I’ll only be looking at the cards I personally think will be, either in this format or the next, competitively viable.
Sacred Ash - TrainerItem
Choose 5 Pokémon from your discard pile and shuffle them into your deck.
Sacred Ash may just look like a slightly different Super Rod, but it’s much more than that. Having the ability to shuffle so many Pokémon back into the deck means that “swarm” decks (like Weavile and quad Garchomp) can play less Super Rod and more consistency and/or tech cards (which they generally need).
But the biggest draw of this card is actually going to be its function in the next format, many people speculate that Super Rod will be rotated out of the format this year, which means that it will be our only option to easily recover multiple Pokémon.
Surprise Megaphone - TrainerItem
Discard all Pokémon Tools attached to your opponent's Pokémon.
Continuing with the replacement of old cards with newer, better (faster, stronger – Daft Punk) cards, comes Surprise Megaphone. Instead of Tool Scrapper’s paltry two tool card discard, Surprise Megaphone discards all of the tools on your opponent’s side of the field. With almost every deck in the format playing muscle band, and Garbodor variants being the most popular in our metagame right now, this card looks like it will change the metagame all on its own. Will it? I don’t think so.
|Tell the world!|
The tools we have at the moment are just too good not to play, and remember that tools like Muscle Band have an effect on the users turn, so Surprise Megaphone doesn't affect their power, just their longevity on the field. What it does mean, however, is that passive tools like Hard Charm will be affected. And remember, Tool Scrapper and tools have danced this dance for two years now: as Surprise Megaphone/ Tool Scrapper becomes more popular, tools will decrease in play. When that happens, Surprise Megaphone/ Tool Scrapper will decrease in play and tools will become more popular, and the cycle will repeat.
One more caveat with Tool Scrapper is the oft-forgotten ability to discard your own tools which is sometimes very handy in Garbodor and Genesect decks.
Oh, and this card basically kills Tool Drop Decks. RIP purple rubbish bag, RIP.
Flame Torch - TrainerItem
Discard 1 Fire Energy from your hand, then draw 2 cards from your deck.
The first card to show some fire-love in the set bearing its name, Flame Torch brings us something rather rare for non-Supporter trainer cards by bringing us draw power, joining Bicycle and Roller Skates (this card should have been called Skate Board to continue the theme though L ). On its own this card is rather bland and limited to fire decks, but it is much better with the new Blacksmith supporter which we’ll see soon.
Protect Cube – TrainerItem
The Pokémon this card is attached to receives no damage from its own attacks.
Remember when using Zekrom BW with Eviolite to negate some of its recoil damage from Bolt Strike was all the rage? Well Pokémon seems to have caught on to this by providing us with Protect Cube, which negates all recoil damage. This card is rather limited as only Zekrom BW, Reshiram EX and the new Mega Charizard can make full use of it, but I think in future formats Mega Charizard will be a Mega Evolution which is actually played, and you never know when there might be a new Pokémon introduced with a recoil move, or Zekrom BW becomes more playable, so hang onto any copies you might get.
Shuffle 2 Supporter cards from your discard pile back into your deck.
Pal Pad is one of those cards that has such a simple effect, but is ultimately very powerful. Not only does it finally give us a way to recover supporters outside of Dowsing Machine or Sableye, but it increases your likely hood of drawing into supporters. I really like this card, and anyone who has faced the horror of a bad opening hand with multiple Professor Junipers will understand why.
Lysandre - TrainerSupporter
Choose 1 of your opponent's Benched Pokémon and switch it with his or her Active Pokémon.
Old Pokémon Catcher is back! As a supporter... Lysandre falls into the realm of niche supporters, but I see it being a powerful tech, especially for decks which need to clinch big KOs (like Blastoise decks, which actually play a few tech Pokémon Catcher) or decks which have built in draw support (like Emboar/Delphox).
|"I can see into your soul."|
Pokémon Center Lady - TrainerSupporter
Heal 60 HP from one of your Pokémon and remove any special conditions from it.
With Potion, Super Potion and Max Potion in the format, the only use I see out of Pokémon Center Lady (come on, we’re all just going to call her Nurse Joy) is a part of a stall deck to keep a tank Pokémon alive as long as possible in combination with the items mentioned earlier. This card may see play in early adapters of Mega Evolution decks, which seek to stall your opponent while you set up a Mega Evolution.
Oh, and by the way, did you want to sleep tonight? Too bad, look at the Full Art version of this card:
|Editor's note: I can see the resemblance.|
Blacksmith - TrainerSupporter
Choose 2 [R] Energy from your discard pile and attach them to 1 of your [R] Pokémon.
So I’m going to spoil the rest of the article and say that this is my favourite card from the whole set, bar none. I’ve always been wary of supporters which don’t let you draw any cards. I have horrendous luck and often draw dead in decks where I play 15 supporters. That being said, I think the format is ripe for a supporter like this to thrive; we have Roller Skates, Bicycle and most importantly Flame Torch to let you draw cards, while still using Blacksmith. Lastly, Delphox could always be dropped into a fire deck as a draw engine and non-ex/evolution attacker.
