The release of Fates Collide marks the final set of cards which will be legal for the 2015-2016 competitive season for the Pokémon Trading Card Game, and is unique in its own right with the spotlight on an old favourite – Alakazam. Fates Collide is the international release of Japan’s ‘Return of the Psychic King’ set, a nod to the set’s featured Pokémon. The set includes a massive 28 ‘Ultra’ or ‘Secret’ rarity cards including:
- 5 BREAK Pokémon
- 17 Basic EX Pokémon
- 5 Mega EX Pokémon
- 1 Full Art Supporter
The set itself is average in size rounding out at 125 cards, with a ratio of Ultra and Secret Rares to other cards at more than one fifth – similar to other sets released in the last couple of years. The number of ultra rares exceeds the previous set by just one, which is in part thanks to the set’s star, Alakazam. Alakazam is printed in its Basic and Mega forms over four ultra rares and one secret rare card. This Pokémon’s appearance in the trading card game is rare in itself – said to be the result of a court case which came about because of Alakazam’s pre-evolution Kadabra and its likeness to real-life psychic ‘Uri Geller’ which stirred controversy in the late 90s.
To see the Pokémon printed in the trading card game is very rare as a result, and it is only with the trend towards printing regular, non-legendary Pokémon as basic ‘EX’ Pokémon that we have had the opportunity to see Alakazam in print again. There are a number of great cards in the set, with a handful of new archetypes emerging to challenge the more established decks commonly seen in standard constructed play. I will be taking this opportunity to shine a light on some of the stand-out cards of the set, beginning with its star, Alakazam.
Alakazam-EX and M Alakazam-EX are fittingly powerful cards in this set, making up the core of a deck archetype designed to quickly spread damage on your opponent’s board. To begin with, Alakazam’s attack ‘Supression’ places three damage counters on each of your opponent’s Pokémon with energy attached. Its ability ‘Kinesis’ places two damage counters on their active Pokémon, and three damage counters on a benched Pokémon. M Alakazam-EX ramps up this damage with its attack ‘Zen Force’ which does 10+30 more damage for each damage counter on the opposing active Pokémon. This quickly translates into a KO after so many damage counters are placed.
The kicker to this archetype is in the very low energy requirement, at just one Psychic and one colourless energy for both Pokémon. The attack cost can be further reduced to just one attachment with ‘Dimension Valley‘, increasing speed and consistency. Coupled with ‘Devolution Spray‘ for multiple activations of ‘Kinesis’, you have a very potent archetype.
Genesect-EX and Bronzong BREAK
It has been a year since we last saw a Genesect-EX card in standard format. Its previous iteration was printed in Plasma Blast, and quickly became a staple member of the competitive format. The Genesect-EX in Fates Collide is a much different flavour, taking the form of a metal type Pokémon with a hefty 180 HP, a useful tool manipulation ability in ‘Drive Change’, and a strong attack in ‘Rapid Blaster’ (which synergises very well with Bronzong PHF’s energy recovery).
Speaking of Bronzong, a BREAK evolution card was printed for the Bronze Bell Pokémon, promoting its usefulness from support to attacker. Bronzong BREAK’s ‘Metal Rain’ attack is a versatile attack, trading energy (which is fast accelerated and easily recycled) for damage placed 30 at a time however you choose. Between Bronzong BREAK and Genesect-EX, ‘Metal’ as an archetype has found the attackers it needs to challenge a metagame filled with Joltik and Yveltal-EX.
Glaceon-EX on its own is a very interesting entry into the standard format. It boasts a powerful effect in its ‘Crystal Ray’ attack. ‘Crystal Ray’ prevents damage Glaceon-EX receives from evolution Pokémon which includes Stage 1, Stage 2, BREAK evolution and Mega Evolution Pokémon. It is a sign of the state of the game when the designers felt it was necessary or interesting to print a card with an effect which punishes Pokémon that require more set up than simply playing an EX Pokémon down to the bench. Normally I would be frustrated at the printing of this card. However, given the state of the game and the variety of viable decks, this card is a welcome addition to the Standard format.
