We continue our look at some of the favorite cards of each
era as selected by the top members of the Pokémon TCG community. This time, we
visit sunny Alola and the cards of the Sun & Moon Series.
Be sure to take a look at which top Pokémon TCG cards these
pros selected from the Sword & Shield era, and look forward to
more retrospectives of each Pokémon TCG era throughout the year.
Few cards have had as big an impact on the competitive scene
as what Zoroark-GX delivered
during its run. At its release, it received attention because of its Trade
Ability, which lets the player discard one card from their hand in order to
draw two cards from their deck. In addition, the Riotous Beating attack turned
out to be incredibly cost-effective, therefore making Zoroark-GX a great
attacker, too. These two traits combined a powerful supporter and a
decent attacker into one card. The Trade Ability is also not restricted,
meaning a player could use one Trade from multiple Zoroark-GX every turn
to quickly build a large hand size. Discarding potentially important resources
is never easy, but the players who were able to map out their hand correctly
reaped the rewards.
Given how flexible this card proved to be, it was used with
multiple different partners and ended up winning almost all the major events
until it rotated out. Some versions even included Darkness Energy to activate
its Trickster-GX attack. There should be no doubt Zoroark-GX
created some of the most interesting and complicated games of all time, and for
that, Zoroark-GX is my favorite card.
There have been multiple ways of targeting down Benched
Pokémon in the past, but Guzma was
in a league of its own. At the time we only had Lysandre
(a card revived recently as Boss’s Orders)
to target Benched Pokémon. Guzma came with a switching effect for both players,
not just the opponent, and the player who used Guzma would be able to decide
which Pokémon on both sides of the field would end up in the Active Spot. If a
player had a Float Stone attached
to any of their Pokémon, they could switch back to their previous Active Pokémon
for no cost. This card dramatically changed how the game was played.
In a Pokémon TCG game, there are multiple win conditions,
but most games are won by taking all six Prize cards. When a player falls too
far behind in the Prize race, they will often try to look for alternative ways
to win. The most common one is to run the opposing player out of cards to draw
by sticking a Pokémon that cannot attack in the Active Spot. Guzma’s presence
almost completely invalidated that strategy, as both players now had a good
offensive and defensive option in the same card.
Today, players rely on Item cards like Quick Ball and Pokémon Communication to bring
their best Pokémon into play. Back in 2017 and 2018, the same held true, with
players relying on similar Items, like Ultra Ball.
Without these Item cards, decks would be slow to set up or might not set up at
all, which is why Garbodor’s Trashalanche
was so effective—players had no choice except to walk into it.
Making Trashalanche even harder to play around was the fact
that one of 2017 and 2018’s most used Supporters, Professor Sycamore, forced the user to discard their hand.
This usually meant even more Items entering the discard pile. And Garbodor
players had one more trick up their sleeve: Field Blower, which further boosted Trashalanche’s damage.
Late in games, it wasn’t uncommon to see Trashalanche reach 200+ damage, enough
to one-hit KO most Pokémon-GX. All of this for a single Psychic Energy,
which allowed players to easily chain Trashalanche attacks from multiple
Garbodor dominated alongside a variety of partners
throughout 2017. It wasn’t until the end of that season that Garbodor finally
got some bad news: Gardevoir-GX
debuted with a Twilight-GX attack that could shuffle 10 cards from the
discard pile back into the deck—enough to reduce a 200-damage Trashalanche down
Throughout Pokémon’s lengthy history, countless games have
come down to what a player draws (or doesn’t draw) off of a dramatic late-game N.
allowed players to prepare a defense to this common endgame tactic that might
otherwise leave them starting their turn with only a single card in hand. What
was important about drawing your hand up to three cards was that this was the
precise number of cards needed to use Ultra Ball.
In 2017 and 2018, Oranguru was in a format with Tapu Lele-GX. Tapu Lele-GX‘s Wonder Tag
meant an Ultra Ball could be used to find whatever Supporter card a player
needed. That Supporter, be it a Professor Sycamore,
Lysandre, Guzma, or sometimes even their own
N, usually ended up being enough to seal the game. In 2017, players could also
use Ultra Ball to find Shaymin-EX,
using Set Up to draw back up to six.
In the process, an otherwise useless draw, like Ultra Ball,
was transformed into a game-winning card. It’s for this reason that I’ve always
felt Oranguru was one of the most underrated cards during its time, allowing
you to narrowly escape those tough final turns with a win.
is one of the best support Pokémon ever created. Its Ability Wonder Tag
allowed for an interesting deckbuilding style that utilized Brigette to get out Pokémon from
the deck to set up early in games. Wonder Tag also turned every Ultra Ball effectively into a
Supporter option. Deck building became more creative by having single copies of
Supporters, because they would be easily accessible. This Ability allowed
everyone to be able to play the game and avoid bad draws.
The attacks on Tapu Lele-GX were also pretty good.