Also, my family comes from a long line of blacksmiths and I even have a full on coal furnace in my back yard, so I may be a bit biased.
Shiftry - Grass - HP140Stage 2 - Evolves from Nuzleaf
Ability: Leaf Draw
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard a [G] Energy from your hand. If you do, draw 3 cards.
[G][C][C] Frenzy Dance: 20x damage. This attack does 20 damage times the number of Benched Pokémon (both yours and your opponent's).
Weakness: Fire (x2)
Shiftry reminds me of Empoleon quite a lot: both are Stage 2s with an ability which lets you draw cards after discarding, and an attack which does damage according to the number of Pokémon in play. Is Shiftry better? I don’t think so. Its ability needs a specific card unlike Empoleon, which limits it quite a lot, especially when you’ll be looking at the ability to get you out of bad hands and you can’t continually recycle Exeggcute. And it’s attack, although more powerful, needs too many energy which makes streaming Shiftry much more difficult as well as making it extremely easy for Yveltal EX to knock out. Finally, its type is horrible with all the new fire-types coming out.
It’s been a long time since a single card has threatened the metagame so much, before its even been released! The game is so dominated by basic attackers that every single deck that everyone calls “Top Tier” depends on them to, you know, attack and win games. If you play Pyroar, and your opponent doesn't have non-basic Pokémon or a way to negate Intimidating Mane, you win the game. It’s as simple as that. I could write a whole article about the fiery lion, but I’m just going to say this: Garbodor-based decks are going to have a massive surge in play, and no deck will be made without considering this one card for a very long time.
|The Lannisters send their regards.|
Charizard-EX - Fire - HP180Basic Pokémon
[C] Flare Up: Flip a coin. If heads, search your deck for 3 basic Energy and attach them to this Pokémon. Shuffle your deck afterwards.
[R][C][C][C] Fire Blast: 120 damage. Discard 1 Energy attached to this Pokémon.
When a Pokémon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Water (x2)
The first of the plethora of Charizard in this set, is not that good... and kinda derpy. Charizard EX’s only advantage is being its ability to accelerate onto itself, which sets it up to Mega Evolve. Even then, it may just be easier to power up your Mega Evolution with something like Emboar, which also prevents Yveltal EX from coming in after you've used Flare Up and taking a big chunk of your beloved dragon.
Charizard-EX - Fire - HP180Basic Pokémon
[C][C][C] Wing Attack: 60 damage.
[R][R][C][C] Flame Explosion: 150 damage. During your next turn, this Pokémon can't use Flame Explosion.
Weakness: Water (x2)
A lot of people are going bananas over the fiery dragon from this set, and here’s why: it can do 170 damage on the first turn. Yip, you read that right. So here’s the scenario for that magical event to happen: you would need to go second, and then have a Charizard EX, a Muscle Band, a Double Colourless Energy, a Blacksmith and then a way of getting two fire energy into the discard. Yeah, good luck with that.
Now I may sound a bit pessimistic here, but I actually believe a solid deck could be built around everyone’s favourite starter, but hoping to do 170 on your first turn every game will leave you very disappointed, and with a horrible record in a serious tournament.
[Editor's note: Bulbasaur is MY favourite starter.]
One more thing you should seriously consider is that Reshiram EX exists. Remember him? Well, he basically does the same job as Charizard EX, but better. I see any Charizard EX deck being like a Blastoise or Emboar deck; setting up and then going for three straight OHKOs on EXs for 6 prizes and the game. Reshiram EX is much better for this job because its Brave Fire attack can be used every damn turn without needing to go to the bench to reset like Charizard needs to with Flame Explosion.
Add to this the fact that Reshiram EX has a better first attack to fall back on, and the only thing Charizard EX has over it is the slightly better retreat cost (which isn't as much as a boon as one might think, as Reshiram EX is searchable with Heavy Ball).
Can I be competitive yet?
I’m lumping the two Mega Charizards together since they basically do the same thing: hit things. Very, very hard. When Rayquaza EX is rotated out, these two will become the only (competitive) Pokémon which can OHKO 99% of Pokémon on the other side of the board. I don’t think they will ever become popular, because I think that about all Mega Evolutions. If we ever get into a metagame which revolves around Mega Evolutions, then these two will become relevant, but up until then, keep them because they look awesome.
Oh, and if you’re wondering which is better, the Y version beats out the X version every day of the week: a simple energy type cost combined with a much better retreat cost is a tiny price to pay for 10 less HP. Additionally, Crimson Dive’s recoil can be completely negated with Protect Cube, while Wild Blaze will always be extremely damaging to the person using it.
|X = bad|
|Y = better|
Milotic - Water - HP100Stage 1 - Evolves from Feebas
Ability: Energy Grace
You may Knock Out this Pokémon. If you do, select 3 basic Energy from your discard pile and attach them to 1 of your Pokémon (excluding Pokémon-EX). You may only use this ability once per turn.
