Pokemon Trading Card Game Set Rotation Guide

The 2016 competitive season for the Pokemon Trading Card Game is drawing to a close and with it, the set rotation for 2017 has been announced. This set rotation will be in place after the conclusion of the Pokemon World Championships 2016.

This set rotation will be Primal Clash on. This means sets XY, FlashFire, Furious Fists and Phantom Forces will be rotated out from standard tournament play. This article will act as a guide to each of the rotated sets, what significant cards we lose from those sets and what that means for the standard format. I won’t be listing all the cards in each set rather, I’ll be highlighting important cards we’ll lose and how that will impact certain decks. Lets get into it!


AromatisseGreninjaTrevenant, Muscle BandHard Charm, Shadow Circle

Some of the cards we lose are not detrimental to the standard format because of cards that have similar abilities in viable sets. Golduck BREAK’s Hyper Transfer ability acts as a pseudo Aromatisse except Golduck BREAK takes longer to set up. Evolving from stage 1 to BREAK as opposed to Aromatisse’s stage 1 evolution, impacts Fairybox decks that need energy manipulation to function.  Muscle Band’s rotation isn’t game changing due to the alternative, Fighting Fury Belt that adds both 40 hp and 10 damage to attacks.

Basic Pokemon being able to survive longer and deal consistent damage yields greater value than adding the extra damage from Muscle Band.  For those same reason, the function of Hard Charm is rendered obsolete by Fighting Fury Belt; adding bulk hp and damage surpasses the prevention of damage.

However, both Muscle Band and Hard Charm can be attached to any Pokemon whereas Fighting Fury Belt can only be attached to basics. This matters to an extent because evolution decks lose damage prevention and damage output. However, the projected cards that we’ll be seeing in the standard format will be less reliant on those rotated tools. Mega Pokemon Decks opt for spirit links to evolve while the continuing support for one prize, high hp BREAK evolutions reduces the need for Hard Charm and Muscle Band altogether.

1048354Now losing Greninja, Trevenant and Shadow Circle is a different story. These cards are irreplaceable due to no other legal card having the same effect. I feel Shadow Circle has not seen as much play as it should have, only appearing briefly as a tech card in Kyogre and Dark decks. The loss of Trevenant has brought an end to the deck itself. Trevenant decks suffer immensely from losing item lock because the deck can no longer provide ample time to survive and set up. Greninja being rotated means Greninja decks would have 30 less damage to work with yet the deck itself still remains intact. The vast majority of Greninja Decks will now revolve around Shadow Stitching Greninja.

There is one card I did not mention that is being rotated from this set which is Xerneas. The reason I didn’t include Xerneas is because it will be reprinted in Steam Siege. So, while Xerneas is supposedly being rotated out, the card will remain in the standard format.


Toxicroak EXDruddigonMilktank, Shiftry, PyroarBlacksmith, Startling Megaphone, Trick Shovel, Sacred Ash


Accelerate those flames!

The cards we lose from this set affect how decks are built. We are losing tool removal, a supporter that accelerates fire energy and Pokemon that have unique attacks and abilities. The biggest loss out of all these cards is Startling Megaphone. This is a card that can be placed into any deck,  removing multiple tools on the field such as Fighting Fury Belt and Assault Vest. The absence of Blacksmith renders Fire decks- Entei and Flareon EX obsolete.

Although Blacksmith will be missed, I feel Entei and Flareon EX decks can still thrive under different methods of energy acceleration post rotation. Cards including Max Elixers and Camerupt in conjunction with Energy Switch proves one method of accelerating energy.

The loss of Toxicroak EX is quite sudden and forgettable since the card did not see a lot of play other than using it to bypass Aegislash EX’s ability through the use of poison. Other cards such as Milktank and Druddigon provide support and act as quick, retaliation cards when another Pokemon is knocked out. The loss of these cards impacts decks that need to attack multiple times to rack up damage to knock Pokemon out.

Intimidate those basics!

Intimidate those basics!

Shiftry and Pyroar are cards that each have unique abilities. Shiftry was a card that had potential to be good since the introduction of forest of giant plants. Being able to draw more cards is always advantageous. However, the high energy attack costs and better alternatives such as Vileplume and Vespiquen are preferred rather than drawing cards because it disrupts the opponent. Pyroar was a popular choice in decks when Plasma was in the scene yet with the introduction of Hex Maniac it has seen a considerable drop in play.

Trick Shovel  is a card that has seen play within Durant Mill decks but not in any other deck. Sacred Ash is a card that will be missed because shuffling 5 Pokemon back into the deck is crucial for decks that run evolution lines. This would affect Greninja or other decks that require evolutions for their strategy. Super Rod would be the replacement but not the most optimal one.

Furious Fists

Seismitoad EXLucario EXHawluchaMienshao, Korrina, Focus Sash, Super Scoop UpFighting Stadium


pokemon card

Punching and Hammering Away!

