Flashfire in Review
Today I thought we would take a look at what I feel are some of the more interesting cards in the upcoming FLASHFIRE expansion set. It’s likely that I won’t cover every single thing that everyone wants to see, so if there’s anything I missed please let me know in the comments and I’ll try and cover it there! Without further ado, lets get into it.
Firstly let me say that I think Flashfire is one of the more interesting sets to be released in a while. Although the XY base set obviously changed the game quite a bit and introduced an entirely new mechanic (Mega Evolutions, that is) I feel that Flashfire takes a lot of what XY did and improves upon it. Overall I think that the XY “block” is shaping up to be one of the best in recent history, let’s hope that Pokemon continues to release a steady stream of unique cards backed up by logical format rotations and a healthy tournament structure. :)
Although I don’t necessarily believe that Butterfree will be a staple of the upcoming format, I do find it (and it’s entire line) to have quite the interesting ability in Adaptive Evolution, which allows you to evolve right into Butterfree on the very first turn. If you can manage to look past Butterfree’s inherent weaknesses, it’s easy to see where this kind of Ability would be very well positioned in the future. Think about if they printed this on a more powerful Pokemon, perhaps one that’s final evolution had a separate ability that was used as a “tech” vs a certain powerful deck? Though Basics are dominant right now and most of the relevant tech cards are indeed basics, I could see something along these lines being very powerful.
Back to Butterfree itself, like I said, I’m not sure it’s really where you want to be, despite how interesting it is. I know that some players have talked about using it in combination with the Miltank from this set, allowing you to do a whopping 80 damage, potentially on the first turn, for a single colorless energy. We’ll talk more about Miltank later, but that combination is certainly something to think about!
Both Mega Charizard EXs
I’m honestly not sure where either of these will end up. Part of me thinks that doing 300 is going to be very good (especially when combined with all the support the Fire type is gaining in this set) regardless of the draw back, and the other part of me thinks that they’re going to end up being nothing more than a gimmick.
Though this is likely a disappointing take on what are probably the two most hyped cards in the set, fear not! I only leave you with such a small sliver if information because I’m planning on writing a full article on these little guys in the coming weeks, once I have a chance to actually test with them and flesh out the format a little. Anyone that knows me knows that I’m not exactly a brewer, so give me some time and I promise I’ll have a better answer soon!
Forget what I just said about the Charizards, after the events of the last few weeks, Pyroar has to be the most hyped card in the set, and it’s probably not very close either. Social media has been absolutely blowing up about this guy, and for good reason - his Ability puts a stop to the majority of the most dominant decks that we’ve seen over the past season. Let’s take a look at how Pyroar would fair against the winningest decks of a few months ago, without any changes to the lists or additions from Flashfire…
Speed Lugia/Canadian Plasma has literally no outs.
Blastoise can attack with Blastoise, nothing else.
Virizion/Genesect has a surprising number of outs, between all of the different versions we’ve seen as of late.
Darkrai/Yveltal has no outs.
...Unless they play Garbodor, in which case Pyroar’s game plan gets shut down entirely.
To talk only about old versions of decks would be telling half of the story, though. Obviously all of the above decks are going to find some way to adapt to Pyroar, and the truth is I believe most will. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Pyroar will not be a powerful card (and we’ve already determined that it will have an insanely high impact on the meta). I definitely believe that decks including copies of Pyroar are going to see a lot of tournament play, but I think my views on how Pyroar should be used differ quite a bit from the average player.
I tend to think of Pyroar as a piece of technology that can fit into several existing archetypes, as well as boost the popularity of some of the underplayed decks of the past few months. For instance, what immediately sprung to mind for me was a Aromatisse deck that included a 1-1 or perhaps 2-2 Pyroar line to give yourself a major advantage against all of the big basics decks. Another option would be adding Pyroar to the semi-popular Flareon/Raichu/Dugtrio/Etc decks. I think that a game plan solely or mostly focused on Pyroar is bound to fail, but one that includes Pyroar in a suite of powerful cards and interactions could be quite good.
