Pokémon TCG Forbidden Light Preview

“Sun & Moon Forbidden Light”, the 2nd set release of 2018 for the Pokémon Trading Card Game, is set to begin pre-release events in Australia. It follows “Ultra Prism” as the second set release of 2018 and our third foray into the Ultra Beast era of the trading card game.

A number of Ultra Beasts, Pokémon Cards with the ‘Ultra Beast’ attribute, appear in this set. The Ultra Beast cards we have seen until now were all ‘GX’ Pokémon – featuring typically higher HP and attacks. This time around in Forbidden Light, we will instead see Ultra Beast Pokémon take the form of regular, non-GX Pokémon (although still carrying the Ultra Beast attribute). It will be interesting to see if, in the near future, these numerous Ultra Beast cards can be pieced together to take the form of a ‘Six Corners’ style deck – although I suspect this may not happen until at least before rotation.

Naganadel-GX

Another Ultra Beast related first can be found in this set in the form of Naganadel-GX which is an Ultra Beast which evolves from another Ultra Beast. Competitive players will want to monitor whether this combined access to higher base HP and the Ultra Beast themed card pool will set up Naganadel for success.

After reading through scans and translations, I want to shine some (forbidden) light on some cards I think are worth watching out for.

Beast Ring

Beast Ring

Beast Ring Translation:
Trainer – Item

You can play this card only if your opponent has exactly 3 or 4 Prize cards remaining.
Search your deck for up to 2 basic Energy cards and attach them to 1 of your Ultra Beasts. Then, shuffle your deck.

Beast Ring, similar to Mega Turbo before it, is a card the purpose of which is to accelerate energy onto your ‘Ultra Beast’ Pokémon from your deck in a quick fashion. This type of effect on an item card is quite potent and has almost always seen play when printed.

Mega Turbo on one hand was a card I was disappointed to see printed – it was a form of energy acceleration exclusive to Pokémon which were already bucking regular evolutionary stages starting as EX Pokémon with upwards of 170 HP or more before Mega-evolving and attaining even higher amounts of HP. Beast Ring on the other hand, whilst it does quickly provide energy to a narrow set of Pokémon, will at least now apply to a variety of GX and non-GX Pokémon as well as coming with the stipulation that it can only be used when the opponent has 3 or 4 prizes left.

This ‘prize’ based condition of use allays my concern that an archetype centred around Pokémon like Buzzwole could reach unfathomable heights. It provides the opposing player some time to ramp up their board, evolving to Stage 1 or Stage 2 Pokémon before taking Prizes, making Beast Ring an inactive card until then. It also means that Beast Ring cannot be relied on in the closing stages of a game to power up a late Ultra Beast. The prize based restriction may in this case force users to perhaps drop the number included in lists to 2 or 3 in order to include cards which are appropriate in different stages of the game.

The flexibility of this card – allowing the player to attach any two basic energy – opens up the possibility of running several different types of Ultra Beasts to form a new ‘Six Corners’ style deck (as I alluded to previously) which aims to hit different weaknesses.

Beast Energy Prism Star

Beast Energy Prism Star

Beast Energy Prism Star (I’ll refer to this card as ‘Beast Energy’ for short) provides a Rainbow energy effect to only ‘Ultra Beast’ Pokémon as well as boosting their damage output by 30 when attached. Beast Energy seems at first to be incredibly powerful, however you must remember that by being a ‘Prism Star’ card, it can exist only as a singleton in any deck. At just one copy, it will be difficult to reliably draw from your deck, and when you do, it may not necessarily be the optimal time to use it. Furthermore, it must contend with its status as a ‘Special Energy’, which means it can be removed easily by cards like ‘Enhance Hammer’ or create problems when facing Pokémon such as Xurkitree-GX.

On its own, it does represent a reasonably powerful card. Continuing the theme of creating an archetype which features many different Ultra Beast cards, this is well suited to such a deck as it provides one of every energy. The extra 30 damage can mean the difference between a KO or not, especially if the strategy is to hit various weaknesses (which sees the 30 extra damage multiply to 60).

Diancie Prism Star

Diancie Prism Star

Diancie represents a strong potential (if not automatic) inclusion to any fighting archetype with its ability providing Fighting type Pokémon 20 extra damage with their attacks. Running with the Fighting type theme of augmenting damage output, Diancie shines as yet another way to pump up damage just by being in play. It outclasses Regirock-EX with Princess’s Cheers by providing twice as much extra damage to Fighting Pokémon, as well as by being a non-GX Pokémon (only giving up 1 prize when knocked out). The only contentious issues are its lower HP and not being able to retrieve it when discarded (as it goes to the lost zone). However, those minor details won’t see it losing out to Regirock-EX, especially in tighter lists which cannot afford to choose between the two.

Malamar and Ultra Necrozma-GX

Ultra Necrozma-GXMalamar

Malamar Ability Translation:
Once during your turn (before your attack), you may attach a Psychic Energy card from your discard pile to 1 of your Benched Pokémon.

These Pokémon are worth mentioning as a pair. Together they form a potent new archetype which draws on the identity of a previously powerful archetype from the 2013 competitive season – ‘RayEels’ which functions in a similar fashion.

The main attacker, ‘Ultra Necrozma-GX’ doles out extreme damage with its ‘Photon Geyser’ which features a heavy cost in discarding attached energy – For 1 Psychic & 1 Metal it discards all of its attached Psychic energy and then deals 20 base damage and adds 80 damage multiplied by the number of discarded energy.

Malamar forms the other half of the combo, providing an engine to recover lost energy with its ability ‘Psychic Recharge’. An ideal set up for the deck would see multiple Malamar on the bench powering up a benched Ultra Necrozma-GX, and then switching it to the active position (whether by means of Switch, manually retreating or through an effect such as Guzma or Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX) to attack. After the attack, you would ideally power another Ultra Necrozma-GX on your bench with the same freshly discarded energy and then switch it for the old one. This strategy allows you to repeatedly draw on the energy you have discarded and nullifies the energy discard draw back quite effectively.

A key difference between this pair and the old Rayquaza deck, is that Ultra Necrozma-GX requires 2 energy to retreat (one more than the old Rayquaza EX), which is not easily satisfied if you discard all your energy. Spending your turn’s attachment to retreat an Ultra Necrozma-GX takes away from attaching energy to a benched Ultra Necrozma which is important as you must manually attach the metal energy (if you are using Malamar).

Mysterious Treasure

Mysterious Treasure

Mysterious Treasure Translation:
Trainer – Item
Discard a card from your hand. If you do, search your deck for a Psychic or Dragon Pokémon, reveal it, and put it into your hand. Then, shuffle your deck.

Mysterious Treasure represents a strong search card for decks which run Psychic or Dragon type Pokémon as a focus. The above example featuring Malamar will be a prime example of this, but could include other decks such as Espeon/Garbodor. The synergy with Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar is obvious as searching for each of these Pokémon is possible with Mysterious Treasure. What’s more is the minor cost of discarding a card also works well with the deck by providing you with another means to discard Psychic energy for use later with ‘Psychic Recharge’.

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Whilst this is the end of my list, there are plenty of other notable cards. Greninja-GX forms a new archetype with potential to make a splash (pun intended) thanks to strong draw engines available (Zoroark-GX) and the new Pyroar has potential to make an impact thanks to its ability preventing it from being targeted by an opponent’s trainer cards. Are there any cards you’re looking forward to? Let me know in the comments.

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