Hello Dead Draw Gaming readers! My name is Caleb Gedemer. I am a new writer here, so let me take a moment to introduce myself. I am 18 years of age and have been playing the Pokemon Trading Card Game competitively since the 2012-2013 season. I play the game out of the great state of Wisconsin, and I travel to most events in the Midwestern region of the United States.
In my time playing, I have won numerous City Championships and League Challenges and have gotten just inches from winning both Regional and State Championships multiple times. Oddly enough, I personally enjoy smaller events due to the more friendly nature and simple thrill of coming out on top of some of your buddies. Larger events hold a different type of satisfaction for me, but can be more stressful in the long run.
As a player and writer, I hold a very analytical viewpoint of the game. I like to analyze all my options and then make a calculated decision based upon my past experiences and what I expect to happen as a result. I hope you enjoy my articles here!
Recently, Steam Siege, the newest expansion, was released on the third of August. When I take a look at a set for the first time, I always make a list of the interesting cards. In this article, I will be going over what made these cards good in my eyes and any potential concepts that may arise for them all. These concepts will relate to the upcoming World Championships in San Francisco, California. To conclude on each card, I will include a simple rating out of 10 to categorize how strong I think they will be.
Yanmega and Yanmega BREAK
When I first read Yanmega, I actually kinda skipped over the part that said you need “exactly four cards in your hand” to ignore the Energy cost of its attacks. I just assumed it was similar to Yanmega Prime from way back and hand sizes would need to be the same to nullify the attachments.
Anyways, after properly examining it, the four card stipulation still is not all that bad. Both Judge and Professor Birch’s Observations have effects that can get a player’s hand size down to the desired four cards. Otherwise, a card like N could be played in the earlier game to achieve that number as well. Something like a Professor Sycamore can also do the trick, as long as cards can be filed out of the hand to decrease the amount to four as stated earlier. Using a Professor Sycamore and drawing an Ultra Ball could accomplish this.
My first idea for the deck included Vileplume, but with too many attackers that can become powerful enough to knock out a Yanmega BREAK with ease in the format, I quickly tossed out the idea. Something crazy to consider, because it is a reality, is the fact that a Night March deck, even under "item lock" from Vileplume, can just manually sacrifice Night March Pokemon and hopefully use a Professor Sycamore to toss some out somewhere down the line as well to get seven in the Discard to make use of Joltik and abuse Yanmega’s Weakness to Lightning. This happened to me a few times in testing and was ultimately the reason I trashed the thought.
Another option could be pairing Yanmega and its BREAK counterpart with Vespiquen. The two synergically fit in the same deck due to their Grass type typing with Forest of Giant Plants and Yanmega and the BREAK even help address some of Vespiquen’s natural enemies and the problems that go with that. Giratina-EX, for one, can often spell trouble for the deck with its reliance on quick attacks with Double Colorless Energy. Here is where Yanmega can come in. Yanmega, or the BREAK, depending on which is better to attack with at the time, can attack two times against an opposing Giratina-EX for a knockout. In short, Yanmega can be an early game attacker while Vespiquen is powering itself up for some massive damage down the road with Bee Revenge.
In giving these cards a ranking, I think it is important to note that their potential is limited in part by the Ability mandating that hand size must be four cards. If one were to not specifically try to make use of that Ability and attach Energy cards instead, these cards are quite weak and the attacks are not worth the investment. I would give them a 4 out of 10 due to that they do have potential because attacking for no cost is pretty dang amazing. Is it feasible to meet the requirements consistently, however?
Foongus (and Poke Ball)
This cute little guy boasts a nice Ability that could be an engine for a deck currently or sometime in the future. Play Ball allows a player to put three Poke Ball cards from the Discard into their hand. This might seem kinda bad due to the fact that a Poke Ball card flips a coin to search the deck for a Pokemon. However, if one were to find themselves with multiple copies of Poke Ball in the Discard in combination with Foongus, this could make for a powerful search engine.
