Aaron’s Choice: SM2 Guardians Rising Top 5 & Top 5 from PRC-SUM That You Should Have! BONUS: Pre-Release Guide!

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Today we start a whole new article series called “Aaron’s Choice”, where I will run you through my top picks for a tonne of different categories; if you have a suggestion on what topics you’d like to see featured in this series, let us know!

Guardians Rising, the second set of the Sun and Moon bloc, will be released on May 5th. Pre-releases are happening at local game stores this weekend, and the new cards are definitely exciting. We will explore what I think to be the Top 5 Picks From Guardians Rising, and a quick guide on Pre-releases in general. In addition to that, aren’t we forgetting something? Oh hang on, what about the Top 5 cards from previous expansions that can become a huge hit because of Guardians Rising? Don’t worry boys and girls, I’ve got you covered.


Index:

  • Top 5 Cards from Guardians Rising
  • Top 5 Cards Pre-Guardians Rising
  • BONUS: How do you prepare for a Pre-Release?

 

 


Top 5 Cards from Guardians Rising

Let’s first take a look at cards from the new set on the bloc(k), and I will give both a Standard Format review as well as comment on its Pre-Release playability.

Honorable Mention – Drampa GX

Drampa-GX – Colorless – 180 HP
Basic

[C] Righteous Edge: 20 damage. Discard a Special Energy from your opponent’s Active Pokémon.

[C][C][C] Berserk: 80+ damage. If your Benched Pokémon have any damage counters on them, this attack does 70 more damage.

[C] Big Wheel GX: Shuffle your hand into your deck. Then, draw 10 cards. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

Pokémon-GX rule: When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Fighting ×2
Resistance: none
Retreat Cost: 2

Before we dive into the list, let’s take a look at an honorable mention that is both a solid card in Standard but also at Pre-release: the new Mr Versatile of the format, Drampa GX (sorry, Tauros GX, you gotta go back into the binder for awhile). A Colorless Pokemon with 180HP, Drampa GX is possibly the least hyped ‘good’ card out of the set thanks in no small part to the crazy goodness that Guardians Rising has to offer. But why would I think this plain looking card is worth a mention? In short, its how vanilla the attacks are that interests me.

Righteous Edge is a very subtle attack that is actually quite efficient, ensuring that you remove valuable Special Energy off from your opponents, especially Double Colorless Energy (DCE)-reliant attackers such as the Eeveelution GXs, Tauros GX, and even Decidueye GX. Not many decks actually run Special Charge (STS #105) to recover Special Energy and it makes for a major tempo swing just being able to get those Energy off the board. Berserk is more likely a guaranteed 2HKO attack that is efficient in itself, as you can activate the additional +70 damage via Rainbow Energy – funny how a Special Energy is able to assist Drampa GX even though it will probably be living most of its life removing them!

So what about Big Wheel GX? Personally, with a popular card like (FCO 105)  in the format a one-off attack that replenishes your hand may be just a bit underwhelming, but it does reward you if your opponent isn’t able to play that N the following turn. So perhaps it is a decent attack at best, yet I see Drampa GX being paired with other GX Pokemon anyway, which may mean there are other GX attacks that are potentially better.

Standard format verdict: 4/5 – A solid tech option for decks that already run DCE

Pre-release verdict: 5/5 – A definite inclusion in your pre-release deck!

 

#5 Aqua Patch

Item

Attach a basic [W] Energy card from your discard pile to 1 of your Benched [W] Pokemon.

Ah, the epitome of hype that is probably justified. From a meta perspective, Aqua Patch is probably bad. What?! All things equal, being both Grass-weak (which most Water types areand relying on Items (i.e. Aqua Patch is an Item) would be suicidal with how popular Decidueye/Vileplume is right now in the current format – because, you know, being a Grass-based deck that has Item lock. Yet, it would be unfair to totally dismiss how powerful Energy acceleration is at any point in the history of the Pokemon TCG, and hence why we could possibly justify Aqua Patch in the long run.