The rotation of Furious Fists sees the loss of support cards for fighting decks and Pokemon that are fast attackers. The big loss within the whole format would be losing Seismitoad EX. This card can be played by itself as the main attacker or act as a tech card within certain Pokemon EX driven decks. Seismitoad EX is often combined with cards such as Crobat, Crawdaunt, Giritina EX and Slurpuff to name a few. These multiple combinations with cards that add damage and disruption along with item lock, create a variety of Sesimitoad EX driven decks. In Yveltal EX and Fairybox decks, Seismitoad EX acts as a tech card to provide flexibility in situations; at any time, the opponent can be item locked which can provide a big momentum shift and counter decks like NightMarch that are reliant on item cards.  Currently, Seismitoad EX is a staple in Waterbox and ToadTina decks.

Waterbox is a deck that revolves around Seismitoad EX as the main attacker and utilizes Max Elixers to quickly power up Seismitoad EX’s attacks. In ToadTina, the deck utilizes the ability of Giritina EX to block attacks from Mega Pokemon and disrupt the opponent by using its attack Chaos Wheel. To buy time for that attack, Sesimitoad EX comes into play, shutting down the opponent’s use of item cards while dealing consistent damage. Losing Seismitoad EX will affect Waterbox and ToadTina greatly as these decks rely heavily on Seismitoad EX as a main attacker.


Quick Damage Jabs!

Another loss is Lucario EX which was a staple when Lucario/Bats was a popular deck choice in a metagame comprised of NightMarch and Manectric decks. Although its attacks aren’t game changing, being able to deal quick damage with a single strong energy raises Lucario EX’s attack from 30 to 50. This damage, coupled with Fighting Stadium and Fighting Fury Belt, adds on to Lucario EX’s attack power. The loss of Lucario EX hurts the quick damage output of Fighting decks which would have to be built around setting up Primal Groudon after rotation.

Speaking of Fighting Pokemon, losing Super Scoop Up, Fighting Stadium, Focus Sash and Korrina is a huge blow to Lucario EX/Zygarde EX decks. Their main source of consistency with the supporter Korrina will be rotated while losing cards- Super Scoop Up and Focus Sash that can be retrieved with Korrina. The loss of Super Scoop Up affects the tempo of  decks, Lucario EX/Zygarde EX, Manectric/Bats and Seismitoad EX decks that rely on abilities that trigger on evolution- Crobat and Crawdaunt. Focus Sash used to be a staple in Lucario EX decks, mainly to counter NightMarch’s high damage output. However, Fighting Fury Belt has become a better alternative instead of Focus Sash; providing extra damage output and hp to Lucario EX, essentially the same function as Focus Sash to allow Lucario EX to survive an extra turn.


Big Damage! (only to EXs)

Losing Haluwcha is sad since the card is potentially the strongest out of all the cards in this set. Sporting a free retreat cost and attacking with just a single energy attachment makes this card a real force to deal with. The 60 damage to a Pokemon EX along with Fighting Fury Belt, Fighting Stadium and a Strong Energy bring the total to 110 damage. The meta shift this competitive season towards NightMarch and Non-EX decks has seen the use of Haluwcha become abysmal.  This card will be missed because I feel its potential hasn’t been met and given a more Pokemon EX meta, Haluwcha would be used often. Mienshao is a deck that does quick damage and uses Robo Substitute to deny opponent prizes once Mienshao returns to the hand.  This deck briefly saw play before the introduction of N. Once a consistent way to disrupt the opponents hand came back, Mienshao as a deck disappeared from the format.

Phantom Forces

Manectric EXMManectric EX, Aegislash EX, Bronzong, Slurpuff, Joltik, Pumpkaboo, Lampent, Crobat, AZ, Xerosic, Battle Compressor, Enhanced Hammer, Robo Substitute, Target Whistle, Head Ringer, Dimension Valley, Mystery Energy


NightMarch for 180… Oh wait.

Now comes the largest and most anticipated set to cover for rotation- Phantom Forces. I’m sure most of you readers are excited to see this set rotated because of the loss of Night March as a deck. Joltik, Pumpkaboo and Lampent are all vital cards to the strategy of Nightmarch and losing these cards render the deck obsolete. Not only are we losing the Pokemon that comprised NightMarch but we are going to lose Battle Compressor and Dimension Valley. These two cards are key components to making NightMarch as strong a deck as it is. Battle Compressor helps fuel NightMarch’s attack output and also helps deck consistency by placing supporters in the discard. Supporters in the discard can be obtained through NightMarch’s consistent item based draw engine through VS Seeker. Dimension Valley is utilized in NightMarch to allow Pumpkaboo to attack with a single double colourless attachment. The stadium card also affects decks such as Mewbox, Durant Mill and Trevenant. Not being able to reduce the energy requirement of the cards used is devastating and these decks will likely struggle.