[W][C][C] Waterfall: 60 damage.
Weakness: Grass (x2)
I've always been wary of cards that knock themselves out on purpose, and I don’t think Miltonic is going to change that. I understand how powerful Energy Grace is, but it’s a matter of time and place that keeps it down: needing to have energy in the discard makes it significantly weaker than if that energy came directly from the deck, and in a metagame ruled by weaker than if that energy came directly from the deck, and in a metagame ruled by Yveltal Ex, attaching multiple energies in a turn is very dangerous.
Lastly, I don’t think there is a non-EX attacker which is worth the sacrifice, especially when they generally have much less HP, and you can put yourself in a horrible position where you power up a Pokémon with Energy Grace, only for it to be knocked out and your opponent suddenly being 2 prizes ahead.
I do, however, have a sneaking suspicion that a player much better than myself will come along and make an incredible deck with this card. Until then, keep it in your binder and hope that player shares his deck list.
Luvdisc - Water - HP60
[C] Heart Wink: Flip a coin. If heads, your opponent does not draw a card at the beginning of his or her turn.
[W][C] Spike Draw: 20 damage. Draw a card.
Weakness: Grass (x2)
Okay, no other Blog or Pokémon-related site talked about Luvdisc, but that’s what makes Pure Fool’s Gold different!
[Editor's note: that's what makes PF'sG the coolest in the 'hood.]
In all seriousness, Heart Wink in conjunction with hand disruption cards like Red Card and Hooligans Jim and Cas, or deck milling cards like Aggron, could be a good attack. And don’t forget that you can pair it with Victini so you can get a second flip on Heart Wink!
How would you win a game this way? What would happen if you keep flipping tails? How would you live down playing a fish shaped as a heart? How many times will Pooka play this on Bad Deck Monday? I don’t know, but I still love this card (do you get it?!?!? one!1!?1!).
All that can really be said about Dusknoir is that it’s a much weaker Damage Swap Reuniclus, and it will eventually replace Reuniclus when it is rotated out.
Toxicroak-EX - Psychic - HP170Basic Pokémon
[C][C] Trioxic: Your opponent's Active Pokémon is now Poisoned. Between turns put 3 damage counters on it instead of 1.
[P][P][C] Smash Uppercut: 80 damage. This attack isn't affected by Resistance.
When Pokémon-EX has been Knocked Out, your opponent takes 2 Prize cards.
Weakness: Psychic (x2)
Toxicroak EX will only be used for Trioxic and if the English translation allows it to stack with Virbank City Gym doing 50 damage between turns for only a Double Colourless energy and a stadium is actually pretty good, but it will have to be combined with a cheap attacker and/or Damage Swap Reuniclus to make use of that cheap damage.
BarbanacleThis may seem like a strange card to put here, and on its own Barbanacle is a hopeless card, but it may be better in future formats. The set after Flashfire, Rising Fist, is going to be focused on fighting types, so we may see something like a fighting type energy accelerator or special fighting energy which makes Barbanacle (and a lot of other fighting types) much better.
|The Karate Kid|
Forretress - Metal - HP100Stage 1 - Evolves from Pineco
Ability: Rain of Spikes
When you play this Pokémon from your hand to evolve 1 of your Pokémon, put 1 damage counter on each of your opponent's Pokémon.
[C][C] Iron Fall: 20+ damage. This attack does 20 more damage times the amount of Energy in your opponent's Active Pokémon's Retreat Cost.
Weakness: Fire (x2)
Resistance: Psychic (-20)
This could be a pretty good damage spreader if you combine it with Devolution Spray, particularly in this format where big benches are extremely common. Expect cheap attackers and/or Damage Swap Reuniclus to partner with it, just like Toxicroak EX.
Floette - Fairy - HP70Stage 1 - Evolves from Flabebe
Ability: Flower Veil
Each of your [G] Pokémon gets +20 HP.
[Y] Fairy Wind: 20 damage.
Weakness: Metal (x2)
Resistance: Darkness (-20)
Playing a similar role to Plasma Umbreon, Floette seeks to make your Pokémon more bulky by way of increasing their base HP. A lot of people are already thinking about slotting this card into Virizion/Genesect, which may be where it spends most of its life. To be honest; Plasma Umbreon never really did anything special, so I don’t see why this might. Then again, this can increase the HP of Mega Venasuar. Slap on a Giant Cape and you could have a Pokémon with 330 HP. Mega Charizard Y still knocks you out because of weakness though...
Druddigon - Dragon - HP110Basic Pokémon
[C][C] Revenge: 20+ damage. If 1 of your Pokémon was Knocked Out by an attack during your opponent's last turn, this attack does 70 more damage.
[R][W][C][C] Dragon Claw: 80 damage.
Weakness: Fairy (x2)
Ah, Revenge returns on a new Pokémon with a better type and energy cost. Druddigon’s only use is going to be countering Rayquaza EX, Black Kyurem EX and any other dragon-types who get printed with dragon weakness. Outside of that, its second attack is just so expensive and awkward that you’ll never use it.