. I’m not sure if it is worth it, but you could pay for Breath of Life with a single Twin Energy. Given that you may only run four Twin Energy in a deck and either you’re reducing how many Twin Energy you have for a different attacker or having to make room for it just to fuel Breath of Life, I’m just not sure this pans out.
Xerneas second attack is “Aurora Horns”. Cool name, but more vanilla filler. Priced at [PCC], it lets Xerneas attack and do 100 damage to your opponent’s Active; the attack has no other effects. 100 for three is so-so anymore, but at least two of the Energy can be of any type. Between being a single Prize attacker probably used mostly for Breath of Life, and a reasonable amount of Psychic Weakness, Aurora Horns may still be useful even if it is an uninspired attack. If not directly, then by being just barely threatening enough your opponent has to focus on taking out Xerneas instead of using Boss’s Orders to force Active and attack (potentially OHKO) one of the Pokémon to which you attached Energy through Breath of Life.
As you can tell, I don’t find Xerneas to be especially good but I do see the possibilities. Especially in some of the more obscure decks that have effects which reward using multiple different types of Basic Energy. Besides those being more common in Expanded, there’s also Dimension Valley; if you can find enough [P] types with diverse Energy needs, you can still help all of them (including Xerneas) with Dimension Valley in Expanded. Another possibility is just sticking it in a deck with multiple forms of basic Energy acceleration (like Max Elixir) and that uses multiple basic Energy types reasonably well. If that doesn’t sound amazing… you’re right. What it is, is enough to avoid minimal marks in Expanded. As for Standard, since I didn’t spell it out, I’m rounding up and giving it a solid three-out-of-five. Keep in mind, though, Xerneas is a specialist. It is pretty much worthless for most decks, and I wouldn’t replace Cresselia (SW – Chilling Reign 064/198; SW – Black Star Promos SWSH114; SW – Evolving Skies 228/203).
- Standard: 3/5
- Expanded: 2/5
For this week, we’ll be looking at cards from the Celebrations mini-set (not including cards from the classic collection since they contain cards from bygone eras), which consists of 25 cards, though we’re looking at just seven cards that made it on the list. Hopefully you would be able to get your hands on some of the products related to this mini-set.
Anyways, our 7th best card is Xerneas! I did not have this card in my personal list, but I can see why he did, and maybe I should’ve considered it. Not because of its vanilla Aurora Horns attack, which does 100 damage for three energy, but because of its Breath of Life attack. It lets you search your deck for up to three basic energy with different types and attach them to any of your Pokémon. At first, my thought was “Not many decks use more than two different energy types). However, I think it greatly helps a few Pokémon that needs at least three energy types. Few examples that come to mind is Pokémon with the “Amazing Rare” rarity and a few others in Expanded that deals damage based on the different energy types attached to it (Ho-Oh EX from BW Dragons Exalted). Not to mention anything that costs CCC or XCC (X being a specific energy type) is greatly helped by Breath of Life. The only caveat is that this attack costs two energy, so if you’re not able to get Twin Energy in your starting hand, then your momentum has been halted.
For Expanded, you have the option to put both Twin Energy and Double Colorless Energy for a better chance to draw into it on your starting hand. You can also evolve into Xerneas BREAK from XY Steam Siege as it now has 150 HP and an extra attack of Life Stream, which costs YY. Unfortunately not a good idea to attach those special energies because you would still have to attach two fairy energies on it, making Xerneas have both Fairy energy and a DCE. While Life Stream would have been great in past formats when it debuted, power creep surely makes it underwhelming. You would have to have at least 17 total energies on your side of the board to OHKO anything in the game before factoring HP and defensive buffs, and that’s just way too many, even with the help of DCE and Breath of Life. Still, you can make a deck based on that.
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