At the current moment, I honestly am kind of clueless how this could work its way into a deck. It could maybe find a home in something like a M Rayquaza-EX or Raichu deck to quickly fill the Bench and stream attackers. One thing I am sure on, though, is that Battle Compressor could be a nifty way to make those Poke Balls find their way to the Discard to get cracking with Foongus.
Overall, I would give Foongus a 3 out of 10. It has some potential, but I do not know where that spark of life is really coming from. Its unique Ability may some day find a way to the spotlight.
Larvesta (and Volcarona)
Larvesta is not a great card on its own, but in partnership with a long lost friend in Volcarona from Ancient Origins, it has some pretty exciting potential.
Volcarona with Solar Birth has long been part of a joke with M Ampharos-EX, but now it might actually see some real play. Prior to this new Larvesta, there was not a Grass type version of the little bug. Now, Forest of Giant Plants may be used to get Volcarona out into play on the first turn of the game. Solar Birth is unarguably a sick attack and some interesting Pokemon can be brought into play along with it.
This combo is unlikely to be great in the current format moving towards the World Championships with Night March floating around, but just a few cards to keep any eye on in partnership with Volcarona for the next Standard include: Darkrai-EX, Giratina-EX, Mewtwo-EX, Sceptile-EX and Steelix-EX.
Larvesta gets a 5 out of 10 for unlocking a pretty dirty combo that should do well in the coming months with the rotation taking place and making way for a slightly slower format with Night March leaving the scene.
Volcanion and Volcanion-EX
Here come the big guns of the set, the ones that so much as gave the set a name. Volcanion and its EX partner are extremely good. Power Heater on the baby volcano gets things cooking by charging up attacking threats on the Bench. Power Heater can even take some clutch knockouts with help from Steam Up on the EX version of the card. Steam Up is ridiculous with Blacksmith currently, and that very Supporter card can be used to power up attacking Volcanions and Volcanion-EXs.
These two cards are so good that the first deck that comes to mind is simply just the baby version of the card with the EX. The baby can be made to do serious damage with Steam Up, 140 in fact with four successful Steam Ups from Volcanion-EXs and even more if a Fighting Fury Belt or Muscle Band were to be attached. Damage adds up really fast and Power Heater and Blacksmith serve as both acceleration and more fuel to the fire late game.
Currently, these two cards are easily combatted with those pesky Night March decks I have made mention of multiple times in this article. However, look for this deck to be the face of the format come next season in Standard.
To conclude on the volcanoes, I would give them a 9 out of 10. They have great potential to simply be an archetype of their own, not to mention any way to pair them with other Basic Fire type Pokemon.
This card is pretty amazing. At this very moment, with Worlds approaching, I do not see it being the greatest because most M Pokemon-EX are easily combated with Night March. Not to mention, the time it would take to set up multiples of these Stage 1 Pokemon would be a pain in the butt. However, with the next Standard Format looking to be much slower this card can make a splash.
Potential ideas include pairing Clawitzer with things like M Rayquaza-EX, M Steelix-EX, Primal Groudon-EX and Primal Kyogre-EX. Not only will Clawitzer speed these concepts up, but provide a late game boost. From these options, perhaps the most exciting combination would be with M Steelix-EX. With its dual type typing, both Shield and Strong Energy cards may be accelerated with Mega Boost. This is pretty insane, and the man of steel can get online a lot quicker. Perhaps the main problem with this is that with Volcanion and Fire type support getting a boost, M Steelix-EX may be hindered to the point of unviability with its Fire type Weakness.
Clawitzer gets an 8 out of 10 from me due to its uncanny Ability and ability that comes with it to power the M Pokemon-EX in the game. Most of these cards have been relatively clunky and slow in the past, but this card should breathe new life into them and unlock lots of possibilities for potent combinations.
The scary looking spider that Evolves from the Night Marcher Joltik should actually jump right into the metagame for the World Championships right away. I read this card when doing my rounds checking for cool new cards and added it to my Night March deck right away. Keep in mind that the English copy actually has a mistake in the text. Double Thread can only hit Benched Pokemon. That very attack is pretty killer in Night March mirror matches and even has added utility due to the fact that it can hit opposing Shaymin-EXs for Weakness, even when on the Bench
I see this card coming in clutch when getting ahead on Prizes in a mirror match of Night March decks, as I previously mentioned. Joltiks can be knocked out both at once when attacking the Bench. Target Whistle can also be taken advantage of by reviving a Joltik to the Bench and then subsequently knocking it out.