Item-based acceleration is nothing new (hi, Max Elixir) but the trait that makes Aqua Patch so strong is its reliability – you can guarantee hitting it as you actually know what are the contents of your discard pile. With staples like Professor Sycamore and Ultra Ball in the format discarding Water Energy is a breeze, especially noting that you are already searching out for a Water-type Pokemon with Ultra Ball, ditching the Water Energy that you will Patch-back onto that same Pokemon. Synergy!

There are a host of beneficiaries of Aqua Patch, but for the sake of continuity of this article, I shall not divulge what they are… HEHE

Standard format verdict: 5/5 – Speaks for itself, immediately enables an entire archetype

Pre-release verdict: 1/5 – Doesn’t really gel well for a pre-release deck, because you are reliant on pulling good Water-types from your packs to work with.

 

#4 Alolan Ninetales GX

Alolan Ninetales-GX – Water – 210 HP
Stage 1

[C][C] Ice Blade: This attack does 50 damage to 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon. (Don’t apply Weakness and Resistance for Benched Pokémon).

[W][W][C] Blizzard Edge: 160 damage. Discard 2 Energy from this Pokémon.

[C][C] Ice Path GX: Move all damage counters from this Pokémon to your opponent’s Active Pokémon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

Pokémon-GX rule: When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Metal ×2
Resistance: none
Retreat Cost: 1

Hey, look! A Water-type! The strength Stage 1 Pokemon seem to be scaling crazy heights right now, and Alolan Ninetales GX is a clear example of this. An immense HP pool with two strong regular attacks – a useful snipe for 50, and a very-close-to-OHKO Blizzard Edge that can be chained with Aqua Patch – already cements this card to be a strong if not decent main attacker. Yet the Icy Fox gets a GX attack that is reminiscent of a certain Mewtwo EX, giving it versatility and tankiness. If you are not able to Knock Out Alolan Ninetales GX in one hit, prepare yourself for a very tough few turns.

Standard format verdict: 4/5 – Perhaps not the ‘perfect’ attacking force, but immediately one of the popular options to work with Aqua Patch

Pre-release verdict: 2/5 – You will have to pull an Alolan Vulpix to make this card work, but if you do and are able to get it evolved, it is a tanky beast like all GXs.

 

#3 Choice Band

Item

Pokemon Tool: Attach a Pokemon Tool to 1 of your Pokemon that doesn’t already have a Pokemon Tool attached to it.

The attacks of the Pokemon this card is attached to do 30 more damage to your opponent’s Active Pokemon-GX or Active Pokemon-EX (before applying Weakness and Resistance).

More damage is always great, but more damage specifically against GXs and EXs? Perfect balance, I’d say. This is essentially the new damage modifier in format, and along with Fighting Fury Belt it truly gives decks options to fine tune its magic numbers appropriately. The fact that Choice Band also works versus the older Pokemon EX gives the card essential playability in both Standard and Expanded formats.

The extra +30 damage is key to many magic numbers: the Eeveelution GXs from Sun & Moon Base Set (Umbreon GX Espeon GX) don’t necessarily benefit from any current Pokemon Tools, so Choice Band becomes the go-to Tool of choice (hehe), giving them the edge to hit perfect 2HKOs more often – or even OHKOs in some instances. Lapras GX‘s Blizzard Burn suddenly becomes more potent, able to OHKO any EX and Basic GX that is without a HP modifier. The list definitely goes on and on, and even non-EX Pokemon like Zoroark and Vespiquen are given extra firepower; the possibilities are endless!

Standard format verdict: 5/5 – Truly self-explanatory. The best damage modifier in format.

Pre-release verdict: 3/5 – Considering that anyone who gets a GX at pre-release would be keen to play it, the extra +30 damage would be nice to have if you’d like to stand a chance fighting off GXs with your lowly 60HP Basics.

 

#2 Sylveon GX

Sylveon-GX – Fairy – 200 HP
Stage 1 – Evolves from Eevee

[Y] Magical Ribbon: Search your deck for up to 3 cards and put them into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

[Y][C][C] Fairy Wind: 110 damage.

