A Bright Few in Burning Shadows

This week will see the the newest Pokémon TCG set ‘Burning Shadows’ become tournament legal. Not only that, the set’s debut will happen on the biggest stage – The 2017 Pokémon World Championships. Ahead of the set’s first outing in the competitive sphere of the game, I want to take the time to look at some new Pokémon-GX cards brimming with potential.

Gardevoir-GX

Gardevoir-GX is a big one in the new set. Out of the gates at the very least, it’s the most competitive new archetype born from Burning Shadows.

With Stage 2 being in vogue thanks to the GX mechanic featuring on all evolution levels, Gardevoir is next amongst the many varied evolution decks in format at the moment. The strength of this card starts with the attack ‘Infinite Force’ which deals increasing damage based on the number of energy attached to both itself and the Pokémon it is attacking. This attack is then supported by the ability ‘Secret Spring’ which lets you attach a Fairy energy to one of your Pokémon before you attack.

The attack and the ability go hand in hand, allowing you to quickly ramp up the damage from Gardvoir as necessary. The ability allowing you to accelerate energy also paves the way for cards like Max Potion and Acerola to heal or return resources to your hand, potentially denying prizes from your opponent. The GX move ‘Twilight-GX’ is a recovery attack – allowing you to select and shuffle 10 cards from your discard pile and place them back into your deck. This move is useful for a variety of reasons and interestingly serves to counter Garbodor which ramps in strength as you use or discard items. Simply use the GX move to shuffle your items back in to your deck in this matchup.

Typically a Pokémon with the ability to accelerate energy to enable attacks for big damage are powerful and Gardevoir is no exception. The attack ‘Infinity Force’ is similar to other attackers which have been present in the metagame as powerful options to deal damage. That both of these are bundled together on a Pokémon demands attention. An attack like ‘Infinity Force’ allows you to play at a pace appropriate to the matchup, using just enough energy to attack as necessary, preserving resources or allowing you to distribute them to the board for later.

This Gardvoir card follows a line of Gardevoir which were powerful in their time – spanning years of play with different iterations of this evolution line.

Necrozma-GX

Necrozma-GX is a new basic Pokémon-GX which will slot into the Metagross-GX archetype as a welcome secondary attacker. Its attack ‘Prismatic Burst’ deals increasing damage for each Psychic energy discarded and this synergises well with Metagross-GX’s ability to replace discarded energy every turn. ‘Black Ray-GX’ is an excellent option for putting damage across the board for easier knock outs or even to finish off a damaged Pokémon on the bench.

Similar to Gardevoir, the archetype will allow you to use cards like Max Potion and Acerola to great effect. Despite its HP being only at 180, if it is able to survive an attack, the tempo of the game will surely swing in your favour if it isn’t already. ‘Light’s End’ is an interesting ability, but not greatly relevant without a Colourless-centric archetype in the format.

Important to note and perhaps crucial is that Necrozma’s weakness is not shared with Metagross. Metagross has a difficult time against Volcanion decks which it has a type weakness to (fire). Not only does Necrozma help mitigate this weakness, ‘Black Ray-GX’ will do big damage across the board against Volcanion due to all of the EXs and GXs typically benched. Expect to see this card at a count of 2-3 in Metagross-GX decks moving forward.

Ho-Oh-GX

Ho-Oh-GX is a new Pokémon to add Volcanion’s arsenal of attackers. ‘Sacred Fire’ offers an interesting option to snipe a benched Pokémon – potentially finishing off a damaged Pokémon. ‘Phoenix Burn’ deals a high amount of damage for four energy and shares a similar drawback with Volcanion-EX where it is unable to attack the following turn. Ho-Oh’s usefulness comes from this extra damage and the extra HP along with its different weakness to the rest of the deck. Despite the high energy cost of ‘Phoenix Burn’ the new Kiawe supporter card can be used to power up Ho-Oh in just one turn, ideally on the first turn of the game.

Volcanion has gone through a transformation over the past two sets with Guardians Rising forcing it to change game plan. Instead of burning through the deck with items and accelerating energy via Max Elixir, many builds take a more balanced approach with cards like Brooklet Hill, Starmie and more energy than previous iterations to attach, expend via ‘Steam Up’ and accelerate with ‘Power Heater’. Ho-Oh slots into this strategy nicely, extending your available options.

Others

There are of course far many more cards in Burning Shadows. This set features a whopping 169 cards with 21 of them counting as ‘Secret Rare’. A collector’s nightmare. Many more Pokémon-GX with interesting attacks and abilities such as Darkrai-GX and Golisopod-GX, as well as new Trainers which look set to impact the metagame such as Guzma, Acerola and Po Town.

I found success at a Burning Shadows Pre-release with the new Heracross card and can see potential in it as a wall in a ‘Hit-and-run’ style deck using attackers like Alolan Sandslash or the new Tapu Fini-GX.

What cards are you looking forward to using in Burning Shadows? Please let me know in the comments below!

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