For some more talk on the card, once a strange scenario arose for me when playing Night March with a Galvantula when I faced off with a Vileplume deck with Vespiquen. My opponent happened to be struggling to find an Energy to use Bee Revenge, so in the meantime, I Evolved my Joltik to Galvantula. From there, I managed to take four Prizes by attacking Benched Shaymin-EXs twice. While I cannot guarantee this is a viable strategy that will work without fail, it is definitely something to consider and possibly a reason to play more than one copy of the big spider in a Night March deck. One thing is for sure, in nearly every game, a Vileplume/Vespiquen player will likely Bench at least two Shaymin-EX.
This card gets a 7 out of 10 for its rating. It shows true promise in any and all Night March decks. It provides a way to not only muster a way back into a lost cause of a mirror match game, but can also finish off attacks that happened to fall just short from a Night March attack. Look out for this guy at Worlds.
The ‘croak is pretty cool at first glance. Funny story, nearly every new set of Pokemon cards leads me to creating a deck that I think has true potential, until I realize a fatal flaw that I completely overlooked in the process of getting hyped on my new idea. This time around, Toxicroak was the bearer of that infamous title.
The deck was Vileplume/Toxicroak with Ariados. The original thought was to just use Poison Jab repeatedly and abuse Ariados to safeguard a Toxicroak. This seemed viable to the point where Toxicroaks getting knocked out from Poison did not seem all that bad. Anyways, the concept evolved to something completely different. I decided Toxicroak would be better off as a wall for Shaymin-EX using its Sky Return attack. The goal of the deck was to get as many Croagunk down early on with Float Stones as possible, as well as Ariados and Vileplume after the important Items had been played. Sky Return would then be used over and over into Toxicroak and along with Ariados the strategy seemed next to unbeatable. I then sat down for a game against a Vespiquen deck and realized…oh…Ariados does not affect one of the most popular and powerful Pokemon in the game right now…Upon realizing this, Toxicroak was quickly unsleeved and cast aside.
Toxicroak cannot be all bad, however. There still may be a better pairing for it down the line, perhaps in the new Standard Format in the coming year, maybe even with Vileplume still! With Vespiquen set to become less popular with Battle Compressor getting rotated out, Ariados and Toxicroak might just have to pair up again for another go at taking down the metagame.
Toxicroak gets an abysmal 3 out of 10 as it stands right now. The card simply is not that great with Hex Maniac being a great means to stop its Ability from even doing anything at all. Not only that, but Ariados cannot effect Vespiquen, as I stated earlier and from that being stated, Toxicroak really has little to no way to deal with a card that you simply must have some type of answer to when creating a competitive deck.
Throwback to Masquerain from Plasma Blast, a card that had some success in Tool Drop decks, a deck focusing on Trubbish from Plasma Freeze and a powerful Tool Drop attack. However, this Weavile does not have much of a place in the game as it stands right now.
The Ability it possesses is indeed strong, but what the heck are we going to do with Tools in our hand? Tool Retriever, a forgotten card from Furious Fists will be getting rotated, so maybe there will be something come rotation time that will make Weavile a potential contributor to some deck.
Weavile gets a 2 out of 10 for having a great Ability considering the utility of it. However, it really is not practical to fit it in the deck for the only purpose it has, to pick up some Tool cards. Hey, we could use Slash for 40…
Yveltal and Yveltal BREAK
Seriously, how many Yveltals with Oblivion Wing need to be printed? At this point it is honestly getting to be a bit ridiculous, but whatever. Since that card is just a reprint, we will be focusing on the BREAK counterpart in this piece. So with 150 HP and a three Darkness Energy requirement for its attack, it seems pretty mediocre at best.