[Y][C][C] Plea GX: Put 2 of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon and all cards attached to them into your opponent’s hand. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

Pokémon-GX rule: When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: Metal ×2
Resistance: Darkness -30
Retreat Cost: 2

Sylveon GX, the new Eeveelution Queen; this card is just screaming playability. Magical Ribbon is just Collect (Lapras GX) on steroids – searching for any THREE cards from your deck is a huge leap in consistency. Whether you are playing a setup archetype, such as Eeveelutions, or a disruption-style deck with Crushing/Enhanced Hammer, Sylveon GX can do it all. Even better is that its secondary attack is a Shaymin EX killer on its own, something which both Eeveelutions from Sun & Moon Base Set can’t do without extra help.

The most interesting trait about this card is perhaps the GX attack, Plea GX. Completely resetting TWO Pokemon on a Bench is game-changing; for instance, removing two fully charged Volcanion EX with three energy each, essentially wasting the Max Elixir/Power Heater used to reach such a setup. An odd and hardly common scenario would be to Plea GX the last two Pokemon on your opponent’s Bench, and then having their Active Knock itself Out via Poison/Burn. Too perfect a situation, yes, but definitely a funny possibility!

Standard format verdict: 5/5 – Very flexible, I can see Sylveon GX being used in a host of different styles of decks. Only time will tell which archetype will suit it best.

Pre-release verdict: 4/5 – The only reason this isn’t a perfect pre-release card is because you are not guaranteed an Eevee in your packs. But if you do pull both an Eevee and a Sylveon GX… congratulations, you’re probably going to have an easy pre-release tournament!

 

#1 Tapu Lele GX

Tapu Lele-GX – Psychic – 170 HP
Basic

Ability: Wonder Tag
When you play this Pokémon from your hand onto your Bench during your turn, you may search your deck for a Supporter card, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

[C][C] Energy Drive: 20× damage. This attack does 20 damage times the amount of Energy attached to both Active Pokémon. This damage isn’t affected by Weakness or Resistance.

[P] Tapu Cure GX: Heal all damage from 2 of your Benched Pokémon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

Pokémon-GX rule: When your Pokémon-GX is Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.

Weakness: none
Resistance: none
Retreat Cost: 1

Was this even a surprise? Consistency in every Ultra Ball. A support Pokemon that can attack. Godlike traits – no Weakness, one Retreat Cost, 170HP Basic. Pure playability. DO I EVEN NEED TO REVIEW THIS?! *drops mic*

Standard format verdict: 99999/5 – The mistake many players made with Shaymin EX was not understanding how great the card was upon its release, and had either sold their copies for cheap or not get their own playsets early enough… before prices went utterly crazy. I don’t think anybody will be making such a mistake again.

Pre-release verdict: 5/5 – Thanks to the fact that pre-release kits now come with a pre-constructed pack of cards that usually has Supporters, the Ability to fish one out from your deck is just plain good. Even if there isn’t any Supporters, Energy Drive is tournament-winning.

 


Top 5 Cards Pre-Guardians Rising

We now move on to cards you should probably be considering to get before the set hits our shores. Quick, you probably have weeks if not days!

#5 Hex Maniac (AOR #75)

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Well, I think it should go without saying that Abilities form a huge part of the meta right now. From Item-locking in Decidueye/Vileplume to increasing damage output with Volcanion, Abilities are rampant and the introduction of Guardians Rising does not seem to slow that trend down. Shaymin EX will still be a core part of the majority of decks, and the new Tapu Lele GX adds another level of built-in consistency to Pokemon line-ups based on Abilities. All this ensures that Hex Maniac remains a key part of the format, and I assure you, if you don’t have your minimum 2 copies already, you should probably seek them out!

Availability: Somewhat limited, as Ancient Origins is quite an old set, but there have been rumours that it has a second print run, meaning the set should be back in stock soon. *fingers crossed*

Recommended Pricing: RM5 a copy on a good day.