The moral of the story for Pyroar, in my opinion, is that he’s going to have a major impact on the format and that, while most decks will be able to adapt to it, the majority are still going to be very soft vs it and will have a limited number of outs. I expect Pyroar’s presence to be akin to his Safeguard cousins in Sigilphy and Suicine, although on a much higher power level, of course.
As one of Ho Oh EX’s number one fans, Milotic intrigued me from the very moment it was spoiled. It’s Ability is Ho Oh like in nature, though they have their obvious differences, and Milotic trades risk (having to knock yourself out and therefore give your opponent a prize card) for Ho Oh’s difficulty (having to find a way to get it into the discard pile in the first place).
The single biggest factor holding Milotic back isn’t giving your opponent a single prize card, however. It’s the fact that it’s Ability can not be used to attach energy cards to a Pokemon EX, severely limiting it’s applications in the current format. While I think that this was an incredible decision from a game design standpoiint and it will be much better for the long term health of the game, I’m unsure whether or not Milotic will have an immediate impact on the format because of this. The fact that Pokemon Catcher is gaining in popularity and Lysandre is a thing now certainly don’t help your chances of actually successfully evolving into a Milotic either.
That being said, I do think that someone out there could break this card, maybe not today, but someday. All it would take is a powerful non EX Pokemon that has a hefty energy requirement and that doesn’t mind a heavy count of Professor’s Letter and Ultra Ball. I’m sure something like that already exists and if it doesn’t, I’m sure it will soon.
Utterly disappointing. I wouldn’t even be unhappy with an attack that does a 50/50 snipe. In fact, I think that kind of scaling back of the power level could be incredible for the game right now. However, the fact that it costs LLL is a slap in the face to Magnezone lovers everywhere and essentially guarantees that this card won’t be seeing any top tier competitive play (unless maybe if they reprint Eelektrik!).
I was an unfortunate enough soul to have read this card incorrectly for days, believing that it was simply a reprint of the current Modified legal Dusknoir. Thankfully some of my more attentive and literate friends hipped me to what it actually does not too long after.
Unfortunately, what it actually does was pretty disappointing. Although the synergy between it’s Ability and it’s attack is super cute, there are currently almost no reasons why you would run this over Reuniculus BLW, and even that card has seen very little play in the past few years outside of the Japanese-exclusive Palace format.
Like a lot of other cards on this list, I can see Dusknoir being played someday, as it’s Ability is inherently interesting and powerful, but I’m afraid today is not that day.
This is one of my favorite Pokemon in the set, although I get a strange feeling just typing that out. Triple Poison is an attack that mimicks the combination of Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym that has been so powerful and borderling oppressive at times during the past year and a half, and it’s second attack, while not exactly aggressively costed, isn’t the worst thing you could be doing either, especially because the math breaks down in such a way that you will be able to KO a 170 HP Pokemon (read: EX Pokemon) with a Smash Uppercut after a turn of Triple Poison (30 going into their turn + 30 going back to your turn + 80 from the Smash Uppercut during your turn + 30 going back into their turn once again).
Additionally, Toxicroak EX’s weaknesses isn’t too relevant right now and one retreat cost is superb, especially with Skyarrow Bridge still in the format. The most impressive thing about Toxicroak, though, is it’s roundabout way of dealing with a card we talked about a handful of paragraphs ago: Pyroar. Triple Poison isn’t damage and thererefore will not be stopped by Pyroar’s Ability, allowing a Toxicroak to trade with a Pyroar all day long (though trading an EX in Toxicroak for a non EX is not exactly where you want to be, it will work in a pinch).
Overall I think that Toxicroak EX definitely has a place in the format and it’s the number one card I’m most excited to test over the next few weeks.
Let’s not beat around the bush: This card was printed exclusively as an answer to Black Kyurem EX out of the Blastoise decks (and to a lesser extent, Rayquaza EX out of the Emboar decks). And what an answer it is! Knocking out a Black Kyurem with a non-EX Pokemon for only two energy (aka a single Double Colorless) is absolutely huge, and is definitely going to have an impact on the format as it stands.