I would have to stand by that assumption as well, unfortunately. Using the big bird’s hefty attack really just is not feasible! Sure, once it manages to get the Energy cost it is relatively decent, but that is just not going to happen in and out how any competitive concept has to.
This card could; however, be used as a slight buff to the regular Yveltal’s HP count, just adding another 20 HP. But, his is probably not worth it because a Fighting Fury Belt can do the same thing, only better with an additional 40 HP.
Clearly, if this were to actually find a home in a competitive deck, it would be some sort of Darkness type deck, probably with Zoroark. Unfortunately, that probably will not be happening because this card is pretty dang clunky.
Yveltal BREAK gets a measly 2 out of 10 for having a cool attack but nothing more. It brings nothing new to the table, not even for its HP count. Streaming attackers with a huge Energy cost like this guy has has never been a viable strategy and will continue to be frowned upon as such.
M Steelix-EX and Steelix-EX
These monsters are pretty interesting. Well, maybe not the regular EX, that card is pretty bad, good thing it Evolves, though! M Steelix-EX is a huge M Pokemon-EX, clocking in with 240 HP. Canyon Axe has a huge attack cost, but have no fear. As we previously mentioned, a new Clawitzer card has been released that helps this bad boy out quite a bit. M Steelix-EX can actually have both Shield and Strong Energy attached to it, which is pretty sick.
Canyon Axe is a great attack, doing 160 on its own, but when that is coupled with a single Strong Energy, 180 becomes the new total. 180 knocks out nearly every regular Pokemon-EX in the game and is something to shake in fear over. Not only does this card have some major offensive power, but with Shield Energy it can reduce some damage on the defensive side of things as well. With already having 240 HP, two Shield Energy can effectively bring that total to a pseudo 260 HP, something completely unrivaled by any other card.
The biggest foreseeable problem with this guy is a glaring Weakness to the Fire type. With Volcanion and company getting some considerable hype, this card may never really get a chance to see the light of day. Heading into the World Championships, Mister Steelix should not be positioned well at all, considering once again like many other cards, a terrible matchup with Night March.
This M Steelix-EX card is going to get a 5 out of 10. If the metagame can shape up in a way that keeps Volcanion and Volcanion-EX in check, this card is in for a hayday. Perhaps there may be a way to counter the Fire deck too, who knows? With a great attack and high HP, this guy on paper is a great Pokemon card.
Cobalions have historically been strong cards and this one is no different. Quick Guard is a really nice attack to buy time in a pinch. Simply strap a Metal Energy on and safeguard from Basic Pokemon for a turn. This can effectively be the very turn needed to attach another Energy on the subsequent turn and then take a timely Revenge Blast knockout.
This card is reminiscent to Shaymin-EX from Next Destinies, which saw lots of play when it was first released and for a while afterwards. Revenge Blast can do up to 180 damage before modifiers if the opponent has taken five Prizes.
This card will likely see play as a one of in any Metal decks that are played at the upcoming World Championships. It is just a solid card, and there is little to no reason not to play one in a deck that also packs Metal Energy. The only visible downside is the fact that a Pokemon Ranger can render Quick Guard useless.
Coba gets a 7 out of 10 for being a very strong card with an established resume coming in the form of its EX counterpart in Shaymin-EX. Not only that, but the Quick Guard attack is really intriguing and should create some interesting scenarios late game or even early game in the future when an opponent is stuck out from attacking for a turn.
M Gardevoir-EX and Gardevoir-EX
When M Gardevoir-EX was first leaked through translation, there was a mistake in translation, and the card was dubbed as incredibly good, to the point of being broken. However, it is a lot more soft than originally thought. Despair Ray is a pretty interesting attack that sends as many Pokemon from the Bench to the Discard as a player likes and then does 110+10 more damage for each of those Pokemon.
At first glance, this may not even seem great at all, and I am personally still trying to figure this out for myself. One thing is for sure, in combination with Hoopa-EX, Shaymin-EX and Sky Field, a player can load up their Bench to the maximum and then simply Discard those support Pokemon with minimal repercussions, all the while doing some massive damage.