 

#4 Ancient Origins Eeveelutions

Okay, so I cheated here by putting not one, not two, but THREE cards into this one slot, but I truly think they belong here. The Eeveelution trio from Ancient OriginsFlareon, Jolteon, Vaporeon – provide Stage 1 Pokemon additional typing; Fire, Lightning, and Water types, respectively. I foresee Stage 1s to be playing a decent role in the new PRC-GUR format, especially the Eeveelution GXs (Espeon/Umbreon/Sylveon). Type-coverage is a strong advantage to have and can easily swing match-ups if you teched for the right meta. Sylveon GX having access to Vaporeon can OHKO a Fighting Fury Belt-equipped Volcanion EX with one Fairy Wind, and with Choice Band (GUR #121) both Espeon GX and Umbreon GX are now able to hit more magic numbers much more effectively with Type-advantage. Let us also not forget the other prominent Stage 1s in the format, such as Lurantis GX, Zoroark (BKT #91), Vespiquen (AOR #10), and maybe, just maybe, a new Lycanroc GX archetype?

Availability: With the exception of Jolteon (a Holo Rare near the RM8-RM10 price point) these Uncommons are quite easy to find amongst local league players, and you commonly only need one of each anyway. They are also already staples of the Espeon/Wobbuffet archetype, so they have been out of the bulk box and into trade albums for some time.

Recommended Pricing:
Jolteon, RM8 to RM10
Flareon & Vaporeon – RM3 to RM4 (Regular), RM7 to RM8 (Reverse Holo)

 

#3 Lurantis GX

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With the hype of Aqua Patch (GUR #119) many Water-typed cards suddenly gain popularity, and guess what are most of their Weaknesses? That’s right: GRASS. Good ol’ Lurantis GX had quite a bit of hype around it during the spoiler season for Sun & Moon Base Set, but after the opening weeks it was clear the card was either lackluster or indeed lacked the right meta to thrive. 120 damage for GGC with a healing bonus is nothing to scoff at, and with Waterbox seeing hype itself (seems like a very hype-biased review so far), it could be the time for the Bug to make it’s grand splash in the format. Not even Lapras GX with a Fighting Fury Belt (BKT #99) can withstand a Solar Blade hit. Which brings us to the next item on the list…

Availability: Fairly easy to find, as there are THREE rarities of the card and Lurantis GX decks themselves haven’t been popular for awhile.

Recommended Pricing: RM25 to RM30 for the Normal Art version

 

#2 Waterbox Essentials – Manaphy EX/Glaceon EX/Palkia EX/Kyurem EX/Lapras GX

I AM SO SORRY I AM BENDING MY OWN MADE UP RULES AGAIN. But in all honesty, this deserves some special mention. Aqua Patch is such a strong enabler of the Waterbox archetype that many people panicked to grab themselves Water-typed cards from previous expansions – personally, I calmly walked over to the singles album at a game store in Melbourne and bought some of them up within seconds of reading the Japanese translation of the card!

Among the options accessible to Waterbox, I would think Manaphy EX, Glaceon EX, and Lapras GX are the more popular ones, but let us not forget Palkia EX for even further Energy-acceleration (Turn 1 Aqua Turbo, anyone?) and my good ol’ friend Kyurem EX for damage spread.

Availability: I would have to say VERY difficult, especially this close to the launch of the new set. The hype had been real for about a month now, and retailers are almost out of stock of the earlier sets (Ancient Origins for Kyurem EX, BREAKPoint for Manaphy EX and Palkia EX, Fates Collide for Glaceon EX). Resellers will probably be hoarding it and only willing to sell at premium prices. My suggestion: grab some Lapras GX, as they should be easiest to find, borrow cards where you can, and then see if the deck actually gains momentum before splashing your cash. You might as well grab Alolan Ninetales GX instead, since it is from the latest expansion and does work well with Lapras GX anyway.