The question is how big that impact will be. No doubt that Blastoise decks will have to adapt, but as we’ve talked about with a few cards in this set, can they easily adapt and move on? Can a traditional Blastoise deck afford to play another non-EX version of Black Kyurem, or even a Druddigon of their own, to counter opposing Druddigons (and opposing Black Kyurem EXs, even)? Is it that easy? That remains to be seen. My initial impression is that it will make Blastoise softer versus the field but will certainly not relegate it to the dregs of unplayability or anything like that.
The single biggest issue I have with Druggion is it’s HP. At 110 it’s easily dealt with by a Keldeo EX, meaning that most decks packing Drudiggon will have to have an answer to the Keldeo, or at least not feel 100% secure in Druddigon as their only out to beat Blastoise. For this reason I could see Druddigon fitting into some contemporary Plasma lists, where we already have Deoxys EX to deal with Keldeos. Fairies is another possibility, but perhaps that’s getting too cute.
I think we can safely file Dragalge under “Cards that seem good but are actually bad, maybe unplayable.” Obviously Poison is very big right now (Hypnotoxic Laser!) and denying your opponents the ability to retreat is always strong, but I’m not sure that you can build a deck that is all three of the following: a.) Playing Hypnotoxic Laser in multiples, b.) Playing at least a 1-1 line of an otherwise unplayable Stage 1, and c.) Good. It’s possible I’m being too harsh on the little guy, and if you know me you know that I would absolutely love to see a deck that ran this in a viable way, but for right now I don’t see it.
I’m very surprised that I haven’t seen more hype over this card, as I actually think that it’s pretty good. The new first turn rules definitely make Triple Draw worse than it would’ve been a year ago, but in general I think that drawing three cards is a big game, especially in the first turn or two, for one energy, on a Pokemon with a healthy amount of HP that has a not-too-relevant weakness. The second attack is also fine, though you can admittedly do a lot better than a possible 100 for CCC in the current format.
The real question is where this card fits. We traditionally have not seen a lot of slots dedicated to cards that draw via attacking, especially not in formats as fast and aggressive as this one. Kanghaskhan does have one trick up it’s sleeve though…
Mega Kanghaskan EX
Much like it’s much less Mega version, I actually think this guy has potential. Obviously coin flips are the worst and players are understandably turned off when they see “Flip a coin” printed on a card. However, I think that folks are looking at it all wrong. Kanghaskan has 230 HP and will definitely two shot any non-Mega Pokemon in the format, and has the ability to go over the top and one shot ANYTHING. Obviously that’s not going to happen all too often, but imagine Kanghaskan in an Aromatisse shell with multiple copies of Max Potion or Super Potion, constantly dealing 100 damage, with the possibility of going higher, all for literally any colors of energy. Imagine that maybe you can also fit Hypnotoxic Lasers to add onto that damage and/or force your opponents to miss turns of attacking. I think that seems pretty darn good.
Obviously there are downsides, the biggest being the fact that you skip your turn to even put Mega Kanghaskan on board. However, I am optimistic about this card and am going to be thinking about and testing a lot of Kangas decks over the next few weeks. If there’s any interest I’ll even write an article about it! :)
We spoke about Miltank a bit earlier in this article, and like many other cards in this set I think that it’s very powerful, but perhaps without a place to shine. Looking through the Stage 2 decks in the format, we have…
Blastoise, which probably does not/cannot fit this card.
Rayboar, which probably does not/cannot fit this card.
Hydreigon, who could actually benefit from this card.
It’s definitely possible that Miltank fits into either Hydreigon or a yet to be discovered Stage 2 deck, and there’s no doubt that it’s a good card to have in the format, as it gives a little bit of an edge to something other than super fast, super linear big basics decks. This is a card to be on the lookout for in the future.
I think Blacksmith could be quite good in the right deck. Maybe some sort of Fire deck (Charizard??) that is super aggressive or tries to donk? The problem with this card is that it’s a Supporter that does not draw cards (although it does technically grant you card advantage) and those traditionally have not been playable. It’s possible that Blacksmith can break this trend, but I think that remains to be seen.