Energy Drive did 20 times the number of Energy on both Active Pokémon. In a
format with Double Colorless Energy,
this card could do enough damage to set up a two-hit Knock Out for later in the
game. Energy Drive also improved on Mewtwo-EX
by not applying Weakness and Resistance. A big problem with Mewtwo-EX
was that it would get Knocked Out by other Mewtwo-EX, causing games to
accelerate. Tapu Cure-GX is also a pretty useful GX attack: being
able to heal all the damage from two Benched Pokémon can negate multiple
attacks from your opponent.
has a strong Ability, a decent attack, and a powerful GX
attack. A card that is good at some things but not everything is how I
imagine a well-designed good card. The Bloodthirsty Eyes Ability lets you bring
up one of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon to the Active Spot when Lycanroc-GX
enters battle. This Ability gives more control of the game while not using up
your Supporter for the turn. And Dangerous Rogue-GX is one of the best-designed
GX attacks in the game. It doesn’t just Knock Out your opponent, but
forces them to a decision. By limiting their Bench, they can lower the amount
of damage that Dangerous Rogue-GX can do, but doing so makes
Bloodthirsty Eyes more effective because it has targets. On the other hand,
Claw Slash costs three Energy and only does 110 damage; this is important
because Lycanroc-GX will have problems getting Knock Outs unless it is
hitting for Weakness.
This card is my favorite card from the Sun & Moon
era. It is balanced in design, and the Pokémon itself is very cool. Having
different forms is a neat trait for Pokémon to have, giving the same Pokémon
the chance to have different card designs.
I had to pick my favorite Pokémon TCG card ever printed! Pidgeotto’s strength is its Air
Mail Ability, which is identical to the popular Uxie Lv.X‘s Trade Off Poké-Power from several
years earlier. Its low 60 HP is sometimes a liability, but allows it to be the
rare Evolution card that can be found by Professor Elm’s Lecture. With one or two of these in the early
game, you can easily get three Pidgeotto out and start seeing many cards fast.
Pidgeotto’s Air Mail has supported many types of decks. One
of my favorite tournaments was winning a League Cup finals in a Pidgeotto
“mirror match” of sorts. I was using Air Mail every turn to fuel big attacks
with Blacephalon and Victini Prism Star. My opponent was
using Air Mail and Oranguru to
repeatedly discard my cards, and using Mars
and Chip-Chip Ice Axe to
control the cards I drew. Fortunately, Air Mail itself is one of the best
counters to such a strategy!
Magikarp & Wailord-GX
is a history-making card! It was the first TAG TEAM to be revealed, a
new style where we saw two (and later three) Pokémon partner up on the same
card. TAG TEAM Pokémon-GX also brought along a new twist to GX
attacks, where extra Energy attached would provide new, often game-changing
extra damage or effects. Additionally, Magikarp & Wailord-GX was the
first three-Prize Pokémon to be introduced, and the first Pokémon with 300 HP!
It was initially released as a promo card, so for about a month, it was the
only TAG TEAM card in the game, until the Sun & Moon—Team Up
expansion was released in February 2019.
These two Pokémon are separated by 44 feet in length, but
united in spirit. Magikarp & Wailord-GX‘s strength is its Towering
Splash-GX attack, one of the strongest Bench-hitting moves in the game.
I played this card in my Quagsire/Naganadel deck in that first month
where it was the only TAG TEAM. It would take a while to build up the eight Energy
necessary for the full attack. When you did, though, a Towering Splash-GX
to clear a Bench of Malamar was
always a thrilling way to win!
I’m well known as a Ditto fan, so when I was asked to write
about Sun & Moon cards, I jumped at the chance to choose this card.
Not only is this a Ditto,
it is also a Prism Star. Prism Star cards were introduced in Sun & Moon—Ultra
Prism and appeared throughout the rest of the Sun & Moon expansions.
They balanced very powerful cards with powerful restrictions. Prism Star cards
were not only limited to one per deck, but also, when removed from play, they
were sent to the Lost Zone and were unrecoverable.
While there have been a number of Ditto cards printed over
the years, very few of them have been playable. But boy, this one was! What
made Ditto Prism Star popular was that it gave you an extra Basic Pokémon for
any of the Evolution lines in your deck. You could evolve it into any Stage 1
Pokémon by using its Almighty Evolution Ability. And not just one of the Evolution
lines—any and all of them. Since the rules of the Pokémon TCG limit decks to four
of any card name, having a card that acts like an extra copy of your Basic Pokémon
increases your odds of getting it out at the beginning of the game by 20%,
which is nothing to sneeze at! And usually whoever gets set up first winds up
winning the game. Ditto Prism Star was an MVP!
Poké Doll has been a favorite of mine ever since Clefairy
Doll (Base Set #70) was one of the very first Pokémon TCG cards. I also
had a little Poké Doll figure that I used as a mascot when I was playing, which
I kept on top of my Prize cards. It always brought me joy when my opponent
would compliment my “Clefairy” figure and I’d say, “That’s not Clefairy. Take a
closer look,” and they would be confused.
I was very happy when I saw that a version of Poké Doll was
back. And not just back, but this Lillie’s Poké Doll
was even better than the original. Just like the original Clefairy Doll,
it is a Trainer card that you can play as if it is a Basic Pokémon, and it
doesn’t give up any Prize cards when it is Knocked Out. Where it exceeds the
original is that it also can be sent from the Active Spot back into the deck,
giving the player a tool to prevent from being decked out…a very cool effect.
And very cool artwork, too, with the scruffy little Poké Doll sitting there
next to Lille’s bag and hat, showing lots of love from Lillie. Just like mine.
The Pokémon TCG community would not be the same without these five contributors to the game, and we appreciate their valuable insights. Be sure to check back throughout the year to see more of their reflections on their favorite cards from the long history of the Pokémon TCG.