Recommended Pricing: Definitely inflated, but if you are still keen and in doubt, you should target RM30 for Manaphy EX/Glaceon EX, and around RM40 for Palkia EX. Lapras GX are relatively easier to find at RM25.

 

#1: Rough Seas (PRC #137)

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At the top of the list is Rough Seas (PRC #137). This Stadium has gained some popularity over recent weeks in Quad Lapras decks, making the 190HP behemoth even harder to Knock Out, and if you’re been reading the entire article up until now you would know how hyped is the improved Waterbox archetype. The core principles of Stadium cards are twofold: it is either an ‘active‘ Stadiums, that you can immediately benefit from when played, or a ‘passive‘ one, which requires some interaction from your opponent. Rough Seas is a pseudo-active Stadium that gains you the benefit – of removing damage from your field – once you play it; compare this to perhaps Aether Paradise Conservation Area (GUR #116), which prevents damage your opponent may do, but whose benefits can only be realized if (1) your opponent decides to attack into your Pokemon and (2) without replacing the Stadium. This key difference is what makes Rough Seas stand out, albeit only for Water/Lightning-based decks.

There’s two main reasons why I think would you need a playset of these: Aqua Patch and Tapu Koko GX. Aqua Patch is by far the most hyped Item card coming out of Guardians Rising, and essentially provides a whole archetype the Energy acceleration it needs to challenge other top tier decks. The less-talked-about combination is with Tapu Koko GX; with 170HP, no Weakness, and an Ability (Aero Trail) that provides immense mobility, this beast of a Basic Pokemon truly abuses the healing potential you can gain from chaining multiple Tapu Koko GX – as long as they don’t get OHKO’ed, that is! Expect to see both Aether Paradise Conservation Area along with Rough Seas working in tandem for awhile until someone breaks to format and finds which is much more efficient.

Availability: Not too hard to find, since Primal Clash did get a second print run. Most Lapras GX users would already have their playsets anyway.

Recommended Pricing: Under RM5 a piece.

 


BONUS: How do you prepare for a Pre-Release?

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So we received some feedback from you, the community, for a guide on how does one approach a pre-release tournament. At the last minute I decided to include this short write-up so you shall be as ready as you can be!

Main info hub:
http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/pre-release-tournaments/

What is a pre-release?

A pre-release is a sealed tournament organized whenever a new expansion is released. Sealed here refers to the format (officially called a Limited format) where you are only allowed to build a deck from the cards you open from the pre-release kit you are provided (Basic Energy is the only exception to this). You will build a 40-card deck using these cards, and Basic Energy is usually provided by the organizers. You will then use that deck to play  a Swiss-format tournament, with the eventual winners getting more prize packs!

What do you get at a pre-release?

You will receive one Pre-Release Kit with:

  • One Evolution pack of 22 cards and 1 Pre-Release Promo
  • Four 10-card booster packs

You will receive at least four more packs at the end of the tournament, but if you managed to rank higher in the Swiss tournament, you can get even more!

How should you build your pre-release deck?

My personal tips are:

  • Deck layout: Any Trainers you get that are useful, minimum 10 Basic Pokemon, 10-14 Energy
  • Try to focus on one or two Types, to make your Energy lines more efficient
  • Pokemon with Colorless-costing attacks can slide into your deck if you don’t have enough strong cards
  • GX cards are good. Try to make them work in your deck!

What should you bring for a pre-release?

  • At least 40 sleeves for your deck
  • Adequate storage to hold your pre-release deck and the extra cards you got from the kit
  • A smile on your face and an eagerness to make friends and have fun! 🙂

 


Final Thoughts

So there you have it. My Top 5s from Guardians Rising and from all other current sets in the Standard format, as well as a little pre-release guide. I hope this article has been of some help to you, and to all those heading to your first Pre-Release this weekend, I definitely hope you have immense fun! I personally will be at the midnight PR at Cards & Hobbies, so if you’re there don’t be shy to say hi! I’m the guy with the ponytail, by the way!

Until next time, this is Aaron signing off.

 

All graphics belong to their respective owners and no copyright infringement intended.

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