M Gardevoir-EX could be a deck on its own, using the engine I just mentioned above with draw power from Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX. Sacred Ash could then be used to replenish the deck with these cards and do it all over again. Another option could be pairing it with Vespiquen and using a variety of cards that can be Discarded from the Bench with minimal repercussions. Both of these ideas are likely weak to Night March, jeez that is getting old to say and therefore might not be viable until the new Standard Format in early autumn.
M Gardevoir-EX gets a rating of 5 out of 10 for having some untapped potential and a potentially powerful attack. I personally believe it will find its way into the format one way or another in the Primal Clash and on Standard Format.
Xerneas and Xerneas BREAK
Oh no, another Xerneas card too! As if we could not get enough of them before, sheesh. Anyways, Xerneas with its Geomancy attack has been the centerpiece of a few Fairy type decks now and that card is unarguably good. However, the new BREAK edition to the card is the one that needs to have some points keyed in on.
Xerneas BREAK adds a few extra HP to the regular Xerneas, just as the Yveltal BREAK did earlier on. Life Stream is a pretty cool attack that is going to take 20 multiplied by the number of Energy cards attached to all of a player’s Pokemon. This could be pretty dangerous after a few successful Geomancy attacks, spreading some Fairy Energy around to various Pokemon. Not only that, but Double Colorless Energy, as well as Double Dragon Energy, are going to count two fold in this total. Giratina-EX with Fairy Pokemon has had some success in the past, and with this new Xerneas BREAK, the two could team up again for another go at it.
I hate to keep saying this, but this card unfortunately will not be a great play for the World Championships. Why? Yeah, you guessed it, stupid Night March. At any rate, Xerneas BREAK takes home a 3 out of 10 for having a relatively weak attack that could be good, depending on how the format shapes up in speed. If decks are too fast and start taking knockouts right away, the Energy will not have a chance to build up and therefore Xerneas BREAK will not be doing all too much on the damage front of things.
Ah, finally, a card that I really, really like! Talonflame has found its way into many of my decks, including Greninja BREAK, Vespiquen decks, Vileplume variants, and I have even considered the thought of adding it to Trevenant BREAK builds!
Gale Wings is an insane Ability, and whenever Talonflame gets started in a game, the outcome is usually pretty good. Areo Blitz is super strong and can set up a lot of action. In a Greninja BREAK deck, for instance, when playing second, we can go right ahead and search out some things we will need for the following turn. Frogadier, maybe a Supporter, etcetera. Especially in that deck, it corrects a lot of consistency problems.
With Vespiquen, it provides an optimal starter and can fish out some cards that will get the wheels churning. It is also great to Battle Compressor away the leftovers of the Talonflames that we did not have the fortune of starting with. In regards to Vileplume decks, Talonflame is amazing to dig out things that are hard to find once the Item lock is online. The Trevenant BREAK idea I have just dabbled with, but in the early stages of the game it could be good to smooth over a setup and ensure that we will be able to stream Trevenant BREAKs down the line.
Talonflame has perhaps even taken the place as the best Pokemon in the Steam Siege set for me personally. I really love the chance of starting with it and the attack is great support in any situation. This birdie gets a 9 out of 10, not quite a 10, but really close. If you think it is bad to chance starting with it, just wait until it shows up in an opening hand and that opinion will likely drift away. Check this card out.
Captivating Poke Puff
Captivating Poke Puff, what a bizarre name for a card. Maybe it is something from the video game? At any rate, this card has a lot of potential. Target Whistle has been played in Night March decks for some time now as a means to bring Shaymin-EX from the Discard to the Bench. Captivating Poke Puff can do something of the same nature, trapping poor Shaymin-EXs from the hand to the Bench. Not only is this extremely degenerate in the Prize exchange with nearly any deck, but it renders that very Shaymin-EX useless, which will stop many decks right in their tracks.
Playing first with this card in hand is really great for any player. It presents another big advantage to starting the game off. It provides an offensive boost with the possibility of snagging a Shaymin-EX as I already said, but a defensive outlook as well with stopping the opponent’s very offensive in the same regard.