After NightMarch rotates, I feel that decks in the future standard metagame will be able to set up at a slower pace and have extended trades of damage. This is because there are no other decks besides NightMarch that can consistently achieve a turn 2 knockout on a Pokemon EX. The rotation of Battle Compressor not only stifles NightMarch but other decks that require cards in the discard such as MegaManectric, Metal and Vespiquen decks. In post rotation, I feel the likelihood of drawing into a supporter you need for the turn is low because of losing Battle Compressor. This would mean decks have to increase their supporter counts to remain consistent.

Genesect EX

I could use some help Bronzong…

The other cards we lose in this set also impact another high performance deck- Metal – that was covered in my last article in the lead up to Pokemon Nationals here in Australia. The loss of Bronzong and Aegislash have caused the Metal deck to become unplayable. The deck relies on Bronzong’s ability to accelerate energies from the discard to the benched Metal Pokemon such as Genesect EX and Aegislash EX. There is no other replacement for energy acceleration with Metal other than Max Elixer, although I feel that the card can’t match the energy sustain of Bronzong. Max Elixer only acts as a quick fix to the Metal Deck and once that energy is gone, the deck falls apart and can’t recover without Bronzong’s ability. Losing Aegislash EX is quite sad as well because being able to prevent damage from Pokemon with special energy countered NightMarch, ToadTina and Vespiquen decks, which was valuable as they were popular deck choices.


Assault Laser with Damage!

Another two decks that will be rotated are based around Manectric and Mega Manectric EX. Manectric EX decks are noted for their high tempo playstyle utilizing Manectric’s Overrun for set up damage and Assault Laser in conjunction with HeadRinger. Along with Fighting Fury Belt, Manectric EX’s Overrun is at 30 damage with Assault Laser being at 150 damage. This deck is paired with Crobat to be able to place damage counters for  a calculated knock out on the opponent’s Pokemon. The prevalence of NightMarch with Fighting Fury Belt has seen a considerable drop in Manectric EX decks due to the increased hp. Gallade is another card that attributed to the decrease Manectric EX decks because its attack combined with the use of a supporter does 260 damage; fighting weakness lets Gallade knock out a Manectric EX with Fighting Fury Belt attached. The Metal deck completely mitigates Manectric Ex’s damage due to Genesect EX’s ability to remove tools from itself including HeadRinger.

Mega Manectric is a deck that is often paired with cards like Jolteon EX, Regice and Articuno. This deck can consistently accelerate energy with Mega Manectric and with its free retreat cost, switch into a different attacker. This gives the deck flexibility and energy preservation. Mega Manectric still sees play although the deck has been overshadowed by new upcoming decks like Darkrai EX/Giritina EX and Waterbox.


Give me the tools of the trade!

If losing 4 established decks wasn’t enough, we are no longer going to have the ability to remove tools because Xerosic will be rotated. This is significant because that allows Garbador to be unopposed and the only way to deal with Garbador is the use of Lysandre. Since supporter counts would rise because of losing Battle Compressor, it would be more difficult to ensure that Lysandre will be available at hand. Robo Substitute is a card exclusively used in Primal Groudon and Mienshao decks although these decks aren’t popular in the current metagame. This means losing this card isn’t much of an issue. I feel that Enhanced Hammer, Target Whistle and Mystery Energy fall under the same category. Enhanced Hammer is only used within Seismitoad EX decks and in certain decks as a tech in NightMarch. Target Whistle is mainly used in Nightmarch because it is the only deck that can consistently pull Lysandre and Target Whistle in the same turn due to an item based draw engine. Mystery Energy is utilized mainly  in Trevenant decks and with it becoming unplayable, Mystery Energy won’t be missed much.


Going up and coming back!

Losing AZ is concerning and disrupts decks that require a way to retreat under item lock. Metal decks run two counts of AZ to make sure Bronzong does not get stuck as the active Pokemon. Certain Seismitoad EX decks utilize AZ to retreat into another Seismitoad EX while removing damage from the previous card. Also, AZ is used in decks that have an ability upon evolution such as Crobat, Crawdaunt and Vileplume. This card rotating will push decks into adding back switch or counts of float stone for retreat. The loss of Slurpuff affects only the kind of Seismitoad EX decks that runs this card. The ability of Slurpuff is powerful, being able to draw cards at any time. I feel Slurpuff is underused, yet with the resurgence of Garbador post rotation losing Slurpuff isn’t too bad.  Crobat being rotated is strange since its pre-evolution Golbat will still be available for play because of a reprint in Generations. This means that decks utilizing Crobat would lose out on 30 damage with its ability and affects decks like Manectric EX and Seismitoad EX decks.

In conclusion, we are losing a number of valuable cards that will affect specific established decks within the metagame. This guide does not factor in cards from the new set, “Steam Siege” and instead acts as a general overview of what cards are rotating and what are the decks that will be affected post rotation.

Liked it? Take a second to support ATGN on Patreon!
  1. vysekun
    August 3, 2016 | Reply
    • jnkgem
      August 4, 2016 | Reply
  2. August 4, 2016 | Reply
    • jnkgem
      August 4, 2016 | Reply

Leave a Reply