I absolutely love this card. Although it’s neutral card advantage (Fiery Torch + Fire Energy = 2, and then you draw 2 cards) it fuels a lot of different strategies, and most importantly (opposite to Blacksmith, sort of) it’s an Item card that draws cards, which are traditionally very playable (Bicycle). Obviously this card has more of a set-up cost and less of an upside than Bicycle, but I think that it will be a player in the format, particularly if any Charizard based decks do pop up.
Much like Blacksmith, Lysandre is another Supporter card that does not draw cards or provide card advantage. However, unlike Blacksmith, Lysandre does provide one of the most inherently powerful effects in the game, and for this reason I think that it will be very playable. I forsee Lysandre being best in decks that don’t need the draw power in the mid to late game, decks along the lines of Trevenant or other powerful set-up decks that will easily trade Pokemon Catcher’s inconsistency with Lysandre’s Supporter clause.
If you’re familiar with my work you know that I think the majority of the Supporter cards we have access to in this format are pretty bad. I’ve recommended again and again to run multiple copies of Random Receiver over weaker Supporters in decks that run Sableye DEX, for example. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I absolutely love Pal Pad and the consistency it’s going to add to decks in the upcoming formats.
The real question on my mind is how many Supporters you can afford to cut to in exchange for a few copies of Pal Pad. My gut instinct says that you want to keep around the same Supporter count, maybe minus 1 or 2 in exchange for copies of Pal Pad, but the more adventurous side of me wants to try cutting 4-5 Supporters, adding in 2 Pal Pad, and occupying those other slots with a few tech cards to shore up some match ups. Overall I’m not sure which is correct just yet, but I’ll be trying both builds and everything in between in preparation for US Nationals.
Pokemon Fan Club
Pokemon Fan Club brings back memories of both Roseanne’s Research and Pokemon Collector while unfortunately being strictly worse than both of them. However, much like the comparisons between Shauna and Professor Oak’s New Theory, being strictly worse to an incredibly good card does not an unplayable card make.
The biggest issue holding this card back is the sheer amount of non-Supporter Pokemon search that we have available in the current format. Ultra Ball is played in every single deck, Level Ball is played in everything that runs Basic Pokemon with fewer than 90 HP, and even things like Evosoda have been tried.
Overall I think this card will make an impact in decks that don’t have much to do in early turns OR decks that rely on having multiple basics on board early. I also think it opens up a possibility of new decks popping up that couldn’t support the needs of the bench before Pokemon Fan Club was printed.
Can’t think of a deck in the current format that would rather have this than Super Rod, but I’m sure one has existed at some point and might exist again. An interesting card to have in the format at the very least.
I think that Tool Scrapper is still the optimal tool removal choice for most decks, at least in the current format. It would be disappointing to Megaphone a Muscle Band off of your opponent’s Genesect EX, allowing them to attach a G Booster to it, for instance. A similar scenario can also come up in an Yveltal Garbodor deck when your opponent is forced to attach a Float Stone or other almost irrelevant tool to their attacker in a moment of weakness. Megaphone will likely have its time to shine as the format grows and rotations happen, but for now I think Tool Scrapper provides enough of an incremental advantage that Megaphone is an unnecessary risk.
I love this card and it’s going right into my cube, but until a deck is printed that can take full advantage of it’s effect multiple turns in a row, I don’t foresee a future at the top of tournament standings for Trick Shovel.
That’s all I’ve got for today! I’m hoping to go a little more in depth on a lot of these cards over the next few weeks/months, so definitely stay tuned to 60cards.net! Let me know in the comments section if you have any questions or specific comments about cards, as I love reading other folks’ opinions about new sets and can’t wait to dig into what looks to be a pretty powerful set with all of you!
P.S. - I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a mailbag article in a few weeks. You all could ask me questions in the comments here, on Twitter, or via email and I would answer them in an article and also include a few decklists and some random discussion. Would anyone be interested in this? Let me or Martin know in the comments!