Decks that can abuse this nasty Item are Night March, as already stated, and Trevenant BREAK decks. As we all know, Trevenant BREAK preys on Pokemon hiding out on the Bench with its Silent Fear attack, and dropping those Pokemon on the Bench is pretty outrageous. Not only that, but playing a Red Card followed by a Poke Puff under Forest’s Curse Item lock is probably enough to stop an opponent from ever doing much again on the front of drawing cards.
The Puff gets a solid 8 out of 10 for some absurd potential in already powerful decks. Like, come on, were Night March and Trevenant BREAK decks not good enough already?
Throwback to Swoop! Teleporter from long ago. Ninja Boy is a near reprint of the card except it does work on Pokemon-EX, but does have the downside of being a Supporter card.
The little ninja is going to see play in Seismitoad-EX/Max Elixir toolbox decks, where the holder can switch out their tech Pokemon at will. Take a Seismitoad-EX using Quaking Punch for a multiple turns, shutting a deck down and then Ninja Boying into a Glaceon-EX against a deck like Vespiquen. That is a really intriguing concept and I am positive that people are testing it out and finding the same results.
Not only does it seem good in the deck I just mentioned, but in a deck like Seismitoad-EX with Giratina-EX, the same effect can be accomplished. A ‘toad can quickly swap into a Giratina-EX and just completely shut the opponent down when least expected.
I am sure there are more nifty options for this card that have not been explored yet or even thought of, so it will be interesting to see what people come up with. This card is always a viable means of switching out a bad starting Pokemon for another Pokemon, though, which is neat. A Shaymin-EX can be returned to the deck for later use and change into something we actually wanted to open with, nice!
Ninja Boy gets a 7 out of 10 for its uncapped potential and clear place in niche decks, most times toolbox decks that want to have a lot of options.
The masterpiece of the new set, Pokemon Ranger is by and far the best card in my eyes. Many decks have been shut down by a random Pokemon. For some, it has been Glaceon-EX and for others, Jolteon-EX. Giratina-EX, Regice and Seismitoad-EX are other examples. Pokemon Ranger is the perfect response to all of these cards and stops the effects of attacks on those Pokemon.
Unfortunately for the rest of the format, Night March’s former worst enemy in Giratina-EX can now be stopped right in its tracks with a timely Pokemon Ranger. Now a Night March Pokemon can get the Double Colorless Energy it desperately needs and take a crack at a Giratina-EX.
There is no doubt in my mind that this card is a perfect 10 out of 10 and the best card in the set. Pokemon Ranger can and already has begun to change the game.
I have always held the mindset that Double Colorless Energy was one of the most unhealthy cards in the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Imagine a format without it, it would be much slower, and games would be more drawn out and thought provoking. So why print a card that sparks the possibility of playing a game with way more than four of one kind of Special Energy? Was Puzzle of Time not enough already? At any rate, this card is obviously extremely good. Night March players are going to be licking their lips and adding one or two copies of this card into their builds for Worlds.
Special Charge is also good in decks that play Double Dragon Energy. Decks like Bronzong with Tyrantrum have struggled in the past to keep enough firepower in their Energy arsenal to last a complete game and this card is the best way to address that problem.
Charge is a 9 out of 10 for me. Perhaps the second best card in the set, it has boundless potential and is a great fit in pretty much anything that relies on Special Energy cards to attack. Night March just keeps getting better and better, I guess.
That does it for today! I have covered nearly every card in the new set Steam Siege that has the possibility for making it on the big stage at some point. As was made very apparent in reading this article, Night March gained a lot of new tools in this set. It will be even better than ever at the upcoming World Championships.
I personally expect absurd amounts of Night March like players have never seen before. The deck is simply too good to pass up on at this point. Some players that have even vowed never to play the deck again should be considering it.
To excel at the World Championships, it is important to play a deck that can beat Night March and do well against the rest of the field. The other option would be to play Night March itself. Good luck at any upcoming tournaments everyone, and I hope you enjoyed this piece! Take care.