Given its potential to attack from just a Water and Double Colorless Energy, it is possible that this attacker could be run in a variety of decks. M Manectric-EX is a noteworthy partner with its ‘Turbo Bolt’ attack offering some needed energy acceleration. Mew from Fates Collide is another potential partner, offering lower-cost access to ‘Crystal Ray’ thanks to a combination of ‘Memories of Dawn’ to use the attack as Mew and ‘Dimension Valley‘ to reduce the cost of the attack by one colorless energy.
Regirock-EX, Zygarde-EX, Carbink and Carbink BREAK
This quartet of Pokémon cards from Fates Collide have effectively introduced a whole new archetype, from its main attacker in Zygarde-EX to the support and utility provided in Carbink, Carbink BREAK and Regirock-EX.
Zygarde-EX is a straightforward Pokémon and main attacker, with damage ramping up with each extra energy you get onto it. It also boasts an impressive 190 HP, giving it the second highest HP on a basic EX Pokémon in the Standard format – a title shared with Team Magma’s Groudon-EX and Team Aqua’s Kyogre-EX which are not seen in competitive play. With Zygarde-EX and Lucario-EX as another option for attacking, these juggernauts are supported by their superb, Fates Collide fighting type brethren.
Carbink itself is very interesting, offering an ‘anti-EX’ ability in its ‘Safe guard’ ability. This is coupled with the excellent Carbink BREAK which accelerates two energy cards from the discard pile to a fighting Pokémon with its attack. Regirock-EX on the other hand serves as a bench sitter which amplifies your fighting Pokémon’s attacks by 10 damage for each one on your bench. These two Pokémon together make for a very potent combination which closely mirrors the composition of setup and abilities seen in the previously dominant archetype, ‘Team Plasma’ which Australian ‘Kaiwen Cabbabe’ piloted to a World Championship victory in 2013. Simply use these Pokémon in tandem with the many fighting support cards in the format, such as ‘Korinna‘, ‘Fighting Stadium‘, ‘Strong Energy‘ and ‘Focus Sash‘, to create a very potent deck.
Finally, I wanted to shed light on an archetype emerging from Fates Collide in Serperior. Serperior is a powerful attacker, boasting 180 damage over two turns with ‘Coil’ and ‘Slashing Strike’ or a consistent 100 damage each turn after the first ‘Coil’. This is quite potent when considering the very low energy cost in one colourless for ‘Coil’ and one grass energy for ‘Slashing Strike’.
What makes this archetype powerful is not just the stats on Serperior, but the cards existing in Standard which push Serperior into competitive territory. ‘Forest of Giant Plants‘ allows grass Pokémon to ignore evolution rules and evolve into their highest stages (in this case, Serperior) as soon as your first turn. This is further helped along with a combination of ‘Battle Compressor‘ and ‘Revitalizer’ which when maxed out at four copies each, allows you to discard and then retrieve your grass Pokémon for quick searching and deck thinning for consistency.
It is important to consider Serperior’s pre-evolution, Servine, which has a game changing ability in ‘Serpentine Strangle’. A good coin flip inflicting paralysis can often be enough to cement your position, or be a game saving effect when you’re facing down a huge EX Pokémon taking KOs every turn. Finally, the deck easily slots in an effective support Pokémon in Ariados AOR for extra Poison damage and Miltank FLF for a quick attacker to ease the pressure on your Serperior.
Regional Championships have now wrapped up in Australia, with the last taking place in Tasmania a few days ago. Now that nationals are looming on the horizon, there is an interesting period of time where eyes will be cast on local player bases to see what is being played there, as well as cast internationally as National Championships begin taking place in countries around the world.
If you’re planning on competing in Pokémon League Challenges, the Australian National Championship or even just for fun at your local game shop, I would like to encourage you to try some of the new cards in Fates Collide.
There are many more cards in this set than the ones I’ve mentioned here. Which cards do you think are the best or most interesting? If you have any ideas, need help or want to ask questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will do my best to reply.