Pokémon TCG 2017-2018 Format Rotation

Just over a week ago, The Pokémon Company International announced on Pokémon.com the standard format rotation for the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Once a year, older sets of cards are ‘rotated’ – removed from standard format. Like in other card games, set rotation keeps the game ‘fresh’ by removing cards which have been around for a long time and challenging players to come up with new strategies with different cards.

It’s also great news for newer players, as older cards which are almost always out of print by this time are more difficult to obtain.

This rotation has been a long time coming, with some very strong cards rotating out of standard format. Some of these cards have played a part in some over-powered strategies over their lifetimes and although some of them are now having less of a pronounced impact due to the metagame shift of recent months, it is stil important to consider their exit.

First of all, as outlined on Pokémon.com:

The Standard format for the 2018 season will consist of the following expansions:

  • XY—BREAKthrough and any expansions released afterward
  • Black Star Promo cards numbered XY67 and up, and SM01 and up

Cards from the following products are also legal:

  • Generations
  • XY Trainer Kit—Pikachu Libre & Suicune
  • Sun & Moon Trainer Kit—Lycanroc & Alolan Raichu
  • McDonald’s Collection 2016

Along with the promos and special sets outlined above, the legal sets include:

  • BreakThrough
  • BreakPoint
  • Generations
  • Fates Collide
  • Steam Siege
  • Evolutions
  • Sun & Moon
  • Sun & Moon Guardians Rising
  • Sun & Moon Burning Shadows

The main sets rotating out of Standard are:

  • Primal Clash
  • Double Crisis
  • Roaring Skies
  • Ancient Origins

Let’s take a look at some of the more significant cards getting rotated.

Rotating Pokémon


It’s been a source of consistency, speed and even a main attacker once upon a time when Shaymin-EX/Trevenant XY was briefly strong. It has been praised for the consistency it brings and maligned for the speed it provided to the once popular item-centric speed decks.

M Rayquaza-EX

The colourless mega Pokémon has been a competitive archetype for much of its stay in Standard format. Combined with Shaymin-EX, Sky Field, Mega Turbo and its own Delta ancient trait, it was the epitome of speed in set up and overwhelming in its damage output.

Flareon, Jolteon and Vaporen AOR

The Eevee evolution trio is set to rotate, taking away their unique ability to provide extra types to your Stage 1 evolution cards. These three Pokémon saw varying amounts of play as dictated by the metagame.

Vespiquen AOR

The rotation of Vespiquen will be the end of its archetype which relied on your ability to discard Pokémon over the course of the game to empower ‘Bee Revenge’. Its presence always made for some very interesting and varied deck lists, often comprising a very long list of Pokémon to assist in different situations.

Vileplume AOR

This format’s premier iteration of Item Lock is coming to an end with the rotation of Vileplume AOR. Vileplume’s item lock effect is not a new idea and has typically been a competitive strategy in Standard formats across the Pokémon TCG’s history. Its rotation will see players look even more towards Garbodor GRI to deter item use and the upcoming Noivern-GX to deliver an item lock via its attack.

Gyarados AOR

Gyarados is another major archetype with many successful showings throughout its lifetime. Gyarados revolved around placing damage onto benched Magikarp to deliver big damage, further amplified by Choice Band in recent months. The viability of this deck always appeared to hinge on the presence of Pokémon included to counter it like Spinda or more recently Tapu Koko promo, or archetypes which can dispatch benched Magikarp like Decidueye based decks.

Rotating Trainer Cards

Hex Maniac

Of the Supporter cards rotating, Hex Maniac’s rotation may be the most significant. Hex Maniac represents a searchable, re-usable ability lock in the current format. Timing of its use can be devastating to an opponent, whether it’s on the first turn to prevent setting up or mid to late game to stop them from using abilities like Vikavolt’s Strong Charge, essentially losing your opponent a turn.


Although the imminent release of Guzma is looking to eclipse Lysandre, it is still worth noting that this card is rotating after being an automatic inclusion in 99% of decks. The ability to control what Pokémon is in your opponent’s active position is a game winning strategy. The slight differentiation from Guzma might warrant still running a Lysandre in your deck to add to your choices if it weren’t soon to rotate.

Vs Seeker

VS Seeker’s rotation may be very jarring to players who have not played in a format without it. Vs Seeker is an incredibly versatile card heightening the consistency of decks, artificially padding out supporter counts and providing ‘outs’ to game winning plays such as a final Lysandre to KO a Pokémon on the bench or to re-use ‘N’ to put your opponent at a very low hand size to prevent them from winning.

Dive Ball

Best friends with Greninja, Dive Ball is a relatively no-frills search card for Water Pokémon. Although Greninja decks will mourn its loss, other archetypes revolving around Aqua Patch will be happy enough to continue relying on Ultra Ball as a means of Pokémon search and a way to discard Water energy to use with Aqua Patch.

Mega Turbo

The rotation of Mega Turbo is a big hit to the already low counts of Mega-based decks surviving rotation. The silver lining may be that the interesting Mega decks which remain either only require two energy (Such as in the case of M Gardevoir-EX STS and M Scizor-EX) or have access to other energy acceleration such as M Gardevoir-EX through Xerneas and Geomancy. Max Elixir is still in format so that will likely be a stand in as well.

Forest of Giant Plants

Forest of Giant Plants has for a long time been an enabler of evolution based Grass decks. The success of Vileplume and Decidueye (in archetypes with and without them paired) can largely be attributed to the presence of this stadium. It is only in recent months that Stage 2 decks have flourished without the assistance of Forest of Giant Plants. Although Decidueye will look different post rotation, it will still operate in a similar manner.

Sky Field

Another rule breaking Stadium, Sky Field, is rotating, taking with it its Shaymin-EX friendly ability to increase your bench spots. It enabled you to bench many Pokémon as you rushed through your deck with Shaymin-EX, keeping spots open for the Pokémon as you drew into them. It also worked in tandem with cards like Raichu and M Rayquaza-EX whose attacks rose in power with each Pokémon benched.

Silent Lab

Another Greninja friendly card, Silent Lab’s may not be too significant to most decks, but has still been a relevant card throughout its lifetime.

Rough Seas

A stadium which has been eclipsed by Brooklet Hill in many cases, Rough Seas gave water and lightning types an interesting way to win damage trades by healing out of KO range.

Team Magma’s Secret Base

Recently surging in price due to Drampa-GX/Garbodor’s success, Team Magma’s Secret Base has been a staple pairing with both that and Gyarados as an effective means of activating increased damage effects and lowering your opponent’s total HP counts. Set to release soon is Po Town which may replace it with a similar effect.

Rotating Energy Cards

Double Dragon Energy

The only significant special energy rotating will be Double Dragon Energy. Essentially a Double Rainbow Energy for Dragon Pokémon, this special energy has mostly been paired with Giratina-EX to enable its Chaos Wheel attack. It has also been looked to as a way to accelerate energy counts in play, most commonly paired with Darkrai-EX.

* * *

That rounds up some of the most noteworthy cards rotating. There are, of course, many hundreds more set to leave from Standard. I am also unhappy to see Level Ball go, although the presence of Brigette alongside Tapu Lele-GX has left Level Ball unplayed for the most part. Are there any cards you will miss in the rotation? Please let me know in the comments!

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